Back in the Saddle, er, Kitchen, with a Retro Dip!

I can trick myself into believing I'm eating a salad when I serve this with veggies!

I can trick myself into believing I’m eating a healthy salad when I serve this with veggies!

I hope you all had lovely holidays and that your new year has started off swimmingly!

This first full weekend of 2013 finds me back in my kitchen (yay!) with the almost full use of both hands. The bandage is off of my injured right hand and it is getting back to normal. One more week of treating it with kid gloves, so to speak, and I think all will be well. Meanwhile, I’m able to do some slow chopping and other basic cooking necessities as long as I don’t twist or put too much pressure on it. Thanks for all your wonderfully kind comments and inquiries. Believe me, I will go out of my way to try to NOT do this again.

Today I want to revisit and share a relatively easy and very yummy dip recipe from my “repertoire.” For those of you who are football fans, this is a great one to make for the upcoming American football and Super Bowl game parties, or down the road a way for rugby, soccer or baseball gatherings. It’s always been a hit for pot-lucks, Formula One racing parties and as a part of any appetizer spread. It’s definitely a rift on an old-fashioned traditional dry soup-based dip that we’ve all known in this country (and secretly loved), but transcends the original in every way. Yes, we’re talking about the ultimate chip and veggie dip: Caramelized Shallot and Blue Cheese Dip, and I’m making it to take to a little cocktail and nosh event this evening.

For those of you who follow this blog closely, you’ll remember a mention of this dip from my two party posts last summer, Party On! and Encore (More party recipes), and those posts get another mention now because they have a lot of other great ideas for appetizers of various kinds to keep in mind for these seasonal bowl game parties. This fabulous dip is from a Bon Appétit recipe, and it’s one that never disappoints or gets old. I’ve adapted it ever so slightly from the original, adding more shallots and blue cheese (can you ever have too much, I ask ya?) for extra flavor, used a lighter mayo and some added seasonings. Here’s my version and you can see the original recipe at Epicurious if your click on the dip name above. Have a great weekend!

Warning: Do not make this unless you have someone to share it with. It is addictive.

Hmmm. Those shallots kind of look like some sort of weird college logo, don’t they?

Caramelized Shallot and Blue Cheese Dip (adapted from Bon Appétit)
Makes 2 generous cups

Start this in time to allow the flavors to blend for a couple of hours before serving.

2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 7 ounces)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise (you can use light or canola mayonnaise)
3/4 cup sour cream (you can use light but do not use non-fat)
5 oz. Maytag Blue Cheese, or other crumbling variety of blue cheese, allowed to come to room temperature
Salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste (remember, the cheese adds a little salty component, too)
*If you like some spice you can use a tiny pinch of cayenne instead of, or in addition to, the black pepper

shallots after

Your caramelized shallots should look like this.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown in color and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes…do not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the sour cream until well blended. Add the blue cheese and mash it into the mayo mixture with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula until it is well blended. Add the caramelized shallots and mix well. Add the salt and pepper to taste or the cayenne if using. Remember, the flavors will build. Cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Taste and season again if needed. Serve with veggies and/or chips.

Confession: There's a big 'ole bowl of regular and sweet potato chips off to the side here.

Confession: There’s a big ‘ole bowl of regular and sweet potato chips in the wings awaiting this dip!

Eat Your (Winter) Greens!

Up until a few short years ago, nothing could have convinced me that greens would ever become something that I loved. I’m not speaking of lettuce or spinach, but winter greens like chard, kale and collards. Then one day I decided to be bold and try some kale that had come in our CSA box and I combined it in a saute with other ingredients I knew I liked. Imagine my surprise when the end result was a savory and satisfying dish that brought out the natural sweetness of the kale. Then I tried it with chard and it worked equally well. “Hmmm, maybe I’m on to something here,” I said to myself. The next time I made some greens this way, I had extra and added them to some pasta with roasted tomatoes and sausage, and hence my Penne with Kale, Sausage and Roasted Tomatoes recipe was born and you can see that post here. Now I’ve come to love them so much I grow two kinds of kale in my garden and it’s one of my favorite side dishes to make while winter greens are in season. Fortunately it’s a nice long season where we live! Continue reading