Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the Dip of the Party!

New Year's Eve parties, Super Bowl parties, and Oscar parties are around the corner (some corners are closer than others). Do you need something to contribute? How about a delish dipping dish? My baked spinach artichoke dip in a bread bowl is just the thing. I've tried to bring other appetizers to parties, only to disappoint my hosts and the following year get a specific request to return with this dip. This year two separate Christmas party hostesses asked me for it — and by the end of the parties, there was nothing for me to take home.

Fresh spinach adds to the delicious flavor and doesn't water down the dip like frozen spinach.

They key to the dip is to use fresh ingredients. What I mean is: Grate it, rinse it, and chop it yourself — don't use pre-minced garlic, frozen spinach, or already-grated parmesan. The unprocessed foods really make a difference, and the prepping isn't hard to do.

Here's the recipe, get cooking!

Kristy's Famous Spinach Artichoke Dip in a Bread Bowl

3 packages (16 oz each) of cream cheese**
2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise**
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 bag of fresh spinach or 1 bundled bunch of spinach. (Use approx. 6oz of fresh spinach — the amount can vary and won't effect recipe)
1/2 of an average-size wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano otherwise known as parmesan
12oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
Fresh or dried parsley
Fresh or dried oregano
1 small loaf of French bread or a baguette
1 large round bread loaf, unsliced (I prefer pumpernickel or marbled rye)

**For a healthier version, use low-fat cream cheese and mayonnaise. I always do, and with all of the wonderful flavors going on in the dip, no one has ever noticed that I cut out some fat.

  1. Preheat oven to 375ยบ.

  2. In a large mixing bowl place the cream cheese and mayonnaise.

  3. Peel garlic cloves, and cut to fit into a garlic press.

  4. Using a garlic press, press all garlic into bowl. (If you don't have a garlic press, finely mince garlic and add to bowl.)

  5. Wash and chop spinach (removing tough stems if necessary). Add to bowl.

  6. Grate parmesan into bowl. Save a tiny bit for garnishing.

  7. Drain half of the juice from the marinated artichokes into bowl. Discard the remaining juice.

  8. Chop the artichokes into small pieces and add to bowl.

  9. Mix together all of the above ingredients in the bowl.

  10. Cover and refrigerate until 1 hour before serving (up to 3 days). You can bake immediately if you plan to serve in approximately an hour.

  11. An hour before serving, scoop dip mixture into a pie dish or other oven safe baking dish. Be sure not to use too big a dish — you don't want the dip to dry out during baking. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375ยบ for 30 to 45 minutes, until bubbling.

While your dip is baking, prepare your bread:

  1. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic powder to taste, parsley to taste, and oregano to taste (chop the herbs fine if they're fresh). Set aside.

  2. Slice baguette into approximately 3/16" thick slices. Cut slices in half to make bite-sized pieces.

  3. Place sliced baguette pieces on an ungreased baking sheet.

  4. Lightly brush bread slices with olive oil mixture.

  5. Place on upper rack of oven for 5 minutes (in preheated oven at 350ยบ to 375ยบ — the oven should already be hot if you're baking the dip simultaneously).

  6. Take bread out and let cool.

  7. Cut the round bread loaf to make bowl. To do this, leave an edge about 1/2 an inch thick for your bowl, slightly angle your knife toward the loaf center, and cut out the middle of the loaf.

  8. Pull out the center of the bread. You may need to cut out a little more of the inner sides of the bowl. Keep in mind that you want the loaf to be a container for your dip: You want the sides thick enough to hold the dip but you need to fit all of your dip into it.

  9. Chop the bread you cut out of the loaf into cubes.

Assemble your bowl.
  1. Place your bowl on a large platter. (If you don't have a platter big enough, put the bread bowl on a dinner plate or small platter and put the dipping bread on a second plate.

  2. Carefully scoop or ladle your hot dip into the bowl.

  3. Arrange the bread cubes and baguette pieces in half-moons around the bowl.

  4. Garnish with remaining grated parmesan.
If you are traveling with the bread bowl, you'll want to partially assemble it when you get there. Put your baguette bites and bread cubes in a large ziplock bag. Tightly foil-wrap, then plastic wrap, the dip in the bread bowl and keep it upright. Another option is to bake it in your host's oven. You can pre-prepare you bread and take it with you, and just bake the dip and assemble the whole thing at your destination. You can also skip the baguette entirely — just buy a second bread loaf and chop it into cubes or buy bagel chips.

Bon Appetit!

I'll be bringing this to my friend's Super Bowl party; what will you be bringing?

— Kristy L. MacWilliams, Marketing Manager


Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I am one of the people who left you with nothing to bring home to your fiance'. I love your spinach dip and after a few cocktails, I love it again, and again, and again!!! Keep up the good work! I love your recipe!

Unknown said...

I made this for New Years and you're right, it was a hit!