Since my big New York adventure with Poof, I've returned to my comfortable groove of painting, cooking, watching television, having fun with Jeff, and not blogging. I just haven't had much to write about! We've been eating great food, but I've already shared those recipes. They can't all be new, and I'm fond of repetition.
But! Borders went out of business earlier this month. Jeff and I were the kind of Borders customers that people at our local store knew by name. Well, at least they knew me. They knew of Jeff. Before he and I met, I was a particularly brazen Borders junkie, and every Saturday morning I could be found browsing the store's diabolical assortment of items that seemed specifically targeted to my interests (books, music, movies, and magazines), desperate for a fix. The enigmatic Saturday morning manager guy, who was usually the only person working the cash registers, would comment on my purchases. Normally I'd find this behavior annoying and judgmental, but it's also kind of nice when one's impeccable taste is applauded. Also he may or may not have been hitting on me, but I'm usually pretty clueless in this arena, and anyway he wore a wedding band and was not really my type. But he liked me in red, that's for sure. I felt kind of bad for him when Jeff and I started coming in together, first dating, then engaged, then married and disgustingly happy. And now his store is gone. Where are you now, Borders Guy?
So when we heard that Borders was going out of business, Jeff and I were sad, but then we thought about those big, big discounts and our inevitable Last Binge. We popped our heads in during those first few weeks, but 20% off on books didn't seem like much of an incentive, especially when that kind of pricing is the norm at Amazon. As time passed, the discounts increased, and during the final week of liquidation we struck, loading up on three volumes from the picked-over cookbook section that we normally wouldn't have purchased. Jeff got On The Line, a book about Eric Ripert's Le Bernadin restaurant. I picked up Simply Delicioso, "a collection of everyday recipes with a Latin twist" by Ingrid Hoffman, who had a show on the Food Network for about a year, and Pretty Delicious, "lean and lovely recipes for a healthy, happy new you" by Candice Kumai, a person I do not remember from Top Chef.
So far both cookbooks have been hit and miss. Ingrid's black bean dip was delicious, but her truffles flopped. Candice's spinach and artichoke dip became the best recipe of the summer, and we would eat it every single day if we could, but her yakitori and dumplings weren't worth the hassle. So I've decided to give you the dip recipes.
[Break: I've just seen this unbelievable video for the first time, and now you need to see it, too.]
No no no no no no no no no no!
Back to the dips!
SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans (14 ounces each) water-packed artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch fresh spinach or baby spinach (about 5 ounces), coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat Neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large baguette, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices and toasted
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat an 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. I used a 2-quart oval baking dish.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is golden brown, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichoke hearts and a few cups of the spinach, turning the mixture over until the spinach leaves wilt. Add the remaining spinach and continue to cook until all the leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Stir the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan together in a large bowl until creamy. Add the cooked spinach mixture and stir to combine. Scrape the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until the Parmesan is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Serve with the toasted baguette slices.
Note: this makes 12 servings and is totally delicious. We eat it for supper on a regular basis. Trust me on this one.
BLACK BEAN DIP
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Red pepper flakes (Optional) <-- I think a couple of shakes really help this dip
- 6-ounce container plain yogurt
- 2 large tomatoes, halved, cored, seeded and finely diced <-- I only had one on hand
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for serving <-- we don't like cilantro; please don't make me get into this again
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet for 1 minute over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Scrape the onion mixture into a blender or food processor along with the drained beans, the cumin, red pepper flakes and salt, scraping down the sides of the blender jar or food processor as necessary. (If the puree is very thick. add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or chicken broth to help the belnding process and make the puree smoother).
Transfer the puree to a bowl and fold in the yogurt and diced tomatoes. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving (let the dip return to room temperature before serving). Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro just before serving.
Note: this is the ugliest dip you will ever make, but it tastes great and makes a satisfying snack. But seriously, don't look at it. Bun's wet food looks marginally better than this dip.
And now, here's a little video of a typical Bun vs. Quixote cat fight. This will not make you howl with joy like the "no no no no" cat, but the payoff at the end is worth the suspense. Yes, that masculine snicker at the very end is me.
Lest you think we live in a construction zone, those are my painting boards stacked against the bookshelf.
And finally, this is Jeff's list of things to do.
I added the hand. (Some of the rocks under our ivy need to be moved. It's a whole home-improvement thing we're doing.)