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Friday, December 31, 2004

Artichoke-Parmesan Dip

I got this recipe out of the Thanksgiving cooking class I took. I made up a double batch for the annual NYE open house that a friend of mine throws, and it was well recieved. Unlike a lot of hot artichoke dips, it's light on the mayo. Most recipes call for 1 cup (!). The original of this, from Diane Morgan's Delicious Dips, calls for 1/2 cup of mayo and sour cream each, but I found it fine with 1/4 cup each.

I also made the mixture up a couple of days before, and transported it, and a baking dish, to the party for cooking up there. Hot dip!!

I served it with pita chips, which are a snap to make: cut pitas into eight wedges, and seperate the two sides of the pocket. Bake in a 350 oven for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp and dry.

Hot Artichoke-Parmesan Dip

Two 15 oz cans artichoke hearts in water
1 shallot
About 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise (you could probably use reduced fat versions of both)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (this is one juicy lemon)

Optional topping (can be made ahead earlier in day):

1/3 cup unflavored bread crumbs
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh oregano, chopped

Drain artichokes, and chop up fine in food processor with the shallot(with a little olive oil to encourage the process). Add remaining ingredients and mix well. You can refrigerate for up to 2 days at this point.

Heat oven to 400 F. Put mixture in pan, top with crumbs if desired, and bake 20-25 minutes, till topping is brown and dip is thoroughly warmed. Serve with crostini, bagel chips, or pita chips.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas Cheer

Not much going on in the kitchen, except Producing Mass Quantities of chocolate truffles for the office potluck and little gifties (entry when I stop spinning enough to take photos and write it up) and Peanut Butter Cup Cookies for our church's Festival of Lessons and Carols.

I thought I was immune from the office sweets, but someone brought in a pound box of See's peanut brittle. Man, that stuff is addictive.

And I am enjoying eggnog latte season. I wish that some dairy would put nog in smaller containers so I would make it at home.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pot Roast

Long before I attempted the latkes from the late lamented Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, I was a fan of her way with pot roast. (sorry, no photo, spaced)

It's not like my mother made it, and probably not like the way yours made it unless she was Italian, but it is good. I have it a lot more that I was gifted with a 7 quart Le Crueset oval French oven a couple of years back, which makes the browning and baking a snap. Here goes, with my tweaks:

Laurie Colwin's Pot Roast

Heat your oven to 300 F. Get a chuck steak or other cut suitable for pot roasting, as big as you can find or will comfortably fit in your pot. Roll it on all sides in paprika. Colwin says to tie string around the middle.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet and sear the meat on both sides. Transfer the meat to the Dutch oven.

Cut three red bell peppers in strips and saute them in the skillet. Add them to the meat with 1-2 large yellow onions cut in quarters, 1-2 carrots cut in chunks, and garlic to taste. Hot pepper if you like.

Pour one glass red wine in the skillet, and add a small can tomato sauce, or whatever canned tomato product you have handy. I have used cans of crushed tomatoes (mmm, gravy) or pizza sauce to good effect. Cook to thicken a bit (stir up the bits from the bottom) and pour it over the meat.

Pepper the meat, cover the pot and stick in the oven for 3-5 hours, or till tender.

Please note: pot roast tastes better the next day, so I usually don't eat it the day I made it.

To make the gravy: Remove the meat and set asides. Either carefully pick the skins off the bell peppers (they should peel off) and use your stick blender, or put the whole thing through a food mill and back in the pot. Cook down until thickened.

While potato pancakes or mashed potatoes are traditional accompaniments in some circles, I tend to favor bow-tie or spiral pasta.

The gravy is excellent on Soybean Stuff mixed with pasta.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I love Hanukkah. It comes at a time of year when I am craving something something hot and crispy-fried, and of course gives me an excuse to indulge.

Baked is not the same. It's the miracle of the oil.

For the last couple of years I have made potato pancakes mostly per Laurie Colwin's recipe. The only big difference is how I prep the potatoes, and the amount of matzo meal I put in. (I add more if the batter starts getting runny.)

Crispy Goodness

I don't know why I try to lay in the traditional accompaniments in. This year I had a brisket (cooked as pot roast even ... more on that later), apples from which I could have made apple sauce, salmon in the freezer, and sour cream. I ate the latkes plain, mostly while waiting for the rest of them to fry up. The remainder (this does make a fair amount) I ate the next day, also plain but hot from the frying pan.

Laurie Colwin's Latkes

Peel five medium Idaho (russet) potatoes and hold in cold, acidulated water. (Not for long.)

Peel one medium yellow onion.

Cut the potatoes and onion in chunks and either grate or chop in the food processor. Colwin said blender, but hers must have been more powerful than mine. Small chunks of potato are fine, but nothing should be bigger than about a fingernail.

Mix to a batter with one egg, at least one tablespoon matzo meal or flour, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder dissolved in a teaspoon of water.

If the batter seems runny, add more matzo.

Heat some fat in a good cast iron skillet. Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) is traditional but I use olive oil and/or vegetable oil.

When the fat is hot enough to fry a piece of bread, get busy (raw potato anything does not hold). I like about a tablespoon of batter per pancake. Fry till golden on both sides. Don't even think of turning them before the edges are crispy brown on the first side.

Replenish the oil as necessary. I also found that the batter got watery later on, and mixed another spoonful of matzo meal in.

Drain on paper towels and hold on a platter in a hot oven. Or, you can do what I do to reheat them ... refry.