Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's peak artichoke season!

How lucky I am to live just 50 miles away from the artichoke capital of Castroville, CA. It means a steady supply of fresh artichokes is never far away. It was fun to introduce steamed artichokes to my visitors from northern Finland (where there is still snow on the ground) because they had never eaten fresh artichokes before.

They enjoyed learning how to eat it where you peel off each leaf and dip the meaty part in the herb-garlic-butter-olive oil dip that I made. Then removing the hairy part above the heart warning them that it might get stuck in their throats. My husband informed them that it was worth carefully removing the "hairs" because the "prize" was underneath... the coveted heart of the artichoke. He then demonstrated how cutting it in quarters and then soaking it for a few seconds in the dip was the best way to eat it.

Dip - butter & olive oil with fresh herbs
The herbs were cut fresh from my garden just minutes before preparing it. I grabbed some thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, burnett and a little bit of rosemary (not too much because it can easily overpower the other herbs). I let my friend finely chop the herbs so she can enjoy the pleasure of smelling the freshly cut herbs, while I chopped a clove of garlic.

I cooked the herbs and garlic in the butter, added salt and removed some of the butter foam. I let it cool a bit before stirring in some extra virgin olive oil so as not to cook away the nice flavor of the EVOO.

I know what you're thinking... not everyone has a garden full of fresh herbs. But you can easily use dried herbs or even just 1 or 2 different fresh herbs from your garden, your neighbor's garden or from your local supermarket. Many perennial herbs are super easy to grow and come back every year (or evergreen in California) so if you have access to any dirt, consider growing some herbs.

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