May 28, 2008

If I could pick anything I wanted for lunch!

When I was 7 years old and lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, my parents took me to spend the day with a friend of theirs, an older woman who was the wife of a retired rabbi. She enjoyed children and, I suppose, had set up a play date for us. Her name was Bibbi Wolf- I never knew her real first name because my parents just called her Bibbi. I don’t remember what we did together, but I do remember lunch. Bibbi told me that I could have anything I wanted for lunch. Looking back on the day, I suppose she expected that I would ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or maybe even grilled cheese--but I didn’t. I asked Bibbi for an artichoke with hollandaise sauce, and told her that it was my number one favorite food. She said, with a wink, that it was hers, too. As luck would have it, Bibbi had artichokes, and prepared them for lunch for the two of us. Later, I remember her telling my mother about the events of the day, both of them chuckling. I never understood what was funny about our lunch, not until several years later. Bibbi didn’t know who she was messing with, but I can pretty much guarantee you that she never again asked a young friend what she would like to have for lunch if she could have anything she wanted. 

This isn't Bibbi's recipe, I have made that for this blog before, but it's a great recipe for artichokes. It also works with the frozen hearts- just thaw them out and cook them this way for great flavor without any sauce.

Artichokes, Infused with Herbs

2 globe artichokes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
olive oil to coat bottom of pan
1/2 stick butter

Slice pointy tops of leaves off of artichokes.

Place them stem up and slice them in half.

Scoop out the choke with a spoon.

Wash well and pat dry.  Now they're ready for cooking!

Coat bottom of saute pan with olive oil, add the garlic and spices and heat to medium-high.

After just a couple of minutes, you will notice the spices have become fragrant. Place the artichokes, inside down, in the pan.

Leave the heat on medium high for 2 more minutes, then squeeze lemon juice in and pour 1/4 cup of water in and cover tightly. Turn heat down enough for the water to simmer and don't touch it for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to see if the leaves pull off easily. If they do, they're done. If they don't, and if the water has evaporated, add a little more water and check after 5 minutes. When the leaves do pull off easily, toss 1/2 stick of butter, and replace lid until you are ready to eat.

What makes these artichokes different from steamed artichokes is that the thyme and tarragon flavors have been infused throughout the artichoke meat. These are delicious eaten as they are, no other sauce necessary. To serve, place artichokes halves on plate and spoon some of the pan juices over them. These make a delicious appetizer, and, even as a side dish, are always fun to eat!

There are dozens of ways to cook artichokes, my next attempt will be the grill- so if you have any suggestions for grilling methods or advice about grilling artichokes, lay them on me.

I wish Bibbi was still here, so I could make lunch for her, anything she wanted, of course. I wonder what she would choose. I have a sneaking suspicion it might just be artichokes, and I would be honored to make them for her...and the eggs.

Added June 2, 2008: I found a fascinating article which discusses Rabbi Sidney Wolf, and well into the article, his wife, Bebe, and their life. I didn't know most of this. My father was Rabbi Wolf's replacement in 1972. Click here for the article.


Anonymous said...

Yes, you were born with gourmet tastes! and now you are a gourmet cook.
Bibby was French, and a super cook. I doubt it was any more difficult for Bibby to whip up artichokes as it would have been to make PB&J.
love and hugs,

Suzanne said...

Great story and great article. If there were a Rabbi like Rabbi Wolf in my town now I'd be much more inclined to be more formally involved in the Jewish community.

As for grilling artichokes. I think you'd have to par-cook them first. I've never tried it though.


JB said...

what a great article on the Rabbi.