I don’t know about you all but I’d really like to give Old Man Winter the boot, his lingering presence is no longer welcome. We’re almost into April, so scram I say! I’ll admit that yesterday was a beautiful sunny afternoon for the 10th annual Mystic Irish Parade – I didn’t even mind the slight nip in the air. I not only had a great vantage point, but a chair to be comfy in, and a blanket to stay cozy – totally prepared for once. I’m normally freezing my butt off in less than sufficient layers and sans chair. We were smart this time, made a plan, stuck to it and avoided all the traffic and associated headaches! Must mean we’re grown up or something?
Now, I haven’t seen Road Dog march since he was a recruit for the 117th Training Troop in Newport, RI at the annual police parade. That was 7 (!!) years ago and I was a senior at Salve Regina – I remember getting back to my apartment and gushing to my roommate (who was my Maid of Honor at our wedding) about our encounter. I’ll never forget that day, though brief, it was the launching pad of our friendship and story.
Here are a few shots of the CSP crew from yesterday ~
Here comes the Color Guard –
and finally my Mr.! Third row back, furthest to the left!
Ok, I’m done with the parade talk – I just couldn’t help myself.
With Spring comes an abundance of new produce to play with. The artichoke is one of my favorites and should start showing up in your market very soon if they haven’t already. My mother would make them often while growing up and serve with fresh drawn butter. We always enjoyed anything we could eat with our hands and there is just no other way with these. If you have looked at these thorny green flower buds in the store and wondered what to do once you got them home – let me show you the most basic and tastiest way 🙂
Look for heavy artichokes (the heavier – the fresher) with big full globes, tightly packed leaves (no cracks), and bright green in color.
Two – four artichokes
1 cup of dry white wine – I just use one of the mini single’s as pictured above (about 3/4 cup)
1 lemon sliced into rounds
Kitchen twine for tying
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, snip the stem off of your artichokes.
With a chef’s knfe, cut the top 1/4 of leaves off so it’s nice and flat. Using a pair of small scissors, turn your artichoke on its side and snip the ends off of the individual leaves.
Cut enough kitchen twine to wrap your artichoke like a gift. Place a lemon round on the top of your artichoke. Find the center of the twine and place it over the lemon, flip the artichoke over. Place a slice of lemon on the bottom of your artichoke, criss-cross the twine (like ribbon on a gift) and flip the whole thing back over – secure it with a knot.
This is how it should look. Pop it into your boiling water, cover with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it go about 45 minutes to an hour. They are done when you can stick a fork in the bottom easily. Alternately, pull an outer leaf off and test the meat by scraping it off with your teeth 🙂
You can serve these with drawn butter but this weekend I felt like a lemony aoli kicked up with some freshly grated pecorino. If you have an immersion blender – you can easily whip this up too.
First, make mayonnaise.
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 cup of extra virgin light olive oil (this is so you don’t taste the olive oil).
Let everything reach room temperature – if you don’t, the mixture will not emulsify. Trust me, I learned that the hard way 🙁
Put all of the ingredients into a tall container or large glass measuring cup. I attached the whisking disk shown above, use the appropriate one for yours. Turn on your blender with the head at the bottom of the liquids, gradually pull it up at an angle. You will have fresh, preservative free mayo in a matter of seconds. Scrape it into a clean airtight jar and keep it in your fridge for up to two weeks.
To make aoli – simply jazz it up with whatever comes to mind. In this instance I zested the leftover half of lemon and added a few grates of pecorino romano along with a dash of white pepper to about 1/4 cup of the mayo and gave it a stir. It’s a refreshing and light dip to go along with the artichokes.
I swear every time I make these it’s a race (against myself) to eat through the leaves and get to the heart – so delicious!
100% of US artichokes come from California farmers and since the season goes out to June, you have plenty of time to experiment.
Ps. Did you know that artichokes are a good source of vitamin c, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, and in the top 10 for antioxidant rich foods? They are also naturally low in fat so eat up friends!
Ciao for now xo