Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip: The Results and Modified Recipe

Sorry for the delay, everyone! Hurricane Sandy was barely even a rainstorm in my neighborhood, but with cranes falling and my friends' apartments losing power, blogging fell by the wayside a bit. Fortunately my roommates and I only had some flickering lights to deal with, but I know many people who were more seriously impacted. Let's be thankful that most of the humans involved are safe and especially thankful for everyone who is helping put things back together.
The closest Sandy-related scare to my apartment- 57th St. & 6th Ave.
Someone totally got fired for not securing this.
The Process:
Spinach-Artichoke dip is close to a one-pan dish (more like one food processor and then one pan). Once I figured out the substitutions* for this dish, it was pretty easy to memorize. The two namesake ingredients, of course, plus five dairy-esque components (who knows what mayonnaise counts as, besides a fat), garlic, lemon, and seasonings. I overcooked the dip, but it turned out so delicious that I ended up modifying the recipe to reflect the 30 minute cook time. I like when the top gets nice and toasty. The proportions are the tricky part, but if you can remember that you put more of the less tangy flavors and less of the more tangy flavors, you should be good.

The Verdict:
There is usually a turning point in the preparation of a dish when you just know that it will be good (or not). For me, this moment was when I looked at the completed dip sitting in the food processor after the first 3 pulses. Even though the artichokes were still a little bit frozen and the mixture hadn't completely come together, it was in that moment that I saw the artistic mix of vibrant green (thank you, blanching) and luscious cream-white that I knew it was going to be amazing.

It was. And the 4-serving claim on the original recipe is ridiculous-- this recipe serves at least eight as an appetizer and six as a side.

There are a few modifications I will make to the recipe next time that I think will make the dip a bit thicker and make the artichokes more balanced with creaminess. I lowered the mayo, upped the cream cheese, and upped the parmesan topping measurements in the modified recipe-- if anyone tries it before I do, send your thoughts. But whatever you do, do not skip the garlic roasting step. It adds a carmelized quality that not only keeps your breath less garlicky but also seriously deepens the flavor of the dip.
The golden topping looks as good as it tastes!
The Modified Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Dip, adapted from Wolfgang Puck
Yield: 6 (side) or 8 (appetizer) servings
Ingredients:
  • 10 oz. package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 3 bunches spinach, washed and stems removed
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese*
  • 2 tbsp goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
Preparation:
  • Heat oven to 375°F.
  • Cut the top off of the head of garlic so the cloves are barely visible.
  • Drizzle olive oil on top and wrap in foil.
  • Place on the top rack of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until the garlic feels soft. Remove and let cool for five minutes before unwrapping and popping out 4 garlic cloves. Reduce the oven to 350°F.
  • While the garlic is roasting, blanch the spinach, one bunch at a time. In a large metal sieve, dunk the spinach in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and dunk into ice water for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside until all spinach has been blanched.
  • Place artichoke hearts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add mayonnaise, cream cheese, greek yogurt, heavy cream, 1/4 cup parmesan, goat cheese, 4 roasted garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until combined (about 5 seconds).
  • Add the spinach and pulse until well blended but still with texture.
  • Spoon the dip into a shallow ovenproof dish.
  • Mix the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan and paprika. Spread across the top of the dip.
  • Place the dish in the oven for about 30 minutes, until hot throughout with a golden brown top.
  • Serve hot with crackers, bread, or crudites.
Cut, drizzle, and bundle. Make your garlic as snug as a bug, and it will pay you back in flavor! 
Everyone has their preferred way of squeezing lemon juice without getting seeds in. My favorite way is to quarter the lemon and slice off the fibrous core. Since that part is where most of the seeds are housed, you can squeeze away without worrying about seeds.
This is a good consistency before the cheeses and mayo are added,
so it doesn't become too pureed once the creamy part is added.
The wheel of indulgence (from 12:00):
goat cheese, mayo, greek yogurt and cream, parmesan, cream cheese
This is what I mean by blended with texture. It should take a little effort to scoop up.
Multiple dipping options (from 1:00):
gluten-free tortilla chips, low-cal rye flatbreads (Wasa), high-deliciousness ciabatta bread
*Tips:
  • Substitutions: The original Wolfgang Puck recipe calls for ingredients such as creme fraiche and marscapone cheese, which I am sure are delectable. However, to the layperson's palate, more readily available ingredients can do the same job.

    For creme fraiche, I put the same amount of full-fat plain greek yogurt plus 1 tbsp of heavy cream (though the cream is not totally necessary unless you have another reason to use it. I was making whipped cream for dessert, so it worked perfectly).

    For marscapone cheese, I substituted cream cheese. It has a similar sweet taste and spreadable texture.
  • Roasted Garlic: There are so many reasons roasted garlic is better than its raw (or even sauteed) cousins. First of all, say goodbye to nasty garlic breath. Second of all, farewell to tearing up a little bit because you bit down on a pungent chunk of garlic in your bruschetta. Third of all, it is actually sweet, meaning it adds a little toasty and caramelized flavor to whatever you put it in (soup, sauce, etc.). Finally, it is versatile! Serve with a cheese platter alongside the other accoutrements, place with your bread basket on the dinner table, or have fun with some other fun ways to blend it in. And if you have ever contemplated making garlic ice cream (they do it at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA), you now know the trick!
  • Parmesan Cheese: I am not usually particular about brands, but my roommates and I agree that the Whole Foods brand 365 Everyday Value Shredded Parmesan Cheese is something special. I had pre-mixed the cheese and paprika topping in a small bowl, and when I walked out of the kitchen for a minute or so, I came back and it was all gone. I must have remade the topping mix three times!

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