Monday, February 18, 2008

Five Dips for the Baby Shower (w/recipes)

Karen is busy constructing party favors and activities for our upcoming March 1st baby shower and just when I started to feel guilty, she asked what kind of food I wanted to serve. "Uuuuummmmm, finger food, right?" Her head nods with condescending eyebrows raised. "Ummm, I'm going to make... five different dips." Genuine surprised expression. "Any requests?"

There's no need to continue the dialog. I know what my wife likes, so let's cut to the chase. Here's what I'm probably going to make:

JalapeƱo pesto

-2 cups of raw almonds
-3 jalapeƱos (no seeds)
-1/2 red onion
-1 cup nutritional yeast
-1/3 cup olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the almonds to loosen the skins. Squeeze each one and toss the brown almond skins. Place everything in the food processor and blend just short of a puree. Pray that the onion you chose isn't overly strong. This is the only vegan dip on this list. Serve with crackers.

Olive hummus
If you don't know how to make hummus, go to this link for a traditional recipe. Half-way through the blending, toss in a 1/2 cup of your favorite flavor of pitted olives (green, black, kalamata, whatev) and a few dashes of tamari or soy sauce (maybe a minced chili as well, if spicy is your thing). Cut a bunch of pita pockets into eighths and bake for 6-7 minutes at 250. Dip away and win over some hummus doubters with this tasty perversion of a classic.

Parma-fennel spread
Steam a chopped up fennel bulb for 20 minutes. Throw it in the food processor with a half cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, 1/4 cup of olive oil, a couple cloves of roasted garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. If it's too think, add some dairy (cream, milk, half'n'half). Serve with thinly sliced baguette (maybe toasted).

White salsa (La Casita R.I.P)
In Vino Veritas posted about having withdrawal from this mediocre restaurant's exceptional white salsa. Since Karen and I have also always liked the stuff, we posted a breakdown of our version of that dip in Vino's comments section. Serve with chips and try to resist pouring it on everything.

Mole flavored cheese dip
Put a 16 ounce bag of shredded "mexican cheese" (jack, cheddar, etc) into a bowl and stir in part of a jar of mole sauce (any that looks good to you from the local latino grocery or southwestern section of the big chain supermarket. Here's a couple examples.) Don't overdo it. A couple tablespoons may be all you want. Stir it all together and microwave it. Have tortilla chips at the ready. It will be ugly as sin, but ponderously palatable. If it's not runny enough, stir in a little sour cream.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes. I typed most of these from memory, so adjustments and/or improvements are always appreciated. I'll let you all know how it goes on March 1st. There's a good chance I might get lazy and replace one of these dips with a jar of delicious Frontera salsa and make something like this.

Now, I know that the grandparents are supposed to distribute baby registry info, but I don't play that. We're registered at Perpetually unrealistic, I had the nerve to put an expensive Blendtec blender on there (like a Vitamix) for making babyfood and green smoothies to ensure that my son and I live forever. Assuming that no one buys the blender for us, I'm probably going to attempt some kind of fund raiser (like a cookbook sale - thinning our our stockpile, and maybe a follow-up smoothie brunch for investors). See my profile for my email address if you want to help me work through these ideas.


  1. My sister-in-law tried the version of hummus with the olives but it ended up too salty. I wonder if she was heavy handed with the salt or the olives made the whole thing salty.

  2. To keep olive hummus from getting too salty, add the olives at the end so they're in bits, instead of getting liquified like the garbanzos. The flavor is pretty BIG, which seems to impress people. But, maybe it's our animal desire to gather round the salt-lick. Another solution: Yuengling lager as a chaser (but not for mom to be).

  3. Olive hummus?

    Think tapenade, not hummus..

  4. That awful La Casita white goop? No where else but Richmond..


  5. With the olive hummus, you still use chick peas and just jazz it up (J.A.G. it up?) with some olives. So, it's not really tapenade (one of my other favorite dips).

    As for the white goop. My coworker who lived in Mexico City for 25 years says there's one way to spot inauthentic Mexican food: sour cream. I think the white sauce falls into that ilk. Nonetheless, I'm a glutton for the stuff.

  6. Foodie,

    We do share a few things in common. An unhealthy passion for hummus, olive tapinade and white goopy salsa from La Casita.

    When I make hummus, I make about 5 lbs of it and consume it in about a week, which leaves me sick for another week.

    I've resorted to making olive tapinade to make use of my leftover olives after I use up the olive juice in my dirty martinies.

    I haven't figured out the recipe for white goop.

  7. I hope it's clear that these dips represents a range of tastes. My cooking style is fusion of high-brow and low brow, authentic with a nod to the Ruby Tuesdays set. In my world, you can be a vegan couch potato and use plastic utensils on your All Clad cookware. But, in the end, economoy, convenience and flavor are my biggest driving factors.


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