Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Aioli
Now, I live in the "heart" of artichoke country in California. How lucky for me! I was at our local farmer's market this weekend and these artichokes just called to me. I just had to have some. We are also fortunate to have access to Giusti Farms. This family has been growing artichokes out here for generations and are some of the only people that still grow the globe type.
I got some great information from my friend Erin, specifically about this vegetable. She told me that it:
used to be artichokes were a rather rare, seasonal plant, that over the years have been hybridized so that now you can grow then from seed. The resulting chokes went from bad to mediocre and back, as often happens: great flavor and dense rich hearts traded in for longer season and higher yield of larger chokes you could get year round. The pendulum has swung the other way, and now the seed chokes are better, but nothing but nothing can touch a globe type choke for flavor, nutrition and just plain beauty if you ask me - and the Giusti's still grow them.
Very interesting! I knew there was a reason I liked them so much.
Don't be intimidated by artichokes; the cooking process is easy. Start by preparing the artichoke. A long, sharp knife is necessary, though. Cut the bottom to make it flat, right above the bottom of the heart, cut the top off and then snip the sharp leaves with scissors to make them flat at the top of each leaf. Place as many artichokes as you have in a pot that will fit them sitting up. Place enough water so that the artichoke is sitting in about 1" or less of water. Add fresh lemon juice, olive oil and salt (and garlic optionally). Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until leaves and bottom are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Serve with the aioli below.
And although I've made artichokes my whole life, I haven't made homemade mayonnaise since college! Isn't that funny? I was looking through a cookbook and I thought to myself, this is easy, I should just make it.
I adapted this recipe from the book Julia's Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child. I made a few adjustments because I didn't want to use 3 eggs. Enjoy but remember there is always a risk of salmonella when eating raw eggs. I would not serve this to children, the elderly or anyone who has any immune deficiency issues. You could always add lemon juice and fresh garlic to commercial mayonnaise if you were worried.
Lemon Garlic Aioli
Makes about 2 cups
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2-1 tsp salt (start with 1/2 and increase, tasting in between)
1/8 tsp white pepper
1-1 1/2 c olive or vegetable oil (or a combination)
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
1. Have a food processor or blender ready. Break eggs over a bowl, crack and pour out about half of the egg white. Put the remaining white and all of the yolk into the processor or blender. Repeat with other egg. Reserve leftover white for another use.
2. Process 30-45 seconds. With machine running, add lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
3. Still with machine running, and by very small driplets at first, start adding 1/2 cup of oil, then add more until the desired consistency is reached.
4. Taste and add more lemon juice, mustard, and/or salt as needed.
5. If you don't want to make all of this garlic flavored, spoon out desired amount and add garlic to taste, starting with 1/2 minced garlic clove. The amount of garlic depends upon your taste and how much aioli you have reserved.
6. Make sure to refrigerate any leftover. This will keep about a week. Aioli can be used for other salads or dips.