Artichokes with dipping sauce
Preparing an artichoke
1. Remove the bottom leaves near the stem.
2. Cut off about a third of the top leaves with a sharp knife.
3. Cut the spines off each leaf using kitchen scissors.
4. Cut off the outer layer of the stem using a paring knife or a peeler, and trim the stem.
5. Rinse the artichoke in cold running water to get rid of any dirt trapped between the leaves.
6. Rub all cut surfaces with lemon juice to prevent them from going brown.
Steam the artichokes for 20 – 45 minutes, depending on the size. Test every so often to see if they are soft. They are ready when you can easily pull off a leaf. Serve with a dipping sauce like aïoli, hollandaise sauce or vinaigrette.
There might some confusion as to what part of the artichoke to eat when you first tackle one. Peel away a leaf, dip the bottom of the leaf into your dipping sauce, then pull this part away with your teeth. Discard the rest of the leaf. When you have finished with all the leaves, discard the choke in the centre.
Preparing the heart
To get to the soft heart of the artichoke, first remove all the hard outer leaves. When you get to the softer middle leaves, twist them off with your fingers. The choke is the fibrous inside that comes from the thistle blooms and it is not great to eat. Take a spoon and remove the choke. What is left behind is the heart. Brush it with lemon juice and it is ready for cooking.