To prepare the artichokes, carefully pull away the outer leaves and then cut off the tops of the leaves about 2 cm/¾ inch from the bottom with a sharp knife. Break off the stalks, trim away all the green, leaving only the white bases (which are all you need for this dish). Place the bases into a pan of water containing the lemon juice, salt to taste and
Using a heavy knife, cut through the head of each lobster in one swift movement. Pull away the tails and claws from the bodies and remove and discard the gritty sac from just behind the eyes. Roughly chop the body meat and any coral and set to one side. Heat the oil in a roasting pan and add the tails and claws along with the heads. Roll these in the hot oil for 1 minute, then place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the pieces of lobster in the pan every few minutes. When cooked, remove the tails and claws from the pan, leaving behind the heads. Add the dry sherry to the pan, reduce slightly and then add the fish stock. Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid by half. When reduced, strain the stock through a fine strainer or muslin into another pan. Continue reducing the stock until there is only a quarter of its original volume left.
While the stock is reducing and when the lobster has cooled sufficiently to handle, carefully shell the pieces of lobster. Keep the tail meat whole and leave the last section of shell still attached to the tail meat. Remove the claws from their shells; try and keep them as whole as possible. Cut the arm meat into small pieces and set to one side.
Drain the artichokes, which should now be cold, and remove the chokes, or furry middles. Cut the bases into batons about 2.5 cm/1 inch long and 5 mm/¼ inch wide. When the stock has reduced far enough, add the cream, bring back to the boil and reduce until it starts to thicken. Cover and reheat the lobster tails and claws in the oven for 1 minute. Heat the butter in a frying pan and toss the batons of artichokes and the chopped lobster in this until hot, then season.
Arrange 2 small spinach leaves on each of the plates and spoon the artichokes on top. Lay a tail of lobster across each pile of artichokes and a claw on each side of the tail. At the last minute, add the spinach purée to the sauce, season if required and pour the sauce around the plate.
© 1989 Ian McAndrew. All rights reserved.