Cardoons are for sale at the Farmer's Market in San Francisco.
The following recipe can be found in 'From the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook,' by Peggy Knickerbocker and Christopher Hirsheimer.
Here's an easy, delicious way to cook cardoons in the French style with luscious cream and rich cheese. You do not need to soak the cardoons in lemon water to prevent browning, as they go directly into the cream mixture. You can assemble the dish fully up to a couple of hours in advance and then put it in the oven about a half hour before dinner.
Serves 4 to 6
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds cardoons
Butter for preparing gratin dish
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
In a large saucepan, combine the cream, stock, and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.
Trim the cardoons and cut into 2-inch pieces, placing the pieces immediately into the cream mixture as you go to prevent them from discoloring.
When all of the cardoons are in the pan, place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cardoons are tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, butter a 4-cup gratin dish.
When the cardoons are tender, using a slotted spoon remove the m from the cream mixture and transfer them to the prepared dish, mounding them up slightly if necessary to make them fit. Reduce the cream mixture to about 3/4 cup over medium heat, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and pour the reduced sauce over the cardoons. Sprinkle the Gruyere on top.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake the gratin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Bake until the top is golden and the gratin is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove form the oven, let cook for about 5 minutes, and serve directly from the dish.