We are coming to the end of artichoke season, but there's still nothing more romantic than getting stuck into a big leafy globe artichoke, although my daughters Ellie and Lydia might not agree.
An artichoke needs something rich and sticky to dip the leaves into, such as vinaigrette if you're eating them cold or at room temperature. Or if you're feeling indulgent, a beurre blanc or a beurre rouge could be just the answer. Both methods for the butter sauce are the same, except that you use red wine instead of white. Don't use any dodgy old wine - do yourself a favour and go for something better.
Keeping in tune with the Provence theme, I've actually used some local Minervois Rosé from Chateau Massamier la Mignarde Massamier, which is available on home turf from Berry Brothers and Rudd (0870 900 4300). It gave the sauce a great-looking pink tinge, and we drank the leftover wine with the artichokes.
2 large globe artichokes
for the sauce:
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Half a glass of rosé wine
2tsp good quality red wine vinegar
150g cold butter, cut into small cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove any discoloured outer leaves from the artichokes. Put the heads into a large saucepan, cover with water and a couple of level tablespoons of salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes. It's a good idea to place a smaller saucepan lid on to the artichokes to weigh them down during cooking before you cover with the fitting lid. Drain them upside down so that all the water drains out of the leaves. You can test whether the artichokes are cooked by inserting the point of a knife into the fleshy base.
Meanwhile, put the shallots into a pan with the wine, bring to the boil and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated. Remove from the heat and whisk in the pieces of butter until they have all melted and emulsified, and then season.
To serve, you can either spread the leaves out as we did in the photograph and pour the sauce over, or you could just serve them as they are.