Artichoke is wonderful as a snack or a starter for a big meal. Many people stress the importance of removing the prickly leaves. I say that adds a nice and dangerous aspect too the meal. Here I serve them with a nice, wild garlic mayonnaise, but artichokes are wonderful with other sauces as well: melted butter with herbs, vinaigrette and hollandaise are among the classics. I use a small pinch of baking soda in the water to retain the color of the artichoke. The wild garlic mayonnaise can also be made with a combination of garlic and chives.
For the sauce: In a balance bowl (or other large bowl), whisk together egg yolk and mustard. Whisk until smooth, and the color of the mixture lighten lightly. While whisking energetically, add a little of the oil; drop by drop. Make sure the oil integrates in the mixture before adding more. When the mixture starts to thicken, increase the amount of oil. When about half the oil is integrated, whisk in the lemon juice, and continue with the rest of the oil. If the oil starts coating the surface of the mixture, rather then blending into it, immediately stop adding oil, and keep whisking. (If the sauce still does not go together, try adding a tablespoon of hot water and whisk some more. If this still does not help, try starting from bottom with one egg yolk and mix the broken sauce little by little into it – careful this time!)
For the artichoke: Place the artichokes in a large pot and fill with cold water. Remove the artichokes and place the pot over medium high heat. (In this way you get exactly as much water as possible into the pot, without having it pour over.) Add salt and baking powder and replace the artichokes. The baking powder neutralizes the ph level in the water; if it’s even slightly acidic, the vegetables will loose their fresh, green color. Place a small oven-proof dish – or lid, plate or the like – on top of the artichokes, so that they’re prevented from floating. Cover and boil for 25 to 30 minutes. The artichoke is finished when the leaf loosens when lifting the vegetable by the leaf. Strain and serve hot.