Thursday, October 1, 2009

Artichokes and Hollandaise Sauce

Today is the day: October 1st, 2009. I have all of Julia Child's original cookbooks for over 10 years and I have always dreamed of cooking out of her cookbooks but felt overwhelmed, as if the recipes may be too hard or too in-depth. I say this because, for a baking challenge a while back, we did French Bread from a Julia Child recipe and the recipe was 11 pages LONG! Well, the movie was an inspirational point for me, like others. My point is this, at the end of the year the most important point I want to get out of the experience is how to be a better cook. Mastering the Art of French Cooking took 10 years for Julia to get assembled and published. The cookbook truly does feel as if she is in the kitchen with me and helping me through the recipe...starting this evening with artichokes.

I started the whole process 3 weeks ago when I verbally said what a great idea...I can do that! Okay, now what? Pick a date and make the process real. October 1st and do the project the same as in the Julie and Julia movie...365 days to get through the whole cookbook. The difference? I numbered each recipe for each chapter and included a choice of variations, which brought my number of recipes to be completed to 602. I also decided that I would cook through the cookbook according to meal plans for the week AND include my other magazine and cookbook recipes.
My first recipe is Whole Boiled Artichokes with Hollandaise Sauce. My last recipe to be completed at the years end will be Lobster Thermidore. Tonight I completed 2 recipes right off the get go.

My first panic moment: I have only had an artichoke leaf ONCE and I was about 14. I hated it! I have never even seen an artichoke cooked much less contemplate cooking one myself (or even shopping for an artichoke). From the minute I walked into the grocery store this afternoon till the minute I sat down to try my first leaf, I have been freaked out. My first recipe and I will either screw it up or hate it.

Before I even get started, Ashley called me and said she was coming home for a visit along with getting a plate of the chocolate caramel cookies with the white chocolate on top. Poor thing, the cookies are already gone. Shared with friends and co-workers, the pile has been depleted. I promised fresh peanut butter cookies if she would still come home so I could hug the stuffings out of her. I also told her that her permanent driver's license came in the mail. What ever works, right?
So here we go! 1 day down and 2 recipes finished! 364 Days and 600 Recipes to go!
After some initial pacing and looking at the artichokes, re-reading Julia's notes for preparation and boiling of the artichoke, I thought I would just jump in. 1st step is to remove the stem by bending it at the base of the artichoke until it snaps off...detaching the tough filaments with the stem. The filaments are pushed up into the heart.
Do you see this stem?? The stem does not just snap off, I had to go get Larry to snap the stem off or I was going to hang the artichoke over the edge of the counter and hit the stem with a hammer. I tried and the stem did not just snap and break. There are little alien looking things sticking out of the stem and artichoke base.
By the way, the recipe calls for 6 artichokes. I am doing 2 because the artichoke may taste disgusting so I am not having the guilt of tossing artichokes. Artichokes are in season here in the states so I found 2 on sale. I bought the 2 for $6 at Central Market.
Now, break off the leaves at the base of the artichoke. Trim the base with a knife so the artichoke will stand solidly upright. The base of this bugger is really tough to cut through but once the knife gets started, momentum helps out.
Lay the artichoke on its side and slice 3/4 of an inch off the top of the center cone of leaves. I actually opened my utility drawer and pulled out the ruler, measured down three-quarters of an inch, made a mark and sliced the top off. Cutest darn artichoke Ever! Oh yes, the points of the leaves need to be trimmed with scissors. When this is done, the artichoke is washed until cold water.
Rub the cut portions of the artichoke with lemon juice. Drop it into a basin of cold water containing 1 tablespoons of vinegar per quart of water. The acid keeps the artichoke from discoloring.
Artichokes should be boiled in a large kettle so that they have plenty of room. Drop the prepared artichokes in a pot containing about 4 to 6 quarts (depends on how many artichokes you are boiling. I am only cooking 2) of boiling and salted water. To help prevent discoloration, lay over the artichokes a double thickness of cheesecloth; this will keep their exposed tops moist. Bring the water back to boil as rapidly as possible and boil slowly, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes.
I over boiled mine because I forgot to reduce the time (I am not doing 6 artichokes like the recipe calls for...just 2).
The artichokes are done when the leaves pull out easily and the bottoms are tender when pierced with a knife.
Immediately remove them from the kettle with a skimmer and drain them upside down in a colander.

