The first time I cooked artichokes was in the French Alps. We have been a few times and it’s normally in the middle of July, when the weather is promised to be hot and the tourist scene quiet (no snow, no go for some). What we went to however was 8C and pissing rain. We lit the fire in the chalet four times in one week. At home there was a heatwave and a water drought. Brits abroad eh? In an attempt to keep spirits high we tried not to dwell on it, ate plenty of ice cream, marched around lovely old castles in anoraks and visited the markets in the nearby village. It was here that I first spied globe artichokes, and of course bought them instantly. We returned back up the very foggy hill and lit the BBQ in shelter to prevent the drizzle putting it out. After I wrestled with the green flowers for a good hour, shed a tear over the wastage, then realised I should have soaked them all in lemon water, we set about charring them. This was a slow, damp process, outside in the dark. Mum cooked fish inside using an oven, prepared a salad, bread and some dressing, and did the cooking equivalent of lapping me. Twice. The result, however, was delicious and we gorged on a new found favourite. That was until dad lost a tooth on a very tough exterior leaf I had failed to remove. We have two weeks of holiday pictures with “toothless wonder”. Since then I have practiced my artichoke prep, and no one else has lost a tooth. I jump at any chance to get whole artichokes nowadays and picked up these lovely ones from Roots and Fruits in Glasgow on my last trip. We did, despite it all, have a very nice trip to the Alps.
4-6 globe artichokes
1 large lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Begin by juice half of the lemon. Add to a large bowl of cold water. To prep the artichokes begin at the bottom of the “head” if you like. Clip the tough leaves of one by one working your way up until the softer yellow flesh is visible. Once you have reached this stage cut the greener top off so you have only a yellow head. When you cut the top off the bright purple centre should now be visible. Cut in half. Working quickly take the other half of your lemon and rub over the now exposed yellow flesh where you made the cut. This will prevent it browning. Take a teaspoon and scrape out the purple and furry “choke” from the centre, and discard. You should be left with cup shape. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the centre then submerge the whole thing into the prepared lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Once all the artichokes are prepped you need to boil them. Tip the lemon water, the artichokes and the lemon rind from before into a deep pan and place on a high heat for 10 minutes or until a knife can cut them easily. Drain and allow to dry off for a few moments (it won’t take long as they will be hot). Brush with the olive oil and charr them on a screaming hot griddle pan or BBQ that is also very hot. Enjoy with a little more lemon juice and pinch of salt.