Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Creamy Greek Cheese Dip with Goat Cheese, Feta, Artichokes & Olives

After a brief post hiatus, I'm back with a freshly redesigned site and an uber tasty recipe. I might have ushered the changes into effect sooner, but there was lots of mind-changing, re-redesigns and header tweaking. Not to mention multiple days lost scouring the internet wastelands for a simple explanation of how to set up a variable-header/footer website. 

<face palm> 

Even with my less than threadbare knowledge of html/css I had high hopes for finding a tutorial written in layman's terms. Next time I will simply ask a knowledgeable person and save myself the trouble. 

Anyhow, I'd like to briefly thank my boyfriend for designing the header, even though he is still not satisfied with its current state (such is the way of artists). I'd direct you to his art blog, but he hasn't updated it in ages, even though he's constantly working on new stuff. The dude is a creative machine. I most definitely envy that quality! 

And now that the re-design is squared away (for now) I can shift my focus back to recipes. Thankfully, my incessant need to document food on Instagram furnished me with a picture of the incredible dip I made on Valentines Day. Now I can sit and type away while sipping hibiscus tea instead of editing out yellow light from my shots in Photoshop. It's a win-win situation for occasional lazyheads like me. Yay for square cropping and filters! Well, square cropping is slightly restrictive, but what can you do. 

Back to the dip. See the circular container I served it in? Recognize it? It's a Whole Foods container. I'm known for my addiction to the Whole Foods olive bar. Kalamata olives, greek olives mixed with olive oil, herbs & feta, roasted red pepper pesto...the list goes on. Add to that the fact that my local Whole Foods in Dallas has TWO large olive bars in one store. When I moved here from Kansas City and saw it for the first time, I flipped out, called my sister and friend Lauryn and went into a full-on nerdgasm. To nearby shoppers, I probably looked like a big dork. I didn't care. It's kind of big deal. 

So on a regular basis, whenever I finish snarfing down the olive bar goodies, I always either 1) rinse and recycle the container or 2) wash and reuse it for food storage. When I made the dip, I just so happened to put it in this container. No big deal, right? Shouldn't even be worth mentioning. Except when I plopped it down in front of my boyfriend and he started noshing he immediately assumed I'd purchased it from Whole Foods. I quickly informed him I'd made it myself. He looked surprised then praised me multiple times for the creation. I welcome that comparison. :)

It's damn good. I can't take 100% credit for it, though, cause I incorporated 101 Cookbook's Magic Sauce into the dip. I'm sure the cheese dip would still be delicious with only a hearty splash of extra-virgin olive oil and a few choice herbs. That's almost what I did. Then I remembered the last time I made Magic Sauce as an herbed olive oil dip for crusty bread. So I whipped up a batch with dried herbs from my pantry in less than five minutes and poured a bit of the warmed sauce into the cheese dip. Mmmmmmm....

Creamy Greek Cheese Dip
A creamy greek-inspired dip with goat cheese, full-fat feta, artichoke hearts, extra virgin olive oil, kalamata olives and 101 Cookbooks' Magic Sauce. Serve with a soft focaccia or ciabatta or your favorite crusty artisan bread for dipping. 
|Inspired by Cat Cora's Goat Cheese Sto Foumo from Kouzzina by Cat Cora. The Magic Sauce used in this recipe is the creation of Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks.| 
Serves: 2-3

1/2 cup of plain goat cheese
1/8 cup of full-fat feta cheese
1/8 cup of artichoke hearts, chopped
1-2 teaspoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
--I recommend this brand since it passed the EVOO Test--
6-8 kalamata olives, whole 
1/2 teaspoon of olive juice (optional)
Sea salt, to taste (I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt)
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of Magic Sauce 

Follow the directions on 101 Cookbooks' site for making the magic sauce. While it's cooling (it only takes a few minutes to make), combine all the ingredients for the dip in a small bowl and lightly mix with a fork. Salt and pepper to taste, then pour in the magic sauce. If you want it more creamy and less thick, add more of the sauce. Serve with your favorite artisan bread or crackers. I used ciabatta bread, but I bet an asiago focaccia or crusty french batard would taste fantastic! 

Notes & Tips
You don't need fresh herbs to make the Magic Sauce. I've used dried every time because that's all I've had no hand. HOWEVER, since dried herbs are more potent (and less delicate) you'll want to halve the amount of each herb called for in the recipe. You can always add more later if you want a stronger flavor. Also, the paprika is pretty strong, so if you're not a big fan, start with a smaller amount and work your way up.

Question for Discussion: What's your favorite dip for fresh bread?

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