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    Post #1 - April 1st, 2006, 2:19 pm
    Post #1 - April 1st, 2006, 2:19 pm Post #1 - April 1st, 2006, 2:19 pm
    A recent [url=http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/chi-0603140345mar15,1,5917845,print.story]Chicago Trib Good Eating article
    [/url]talked about baby artichokes.

    It said, "Did you know? Baby artichokes aren't immature globe artichokes; they're just smaller artichokes that grow nearer the ground instead of at the very top of the plant. They range from walnut- to egg-sized. They lack the thistlelike "choke" nestled in the tender heart near the base. Otherwise, they are just the same as larger artichokes."

    The article goes on to say that baby artichokes "are available year-round
    but are at their peak in March, April and May, according to information
    from Baroda Farms, an artichoke grower in California's Lompoc Valley. All
    artichokes may be "frost-kissed," or slightly bronzed, but the brown
    patches on the leaves disappear in cooking and are actually said to
    contribute flavor to the vegetable, according to another artichoke grower,
    Ocean Mist of Castroville, Calif. To tell if an artichoke is fresh or tired
    and old, rub the leaves together. If they squeak, the artichoke is fresh."

    So I decided I had to get some of these new-to-me ingredients and found
    some really nice looking ones at Carrot Top in Northbrook. Off Willow Road west of Waukegan sort of across the side street from the Target Greatland store.

    Here is a photo of the little buggers with an egg for size reference. I have never seen any this small, that I can recall. Have they been there all along and I just never noticed them?

    Image

    Carrot Top is a very quirky little store that has some suprisingly
    wonderful hard-to-find-otherwise produce. It is the only place I have ever
    seen a real Buddha's Hand. At the time I thought the Buddha's Hand was
    outrageously priced at $9 but have come to learn that this rarity can
    command up to $100 in price. I did not buy the Hand at the time because I did not know what to do with it - and still don't - but what an interesting
    and amazing thing to pick up and marvel at.

    Carrot Top
    1430 Paddock Drive
    Northbrook, IL
    (847) 729-1450

    Have you ever cooked baby artichokes this small? I was thinking a simple
    braise and then bread crumb topping like a gratin. Or a saute with
    asparagus and cipoline onions or something similarly springy.

    btw, has anyone seen any fiddle heads anywhere? A source in the NW or N suburbs or N side of city would be closest but I will travel if I must.
    This is the season for them, isn't it? --Joy
    Last edited by Joy on April 2nd, 2006, 11:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - April 1st, 2006, 4:42 pm
    Post #2 - April 1st, 2006, 4:42 pm Post #2 - April 1st, 2006, 4:42 pm
    Joy wrote:Have you ever cooked baby artichokes this small? I was thinking a simple
    braise and then bread crumb topping like a gratin. Or a saute with
    asparagus and cipoline onions or something similarly springy.


    Joy,

    I think your ideas are quite right, and I would much prefer a simple breadcrumb style gratin to anything involving a lot of cheese. Those little fellows you have there are probably pretty delicate in flavour and one wouldn't want to overwhelm them.

    Though I'm sure those babies are quite tender, they're also quite small and after a little trimming there probably won't be all that large an amount of artichoke to eat. For that reason, I think your idea of joining them together with some other tender and delicate vegetables of spring is a good one. Throughout the Mediterranean there are spring-time vegetable stews or medleys that feature small artichokes and include such other delights as tiny peas, very young favas that don't need peeling, spring onions and new potatoes. The Roman/Latian vignerola is a particularly noble representative of the genre. There are also some very nice Greek recipes of that sort, often with dill. Betraying my central Italian background, I like mint with artichokes too.

    Another way to extend the pleasure would be to use those little artichokes as the basis for a dressing for some spaghetti or fettucine -- olive oil, garlic, some peperoncino, lemon juice and some parsley: that's one of my favourite ways to eat artichokes in general. Another nice preparation with spaghetti is with eggs and pecorino and maybe some onion.

    Just last night we had some non-egg noodles (what we call lagane) with chick peas and some outstanding fresh baby favas (bacelli) that I got at Whole Foods. Boy, they were tasty and I hope to post on that dish soon. I did post last spring on fresh (and dried) favas:
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=31943#31943
    If you have a chance, do try pairing fresh favas with the baby artichokes, with or without other spring vegetables.

    Saluti!
    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #3 - April 1st, 2006, 5:33 pm
    Post #3 - April 1st, 2006, 5:33 pm Post #3 - April 1st, 2006, 5:33 pm
    Split them in half, drizzle with olive oil and grill 'em.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 4:37 am
    Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 4:37 am Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 4:37 am
    Joy wrote:Carrot Top is a very quirky little store that has some suprisingly wonderful hard-to-find-otherwise produce.

    Yes, it's the only local source I've found for fresh sorrel, although very expensive. (The sorrel leaves are just poking up in the garden now, but I rarely have enough at their peak for more than one pot of schav.)

    Joy wrote:Have you ever cooked baby artichokes this small? I was thinking a simple braise and then bread crumb topping like a gratin. Or a saute with asparagus and cipoline onions or something similarly springy.

    You've no doubt eaten those artichokes by now, but if you get some more, try this: Carciofi alla Giudia.

    Joy wrote:btw, has anyone seen any fiddle heads anywhere? A source in the NW or N suburbs or N side of city would be closest but I will travel if I must. This is the season for them, isn't it?

