Thursday, March 27, 2014

Baking artichokes from my garden autumn harvest, overcoming fear of artichokes

This summer I planted artichokes for the first time. I was surprised at how quickly they grew and produced flowers.  Here are my photos from a couple of weeks ago.

We have had torrential rain since then. All the empty dams are re-filled and our sloping driveway and garden path have washed away. Everything is soggy underfoot and the water dripping from the trees drenches as I venture out when the rain stops.

I have lost a few crops. My silverbeet is ok just some of the leaves have rotted. My peppers look ghastly, completely ruined.

The biggest victim though was my artichokes.  They are completely laid waste on the ground.

I quickly snipped off the three heads I could find so growing them would yield some harvest.

Now as I said in my last post on the subject, I've never been confident about how to deal with artichokes.  So I found some information on the web and tackled the chokes with my laptop handy.

First I soaked them in a bowl of water with lemon juice. I took one out of the bowl and sliced a bit off the top. I cut down into the centre with a sharp knife to dig out the choke, the fibrous stuff you can't eat. This was like coring an apple only try not to cut right through to the bottom. My knife needs sharpening before I do this again, it was harder work than it needed to be.

Then I cut the bottom. Under the hard outside shell there's the delicate heart.  Carefully cut from the outside towards the centre shaving off that outer shell. Keep working around the bottom artichoke till the heart is exposed. Put it back in the lemon water while you prepare the other in the same way.

Place the artichokes in a pot of boiling salted water. Boil for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180c and spray a baking dish with oil.

I made stuffing for the artichokes. Here's my recipe:
   Finely chopped walnuts
   Chopped garlic
   Diced cherry tomatoes
   Sliced shallots
   Fresh parsley
   Blue vein cheese, diced.
Mix all ingredients together.

I took the artichokes out of the boiling water and cut them lengthways. Place them cut side up in the baking dish and spoon your stuffing into them.  Bake until them smell divine, about 10-15 minutes.

I wasn't really sure whether the artichokes were under or over ripe and struggled to find clear information on this.  The purply coloured one in the photo above was quite coarse so in future I'd pick them earlier. Don't worry though as through baking them any leaves that were super coarse fell away and exposed the tender middle anyway.

I am very happy with my first try with artichokes.  Dig in, give it a go. It will work out and we'll all get better at it as we practice. I will re-use this stuffing recipe it was delicious.

The recipes and instructions I found helpful can be found on my pinterest cooking page.

By the way, I bought two new artichoke plants as they are a must have in my garden now. Oh drat raining again.                                                                                       

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