Greetings once again food fans, 'tis I, Alexandre d'Avigné on campaign in the far lands of the East. While here I have attempted to continue my studies and have had some success. A while back, someone posted on rec.food.historic a request concerning artichokes. This piqued my curiosity and off I went in search of recipes.
A search turned up surprisingly few, several came from Eleanor Fettiplace's Receipt Book, dated 1604:
TO DRES ARTICHOCKS
Take thick creame, & sugar & nutmeg sliced & mace, & boile it together, when it is almost boiled, put in the bottoms of Artichocks, boyle them in it a little, then put in some butter, & so serve it: Boile the bottoms first till they bee tender in water.
TO KEEP HARTICHOCKS ALL THE YEARE
first take a gallon of faire water, & another of the strongest veriuce, & a good handfull of salt, put them together on the fire & boile them, & scum them cleane, take half an handfull of fennel, & half a handfull of hyssope cleane washed, & put into the brine, then throw in the artichocks & scald them, & pluck them out againe, then let the artichocks & the brine bee throwe cold before you put them up, then put the bottoms downards & the herbs on the top, & let brine always cover them. Even so I use the Cowcumbers.
The second recipe is a pickling one, and I have not tried it, although I may if I find some time. I have to admit to some concern with pickling recipes in general, out of completely modern concerns with anaerobic bacteria and so forth, but this one looks like it might be OK (and might also prompt me to investigate some other sources about proper pickling procedure.)
The first one, I did try, though, and it scarcely requires translation. I used 2% milk, powdered milk and cornstarch rather than cream only because that was what I had in the house. I heated that, perhaps 1 and a half to 2 cups worth, with liberal sprinklings of mace, maybe a teaspoon or more, and a good shake of nutmeg. A tablespooon of sugar completed the sauce. I then added a 10 oz. package of frozen artichoke hearts and heated the whole thing until the artichokes were warm throughout. I served it that way and allowed the diners to add butter if they wished.
They were allright, but not great. I think that I just don't like mace very much, so I would be tempted to ignore the mace next time and instead make a simple cream and sugar sauce with a little nutmeg added for spice.
So, a real recipe would be:
TO DRES ARTICHOKES, after Eleanor Fettiplace
1 cup cream 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp mace(or less) 1 Tbsp sugar 10 oz. artichoke hearts butter to taste