Monday, July 14, 2014

Spinach Alexis Cheese Dip ala Chris Grove - 52 Grilling Time Secret Extras

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Today's post is a bit unusual for me as I have the thrill of reviewing a good friend and fellow blogger's new BOOK!  Yep, Chris Grove of the wildly popular, Nibble me This Blog has crossed that line and become a published cookbook author!  First, congratulations Chris.  There are very few blogs out there that I get more inspiration and knowledge from than yours.  If you have never checked out the blog, follow the link attached to the blue letters and you will see a combination of great recipes (easily transferable to any type grill you might own or in most cases, just as easy to replicate in a kitchen).  But also his blog features stories of the competitive BBQ circuit, interviews and behind the scenes talks with some big name grillers (Chris Lilly, Tuffy Stone and Moe Cason come to mind).  One well rounded blogger.

As far as a book author, I loved his book.  Chris accepted the challenge of creating a "beginner's guide" to buying,setting up and using a Kamado Style grill (OK, most famously, a Big Green Egg Style).  But the book is much more than a beginner's guide.  I would venture to guess that more than a couple of owner's of these types of grills do not realize the potential of their investment.

Chris covers the well known uses (direct and indirect grilling, smoking and using your Kamado as a Brick Oven).  But he also covers many of the less well known uses... Convection baking bread, cooking casseroles, cold smoking (smoked cheeses... WOW) and so many more.  As a "How To" for a Kamado, this book covers a lifetime of back yard grilling.

Included in grilling techniques are a years worth of recipes.  Chris was slightly embarrassed to admit that there were 52 recipes in the book.  Even accidentally, I like that number... one a week for a year and you can justifiably call yourself a Kamado Master!

Chris went out of his way to inspire cooks to take his recipes and adapt as their own.  All of his recipes also feature a "try this" blurb.... No recipe, just a thought balloon giving you an idea to make your own dish... Like, "A Spaghetti and Meatball POT PIE!  Place your favorite spaghetti and meatballs in a greased individual sized Ramekin. Top with a crust made of pizza dough brushed with garlic butter and bake in your Kamado at 350 degrees until the crust has browned".  I loved these little thought balloons!

Being a long admirer of the Big Green Egg craze, but never a partaker (But I do own and use three Weber Kettles), I was concerned that the book would be too specific to the Kamado.  I have cooked 4 dishes so far and in reading the rest, I can assure you that a griller with only moderate skills can easily adapt the recipes to cook on whatever grill you might have.

But they sure do make me dream of adding a Kamado to my deck... Someday.

But in the mean time... It was a night of Burgers, Chicken Wings and This Spinach Alexis (which I converted from a cheesy spinach side dish to a cheesy appetizer dip... Chris did say to feel free and adapt).

As to this recipe, I was sold on the name.  The Alexis in Spinach Alexis is Chris's wonderfully fun wife.

Below I have reprinted the recipe from the book almost word for word.  Using his proportions you will end up with a very cheesy spinach side dish.  Sounds and looks delicious.  He advises cooking in single serve ramekins.  I decided to make one big sharing bowl.

I made a couple of slight changes.  One was obvious, I doubled the amount of cheese to make it a dip.  The other, as listed, I opted for frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed to get as much of the water out as possible).

As a side dish or as a dip, this was FANTASTIC!  Reminded me of a MUCH MORE flavorful home version of an expensive restaurant dip... Love making bar snacks at home.

OK... Here's what I did...

Spinach Alexis Cheese Dip

  • 1-1/2 Cups 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 TBS Finely Diced Onion
  • 1 TBS Finely Diced Red Bell pepper
  • 3 TBS Unsalted Butter, Divided
  • 2 TBS All purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Velveeta brand Queso Blanco
  • 1/2 Cups Smoked Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 2 Cups Cooked, Drained and Chopped Spinach
  • ... ... Disclaimer, I used 1 large package of Frozen Spinach, thawed and SQUEEZED to remove water
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika (For Garnish)
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan on the stovetop, heat the half-and-half, garlic, mustard and pepper flakes to a low simmer over medium heat, being careful not to let it boil.
  2. In a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, sautee the onion and bell pepper in one tablespoon of butter until softened, about 4 minutes. Leaving the onion and pepper in the pan, add the remaining butter and melt. Whisk in the flour and cook stirring occasionally, until it forms a light roux, about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk the roux mixture into the half-and-half, still over medium heat, and stir until combined.
  4. Stir the queso and 1/4 cup of Monterey Jack cheese into the sauce; continue stirring until the cheese has melted. Stir in the spinach and remove from the heat. Grease one large baking dish and pour the spinach mixture in. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the Monterey Jack cheese and the paprika. Using your grill set up as a convection oven (indirect grilling). Preheat your grill to 350 degrees.
  5. Place the baking dish on the side away from the hot coals. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve.
Worked fantastic as a dip for tortilla chips and worked as a cheese topping for a gooey hamburger as well!

Don't be left out... Order yourself a copy today!

And BTW, This is a biased review because of my friendship with Chris.  BUT it is also an honest review.  Highly recommend the book for anyone who owns or is  considering buying a Kamado.
Armed with this knowledge you will certainly improve your game
and will be inspired to become "That Guy (or Gal), the Master of his Domain!
I bought with my own hard earned saved up pennies from my Poker winnings this book.  No compensation was offered, promised or provided.  The opinions are honest and mine... Well Done Chris!

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Grilling Time Secret Extras" or "52 Ways to Cook BBQ and Grilling Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop... Over 100 in one grilling season (I love to grill!). But not just leat... Drinks, Condiments (LOTS of different BBQ sauces), Drinks, Desserts... even specialty items like GRILLED Pizza, and fun shaped Watermelons.  Easy and these ideas will make you the MASTER of your Backyard Domain!


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1 comment:

  1. I am seriously humbled, thanks Dave!!! I can't wait to try this on burgers.