Category Archives: hors d’oeuvres

Kickin’ Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

For someone who tasted flavor only when in friends’ homes, I vividly recall many first tastes.  Butter…Ann Avery’s house.  That was  beyond stellar.  Tuna salad would be at Andrea’s house.  Her mama mixed in a teaspoon of mustard that certainly made it the chicken of MY sea!  Pork chop gravy  at Dana’s house was seared into my flavor bank.  I had never had ANY gravy before and her mama made it from scratch.  Where has this stuff been hiding?!?  I experienced a double first at my neighbor and classmate, Susy Tankard’s, house.  We had come in from playing “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” outside, all hot and sweaty.  Her mama and mine were very close but worlds apart when it came to cooking.  Susy’s mom baked, cooked and liked it.  My mama couldn’t give a fig what went on in the kitchen nor would she have recognized a fig if there had ever been one sitting on the counter.  Anyway, that noteworthy day stands out because it is the day Susy offered me an English muffin with strawberry jam.  I had no idea what either one of those things were.  At first bite I was head over heels in love with both.  But probably my favorite first was a double of potato chips and onion dip, both processed, filled with preservatives and loaded with salt.  Holy smoke.  Talk about a lifelong passion for that kind of bad.  And I’m still a fool for chips and dip but now I prefer the real thing.  Homemade onion dip is from another realm.  Once you make homemade you will never go back to that powdered stuff in an envelope.  After caramelizing naturally sweet onions, you’ll end up with a skillet brimming with the flavors of a savory jam, all thick and gooey.  I add fresh thyme leaves and that brings out the earthiness and allows the dip to “pop”.  The addition of cayenne pepper lightens each bite and keeps the onion dip from becoming too heavy.  It’s always one of the first dishes to fly at a party; in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to stay out of it before you leave your house.  Perfect for a beach or pool party, whether it’s game day or not, this kickin’ onion dip will become a life long favorite!

This recipe makes quite a bit which is great for a party but if you don’t need that much, it’s easily halved.  It’s an incredibly flavorful appetizer so if you’re not a fan of heat, rest assured the cayenne pepper may be omitted and you’ll still have a fantastic dip.  Take your time caramelizing the onions.  You don’t want them to burn but to release their liquids and sugar.  Give them a good stir every now and again, cook them uncovered letting all excess moisture evaporate and you’ll achieve the flavors and consistency you want.  I tried a mess of chips to see which really brought out the flavor of the dip and this is my conclusion.  The best potato chip turned out to be Kettle Chips.  They were sturdy enough to stand up to the stiff dip both in structure and potato taste.  But my number one chip pick wasn’t a potato chip but a plantain chip.  Holy smoke!  They really complemented each other, not to mention, the plantains were much better looking.  In closing, I hope you’ll take the time to search out Vidalia onions as their sweetness truly stands out and makes a huge difference in this dish.  Enjoy!

Kickin' Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3 pounds Vidalia onions, about 3 large Vidalia onions
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus additional to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  1. In a large, heavy bottom skillet melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the olive oil, chopped onions, one tablespoon of salt and stir well until the onions are thoroughly coated with the olive oil and butter.
  3. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the onions uncovered until they are golden brown in color and all liquid from them has evaporated, anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.  Stir often to keep onions from browning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove onions from heat and allow to cool.
  5. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese to loosen.  Add the mayonnaise and whisk until completely smooth.
  6. Add the sour cream, thyme, cayenne pepper and remaining teaspoon of salt.  Mix until smooth.
  7. Add cooled onions to cream cheese mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  9. Serve chilled with chips and crudite.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

 

