April sees the start of artichoke season and, with it, the plummeting of prices at your local market. Don't be afraid to partake just because these prickly guys can seem intimidating. Follow these steps and trimming an artichoke is far from painful.
When you are ready to trim your artichokes, fill a large bowl with cold water. Halve a lemon and squeeze one half into the bowl and toss in the spent lemon half, too, for good measure. Use the other half of the lemon to rub the cut surfaces of the artichoke as you cut them. The lemon will keep the artichoke from browning.
You can cook an artichoke with its stem -- it is edible -- or cut it off. If cutting the stem, sever at the artichoke's base with a sharp paring knife. Then, pull off the leaves around the base. Continue removing leaves until those remaining on the artichoke are dark green near their tips but pale green toward their bases. ( April 13 ,2007)
With a paring knife or vegetable peeler, trim the ragged bits at its base (where you tore off the leaves) so that the artichoke has a smooth surface. (April 13, 2007)
Place your knife at the point where light green gives way to dark green, then cut. (April 13, 2007)
Cut the artichoke in half parallel to the base. If the stem is still attached, now is the time to peel it and cut off the dark end. (April 13, 2007)
Cut the artichoke again, in half, through its base. Depending on how large you want the pieces to be, you can then cut it again, into quarters. If there is any hairy choke within, run your knife along the top of the heart and cut it out.