Dipping into, chipping away at, the holidaysOne thing...

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December 27, 1992|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Writer

Dipping into, chipping away at, the holidays

One thing about the holidays: there's always an occasion when dips with chips or veggies are welcome -- watching the big game on television or the latest video hit, for instance.

If you're tired of the same old soup dip, here are some suggestions for livening up the offerings.

The shrimp dip is from the Red Lobster restaurant chain, which is offering a holiday shrimp recipe pamphlet, with such recipes as shrimp-stuffed eggs, shrimp log and shrimp in mushroom caps. For a free copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Red Lobster Holiday Shrimp Recipes, P.O. Box 593330, Orlando, Fla. 32859.

Creamy shrimp spread

Makes 3 cups.

2 cups (1 pint) shrimp salad (recipe below)

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (optional)

lettuce, celery or radicchio leaves (optional)

crackers, party bread or cucumber slices, for serving

Gently blend shrimp salad, cream cheese and seasoned salt together, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until blended. Spoon into a serving bowl lined with lettuce, celery or radicchio leaves, if desired. Surround with crackers, breads and cucumber slices. Provide a utensil for spreading.

Shrimp salad

Makes 2 cups (1 pint).

1/2 pound cooked shrimp, chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

3/4 cup celery, chopped

Mix all ingredients until blended.

Texas "caviar" pie

Serves six to eight.

1 cup cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup picante sauce (divided use)

1/3 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped green pepper

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 large ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and mashed

1 small package cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Combine beans, 3/4 cup of picante sauce, red or yellow pepper, green pepper, onion, cumin and garlic; mix well. Cover and chill. Just before serving, combine avocados, cream cheese, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup picante sauce and salt; mix until smooth. Spread evenly onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Spoon chilled bean mixture over avocado mixture; sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with chips. (Recipe from Pace Picante Sauce.)

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington is presenting its annual Holiday Celebration program, which focuses on year-end holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year's Eve. The program (which began yesterday), runs through Thursday and features music, storytelling, Kwanza ceremonies and stories every day, crafts, and an exhibit of Christmas trees -- some "period" (the '40s, '50s and '60s), some representing various aspects of American culture. And every day from noon to 4 p.m. visiting chefs will demonstrate preparation of traditional holiday foods. Visitors can get samples of the festive foods and talk to the cooks, all of whom are from the Washington area. All of the recipes will be available in a 50-cent booklet at the events.

Here is the schedule:

*Today and tomorrow: Jewish knishes by Milt Mortman and New Mexican biscochitos (cookies) by Cecilia and Stephanie Salazar.

*Tuesday: Armenian dishes by Leda Zenian, Alidz Katchaturian and Doris George and Austrian buchteln (jelly-bun coffee roll) by Phyllis Frucht.

*Wednesday: Austrian buchteln by Phyllis Frucht and Armenian dishes by Alice Davitian, Agavni Miranian and Alidz Katchaturian.

*Thursday: Gingerbread houses by Opal Milberg and Austrian buchteln by Phyllis Frucht.

It's a minor problem, but it's one of the most vexing a cook can face: Jars or bottles with tops that simply will not open. Most of us have faced the problem at one time or another -- some families even have a Designated Jar Opener. But it's a serious obstacle for people with hand problems such as arthritis or repetitive stress injury.

But now, thanks to the Appliance Science Corp. of South Norwalk, Conn., opening those stuck lids can be as easy as opening a can with an electric can opener. The company has introduced a device called Open Up Power Twist, which it bills as the first appliance ever to offer powered jar and bottle opening. The device works on all sizes of bottles and jars, from half an inch in diameter to 4 inches. When a bottle or jar is raised into the cone, the device automatically grips it and slowly turns it to loosen the top. The device is designed to be mounted under a cabinet or shelf; it runs on D batteries. Suggested retail price is $40 wherever kitchen devices are sold; Appliance Science says Open Up is carried by Ace and True Value hardware stores, as well as Sears, J.C. Penney and Service Merchandise.

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