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Fried Green Plantain Chips

One of the highlights of our summers in Puerto Rico was our trips into Viejo San Juan, Old San Juan.  Cynthia and I would be taken by our aunt, Madrinita, and, of course, Mama would accompany us.  It was an all-day affair of shopping at my aunt’s favorite jewelry store, always lunch at La Mallorquina, the oldest operating restaurant in the Western Hemisphere and culminating perhaps with a tour of cellist Pedro Casals’ house.  What wonderful times we had!  In and out of shops we went, Mama buying gorgeous French and Belgian sets of tablecloths and napkins, Madrinita giving in to the siren call of a particularly lovely gold bracelet as Cynthia and I stood by watching wide-eyed and highly impressed.  My mother and aunt adored each other and this outing gave them the opportunity to spend uninterrupted hours catching up on family news and their own sister secrets.  Cynthia and I were already BFF’s so we, too, shared our own 8-year-old/six-year-old secrets, whispering that maybe, just maybe, this was the trip Madrinita would buy us some pretty little earrings, a delicate ring or exquisite charm for our bracelets.  As we grew older, Madrinita and Mama strolled ahead of us, arm in arm, chattering away.  Cynthia and I lagged behind enjoying the lazy afternoon, soaking in the beauty of cascading bougainvilla spilling off the balconies above us and the magnificence of the smooth blue cobblestones below our feet dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.  One of our favorite games was to hunt for ruts and grooves cut into the cobblestones by horses dragging canons up to the fort and back.  Puerto Rico was a Spanish territory, a jewel in their crown, and the Spaniards were quick to defend it against land attacks.  We were content with the pleasures of the sun on our skinny, little arms, the soft padding sound of our shoe leather against the rounded cobblestones and the dichotomy between the loud, riot of colors and the quiet, graciousness of the residents.  Toward the end of the day Cynthia and I tended to unravel.  After a day  of walking and getting too much sun we both needed energy, a small pick-me-up to tide us over until we got back to home base: our grandparent’s house.  On every corner it seems there was a minute wooden cart, always gaily painted a bright red, shielded from the searing afternoon rays of the sun by a striped awning or umbrella.  Alongside the cart and in the shade sat the vendor usually on a folded, wooden chair, wearing a straw hat and welcoming us with a brilliantly white and friendly smile.  All the vendors were kind and patient with us, treating us as the adults we had yet to be.  Some sold ice cream, some snow cones shaved from huge blocks of ice and others offered little bags of plantain chips gathered in small, wax paper bags, folded at the top and fastened with one staple in the center of the parcel.  We were, and still are, crazy about them.  Each bag was 10¢.  When enjoying these plantain chips with my husband, Jimmy, he pointed out it gives new meaning to “dime bag”.  But they were a fabulous treat for us and gave us the stamina needed until we reached home.  We loved everything about them, from the “snap” of the first chip down to the bits of salt at the bottom of every bag.  Another perfect ending to a perfect day.

This is one hors d’oeuvre you won’t often see here in the states unless you are at a gathering with Latinos.  Plantain chips are easy and quick to prepare.  And although they are fried, you will find that properly stored, the chips stay fresh and crisp for two or three days after preparing…if they last that long.  In fact, I find their flavor almost deeper the following day.  Plantain chips are typically served as an appetizer or snack but my family and I love them crumbled over shrimp, fish or mixed green salad.  We like them sprinkled with sea salt or drizzled with a little chimichurri sauce. They marry exceptionally well with all manner of sea food.  This recipe may be doubled or tripled and if not serving immediately, do not need to be reheated. Just serve them at room temperature.  The thick, hard peel of the green plantain has to come off, easily done but not as easy as peeling a yellow banana.  Plantains stain your fingers so I always wear disposable gloves.  The following is how I peel them.  You will find 3-4 ridges running lengthwise on each plantain.  Using a paring knife cut through the peel down the length of the plantain taking care not to cut into the flesh.  Starting at the top, slide your finger under the skin and pry each section away.  I run the paring knife lightly over the surface of each plantain to scrape off any bits of peel left behind.  You’ll see the flecks of peels as they will turn gray in color making it easy to scrape off any missed.  The chips are thinly sliced into a 1/16″ thickness.  I use a lightweight mandoline that makes slicing the plantains a snap but obviously a sharp kitchen knife will work just fine.  Some people then give the sliced plantains a quick rinse of salted water, drain them well, then fry them.  The rinsing keeps the starchy slices from sticking together.  However, I find no matter how well I drain them there is always a certain amount of moisture causing the hot oil to pop so I don’t rinse.  It’s up to you.  I keep my gloves on while frying, also, to avoid any stains as my fingers touch the slices while dropping them into the hot oil.  Last of all, and this is important, the very second you take the chips out of the hot oil and drain on paper towels sprinkle them with sea salt.  The tiny bit of oil on them will help the salt to stick whilst the oil drains off.

