Q: My mother gave me some fresh artichokes and I have no idea how to cook them.
Lynne: The first thing is to trim off the top quarter of every leaf using scissors. Then cut off the top quarter of the entire artichoke. Spread the leaves apart until you can see the purple leaves down in the center of the artichoke. Remove those using a knife or spoon. Under those purple leaves is the fuzzy choke, which you also remove.
After the artichoke is cooked you can scoop out the choke, revealing the artichoke bottom, which is the best part, or you can remove the choke before cooking if you want. Then drop the artichokes into boiling salted water containing a lot of acid, such as vinegar or lemon to prevent darkening, and cook for 20, 30, maybe 40 minutes until you can easily pierce the bottoms with a knife. Drain them upside down then simply put your favorite dressing in the center. Pluck off a leaf, dip the end into the dressing, and suck out all the luscious flesh. When you reach the bottom you eat it with a knife and fork.
An artichoke can be a main dish by stuffing it with crab salad or chicken salad. Or remove the choke from a raw artichoke and stuff between the leaves and in the center a mixture of chopped salami, parsley, garlic, and mint. Place the artichokes in a baking dish, drizzle with a little white wine and olive oil, cover loosely and bake at 400 degrees for one hour.