Steamed Whole Artichokes with Spicy Lemon Caper Mayonnaise
This is a dish that takes you straight to a French bistro. I love it because we cook the artichokes whole and eat the whole thing! While the recipe calls for a steaming method, you can easily submerge them in a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water and cook until tender. When I was living in Paris, a glass of cheap, dry white wine with a few ice cubes and this artichoke with the spicy dipping sauce made for a classic bistro appetizer moment. Pull off the leaves, dunk in the sauce and enjoy. Scoop the fuzzy "hay" off the top of the artichoke to find the heart in the center—the best part! Don't like spicy? Simply make the sauce without the hot sauce or pepper flakes.
Place each artichoke on its side on a flat surface. Use a serrated knife to saw off the stem at the base of the artichoke so it can sit upright on a plate without falling over once cooked.
In a large pot, add 3 inches of water. Insert a steamer basket. Place the artichokes top-down in the basket, wedged in a single layer. Cover. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. If the pot runs out of water while cooking, simply add more to the bottom.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, oil, capers, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the chives.
Serve the artichokes with the dipping sauce.
Be careful when you lift the cover of the steamed artichokes. Keep your head to the side and allow the steam to escape first.