Artichokes thrive in cool weather and we're starting to see some beautiful ones in the market. Our favorite way to eat chokes is the simplest -- cut off the sharp pointy ends, scrub them, stick them into a plastic bag still wet from the rinse, and microwave for a while. On my 25-year-old oven, I do 14 or 15 minutes on high, but I suspect it would take less time in a more modern appliance.
Then eat by hand, dipping each meaty petal into some nice sauce.
This is a messy process. Your hands get wet from the water still clinging to the petals. And after you've chewed the meaty pulp off, you have to pile up the stringy remains of the petal on your plate or in a big garbage dish. We can't imagine doing anything else at the same time, so the artichokes are the first course, all by themselves on a plate. After we've finished, we return to the kitchen, wash our hands, serve up the rest of the meal on a new plate and sit down again.
You might be wondering what's in the creamy yellow sauce. I make this by eye, with approximately equal parts of dijon mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice. Shake it up to blend everything together, and it will keep forever in the fridge if you don't eat it first, which you will. It's also good on brussels sprouts, green beans, sliced tomatoes and probably a lot of other vegetables; a spoonful peps up your regular salad dressing.