‘Tis the season of art openings for all of my arty friends, and we try to go and support as many as we can, because, well, we love their work and it’s lots of fun! Amongst them are painters and woodworkers, weavers and jewelry artisans, and of course…closest to my heart…the potters. I was a hand builder of pottery for many years and enjoyed having a studio locally with some friends. Although circumstances forced me to bow out of my studio and take a rather long sabbatical from clay, I love staying in touch with these folks and being inspired by their creations.
We spent last night and will spend a good part of today and next weekend attending these events, being of good cheer, reconnecting with and supporting friends. If you are in our area this weekend or next, do take some time to check out these folks and their work. At each event you will see more cards and flyers for other arts and craft events as well because all these folks have networked together…there are tons of them these two weekends! Just seeing all that pottery is making me want to get back into it again, and this time learn how to throw and make some serving bowls and dinnerware! New Year’s Resolution to self: do this!
Meanwhile this evening we are off to a party of another sort, the annual end of the year Formula 1 racing party. Last weekend marked the final race of the year and a Red Bull trifecta in the FIA Formula One World Championship, with the amazing young Sebastian Vettel as Winning Driver, the race win in Brazil for his teammate Mark Webber and the Constructor’s Championship for Red Bull Racing-Renault. It was an exciting race and an exciting year, and our core group of F1 fans here in Atlanta always celebrate at our friend J.I.’s house with good food, drink, fun, trivia and this year bowling (!?), it’s always a blast. J.I. is the editor of a fine beer magazine, so you know there will be good beer, and he and many of the attendees love to cook so the munch will be grand as well.
Being that the day is so busy, I’ve decided to make my favorite pottery pot luck, art opening and all around fall back position hot dip: Arty Artichoke Dip. Yep, this is that recipe that everyone has, has tried or has a variation of for sure. I like my version the best because I tend to not like most heavy mayonnaise-based dips but do love artichokes, so I kept after this until I came up with a mixture that works every time, everyone loves it and there’s never a speck of it left. The other thing I really like about it is that you can cook it off before you leave for a party and cover it in foil, but even as it cools it is still great served at room temp.
Is this a lovely and fancy seasonal-flavored holiday or Christmas dip? No, it is not. Is it a versatile and much loved appetizer for any occasion that’s a cinch to make and can be whipped up in no time during a very busy time of year? Yes indeed! It’s not purty…but it’s purty tasty! Just add a little holly or a trim of rosemary sprigs and berries alongside your dish (not in it, of course) for decor if you like, and voilà, ready for a Christmas party!
Arty Artichoke Dip
2-14.5 ounce cans of artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and rinsed
1 generous cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 generous cup freshly shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1-4.5 oz. can diced jalapeno chilis, drained if packed in water
1 cup good quality light canola mayonnaise or regular light mayonnaise such as Hellman’s (do not use fat free, may use full fat if desired)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Drain artichoke hearts and pat dry. Cut into small pieces and combine with all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Place the mixture, spreading evenly, into a 9x9x2″ or approximate glass or ceramic baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until lightly browned on top and bubbling. Serve warm with crackers or corn chips. Serves 8-10