Fried Green Plantain Chips

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 green plantains
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • sea salt
  1. Peel the plantains and cut into round slices 1/16″ thick, about the thickness of a quarter.
  2. In a frying pan heat about 2-3 inches vegetable or canola oil to a little lower than high, about 375°.
  3. If rinsing the slices do so now.  Fill a large bowl with salted water, put the sliced plantains in the water, swirl with your hand and drain in a colander.   Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Carefully drop the chips into the hot oil in batches.  I typically fry one sliced plantain at a time.
  5. As the slices hit the hot oil, stir with a spider or slotted spoon to keep the chips from sticking together.
  6. Fry until golden, about 3-4 minutes, gently stirring all the while to ensure even cooking.
  7. With the spider or slotted spoon, remove the chips and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  8. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
  9. If serving another time, store the cooled plantain chips in an airtight gallon freezer bag or plastic container.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Brie, Thyme and Fresh Cranberry Stuffed Bread

I wasn’t planning on serving an appetizer Thanksgiving Day.  The family dinner was at our house this year.  Everyone was in town and coming late in the day.  I couldn’t wait to have all my people gathered together again.  The house was ready, the dining room table glittered.   I wasn’t going to have a starter course because there was going to be so much food… for crying out loud, it’s Thanksgiving!  But then I thought it would be more fun to have a little something to nibble on with champagne and drinks before dinner.  Not wanting to break the bank OR break my back I decided a holiday stuffed bread was in order.  And because my motto is “more is better” I made two.  My husband, Jimmy, looked at me as though I had two heads.  “I know, I know.  It’s a lot of food but if no one eats it, well, we just wrap them up and have them tomorrow.”  He knows not to argue when it comes to food, bless his heart.  Let me just cut to the chase.  When the two loaves had been plated and my nieces began to make their way through the house serving, you have never seen so many faces light up.  My family pounced on them as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks.  Grownups were licking their fingers.  My brother followed the girls with their trays around the house tearing off chunks of warm, cheesy bread and making happy boy sounds.  My son, James,

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was not happy when he saw me tucking fresh cranberries into the cheese but after his first bite was in complete agreement  that the berries were the perfect clean foil against the gooey, richness of the cheese, olive oil and garlic.  Both loaves were gone in minutes.  Minutes!  This recipe is extremely adaptable in that you can substitute the brie for Gruyère, cheddar, mozzarella or the gooey cheese of your choice.  You can tuck in gorgonzola crumbles or shredded parmesan.  Red pepper flakes are wonderful for a little heat.  Not a fan of cranberries?  Try blackberries or raspberries.  I used whole grain boules but white bread would be fine.  Good looking on a table or passed by hand, this starter is perfect for the holidays.  It can be assembled hours ahead, only make certain to wrap it tightly so the bread doesn’t get stale.  Make certain you have plenty of napkins and enjoy!

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Brie, Thyme and Fresh Cranberry Stuffed Bread

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1-pound boule or round loaf of bread, 6″-7″ diameter works well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste, a healthy pinch of each will do
  • 1/4 pound brie cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup  shredded Italian 5 cheese, I believe I used Kraft but any brand is fine, store brand or whatever’s on sale
  • 1/2 cup or more fresh cranberries or berry of choice
  • thyme sprigs for garnish, optional
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°.
  2. Making certain not to cut all the way through to the bottom, slice the bread in roughly half-inch slices.  Turn the bread 90° and make 1/2″ slices, again not cutting all the way through.  I find if I hold the bread firmly it keeps it from shredding or tearing too much.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine olive oil, garlic, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  4. Gently stuff the brie vertically in the bread slices.
  5. Pour half of the olive oil mixture as evenly as you can into the open bread spaces.  Set aside remaining oil.
  6. Toss the thyme leaves with the Italian cheese blend.
  7. Gently stuff the Italian cheese horizontally down into the bread.
  8. Pour the remaining olive oil mixture evenly on the bread.
  9. Tuck the fresh cranberries onto the top of the nooks and crannies of the stuffed bread.
  10. Spray a piece of tin foil with non-stick cooking spray and wrap the bread tightly with the foil.
  11. Place on a baking sheet and bake covered for 25-30 minutes.
  12. Carefully unwrap the bread and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
  13. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Artichoke, Olive and Garlic Tapenade

