My first taste of artichokes was here in Corfu more than thirty years ago, and they’ve been a favourite of mine since.
My lovely old ex-mother-in-law (now deceased) was not a talented cook by any means, but her meal of artichokes with potatoes and broad beans was absolutely delicious, never to be forgotten.
She kept a typical village vegetable garden, in the village of Spartilas perched on the side of a Corfu hill with amazing views…It was not very big but with all the usual seasonal vegetables. Her husband would direct operations from his chair, pointing with his walking stick at what she was to do next, while she toiled away.
These are just some of the fabulous properties we have in this lovely area ranging from the luxurious and stunning Nebulas Retreat at 1.680.000 euros…..
And a selection of potentially lovely renovation projects for smaller budgets…
A personal favourite is this partially renovated Olive Press waiting for a new owner to decide on its layout….
Artichokes seem to be grown mainly around the edge of a vegetable plot, like a boundary. I’m not sure why maybe they need less attention than everything else and are left alone to their own devices.
Now I have my own fairly large vegetable plot and it’s mainly my husband’s domain. I help out and make suggestions, but he does the bulk of the work, I eat lots of the produce.
We inherited some huge artichoke plants in what is now our flower garden, but they were so lovely and structural that we decided to keep them exactly where they are. I’ve planted lots more around the edge of our veggie plot, and this year has seen a bumper crop. In season at the same time by wonderful coincidence are broad beans and new potatoes.
I can remember seeing mother-in-law sitting on her kitchen step with a bowl of water, a pile of artichokes, a sharp knife, and a lemon. She made short work of the preparation, which I now know is not easy. Artichokes can be quite prickly and they stain your hands black when you cut into them, so I always wear rubber gloves when preparing them.
First, you need to snap off the outer coarse leaves until the paler centre remains, then chop off the spiny top. The artichoke has to be placed straightaway into a bowl of water with lemon juice, otherwise, it turns black.
To make Anginares Avgolemono …
This recipe like a lot of the local ones we all really enjoy is from the book – A KITCHEN IN CORFU – By James Chatto and WL Martin
- 16 very young globe artichoke
- 1/2 kilo fresh bulb onions or spring onions
- 4 fresh garlic bulbs
- 3 large potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 3 lemons
- 150ml olive oil
- salt and pepper
- a pinch of each – oregano, parsley, and mint
- 1 TBSP fresh chopped fennel leaves
- 1 egg
Trim, soak and drain the artichokes as above- using 2 of the lemons. Roughly chop the onions, garlic, and herbs and soften them for a minute or 2 in the oil. Add the artichokes, salt and pepper, and the carrots [chopped into pieces] and cover everything with water. Let simmer for 1 1/2/ hours until most of the liquid has boiled away…
Peel and cut the potatoes into large pieces and add to the pot with water again to cover everything. Simmer another 30-40 mins stirring as little as possible so as not to break the hearts. By now there should be 1/2 litre of liquid still.. Take the pot off the heat and drain the liquid. Let it cool for a few minutes. meanwhile, beat the egg and make the avgolemono sauce by squeezing the juice of a lemon into it and 5 or 6 tablespoons of the liquid – added one at a time…Beat VERY well and then pour the sauce into the rest of the liquid in the bowl and beat well together…Pour the sauce back over the vegetables and return them to the heat until the sauce thickens but NOT boil!!! Eat immediately!
A word of warning… Artichokes are full of fiber, and let’s say, are known to cause flatulence!
I love eating them so much that I want to eat them all year round, not only in the short spell when they are in bud. So now I’ve started preserving them in oil so that I can eat them as a ‘meze’ whenever I fancy! Last year was the first time I tried this, so I made two jars, this year we have five jars and I’m hoping for a sixth!
- 1kg/2lb 4oz artichokes
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- 350ml/12fl oz white wine vinegar
- 500ml/18fl oz extra virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
- 1 head garlic, broken into cloves
- a handful of fresh mixed herbs
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped oregano
- coarse sea salt
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- Strip away the outer leaves of the artichokes and soak the tender hearts in a bowl of water and lemon wedges to stop them from browning.
- Drain the artichokes and leave them upside down.
- Prepare a pan of water and add the vinegar. Bring to the boil.
- Place the artichokes in the boiling mixture, cover, and poach them gently in the mixture until cooked but not soft and still firm in the center. The time for cooking varies – about 12-15 minutes.
- Drain them well and leave to cool.
- When cool, pack the artichokes carefully into sterilized jars, pressing them down gently and trying to prevent as many gaps as possible.
- Heat the oil with the garlic, herbs, bay leaves, and oregano. Remove from the heat and cool. Add the salt and pepper. Remove the garlic.
- Pour the flavoured oil over the artichokes. Top with more oil if required after a few minutes.
- Seal the jars and eat within ten days.
Soon they will be finished, the buds too dry and tough to eat, so I will leave the flowers to open into their majestic purple blossoms, and then try to keep a few dry seed heads for Christmas decorations.