I learned something important from this recipe: No matter how simple something seems, you can screw it up royally if you’re tired.
I’ve not been sleeping well for, well, a year now, so evenings are especially challenging. Typically during the holiday season, I’d be cooking well into the evening, candying and caramelizing and so on.
This year it’s all I can do to feed the dog. I will say things improved – rather quickly, you will not be surprised to hear – when I got news that my divorce was finalized.
It’s a good thing, too, because it’s quite possible I would have killed someone – or at least their taste buds – the way things were going. I ran across this recipe on the website of a local cooking school, and thought, that sounds easy and as luck would have it, I have all the ingredients on hand. It was 9:30 pm, well past my current bedtime.
Here’s a handy tip: When a recipe says add one teaspoon of lemon juice, that is not – and I mean not – the same thing as juice of one lemon. It may look the same to sleep-deprived eyes, but your taste buds will point out your error, post-haste.
I suppose this is a mistake that is fixable, if you had enough cream cheese, artichoke hearts, and other seasonings available, and I tried valiantly. I added an extra half package of cream cheese, which cut the lemon somewhat, but not enough to really render the final spread, you know, delicious.
It was late and since I was pretty sure any additional efforts would result in additional mistakes, I gave up. I had a potluck brunch the next day and no time to make anything else, and so, yes, I brought it.
It will make everyone else feel better about what they brought, I reasoned.
I employed several taste testers, including The Child, who tried not to hurt my feelings when she pronounced the first sample “too lemony” and the second sample “better, but …”. A couple of friends at the potluck tried it and said it wasn’t really as bad as all that, just “a bit lemony.”
One of them, though, made this suggestion: the original recipe called for thyme, but she thought it would be better with some dill. The next time I made it – in the morning, just after my coffee, thankyouverymuch – I swapped out the thyme for some dill, and the end result was perfectly delicious: Light, creamy, and not overpoweringly lemony. The garlic adds a nice – but not overwhelming – bite.
It really isn’t a hard recipe, if you’re awake. The original can be found in Carol Dearth’s Cooking Class: A Step by Step Guide to Stress Free Dinner Parties That Are Simply Elegant. Carol Dearth is one of the chefs at the Seattle-area Sizzleworks Cooking School.
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small jar (6.5 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- freshly grated zest of 1?2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- salt and pepper to taste
- Drop garlic through feed tube with machine running to mince. Add artichoke hearts; pulse-process to chop. Add lemon zest and juice, thyme and cream cheese. Process to blend. Correct seasonings.
- Mince garlic. Chop artichoke hearts finely. Combine garlic, artichoke hearts, lemon zest and juice, thyme and cream cheese in mixing bowl. Blend well. Correct seasonings.
- Spoon cheese mixture into two 6-ounce crocks or ramekins, smoothing the tops. Cover tightly and chill. Make ahead and refrigerate up to one week, or freeze for two months.
- Let stand at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes before serving to soften. Serve on a tray surrounded with crackers or small toasts, or with a pastry bag, pipe rosettes of the cheese spread onto crackers for a more elegant presentation. Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives.
- Makes two crocks, each serving four.