I love food fads! They introduce me to foods that I never knew existed! Sun dried tomatoes are now a staple in my freezer, but I'd never heard of them until, when was it, the 80s? I now cook with such a large variety of foods, and really have to thank the foodies and their fads for that. But still for me the fadiest food of all is what's in season and what's in the garden. Artichokes are plentiful now. I grew up eating these almost daily when they were in season. My mother would make them for me at lunchtime, just plain with a glass of milk. I remember loving artichoke season and still do, and we eat them often when they are plentiful. We are lucky to live an hour from Castroville, the self-proclaimed artichoke capital of the world. We stopped by the farm stands on our way home from a trip and came away with a big bag. We love them prepared any old way, but if I have the inclination I'll stuff them, that's our favorite way. It's a great dinner party entree, lots of fun and casual, but it's strictly finger food and messy at that, provide a big napkin!
|Start by preparing the choke.|
|Next comes the filling.|
|Today's filling had leftover chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, herbs, red bell pepper, bacon, plus bread crumbs and parm.|
I think artichokes and avocados are pretty much available every where these days, but not always so. As a girl growing up in Southern California, they were as commonplace as an apple. There was a gas station near our house that had an avocado tree in the corner and we would just go and help ourselves. I was vaguely aware that they might be special though, when relatives from the mid-west or the south would visit, they always would ask if it was artichoke or avocado season and then marvel when we prepared them. I have a letter that my grandmother wrote in the 20s to her family in Tennessee when she was newly arrived in California describing the avocado as an ugly savory fruit popular with the Mexicans and it was perfectly safe to eat! Funny! But today it's about artichokes.
You will need about 1/2 cup filling per choke. I always use bread crumbs, freshly grated parmesan cheese and a mix of veggies and usually some browned sausage. Today I had bacon in the fridge and used 4 slices browned and crumbled. I whirl it all very quickly through the food processor to get a even textured filling, but still chunky. Fill the center and then open the leaves and push down filling into as many leaves as you can, I usually manage to fill about 10 leaves. Place chokes in low pan with 1 inch water, turn flame to high and get to boil, cover with lid and lower heat to simmer for 45 minutes or until heart feels soft when pierced with a sharp knife. They can also be cooked in the oven. I made extra for lunch the next day. They are great cold too!