Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spinach and artichoke dip

Most of the times when we go out to eat in a local restaurant or diner we would scan through the menu for a long time and end up ordering spinach artichoke dip. This cheesy dip may make u feel guilty at first sight but who cares after the first bite. Think on the positive side...there's spinach..full of iron, vitamins and minerals..and there's artichoke high in antioxidants...and the cheese contains calcium. So a little bit of fat wont hurt right? (if we promise ourselves an extra workout the next day it could even be better). I wanted to try the recipe but I couldn't find a smaller version of the recipe serving 2-3 adults and I was not sure about the measure of the ingredients to make just a little for me and my husband. As days passed I totally lost the motivation.
Me and my friends get together at one of our homes and do potlucks once in a while. We usually do a theme like Chinese, Indian, tiffin, snacks etc.,. For the recent potluck we just ran out of ideas and we decided to make whatever we liked to do. Usually I take the dessert option for all the potlucks but for this one my friend overtook me and she wanted to make dessert (good thing she did..otherwise we would have missed the awesome dessert she made). I was ramming my head for days together to decide my recipe and suddenly it struck me..why not spinach and artichoke dip? So I made spinach and artichoke dip and vegetable quesadillas for the potluck and I am so glad that my friends liked it. It was so much that I still had some to share with my husband for dinner.

Things you'll need:

Spinach - 10 oz (I used frozen spinach)
Artichoke hearts - 14oz can
Parmesan cheese -  3/4 cup
Cream cheese - 4 oz
Mayonnaise - 3/4 cup
Mozzarella - 1/2 cup
Garlic  - 2 cloves, minced
Salt and pepper - to taste

Yield - 10 to 12 servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the spinach finely. If using frozen spinach, squeeze the water out before chopping. Drain the artichoke hearts and chop them finely.

Mix the spinach and artichoke with other ingredients in a wide oven-proof dish and combine until the cheeses and the veggies are mixed thoroughly.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until you see a brown edging.

Serve with tortilla chips, corn chips or toasted thin bread.


Most of us south Indians know this sweet by the name Adhirasam or Ariselu. This is a traditional sweet we could see almost in all weddings or other family functions. Nowadays many sweet shops also sell this sweet. It has only two main ingredients jaggery and rice flour. But it is not simple to make it. Making soft adhirasams depend on the consistensy of the jaggery syrup we make and the quantity of flour we mix into the syrup. EVery Diwali I have tried to make Adhirasam and succeeded only couple of times. Along with the recipe I would also give some tips to get soft adhirasams and to avoid most common mistakes.

Things you'll need:
Raw rice - 2 cups
Jaggery - 1 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Cardamom - 2, powdered
Oil - for deep frying

Yield - 20 - 25 pieces


Wash and soak the raw rice for 2-3 hours. Drain the rice and air dry in a cloth for about 15 mins. The rice should be damp when touched but not wet. Grind the rice into fine powder.

In a wide pan, heat the jaggery and water to make thick syrup until soft ball consistency. The soft ball consistency can be identified by putting a drop of the syrup in a bowl of water. The drop should not dissolve and it could be rolled into a soft ball. Add the cardamom powder to the syrup.

Add the rice flour in small batches to the syrup and mix it to combine well without lumps. The dough will be in the consistency of cookie dough. Allow it to rest for at least a day in room temperature.

Heat the oil. Take a lemon size ball of the dough and flatten it on a greased plastic sheet (you might want to grease your palms also to avoid dough sticking to your hands). Remove the adhirasam and fry them in the oil in medium heat. When the sizzling of oil is reduced turn the adhirasam and fry it until it is brown on both sides.

Remove the adhirasam from oil and squeeze out the excess oil from the adhirasam by placing the adhirasam in a plate and pressing it with a flat bottomed bowl. (I think you get a ready-made press for adhirasams in some shops.)

Let it cool and it's all yours.

Use raw rice instead of ready-made rice flour. It might be a pain, drain and grind the rice but it is the key to make the best adhirasams.
You can use ghee for greasing the plastic sheet so the flavor of ghee would boost the taste of adhirasam.
The heat should be medium. Otherwise the adhirasam will be brown outside but will be uncooked inside and the dough will be squeezed out when u press the adhirasam.