Artichokes – by Kate Davies
Cooking for my family is one way for me to stay connected to my professional and personal love of food. We have family favorites which (miraculously) please everyone. Then there are nights when it feels good to make one or two of us exceedingly happy by preparing a favorite dish, even if it’s not a universal hit.
So we eat artichokes. They are daunting, on sight. Once you develop the confidence to dig in, they are sweet, complex, and delightful. Luc and Julian love artichokes almost as much as they love me. Julian remembers his (French) Mama’s artichoke preparation quite fondly; this keeps me motivated to stay true to the classic version while slyly adding my own touches. Artichokes have intimidated me for years, but once I realized how delicious they can be simply steamed, I was sold. Really, if you can turn on the stove you can cook an artichoke. After you turn on the stove, you can relax. Pretty simple, actually.
The artichoke has a prickly and (frankly) intimidating exterior. With a little effort, those sharp stabby leaves yield a delicate, astringent treat that is just delicious enough to merit the effort required to scrape the meat off of each individual leaf with your teeth. This process can take a while, which means we spend more time at the table in conversation with each other and our hilarious kids.
Julia Child would have you trim the top, stem, and leaves. Artichoke Night at the Davies house is about taking it easy and enjoying the evening, and I’ve learned (through sheer laziness) that all you really need to do is cut off and discard the top third of the artichoke, rinse it well, cut the stem so it fits in the pot, and let it cook. I like to steam, Julian likes to boil. Both turn out fine. It’s nice to throw a cut lemon into the pot if you want to keep a nice green color. Artichokes are done when you can pull off an outer leaf with ease (about 40 minutes). When you get to those bitter inner leaves and the terrifying ‘choke’, remove and discard the furry stuff and you’re left with the prize: the heart.
My Mother-In-Law’s Dip
-6 oz/170g creme fraiche
-1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-salt and pepper to taste
Clarified (drawn) butter, garlic mayonnaise, and vinaigrette are also tasty.