Friday, February 3, 2012

Vickery's Artichoke Dip and a Dinner Party with the girls from the office

So I have invited the girls from my office over for dinner. This is a little intimidating as we all work in the  food business. We serve food at events in NYC and they sell the parties and the food our company makes. Plus both had culinary and food studies backgrounds from great schools. So while it's good to have the girls over, it's also a little scary.

I mean let's face it. I am talking the big talk here on the Cookforrestcook. Telling everyone how good what I make is. And how any given recipe is perhaps the best possible version of whatever it is, and that you might want to have it in your recipe box. I mean that's my goal. To create recipes that everyone can enjoy, have in their arsenal, and wow their family and friends with on special dinner occasions.

 Ina Garten is probably my favorite food channel cookbook author for that reason. If I wanted a good go to, she would be it in my humble opinion. She does the basics and a few interesting dishes well.  Her recipes always work and they are easy to understand and follow. She's limited in that she really only stays in that realm of the ordinary. But a solid ordinary.

I am a little more all over the map. But it is my goal as well to give you recipes you can use easily but will take you out of the ordinary. Plus my southern background keeps me looking at the world through that well traveled lens and grounds me I would like to think in solid cooking ideas.

So for dinner tonight I have tried to keep things simple but turn up the wow factor. I want an impressive but simple to prepare meal that allows me time with my guests and only a little time in the kitchen.

The Menu:

For starters I am making an old standby, Vickery's artichoke dip. ( recipe to follow)

Then a simple salad of Campari Tomatoes with toasted California Walnuts, Maytag Blue cheese, basil, and Green Goddess vinaigrette.

Then a Pasta course featuring a dish that is one of my favorites.
Bowtie pasta with Applewood smoked bacon, sundried tomatoes in a blue cheese Cracked pepper cream sauce.

Then the main event Pork Osso Bucco with caramelized Fennel and Apples.

For dessert. English Block toffee and cordials.

So this is the menu. I will post the rest of the recipes this week. But for today here is the artichoke dip that people come to my house and go a little nuts for. Vickery's Artichoke dip!

Vickery's Artichoke Dip

So you might ask what is this Vickery's? Well it was only one of my favorite bar/restaurants in Charleston before I moved to NYC. Even after living up here I would visit home and my friend Karen and I would go to Vickery's and hang out and catch up.

Vickery's opened by some guys from Atlanta, who decided they loved the beach. So they took their Atlanta concept and moved it to Charleston. They renovated an old Goodyear Tire shop and turned in into an very interesting space. It was very popular with the late night crowd and was a service industry hangout. Karen and I had a lot of crazy nights there, laughing till we could not see straight and saw some crazy stuff as well.

One of the hallmarks of the Vickery's menu was the bar food. No wings, no nachos, no anything ordinary. Instead they had things like low country eggrolls and backbean cakes and Thai calamari. But the best thing on there was the artichoke dip!

Now artichoke dip is a staple of the southern housewife from way back. There is nothing wacky about it. It's artichoke, it's mayo, it's cheese. But this artichoke dip at Vickery's was somehow special. Served with warm pita its a winner everytime. Our friend Walt was our server for many years when we would come in. He then went on to become the manager. When I moved to NYC he took me back to the kitchen and showed me how to make this so I could always have a little taste of home in the big city. The method is simple but it does produce a high quality dip, better than most. Where I work they make an artichoke dip, but like many versions they grind it all up in a food processor. It's a creamy mealy dip, plenty tasty but just not as good. The Vickery's recipe combines everything well and then hand mashes the artichoke hearts with a masher. So the pieces are larger and the mouth feel has more texture. That and the  addition of green onions in the mix and a touch of vinegar gives it a little tang.

So for the many people who have over the years in NYC asked for this recipe after enjoying it at my parties. Here it is. Enjoy Ya'll.

Ingredients: Makes a 4 person serving for a dinner party

1 can Artichoke hearts drained
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 green onions sliced White and grean parts ( 2 table spoons of the green parts reserved for garnish)
1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar
1 splash hot sauce

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, using a wire potato masher roughly mash into a paste
Pour into a small oven proof crock or bowl
Bake in the oven for 15 mins or until heated and bubbly.
Then broil on hi till top is browned
Remove from the oven.
Garnish with the remaining green onion slices.
Serve with warm pita triangles.











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