My friend Ali was one of my only housemates senior year who didn't violate the "do your own dishes" rule (you know, there are rules for sharing a kitchen), and contribute to a perpetually full sink of dirty plates. But that's not because she was a neat freak. Rather, she didn't have any dishes to speak of. If the only route to the garage wasn't through the kitchen, Ali probably wouldn't have realized we had one.
As one of the people who used the kitchen the most (duh), I certainly didn't mind Ali's lack of cooking. It was preferred to Salima's late-night pancake-making habits, which usually left the stove (and walls) covered in batter. But I was thrilled a year or so after we'd graduated when Ali emailed me to say that not only did she cook now, but she cooked ALL THE TIME (!!!!!!). I thought this might be a slight exaggeration of her newfound eating habits, which probably warranted an email, but maybe not one in all CAPS.
When we were down in DC for our book party, Ali let me stay with her. I felt right at home in her room -- a literal carbon copy of the one in our Providence off-campus house, albeit with a better paint job. The kitchen did indeed show signs off use. But sensing my skepticism, Ali insisted that she cook for me one night. And cook for me she did.
Our casual meal for three people featured over six dishes, including an outrageous artichoke dip served warm, like our Panko-Crusted Spinach Dip. Like the rest of Ali's cooking, actually did warrant a response in all CAPS. Apparently the dip is an old secret family recipe, but Ali, displaying what she herself deems the sign of a REAL cook, made it without glancing at the page
Mag Club fell shortly after we returned from DC, and I was craving dip. I asked Ali for the recipe, and she reluctantly conceded, but SWORE me to secrecy. In keeping with my promise, the dip I made that night, and the one written below, is a bastardized version that evokes Southwestern flavors (cayenne and corn), while maintaining the gooey, awesomeness off Ali's secret family version (PARM*!!).With my version, as with the original, the casserole dish was licked clean by the end of the night, so prepare to have your dip, no matter how much you mess with the recipe below, happily inhaled.
Southwestern Artichoke Dip with Sweet Corn and Cayenne
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
Two 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 cup corn kernels (fresh from two ears, or canned/frozen)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the dip into an 8 x 8-inch casserole dish, or one to two large ramekins. (If you have any extra filling, it will keep for a while in the fridge; you can make the mix up to three 3 days in advance).
Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
NOTE: if your casserole or ramekin is filled to the top, make sure to put a cookie sheet underneath it in the oven to catch any grease that might otherwise bubble over and onto your oven floor.
--Phoebe Lapine of Big Girls, Small Kitchen