I'll admit it. When it comes to spicy food, I am a bit of a wimp. For my delicate taste buds, a little heat goes a long way.
So when the recipe for Jalapeno Chile con Queso called for an entire diced jalapeno pepper, I only put in half. Mistake. Use the whole pepper, because the other ingredients in this decadent party dip can stand up to the heat. In fact, if you are a pepperhead, add 2 minced jalapenos. Wash your hands after handling them. Accidentally rubbing your eyes or touching your lips will be painful if you don't.
I liked this recipe a lot but broke out the fiery Sriracha sauce for more spice since I had scrimped on the jalapeno. The dip is more complex than a simple queso dip, with three kinds of peppers plus ground cumin and a diced, seeded tomato.
The recipe comes from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas (Chronicle Books, 2008). If you haven't seen this cookbook and you are casserole lover like me, it's worth checking out. At 600-plus pages, the paperback includes plenty of photos and ideas for family dinners.
For a larger party, I would make two, serving one at the beginning of the party and popping the other in the oven about halfway through. I like this idea rather than doubling because you'll have a fresh offering instead of one big, cheesy vat of dip.
Tortillas chips are the expected dippers but go gluten-free and low-carb with sturdy vegetables such as carrot and jicama sticks.
Okay, #CookClub, let's see what you do with this one.
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Jalapeno Chile con Queso
Post photos and comments on Instagram by July 6.
2 tablespoons butter
2 green onions, minced (white and green parts)
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large tomato, diced and seeded
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles, drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
½ cup heavy cream or sour cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Tortilla chips or raw vegetables for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in a small skillet and add the green onions and poblano pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, until tender.
In a 1-quart casserole, combine the green onion mixture, cumin, tomato, diced chiles, jalapeno pepper (if using), cream cheese and heavy or sour cream. Mix in half of the Jack cheese. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Add 5 minutes to the baking time if baking cold.)
Top with remaining half of the Jack cheese and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro and serve hot with tortilla chips or raw vegetables for dipping.
Source: The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas (Chronicle Books, 2008)