Friday, 27 January 2012

Baked Artichoke Dip

I'm sorry I still haven't gotten better at the whole posting regularly thing, but I'm in the middle of organising my move (yes, I have found an apartment and yes, it's very pretty) while getting used to commuting for what seems like forever these days (that will change once I move) then I'm not really cooking or baking much these days. Perhaps I should just change this blog to 'what I had for lunch at the cafeteria today' but trust me, you'd want to look at the photos of that just as badly as I would want to take them. So bear with me for a few more weeks :)

That said, I went to a birthday party the other week and had to decide what to bring along. Funnily enough ABC Family made that decision for me - Kathryn on Switched at Birth was talking about her artichoke dip a few episodes ago and I spent the better part of a week waking up every morning thinking about artichoke dip. So when I had to decide what to bring for the party I couldn't really think of anything better.
I looked at a few recipes but the one I based mine on is Ree's Hot Olive & Artichoke Dip on Pioneer Woman for quantities.

I baked the dip at the party which is one of the best things about it - you can prepare it in advance (relatively, I wouldn't leave it sitting around at room temperature for too long) and bake it when you're ready or when you get to wherever you're going and then 25 minutes later you'll have to stop yourself from eating the entire thing alone.
I think the dip works the best with plain tortilla chips or pitta chips. The slightly burned ones to the left of the artichoke dip in the middle were the result of me not paying attention to the oven. I'll make some prettier ones this weekend and will post the recipe soon.

Baked Artichoke Dip
260g jar Artichoke Hearts (the kind in the 'herb sauce' that always seems to consist mostly of oil - I ended up with about 150g after draining them)
250g Cream Cheese
125ml Mayonnaise (my jar came in ml, no clue how many grams that was, but if you have cup measures, that is about 1/2 cup)
100g Parmesan, grated
1/2 Onion, finely diced
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Egg
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, Chilli Flakes

If you are planning on baking the dip straight away, preheat your oven to 175˚C now (otherwise preheat whichever oven you're using before you plan to bake the dip).
Combine the cream cheese and mayonnaise and stir until you have a relatively smooth mixture, then add the parmesan and diced onion.
Puree the artichoke hearts and add the puree to the cream cheese mix. Season with the lemon juice, salt pepper, nutmeg, and if you want some heat some chilli flakes.
Once you're happy with the flavour, add the egg and stir until the egg is properly incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into a small baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Now work on the whole self-restraint thing and try not to eat all of the dip before the people around you have a chance to notice you have taken it out of the oven :)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Oaty Ricotta Pancakes

Last summer I got slightly obsessed with finding a nice ricotta pancake recipe after having some for breakfast at Five Leaves. I went through a few not so nice versions, one of which was followed by my friend Alex making some rather amazing Earl Grey flavoured ricotta pancakes, and me kinda giving up on the whole ricotta pancake thing and moving on to polenta pancakes.
After making another batch of ricotta pancakes for brunch today, I think I have finally found the combination of flavours I was looking for. Think all the flavourful goodness of the Orangey Oat Scones from last summer (just less summery thanks to some cardamom) combined with the airiness of a ricotta pancake. How much better can breakfast get?
Anyhow, I know the next weekend is horribly far away :) but if I were you, I'd definitely keep these in mind when you are searching your fridge for inspiration next Sunday.

Oaty Ricotta Pancakes
Dry mix:
1/2 cup Oat Flour (if you can't find any pulse some porridge oats in a food processor for a few seconds)
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Bicarb
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp ground Cardamom

Wet mix:
1 cup Ricotta
1/2 cup Milk
Zest of 1 Orange
3 Eggs, separated (yolks go into the mix, whites are used separately)

Combine the dry mix and set aside.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (you have no idea how much fun it is to write this).
Combine the remaining ingredients for the wet mix. Stir the wet mix into the dry mix and don't worry if there are still a few lumps left, if you mix things too much the pancakes will become chewy (in a bad way) rather than light and airy.
Fold in the egg whites. What I do when I want to fold egg whites into a batter is the following: I take 1/3 of the egg whites and stir them into the batter (no folding whatsoever), then I fold in the remaining egg whites and for some reason that means the two combine much easier without too much of the airiness of the egg whites disappearing.
Heat a skillet to a medium-low heat and grease it lightly with some butter. Spoon dollops of batter (I go for about 3 tablespoons per pancake) into the pan and allow them to brown nicely before flipping them over.

These pancakes really like maple syrup, and since you'll already have an orange lying around that will want to be used fairly soon, why not filet the orange so you can even have some vitamins with the pancakes - scary concept, I know :)

What did you guys have for breakfast this weekend?
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