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Artichokes on the menu?

o
Ora Moose Dec 16, 2010 12:23 PM

I had never really been an artichoke lover until I just recently learned how to cook and eat it in the simplest possible way: steamed until tender, then pick off the leaves one at a time and dip on good olive oil dripped onto a plate, a bit of salt, drag through your teeth to scrape the meat off the leaf and voila! Great finger food. I am addicted.

The prepared artichoke hearts found at cafeterias and salad bars seem to be semi-pickled and just do not compare with fresh cooked. I will probably be growing my own next year, I see that http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8345-imp... has an organic variety.

Now I'm asking fellow chowhounders to please help expand my artichoke universe and share your cooking methods.

I'd also like to hear about local restaurants that have great versions of artichoke, be they appetizers or incorporated into main dishes. I am on a mission, any and all suggestions appreciated.

Thanks!

  1. p
    Pegmeister Dec 16, 2010 03:30 PM

    I've never been a huge artichoke fan but I found the artichoke appetizer at Euno in the North End to be so good I would go there just for the artichokes. Their version is a grilled artichoke filled with goat cheese and wrapped with prosciutto, absolutely amazing!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pegmeister
      k
      Karl Dec 21, 2010 07:47 AM

      That artichoke appetizer is amazing!

    2. Bob Dobalina Dec 17, 2010 03:54 AM

      I honestly think you'll do better to revisit this question in early spring, when fresh artichokes start coming in. You will start to see them pop up on a number of seasonal menus.

      My personal favorite when they have them are the baby artichokes at Highland Kitchen - they are braised in olive oil, then finished on a grill, with some sort of yummy dip - really good.

      -----
      Highland Kitchen
      150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bob Dobalina
        Alcachofa Dec 20, 2010 10:52 AM

        I love those (the HK babies). Truly great. "Get in my belly!"

      2. BobB Dec 17, 2010 04:15 AM

        When I can get really fresh baby artichokes (spring, as Bob D notes), my favorite preparation is Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish-style artichokes), a classic Roman dish. You basically deep-fry them until crisp and brown, but there are a couple of little tricks involved that make them open up like a flower and also cook through the center - google for recipes.

         
        3 Replies
        1. re: BobB
          t
          twentyoystahs Dec 17, 2010 04:32 AM

          Just had a fried artichokes appetizer at Stella last night. Lightly fried, like a tempura batter, with a delicious little dipping sauce. Excellent.

          1. re: BobB
            o
            Ora Moose Dec 17, 2010 12:46 PM

            Thanks Bob D, I will revisit the topic in the spring although I was under the impression that they are a late season crop.?

            BobB, that's a great picture and I definitely will try to duplicate that at home since the recipes for it sound easy enough.

            20oystahs, I think a visit to Stella is in short order, thanks for the heads up.

            CocoDan, I live near Randolph and will try your LaScala bar suggestion, thanks. I'll call ahead.

            1. re: Ora Moose
              Bob Dobalina Dec 20, 2010 04:04 AM

              Hi Ora -

              I always figured that they were spring because artichokes are really just immature thistle flowers. Really BIG thistles, mind you.

              Wikipedia suggests we both may be right: "The peak season for artichoke harvesting is the spring, but they continue to be harvested throughout the summer, with another peak period in mid autumn."

          2. CocoDan Dec 17, 2010 05:30 AM

            LaScala in Randolph has them in season. Call ahead. Not drop dead food, but the artichokes are very good and worth the stop. They do them stuffed. Sit at the bar, have some wine and an artichoke, and you'll leave a happy camper.
            Enjoy,
            CocoDan

            1 Reply
            1. re: CocoDan
              p
              professor shorthair Dec 17, 2010 03:52 PM

              Just tonight we had grilled artichoke hearts at The Rosebud in Davis Sq. They were a nice appetizer. Better was the fried calamari. Their turkey sandwich is made with their own roasted turkey and is very good.

            2. SmokeDawg Dec 17, 2010 05:03 PM

              I like to braise artichokes - use a heavy pan with a lid, like enameled cast iron, trim the artichokes, place in the pan with some garlic cloves, a little olive oil, a lemon cut and squeezed (I still put the squeezed halves in) and 1/2 inch of water. Place it over a very low flame and cover. It takes 45 minutes to an hour, and i baste every so often, when I remember to.

              Braising works even better for stuffed artichokes. I like a couscous stuffing with pinenuts and currents or raisins. First you have to steam the artichokes enough to be able to open up the leaves and remove the choke (microwave works great for this) then shove stuffing where ever you can fit it.

              1. q
                QCumber Dec 17, 2010 06:42 PM

                I was just at towne stove and spirits in the Back Bay and they have an artichoke appetizer:

                warmed burrata & rocket salad on long cooked artichoke... caper anchovy aioli $15

                I didn't order it, so I can't comment on it, but the rest of our dishes were pretty good so I assume this would be too (although the garlic panna cotta with the beets was a bit strange...).