Every once in a while I say to myself, “You’re not buying anything at the grocery store today.  You just make do with what you have at home.”  And that’s when I come up with some recipes I’m positively crazy about.  Here’s one of them.  You probably have all these ingredients in your pantry and an added bonus is that it comes together in no time flat.  This “dip” is a delight served with cold, crunchy celery sticks.  Served with some whole grain crackers your family won’t be able to stay away.  I found some organic, gluten-free, non-gmo, vegan, black pepper crackers at the grocery store that totally rocked my taste buds.  “Mary’s Gone Crackers”.  Holy moly.  You’d NEVER know they’re so healthful.  And they’re pretty, too.

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Spread atop grilled fish or chicken, this tapenade is a natural pleaser as all the flavors marry so darn well.  And guess what else?  It’s pretty low in fat calling for only a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  I hope you’re not put off by the one anchovy filet.  I promise, scout’s honor (even though I was thrown out of Girl Scouts when I sneaked out of a meeting to call a boy I liked from a phone booth), you will never know the anchovy’s there.  The rinsed, dried filet adds a deeper flavor and after being zipped through the food processor you’ll never even know it was there.  Leave it out and your dip will be flat and one-dimensional so give it a try.  Lemony and garlicky, it travels well to parties and keeps for days in the refrigerator…if it even lasts that long!

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Artichoke, Olive and Garlic Tapenade

  • 2 14.5-ounce cans artichoke hearts, well-drained, moisture patted out
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and without pimento
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 anchovy filet, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Place artichoke hearts and olives in a food processor and pulse until slightly chunky with pieces about the size of confetti.  Transfer to mixing bowl.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse until not quite smooth.  You want a bit of texture.
  3. Transfer to bowl with artichokes and olives and mix well.
  4. Serve with raw vegetables and crackers or cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

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Figs Roasted with Honey Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

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For me figs are one of the best foods Fall has to offer.  Dark, autumnal and vaguely naughty, they are a seasonal food that is quite literally “here today, gone tomorrow”.  Late summer to fall is their main season and here in south Florida the availability is somewhat unpredictable since they’re trucked in from far away lands.  We try to eat local produce but I’m kind of a fig trollop and I don’t care WHERE they’re from OR who cultivated them.  I love me my figs!  Regardless, this recipe is a wonder blending sweet and salty, spicy heat and creamy coolness.  With a cocktail or two I can easily make this my dinner.  This little savoury is pretty enough for your cocktail party yet sturdy enough for Sunday’s football get-together.  It can be assembled in the morning and baked that afternoon or evening.  In the past I’ve only used chevre, plain goat cheese.  I’ve seen the honeyed goat cheese at my store, Publix, but until now, I’d never tried it.  Gentle Reader, it’s pretty perfect.  Just the right amount of sweetness, between the lush, sexy figs and the salty sharpness of the prosciutto, this hors d’oeuvre will have you rolling your eyes to the back of your head.  Enjoy!

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Figs Roasted with Honey Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

  • Servings: approximately 50 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 4-ounce log of honey goat cheese or plain goat cheese plus 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ripe, fresh figs
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced…deli thin
  • honey to drizzle
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. In a small bowl break up goat cheese with a fork, add red pepper flakes and mix well.  Set aside.
  3. With a sharp paring knife or small knife, cut the figs in half vertically, from the stem to the bottom of the fig.
  4. With the tip of the knife dig a small well into the cut side of the center of the fig.  This makes it easier to stuff with the goat cheese.
  5. If the prosciutto has plastic paper in between slices, discard the paper and stack the prosciutto evenly.
  6. Slice the prosciutto lengthwise into even thirds.  You’ll end up with three even stacks of prosciutto strips.
  7.  Fill each fig half with a small amount of goat cheese, maybe a teaspoon or so.  A butter knife makes it quick.
  8. Wrap each stuffed fig half with a strip of prosciutto, wrapping the meat completely around the center and  place on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  9. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the prosciutto is crispy.
  10. Place on serving tray and drizzle lightly with honey.
  11. Best served warm.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Shrimp Paste…reason enough to have a cocktail hour

