I am very close with my Mum. We live just down the road from one another, we speak everyday and she ADORES my kids. I am really lucky that we both chose to live here in France so I don’t have to worry about missing my family now that I live abroad.
But another really good thing about my Mum is that she is a really good cook! We share a passion for food and we are often found concocting new menus together and sharing various kitchen appliances and dishes for dinner parties. She often shamelessly steals my recipes to pass off as her own (although I must add she is my most devoted & zealous fan) so on this occasion I feel quite justified to say that I have filched this idea straight from her!
I must admit I have always been a little afraid of artichokes. I have seen them prepared so many times but they just look fiddly and complicated although I do love their flavour. I think I just need to put some effort in but I never really have.
But the beauty of this dish is that you hardly have to do a thing! No fussy knife skills required. It makes a wonderfully fresh ‘do it almost all yourself’ starter.
The only tweak I made to my Mums dish was the dipping sauce which she served as a warm creamy butter. I wanted something which had a bit more body to it, something thicker. So I decided to make my own mayonnaise and then loosen it just a little with some thick creme fraiche which also softened the taste. Then I threw in some anchovies finely chopped up and a crushed clove of garlic. The mayonnaise could blow your head off taken on it’s own it was so pungent and powerful. But when teamed with the artichoke, each leaf dipped generously into the unctuous creamy puddle, it worked just perfectly.
I love the rustic simplicity of serving the artichoke in this way. The way you have to pluck each leaf from the centre like petals until at the end you reveal the delicious heart ready to be devoured. It’s pretty sexy stuff.
Artichokes are in season right now so they shouldn’t cost you very much to buy. And if like me, you love them but cannot be bothered with all the usual prep faff, then follow this recipe instead and get all the joy with none of the elbow grease.
Pick & Pluck Artichokes with Anchovy & Garlic Mayonnaise
2 medium artichokes
1 egg yolk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
250-300ml oil (I used sunflower oil)
2 tbsp thick creme fraiche
6 anchovies, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
- Start by cooking your artichokes. Cut off the stem so that they can sit on their base. Place in a large pan of boiling water along with the lemon, cut in half. Boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the artichokes. To test that they are cooked, pull out one of the leaves and suck to see if you can eat the cooked flesh or if it is still too hard to do so, cook a little longer.
- Once cooked, drain and reserve until you need them.
- Meanwhile make the mayonnaise. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, mustard and vinegar. Whisking all the time slowly dribble in the oil. The mayonnaise should start to come together as you are whisking. Add as much oil as you like to achieve your desired mayonnaise consistency.
- Stir in your creme fraiche, anchovies and garlic. Season and leave until serving.
- To serve you need to gently pull the central leaves of the artichoke open and pull out the ones right in the middle which will not have much edible flesh anyway as they are too small. This creates a cavity straight into the center. Reach in and pull out all the hairy part of the choke which is not edible.
- Look into the artichoke to make sure you have cleared the heart of all the furry bit. To re-heat, just place in the microwave for 5 minutes. Then place into a bowl and spoon in lashings of mayonnaise. Serve and let people pull out the leaves one by one and suck out the fleshy base part covered in the mayonnaise. Yummy.