The formal name is crostini, but consider this the best pizza-ish-y dinner you will have sans pizza dough. Sans rise times. Sans yeast. Sans waiting. Don’t get me wrong, the pizza version will knock your socks off, but I just happened to have twice the amount of spinachy artichoke goodness with only one ball of boozy crust meaning, meaning I got to plan out the method in which we destroyed (because we in fact did) the toppings. As a dip with some chips, or piled on pita bread — excellent. By itself with perhaps a poached egg on top (creamed spinach style) — outstanding. Slathered on thick pieces of french bread that have been placed under the broiler until golden brown and crunchy with extra cheese melted until blistery and brown on top — I don’t have words people.
There is not much in this world that I deem worthy to jump up and down excited over. There was the fifth birthday party gift of a barbie house and barbie convertible (both in pink, mind you. A girls got to have barbie standards), the time long long ago when Josh proposed that I should have jumped up and down but instead decided to choose the route of speechlessness and then a murmured yes as I saw twenty-six dozen roses (yes! 26 dozen!) flickering candle light, and a gorgeous blue diamond that was slipped on my finger, and the last occassion I thought worthy of such excitement was the time I created my first fond and realized this was why people go crazy for such things that rhyme with pond, the reason people become giddy over cooking, over good food. It was pretty much the reason to be excited, and I was. I jumped up and down, wanting to scream like a little girl, but decided the shin splits would be happiness enough. Then… I poached an egg. Like actually boiled vinegary water, cracked my egg into it and swirled it until it was a little ball of white and at that very point, I deemed my self at the pinacle of happiness — almost.
I thought it would be hard. I knew for sure it would be a hair-pulling exasperation that I just didn’t want to face. And I didn’t want to be teased for placing a plate of a sloppy, slippery pile of white goo in front of my husband because, well, it’s poached, and it’s hard, and stop laughing, okay! But let’s back this story up a bit. Before I became too giddy for my own good, I wanted something green — which is an oddity in my life since I like all things, creamy and cheesy. But I wanted….I wanted….hmmm… I finally decided on spinach, but eww guys. It can get rather slimy and if I haven’t divulged this tiny secret about myself then let me tell you: I am a closeted food texture hater. Asparagus is mushy, slimy and stick-ly — and yes, that is a good excuse to not eat asparagus, because it’s stick-ly — raw celery is stringy and I am not really interested in flossing while eating, puddings, mousse, and flans all taste slippery, slithery, and shrewd, yes they are, or ya know, the overall flavor of dill tastes like dirty dish water and I refuse to eating anything with it, because I’m a stubborn closeted, err I guess I’ve been outted now — gal with food texture issues.
I have no idea if I am an artichoke lover or hater. I’ve actually tried to avoid finding out if the heart of this vegetable is something I really want to fall in love with. My first encounter was with a spinach artichoke dip. Good? Definitely, especially when it is a spinach artichoke fondu, but can I really base my like or dislike of something when it is drowning in a vat of cheese? I think not. It was not until a recent trip with some girlfriends at a pizza joint that it occurred to me to give artichokes a chance. Each of us being famished beyond reason, ordered an individual pizza telling each other we would “share” – I being the only one mumbling those words under my breath hoping no one would want an absurd pizza with four different kinds of mushrooms and three varieties of cheese, a girls gotta have her priorities and limits when it comes to sharing, right?
Well after putting in our order, we saw tucked behind the napkins and salt and pepper shakers a little side menu that talked of a spinach artichoke pizza. We all quickly discussed the possibilities of changing our order to include such a pizza, but it was a fleeting thought as they brought out all six pizzas not but five minutes later. Ever since, I have had a craving for this pizza. I don’t even know what it is suppose to taste like, but I imagine a cheesy dip filled with artichoke hearts and garlicky spinach spread onto flat bread and baked until the edges are crispy and golden. This was a pizza to be desired.
Out of the handful of parties and umpteen no-reason-but-we-should get togethers we have gone to in the last month I have never left one without a side cocked head and a huh? eeked out of a slightly opened mouth when the flaky phyllo stuffed triangle they just bit into had the audacity to be called a strudel. I thought strudels were sweet. Aren’t strudels fruit filled with a creamy-cheese icing drizzled on top? Are you sure these are strudels? And with each disbelieving person I nod my head and smile, trying to look confident as each person becomes more persistant that I am indeed wrong in the naming of the dish I brought (ahem, out of the kindness of my heart).
Really, I want to reply with a, Well, does it taste good? Do you like it? How ’bout that combination of lamb, spinach and feta — totally rocks, right? So then why does it matter if it is technically called a strudel or something else? But that is the very sarcastic cynical side of me, that I try to keep shoved in a box under my bed as much as possible since it makes me look impossibly snooty and petty 16-year old girl-ish mean.