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Ever had shrimp paste?  It’s a Southern indulgence.  Whether spread on finger sandwiches, swirled into grits or served with raw vegetables and toast points, shrimp paste is a treat you really ought to experience.  It’s set out at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You don’t see it often now at parties but when I was growing up shrimp paste was the stand-by spinach artichoke hors d’oeuvre of the day.  Fort Lauderdale was still a sleepy, Southern resort town.  Locals pronounced Miami “Miamuh”.  “Up on the highway” referred to US1, Federal Highway, the biggest main road that I can remember.  Going to dinner at bar/restaurant, MaiKai,  and seeing the Polynesian floorshow was cause for envy amongst my friends and  considered major exotica.  I mean, where else could you see beautiful women dressed in only grass skirts and coconut halves covering their breasts, dancing the hula while behind them handsome island men juggled fire-lit torches to the beat of thundering drums?  Pretty hokey now but in those days that was almost fast living!  Simple as life was then, there were some hard and fast social rules.  For instance, napkins when entertaining.  Linen napkins were used at every party…cocktail, dinner and luncheon.  Luncheons were quite common back then as that was the time women could get away from the house for a few hours with the explanation of “I’ve got a club meeting.  Be back this afternoon!”  There seemed to be more women’s clubs then than today.  Mama belonged to a good handful.  These were invitation only clubs although they benefitted the community.  Beaux Arts was the women’s club affiliated with the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and, boy, could those ladies throw a luncheon meeting.  All meetings were held in different member’s homes during the day, never at night, I imagine because all these ladies of the ’50’s, ’60’s and ’70’s had to be home to prepare dinner for their husbands and families.  And let me tell you, these ladies turned out for their meetings.  Heels and dresses, baby, then wild pantsuits in the mid-’60’s.  Lots of gleaming pearls dangling off of graceful necks, later years replaced with chunky, mod necklaces.  Late morning the street where the designated meeting was to be held would fill with big, ol’ parked cars the size of boats in all different pastel colors.  I don’t know why, but you didn’t often see black cars back then.  Cream, baby blue, mint green, even soft pink land yachts sat bumper to bumper on both sides of the street as the women made their way into the house, heels crunching on gravel lined driveways, heavy charm bracelets softly tinkling while the women waved and greeted each other.  I remember when Mama had meetings at our house the days prior would be a flurry of activity.  Frankie, our housekeeper, was in charge of making certain the entire house was spotless and, on the day of the meeting, replenishing the punch bowl and platters of food on the dining room table.  She also oversaw the polishing of the silver by older sister, Cynthia, and me.  Mama would pay us each 50¢, sometimes a DOLLAR, big money back then to clean the silverware.  My  sister and I always seemed to be the designated invisible help relegated to collecting empty cups and crumpled napkins or emptying ashtrays.  It was understood we didn’t engage anyone in conversation; that we were to speak only if we were spoken to.  Wait.  We were also expected to greet all the members…it was “hello, Mrs. So and So”, “very well, thank you”, “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am”.  The meetings were only for a few hours although to us they felt like an eternity but, on the upside, we were allowed to eat as much as we wanted, however, only in the kitchen.  When the meeting was called to order and the ladies got down to business, for instance discussing the finer points of their fundraising cookbook or the next preview party prior to the upcoming Calder exhibit, Frankie, Cynthia and I would load up with shrimp paste on toast points, dainty finger sandwiches filled with chicken salad or cream cheese and olive, salmon mousse  and bite size quiches.  It was a stolen hour of enjoyment without Mama telling me to stand up straight or put down that 17th sandwich as I was well on my way to a stomach ache followed with an emphatic “One day you’ll thank me for this!” or simply “Because I said so!”.  The silky, creamy shrimp paste had been spread on small triangles of toasted, white bread which melted in my mouth and, when given the opportunity, I gorged myself on them.  All the finger sandwiches were made by Frankie or Mama the previous day; the mousse, quiches and anything else would have been dropped off by the caterer that morning on account of the fact that Mama couldn’t cook.  Obviously, it was a different time and different school of thought for women in general.  Sometimes life was good for these women…sometimes not so good. These meetings were all about being with close friends and, hopefully, making a little money to help establish a truly strong museum of art.  Perhaps these women were at times a bit frivolous but, over the years, their meetings taught these two little girls the finer points of leadership, organization and service.  Today we have a vibrant, robust museum partly due to the unflagging, tireless fundraising commitment of these ladies.  And we still have shrimp paste.

