Tag Archives: dip

Greek Fish Roe Dip, Taramasalata

It’s time everyone, time for the 2018 Saint Demetrios Greek Festival in Fort Lauderdale.  It’s this weekend February 8th through the 11th.  The sun is shining, there’s a stiff breeze and the huge, white tents are up.  The kitchen’s a veritable hive of activity; our ladies group, Philoptochos, is in charge of the mouth-watering baked goods.  You know….all those little butter cookies calling out to you and no one else, telling you how perfect they are dunked in a hot cup of coffee with steamed milk for breakfast?  Or how about the butter and nut cookies resting on a thick pillow of powdered sugar?  I’m partial to the spice cookie that has been quickly dipped in a honey and orange syrup called melomakarona, redolent with cinnamon and cloves.  Ugh!  It’s a dieter’s nightmare.  But I tell myself it’s once a year and IT’S FOR THE CHURCH.  Thinking of all these ladies, most of them grandmothers and great-grandmothers, mixing and rolling and baking all these sweets from days gone by makes me incredibly happy.  Also sharing the kitchen is a team of chefs who crank out hundreds of trays of the most delectable food ever.  They are known for their enormous, meat falling off the bone lamb shanks.  Having worked on the outside food lines for years, I can tell you folks drive down from the Palm Beaches and up from Miami to savor this lamb.  They often purchase two or three additional lamb dinners to take home.  I don’t blame them.  These shanks aren’t available in grocery stores so you can’t make them at home even if you wanted to.  Again, it’s a once a year treat.  For those who might not care for lamb, thick, fat wedges of moussaka or the Greek version of lasagna, pastitsio, are available, both oozing with warm cheese and creamy bechamel.  But let’s pretend you don’t want a full meal, (who am I trying to kid but I’ll try), all you have to do is step outside for authentic Greek grilled sausage with cheese flamed in brandy, gyro sandwiches stuffed with savory meat, lettuce, tomato and cold Greek yoghurt sauce, hand-held spinach and cheese pies wrapped in phyllo dough so crispy they shatter when you bite into them.  Want more?  There is a whole lamb roasting on a spit outside while being basted with garlic, oregano and olive oil.  Boom.  It gets no better.  And, because we’re all adults here, you can enjoy your delicacies with an assortment of beer and wine or an ice-cold bottle of water or soft drink.  We, who volunteer all weekend, will also drink our weight in Greek coffee, hot or iced and prepared right in front of you.  I can’t wait!  As you walk in from any direction the gorgeous perfume of grilled food and the strains of Greek music surround you.  The children of the church, some small and some not so small, dance the dances from the villages of Greece all in authentic costumes of the region.  They’ve practiced all year, all the intricate steps seared into their memory banks.  They dance with joy and abandon as the choreography is now second nature.  You’ll meet kids in their late teens through their twenties smiling at you while serving beer and wine, parking cars or clearing food trays, all parishioners and most of them alumni dancers having started at five or six old.  And you know what the beautiful part is?  They’re ALL still close, close friends.  They’ve passed the baton to the younger kids and accepted the baton handed them from older parishioners whose achy knees or backs no longer allow them the pleasure of standing all day and selling homemade rice pudding or pushing around a dolly with five or six cases of tomatoes or pork souvlaki.  No, these men have earned their spots on fold out chairs.  This is their time to flip worry beads while wearing black wool fishermen’s caps.  And ladies, sit right down and enjoy that frothy Nescafe frappe while gossiping with your best friend about how your loukoumades syrup is made.  God bless you all for tirelessly giving so many years to this church and festival!  There is so much more I haven’t touched on.  There are glorious tours of the church touching on and explaining a myriad of details and facts about the architecture and iconography.  There will be Greek food demonstrations…you might just see me preparing hummus or roasted eggplant dip.  I hope you come see us and taste life at the Greek table!

Greek Fish Roe Dip, Taramasalata

  • Servings: 2 to 2 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 ounces tarama (fish roe)
  • 8 slices white bread, stale and crusts removed
  • 3+ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, additional if needed
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup, half canola oil and half extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • bread for serving
  1. Place slices of bread in a bowl and cover with water.  Allow the bread to soak up the water then, using your hands, squeeze the water out.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, add the bread, fish roe and lemon juice.
  3. With the food processor or blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  4. Taste for any flavor adjustments such as more lemon juice or olive oil.
  5. Continue blending until light and fluffy, 7-10 minutes.
  6. Serve with bread or transfer to container, cover and refrigerate.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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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
  • Print

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3 pounds Vidalia onions, about 3 large Vidalia onions, chopped
  • 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

 

 

