I’m keeping it relatively simple for April with some stars of the culinary firmament just coming into season. Artichokes are entering their first flush (and have been spotted already in FruitWorld), and Jersey Royals are nearly always worth the money during their short showing - waxy, flavourful - a special spud with a “slow food” pedigree.
The spuds (half a kilo is a respectable amount) take almost no preparation, other than a good rub under running water to remove soil and papery outer skins, but artichokes can give a moment’s hesitation for those without experience of them - especially as they are not cheap. I want to use what some call their hearts and what others call their bottoms - call them what you will, they are shaped a bit like a cup and to get at them you will need some equipment: two sharp stainless knives (a large one and a small parer), a large container for the debris, and a teaspoon and a cut lemon to hand too. Choose artichokes that look fresh - two to three medium large ones will probably be enough.
Trim the stalk a little, if it helps, but start by pulling off the outer leaves, until you hit a line that divides the soft pale yellow base from the tough green leaves above - stop at this point. Use the large sharp knife to cut off the tips of the leaves above this plimsoll line (quite a sizeable chunk) and rub the cut edge of what remains with the lemon.
Now take a look inside - packed into the middle of your averagely sized artichoke (very small ones will be immune) is a silky fibrous mass that would flower if it were allowed - like a thistle. To eat any of this is unpleasant to say the least - akin to eating feathers - so we want to take this part out and discard. A teaspoon works best for me - dig it in somewhere in the densely packed soft centre, then start scraping out the bottom of the bowl of the artichoke and around the inside edges until there is no remaining trace of the “choke” (the “official” name for this embryonic flower). Squeeze some lemon juice inside and allow to cover all the newly exposed yellow flesh - to stop it from discolouring.
Trim the stalk end to the base of the artichoke, unless you want to keep a little tail (not necessary for this recipe), rub cut surface with lemon. Now take your paring knife and pare off all the surface green tough bits from the base of the artichoke - it should look pale and clean when you are finished - rub again with lemon.
Melt a generous knob of butter in a sauté pan (an earthenware cooking pot - tagine even - is actually best; so the spuds don't stick to the bottom), throw in the potatoes (whole if they are small, cut into large chunks if they are large) and stir to coat in the butter. Cut your artichoke hearts into appropriate sized pieces - “appropriate” will depend on the size of the artichoke - but what you are trying to achieve is that the artichoke pieces should be roughly the same size (and so take roughly the same time to cook) as the potatoes. Season with salt, turn the heat down low, put a lid on the pan, and allow to cook for between about 30 and 40 minutes (stir, or shake the pan, OFTEN!) until the vegetables no longer resist a knife tip being inserted; at this point they are cooked.
As they near the end of their cooking time, take a clove of garlic and a small handful of parsley leaves; chop both, separately, finely; then chop them again together. When the potatoes are cooked, throw in the “persillade” (to give this mix of garlic and parsley its “official” name too), and stir and cook for about a minute. Add pepper before serving - serve immediately - enjoy!