On Saturday I inherited three beautiful artichokes from a friend who was cleaning out her fridge before she left town on spring break. My girls saw them sitting on the counter and said, “Make them, Mom! Make them the exact same way we had them at the lake last summer!”
They had to refresh my memory, because I didn’t recall exactly how that was – memories from the lake sometimes tend to get a little fuzzy, if you know what I mean. Luckily, turns out I wasn’t the one who made them (phew!). Our good friend Jeff was in charge of appetizers the day he and his family visited our cottage, and he brought along steamed artichokes with a delicious aioli for dipping.
How funny is it that after an afternoon of tubing and water skiing my kids preferred munching grown-up artichokes over the kid-friendly seven layer taco dip I probably made that day? Sometimes the punks surprise me. No Thank You Boy even likes them!
I called Jeff yesterday for the low-down; turns out, there’s not much of a recipe. His ‘aioli’ was a simple mixture of mayonnaise, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a healthy dose of Emeril’s Essence (BAM! – sorry). Give it a taste test, tweak it to your liking. I didn’t reach him in time for this photo shoot, so the ‘dip’ shown here is mayonnaise with a splash of balsamic vinegar, also yummy. Plain old melted butter and lemon juice would be nice choice too.
Don’t be intimidated by artichokes, they’re really not that much work. The whole steaming process is quite simple and they make an impressive springtime appetizer. Grab a few while they’re on sale this week for a buck a piece, then follow these easy instructions. Enjoy!
SIMPLE STEAMED ARTICHOKES
- 4 bright green artichokes without any brown spots
- 2 lemons, halved
- 1 quart water
- 1 T. black peppercorns
- 1 T. kosher salt
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- Several sprigs fresh parsley
Use a sharp knife to cut the stem end flush with the bottom of the artichoke. Remove any tough, fibrous leaves around the bottom, and pull off any damaged leaves around the artichoke. Cut ½ an inch off the top of the artichoke and rub the exposed portion with one of the lemon halves. Use a kitchen sheers to trim off the tops of any sharp, pointy tips of the remaining leaves. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
In a large stock pot, combine the water, lemons, peppercorns, salt, garlic and parsley. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the artichokes, stemmed side up, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover pot and simmer artichokes until the tip of a sharp knife meets very little resistance when stuck into the stem end, about 30 minutes. Remove artichokes and drain off any excess water.
You can serve them hot or cold, but I prefer hot. To serve and eat them, place one artichoke and a small dish of dipping sauce (melted butter with lemon juice, or mayonnaise for instance) on each diner’s plate. Pull off one leaf at a time and scrape it between your teeth to pull off the ‘meat’. When you get to the center, slice it in half and use a spoon to scoop out and discard the inedible fuzzy center. The remaining part is the prized artichoke heart…it’s delicious!Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | April 6th, 2010