Globe artichokes make a fabulous starter, a light lunch for one, or shared with various dips. Their preparation and cookery can seem a little intimidating, but actually it is fairly straightforward.
The artichoke is the flower or bud of a variety of thistle. The spiky leaves surround the inedible fibrous ‘choke’, which sits on top of the delicious base of the artichoke, known as the ‘heart’.
The base of the outer leaves are edible too, and simply wonderful dipped in melted salted butter, vinaigrette or mayonnaise. There are a number of ways of cooking artichokes, depending on the size and age, but the best way of cooking the large variety is to steam them.
Firstly you need to prepare and trim the artichokes. Cut off the stem at the base of the globes using a sharp knife and remove any small leaves from the bottom, so it sits upright. Trim the thorny tops of the leaves using a pair of kitchen scissors, this will make them easier to handle.
Using a serrated bread knife slice 3/4 inch off the tip of the artichoke. If preparing more than one artichoke put them in a large bowl filled with water and the juice of a lemon to stop them discolouring.
There are a number of ways of cooking artichokes, depending on the size and age, but the best way of cooking the large variety is to steam them. You can boil them, but they can become water logged. If you are preparing just the globe, rinse it under cold water before placing it face up, in a steaming basket with a lid. Take a large saucepan and add water until it is a quarter full. Bring to the boil and place the steaming basket on top, cover with the lid and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
The artichoke will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to steam depending on the size. Start testing at 30 minutes to see if it is cooked by gently pulling one of the inner leaves. It should come away easily. If there is resistance then test again in another 10-15 minutes. When cooked remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly for 15 minutes.
To eat, pull the leaves off and dip the white end in melted butter, mayonnaise or vinaigrette. Put the base of the leaf between your teeth and pull to enjoy the soft artichoke flesh. When you get to the fibrous base, carefully remove and discard it, leaving the ‘heart’ base which is also delicious eaten with the dips.
Smoked Garlic Mayonaise
1 smoked garlic bulb
3 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
200ml sunflower oil, plus a little extra
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the smoked garlic bulb in a large square of aluminium foil and sprinkle with a little salt and a drizzle of oil. Wrap up the garlic and bake for 30 - 45 minutes until cloves are soft. Allow to cool and squeeze the cloves out out their papery casing into a bowl. Mash with a fork and set aside.
Add the eggs, mustard and white wine vinegar into the bowl of a food processor and fizz to combine. While the processor is running, slowly add the oil in a drizzle. When you have added all the oil and the mayonnaise is thick add the mashed smoked garlic and pulse to combine. Taste for seasoning and spoon into a serving dish.
Vinaigrette with Fines Herbs
Pinch of salt
Generous 1/2tsp Dijon mustard
Generous 1/2tsp honey
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Small bunch of Herbs Fine, finely chopped.
Place all the ingredients apart from the herbs into a small jar with a lid. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously until you have a thick dressing. Taste for seasoning and stir in the herbs. Pour into a small serving bowl.
100g of Au Bon Salted Butter
Gently melt the butter in a small pan and pour into a small serving dish.