When we had company over when I was a kid, my mom sometimes served artichokes with Hollandaise sauce. I loved them. Eating artichokes is a happening. What fun to pluck leaves, dip them, scrape the “meat” off with your teeth and work your way toward a delicious prize buried under it all – the artichoke heart! I learned to remove the under cone of thin leaves and the odd, furry patch to reveal the tender and flavorful foundation.

Somehow as an adult, I became intimidated by the preparation and work of serving fresh artichokes. A few weeks ago, I cooked and served them in my own house for the FIRST time. It is a bit of a task to prepare but they are fun to eat while sitting around and talking with friends.

If you are making artichokes for the first time, here are some basic instructions for cooking and serving fresh artichokes:

1.Wash artichokes thoroughly.

2. If there are any leaves with thorns on their tops, clip off the thorny ends with kitchen scissors. Pluck out any really tough or ugly leaves from the outside.

3. I steamed my artichokes. I didn’t have a steamer so I put an iron trivet in the bottom of a pan and set the artichokes sitting upright on it. Fill your pan with about an inch of water and cover the pan. Once the water is boiling, turn heat down and keep covered, steaming the artichoke for about 20-30 minutes or until tender.

4. Drain artichokes well, upside down and then sit them upright on your serving platter.

5. Serve with melted butter, homemade mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce.

6. Pluck leaves, dip in sauce and scrape the “meat” off the leaves with your teeth.

7. When you are past the edible leaves, grab the “cone” of leaves left and remove them. It may reveal some soft, furry stuff on top of the artichoke heart. Remove it. Rinse the artichoke heart if you want.

8. Cut up the artichoke heart and enjoy your prize!