well, it seems as a lot of americans are in the dark on how good artichokes are and how easy they are too cook and eat....so since i live about five miles from the artichoke capital of the workd (castroville cali) and the artichoke festival was this weekend (i bought a case of 36 medium sized chokes' for 14 bucks) i thought i would give the basics. first off, the artichoke has great flavor, but is basically a tool for eating whatever dipping sauce you may like. the most common are real butter and/or mayo....but the possibilities are endless. anything you can think of mixing up, from a garlic sauce, to a cajun sauce, to ranch dressing works. you can vary from this basic way to cook them a bunch. some like to put partially cooked bacon between the "leaves"....others stuff the leaves full of garlic prior to cooking, but this will give everyone the basics.
cut the top 3/4 of an inch off the articoke so it will stand "upside down" while cooking. also cut the last third of all the other visibal leaves off. stuff the artichoke with whatever you want if you choose to, but they are awsome even just cooked with nothing. bring a large pot with a steamer to a boil standing up, or put them in a pyrex dish standing up with about a half inch of water in the bottom. if you cook them in the pyrex (microwave method), cover them with plastic wrap. if you steam them on the stove in a pot, cook them with the lid on.
Cook them for roughly 10-30 minutes depending on choke' size. they are done once the outside leaves pull of easily. do not overcook them. the leaves should not fall off at first touch, just pull off with not much effort....
Peel off the outside three to four layers of leaves, then start dipping the bottom portion. put the dipped leaf in your mouth and use either your upper or lower front teeth to scrape the meat off of the bottom. as you get closer to the heart the leaves will become more tender and you can actually eat up to half of the whole leaf. when you run out of leaves.....there will be a fuzzy kind of thing on the heart. scrape this "fuzz" out with a spoon or knife, and then ENJOY. the best part is the heart, you can eat the whole bottom and even part of the stem right at the heart......ABSOLUTELY delicious, especially if you get creative with your dipping sauce............Marc