Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Steamed Artichokes with Homemade Dipping Mayonnaise
If you didn't grow up preparing and eating artichokes every spring, these layered, thick-leaved veggies can seem pretty mysterious. I mean, what other food do you eat in this manner? Gently peeling off one leaf after another, only to delicately scrape your front teeth across the inside hoping for the tiniest taste of what you're working towards: that elusive heart. The heart of the artichoke. That is some goal-driven eating, right there. But once you get to the center and take your first full-on bite (preferably covered in a creamy homemade mayo), you get what all the fuss is about. But if you're anything like me, you leave the cooking up to the pros, and steer clear of the piles of gorgeous artichoke specimens at the markets. Because, how do you cook such a thing, really? It always seemed a tad intimidating to me until about a month ago when my friend Scarlett of fork and flower set me right. On a trip to the farmers' market in Zurich, she made a beeline straight for the artichokes, and declared that she had lost count of all the artichoke recipes she had created for her blog over the years. She also declared that cooking the things was as varied and simple as could be. And, so, with those encouraging thoughts in my head, I embarked on two firsts: home-cooked artichokes and mayonnaise whisked together by hand. Both were astoundingly good.
If you've never made homemade mayonnaise, you need to remedy that the very next time you have a need for the stuff. It's a completely different animal than good old Hellman's and my personal store-bought favorite, Vegenaise. It's luscious and creamy and so very easy to put together. And it happens to be the perfect accompaniment to an artichoke, steamed or boiled on your stovetop for around 20 minutes. If you serve this combo to guests, it will appear much more impressive than it actually is, and it's weirdly satisfying to look upon the big piles of discarded leaves at the very end. Feels like a goal accomplished. Both recipes from Jody Williams' brilliant new book, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. xo
Makes 1/2 cup
1 large egg yolk
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon water
Pinch coarse salt
6 or 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Whisk together the egg, lemon, water, and salt and then very, very slowly, whisk in the olive oil, just a few drops at a time at first, building up to a slow, steady stream. The mixture should be the color of a bright mustard and thick enough to hold itself together. This is precious stuff. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for no more than 2 days.
Steamed or Boiled Artichokes
4 large artichokes
Homemade mayonnaise (recipe above)
Using a pair of scissors, trim the sharp thorn from the tip of each leaf on each artichoke. Using a serrated knife, remove 2 inches from the crown. If needed, trim the stem back so each artichoke can balance in a serving bowl or on a plate.
Place the artichokes in a steamer, cover, and cook until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. The artichokes may also be boiled in a large covered pot with ample salted water to cover them until done, about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve the artichokes warm or chilled and enjoy with plenty of homemade mayonnaise. Dip each leaf into a bowl of the mayonnaise and scrape the flesh off the leaf with your teeth, creating a tall pile of spent leaves on a side plate as you go. When you reach the center of the artichoke, discard the fibrous choke and enjoy the delicious heart. Remember to provide extra plates for the discarded leaves.