I don’t know if I told you that but I spent part of my life into catering. I mean, I used to cook for a catering service; my job was to take care of the kitchen, plan different menus, create new recipes, very exciting. And I gained some experience cooking for a bunch of people at the same time. Oh crazy days! Folks, I have good and scary stories about this time…
That’s how I really started to work with food. And during this time one thing that always gave me big headaches was the appetizer. You probably know hors d’oeuvre, finger-food, canapés, all can be a nightmare when having guests over. Preparing little small bites that look good and look alike at the same time? Not easy!! Now imagine preparing it for hundreds of people during a cocktail party.
Dips, in the other hand, are a caterer dream!! Unfortunately, I don’t remember one single party I was able to include them on the menu, logistic problems I guess. It works beautifully for small groups though. And I love making them for friends, for me they are more than an appetizer but a style of eating that brings people together.
My recipe today is a spinach and artichoke dip twist. I have seen the original all over the place, cookbooks, magazines, web. I like the concept but I just can’t figure out its origin and degree of importance for the American table. If you know, please, feel free to tell me. Here I use kale and heart of palm instead.
Serve this recipe with some of those crackers and grissini we did last week, add to that the Brazilian most famous cocktail and have your party off to a good start
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add garlic. Cook for approximately 2 minutes or just before it starts to brown.
Add chopped heart of palm and mix well.
Add chopped kale and stir.
Turn off the heat, add milk and cream cheese and stir until well combined. (You can add more milk according to your taste).
Mix in sour cream, ¾ cup parmesan cheese and adjust salt and black pepper.
Lightly grease a small baking dish.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with the rest of parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.
I don’t have much to say about caipirinha, even TGI Fridays sells it nowdays. It is made with cachaça, a Brazilian style of rum made with sugarcane juice, not so hard to find in regular grocery stores. It’s by far my favorite drink and pairs amazingly with a beach. But we can’t have everything, right? So, I drink caipirinha looking to the snow, I don’t care. It’s still good.
The credits for this recipe go to my brother; he owned a bar for a few years and obviously knows something about the art of making cocktails. It’s an easy one, no secrets. If you don’t have fine sugar you can use granulated instead. Give it an extra share and just make sure it’s sugar cane and not another kind of sugar.
*Can be called as aguardente, pinga, caninha, etc…. The most common brand I find here in the United States is called Ypioca. Give preference to the silver one; aged cachaças (golden) are better appreciated by themselves.
Place lime and sugar in an old-fashioned glass. Using a pestle, “muddle” the lime and sugar together, just enough to release the juice.
Add ice cubes, cachaça and mix well.
For even better result, you can use a cocktail shaker. After combining all the ingredients, place everything in it, close and shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds.
Return to the old-fashioned glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Enjoy you caipirinha!