I’ll give you two guesses on what this post is going to be about.
Yes, an artichoke.That odd sort of tree-shaped vegetable that you are scared to pick up and have NO idea what to do with. People are used to artichokes being part of the often-times butchered spinach artichoke dip or as baby artichokes deep fried or others marinated in olive oil.
This is neither of those. This my friends, is the au natural way of eating an artichoke. No fancy smancy antics, just pulling the leaves and scraping the meat with your teeth. It blows my mind when I think about how someone figured out the process of cooking and consuming an artichoke.
Hey guys this looks interesting, let’s throw it in some boiling water and eat these weird leaf looking things.
Actually, that’s probably exactly how it went down and along the way they figured out that only the very end of the leaf is edible. Oh yea and the very middle of the artichoke, after all the leafy layers and the hairs you have to remove. Again, what a weird veggie.
Even though it may seem strange, if done right an artichoke is a fun and tasty appetizer. I used this post as a reference for the preparation and the cooking process and the artichoke turned out super fantastic. Cut off all the necessary parts, put the artichoke face down in a small amount boiling water for 20 minutes covered, turn over and sit the artichoke on its base, cover with olive oil and salt and boil for another 20 minutes in a covered pan. Fairly easy…although I did hit a speed bump along the way.
Here is a quick lesson on how NOT to burn your pan in the process of cooking an artichoke:
- Even if the recipe says to fill a pot with 1/2 inch of water, put in a little more
- Keep your eyes on the boiling water, making sure it doesn’t get too low
- Have extra water nearby, just in case the water does get too low
- Don’t multi-task by whisking your life away with an attempt to make ailoi
You know, burning the pan really wasn’t THAT big of deal. It’s what gave the little bit of char on the edges of the leaves, making the pictures a little more fancy. It did not affect the taste of the artichoke at all and cleaning the pan was actually really easy.
In case you are like me, attempting to do 100 things at once, and you do burn your pan here’s a way to fix it:
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp baking soda
Fill the pan with water, you may want to add a little more depending on the size of the pot. Add the vinegar and bring the mix to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, remove from heat. Put the pan OVER THE SINK and add the baking soda. There is emphasis on over the sink, because the mixture will fizz and it will potentially fizz a lot and overflow, causing everything to go everywhere. (trust me on this step, the overflowing fizz happened to me) Think of the volcano science fair project you always here about… FIZZ EVERYWHERE.
The artichoke was amazing and the burnt pan was only a minor setback…the aioli, on the other hand, is a totally different story. I’ve attempted aioli three times and only once did it turn out right. This time, it tasted awesome but it didn’t thicken up. I’m pretty sure it was due to the oil I used. If you look for “How to make aioli” online you will come across a ton of articles that all tell you to use a different oil. mix canola and olive oil, canola, grapeseed etc. Apparently mixing extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil was not the right answer. I think I also used an entire egg instead of just an egg yolk too, ugh. Here is the recipe I used the first (successful) time. It comes from the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Cookbook by Mark Bittman.
1 egg yolk
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup natural oil (grapeseed, corn or extra virgin) – I used grapeseed
salt and black pepper
1 tbs lemon juice, sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic (or more, depending on your taste preference) – this is a common edition to aioli but is not in the original recipe from the book.
(The following description is my paraphrasing of the instructions Mark provides in his book)
By hand: beat together yolk and mustard. Begin to add the oil a little at a time as you whisk, a tablespoon at a time is best. Add a little more oil once it is incorporated. You can begin to add the oil a little faster once the mixture becomes thicker. Depending on how fast you are at whisking, the process should take about 5 minutes.
You can also use a machine…but blah. You can find your own recipe for that. Why didn’t I follow this recipe? I don’t have a good answer except that at the time my computer was closer than the book. Like I said, the flavor of the aioli was great and we still used some of it with our artichoke. The only issue was that it was a little too liquidy. Oh well, another day.