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This sinfully delicious crowd pleaser is easy, quick and do-able using your most ordinary store cupboard staples. I hadn't encountered baked artichoke dip until recently, when I shared a portion with a friend at a prohibition bar in lower Manhattan. She tells me that it is a real classic amongst New Yorkers and often constitutes a starter at dinner parties and a canapé when people come together for drinks. Served warm, it is hearty, rich and a brilliantly simple comfort food. Serve with bruschetta, toast, tortilla chips or bread sticks, and to make it extra impressive, bake it in a hollowed out sourdough. Once you have done it once, I can guarantee it will become one of those go-to's that becomes a permanent part of your repertoire. Go go go!
1. Strain the tinned artichokes to get ride of the brine, halve them and fry in about a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium heat. After about two minutes on each side, toss in the minced shallot and garlic and leave on the heat for a further few minutes.
2. Pour the milk into a small sauce pan on medium heat and add the salt, pepper, parsley stalks, onion, nutmeg and bay leaf. Simmer for about five minutes and then add then remove from the heat and strain the milk to remove the flavourings. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in the same (washed) pan and whisk in the milk and flour until smoothly combined.
4. Bringing the heat right down, fold in the bulk of the grated cheese, and once it has started to melt, add the contents from the artichoke pan and mayonnaise. Turn off the heat, and combine the ingredients using a wooden spoon. Add seasoning to taste.
5. Hollow out a sourdough bread by slicing the top off (about 1 inch down) and removing the dough with your hands. Make sure to leave a crust about 1 cm in depth so that the bread keeps its structure, and scoop the artichoke mixture in to fill the cavity.
6. Sprinkle the extra grated cheese over the top and grill on a medium heat until the top is crispy (about 5 mins).
7. Top off with a garnishing of fresh parsley and serve immediately.
* You can also bake the dip in a ramekin, or ignore steps 5 and 6 if you aren't interested in a cheesy crust.
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