Botanic Gardens Restaurant executive chef Paul Baker shows us how to put the nutty flavour and creamy texture of the oddly named Jerusalem artichoke to good use.
I love food misnomers and the intrigue lies mostly in the circumstances surrounding how dishes and ingredients got their names. Take sweetbreads. They are neither sweet nor are they bread. The sweet is said to refer to thymus gland being sweeter than the other more savoury parts of the animal and bread is derived from the old English word braed or “meat”. Head cheese its actually meat and not always from the head of the animal. The “cheese” is taken from the cheesing process of layering and pressing the meat similar to making cheddar. Have you heard of Rocky Mountain oysters? They are… not seafood.
Winter brings us a classically misrepresented vegetable in Jerusalem artichokes. Firstly, they don’t originate from Jerusalem but North America, and had been grown there well before Europeans arrived. They are technically a sunflower (Helianthus tuberosus) and not an artichoke (Cynar).
The name is said to have caught on after early Italian settlers referred to them as girasole, which in Italian means sunflower, and over time that word has been distorted into Jerusalem.
The versatility of the Jerusalem artichoke is highlighted in my interpretation of a tiramisu. The artichokes have a beautiful nutty flavour and creamy texture, which works surprisingly well in this dessert.
Jerusalem artichoke tiramisu
½ packet Saviordi biscuits
400ml Espresso coffee
50g brown sugar
500g Jerusalem artichokes
70g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
6g gelatin sheets
70g Cocoa Powder
1. Warm espresso coffee, Frangelico and brown sugar in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved.
2. Drop biscuits into coffee for approximately 10 seconds and layer into a square tin until base is covered.
3. Peel and finely slice Jerusalem artichokes and place in a bowl. Add 30g caster sugar and a pinch of salt.
4. Place gelatin sheets in room temperature water to bloom.
5. Melt butter in a saucepan and gently sauté artichokes without colouring until softened. Transfer to food processor and blend until smooth. Add gelatin at the last minute and continue blending until incorporated. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
6. Whisk remaining 40g sugar and two eggs until light and fluffy then fold through artichokes.
7. Gently fold in mascarpone. Pour mixture over biscuit base, dust with cocoa powder and leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Paul Baker is executive chef at Botanic Gardens Restaurant