For large artichokes, first snap off the stem laterally with the aim of taking out as many of the stringy fibres as possible from the base, then put them into boiling salted water. Cook for approximately 35 minutes, until the leaves are soft enough to pull away easily. Remove each leaf in turn dipping it into a good mustardy vinaigrette, before scraping the flesh from the base of each against your teeth. As you get further in you will be able to eat more and more of the leaf, eventually arriving at the prized heart or base of the flower bud. Remove the furry, spiky choke from the middle and eat it with more vinaigrette.
If you have picked your artichokes very small, before the hairy choke has begun to develop in the middle of the flower bud, you can cook and then marinate these before serving whole in an Italian antipasti style. For these leave an inch or two of the stem on before snapping of each leaf in turn until you reach the tender pale leaves below. Next, with a small sharp knife peel away the stringy outside of the base and stem, then trim an inch off of the pointed top of the leaves. As you prepare them rub the cuts with a little lemon juice and put them into a bowl of cold water with more lemon in to prevent them going brown through oxidation.
Make a marinade of equal quantities of water, white wine & white wine vinegar with a few bay leaves & peppercorns and salt to taste. Place the artichokes into this and bring the whole to a gentle simmer until they are tender, approximately 25 minutes. Serve in a salad with salami or prosciutto and a drizzle of olive oil.
Step 1 Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt & pepper.
Step 2 Continue whisking whilst trickling in the oil to make a nice thick emulsified dressing.