Artichokes and Hollandaise

Well between readjusting to normal life, unpacking, and going to work, I didn’t write one post last week!

But all that is over…prepare for a French delight: hollandaise sauce. I was inspired to try this during our stay in Fontainebleau, though not because I tasted it during our adventures. That’s right. I brought Julie and Julia with me to watch while I was in France, and this was one of the first dishes showcased in the movie. A bit pathetic…but I promise to share some of the awesome foods I ate in France just as soon as I get them right.

I have long been curious about artichokes. I mean, they are just so weird-looking, and I am under the distinct impression that almost no one serves them at home. What better way to investigate than by whipping up a buttery, tangy sauce to dip the petals in?

I was honestly a bit scared to make Julia Child’s hollandaise. Is it just me or is her cookbook written in the least easily understandable way possible? For all that Meryl Streep went on and on about writing for real cooks in the movie, the actual Julia Child seems to have spoken a much different brand of English than I do. But I dug right in and was surprised at how easy the recipe really was (once I had waded past how complex she tried to make everything sound).

For the artichokes, simply trim off the stems so that they can stand upright. Julia recommends breaking first, but honestly, you can save yourself the step by just cutting the whole stem off, possibly including a few low-set petals. Then, take your kitchen shears and snip off the sharp, pointy ends of the petals. Be careful not to stab yourself…they actually can be kind of sharp.

When you get to the tops, take a small knife and just cut ¼″-½″ off, as needed, so that the whole top is flat and the artichoke looks a bit like a green rose.

Drop them into a large pot of rapidly boiling, salted water. Immediately cover the artichokes with several layers of clean cheesecloth, to help them maintain their color a little better. (Don’t worry, the cheesecloth doesn’t affect the cooking, so if you don’t have one, or it drifts around during cooking, it’s not a big deal.) Boil the artichokes for 30-40 minutes, depending on how large they are. They will be done when the petals separate easily from the body of the artichoke, and the bottom can easily be pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, make the hollandaise. Even if you work slowly (as I did), you should finish about the time the artichokes are done. I forgot to take pictures of the first few steps, sorry!

Start by melting 6 tbsp. unsalted butter over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, whisk together 3 egg yolks (not sure what to do with the egg whites? make macarons!…post coming soon) until thick and creamy.

Add 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp. water, and a pinch of salt. Whisk again for another half a minute.


Add in 1 tbsp. of cold butter and set the egg mixture over very low heat on the stove. Whisk until the butter melts and the mixture thickens. When you can see the whisk strokes at the bottom of the pan, the mixture has thickened enough. Immediately remove from heat and whisk in another tbsp. of cold butter to help stop the egg yolks cooking.

Once the second tbsp. of butter has melted, begin to stream in the cooled melted butter from earlier, a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. The sauce will thicken into a heavy cream.

When all the butter is mixed in, taste and season with salt and pepper. I added quite a bit of salt, maybe about ½ tsp., to offset the lemon.

The hollandaise is done! Transfer to a small serving bowl.

When the artichokes are done, remove from the water and drain upside-down in a large colander for about 5 minutes.

If you’ve never eaten an artichoke, pull off the petals one at a time, holding the trimmed tip. Dip into the hollandaise, then gently pull the meat off the harder shell with your teeth. And voilà!

Artichokes with Hollandaise

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
serves 4-6

Ingredients:
4 globe artichokes (the smaller kind)
cheesecloth, if you have one
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. cold butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Rinse off the artichokes. Cut off the stems, including any low petals, so that they can stand upright. Using kitchen shears, trim off the sharp, pointy ends of the petals.
At the top of the artichokes, where the petals are too tight to trim individually, take a small knife and just cut ¼″-½″ off, as needed.
Drop the artichokes into a large pot of rapidly boiling, salted water. Immediately cover the artichokes with several layers of clean cheesecloth, to help them maintain their color a little better.
Boil the artichokes for 30-40 minutes, depending on how large they are. They will be done when the petals separate easily from the body of the artichoke, and the bottom can easily be pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, make the hollandaise. Melt 6 tbsp. of the butter over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan, whisk together 3 egg yolks for 1-2 minutes, until they become thick and creamy. Add the lemon juice, water, and a pinch of salt. Whisk again for another half a minute.
Add in 1 tbsp. of cold butter and set the egg mixture over very low heat on the stove. Whisk until the butter melts and the mixture thickens. When you can see the whisk strokes at the bottom of the pan, the mixture has thickened enough. Immediately remove from heat and whisk in another tbsp. of cold butter to help stop the egg yolks cooking.
Once the second tbsp. of butter has melted, begin to stream in the cooled melted butter from earlier, a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. The sauce will thicken into a heavy cream.
When all the butter is mixed in, taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the hollandaise to a serving bowl.
Once the artichokes are done, remove from the water and drain upside-down in a large colander for about 5 minutes.
Serve the artichokes warm with the hollandaise for dipping.

Enjoy!

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