Life Food & Drink

Thursday 14 November 2019

Recipes: Artichokes the ultimate food for a hot date

And medical research now shows they may help to ward off cancer

Researchers claim that artichokes may help ward off cancer.
Researchers claim that artichokes may help ward off cancer.

Susan Jane White

Can we eat to starve cancer? Dr William Li thinks we can. His research team has discovered a range of foods that inhibit the blood supply to cancerous tumours, effectively slowing or stopping the cancer's growth.

Li's work demonstrates that the bigger the supply of blood vessels to the tumour, the quicker the cancer will grow. He refers to this as "angiogenesis".

Li suggests we increase certain foods in our diet to naturally inhibit the blood supply to cancer cells.

He calls these "anti-angiogenesis" foods. Think red grapes, green tea, Earl Grey tea, strawberries, parsley, artichoke, garlic and cooked tomatoes (all terribly tasty!).

Here's a cracker to get you started.

Artichokes with fresh parsley aioli

It's not easy to imagine how to cook these massive, bud-like vegetables. Or to eat the damned things.

But I can't recommend them enough, especially on a hot date. Artichokes demand to be shared. They are fun, messy, nutritious and adventurous. Everything food should be.

You will need:

1 artichoke for every 2 people

Slice of lemon (optional)

1 bay leaf (optional)

1 clove garlic (optional)

1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea (optional)

Salt to season

For the parsley aioli, you will need

2 egg yolks

80ml (3fl oz) extra-virgin coconut oil, melted

1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 big cloves of garlic, crushed

180ml (6fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil

6-8 anchovies, roughly chopped

Some parsley, roughly chopped

For aesthetics, precious cooks will trim each leaf and stem on the artichoke before cooking.

Given my deficit in perfection, I like to drop the artichoke, unrinsed and unprepped, straight into a steaming basket, which is resting over a saucepan that contains two inches of simmering water. If you are using them, a slice of lemon, a bay leaf and a clove of garlic adds great flavour to the water. An alternative is a teaspoon of Earl Grey tea, but seasoning the water with salt is just as dandy.

Put a lid on the pan and steam for 25-50 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke(s). You'll know the artichoke is done as soon as you can pull a leaf from the outside with very little resistance. While the artichoke is cooking, run the motor of your food processor on low and add the egg yolks. Keeping the motor on low, gradually add a steady stream of the melted extra-virgin coconut oil and watch it thicken. Start drop by drop.

Don't rush it or you will end up curdling the mixture, as I have done through overexcitement many a time. It can take up to four minutes to add all the coconut oil.

When the mixture gets very thick, it's time to add the cider vinegar and the crushed garlic to thin it out and give it edge. Keep the food processor's motor running. Next, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil, watching the aioli thicken again. Always add the olive oil after the coconut oil, and not the other way around – olive oil can turn bitter if it is overly whisked.

Finally, add the roughly chopped anchovies and the roughly chopped parsley. Pulse briefly for a 'semi' blend. You don't want to pulverise the anchovies. Taste and adjust the sharpness of the cider vinegar to your preference. If it's too sharp, turn on the food processor's motor again and add a little more olive oil.

This will give you 18 portions of parsley aioli, which will last for three weeks if it's stored in the fridge.

For now, scoop it into a bowl and place it in the centre of the table.

Take your artichoke off the heat and tumble it on to the kitchen table to cool down a little. Attack it by pulling off one leaf at a time, dunk it into the warm, sumptuous aioli, and pop into your mouth (still holding the leaf tip).

Pull the leaf back out, but let your teeth grab the flesh on the leaf. You're in business.

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