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Around the globe in three ways

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Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 11:02 am

Funny how a few cooking conversations with friends will cause me to launch into a culinary adventure. The other day my friend called and asked what to do with the liquid that was leftover from slow-cooking artichokes. She knows I am great at using leftovers but I told her to throw it away thinking it could have a bitter taste.

However, I was intrigued by the idea of slow-cooking an artichoke. I am not an expert at crock pots since my mother’s idea of slow-cooking was a tomato meat sauce simmering all day on the back burner. Just a few days later, my adventure continued as I caught up with a long-time friend in the produce section of the grocery store right next to the newly created display of Globe artichokes. She told me how she cooks them in the microwave. Of course the scientist in me immediately decided to compare all three cooking methods.

Each method has its merits. The microwave is the quickest, the slow-cooker imparts peace of mind that dinner is almost ready, but I preferred the result of the conventional boiling technique.

Either way the prep is the same: Rinse well, cut off the stem and a layer or two of the bottom outside leaves if they look dry or unruly.

Microwave: Place stem-side down in a glass bowl, add a little water, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and juice of half a lemon and then sprinkle with garlic salt. Microwave on high for about seven minutes. I covered mine with wax paper.

Stove top: Place stem-side down in a non-reactive saucepan with water about halfway up, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and juice of half a lemon and then sprinkle with garlic salt. Bring to a boil then, cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Slow cooker: Place stem-side down in crock pot, add one to two cups water, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and juice of half a lemon and then sprinkle with garlic salt. Cook on high for about six hours.

I discovered by adding the olive oil and seasonings with the cooking water, I can eat the leaves and heart without any extra topping! However, my daughter — a 17 year old savvy cook — mixed mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar for a great tasty dip.

Continuing with my research about artichokes, I learned that this edible flower bud which originated from the Mediterranean region is low in fat and calories, yet high in fiber. More importantly, it is loaded with folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, a vital mineral necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. My family was pleased with the experiment as they love artichokes and is sending me back to the store for more.

Cook, Eat, Laugh ...Claudia

Claudia Pruett was raised in Saratoga. She is an entrepreneur, chef and community volunteer. She is married to Greg and they have three children. She enjoys cooking for friends and Bikram Yoga.

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