Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jerusalem Artichokes

My garden friend, Danny, grows Jerusalem Artichokes.  He called me one day recently to say he had left me a bag of them in my garden plot.  He also leaves me wine and vinegar bottles for my project of building borders around my beds (if I ever remember to bring the camera to the garden, I will get pictures of this).  My gardening friends are all very nice.  My son refuses to go to the garden with me anymore because in his words "you say you will only be a minute and you take an hour".  That's because I have to stop and chat with the gardeners - that's part of being a member of a community garden.

Anyhoo, back to the artichokes.  They aren't really artichokes but a member of the sunflower family.  In fact, it's hard to tell the difference from your average sunflower

I have tried these vegetables in the past and have been ambivalent about them.  This time around, I thought I would try them with potatoes in a gratin.  It turned out pretty well but hard to tell what was a potato and what was the artichoke.

They can also be roasted.  This week, I made roast chicken for me and the kids and decided to throw a few into the oven.  There is a fine line between roasted to perfection and explosion in the oven.  The vegetables will explode at a certain point and then taste pretty yucky!

I decided that I just didn't like them and put the bag of the rest of the vegetables on the back porch, to be tossed into the compost.  The frugal side of me then took over as well as the guilty gardener - I don't like to throw anything away so I thought, what else can be made with these?  Soup.  Cream of Artichoke Soup.

So tonight, I made soup.  Simmered the vegetables the onions and carrots in chicken broth and pureed with my swanky new Breville Blender.

Jerusalem Artichokes - cleaned and scrubbed

In the pot with other vegetables

 Chicken broth, made last week.  Once the broth cools, the fat can be skimmed off the top.  Does anyone save this?  I think it's called schmaltz - I don't save the chicken fat because I have jars of lard!

Once everything was soft and blended, I decided it was too thin and needed some thickness.  So I took the rest of the potatoes and boiled them in the soup, then pureed again.  Much better.  Sean suggested adding Harissa which added the right amount of spice.  What soup doesn't taste better with bacon?

The rest of the meal was cheese, bread and salad.  I made the salad dressing with some pureed preserved lemons.  This was brilliant! I read in a blog about taking the rest of one's preserved lemons and just making a puree - so I did.  I could eat the whole jar of this, it's delicious.  I used up the rest of what I had in the fridge - just scraped out the seeds from the lemons and plopped it all in the food processor with the salt, lemon and lemon juice that was in the jar.

The rest of the meal.  There is also homemade fig jam.  The cheese was Salemville Amish Blue and Meadow Creek Grayson - described as having a big beefy taste - which it did - pungent and strong but perfect with the fig jam.

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