Some Like It Hot

This past weekend we had the pleasure of helping host an engagement soiree for two great friends. The dude, I actually met on my first official date with Matthew. For whatever reason, Matthew felt the need for backup and he was there. Matthew and I ultimately split off to enjoy a proper date but the damage was done. I had found a new friend. We became fast pals and to this day, he is one of my favorite people on the planet. I remember, in the first handful of months I met Matthew and in turn him, I went on a long business trip to Germany. We are talking four weeks. Upon my return and after my reunion with Matthew, this one called to regale me of everything that had happened in the Queen City during my absence. Nice guy. 

In addition to his many flairs that include sniffing out musical talents (he has introduced me to a smorgasbord of bands); he is also a master of wines. In fact he gave me a bottle for my birthday that we have been instructed to save for a special occasion. Still waiting. His lovely fiancĂ©, we had the pleasure of meeting one summer and have had the superb opportunity to get to know intimately over the past year and a bit. She is a wonderful woman who has introduced us to the beauty and majesty of the North Carolina Mountains. Two peas in a pod, they are a super couple. Fun, enjoyable as well as easy to be with and they truly appreciate the importance of humor. Endless laughter is always in the books when those two are around. How fortunate to have friends like these!

Over the years, my mother has always made artichoke dip. Her recipe is straightforward and a consistent crowd pleaser. We Breyer kids live for it. Simply mix mayonnaise with Parmesan, artichokes, garlic salt, lemon juice, bake and you are in business. For my birthday party last year, I made the below recipe. I needed something that would feed larger numbers and the addition of roasted jalapeno, hot sauce and Gruyere cheese was right up Matthew’s alley. Mine too. We love spicy foods as well as cheese. Home run. We produced this same dip at Thanksgiving one afternoon. We had friends over and couldn’t let them return home after a few beers without a bit of grub in their bellies. My Dad curiously eyed the dish for a pair of minutes before digging in. He and we kids punished the dip in no time. It is always a surefire hit and therefore was a given for our dear friends engagement party, among a handful of others that I will share down the line.

This dip goes best with tortilla or pita chips and crackers alike. It has a generous bit of kick, which will ignite question and awe from the impressed masses. Once you make it a pair of times, you can do so with blindfolded or simply with your eyes closed. Enjoy.

Jalapeno Artichoke Dip

The Goods

25 oz artichoke hearts – canned or frozen – if frozen, ensure that they are thawed / drained
1 jalapeno – roasted, skins removed and chopped – I keep the seeds in – Wowzas
1 cup of mayonnaise – we use the light variation
1 cup of Parmesan cheese – shredded (you can also use Pecorino)
1 cup of Gruyere – shredded (white cheddar is also great)
3 cloves of garlic – chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Hot Sauce – a couple of generous dashed – We like Texas Pete but insert your own here
Kosher salt

This Is How We Do It

1. Roast jalapeno on an open flame until charred and let it cool. Once cool, remove the skin and finely chop. Add to a large bowl.

2. Pulse the artichokes in your food processor until chopped. Add to the large bowl containing the jalapenos.

3. In your Cuisinart, mix the mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, hot sauce and a generous pinch or two of salt.

4. Now add this creamy mixture to the bowl with the artichoke hearts and stir generously until uniform. It seems like there is a lot of artichoke in the mix and this is okay.

5. Pour the artichoke dip into a dish safe for baking. Sprinkle 1 cup (or more, I like more) of Gruyere cheese on top. White cheddar will also do the trick.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve hot.

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