Sunday, April 26, 2009

Artichoke weekend

I was fortunate to score some artichokes from a friend's family, and pondered what to do with them. I am new to artichokes, as they were not served in my home growing up, and so I am on a quest to learn how to prepare and eat them.

I already knew what to do with the baby ones. The same friend's mother had taught me how to make a divine fried artichoke heart, which includes onion, garlic, egg, flour, etc. Delicious. I boiled a couple of the larger ones, and dipped the leaves in melted butter before scraping them in my teeth. That still left me some more, so I went looking for an artichoke soup recipe. I LOVE soup.

One friend laughed at the truth of this statement, as I started digging into my FOURTH bowl of soup at Sweet Tomatoes. For those of you not familiar with the chain, Sweet Tomatoes is a soup and salad bar restaurant, much like Fresh Choice, where everything is all you can eat. They always have 6 different soups ready, and I usually try more than half of them. Yum! Good luck finding any meat, though. Most of us fish big chunks of chicken out of the ever-present chicken-noodle soup if we are concerned about that.

Anyway, I had an unexpected day at home, since my youngest was homebound with a fever. Dosed with kiddie ibuprofen, he was happy watching TV or playing videos, and not much in the mood to do anything else. So, soup, why not?

Found a workable looking recipe. The main steps included:
  1. Steam artichokes in chicken broth with sliced onions for 45 minutes
  2. Take artichokes out and remove leaves, set aside
  3. Remove and ditch choke, cut heart into pieces
  4. Scrape pulp from artichoke leaves (OK, this part turned out to be REALLY tedious and time-consuming!)
  5. Blend pulp, broth, and onions in food processor in small batches until smooth
  6. Return all ingredients plus milk, salt, pepper, parsely, chives to pot & reheat
So, new recipe, and my first chance to use the immersion blender I got at Christmas. Oh, and the thermal cooker would come out again for the first 45 minutes of cooking time. Play with TWO new kitchen gadgets on the same new recipe? Score!!

So, that took up most of my day.

The soup turned out good, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had been sitting in a restaurant on my butt, and it was brought to me on a platter with a white linen napkin. Totally not worth it now that I have a big pot of soup that no one in my house will eat except me. Guess we will see how well it freezes and defrosts!

The fried artichoke hearts came out well, and those I ate until I started to feel sick. Of course Barley's limited palate prevents him from even trying one, and DH is not interested as it is a healthy vegetable. C'mon, I even deep fried it for you, honey, and coated it with salt!

I had hopes that Teddy would join me, but he heard "artichoke heart", and since he did not know what that was, he thought I meant "armadillo heart" and got grossed out. Even though he could SEE the vegetable matter as I prepared it for frying, he couldn't bring himself to eat more than one. He said it tasted fine otherwise. Instead, he ate the carrots I threw in to use up the batter and oil. Good thing he knows what carrots are!

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