Saturday, April 12, 2008

Perfect Saturday Afternoon Snack

The Artichoke. 
Facts: a low calorie food, a fat free food, a cholesterol free food, low in sodium, a good source of fiber, a good source of vitamin C, a good source of folate, and a good source of magnesium. Steam it. Grill it. Stuff it. Saute it. Bake it. Fry it. Dip it. EAT IT.  

Most people seem to be slightly intimidated by the artichoke. They just have no idea what to do with this grenade-looking vegetable. A friend recently admitted that she started to eat the petals whole at a dinner and was somehow able to convince the rest of her table it was the way to go. It wasn't until someone finally admitted that she had been knawing for quite some time and her jaw was starting to hurt that they realized they were way off. Once you master the "eating an artichoke" technique, you will never turn back. 

Official Guide to Eating an Artichoke:
Pull off the outer petals one at a time. Dip the base into a sauce or melted butter. Pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy portion of the petal. Discard the remaining petal. Continue until all petals have been removed and you find yourself at a fork in the road. Confused. Unsure of where to turn next? You've made it, my friends, to the heart. Spoon out the fuzzy center and discard. Cut the tender heart into pieces, dip into your sauce or butter and seriously enjoy. 

Okay. Now that you've got an overview of this great thing we like to eat, back to my perfect Saturday afternoon snack. After preparing the artichoke by running under cold water to wash, cutting off the the top quater and clipping the petals, steam the artichoke by placing it a few inches above boiling water. Using a steam basket is ideal. Cover and and steam 25 to 45 minutes or until a petal near the center pulls off easily. I like to add a garlic clove, lemon slice and a bay leaf to the bowling water for additional flavor. 

Meanwhile, take a stick of butter out of the fridge in order to soften to room temperature. Once softened, crush and mince a garlic clove and add to about three Tbsp of the softened butter for dipping. 

Enjoy with an ice cold refreshing beer. Again, the perfect Saturday afternoon snack.  

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