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Steamed artichokes

I have always loved artichokes.  Growing up in California, we used to have them several nights a week in season.  I liked them so much that eventually Mom would cook two at a time--one for the rest of the family, and one for me. 

Every other artichoke preparation I've encountered has been disappointing, because they're never as good.  I just won't order them anymore, even from a favorite restaurant.   These are the best, but this simple preparation is suprisingly absent from even good vegetable cookbooks. 

After  cooking, the leaves and heart can be dipped in butter, or even eaten plain, but I prefer them with plain mayonnaise.   It's the only reason I keep mayo in my kitchen.

You will need a pressure cooker, because the results are unique.

One or more artichokes (depending on your appetite), freshy with a moist firm stalk

Rinse the artichiokes and trim off the bulk of the stalk.  There is no need to trim the leaves or any silliness like that, because the pressure cooker will soften the spines a bit.  Place them on a steamer rack inside a pressure cooker above about an inch of water.   Bring them to 15lbs pressure for 22 minutes for a medium to about 26 minutes for a quite large artichoke.  Use a timer.  Be sure the sink is clear before they are done cooking.

When the timer goes off, immediately remove the pressure cooker from the stove to the sink, running cold water over it to cool it rapidly down until the pressure is down and it is safe to open the lid.  Remove them from the pot and serve with your favorite dip (mayo!).  

"Baby" artichokes--not actually immature artichokes, but those growing on the side branches rather than the main stalk--will take less time, from 12-20 minutes depending on their size.  When in doubt, cook them for a shorter time, check for doneness (you want a tender heart but not one falling apart), and put them back up to pressure for another 1-3 minutes at a time.

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