I was a skinny teenager. I hated mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, dips, most condiments and a number of other good tasting stuff. I ate plain turkey sandwiches on wheat bread. Maybe with a lettuce leaf. I didn't eat much meat because it didn't taste that good to me. Instead, I ate a lot of bread, potatoes and sugar in the form of Coca-Cola. And ramen. I got used to receiving shit from people about my dislike of very likeable foodstuffs, but instead of trying these things, I thought well of myself for not eating these "fatty" ingredients. Why do I want sour cream on my taco, anyway? It's just extra fat. It's good that I don't like it. What can I say? I was raised in a time when no-fat meant healthy.
I've been gradually falling in love with all kinds of new foods for several years now, but one pivotal moment came 4 years ago when Paul and I had just moved in together. We loved having friends over, entertaining, having potlucks and cocktail parties like adults do... It was a very fun time in our lives. Welcoming people over to our apartment was, I suppose, our 22-year-old's way of saying, "Look! We're us now; we're adults." It was a wonderful time because we had wonderful friends. Especially Adam, who would bring his sinfully good crock-pot spinach and artichoke dip to our parties. It was a turning point in food for me. I LOVED this dip, (and I hated cream cheese!) Since then, I'm no longer afraid of dips. So thank you, mon ami.
Of course, by now, I've eaten enough cream cheese to make up for the 22 years or so without it and discovered how great many other foods are, too. If you don't know me, you might expect this story to finish with me weighing 300 pounds and reminiscing about the days before I knew how delicious mayonnaise was. Well, thankfully, that's not the case. Ignorance was not bliss, though. I'm so happy that I'm more adventurous when it comes to trying new things, and it all started with some spinach artichoke dip and is continuing in France. Why, just the other day I tried gesiers de volaille (chicken gizzards) and snails! Not bad.
Of all the things I've talked about on this blog, this is the one recipe I can't urge you enough to try. In fact, I'm going to make it in a big vat and start distributing door to door, hence making everyone's freaking year. Trust me. Make this.
Adam's Spinach and Artichoke Dip
2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1/3 cup cream (half & half is fine)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 - 3/4 cup grated monterey jack or swiss (some pepper-jack is great!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp onion, minced
1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
freshly ground pepper
Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper, to taste
Combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat. Once the cream cheese has softened a bit, stir in artichokes, spinach and rest of ingredients, adding enough cream to loosen it a bit. Keep stirring over low heat until all the cheeses are melted and the ingredients well incorporated. Sometimes I add some paprika or garlic powder, too. Serve immediately, or place in a casserole dish and put in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
Adam mixes all the ingredients together (except the Monterey Jack cheese, which he adds about 25-30 minutes before the end) and places it in a crock pot for 2 hours. How he waits that long, I do not comprehend!
Serve with sliced vegetables and baguette slices for dipping. Serves one Mégane, or maybe 6-8 people.