Source: artichokes.org and Whole Foods Market
adapted by http://theresalwaysthyme.blogspot.com/
Wash artichokes under cold running water.
Pull off any lower petals which are small or discolored.
Cut stems close to base, so they will stay put in the pot.
Cut off top quarter and tips of petals, if desired. It really isn't necessary to remove the tips. They soften with cooking and pose no threat to diners, but people like the look of a trimmed artichoke better.
Gently spread the center to get to the purplish, thorny center leaves. with a spoon, scrape out the purple, thorny fuzz!
Plunge into acidified water to preserve color. (A tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar per quart of water. )
Optional: The trimmed artichoke stems are edible. Cut brown end about ½-inch. Peel fibrous outer layer to reach tender green of stem. Stem may be steamed whole with the artichoke. Cut into rounds or julienne for salads or pastas.
Use this same technique for making stuffed artichokes, too!
Pour enough water into a large pot to reach a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover pot and arrange trimmed artichokes, bottoms up, in the bottom in a single layer. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium and steam until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. Cooking time will depend on size of artichokes. When the leaves pull out easily and the base can be pierced with a knife, they're ready. Drain well and transfer to a large platter.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauces.
For Tarragon Mayo, just mix some fresh tarragon with a cup of mayo, some chopped shallots, two teaspoons fresh lemon juice , and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. To make the lemon-butter, whisk together melted butter, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste; transfer to a bowl. Serve artichokes warm, with lemon-butter and tarragon mayo on the side for dipping.