Artichokes, available year-round at Fresh Thyme, are at their peak in early spring. Choose heavy heads with tightly closed leaves, and figure one per person. Simply clean and trim each head, cook, and serve. Pluck a leaf and dip in garlic-butter sauce, then strip the leaf between your teeth, making a pile of leaves as you work your way to the heart—the center of the artichoke. Scrape away any fuzzy fibers (if not already removed), then cut the heart into fourths. Dip in sauce and savor!
This tasty member of the thistle family is easy to prepare following these steps.
Use a large knife to cut off the top portion of the artichoke. Use kitchen shears to snip ends of prickly leaves. Rub the juice of a halved lemon on cuts to prevent discoloration.
If you want the artichoke to stand, cut the stem close to the base. Otherwise trim 1/2 inch off the end and peel stem until inner white appears.
Spread open the bud to get to the choke (the immature thistle bloom, which is fuzzy and often purple). Use a melon baller or spoon to scrape it out. Or leave the choke as is for cooking, then remind guests not to eat it.
Regardless of which cooking method you use, artichokes are done when a leaf can be easily pulled off the head, typically about 30 minutes depending on size.