How to pick them:
Look for artichokes that are heavy for their size, with tightly-packed leaves and no bruises or discolorations. To prepare, first rinse off the artichoke and then cut off all but about 5mm of the stem (I use poultry shears, but a knife will do). Some people trim off the sharp ends of the leaves; I am impatient and hungry, and am willing to put up with a little pain for more immediate gratification.
How I make them:
Opinions on this differ, but I steam artichokes with the base side up (use a vegetable steamer if you have one). Cover, with just enough room for some steam to escape, and steam in approximately 3/4 inch of water on low heat for 40-50 minutes (depending on the size of the artichoke). If the water boils down too low and gets kinda brown, just add a little more. When the base is fork-tender, they’re ready.
I serve steamed artichokes with Lemon Butter, which you make by reducing the juice of 1 lemon over low heat for a few minutes, and then adding 3/4 stick of butter (it makes several servings) cut into pieces. Allow to melt, and pour directly into little serving dishes like the one you see here, which I bought in Chinatown years ago.
I prepare the melted butter about fifteen minutes before I’m planning on serving it, because I like it to thicken just a little (so more grabs onto the artichoke leaves when you dip them).
And now I think I have to go pick up a couple for weekend munching purposes.
Top image via maryrambin.