Wednesday, May 9, 2012

NOT JUST FOR POPEYE ANYMORE

If you sat down for an interview with Barbara Walters and she asked, "are you a sweet or a salt?" what would your answer be?  Well, forks down, I am 100% salt.  Offer me ice cream and cake after a meal and I might give you the cold shoulder, but drop a bag of potato chips in front of my face and I'll be licking my fingers in no time!  One of my favorite snacks growing up came in the form of a two pound tub of Queso Cheese from Cost Co.  It's shocking we weren't a 1,000 pounds, but my mother made sure we ate it in moderation...this lovely cheese dip, after a few rounds in the microwave, was a mouth watering treat I couldn't resist.  Today my palette is a bit more refined, but I'm still a sucker for chips and dip.  Joe found this delicious recipe for Hot Spinach and Artichoke dip in The Cooks Country Cookbook (Amazon.com $13.98) and while every chain restaurant across the country offers this treat, make it at home and it will knock you off your feet!
EAT YOUR SPINACH; HOT SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP;
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 minced onion
2 (9 ounce) boxes of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, squeezed dry and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon hot sauce
1 Teaspoon salt
1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
FIRST; Heat oven to 450.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer the artichoke mixture to a plate and set aside.
THEN; Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the now empty pan.  Stir in the flour and cook until just golden, about 1minute.  Slowly stir in the half and half, 1 1/4 cups of the Parmesan, lemon juice, hot sauce and salt.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, about three minutes.  Off the heat, stir in the spinach and reserved artichoke mixture (at this point the dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours)
FINALLY; Transfer dip to a 1 Qt souffle or baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.  Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve.