Artichokes are a springtime favorite. They are a cool weather crop, do not like hot temperatures, and like a lot of water. Some farmers grow seeded artichokes and others plant cuttings (clones of a mother plant). Artichoke plants look a bit like they came out of prehistoric times and can grow three to five feet tall. The center stalk of the plant usually grows to be the largest artichoke. Each plant tends to have two to three very big artichokes, five to six large artichokes, six medium artichokes, and twelve baby artichokes. When buying artichokes, look for ones that are very tight and not opening up. Store your artichokes in the refrigerator. Artichokes are delicious steamed; steam them until the outer leaves pull off easily. Another way to prepare artichokes is to steam them then finish them off on the grill or in the broiler – this works particularly well for baby artichokes because they cook much faster than large ones. Peel the outer leaves until you reach the lighter colored leaves. Steam the artichokes until they are two thirds of the way done but not yet falling apart. Peel the stem but do not cut it off (the stems are delicious!). Cool the artichokes slightly and cut in half lengthwise. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (optional). Grill or broil artichokes until browned and crispy.Daisy Tamai of Life’s a Choke at the Wednesday and Saturday Downtown Markets makes outstanding marinated artichokes and was kind enough to share this simple and delicious recipe:-remove outer leaves from baby artichokes until you reach the lighter colored inner leaves. If the leaves do not pull off easily, remove another layer until they come off with no resistance-trim one third off the top of each artichoke-peel but do not remove the stems-cook artichokes in boiling water until tender but al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes depending on the size of the artichokes, then strain-while the artichokes are cooking prepare the vinaigrette-in a bowl combine one large bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing, 1/2cup white wine vinegar, 1/4cup good quality balsamic vinegar, and a bit of sugar to taste. You can also vary the amount of white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar to taste, but the proportion is generally two parts white wine vinegar to one part balsamic vinegar-completely submerge the artichokes in the dressing in an air tight container-place container in the refrigerator, the longer they marinate the better-artichokes will keep for up to one month
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