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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Hot Artichoke Dip!

Here we are...Christmas is over...time to start thinking of New Year's Eve celebrations.  Need a New Year's Eve dip?  Here's a GREAT option!

We'd already dug in when I thought..."yikes - didn't take a photo!"  So we set up a few staged photos.

One of the gastronomical hits of my son's Christmas Eve party was my friend, Trina's, recipe for a hot artichoke dip.  She brought it to a party earlier in the month and I asked her to send me the recipe.  It is quite delicious - and not too difficult to make.  She said it is from the Pampered Chef's 2009 Fall/Winter Cookbook.  I looked online and didn't find it currently posted.  Trina sent her recipe...and I tweaked it a bit (some on purpose, some by accident).  The dip is served in a bread bowl, and we both used the Pampered Chef bread tubes to bake our own shaped loaves...which we sliced into little toasts and crisped in the oven.  I had to buy the bread tubes on eBay because I didn't find them in the online Pampered Chef catalog either!  Never fails - I find something cool - and it is out of production.  Thanks goodness for eBay!

So, here's what I did.

First, after receiving my bread tubes, I sprayed the inside with cooking spray, and used refrigerated Pillsbury Country Italian Bread dough.  In retrospect, I would have cut off about 3 inches of the raw dough as both bread tubes had bread expanding to the point of the top coming off the baking tube while in the oven.  I used the scalloped bread tube and the star bread tube.  I followed the instructions enclosed in the Pampered Chef Bread Tube packaging for making "toasts".  Once the bread had cooled completely, I cut the loaf into 1/4" thick slices.  I did this 3 days in advance and just stored the bread tubes in a Ziploc bag after they were thoroughly cooled.  You are making crispy toasts, so it doesn't need to be "freshly baked same day".  The night of preparation, I laid them out on a cookie sheet, sprayed them with a Canola Oil mister and toasted at 400 degrees until I could see the edges browning, then I flipped them until they were lightly brown and toasty.  I removed them and set them aside.

I had purchased a good sized round of artisan Sourdough bread from Central Market in Austin.  They are particularly delicious...but, since you aren't eating the bread (in my situation) it would be absolutely acceptable to go with a cheaper bread bowl!  I sliced the top off the bowl and scooped out all the soft insides... my son saved the insides in a freezer bag for future bread crumbs.  I set the bread bowl and the lid to the side.

Artichoke Bread Bowl Dip:

8 oz cream cheese, softened (original recipe called for 4 oz. - but I used 8 oz.)
1/2 cup milk
1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 - 1.4 oz envelope or one 1.8 oz box (2 envelopes) dried vegetable soup mix (I used Knorr's brand)
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 lemon
8 oz sour cream
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese - not the powdery canned kind - you want the thicker grated pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Whisk cream cheese until smooth in microwaveable bowl.
Add milk, whisk until smooth.
Chop artichokes, soup mix, and garlic and mix well. Microwave on high 5-7 minutes or until hot (do not boil).

Juice lemon to measure 2 tbsp juice. Stir lemon juice and sour cream into mixture and pour into bread bowl.

OK, truth time... I got confused in a hectic small kitchen - forgot to soften the cheese - so I zapped it in the microwave to soften, then added the milk and whisked - I didn't microwave any further - I just added everything else, whisking thoroughly...and it turned out there's the "recipe" and my "tweak" - do it however you want - both ways tasted good!

Place bread bowl and lid on a baking tray.  Spritz lid and outside of bowl with Canola Oil mister. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the dip that is inside the bread bowl. Lean lid against bread bowl (I just laid it upside down on the tray). Bake 13 - 15 minutes or until dip is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.  Surround with toasts.

The original recipe called for using two bread bowls and cutting up one of the bowls and the innards of the other for bread cubes - which you toast at the same time as the dip (sprayed with oil) to make "dipping cubes".  Since I used the shaped toasts, I didn't need to do that.  If you wanted shaped toasts and don't want to try to hunt down a Pampered Chef's bread tube on eBay, you could alternatively purchase sliced sourdough bread, use a star shaped cookie cutter or scalloped biscuit cutter to cut out these shapes (or any shape of your choice), and go through the spraying and toasting process described above.
It was really good.  Worth the effort to make the little toasts too...but would likely have been quite tasty with some crackers or Melba Toast rounds (and a whole lot less effort)!  I really like going the extra mile for a holiday recipe.  It makes me feel good to get the oohs and aahs from the guests.  Makes it all feel worthwhile!  You should try this recipe...I bet you love it!


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