Artichokes are the edible flower of the Cynara Scolymus plant; part of the thistle family, native to the Mediterranean region. They are available in supermarkets all year round, but are best from the beginning of spring through to the end of summer. 20 different varieties of artichoke are known to grow across the world.
Wash the artichoke thoroughly and top and tail. Pull the leaves away from the centre slightly and remove thorns, if desired. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Once the water has boiled, reduce to a simmer and add the artichoke. Leave to boil for 35 minutes, or until the outer petals can be easily detached from the stem. Remove from the heat. Pull off the outer petals, dip in melted butter or sauce, tightly grip the other end between your teeth and remove tasty, pulpy portion of petal.
Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/gas mark 7. Wash the artichoke thoroughly and top and tail. Open the outer leaves slightly, sprinkle with lemon juice and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Cook for 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke; when the centre is of a meaty consistency, the artichoke is cooked. Remove from the oven and serve.
When grilling artichoke, it is best to parboil first. Wash the artichoke thoroughly and top and tail. Bring a large pan of water to boil, drizzle with lemon juice and boil for 15 minutes. Whilst boiling, preheat the grill to a medium-high heat. Once boiled, drain thoroughly. Then, brush with oil and insert garlic cloves between large outer leaves, if desired. Place on the preheated grill for 5-10 minutes, until the leaf tips are slightly charred. Remove from the grill and serve.
Wash the artichoke thoroughly and top and tail. Bring two inches of salt and lemon water to the boil in a large plan under a steaming basket. Once the water has boiled, reduce to a simmer and place the artichoke in the basket. Leave to steam for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.
Wash the artichoke thoroughly. Cut an inch from the top, leaving the entire stalk attached. Bend back outer leaves until they snap close to the base and discard further layers until you reach yellow coloured leaves. Then, cut into wedges. Smother the wedges with lemon juice and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Add the artichoke and stir gently for 15 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat and drain. Then, return to the heat for a further 30-40 seconds and fry until leaves are curled, browned and crisp. Remove from the heat and serve.