BABY ARTICHOKES (Cleaning and preparing)

Why are we so intimidated by artichokes?  For me,  it's heaven on earth.  This beautiful vegetable has been around since before Biblical time, yet many have not learned how to clean one let alone cook one properly.  I learned a long time ago from my mother.  I could never understand how something so unattractive could taste so good when cooked.    Today, it's even a luxury for me to find them in Memphis TN.  Lately, these out of California have been showing up year round.  Unfortunately, Memphis is 85 miles away, a long way to go for some artichokes.  Here are a few easy steps to consider when cleaning baby artichokes.  Same rules apply when cleaning Globe, the larger variety often found in supermarkets.  It's important to note that the larger the artichoke, the more you will lose when peeling away to get to the edible parts.  
If you haven't tried an artichoke yet, pick yourself up some.  It has a very high nutritional value.  It's impossible to pair with wine or even water as it has a natural chemical called cynara that over takes your taste buds.  So skip the drink and savor the aroma and taste.
One thing is for sure, whether is Romanesco, Globe, Violet di Provence, Spinoso Sardo, it's all good.

1. Prepare you bowl of freshly squeezed lemon and water and set aside.  As you cut away the ends, about 1/8 of an inch and peel away your spiny ends, rub your remaining artichoke with lemon.  Insert your knife and remove the center, spiny choke.

2.  Keep cutting quickly, place your baby artichokes into your lemon water.  Be sure to trim the stems just a little until brighter in color.  It just takes some practice.   To store these baby artichokes long term in the freezer, I put them in a pan to boil with water to cover.   Keep covered at a simmer for 45minutes, until tender with a fork.  Do not worry if they break apart.  Let them cool and reserve in their cooking liquid and place in freezer proof container for a future recipe. Saving the liquid is a very important part as it has lots of wonderful flavor.   

3.  When you see the bright color of the artichoke, that is your clue that you have reached the most tender part. 
I like to make pasta with shrimp and artichokes, or risotto with artichokes. It's great having these already cooked in the freezer ready to go.   Since they don't stay around long in the refrigerator or even in the supermarket around here, I need to buy and prepare when I can!~  I am known as the artichoke woman at the Fresh Market in Memphis, and only get there once a month or so.  Can you blame me?   Recipe coming up soon on this blog.    Buon Appetito~ 


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