Sunday, October 26, 2008

From Miranda's Kitchen: Great Appetizers for a Chilly Fall

Hot & Spicy Artichoke Dip

1 large jar of quality artichoke hearts (about 12 oz)
1 cup of mayo (Hellman's brand, etc.)
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 cup of grated parmesano reggiano cheese (buy the best quality imported cheese you can find.)
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
Salt to taste (use kosher salt for best results)

Drain artichoke hearts and dice them. Finely dice jalapeno pepper (seeds included).
Mix together artichoke hearts, mayo, jalapeno, 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, the garlic powder and the salt. Stir well to combine and pour into an oven-save dish (this is the same dish you will serve the dip in, so chose one you would like your guests to see).
Cover the top of the dip with the remaining parmesan cheese and sprinkle on the cilantro (to taste).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook dip until the sides are bubbling and it is hot in the center (this will vary depending on the depth of the dish you have chosen). Approximate cooking time 20-25 minutes.

Serve piping hot with sliced baguette.

Velvety Corn Puree with Cream Fraiche

1 bag of high quality frozen corn
1 small yellow onion
1/4 cup diced carrot (Nantes variety preferred)
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups of whole organic milk
Salt & Sugar to taste
Creme Fraiche
Fresh chives
Sea Salt

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Dice onion and carrots and saute in the oil over medium-high heat until softened.

Meanwhile, fill a large stockpot with water (several quarts). Add about a 1/4 cup of salt and 1/8 cup sugar to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Blanch the corn in batches. Add as little corn in each batch as needed to ensure that the water returns almost immediately to the boil. Once blanched, add the corn to the sauce pan with the onions and carrots. Saute 2 mintues. Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid and let steep until cooled.

Puree the corn and milk mixture in a blender. Pass the puree through a tamis with a scrapper to remove all impurities and create a silky soup. Warm soup in a clean pot and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and sugar as need. Control for thickness by adding cream if desired.

To serve:
For individual amuse-bouche style servings, place a small amount of soup in won-ton soup spoons. Top with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprinkling of diced chives, and a few crystals of high quality sea salt.

For appetizers, serve the soup in small shot glasses (or something similar); top with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprinkling of chives, and a few crystals of high quality sea salt.

Serve with: Both of these appetizers would pair nicely with a dry Reisling

Bon Appetit!

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