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Shrimp Paste

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
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Slathered on toasted French bread or flavoring a breakfast bowl of grits, shrimp paste is best served at room temperature.  Easily it can be prepared and kept chilled a day or two before serving, just bring it out about an hour prior to your guests arriving.  It’s glorious atop warm slices of new potatoes, with cold, rare beef or grilled fish.  I prefer my shrimp paste to be splashed with dark rum and seasoned with mace but you can easily swap the rum for sherry or brandy and one or two teaspoons of onion juice can take the place of the mace.  Also, if you happen to stumble upon wild caught shrimps, by all means, snap those babies up.  The spread tastes leagues better with shrimp that hasn’t been farmed but it’s not easy to find.

  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and rinsed
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • juice of one small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet heat the butter over high heat until foaming but not brown.
  2. Add the cleaned shrimp and cook until they are just pink, about 4-5 minutes.  Stir often.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, put the shrimp in food processor fitted with steel blade, leaving the pan juices in the skillet.
  4. Drop the heat to medium-high and return the pan to stove top.
  5. Add the mace, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and rum, stirring constantly until the mixture has reduced to 3-4 tablespoons.
  6. Pour the butter mixture into the food processor and pulse 8-10 times.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process until completely smooth.
  7. Transfer paste to serving bowl or crock, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3-4 hours.
  8. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour prior to serving.  Serve cool, at room temperature.

Hot Onion Dip, you want it at your Superbowl party

This past weekend I tried my hand at a hot dip I had been jonesing for over a year.  A longtime friend and co-worker, that would be YOU, Sharon!, had stopped by my little sister’s and dropped off a super terrific hot onion dip for the family and it’s been on my mind more than constantly.  The onions were a complete taste tease and, although the dip wasn’t heavy, it was substantial enough to satisfy on a cool winter’s day.  I guess I could have asked her for the recipe but that would have been too easy, wouldn’t it?  It was savory with a hint of sweetness owing to the onions.  And I was aching to taste it again.  With my boys’ team, the Patriots, playing on Sunday; I thought I’d see if I could rustle up a facsimile.  Some hot onion dips call for frozen chopped onions but Sharon’s dip pleased both eye and palate featuring pearl onions and plenty of them.   My initial attempt was a triumph in mediocrity.  I had inadvertently grabbed pearl onions in some sorry excuse for a cream sauce which steeped the end result with a sour tang.  I shudder to think.  Despite the copious amount of cheese I was tempted to pull a Tom Hanks from the movie “Big” and scrape the vile, white jumble from my tongue.   More work was needed.  Not only did I need to lose that unpleasant, vinegary aftertaste but I also wanted a smoother and more gooey texture.  Back at the grocery store I picked up the correct onions and a small bag of shredded mozzarella and returned home to refine and perfect.  I had also decided to significantly amp the spices I had used.  My thighs and I are thrilled to report that the state of nirvana was achieved.  Oh, and I also swapped water crackers for good ol’ Frito corn chips…the scoop shaped ones.  This was the final touch needed.  The salty, crunchy corn  rounded out the appetizer making it a whole, complete flavor adventure.

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Hot Onion Dip

This dish has become a favorite of mine for several reasons.  It travels extremely well and is loved by all therefore I come home with an empty dish and no leftovers to tempt me.  Also, I don’t have to really measure the ingredients; you can eyeball it with confidence and finish with a great hor’s d’oeuvre.

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 -14 ounce bags frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, I used reduced fat
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided and shredded, both bagged and reduced fat are fine
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, I use Duke’s Light
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Cover a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT 1 cup of mozzarella in a large bowl, mixing well until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to baking dish,  smooth top and scatter remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese evenly.
  4. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.
  5. Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes prior to serving.  This stuff is like molten lava straight out of the oven.  You don’t want anyone to burn their mouths.
  6. Serve with corn chips.