Monday, October 25, 2010


Well there are a few things I miss about Cali, having access to some of the country's freshest fruit and produce is one biggie for me. This past weekend I found myself hankering for some chokes, artichokes that is. Being from the South born and raised I have eaten all kind of things but never a real artichoke until our venture to Cali. Yes I had artichoke hearts from a can before but it does not even begin to compare to a fresh steamed artichoke.

The Bay Area in California has some of the freshest artichokes you'll ever have, they are locally grown along famous Highway 1 down the Pacific coast. You'll find farm after farm along the coast heading South on Highway 1 out of San Francisco, and you'll know you've hit the artichoke capital when you get to Castroville— they have an annual artichoke festival to celebrate their mark on the map.

Today I'll share with you how I prepare fresh artichokes.

1. Choose artichokes that have a nice coloring and have tight leaves. The more open they are the less fresh the artichoke tends to be.
2. With scissors trim the top off of each individual leaf. Yes those are tiny thorns
3. Trim the tops and bottoms off of the artichokes.

4. Wash throughly allowing the water to pour between leaves.
5. Set up your pot to get ready to steam. If you you do not have a steamer you can improvise like I do. Get two drop in steams like you find at the grocery store and set them on the their ends in the pot like so.

It is important to not skip this step as you do not want these to sit in water, other wise you are just boiling them and well a boiled thistle is just an inedible mess.

6. Coat the chokes in butter flavored Pam.
7. Season each with 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1/8 tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/8 tsp garlic powder.
8. Set chokes in pot bringing the water to boil and allow to steam for about 25 minutes. The chokes will turn dark green and the leaves start to separate.

Now enjoy!

If you are a newbie to chokes like I was not too long ago eating them can seem confusing— they are a thistle after all. So here's how you do it: pull a leaf off, stick it all the way in your mouth with about 1/4 inch sticking out, firmly but not too firmly hold it between your front teeth, now pull. You will pull off a thin layer of meat from the leaves. Repeat until you get towards having few leaves left. You'll start to see a wiry, thorny, indigestible substance (remember thistle), cut that part off now you should be left with the best part, the heart of the artichoke. Be sure to share!

Some like to eat them plain like this while others like to make extraordinary dips for them. You decide, sometimes I just simply dip them in some ranch when I get bored.

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