My Mom Blessed Me With Her Cooking Gene for Just One Dish

When I was a little girl, I was an extremely picky eater. My poor Italian mom had to make bland baked chicken and rice pilaf for dinner practically every night. (Except Sundays. Sunday was always macaroni day—no ifs, ands, or buts.) By the time I headed off to college in New York, I was so sick of chicken and rice—and thus, mom’s cooking—that I actually enjoyed the prison-like freshman meal plan food for the first month or so. Then I came home for Thanksgiving and was transformed.

Oh my God. My mom is an amazing cook.

Once I threw aside my finicky food behaviors in favor of a more mature eat all the things approach, I realized that my mom is an actual goddess in the kitchen. Everything she touches is gold. I know a lot of people say their mom is the best cook, but keep in mind: fuck you. (Hat tip to Rob Delaney.) Still, of all the delicious things she has conjured up, one dish stands out for its genius in simplicity. Behold: the crab artichoke dip.

crab artichoke dip

When my mom first whipped together this party favorite, clouds parted and angels sang their praises. A single beam of light came down from the heavens and God himself was like, “Hey, can you share this recipe with Mary?” My mom obliged because she’s got 50 million other knock-em-dead dishes, and she figured Mary could use a few tips.

Admittedly, I am not the cook my mother is. I didn’t really start trying until I was 27 years old and had moved out of New York, where I used my oven to store the purses that wouldn’t fit in my closet. Now that I’m working full-time and commuting and bringing up a child, I find myself throwing together the bland baked chicken and rice pilaf because 1. it’s really simple and I can walk away from the stove to get other stuff done and 2. my kid will actually eat it. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this is the definition of irony.

Despite my shortcomings in the kitchen, I can make a mean crab dip. If you invite me to your house for a party, I’m bringing it. (Though I’m not sharing this recipe with you folks because this is the only thing I bring to the table. I will only let leak this one fact: there are but six ingredients. Six ingredients, and without fail, my party platter always comes home clean.)

Next time you have a party, invite me over and request the crab dip. For one, you’ll thank me, you really will. But for another, it will make me feel like, even for just a brief moment, I might actually have a shot at being the amazing cook my mom is. If she suffered through 18 years of bland chicken and rice and could produce something like THIS, then there’s hope for me yet.

green of skin, black of heart

3 thoughts on “My Mom Blessed Me With Her Cooking Gene for Just One Dish

  1. That sounds like an utterly scrumptious appetizer. Perhaps I missed it but would you mind sharing the recipe? I’m always down for a delicious and fattening new temptation to say I’ll serve at dinner parties but really that I’ll make and eat sitting at home with my husband while watching Netflix. But shhh, don’t tell!

    1. Haha, Lizzy! I purposely didn’t include it in the post (because I’m selfish and wanted people to think I’m a cooking wizard), but now that I think about it, this recipe really should be shared with the world. Here it is, in all its glory:

      1 bag imitation crab
      1 can/jar of artichoke hearts (not packed in oil)
      1 cup mayonnaise
      1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
      1 stick of cream cheese
      1/3 of a chopped yellow or sweet onion

      Mix together the cheese, mayo, cream cheese, and chopped onion. Roughly chop the artichoke hearts and toss them in the mix. Add the crab to a food processor and grind (but do not blend to a paste). Mix together the crab and the artichoke cheese goodness.

      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then put your cheese/artichoke/crab goodness in a glass baking dish (I go with one that’s not too deep, but I can’t remember exact dimensions off the top of my head). Bake for 15-20 minutes and walla! Yummy crabby artichokey cheesy perfection! Enjoy!

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