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The artichoke's tough exterior hides a (delicious) heart.

What to Eat in Spring: Artichokes

The artichoke's tough exterior hides a (delicious) heart.

The artichoke’s tough exterior hides a tender and tasty heart. Photo by: Mercedes Palomino

Early spring is bursting with fresh, colorful produce, and you should be eating it now. A great one to incorporate? The wonderful artichoke. It’s at its peak March through May, so now’s the time to give all your artichoke recipes a try.

About the Artichoke

It might have a tough exterior, but the artichoke has a heart of gold. This round, multi-layered flower of the thistle family is not only delicious, it’s also packed with healthful nutrients.  Super high levels of potassium, calcium, fiber and antioxidants make this a must-eat. Add to that great flavor and incredibly versatility, and you’ve got yourself a veggie winner!

How to Pick An Artichoke

Go for the ones that appear tightly closed and feel heavy – this is a sign of freshness. Also look for an even, olive-hued leaf. If it shows some areas with black streaks, it means it’s been frost-kissed (burned by frost) – these artichokes are actually quite soft and flavorful, if not pretty.

How To Prep An Artichoke

Start by trimming the top off with a bread knife, about 1 to 2 inches. Then, with kitchen shears, cut each exposed thorn by ½ inch. Remove the first couple of layers of leaves, as they will be a bit tough. Finally, cut the stem off – although it’s perfectly edible, it might hinder your presentation. While you’re prepping, place cut artichokes in a bowl with water and lemon juicy, to prevent browning of the leaves (some browning will inevitably occur).

How To Store An Artichoke

Store the artichokes that you won’t be using right away, unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge. They will keep for about 4-5 days. Once the leaves open up and appear looser, eat right away.

How To Cook An Artichoke

Since artichoke leaves are fibrous, you should always boil (or steam) them to soften them up. Anywhere from 20-45 minutes should do the trick, depending of the size of the produce. To get to the artichoke heart, cut it across the center, lengthwise, and spoon out the fuzzy, hairy part – that’s the “choke”, and it’s inedible – under that lies the tender, delicious heart.

The possibilities of the artichoke are endless – fabulous in a smooth artichoke dip, and equally incredible when stuffed and baked. You can really have fun and experiment with it, so grab your basket and get yourself to market, stat!

Like artichokes? You’ll love:

Artichoke and Truffle Sauce by Urbani

 

Easy Artichokes

Rating: 51

10 minutes

1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Easy Artichokes

To eat: pull off each leaf, dip the soft end in your favorite sauce (anything mayo or butter based is amazing), grip the broad end tightly and scrape the fleshy end with your teeth, sucking all that meaty flesh; discard the rest of the leaf.

Ingredients

  • 4 large artichokes (or 5 medium ones)
  • 1 tbsp. coarse or kosher salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Fill a glass bowl with cold water and lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Prep the artichokes by rinsing them first with cold water. Then with a serrated knife, trim the top by cutting off about 2 inches. Remove the first layer of leaves until you see the lighter colored ones. With kitchen scissors, cut the pointy ends of the remaining leaves, about ½ off. Once you’re done with an artichoke, place it in the bowl with lemon juice while you prepare the next.
  3. Fill a large, heavy pot with about 2/3 full of water, kosher or coarse salt, and lemons. Bring to a boil and add the artichokes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high, partially cover the pan, and cook until tender, about 40-50 minutes (depending on size of the artichokes) until a sharp knife goes through the base easily - like a baked potato.
  5. Cool the artichokes and serve with your favorite dip or sauce, like Hollandaise.
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Caviar and egg, a classic combination!

Gourmet Guide: Serve, Store, and Eat Caviar Properly

Caviar is one of our best-selling items here at GourmetFoodStore.com.  A lot of you love to eat caviar, so it might come as a surprise to know just how many people are intimidated by the glossy eggs.  How do you serve caviar is one of the most oft-asked questions, followed by the inevitable sequiturs, how do you store caviar, and, of course, how do you eat caviar?

First on our “Gourmet Guide” series, read on to find out everything you need – well, everything we could think of! – to know about serving, storing and eating caviar!

How To Eat Caviar: Caviar on quail eggs and celery salt.

Caviar + Quail Eggs: A classic combination! Ph: CharlotteJulienne

THE DO’s AND DON’Ts OF SERVING, EATING AND STORING CAVIAR

DO…

Serve ChilledCaviar is always served not just cold, but ice-cold. Keep tins of caviar in the fridge right until you’re ready to serve. If you’re going to set the caviar out for people to serve themselves, buffet-style, keep it in the original tin over another bowl of ice, to keep it nice and chilly. Or invest in a gorgeous caviar server!

Use Mother Of Pearl: You want to use either mother of pearl, glass or (and we shudder to even suggest it) in an emergency, plastic…but really, why would you ever serve caviar with plastic?

How To Eat Caviar: Mother Pearl Serving Set And A Glass Serving

Left: Mother of pearl utensils won’t alter the flavor of caviar. Right: A glass server with a bowl for ice will keep your caviar nice and chilly.

Keep It Simple: The most classic way to eat caviar is over a blini or toast points, with a dollop of crème fraiche. A sort of buckwheat mini-pancake of Russian origins, blinis have a very mild bland flavor that acts as the perfect vessel for the salty taste and crunchy pop of caviar.

Feel Free To Be Creative: There are other ways to serve caviar besides as an hors d’oeuvre. Try it over soft or hard boiled quail eggs, with potatoes, or sprinkled over pasta.

How To Eat Caviar: caviar over crispy potato skins with creme fraiche.

A simply delicious and creative way of serving caviar: freshwater caviar over crispy potato skins with creme fraiche. Ph: Thefood-online.com

Drink Vodka or Champagne: down a shot of chilled vodka with caviar to be super authentic, or with a flute of bubbly champagne to be totally glamorous. You can also try a light beer or a crisp and subtle white wine.

Be Gentle: caviar eggs are delicate and tend to be crushed, so gently place the eggs where you want them.

DON’T…

Use Metal: You never, ever, ever, EVER want to eat caviar with a metal utensil – don’t even touch it with metal. Metal changes the flavor of caviar and will taint it with an awful metal bite.

Add Too Many Other Ingredients: the idea is to keep side ingredients bland and to a minimum, to let the flavor of the caviar shine through…after all, you’re paying a pretty penny for each of those eggs!

Actually Cook It: caviar is really not meant for cooking; it becomes tough and the flavor changes.

Drink Caviar With Red Wine or Dark Beer: Try to eat caviar and then down it with a big bold red wine and you’ll quickly realize why. The caviar’s saltiness calls for a drink that’s refreshing and cleanses the palate. Red wines and dark beers are too overwhelming.

How To Eat Caviar: hen egg, homemade potato chips, onion sousbise, and herb salad.

Go beyond the blini and try your caviar with a soft hen egg, homemade potato chips, onion sousbise, and herb salad. Ph: Eats.Meets.Wes

TIPS FOR STORING CAVIAR

  • Read all labels carefully once you get your product.
  • Caviar is highly perishable and must be stored in the fridge.
  • Do not freeze.
  • Once opened, consume within 2-3 days, caviar won’t keep for long.

 

Products from this post:

Caviar Selection >
Creme Fraiche >
Blini & Toast Points >
Caviar Serving Utensils >