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All Choked up in the Kitchen – But We Get to the Heart Eventually

May 9, 2012

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

It’s been a long time that I’ve cooked an artichoke. Not a fast food lane in the kitchen tonight. By the time this intriguing vegetable is ready to eat, I might have this blog written. A fresh bunch caught my eye at the grocery store the other day and once again, my curiosity got the better of me. I would have to look up how to cook these beauties that come all the way from California. I was introduced to artichoke in California on one trip – and I won’t say how long ago that was. I sat in a restaurant near the Costa Mesa harbour watching boats coming in on an evening tide, while I pealed the petals off a big globe artichoke to get at tiny morsels of the inner white stuff, then dipped them in butter. What a taste sensation that was! 

According to the California Artichoke Advisory Board ( the artichoke is a member of the thistle tribe of the sunflower family. You never know who your relatives are, do you?  

Here’s how to cook an artichoke: 

Artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves –  ‘petals’, as they are called. Cut the thorns off ¾” to 1” from each petal with kitchen scissors. Slice off any excess stem on the bottom, leaving ~ 1” at the base. It’s not harmful if you do prepare the artichoke without cutting the thorns off; it’s more for aesthetic reasons, and they do soften up with cooking. You simply don’t want to poke yourself or your guests, as these thorns are sharp. I know, I got through the first one OK, but yes, managed to injure myself with the second one. 

I keep band-aids in a kitchen drawer – I have had so many accidents in the kitchen – true! 

Back to my story that’s meant to choke you up.

Rinse the artichoke well in cold running water.

In a large pot, add a couple inches of water. Using a steaming basket, add the artichokes, a few slices of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a couple bay leaves.

Cover, bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 30-45 minutes. You will need to start checking them at the half hour. Cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the artichoke. Tonight, these medium-sized ones took 40 minutes.

Allow to drain briefly, then serve with melted butter or a light dip made with mayo, green onions, herbs, and dill.

Add plenty of napkins as this is a finger food dish of the utmost. 

To eat an artichoke:

Pull off outer petals, one at a time.

Dip the white fleshy end in melted butter or dip then pull the bottom of the petal through your teeth to remove the delicious centre of the petal. Discard the remainder of the petal as it’s not edible.

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into butter or sauce to eat. Tonight, I served them with a little chicken salad on the side.

The Mr. calls out – “Delish!” (Then he plugged up the garb with the remains of the artichokes and got a tad ticked when I had to laugh at the mess. I’ve cleared up plugged up garbs, too. You hit a re-set button but I let him try using the plunger first. The ‘choke was on him, but that’s another story.)

Served with a little palliative California chardonnay tonight. From my kitchen to yours  – enjoy!


From → Recipes

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