I removed the choke for a nicer presentation. Because I over boiled the artichoke, my leaves still fell apart so the end result was NOT pretty. I have never seen the bearded part of an artichoke so I did not know what to look for. Julia says to pull out the center cone and the beard will be exposed. I think she fibbed on this one.

The cone of leaves in the center did not pull out as a whole. The leaves had to be pulled out individually and they were hotter then pea soup! Then, as you can see, the inside IS furry!

This hairy stuff is called the choke and you remove it with a spoon. Just scrape and remove, exposing the artichoke heart...the only piece of the artichoke I actually do know. The problem is the artichoke heart looks nothing like what you see in a jar. At this point, I still am not even sure I am looking at an artichoke heart. I was suppose to sprinkle salt and pepper over this part but out of confusion, I skipped it. Also, the artichokes will be served warm. Julia says these leafy vegetables can be served hot, warm, or cold.

While the artichoke was boiling, I started the Hollandaise sauce.

Look! My first butter shot!

I cut 1 1/2 sticks of butter into pieces and melted this in a saucepan over medium-low heat. The butter was set aside to cool.

Beat 3 egg yolks for about 1 minute in a saucepan, until the yolks become thick and sticky.

Add 1 Tablespoon water, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and a Big pinch of salt; beating for about 30 seconds more.

Add a Tablespoon of cold butter, but do not beat the butter in. Place the saucepan over very low heat (In my case, I beat everything in a metal bowl and placed the bowl over a pot of simmering water) and stir the yolks with a wire whip until they slowly thicken into a smooth cream. This will take 1 to 2 minutes. The egg yolks have thickened enough when you can begin to see the bottom of the pan between strokes, and the mixture forms a light cream on the wires of the whip.
Immediately remove from heat and beat in 1 Tablespoon of cold butter, which will cool the egg yolks and stop their cooking. (I then scraped this mixture into my Kitchen Aide mixer bowl with a wire whip.)

Beating the egg yolks with a wire whip, pour on the melted butter by droplets or quarter-teaspoon-fuls until the sauce begins to thicken into a very heavy cream. Then pour the butter a little more rapidly. Omit the milky residue at the bottom of the butter pan.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Not pretty, I know. The artichokes are over boiled and the leaves what to open flat to the board. The final verdict?:

You only eat the artichoke meat at the base of the leaf, after dipping into the Hollandaise sauce and together was Amazing! I mean it! Amazing! I would make this for guest...practice my boiling skills first, BUT Yea! Larry and I could not believe how fun this was to eat and how incredible the artichoke tasted. The base was flat and tender so I know this must have been the artichoke heart. My first recipe was an overall, taste tested SUCCESS! I feel so accomplished and I learned out to cook an artichoke and make Hollandaise sauce the right way. What a great way to go to bed tonight.


Sonia said...

Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend ahead.

Flourchild said...

I ate artichokes as a kid all the time, My daughter Monique loves them. Congrats on your first J&J post, I look fwd to following you through this..Go Shandy!!

PS I made the Chocolate Rollo stuffed cookies last night..they were a hit with everyone and there so so pretty!

Eliana said...

Looking forward to reading about more of your J&J adventures.

Cameelion said...

I realize im rather late on posting a comment to this but I am a seventeen year old culinary student at my high school and I was thinking about making the Artichokes and Hollandaise sauce for the restaurant we run when it is my turn to have my menu used for custumors. I was just wondering what your opinion of this recipe was and what is goes good with and should it be used as an appetizer or a side for an entree? if you could reply to this that would be fantastic and greatly appreciated! Thanks. =)

Anonymous said...

I love artichokes and always wanted to learn how to cook them. After following this recipe I realise I have no julia Child in m at all. The sauce was very thin, but I edible. But I couldn't even swallow the artichoke leaf. I guess I need more practice. Glad to see other people who were inspired by the people and movie. Just wish I shared some talent...LOL.

Anonymous said...

Dude I just tried this recipe! It was fun but I completely messed up the sauce. It was runny and and accidentally used the whites instead of the yolks. AHH! But it was still delicious and I hope I learn how to do it the right way sometime! Thanks for the walk-through :)

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