Spicy Asian Peanut Dressing

With autumn settling in I am ready to bulk up.  Give me a salad with lacinato kale and Napa cabbage.  I want peppery sprouts, sweet shredded carrots and savory red onion.  No longer does a light lime vinaigrette dressed on romaine cut it.  This girl’s hungry and I have the perfect dressing to tame my runaway appetite.  My spicy asian peanut dressing marries well with the heft, sometimes tough and often leathery texture of kale and cabbage.  And when it starts getting dark at 5:30 in the evening I’m ready to tuck into an enormous salad topped with an organic grilled chicken breast or a spicy jerked Mahi filet.  The dressing keeps well for a week.  It’s also superb over cool noodles with grilled or raw vegetables or as a dip for meat or chicken.  Children love it but if you are serving it to little ones, definitely scale back on the chili oil as it packs some great heat. Gosh, I almost forgot.  All these products can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.  Please, please try the fish sauce.  If you’ve not tried it before know it smells bad.  Really bad.  But only in the bottle.  You don’t taste it at all in the dressing but it adds a depth, a level of flavor that you expect in a quality restaurant peanut dressing.  Without fish sauce this dressing is flat and one-dimensional.  So go for it and enjoy!

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Spicy Asian Peanut Dressing

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, I use one with no additives what so ever
  • 2-3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons hot chili oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or Magic Bullet and pulse until mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.  Allow to sit out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes if dressing thickens too much in the refrigerator.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Smoky Chipotle Dip, the best last minute party dip

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I don’t know about y’all but I can’t count the times I’ve been caught off-guard with last-minute guests especially during the holidays.  I run to the store and pick up frozen sweet potato wedges and already cooked jumbo shrimp.  Chances are I’ll throw a couple of pints of grape tomatoes in my basket.  And another box of crisp bread sticks…can’t have too many of those.  I’ll head to the taco aisle and grab a small can of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.   Back home I’ll throw the sweet potatoes in the oven and head to the bathrooms with tubs of Lysol wipes in my hands.  Two or three quick swipes, fresh towels, a new candle and I’m done there.  I turn down the lights in the house and turn on my current favorite battery operated candles, the nice ones…the ones made of wax.  I put them all over.  With the lights low and candles lit no one will see any dust or gently rolling dog hair balls.  I grab an empty laundry basket and run through the house filling it with everything in sight that’s supposed to be put away; stacks of papers, mail, recipes, the little box of washers I haven’t returned to Home Depot yet, stacks of books, an errant running bra, anything that falls in the clutter category and then I tuck that mountainous basket in the bedroom closet.  I clean myself up as best I can then head to the kitchen to prepare the most simple dip on the planet.  Spicy, smoky and creamy, Chipotle Dip is my bestie.  Two ingredients.  That’s all.  Two.  Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and mayonnaise.  It’s fantastic!  I drop one cup of mayo in the blender or mini-chopper and, depending on my guests tastes, one or two peppers with a tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can.  That’s it.  The sauce from the chipotle tin adds such flavor because of the roasted tomatoes, onions and spices.  So blend until smooth and taste it for heat.  Add more peppers if you really want to see stars.  I have a hard time staying away from it.  James and Jimmy are crazy about it.  I put the dip in a pretty bowl, lay out a tray with all my vegetables and shrimp in bowls or glasses that show them off and I’m ready for guests.  Done.  Boom.  You’re welcome.

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Smoky Chipotle Dip

  • Servings: one cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise, reduced fat or light is fine
  • 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon sauce.  I buy the small 7-ounce cans and freeze the peppers and sauce I don’t use.
  1. Place 1 cup of mayonnaise in a blender or mini-chopper.
  2. Add 1 chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce.
  3. Blend until smooth.  Taste for heat and if you prefer hotter and one more pepper.  Blend, taste and adjust.
  4. Serve at room temperature with roasted sweet potato wedges, cold poached shrimp, grape tomatoes, crudite and bread sticks.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Welcome Your Guests with Pimento Cheese

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When our son, James, was doing his undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill Jimmy and I would visit any chance we got.  That translates to any time James invited us up. Parent’s weekends, football games, basketball games and then fraternity parent’s weekends we went to all of them!  And when we did, Jimmy always did his best to secure rooms at the Carolina Inn.  No easy feat as it seems to always be entirely booked, the inn is right on campus complete with a killer porch, massive columns, first-rate restaurant and a more than welcoming bar that gives day-drinking new meaning.  The lobby and rooms all call attention to classical Southern design and appointments.  Colossal flower arrangements grace the entrances replete with all manner of lilies, roses, peonies, orchids and hydrangea; lush berries, ivy and drippy greenery tucked in here and there make the flowers spectacular.  Fat tropical palms flank doorways and stand as sentries on duty at each end of sofas.  Lavish fabrics dress the floor to ceiling windows, chairs and pillows.  Quite frankly, I want to live there.

Oh, please let me go back!
Oh, please let me go back!

