Sunday, April 13, 2008

Artichoke Dip

2 cups canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated parmigiano
1 cup sour cream
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. plain breadcrumbs

Sauté artichokes and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes until artichokes have a little color.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine next 7 ingredients. Add cooked artichokes and garlic. Place in small casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees until bubbly (about 25-30 minutes).

Serve with cracker bread or toasted baguettes.


Substitute 1 cup crab meat for 1 cup artichoke hearts. Pinch of bay spices, basil and oregano.


I had this at a dinner party several years ago and have since decided it is by far the best artichoke dip I have ever tasted. I serve it with Panera's Asiago Cheese Demi bread (untoasted slices). The combination of flavors is marvelous. I could eat this and a Caesar salad and call it dinner.

The recipe originates from Cristina's of Sun Valley.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Roasted Shrimp & Orzo

Kosher salt
Olive Oil
1/2 lb. orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (16-18 count)
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1/2 cup fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/4 cup small-diced red onion
1/4 lb. good feta cheese, large-diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5-6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Serves 3-4

Note: This is half the original recipe (which serves 6). I would strongly recommend either omitting the red onion or reducing the amount, as this has far too much onion. I'm not even sure if you need the red onion with the scallions. The herbs seemed a bit overwhelming, too, so adjust to your own preference. I used a basil-tomato flavored feta.

Modified from original recipe in Barefoot Contessa At Home Cookbook.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Seafood Pasta

2-3 green onions, chopped
8 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 pound bay scallops, drained
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz. angel hair pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.

While water is heating, sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat until tender. Add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Stir the half-and-half and flour together in a measuring cup. Add to vegetable mixture, along with the wine, salt and tomato paste (if desired).

Start cooking the angel hair pasta.

In a separate skillet, sear scallops and shrimp in 1-2 Tbsp. butter for 2-3 minutes. Add to vegetable mixture and continue to gently simmer until the pasta has finished cooking.

Drain pasta and gently toss with seafood mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serve with hot, crusty French bread and a green salad.

Notes: I have no recollection of where I found this recipe. It's gone through several transformations over the years. The original recipe didn't include shrimp, mushrooms, tomato paste or wine. In addition to these modifications, I added the searing step. I use a white zinfandel, but any dry white wine would be fine. A couple of squeezes of fresh lemon juice would also be good.

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