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Archive for the ‘Artichokes’ Category

Folks, I’m going to be brutally honest with you.  Your Bad Mama Genny just hasn’t had the time or the inclination to impress anyone lately.

Firstly because I’ve been really busy, what with deadlines and watering the jungle and attending the National Homebrewer’s Conference with The Boy.  But also because impressing people can be problematic.  It can raise expectations.  It can set the bar too high.

It can result in people expecting you to be decent.

And who wants that?  Then when you decide to be indecent, people are all shocked and all offended and all put your pants back on and oh think of the children and whatnot.

See what I mean?  Totally not cool.

That’s why you need a good Antipasti Platter like this one in your arsenal.  Because if you’re anything like me, which for your sake I hope you’re not but let’s pretend, you’ve already been invited to at least fifty barbecues this summer and half of them fall on the same weekend.

That’s not good.  That’s not good for anyone.

Least of all people of the pale persuasion, like myself.  But the point is, you’re usually expected to bring something to said barbecue, and not having enough time to make something from scratch can render one sad, depressed, listless, and prone to alternating crying jags and fits of mania.

This just in: The Boy has informed me that neither fits of mania nor crying jags are verifiable symptoms of being invited to barbecues.  Thanks, The Boy.  I so appreciate your contribution to this blog post.  I hope that knowledge gives you peace as you sleep on the couch tonight.

Anyway, Antipasti platters, in case you haven’t noticed, are gorgeous.  They can also theoretically be constructed from all store-bought ingredients.  Granted, I threw a loaf of from-scratch baked artisan bread in with mine, but bread-baking is like breathing to me now, and WHAT NOW YOU DON’T WANT ME TO BREATHE I DO SO MUCH FOR YOU AND SLAVE AWAY AT THIS KEYBOARD AND NOW YOU CRITICIZE MY BREAD-BAKING ADDICTION HOW ABOUT I CRITICIZE YOUR ADDICTIONS HUH HOW ABOUT I MENTION THE LITTLE DEBBIES HIDDEN IN YOUR JUNK DRAWER OH WHAT’S THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO CRITICIZE ME ANYMORE THAT’S NICE I THOUGHT SO.

What in the hell was I saying?

Oh, yeah.  So you could throw in a loaf of fancy schmancy bread and some dipping oil with this here Antipasti Platter, but some nice skinny breadsticks from the grocery store would do just as well.  I also included some homemade arugula pesto butter, fresh apricot preserves, and some homemade ricotta, which is always inexplicably appearing at the back of my refrigerator (I said, INEXPLICABLY, and I meant, INEXPLICABLY).

But let’s get down to business, shall we?  Here are my suggestions for an appetizer that will have everyone stuffing their faces while simultaneously not raising their expectations of you.  Wanna send them over the moon?  Bring a nice, juicy, full-bodied red wine to serve with this.

But they might start expecting things.  I’m just warning you.

Antipasti Platter

Go Get:
Pepperoncini
Fresh Mozzarella Balls (either marinated or not, up to you)
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Marinated and quartered artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers, marinated or not
Mixed marinated olives (I like to use kalamatas and stuffed green Spanish olives, but you feel free to go nuts)
Thinly sliced salami
Cubed provolone
Other options not pictured here:
Additional hams and sausages such as serrano, chorizo, etc.
Pickled cornichons
Sundried tomatoes
Infused olive oils
Roasted and mashed garlic cloves
Some nice pesto
Those apricot preserves I talked about
That fresh, homemade ricotta cheese I mentioned
Those delicious breadsticks, or that crusty home-baked artisan bread I noted
Some thin shavings of aged parmesan
Small cubes of a sweet melon, such as cantaloupe
Your firstborn child (Just kidding.  Mostly.)

Go Do:
Arrange this bad boy however you like.  As you can see, I used a decorative 13 x 9 dish with the ingredients arranged in rows, but a large, round serving platter with ingredients lined up in concentric circles or pie wedges would be striking as well.  Butters, oils, and soft cheeses can take up residence in ramekins that you smush onto the plate.  Breadsticks look striking in a tall glass, and a fresh loaf of bread would be just dandy in a kitchen towel set in a basket.

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There is a specific grief that afflicts your Bad Mama Genny…namely, that which occurs when a foodie learns that he or she may no longer be compatible with a favorite nommable.  When I started to suspect that the lactose molecule (it is a molecule, no?  someone enlighten me) was not as Gen-appropriate as formerly thought, I…well, I went through some shit.

First came denial (“Oh, that no dairy thing is such fluffernutter, see, look, I can eat a whole pint of ice cream and I’m just fi—OH GOD SOMEBODY STAB ME IN THE CHEST RIGHT NOW”).

Then came sadness (“This is the end of my life as a foodie. I’ll never cook again. Why bother going out to eat? Well, there goes my social life. I might as well end it all right now. Anybody have a citrus zester I can fall on?”).

Overreaction was common (“No, The Boy, I do NOT think my Cashew Cheddar ‘Cheeze’ turned out well, I think it sucks, it does not remind me of cheddar, it reminds me of rotten hummus, and I’ll thank YOU to stay out of it! Stop eating that this instant! It’s terrible and I forbid you to like it!”).

Anger was a part of everyday life (“How could cream do this to me? ME?!  Bad Mama Genny loved it, cared for it, played with it all the time, put it in a bonnet and took it for walks around the neighborhood…sure, the other mothers stared, but cream was always the most beautiful baby to me—they didn’t understand our love!”).

But soon (okay, maybe not so soon, but for the sake of flow, let’s say soon), SOON, I reached the magical land of acceptance. Acceptance is not something that comes to those who wait. It is something that comes to those who bitch and moan and then refuse to live a life without spinach artichoke dip.

But allow me to depart for a moment from this me, me, me thing, and mention that I did not bring on this enlightened thinking all on my own. Rice milk, almond milk, nutritional yeast (or “nooch”), and tomes of online recipes were my friends as I slowly started to put my life back together.

Mostly, though, I’m brilliant. And that is how this recipe for Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip was born.  Out of my brilliance.  You’re welcome.

Lactose-Free Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Go Get:

8 oz. package Non-Dairy Cream Cheese (i.e. Tofutti or Soya-Kaas–I find mine at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)

1 11 oz. (approximately) jar marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed as dry as you can get it

1/2 cup mayonnaise (REAL mayonnaise–nothing low-fat, as they’re just so processed and frequently have lactose added for stability)

1/4 cup parmesan or vegan parmesan (most cheeses, especially aged ones, have little to no lactose remaining, but use soy if you’re having fear feelings)

2 large garlic cloves

2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil)

1/2 tsp. salt

approx. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella OR soy mozzarella

Go Do:

Preheat oven to 375, and lightly oil a baking dish.  Combine all the ingredients except for the mozzarella in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until combined and creamy.  Spoon it into the prepared baking dish and top it with the shredded “mozzarella.”  Bake it until it’s bubbling and the cheese on top is golden–maybe 20, 25 minutes.  Serve with diced tomatoes and tortilla chips, pita chips, sliced veggies, crackers, or wedges of toasted rustic bread.  (Note—it’s also possible to skip baking this dip and just mix all the ingredients in a crockpot set on high until the dip is hot, and then lowered to the warm/lowest setting.  Voila—now it’s ready to party, just like your BMG!  Invite me, bitches.)

     

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