We had artichokes for supper tonight. I love love love love love them. We usually eat them twice a week when they are in season. There have been some really good ones this spring, too. Usually we have them with a small side of pasta, but today we had some berry pie for dessert instead.
Anyway, people always ask me how the heck you prepare, cook, and serve artichokes, so I thought I would explain.
You take a chef's knife and cut off the very top (usually a half inch or so is good), and cut the stem pretty close to the bottom of the artichoke (about a quarter inch to a half inch). Then take some shears and cut the pointy end of each leaf off. This is just to remove the thorns, you don't have to cut much. Place them in artichoke steamers and put those in a large stockpot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom. Cover the pot and heat on high heat until the water is boiling, then turn the heat down to medium or slightly higher than medium. Steam for 45 minutes. Put artichokes in bowls, and melt some butter. Remove a leaf, dip it in the butter, and scrape the "meat" off the leaf with your teeth. The very outer leaves may be somewhat bitter - they should get better flavor as you move to the interior. As you get further and further in, the leaves will get really light and there won't be much meat on them. Underneath these really light leaves is some fuzzy stuff - these are the seeds. Get a spoon and GENTLY scrape them off with a spoon (it may take some work to do it gently). What you have underneath the fuzzies is the prized heart, which is the best tasting part of the whole thing. Cut it up into a bunch of pieces, dip in butter, and savor.
Yes, I really do this twice a week. And we are actually going to try to grow artichokes in our garden this year!