Monday, January 08, 2007

Go on, give it a try... ARTICHOKE RECIPES

Jerusalem artichokes may not be in your vegbox - they're special order only with my scheme - but they're available about now. And it's ABOUT TIME! This unpopular, windy vegetable is entirely unattractive but, like the celeriac or the sweet potato, their beauty lies within. Although I only discovered it a couple of years ago, I thought I'd post some of the ideas I've tried, and encourage you to try it too. You might hate it, but you can always throw it in the bin and go to the chippy.


CARROT AND ARTICHOKE SOUP

This is Delia's favourite soup - she says she likes to keep people guessing regarding the 'secret' ingredient!

450g carrots, peeled and chopped
700g jerusalem artichokes, peeled, chopped, and dropped into a bowl of lemon-scented water
1tbsp butter
2 pints stock made from Marigold bouillon
Salt and pepper

It's easy as pie. Saute the carrots and artichokes gently in the butter for about 10 minutes on a low heat (avoid browning). Add the stock and simmer for about 20 minutes, then cool, puree, and season generously.

LEEK AND ARTICHOKE SOUP

This is a totally fabulous soup and possibly the best place to start with artichokes. You'll be instantly convinced, I know it. Replacing the potatoes of Vichysoisse with chopped artichoke was a stroke of genius - resulting in a velvety, rich, and glam-looking white soup. Garnish with croutons or snipped chives. Just please, please try it...

2 leeks (white part only - be strict!)
500g Jerusalem artichokes
1 scant tsp lemon juice
1dsstsp butter
2tsp Marigold Bouillon powder
0.5tsp salt
1tbsp single cream

Chop the leeks roughly, and put them with the butter in a large saucepan. Sprinkle the lemon juice into the pan and now prepare the artichokes as quickly as you can. Peel and chop one at a time, stirring it into the lemony, buttery pan straight away. This prevents the artichokes from discolouring, which they'll do very quickly if left on the chopping board. (It doesn't alter the taste but this soup is such a lovely white colour if you take care!)

Saute the leeks and artichokes very gently in butter, letting them soften and become buttery but not brown. Next, add the stock powder, cover with water, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool, add the single cream, then puree, add some salt, and serve with snipped chives.


ARTICHOKE AND POTATO GRATIN

I didn't weigh the quantities here: look at your gratin dish and judge accordingly.

Peeled and sliced artichokes and potatoes (half-and-half)
0.5 pint milk
0.5 pint vegetable stock
Butter

Boil the potatoes and artichokes very briefly - about 5 minutes max - and drain, running cold water over to stop them crumbling. Layer them carefully in your dish, seasoning between, and then pour over the milk/stock mixture. Dot the top with butter and bake on a medium heat for about 1 hour. (Cover with foil if you don't like the crunchy brown bits on the top.)


More ways with artichokes...
Abel and Cole suggest sauteeing with butter, then braising them in white wine with a sprig of rosemary, and adding a splash of double cream at the end. You can also add some chopped artichoke to your mashed potato pre-mashing, like celeriac.