Post by Alison Hein.
Artichokes, whose dusty green sharp-leaved plants protect their tender succulent centers, are actually a species of thistle. They are native to the Mediterranean area, and have been cultivated as food since at least the ancient Greek and Roman periods. Somehow, they made their way through Spain into France, then to the US in the 19th century – to California by Spanish immigrants and to Louisiana by the French.
If you’ve every painstakingly worked your way through dozens and dozens of spiky outer leaves to reveal the thistly choke-protected base of an artichoke, then diligently scraped away the tiny, splintery bracts to reach the exquisite, savory heart, and nibbled your way through that delicious, delicate orb, you’ll know why these thistles are beloved the world over.
These days, artichoke rounds can be purchased already cleaned and stacked neatly in cans making it simple to indulge in this delicacy on a daily basis. Artichokes are rich in antioxidants and low in calories. Gently warmed, topped with a poached egg and a sprinkling of buttered bread crumbs, Artichoke eggs make a tender, succulent breakfast in bed.
2 artichoke bottoms
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat artichoke bottoms in a slow oven and keep warm while preparing eggs and breadcrumbs.
Melt butter in heavy saucepan and continue to cook until browned. Add breadcrumbs and continue to cook until crispy, another minute or two. Set aside.
Eggs should be as fresh as possible for perfect poaching. To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Break eggs into individual small dishes. Or you can use an egg poacher. Carefully pour the first egg into the simmering water. Immediately use a wooden spoon to wrap the cooking white around the egg yolk to prevent the white from feathering. Repeat the process with the second egg, and cook for about four minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. Trim edges if necessary.
Place each egg on top of an artichoke bottom. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with buttered breadcrumbs and serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.