Steak and Artichokes - june 21, 2010
We celebrated Father's Day with a trip to the Giant's County Fair, where we rode more rides than we could count, won two fluffy creatures per kid, feasted on fried things and ate too much ice cream. We also made a fine family showing at the Urban Eats cherry spitting contest, put on by CUESA, the folks who run the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. I just wish they'd made the inside of their tent look as good as all the advertising leading up to the event. Maybe next year.
At the end of all that, we came home for steak dinner. Along with rib-eyes we had artichokes, which are not something I cook very often. Earlier in the week I balked at paying $3.99 a piece for organically grown artichokes at Rainbow Grocery and the same price for conventionally grown ones at Safeway. I've noticed recently, on my Safeway trips to buy beer for the slugs, that the cost of their woefully weary and under represented organic produce is very steep, so now I can see why much of America thinks organically grown produce is a total rip off. It is, if you don't have a decent grocer or farmer's market to buy it from. I later found conventionally grown artichokes from California at Andronico's for $1.99 a piece, which seemed more reasonable. I'll go there next time I miss the Inner Sunset Farmer's Market, which is where I ended up getting four for $5.00.
The very kind woman at Serendipity Farm helped me select my artichokes, recommending the top leaves should be pulling away just a bit from the center, but that the whole thing should be heavy and not dried out. "You can't really get away from the long boiling time", she told me, "but they are really good if you finish them in the oven". So I thought all week long about how I would do that, and then, on the big day, failed miserably. We roasted some garlic, mixed it into a little mayo, and used that for a dipping sauce. But I forgot to set a timer or notice when the water started to boil, and so the artichokes were under done. Which was fine, there was still some good mushy stuff to pull off the leaf ends, just not as much as there should have been. So next time, this is how I will cook my artichokes. If I'm really on top of things, I'll boil them the day before, while I feed my kids dinner, then bake them in the oven right before we eat.
Put the artichokes in a pot full of water, bring it to a boil, and simmer them for an hour. A little while before the time is up, preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the artichokes from their pot, dry them off, slice them in half lengthwise, then put a little olive oil on the flat side and lay them on a cookie sheet. I'm not sure which side to lay them on, so I would try first flat side down, then halfway through flip them so that the flat side is up. I would sprinkle on a bit of salt, too. Bake them for fifteen minutes, or until they look done.
When you eat the artichokes, you can pull off each individual leaf, dip it in a sauce of some sort (garlic mayo, melted butter, vinaigrette, whatever) and pull the soft flesh off the bottom edge with your teeth. Then, when you get to the middle of the artichoke, remove the fuzzy stuff (its called the choke, because that's what it will make you do if you eat it) and right under that you'll find the heart, which is the best part.