Doing the dip: recipes and hints

BOOKMARK

December 01, 2004|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,SUN STAFF

Cookbook author Diane Morgan's search for the perfect dip goes beyond blue corn chips and the newest salsa.

She is looking for a tempting concoction that will draw her guests together over a bowl. She refers to it as "social engineering," accomplished with homemade pita chips.

Instead of juggling a drink, a plate and a napkin - and trying to find an extra hand to reach for one of those bite-sized hors d'oeuvres that either ooze or flake or tumble to the carpet - Morgan likes her guests to gather around her kitchen counter or her dining-room table and simply dig in.

To that end, she has collected 50 contemporary dip recipes in Delicious Dips (Chronicle Books, 2004, $16.95).

Her creations feature some unusual tastes and flavor combinations: cucumbers and radishes; peanut butter, green onions and ginger root; chiles and pineapple; and goat cheese and pistachio.

But she also includes a new spin on some old favorites, such as the classic artichoke-parmesan dip and a cheddar-and-tomato fondue.

And, yes, a whole section on the latest salsas.

However, several of the dips were not as successful as their ingredients suggested they would be.

Her onion-dip recipe requires time to gently cook and caramelize the Vidalia onions and shallots. No soup mix in sour cream here. But the addition of balsamic vinegar made the dip bitter.

Her spicy crab dip, with cilantro, chives and a spicy Asian chile paste, was bland when made as suggested. That can be corrected with more chile paste. But 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise is not enough to hold the crab meat together and it tumbles off the crostini.

Her white-bean dip is simple but powerful because it is made with so much garlic. The lemon juice adds a surprising bite, too.

Morgan includes some helpful hints. Her "dip do-ahead" notes with each recipe let you know how far in advance you can prepare it. She suggests chip pairings, too, and includes instructions for blanching crudites and preparing bruschetta, crostini, sweet and salty won-ton crisps and a variety of flavorful chips made from pita bread triangles, bagels and tortillas.

Her chapter on dessert dips is luscious: lime mousse and a couple of boozy chocolate fondues, plus a dip made with Cherry Garcia ice cream, to be served with double-chocolate chunk brownie chips.

Morgan's notion that a tempting bowl of dip and a basket of homemade dippers are the perfect party centerpiece is one worth pursuing this holiday season.

Baked Artichoke-Parmesan Dip

Makes about 4 cups (16 servings)

1 large shallot, halved

2 cans (13.75 ounces each) artichoke hearts packed in water, well-drained

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh oregano

2 teaspoons pure olive oil

In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the shallot and artichoke hearts until coarsely chopped.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and salt. Add the chopped shallots and artichokes and mix until well combined. Season to taste with pepper. Transfer to a buttered 1 1/2 -quart shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, oregano and olive oil.

Position a rack in the upper two-thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Just before baking, sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture on top of the artichoke dip.

Bake the dip until the bread crumbs are toasty brown and the dip is bubbling at the edges, 20 minutes to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Note: The dip, without the bread-crumb topping, can be prepared, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

Remove the dip from the refrigerator 40 minutes before baking. The topping can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead and sprinkled on just before baking.

Per serving: 129 calories; 4 grams protein; 9 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber; 11 milligrams cholesterol; 510 milligrams sodium

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