Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spinach Mascarpone Dip

You may have caught on to the Sisters Fierce trait that is loving food in miniature.  It's true, food is always better when it's little.  For Christmas, J Fierce gave me six mini brioche tins and six mini bread loaf pans (which brings the total I own to 14, which is completely and utterly normal).  Last year she gave me a set of mini cookie cutters and a mini whisk keychain which is quite possibly the cutest thing in the world (outside of a weiner dog in a hot dog outfit).  

This fascination with making baked goods small doesn't stop there.  Each year on our birthdays we end up getting each other things like Le Creuset ramekins.  You know the ones - tomato or pepper shaped?  Last year J Fierce received an artichoke.  A few years back she gave me a little garlic one, and this year I received a Staub pumpkin.  What can I say, we're easy to please.  Well, easy to please when it comes to buying gifts for one another that involve food items.  Other than that, a little tougher.
Here is some delicious spinach dip in the pumpkin.  SERIOUSLY isn't that CUTE.  Almost as cute as these guys.  Okay I promise, I'm done.  Moving on!

Back to the food.  This is a twist on the typical spinach + sour cream + cream cheese + artichoke = artery busting dip.  Yes, mascarpone is the second ingredient.  But it isn't the star - that would be the spinach with the little kick of cayenne.  It is highly addictive.  Make sure to really drain the spinach, otherwise you will end up with a soggy watery mess.  And I think it's best served after it's been cooling about an hour, the flavors shine a little more when it isn't straight out of the oven.  It is even delicious eaten cold the next day on the couch in your pajamas at two in the afternoon not that I would ever do anything like that.

Spinach Mascarpone Dip
adapted from Jaden at the SteamyKitchen, who adapted it from Allison Hooper

16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (C Fierce note: freshly grated if you have and it makes a difference, I'm telling you)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Take a handful of the defrosted spinach and squeeze and discard the water from the spinach. Squeeze as much of the water out as you can, you should get about a little less than a cup of spinach water. (C Fierce note: I just let the spinach drain in a sieve over a bowl all afternoon, then squeezed out the water.  Easy peasy.)

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes (take your time, if you do this over high heat, the onions will burn and become bitter). Add the spinach and saute until the spinach is warm, but still bright green, about 30 seconds.

Season and toss with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese and the grated parmesan. 

Pour into 2 small ramekins (or other oven-safe dish) and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm with pita chips, bread or celery sticks.

Yield: 2 cups, one for me, one for you.

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