Good For the Holidays: Artichoke Dip

Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's another recipe that epitomizes holiday food - it's a bit indulgent and perfect to serve when entertaining. Again, it's a Martha Stewart recipe (I'm not having a whole lot of time lately to be too original) but it is another good one and worth sharing. The only changes I made to the recipe are omitting the cayenne pepper (because I don't have any in my pantry) and the breadcrumbs (because by the time I finished making this it was close to midnight and I was over doing anything else) and I think the dip came out great without either.

I served this dip with crostini and crudites - thinly sliced fennel, carrots and Belgium endive. The winter veggies compliment this rich dip perfectly. Below is the recipe for the artichoke dip, exactly as I made it, and the recipe for how I make crostini.


Baked Artichoke Dip

Makes 6 cups and Serves 14 to 16

This rich dip is perfect to serve with crisp winter crudités when entertaining a small group or a larger crowd. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart.


3 cans (14 ounces each) artichoke hearts in water, drained
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk, slightly warm or at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
zest of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the leaves from one of the artichoke hearts (to decorate the top) and set aside. Thinly slice the remaining artichoke hearts and pat dry with a towel or paper towel. Set aside.

To make the dip, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium size saucepan. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and stir until combined. Bring to a simmer, while stirring, until the sauce has thickened and coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the salt and a bit of pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet or saucepan over medium/high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the thyme and garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the sliced artichoke hearts and lemon zest. Combine the artichoke mixture with the cheese mixture until thoroughly combined; then transfer to a soufflé dish or 8 cup baking dish. Arrange the reserved artichoke leaves atop the dip. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 15-20 minutes. This dip can be made a day ahead of time, stored covered in the refrigerator, and baked just before serving. Take the dip out of the fridge an hour before baking (if possible) or add another 5-10 minutes if the dip is cold going into the over. Serve the dip with crostini and winter crudités such as fennel, carrots and Belgium endive.


Crostini

Makes about 40 crostini

Crostini, which literally means little toast in Italian, are the perfect base for a variety of appetizers. They work well for small canapés, (the French word for a small one bite prepared hors d’oeuvres) and make excellent alternative to chips or crackers. They can also be used as croutons in a salad or for a cracker atop a soup. I often make crostini to use up stale bread and tend to cut the bread on the thicker side (1/3 thick) for more hearty dips and toppings and on the thinner side (1/4) when used for a cracker or crouton. You can also try toasting flavored breads to pair them with appropriate accompaniments.


1 French baguette
2 teaspoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the baguette about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick (depending on its use) at an angle. Arrange the bread slices on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until light golden brown and crisp. Flip the toasts half way through baking to allow even toasting. Transfer the crostini to a wire rack to cool, and not merely to a plate, where they will create steam and turn soggy. Store in an airtight container (preferably a tin) for up to a week.


Variation:
Parmesan Crostini – add a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese atop the crostini before baking. The Parmesan will turn golden and buttery. Serve in place of croutons on a crisp romaine salad or over creamy tomato soup.

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