Raise your chips to delectable homemade dips

You know why dip is always the first thing to go at a party?

Because it's usually the most delicious offering on the table of goodies. And it's one of those dishes that's only prepared for a festive gathering. Only the eternally optimistic would serve dip to the family on a random Monday night.

Whether it's hot or cold, creamy dip is required party food. Yes, you can put out a store-bought dip, but a homemade version is almost always better. We say "almost" because, while we include a guacamole recipe here, some prepared versions are pretty good. (We like Yucatan Authentic and Wholly Guacamole.)

For the most part, you'll get better-tasting results if you make your own. You can control the salt and select the ingredients you want. It's not a difficult proposition, either. The accompanying four recipes are worthy of ringing in the new year, whether the party is at your place or someone else's.

Don't forget to serve the appropriate dippers, and remember there's a world of choices beyond potato chips. Consider pita and bagel chips, breadsticks, crackers, plantain chips, toasted baguettes (especially for the whipped feta dip) and vegetable chips and crudite.

Saunter down the chip aisle and look for something beyond what you usually buy. Pringles alone has more than a dozen flavors, including loaded baked potato and Szechuan barbecue. The Archer Farms brand at Target has some interesting chips, including spicy buffalo, Parmesan-rosemary, and black pepper and sea salt.

Forget the bubbly. Toast the new year with a fully loaded chip.

>>EASy

Red Onion Dip

3 small red onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

2 cups beef stock

1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or minced fresh parsley, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Salt and ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup sour cream

Stir together onions, beef stock, ginger, garlic, thyme (or parsley), salt and pepper in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring, until almost all of the broth has been absorbed by the onion, about 15 minutes; watch it carefully at the end so it doesn't burn. Remove to a bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Let cool completely, then stir in the sour cream.

Serve slightly chilled.

Makes 2 cups.

Source: Joy of Cooking's All About Party Foods & Drinks (Scribner, 2002)

>>eASY

Guacamole

1/2 small white onion

1 to 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, or to taste

1 medium firm, ripe tomato

2 large or 3 medium ripe avocados, preferably Hass

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Using the coarsest side of a four-sided grater, grate the onion, jalapeno and tomato into a medium bowl.

Using a large knife, halve the avocados. Remove the pits, then use a large spoon to scoop the flesh into the bowl. Use a large fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the avocados into the onion mixture. Stir in the chopped cilantro, lime juice and salt. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the mixture and let stand for a few minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro sprigs.

Source: Joy of Cooking's All About Party Foods & Drinks (Scribner, 2002)

>>EASy

Hot Crab Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 teaspoon drained horseradish

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (6-ounce) can crabmeat, drained

Slivered almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 2-cup ovenproof bowl.

Puree cream cheese, mayonnaise, onions, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and salt in a food processor until smooth.

Scrape into the bowl. Fold in crabmeat. If using almonds, sprinkle them on top. Bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Serve with crackers.

Makes 2 cups.

Source: Joy of Cooking's All About Party Foods & Drinks (Scribner, 2002

>>EASy

Whipped Feta With Roasted Peppers

1 pound feta cheese, crumbled

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (see note)

2 or 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

2 pickled pepperoncini, rinsed, seeded and minced

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine feta and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until feta is creamy.

Add red peppers, jalapenos, pepperoncini and a few grinds of black pepper. Pulse until the mixture is well combined. Gradually add 3 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice.

The feta should be creamy and spreadable. Taste and add more olive oil and/or lemon juice as desired. Serve with crackers, pita bread or pita chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

Note: You can roast your own red peppers or purchase them prepared. If you use prepared roasted peppers, drain them and then blot the peppers with paper towels to eliminate excess liquid.

Source: Joy of Cooking's All About Party Foods & Drinks (Scribner, 2002)

Raise your chips to delectable homemade dips 12/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 3:30am]

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