Cookbook defines dip for the '90s

January 31, 1996|By Heather McPherson | Heather McPherson,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Dips are the consummate party food. They are easy to put together and inexpensive -- two important factors in selecting foods for party menus.

In 1954, Lipton put a dip wave in motion with its recipe for Festive California Dip on the back of its dehydrated onion soup mix. While onion dip remains a party mainstay, we've come quite a long way in our dip repertoire.

Today it is a common to see baba ghannouj (a classic Middle Eastern dip that includes eggplant and tahini) and roasted red pepper dip alongside a bowl of Lipton's famous back-of-the-box blend. The new items on the party menu reflect the ethnic diversity of communities and the greater availability of specialty ingredients.

Susan Puckett, food editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has cataloged our growing love of these concoctions in her new book, "Dips" (Longstreet Press, $14.95). She has expanded the dip definition to include salsas, pates, mousses and fondues because they can be used in a "dip" mode.

The "Dessert Dip" chapter should inspire innovation in spring bridal and baby shower menus. Among the recipes Ms. Puckett shares are espresso dip, toffee apple dip and sherried lime dip.

Espresso dip

Makes 1 cup

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup hot, brewed espresso

8 ounces cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

chocolate-covered coffee beans for garnish (optional)

Dissolve sugar in hot espresso. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in espresso until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. When ready to serve, garnish with coffee beans.

Dipper suggestions: Provide fresh cherries, apple slices, banana slices, chocolate wafers, cubed poundcake and toasted ladyfingers for dipping.

Toffee apple dip

Makes 1 cup

8 ounces cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 (6-ounce) package Bits O' Brickle (or any other toffee candy)

In a medium-size, microwave-safe bowl, blend cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Stir in candy. Cook in a microwave oven on high (100 percent) power for 3 minutes. Stir and then cook for 1 minute more. Serve dip warm or at room temperature

Dipper suggestions: Slices or wedges of tart Granny Smith apples.

Sherried lime dip

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup Rose's lime juice

1/4 cup dry sherry

In a blender or food processor, combine ingredients and blend until smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl and chill for at least 1 hour.

Dipper suggestions: Serve strawberries, pineapple chunks, sliced carambola or vanilla wafers for dipping.

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