Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Artichoke Bottoms in Orange Juice or Secrets of Turkish Housewives.

Ohhh, those culinary secrets of turkish housewives.Every woman has its own secret recipe that she is proud of. They proudly talk about it, they praise their culinary skills, they have stories-no, no Legends-about that most delicious dish that's somehow can be cooked only by them in their sacred laboratories. If you decide to ask for the recipe, there is a chance you won't be given a recipe in full. There will be a definitely one secret weapon ingredient missing.It often goes like this :"My Kisir (kind of tabbouleh) is most famous in my family.I had been asked to make it for every wedding, party, holiday gathering, because there is simply no one better than me".Her eyes sparkle, nose goes up, and the whole thing sounds like she was the first woman astronaut. Cooking is not something I am proud of, cooking simply makes me happy. Smiles, emotions, smells, conversations, great endings for the bad day by the dinner table, starting a conversation in the market with "you-don't-know"person about how they cook that alien ingredient- that what moves me to learn more, to perfect the skills, and keep cooking.
My mother-in-law, is a great cook, and she got couple recipes in her repertoire, which make her proud. One of them is Artichoke Bottoms in Orange Juice. She was very young when she got married, and started her married woman life with cooking, taking care of family before she realized that she was grown up. She had to learn cooking, and was picking up the skills, tips from the women that surrounded her. She loved artichokes, but there were couple things missing in her recipe that were obstacles on the way of perfection, that she expected. The artichoke lose the color, simply turn darker, as potatoes without water. That's why keeping the hearts or bottoms of artichoke in the acidic water is very important for the color and freshness of the product. Boiling artichokes in water, won't take away much of the taste, but turn your artichoke into not a pleasant colored pieces of vegetables. So, my mother-in-law, asked chefs of the restaurant, asked neighbors, asked private chefs, asked older women. And no one shared their secret how their artichokes keep the right color. She thought, thought, and thought more. Until she saw an orange on the table. Orange is citric fruit, just like lemon,and that was her Eureka moment. After that she cooked her artichokes in orange juice only, and proudly spoke of her own creation in the weddings, parties, and by the cup of coffee.
She doesn't keep her recipe's ingredients in secret and shares them happily with everybody. She is sure that list of all the ingredients not going to make the dish delicious, because she simply has that magic touch to make dish delicious and out stand the other's.

My Mother-in-law Artichoke Bottoms in Orange Juice

4 Artichoke bottoms
1 Carrot
2 white onion
1 cup of frozen peas, you can substitute to canned one, or fresh
Olive oil
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (3 oranges)

Deep Frying pan, or a casserole pot.
Slice you onions, cube the carrots, drain the peas, keep the artichokes in lemon water until yo ready to add them.
Heat the pan, add olive oil. Sautee onions until golden. Add carrots. You can cube your artichokes roughly. Add then to your pan. Add some salt, and pour orange juice.

Cover the lid, and lower the heat. Cook for approx. 25-30 minutes. Check the artichokes for their softness (boiled potato stage-not soft). Turn off the heat. Leave the lid on for couple hours. Serve cool.

Buying and cooking artichokes in Turkey is a lot of pleasure, since the hardest part -CLEANING THEM is done for you by the seller in the market. Here is the video of me buying the fresh artichokes in Kadikoy market. In States the bottoms are sold frozen in supermarkets. Artichokes considered as the great Liver Cleanser, and Cholesterol lowering must-have ingredient in Mediterranean diet.

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