Artichokes grow in warm climates with cool nights: the quintessential spring climate of their native Mediterranean. I've read that they can grow in New England too, but require starting the seeds indoors and full sun when planted outside. Given my ability to start seeds inside and the conditions of my yard, I will leave the growing to others, and purchase them at my favorite green grocer. Look for tightly closed globes -- as the leaves start to open the hearts turn bitter and tough.
I typically braise artichokes in olive oil. This tenderizes the heart as well as the inner leaves, and takes away the tart after taste that makes artichokes so hard to pair with wine. Once braised, I'll roast them for a crispy exterior, top them on pizza with St. Andre cheese or mix them in with risotto. This recipe uses a lot of anchovies, which is great if you have an abundance.
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup anchovies
1/2 cup garlic
1/2 cup capers
1/2 cup parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1. Clean artichokes by cutting back tough outer leaves and trimming stem back to the white part. Cut artichokes in half and scoop out the fuzzy choke.
2. In food processor, gently puree anchovies, garlic, capers and parsley.
3. Bring olive oil to a boil in an oven proof pot with caper mixture. Add artichokes and water. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until leaves are tender.