Archive for the ‘ Dip ’ Category

CINCO DE MAYO RECIPES

If you celebrate Cinco de Mayo the way folks around here do, you’re going to need some serious grub to soak up the booze. The following recipes will not only satisfy any Mexican cravings, they’ll also lay down a base coat before your night gets going. Best of all? They can pretty much all be scaled up to feed a crowd. So enjoy responsibly and leave other Cinco de Mayo menu ideas in the comments.

TACOS, TOSTADAS, APPETIZERS

Tacos de Barbacoa

Chile-Braised Pork Tacos

Tacos de Cochinita Pibil

Red Chile Beef Tostadas

Taquitos

SALSAS & DIPS

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Guacamole

Habanero Hot Sauce

Chipotle Bean Dip

Crema Mexicana

ON THE SIDE

Smoky Chipotle Black Beans

NICE & REFRESHING

Agua de Horchata

HOT SPINACH DIP

We’ve all had good spinach dip. A little sour cream, a little cheese, some thawed frozen spinach and you’re in business. It’s the type of party dish you throw out on a table with a few crackers, maybe some slices of toasted baguette, and it’s guaranteed to be gobbled up in a matter of minutes. You may be used to seeing it served cold or at room temperature on most occasions, but those of us who take our dips seriously know that there is nothing quite like a hot version.

Somewhere between a french onion dip and everybody’s favorite green side dish, creamed spinach, this warm rendition satisfies in ways a cold version simply cannot. Just think — all those wonderful, rich flavors that are usually muted by the frosty interior of your refrigerator come alive when warmed through in the oven. Creamy, gooey and indulgent, this spinach dip is guaranteed to become one of your new favorite appetizers. Serve it to guests or bring it to your next potluck, but whatever you do, beware: I’ve seen a small group of people easily polish this off, so it may be worth doubling if you’re serving it for a party.

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FALAFEL WITH TAHINI SAUCE

Looking for good falafel in San Francisco can leave one feeling like Goldilocks.  In a town with so few options to choose from, compared to a city like New York, finding real, quality falafel around here can be hit or miss.  Oftentimes too dry, frequently too large and almost always too dense, my misadventures in the quest for the perfect fritter have lead me to create a recipe that produces perfectly light, moist and delicious falafel every time.  In Goldilocks’ words, these are just right.

Dehydrated chickpeas are soaked overnight and ground with onions, parsley and garlic then seasoned with aromatic spices before being fried to a rich, golden brown. Top with a drizzle of garlic and lemon spiked tahini sauce and you have a version that I’d bet rivals some of the best you’ve ever bought.

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TZATZIKI

Another day, another classic Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern dip, this time Tzatziki, or Cacik as it’s known in Turkey. (It’s certainly not Irish, but at least I’ve got some green going on!)  Whatever you want to call it, this dip stands out as one of my all-time favorites.  Cool, thick Greek-style yogurt is combined with crisp, refreshing cucumbers and laced with pungent garlic and mint for a concoction that is as good on the humble pita as it is on spicy grilled meats.

Good tzatziki is all about texture.  Yes, balance of flavor is always important, but when it comes to this specific herb-inflected spread, I like mine thick and creamy. Here, liquid is the enemy so my version calls for not one, but two ‘purges’ of moisture (once for the yogurt and once for the cucumbers) in an effort to control the final consistency of the dish.  Now, you can go out and buy thick, Greek-style yogurt at the supermarket, but if you’ve been swept up in its recent trend then you’ve probably already noticed that their not exactly giving that stuff away.  That’s why I buy plain, whole-milk yogurt and drain away the excess whey overnight in the fridge — less money, more moisture control.

This stuff is so refreshing that I’m sure once you try it you’ll be making it for dolloping and dipping throughout the spring and summer months. Plus, once you get the technique for straining the yogurt down, you  can forgo the savory addition of garlic and cucumbers and try drizzling it with honey, stirring in fruit or topping it with granola for an exceptionally delicious breakfast or snack.

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BABA GANOUSH

Sure, St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and while I could offer you a few variations on classic Irish dishes like corned beef and colcannon, something has me craving Middle Eastern food instead.  So, this week I’ll be posting some of my favorite recipes from Lebanon, Turkey and Israel, all culminating in a dish that will be able to take advantage of each flavorful offering in the group. How about a dip to start?

Like its cousin hummus, baba ganoush is now offered by a myriad of producers and can be found at almost any major grocery store.  While most of it is good, I’ve found that nothing quite compares with a batch of the homemade stuff.  An essential component of any good mezze platter or vegetarian plate at most restaurants, this eggplant dip is as healthy as it is flavorful. For those who’ve never tried it, imagine a smoky spread that is as at once creamy and light, tangy and sweet and as good with warm pita bread at is with crunchy crudite.

At its best, baba is always a contrast of flavors and textures, but the exact ratio of lemon juice to tahini, the consistency from rough chopped to food processor smooth, the addition of a lot or a little garlic, etc. is in the eye mouth of the beholder. And of course, there is no way quite as effective to ensure that a dish is made to your tastes than to make it yourself. So, while I’ve included a handful of measurements in the recipe, keep in mind that they are merely guidelines that can easily be adjusted to suit your own taste, and that technique is what’s most important in creating a outstanding eggplant dip.

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