Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year!

So happy to be back with my favorite party recipe to ring in the New Year!

This holiday season in the bakery was our busiest on record, and we baked, packaged and shipped 7 days a week, round-the-clock. It was also, thankfully, our most manageable holiday season to date, due not only to a little more experience & efficiency on our part, but also to a wonderful new addition to our staff. Now that the holiday madness is behind us, we have a little room to breathe, entertain and be creative in the kitchen.

We hosted both a post-Christmas family party and a New Year's Day get-together for friends this year, and despite an extensive menu of appetizers and a large Italian feast, this Warm Artichoke Dip was the stand-out for our guests. My inspiration for the recipe is a ridiculously addictive artichoke dip that my mother-in-law is now famous for in our family - and one that I usually ask her to make every time I host a party.

This is my version and what I like most about it are the leftovers - they re-heat incredibly well (no separation) and they also taste great cold as a sandwich spread.

Straight from the oven, this dip is best served warm with tortilla chips or crackers.

Warm Artichoke Dip 
(adapted from PW Cooks)

Two 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained (I use the store brand packed in water)
One 8-ounce block of cream cheese (I use Philadelphia Brand)
One cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's Brand)
One cup grated parmesan cheese (I used shaved parmesan and it resulted in a gooier dip)
Two whole scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

In a food processor, pulse together one can of the artichokes (remember to drain them!), the cream cheese, the mayo and green onions until well combined and slightly chunky - 8 pulses should do it.

Transfer mixture to an oven safe baking dish (I use a 9x11x2") and mix in the parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chop the remaining can of drained artichoke hearts into bite sized-pieces.

Gently fold chopped artichokes into the dip.

At this point you can either cover and store in the fridge until ready to bake or you can bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes. At the end of baking, I like to broil briefly to brown the top a bit. Just watch carefully!

Now try to wait until your guests arrive before tearing in......

Or not...enjoy!