With a reputation as a food person and with everyone in my job-search group knowing about this site, I knew that making a few different kinds of treats was going to be the way to go. This was a good excuse to pull out some tried and true favorites and to try my hand at making a hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip. At the end of the meeting, there wasn’t much left for me to put away, so I can only assume that everyone enjoyed the treats.
I whipped up a batch of my Rosemary-Garlic White Bean Dip to serve alongside some vegetables that I picked up at the Greenmarket on Saturday (including the last of the summer’s peppers). In addition, I made some pita crisps for dipping. I thought that this made a colorful display.
Then, I made some Cheddar Cheese Gougères from a recipe that I found on Leite’s Culinaria and have used several times with perfect results. For this particular batch I used the nutty, sharp Clothbound Cheddar from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, which I’d sampled previously at the Piglet Party. This cheese gave the same consistency as the gruyère which is typically used to make these light, airy puffs. I paired this with the Bardshar Chutney from Schoolhouse Kitchen, which made a slightly spiced, fruity counterpart to the richness of the gougères.
The last thing that I put together for the nosh table was a Spinach-Artichoke Dip. I’d found a few recipes on line, but none of them captured the exact spirit and flavor that I wanted. I might still tweak this one some more, but for the moment, and from what I’ve seen when I’ve served it, this one does quite well at the appetizer table. I’ve found that tortilla chips or pita crisps make the perfect dipping tool for it. And, I decided to skip that naff bread bowl that this dish was served in during the ’80s and ’90s. Time to bring this dish into the 21st Century!
The wrap up for the day was a batch of my Almond Butter Crunch. So simple to make, yet always impressive and tasty, this was a sweet end to a meeting about a bitter topic – job searching and being unemployed. If only it was as much fun to send out my resume and go on interviews as it was to host this gathering, I think I might have already landed my next job.
Prep Time: 40 minutes (including baking)
Serving Size: 6-8 as appetizer
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 14-oz. can or jar Artichoke Hearts, drained and cut into quarters
1 10-oz. package chopped Spinach, thawed
2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
1 8-oz. package Cream Cheese
1 8-oz. package Sour Cream
3/4 cup grated mixed Italian Cheeses
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a casserole dish (oval or 8-inch by 8-inch). Heat olive oil and melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add artichoke hearts and spinach to pan and cook for five minutes. Add garlic, peppers, and salt and mix together. Cook for one minute more.
Add cream cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 cup of the cheese and incorporate thoroughly so that there are they are no clumps of dairy. Cook for two minutes. Turnoff the heat and pour mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top.
Put in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the cheese is melted on top. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or pita crisps.