Globe Artichokes with Shallot Vinaigrette
An artichoke is, without doubt, a work of art – dark and pale green leaves with purple edges forming a perfectly shaped bud. There’s something extremely satisfying about leisurely peeling off the leaves, dipping them into vinaigrette and biting into the fleshy part at the base of each leaf. Then, of course, the prize – the heart at the very centre, providing a kind of grand finale to the whole affair.
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This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three.
First prepare the artichokes. Remove about four of the toughest outer leaves, then place the artichoke at the edge of a table so that the stalk overhangs the edge. Grasp the artichoke and snap away the stalk, removing some of the tough fibres running up into the base. Now with a large serrated knife, carefully slice off the top quarter of each artichoke and discard. Then, with a pair of scissors, trim away the tips of all the leaves.
Don’t boil artichokes in iron or aluminium pans as this can discolour them. Have your chosen large pan ready filled with salted, boiling water, with the tablespoon of lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) added. Simmer the artichokes, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until one of the outer leaves pulls away easily and the bases feel tender when tested with a skewer.
Then drain upside down, shaking them to get rid of excess water.
Now remove the hairy ‘choke’: carefully spread the leaves until you come to the central cone of thinner, lightly-coloured leaves – pull these out and underneath you’ll find the choke. Pull it out in clumps – it will come away very easily.
Finally, make up the vinaigrette. Begin by crushing 1 rounded teaspoon sea salt quite coarsely in a mortar, then add the garlic. As it comes into contact with the salt, it will break down into a purée.
Next, add the mustard powder and work it in with circular movements. After that, add some freshly milled black pepper. Now work in the vinegar in the same way as the mustard. Then add the shallot and the oil, switch to a small whisk and whisk thoroughly.
Serve the vinaigrette in a bowl to dip the artichoke leaves into and, on the table, have a finger bowl, napkins, a separate plate for the discarded leaves, and a knife and fork each to eat the heart – wonderful!
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I love serving this, one of my most favourite soups. First, it has an extremely rich, beautiful colour, almost saffron I would say. And second, people can never quite guess what it is. Jerusalem artichokes don't look user-friendly, but...
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