I am fielding requests from international readers! Solly Billen* (59) of Riverton, NZ wonders how one might prepare globe artichokes. Having previously been too terrified to attempt cooking such an unweidly vegetable I have decided that today is the day. Wiki informs me that a globe artichoke is in fact a type of thistle thought to originate from North Africa in Roman times.
In my search for a manageable recipe I've noticed that many advise simply boiling or roasting the beasts and then peeling off their leaves one by one to dip in olive oil or aioli (or areola as Mr R likes to call it). Not finding this a very appealing nor substantial option for a miserable winter's day, I have settled on making artichoke and goat's cheese ravioli as featured in 'The Modern Vegetarian' by Maria Elia. Not as challenging as one might first think, because Maria's a cheat and recommends using ready-made wonton wrappers instead of homemade pasta for the parcels.
Firstly, one must prepare three artichokes. I cut them horizontally through the middle, removed their stalks and all of the hard green leaves around the outside. (Maria says that anything green is tough and anything yellow is tender). Then I scooped out the middle or the 'choke' which is apparently hairy and inedible. Basically you're left with something about a third of the size of the orginal vegetable and this has to be plunged into lemony water immediately or else it will discolour. Also in the lemony water I put the lemon halves, two bay leaves, two squashed cloves of garlic and a big sprig of thyme.
This simmered away with some baking paper and a plate on top of it (to keep the artichokes submerged) for about 20 minutes until the artichokes were tender and the sort of greenish grey colour one associates with overcooked broad beans at granny's. I left them to cool in the liquid and then drained them and diced them.
I then added about 250grams of soft goat's cheese, 30grams of roasted pine nuts, a big tablespoon of freshly chopped basil and thyme, the zest of one lemon, a couple of squeezes of lemon juice, salt & pepper and then I mixed and mashed for England. To make the parcels I lined up six wonton skins at a time, brushed the edges with water and placed a teaspoon of the artichoke mixture in the middle of each square. From there I folded each in half to form a triangle and folded in each corner as well, taking care to squeeze out air and seal edges. For beauty's sake I pressed a fork around each edge to give a corrugated effect. I lined them all up on a floured tray, dusted them with more flour and popped my dear little raviolis in the fridge until cooking time.
Here's my inner 15 year old's favourite song to keep you amused until cooking time...
Quite accidentally we called in to the neighbours on our way back from a rainy walk at 3.30pm. It is now 7.41pm and I have been sitting beside the neighbour's outdoor fire drinking red wine and recounting tales of lost virginity for quite some time. I shall now attempt to cook the ravioli alongside some roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine... Et voila! Cooked the suckers in salted boiling water for approximately 6 minutes. Given that half of them fell apart, I'd recommend sticking to the recipe (instead of concentrating on your blog) and cooking them for 3 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and drizzling with olive oil and fresh thyme. The taste, according to Mr R, was "creamy, the artichoke subtle yet pervasive and the pine nuts a welcome bit of bite." Though to be honest, I don't know about artichokes. If I had my time again, I'd save myself the trouble and open a jar. Heathen! Heathen that I am!
*names have been changed to protect the innocent