Eating the flower bud

Don’t let an artichoke’s prickly outside fool you. The edible flower bud can be quite delicious when prepared properly in the spring.

Often people simply steam an artichoke but there is so many other things that can be done with it!

In Italy, artichoke hearts are prepared in oil and used as a spring vegetable in a “Four Seasons” pizza. (If you want to try this, prepare it with olives, mushrooms and prosciutto. In Spain, the younger, more tender and smaller artichokes are used. In Spain, it’s all about the barbecue. Sprinkled with olive oil and left in hot ashes in a barbecue, sautéed in olive oil with garlic and served with rice as a paella or combined with eggs in a tortilla, like a frittata.
Along with being tasty, artichokes can help reduce cholesterol. And, let’s face it; they’re really fun to eat. Any time something is yummy and can be eaten with your hands, it’s going to be loved by kids.
We’re going to bake artichokes this week with one of two recipes.

Baked stuffed artichokes

Ingredients
4 fresh artichokes whole
2 Tbsp. lemon juice fresh
1 Tbsp. salt
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. black pepper freshly ground
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup water boiling
1 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/2 cup butter real
2 tsp. lemon juice fresh

Directions
1. Trim artichokes and remove chokes. Add juice and salt to a large kettle of boiling water. Add artichokes and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until a leaf can be pulled out easily. Drain artichokes upside-down on paper towels.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl combine crumbs, 1/3 cup oil, garlic, oregano and pepper. Spoon one-fourth of the mixture into the center of each artichoke. Brush all over with 2 tablespoons oil. Place in an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish.
3. In a measuring cup combine water and bouillon; pour into bottom of baking dish. Bake artichokes for 20 minutes or until heated through. In a small saucepan over low heat melt butter. Stir for 3 to 5 minutes or just until butter begins to brown. Do not burn. Remove from heat; add lemon juice.
4. Place artichokes on individual serving plates. Spoon 1 tablespoon lemon-butter over the top of each artichoke. Serve remaining butter separately.

Baked artichokes
Ingredients
2 large artichokes
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 basil leaves, chopped
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1/2 cup, chicken stock

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With kitchen scissors, trim all the sharp ends off of each leaf. Wash the artichoke well in cool water. Slice down the center to form two halves. Clean out all the fuzzy hairs and smaller leaves with a spoon then immediately rub all the cut areas with a lemon.
2. Next combine the olive oil, basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper in a bowl. Mix until it becomes a paste. I rubbed it all over the artichoke halves and inside the leaves.
3. Coat the baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Place each artichoke half top side down in a baking dish. Pour the chicken stock in the dish and cover with a lid or tin foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until soft and tender.

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