Monday, December 12, 2011
It's Party Time!
No doubt, at this time of year some of us attend catered soirees where waiters in black tuxes circulate trays of canapés and caviar among the gowned and bejeweled guests. Much as I'd enjoy those events, the parties I'm usually invited to are much simpler affairs, gatherings of friends or family or--best of all--both. Events where I'm typically asked to bring "a dish."
What to bring? Each year, I search my recipes for something a little different, a little “out of the box.” Which is a challenge since I’m not a fancy cook. A good one, perhaps, but I wouldn’t know a piping tool if it bit me. So forget anything that requires carving radishes into roses or creating them out of icing.
This year, I’ve chosen a spinach artichoke dish as my to-go selection. To be honest, it started out as an Emeril Legasse recipe, and you can’t go wrong with Le Bam! I have, however, played around with the ingredients a bit. His version called for Brie and marinated artichokes. My crowd prefers Swiss and skips the marinade. Whichever suits your fancy, serve with good chips and enjoy.
Leigh's Version of Kicked-Up Spinach Artichoke Dip
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1 cup extra sharp, white cheddar cheese, grated
2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 strips of bacon, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Green onions, sliced (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9-inch ovenproof serving dish with cooking oil. Set aside.
Fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Squeeze excess liquid from thawed spinach and drain well.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne and cook for another minute.
Sprinkle flour over onion mixture. Slowly add cream and milk, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat while continuing to stir, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is thick and creamy.
Remove from heat. Add the Swiss and Cheddar. Stir until melted.
Add spinach, and lemon juice. Stir.
Set 1 tablespoon of bacon side. Add the remaining bacon and artichoke hearts to the spinach/cheese mixture and stir well.
Pour into greased casserole. Top with Parmesan cheese, reserved bacon and, if desired, sliced green onions.
Bake about 15 minutes or until heated through.
Serve with chips.