My lasting contribution to blogging seems to be artichokes. No. Really.
As many of my fellow-bloggers do, I track the number of visits to my site, and the search terms most frequently used to find my entries.
Hands down, the winner is some variant of “artichoke” — pictures of, photos of, recipes about, артишоки, globe, heart, artyčoky, Italian….
Wild Artichokes are still found in north Africa, where they are said to have originated. According to Wikipedia, the “Arabic term Ardi-Shoki (ارضي شوكي)…means ‘ground thorny.'” While lot of other cultures ate them, naturally, it was the Italians who perfected their use [from the history of the universe, according to ME].
Globe artichokes are like the gorgeous guy pictured at right. They are a real pain to prepare, but are worth every pricked finger. Select heavy, compact heads, without a lot of discoloration.
Wiki also points out that “When harvesting, [artichokes] are cut from the plant so as to leave an inch or two of stem. Artichokes possess good keeping qualities, frequently remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions.”
Artichokes have been on the expensive side for the last few years, and thus fresh ones are something of a luxury around here. Maybe more home gardeners will begin to grow them — it would be lovely to pick them up at the local farmers’ market this summer!
“Apart from food use, the Globe Artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown in herbaceous borders for its bold foliage and large purple flowerheads (Wiki).”
And, as you can see, they are also attractive with cats.
One of Nonna’s ways of making artichoke frozen hearts (when fresh were out of season) was to batter and fry them.
I never made these, but I remember them well from my childhood.
Cook a package of frozen artichoke heart according to directions.
Pat them dry, then dip in an egg batter (I believe this was nothing more than an egg beaten with a little flour, grated cheese & breadcrumbs).
Fry in medium-hot olive oil, drain, and serve with lemon.