An elegant start to any meal. You can trim a whole artichoke to get at the heart, or buy frozen artichoke bottoms at any Mediterranean market. The cooking method is the same whether fresh or frozen (no need to thaw the frozen artichoke bottoms). I served as a first course to a grilled New York steak with lemon-thyme butter and vegetable risotto.
2 T. butter
2 c. chopped mushrooms (1/2" pieces)
1 T. cognac
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 T. chopped mixed fresh tarragon and parsley
1/2 tsp. potato starch dissolved in 1 T. cold water
6 artichoke hearts (bottoms)
2 T. freshly ground parmesan (or pecorino romano)
Cook the artichoke hearts (bottoms) in 4 c. water, 2 T. olive oil, 2 T. fresh lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 35-40 minutes until hearts are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from heat, drain and arrange on a baking sheet.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Add the cognac and cook for 30 seconds (you can flame it, or not). Add 1/4 c. of the cream, salt, pepper and herbs and bring to a boil. Add the dissolved potato starch, mix well and boil to thicken. Remove from the heat.
Preheat the broiler.
Whip the remaining cream until stiff and rapidly fold into the mushroom mixture; immediately fill the artichoke bottoms and sprinkle with the cheese. Put under the broiler for 2 minutes or until browned.
– Jacques Pépin, "Essential Pepin"