Jerusalem Artichokes

Also known as Topinambour, Jerusalem Potatoes, and Canadian Artichokes, the Jerusalem artichoke is a tuber member of the sunflower family. The artichoke was first introduced by the French explorers in Canada to Europe, where it is now extensively cultivated, and eaten in the autumn and winter months.

The artichoke has an irregular, oval shape with short, nobbly protrusions, and is whitish-yellow, sometimes tinged with pink. As it contains insulin, the vegetable has a sweet flavour.

There are two basic ways of cooking artichokes. The first is to boil them. Peel the artichokes quickly and immediately immerse them in cold water, as they dis-colour once peeled. Drop the artichokes in boiling salted water, to which a little lemon juice has been added, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and serve with a sauce such as bechamel, or as a vegetable accompaniment to meat or fish.

The second method of cooking arti-chokes is to steam them. Scrub the vegetables thoroughly under cold running water to remove all the dirt. Either place them in a very little boiling water, or in the top part of a double boiler, and steam for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are tender. Rub off the skins and serve topped with butter.

Jerusalem Artichoke Casserole

Easy and quick to make, this is the ideal casserole for a light meatless lunch or dinner. Serve with creamed carrots and lots of crusty bread.

1 oz. butter

1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons flour

8 fl. oz. chicken stock

14 oz. canned peeled tomatoes, chopped

2 lb. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced

4 medium- sized potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large red pepper, white pith removed, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

In a medium-sized flameproof casserole, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.

Remove the casserole from the heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the stock, being careful to avoid lumps. Stir

Adapted from an old colonial recipe, Jersey Wonders are crisp fried biscuits ginger, brandy and lemon juice. in the chopped tomatoes with the can juices, the artichokes, potatoes, red pep-per, salt, pepper, cayenne and tarragon.

Return the casserole to moderate heat and bring the liquid to the boil, stirring constantly.

Remove the casserole from the heat, cover it with a lid or aluminium foil and place it in the centre of the oven. Bake for ½ hours, or until the vegetables are very tender and the sauce is thick.

Remove the casserole from the oven and serve immediately.

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