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The globe artichoke plant (called globe for the shape of the bud) grows 3 to 5 feet tall, producing edible, slightly nutty-flavored, flower buds reaching up to six inches in diameter. Once the flower matures, the artichoke becomes inedible so the buds are harvested by hand before flowering. In warm climates, the artichoke is grown as a perennial; in cool climates, as an annual. To eat the cooked artichoke, simply pull off each leaf and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to scrape off the soft portion, discarding the rest of the leaf. As you progress upward from the base, the leaves become more tender, with larger edible portions until you reach the choke (the undeveloped flower). Remove and discard the "hairy" choke, then dive into the hidden treasure known as the heart. To store artichokes Avoid rinsing or cutting artichokes before storing. Put artichokes into a plastic bag. Sprinkle some water over them and seal the bag. Store no longer than three to five days. Artichoke Cooking Tips • Although baking, boiling and steaming are the most popular cooking methods for the basic stand-alone artichoke, it can be used to enhance many dishes as you will see in the featured artichoke recipes. • Most people are content to eat cooked artichoke virtually unadorned, perhaps seasoned with some garlic and olive oil with a clarified butter dip. • Use a stainless steel knife to trim the artichoke and avoid iron or aluminum cooking pots to which can cause discoloration. • A light spray of lemon juice will prevent darkening of trimmed artichokes awaiting preparation. • Pressure-cooking is a quick and easy way to prepare artichokes. Artichokes are fully cooked when a bottom leaf can easily be pulled from the base. • Raw hearts should be cooked in acidulated (lemon juice or vinegar) water. • Don't throw away the stems. Peel them and cook along with the artichokes. Eat hot or chill and slice into salads or pasta dishes. BAKED ARTICHOKE CASSEROLE 2 medium California artichokes 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 medium onions, sliced thick 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning 2 medium tomatoes, sliced 6 ounces mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, sliced Bend back outer petals of each artichoke until they snap off easily near base. Edible portion of petals should remain on artichoke bottom. Continue to snap off and discard thick petals until central core of pale green petals is reached. Trim brown end of stem and cut off top 2-inches of artichokes; discard. Pare outer dark green surface layer from artichoke bottoms. Cut out center petals and fuzzy centers. Slice artichoke bottoms about 1/4- inch thick. Toss with lemon juice to prevent discoloration; set aside. Sauté onions in olive oil 5 to 8 minutes or until tender. Spoon evenly into 2-quart oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle with Italian herb seasoning. Arrange tomato slices, artichoke slices and cheese slices on onions, over- lapping slightly in center of dish. Cover dish with lid or foil. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Makes 4 servings. GRILLED ARTICHOKES This recipe is perfect for the lazy cook, since all preparation can be done the previous day. The slightly smoky taste compliments the nuttiness of the artichoke and no dip is necessary, although some might want to use additional marinade for dipping. Ingredients: 4 large artichokes ¼ cup balsamic vinegar ¼ cup water ¼ cup soy sauce 1 T minced ginger ¼ cup olive oil Method: 1. Slice artichoke tops off, crosswise. Trim Stems. 2. Boil or steam artichokes until bottoms pierce easily, or a petal pulls off easily. 3. Drain artichokes. Cool. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise and scrape out fuzzy center and any purple tipped petals. 4. Mix remaining ingredients in a large plastic bag. Place artichokes in the bag and coat all sides of the artichokes. For best flavor marinate in the mixture overnight in the refrigerator but should marinate at least one hour. 5. Drain artichokes. Place cut side down on a grill over a solid bed of medium coals or gas grill on medium. Grill until lightly browned on the cut side, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn artichokes over and drizzle some of the remaining marinade over the artichokes. Grill until petal tips are lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes more. 6. Serve hot or room temperature Simple artichokes INGREDIENTS 2 whole artichokes 2 tablespoons butter 2 cloves garlic, sliced salt and pepper to taste DIRECTIONS 1. Fill the pan with just enough water to cover bottom. Bring to a full boil over high heat. While water is heating, trim and discard the stems and tough outer leaves of artichokes. Tuck slivers of butter and slices of garlic into artichoke leaves. 2. When water is boiling, place steamer insert in pot and set artichokes in steamer, stem-side down. Cover pot with lid and allow artichokes to steam for approximately 20 minutes, until tender . Whole Artichokes Ingredients: 1 tablespoon mayonnaise ½ teaspoon prepared mustard 1 large artichokes ½ tablespoon lemon juice Method: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and mustard. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Wash artichokes under cold, running water. Pull off lower petals and cut off bottom stems (cut flush with the base). Cut off about 1/2 inch of the pointed top of the artichoke. Trim tips of leaves with scissors to remove thorns. Dip in lemon juice to preserve color. TIP: Always use a stainless-steel knife and a stainless-steel or glass pot. Iron or aluminum will turn artichokes an unappetizing blue or black. For the same reason, never let aluminum foil come in contact with artichokes. In a large pot add approximately 2 cups of water and the remaining lemon juice; bring to a boil. Place the prepared artichoke in the boiling water, cover with lid, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for approximately 20 (depending on size). The artichokes are done when the leaves pull away easily. Remove artichoke from the boiling water with tongs and drain them upside down in a colander (after cooking, artichokes can be stored in an airtight container for a maximum of 3 days). Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve warm or cool with mayonnaise/mustard dip.
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