Ingredients

1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
¼ cup red sweet pepper, diced
3 tablespoons shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 eight-ounce carton sour cream
½ cup cream cheese for cooking
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
3 six-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese (4 ounces)
Pita chips and/or toasted baguette-style French bread slices, to serve

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F.

1. In a seasoned or generously greased 8-to-9 inch cast iron skillet cook mushrooms, sweet pepper, shallot and garlic in hot oil over a medium heat until tender, stirring frequently.
2. In a medium bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese, lemon peel, lemon juice, and mustard. Stir in artichoke hearts, Gruyere cheese, and mushroom mixture. Spread in the same cast iron skillet.
3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly around the edge, brown on top  and heated through.

Serve dip with pita chips or French bread.

Recipe courtesy of Julie Geary, Classic Cooks Catering, 2012.

by Victoria Brown: “There’s nothing like a really nice homemade hot dip to serve with potato chips or pita chips or some nice sliced French bread” says Julie Geary of Classic Cooks Catering. She shows us how to make a warm and creamy artichoke dip that’s quick and easy to prepare. It is not an everyday dip, but why not splurge a little on Valentine’s Day?

There are three different edible plants referred to by the name artichoke, which can naturally lead to some confusion. This recipe calls for marinated artichoke hearts, which come from the globe artichoke. The globe artichoke is the edible flower of a type of thistle originating in Sicily. The whole flower can be steamed or boiled and the outer leaves eaten, for example, dipped in aioli, lemon or butter. The heart at the centre can also be eaten after removing the 'choke' or beard and is consumed in a variety of ways, in this case having been preserved and marinated.

Geary adds the artichoke hearts to a mixture of sour cream, cream cheese, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard and Swiss or Gruyere cheese. In a skillet she fries some minced garlic and shallot with some finely diced mushrooms and red peppers. When cooked she adds this to the creamy mix, gives it a stir and puts it all back in the skillet so it can be baked in the oven with some parmesan on top. Geary calls it a skillet dip “because it goes straight from the top of the stove into the oven.”

Geary concedes that the while the dip is "absolutely delightful" it is "obviously not dietetic" packed as it is full of delicious cheese and sour cream. However, globe artichokes are well known for their numerous health benefits. They are high in fiber, potassium, calcium, iron and have been known since ancient times as an aid to liver problems, among other things. An article on the Epicurean Table suggests that the globe artichoke can boost the liver's ability to regenerate its cells and was highly prized by the Egyptians for this reason – seen to cure the problems created by an excessive lifestyle, “Plinius described it as the 'food for the rich'”.

We are not advocating that you take this as the go ahead to start indulging in life’s excesses, but we are suggesting that you can justify this one deliciously cheesy and creamy dip as a treat on a cold winter’s night like Valentine’s Day, for instance. If you’re not convinced, then take it from Geary: “There’s nothing better than a warm artichoke dip ... Mmm, delicious.”

Lemon Artichoke Dip
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