                Q

                1. trufflehound Dec 18, 2010 08:10 AM

                  You may not have success growing them. They require a long season.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: trufflehound
                    o
                    Ora Moose Dec 18, 2010 09:38 AM

                    True, but according to Johnnys "Specifically bred for annual production, Imperial Star produces artichokes the first season from seed."

                    Thanks everyone for all the great feedback.

                  2. h
                    hazelhurst Dec 20, 2010 11:18 AM

                    Can't help as to where in Boston has them but I can offer some ideas inasmuch as I have loved the things since I was a child. We always soaked the whole globe artiichoke in a bowl with some salted water and vinegar--or lemon juice. I was told that this gets bugs out and sometimes it does and there are other cooks who leave the things in this solution for several hours on the theory that it tenderizes them and enhances things. I usually leave them for the afternoon...no need to refrigerate. then we always boiled them but Modern Cooks demand steaming which takes awhile. pressure cooker works great, too. I grew up having them with homemade hollandaise or lemon-butter. then, too, you can do the Stuffed Artichoke which is pretty much anything you want to whip up and shiove down between the leaves. Check any New Orleans cookbook that is worth a damn.

                    You can cook them and scrape the leaves with a spoon, then add the chopped heart and make Oyster & Artichoke soup.

                    My grandmother used them to great effect in summer, cooked and halved lengthwise, chilled qnd served with a vinaigrette in the cavity.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: hazelhurst
                      yumyum Dec 20, 2010 11:22 AM

                      The pressure cooker method is pretty darned sweet. What usually can take up to an hour steaming on the stove is done in 15 - 20. I like mine dipped into melted butter or even some curry-flecked mayo. And I have a special fondness for the stem. If you peel it, it's like a bonus heart.

                      To Ora, you'll get lots and lots of ideas on cooking artichokes on the Home Cooking board.

                      1. re: yumyum
                        h
                        hazelhurst Dec 20, 2010 11:35 AM

                        I'm with ya on the stem..I have alwasy done that just becuase I could not stand to waste anything (I gave up the "elegant" knife-point excision of the fuzz years ago becuase you can leave some heart off so I just take a spoon and scrape the stuff off). I'll even chew on the tougher outer part as sort of an artichoke "cud." I suppose we are a fanatical tribe...

                        1. re: hazelhurst
                          yumyum Dec 20, 2010 11:51 AM

                          Never met a food fanatic I didn't instantly dig. There is something very, um, 'special' about our tribe.

                          1. re: hazelhurst
                            StriperGuy Dec 20, 2010 12:18 PM

                            I know what you mean by artichoke cud...

                            It ain't glamorous, but Trader Joes sells surprisingling good frozen, pre-prepped artichoke hearts that are really quite excellent.

                            Then there was the time in Spain when a dump truck full of chokes pulled up to the local market; they were selling them for 10 cents a pound........

                            -----
                            Trader Joe's
                            1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              Alcachofa Dec 21, 2010 05:10 AM

                              GOOD GOD! I would have filled pool and swam in them.

                              1. re: Alcachofa
                                StriperGuy Dec 21, 2010 05:50 AM

                                I gorged on artichokes for a month and loved it the whole time.

                                Made a rabbit stew, but instead of potatoes I used fresh artichoke hearts.

                                I kid you not it was a huge dump truck. Must've been 3,000 pounds of fresh local artichokes. It was totally insane.

                                It was towards the end of the season (late spring) so prices had already come down and there were artichokes everywhere.

                                I also do fresh chokes with a goat cheese evoo herb dressing/dipping sauce that is quite tasty.

                      2. h
                        hungrygale Dec 20, 2010 04:05 PM

                        Formaggio...great artichokes. Not sure what they do with them...grilled maybe. Very tasty. As for cooking. Clean the artichoke up boil in salted water until the leaves are tender, cool and serve with a really good vinaigrette.

                        1. s
                          somervilleoldtimer Dec 21, 2010 06:11 AM

                          I do them in the most basic way, which is to just trim the stem, boil them with water 1/2 way up the artichoke (stem down) for about an hour, let cool/drain upside down, then pick off leaves and scrape, with a good balsamic vinaigrette as a dipping sauce for each leaf and for the heart. I have also had fun with tiny baby artichokes (sold in packs); I scrape out the choke with a spoon, then cook the artichoke in water 1/2 up, (they're so small a flat pan will do) and then dress the whole thing in a vinaigrette, making sure it goes inside. You can eat the whole thing!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                            StriperGuy Dec 21, 2010 06:30 AM

                            With the tiny ones I don't even bother to scrape out the choke it is so small.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              s
                              somervilleoldtimer Dec 21, 2010 06:53 AM

                              Huh! I'll give that a try. Thanks.

                          2. CocoDan Dec 21, 2010 07:34 AM

                            Almost forgot my recent favorite artichoke dish was an appetizer at Bistro du Midi. Lightly fried baby hearts with stem on. They were delicious!!! If nothing else, sit at the bar, order a cocktail, and order up some to munch on. Oh boy, I'm going back right away.
                            Enjoy,
                            CocoDan

                            -----
                            Bistro du Midi
                            272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

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