I love artichokes. Their flavor can be an acquired taste, and to tell you the truth, I was not nearly as captivated by them when first introduced to this member of the thistle family. But it wasn't long before addiction set in. The flavor is not only wonderful, but there's something very 'cool' about scraping the leaves through your teeth. It's one of those vegetables that makes you wonder about the first brave soul to figure out that such pleasure existed in this odd and somewhat intimidating-looking plant. However, by far my favorite part of this vegetable is the heart. It's definitely worth all the work excavating through the leaves to find.
My favorite way to enjoy artichokes is stuffed with flavored bread crumbs and served with a lemon-butter sauce. But like the many other foodies who were compelled to break out their personal copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking after watching the movie Julie and Julia, I had to try Julia Child's suggestion of enjoying a steamed or boiled artichoke with Hollandaise sauce on the side. And while I'm sure Ms. Child would frown upon my shortcut blender Hollandaise, I cannot taste a difference (or enough of one, anyway) between my blender version and the stand-in-front-of-the-stove-and-stir-butter-til-your-arm-falls-off version.
As a bit of an aside, take a gander at the beautiful board my dinner is resting on. It's one of Ann's (The Maple Cutting Board Gallery). I love the design in the wood, the beautiful edge of the board. Now that Ann and her husband are creating these boards themselves, I'm going to have a difficult time reining in my wish to add to my collection. I imagine that is going to be a futile endeavor...
Artichoke with Hollandaise Sauce
4 large artichokes
Hollandaise Sauce (recipe follows)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (should be large enough so that boiling water will cover artichokes). Carefully drop artichokes into boiling water, cover, and cook for 45 minutes - 1 hour. To test for doneness, tug at one of the bottom outer leaves. It will come out easily when artichoke is fully cooked. When done, remove with tongs and drain. Serve with Hollandaise sauce.
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup butter, melted and bubbling
Add egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and hot pepper sauce to blender, and blend about 5 seconds. With blender running, and partially covering top, pour in bubbling butter in a steady stream. Blend until thickened, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
Yield: 3/4 cup
Source: GE appliance recipe, copyright 1978
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