#1 – 48 Recipe Challenge – Recipe 11: Artichoke and Rosemary Blinis

For February I’ve chosen a both new ingredient and a new cooking method.  I’ve never cooked with artichokes (or any kind) and I’ve never made blinis.  I chose this recipe to use a seasonal ingredient – bizarrely however, this proved hard to obtain.  Jerusalem artichokes grow in Britain and they are in season from November to February.  Yet, I visited three separate supermarkets none of whom stock them.  All three, however, had asparagus… imported from Peru!  There’s something wrong with our food industry if we can’t buy locally grown seasonal vegetables but we can buy something out of season which has been flown halfway round the world.  But, I digress.  Getting back to Jerusalem artichokes, luckily the Farmers Market provided some instead.

Before I talk about the recipe itself, a quick word about artichokes.  There are two types: globe and Jerusalem (which look very different to each other) but that was about the extent of my knowledge.  So, I did a bit of research.  Globe artichokes, apparently, are part of the thistle family.  Jerusalem artichokes are tubers.  Turns out Jerusalem artichokes aren’t actually artichokes at all and they’re nothing to do with Jerusalem either.  They are in fact a form of sunflower, and apparently get their name from the Italian word for sunflower girasole.  Learn something new every day…

So, the recipe itself.  Firstly, Jerusalem artichokes take A LONG TIME to prepare.  They are seriously knobbly so they get a lot of dirt in their cracks and crevices and have to be thoroughly scrubbed to get rid of it.  I didn’t bother peeling them (can’t imagine how difficult that would be given the knobbly bits) because my Grown in Britain cookbook (my seasonal bible) told me not to bother unless I was making artichoke puree and wanted a pure white puree.  Which I wasn’t, and didn’t.

Once the artichokes were cleaned, chopped and boiled, assembling the rest of the ingredients was fairly simple.  I had to prepare a basic batter of flour, baking powder, milk and egg yolk then stir in whipped egg whites before adding the chopped artichoke and rosemary.  Spoonfuls of the batter were then fried in olive oil to produce little pancakes which I topped with spinach, Roquefort and walnuts.

Artichoke and Rosemary Blinis

Artichoke and Rosemary Blinis

So far, so good.  They turned out round, not too lumpy and had little bubbles in them like they’re supposed to.  It made quite a lot.  They were reasonably tasty, the rosemary flavour came through as did the earthiness of the artichokes.  I think the blue cheese on top also helped as I love blue cheese, although blinis are traditionally served with cream cheese and fish.  However, it appears that my recipe may not be entirely genuine as allegedly blinis are supposed to be yeasted pancakes.  Heigh ho.

I’ve scored them as follows:

Healthiness – 3/10 (some of your five a day but fried in olive oil is never going to be good)

Ease of Prep – 1/10 (hard work scrubbing those tubers)

Flavour/taste – 6/10 (OK but I suspect that was more to do with the blue cheese than the artichokes)

So, probably not a keeper for me.  An interesting experiment but I’d have to really love an ingredient to spend that long prepping it and then with this particular recipe there’s the problem of when to serve them.  Not a meal in themselves, but still quite hefty.  As canapés I reckon you could probably only manage one or two.  Maybe a starter I suppose, although I’m never a fan of last minute cooking at dinner parties (never mind the smell and fog generated by the frying – nearly set my smoke alarm off).

If I haven’t put you off yet, here’s the recipe.  Let me know what you think:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/rosemaryandartichoke_93046

To use up the rest of the artichokes, I made Sausage and Artichoke parcels.  They were pretty good, but to be honest but I’m still not sure the artichokes are worth the time investment.



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