On our way to our rooms our footsteps echo reassuringly against the gleaming, burnished wood floors.  All halls have original black and white photographs hung from the chair-rail up of visiting dignitaries,  alumni and sports giants so captivating that Jimmy and I would take our cocktails and wander up and down passageways reading and exploring every once in a while exclaiming, “Oh, wow!  Look at this! It’s Andy!”.  That would be extended family member, (not really but we adore him), Andy Griffith of Mayberry fame.  Literally hundreds of photos of presidents, civil rights leaders and movie stars all grace the walls and never cease to capture attention always making me late for which ever function we were expected.  The suites were unfailingly enchanting showcasing the rich traditions of the gentile South.  A tantalizing tray showcasing their sharp and spicy pimento cheese heightened by the addition of bread sticks, carrot and celery stalks, pecans and grapes.  Sometimes drink coupons peeped out from a corner of the goody platter.  The Carolina Inn pimento cheese, (known in the South as “puhmenuh cheese”), is some of the best I’ve ever had.  Jimmy and I closed in on their offering like ducks on June bugs.  Weary from travel, I closed my eyes and savored each and every bite.  It was the perfect pick me up until dinner which would be hours later.  Piquant, peppery and tangy this spread begs to be slathered on soft, fluffy bread or perched atop crunchy crudite accompanied by seasonal fruits and nuts. Hell, this stuff is fabulous alongside a bowl of crinkle cut potato chips.

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The following recipe has been refashioned slightly to accommodate today’s fascination with heat and spice.  Purists won’t be happy, but, hey, they never are.  If you’re not keen on sriracha, cayenne pepper is a fine replacement or, if you’re not a fan of heat, leave it out entirely.  Both jarred and homemade mayonnaise work well in this recipe.  I had one cup of homemade already on hand and used 1/2 cup of reduced fat Duke’s for the remainder.  It’s best when chilled for an hour or so just because not only do the flavors meld but the texture becomes creamier.  Well covered, it will keep two to three days refrigerated.  I made grilled pimento cheese sandwiches the other night and, boy, was my family happy.  Not only is pimento cheese a culinary treat for adults but kids love it, too.  So slip some into your child’s lunchbox or trot it out with cocktails at your next LNO, (Ladies’ Night Out), and watch those eyes light up.

 

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Pimento Cheese

  • Servings: 7 generous cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 7-ounce jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 small onion, finely grated
  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, (I use 2 or it can be left out altogether if you don’t like heat)
  1. Into a large bowl grate the cheddar cheese using the large holes of a box grater.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

Spicy Feta Cheese Dip


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My son James’ college graduation is coming up and we’re so pleased to be able to host a small cocktail party for family and his close friends in Chapel Hill.  I’ve been making the preparations with a lovely young lady at the restaurant we’ve chosen and one of the hors d’oeuvre we’re serving is a spicy Greek feta cheese spread called Xtipiti.  We first had this dip while staying in the small mountain town of Kalampaka, Greece.  Kalampaka is right outside of Meteora and Meteora is where the monasteries sit perched atop the mountains.  They are described as “hovering in air”.  It’s spectacular.

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Late one afternoon we came out of our hotel to go for drinks and found at the end of the driveway a massive bike race.  You’ve got your Tour de France and then there’s the Tour de Kalampaka!  The streets had been closed off and the spectators flanked both sides of the streets.  It was so exciting!  The spectators yelled and screamed encouragement to their riders who were just flying by, hunched over the handle bar of their feather-weight racing bikes.  What really astonished us was that most of the riders had a “support” group  slowly driving small cars in front of them giving them encouragement by hanging out of the windows  and cheering their rider on.  But, jeez!  What about the gas fumes?  And, of course, in true Greek fashion all these old man cheerleaders were just puffing away nonstop on cigarettes  while watching their riders fighting to breathe!  As it grew later in the day we could see the exhaustion in the cyclists.  That area of the country is notorious for having one hill or mountain after another.  You could see the absolute fatigue in their dirt-lined faces.  When we saw the last of the struggling athletes huffing and puffing up the hill, thigh muscles bulging, we left for drinks then dinner.  The taverna we decided upon was truly tucked away and that’s saying something in that corner of the world!  After ordering drinks and appetizers the waitress asked if we would also like Xtipiti.  Wait, wait!  What?  She explained it’s a peppery feta spread which we could have with bread, crackers or vegetables.  One more dish we fell in love with!

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Another fast and easy culinary miracle Xtipiti has some variations.  It can be made with lemon juice or cider vinegar.  Some add a roasted red pepper and in addition sometimes sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.  It’s all good.  I try to always scatter the bowl with a handful of finely chopped scallions not only for the taste but for the pretty green color.  I’m so sorry! In my haste to get this post out in time for any weekend party people to enjoy I completely forgot the chopped scallions.  But do it.  Add them.  I know you’ll so enjoy it.  And, listen…  let me know how you like the dip!

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Spicy Feta Cheese Dip

  • Servings: approximately 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 16 ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2-3 long, hot green peppers or the hot peppers of your choice, roasted, peeled and seeded.  Set seeds aside.
  • 4-5 tablespoons of good olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 small clove of garlic, optional
  1. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until smooth scraping down the sides as needed.  Taste for salt and pepper.  If you’d like more heat add some of the reserved seeds.  Pulse until  just combined or until as smooth as you like.  Adjust seasonings.
  2. Cover and chill for 2 or 3 hours for flavors to marry.
  3. Serve with bread, crackers or vegetables.
  4. Stores well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com