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Artichoke Dip 2020

Artichoke Dip 2020

Growing up in Missouri in the 1970s I went to a lot of potlucks. A lot. Most were filled with things like Swedish Meatballs, Three-Bean Salad, Macaroni Casserole, Watergate Salad, Jello Everything, and of course, buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. My mother would get so annoyed at those who brought KFC. She would mutter under her breath, “Why the hell did I go to all the trouble to make something from scratch if others are just buying fast-food?” And people wonder where I get my attitude…

All of this to say somewhere embedded in my taste memory is a fondness for another 1970s favorite: Artichoke Dip. A dollop on a Triscuit was my favorite snacking comfort food. While I still think Triscuits are the greatest cracker ever invented (no judgement, please), I have outgrown the mayo-heavy, bland artichoke dip of my youth. Below is a recipe I started making nearly ten years ago. It’s a tiny bit more sophisticated but still pretty comfort food-y. The other day I also realized that if you pick up a can of artichoke hearts (in water, not oil) on your next COVID-19 grocery run, chances are you might have all the ingredients on hand for that night when your neighbors wanna come over for some Driveway Drinking. This also makes a wonderful spread for a sandwich or wrap filled with avocado, cucumbers and a slice of sharp cheddar…

Fromage Fort or Tiny Fondue

Fromage Fort or Tiny Fondue

This might be one of my favorite recipes. It’s ridiculously delicious, simple to make, freezes beautifully, and most importantly uses up bits and pieces of cheese that you might have otherwise thrown out. I discovered it back in the early 2000s and have been making it about once or twice a year ever since. It’s from Jacques Pepin, who adopted it from his own father’s recipe. My father, who recently died in January, loved to gift us with wedges of cheese when he would come over to our house several times a week for dinner. While we loved the cheese, sometimes we just didn’t get around to eating it all. As a result, a couple of times a year I would gather all the “old” cheese and whip up a batch. Moldy cheese? Don’t worry, as my mom used to always say “Just cut off the mold. It’s still good!” when I would pull out a hunk of cheese that was past its prime.

Quarantine White Bean Dip

Quarantine White Bean Dip

If you’re cooking and adding beans to everything these days like minestrone, soup, stews, etc., this is a great way to use up the extras. If you don’t have tahini, just use a tiny bit more olive oil. The fat from the olive oil and/or tahini is what makes the dip a little more decadent. Specific quantities are listed below, but just adjust to what you have on hand and your taste. FYI: this also works with canned beans.

Carrie Lee’s Chocolate Sauce

Carrie Lee’s Chocolate Sauce

Although some in my family guard this recipe like the Crown Jewels, the truth is that my grandmother, Carrie Lee Mathers Schwartz, found it on the back of a bag of Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate chips likely sometime in the 1950s. Carrie Lee was a formidable woman from the Texas Panhandle who often was stern and controlling, but luckily happened to have an intense love of sweets. She made this every time we visited her in her adopted state of Colorado. And from an early age, I secretly thought of this chocolate sauce as my prize for enduring often painful, tense, mostly quiet, dare I say, utterly WASPy, family meals. It’s not fancy or refined, but it is most definitely the essence of sweet comfort food. So, while we are all “sheltering in place” and perhaps some of us are indulging in a little emotional eating (no judgment!), I thought that this “prize” of mine might be worth sharing. The only thing I have changed in the recipe is adding a pinch of salt which I believe just makes the sauce all the better.

Homemade Oat Milk

Homemade Oat Milk

I admit that I’m a little late to the make-your-own-oat-milk party, so for the twelve people who don’t know this yet: oat milk is crazy easy to make. Not only is it far cheaper than store-bought, but you also avoid one more container in the trash/recycling bin, and it tastes so much better. You need oats, water, a sweetener (I use a date, but some people like sugar or maple syrup), vanilla and a bit of salt.

Unlike 99% of the other blogs out there, I’m not going to bombard you with twenty-two photos of how to make oat milk. You get one photo: the one of the milk straining in my favorite fine mesh strainer.

Toum — Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Toum — Lebanese Garlic Sauce

With it being coronavirus/cold and flu season, this seemed like a logical recipe to post.
I first read about this sauce/spread in Milk Street magazine and then a couple of weeks later I saw it at the Boulder Farmers’ Market and then, strangely enough, at Trader Joe’s! Its origins are Lebanese and it’s often served with chicken kabobs, shawarma or falafel, but I like it drizzled over grilled veggies, spread like mayo on a sandwich, layered with hummus and veggies in a wrap, added to soup, drizzled in the middle of a taco filling, or simply dolloped on top of a potato chip!

All you need is a food processor or blender (I’ve only made it in a food processor), garlic, olive or vegetable oil (I use sunflower), lemon and salt. What makes it so unique is the emulsification process that produces an aioli-like sauce with an essence that enhances other foods to umami status.