    I think we have a week or so yet till the season starts -- at least I was talking to a chef who said he intended to serve them if he could get them. What's in season now are ramps, which I've seen at a couple of restaurants in the past week. I don't know where to buy them retail, though.
  • Post #5 - April 15th, 2006, 1:23 pm
    Post #5 - April 15th, 2006, 1:23 pm Post #5 - April 15th, 2006, 1:23 pm
    I was just at Whole Foods on Ashland. They had ramps, fiddleheads, and morels for sale. They sell them, unfortunately, packed in these plastic containers, and didn't necessarily look to be holding up at peak freshness. Ramps, though, tend to look a bit slimy when just picked anyway, so they ought to be fine after I clean them up a bit. A little on the scrawny side, but you've got to make do with what you can get.

    Aaron
  • Post #6 - July 23rd, 2012, 9:51 pm
    Post #6 - July 23rd, 2012, 9:51 pm Post #6 - July 23rd, 2012, 9:51 pm
    I have a stash from last week's market. Any preferred or recommended preparations?
  • Post #7 - July 26th, 2012, 6:40 pm
    Post #7 - July 26th, 2012, 6:40 pm Post #7 - July 26th, 2012, 6:40 pm
    Try making carciofi alla Giudea - and note the last paragraph before you launch the project. Tremendous preparation method for very small artichokes.
  • Post #8 - August 1st, 2012, 12:47 pm
    Post #8 - August 1st, 2012, 12:47 pm Post #8 - August 1st, 2012, 12:47 pm
    I got baby artichokes last weekend, and grilled them. Good!
    (clean and trim them - I found no need to remove the chokes)
    Steam or boil for 10 mins or so to pre-cook.
    Marinate in lemon, olive oil, garlic, S&P
    (reserve some un-used marinade)
    grill until browned a bit on all sides (I impaled them so they wouldn't fall through the grill or something)
    toss in fresh marinade ingredients, let sit to meld flavors
    YUM!
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #9 - August 4th, 2012, 7:15 pm
    Post #9 - August 4th, 2012, 7:15 pm Post #9 - August 4th, 2012, 7:15 pm
    Nichols at the Evanston Market had a lot of baby artichokes today for a buck apiece. Keep your eyes open for 'em this week!
    Last edited by sundevilpeg on August 6th, 2012, 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #10 - August 6th, 2012, 8:22 am
    Post #10 - August 6th, 2012, 8:22 am Post #10 - August 6th, 2012, 8:22 am
    Last year I bought some of the "baby" artichokes at Nichols and was dissapointed. They were basicially small artichokes that had the choke and very tough outer leaves. Just seemed like small, mediocre artichokes. I'll give them another try if someone reports favorably on them. My conclusion was that artichokes don't grow well here, but maybe I jumped the gun.

    Jonah
  • Post #11 - August 6th, 2012, 2:47 pm
    Post #11 - August 6th, 2012, 2:47 pm Post #11 - August 6th, 2012, 2:47 pm
    Jonah - see my post two above yours. I got mine at Nichols. You do have to take off the outer leaves and sometimes the choke inside as well. If you google up about baby artichokes you'll find that they are just smaller artichokes from lower on the plant.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #12 - August 6th, 2012, 3:48 pm
    Post #12 - August 6th, 2012, 3:48 pm Post #12 - August 6th, 2012, 3:48 pm
    Leek: I read your post with interest. Much as I like buying local, it reinforces my conclusion that store bought artichokes are much better than what I get from Nichols. Probably the only product where I've reached that conclusion.

    Jonah
  • Post #13 - August 8th, 2012, 5:27 pm
    Post #13 - August 8th, 2012, 5:27 pm Post #13 - August 8th, 2012, 5:27 pm
    I have also been very disappointed with the baby artichokes both from Nichol's and from Whole Foods.
    I think that baby artichokes found in supermarkets in the Midwest have been in cold storage for too long. Most of them have darkened stems and lower outer leaves which indicates that they are way past their prime.
    But 2 days ago, as an appetizer at La Madia we had very good oven roasted young small artichokes served with two sauces which were very tender and tasty.
    I wonder where the chef-owner, Jonathan Fox, of this very good restaurant on Grand Avenue (between Dearborn and Clark) found these delicious artichokes. He call them "globe" but they reminded me of the small "artichauts violets" that I love so much when I am in Provence.
  • Post #14 - August 8th, 2012, 6:09 pm
    Post #14 - August 8th, 2012, 6:09 pm Post #14 - August 8th, 2012, 6:09 pm
    La Madia consistently has stellar artichokes - and the mustard sauce for dipping is an addiction. I work right near there and our team gets lunch from La Madia often - and about once a week we head over after work for a glass of wine with which I always also order the artichoke. (And often the shortribs and then the crustada!)


    I've been a serious artichoke fan for years - my son, now grown, used to get a chilled one from previous night's dinner with a small cup of vinaigrette for his lunch a lot - he's been a vegetarian since birth. And I love the roasted Balsamic marinaded artichokes so easily found in California. I often make them by first doing a quick boil then marinading with a good balsamic and roasting on grill or in oven. Both large and baby work nicely with this. A touch of aioli for dipping and a bit of sea salt when first taken off the heat and I'm happy (though I would be happier if Madia would bottle that mustard sauce so I could have it at home too).

    That said I was disappointed with Nichols' baby artichokes last year (after being so surprised to see them grown locally) and find Whole Foods baby chokes hit or miss in quality (and availability).

    While I was not aiming for Next's Sicily menu, I am so envious of folks who had the artichoke course - there are amazing photos of the origins of the dish here - http://tinyurl.com/9cw8z6s and here - http://tinyurl.com/9knf3bw

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