If you have grown your own artichokes, soak them in a bowl of salted water to expel any insects. Some cooks pull off tougher outer leaves. Generally that is not necessary.
If the artichokes are young and fresh, the stalks can be eaten, otherwise they are cut off at the bottom of the leaves.
Rub lemon on to the part of the artichoke where you have just removed the stalk.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the artichokes for between 25 and 30 minutes, depending on size.
Use a knife to test whether they are cooked properly. It should go in easily or pull off an outside leaf and if the bottom, thick part of the leaf is tender when nibbled or sucked, it is ready. If eating the artichokes cold, allow them to cool down in the cooking liquor.
Eat with either hollandaise, melted butter or vinaigrette.
Give each of your guests an extra side plate on which to place the discarded leaves.
To eat, pull away the leaves starting at the bottom and suck or nibble the thicker fleshier part at the base of each leaf after dipping into your chosen dressing. The remainder of the leaf can be discarded.
When you have eaten the final leaf you will be left with the heart and the choke, a tuft of whitish fibres. Remove these fibres by scooping them off the flesh with a teaspoon or just pulling them off with your fingers.
You are then left with the heart, in a way the whole point of the exercise, which is delicious.
Try some of the great recipes on the LifeStyle FOOD website -
Neil Perry's Penne with Artichokes and Pancetta
Guy Grossi's Abbacchio alla Romana