Recipes: Dips

Layered Curried Cheese Spread

Here’s an easy and delicious recipe served by Amy during our last book club get together. Julie and Susie stood over the plate fighting over who could scoop it up faster. So yummy!

1 carton (8 oz) whipped cream cheese
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp. curry powder
1 bottle (9 oz) mango chutney
1/2 cup flaked coconut (I omitted this)
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup dried currants

(I’m thinking a little bacon on this might be good?!  You can never go wrong with bacon, right?!)

Mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and curry powder until blended.  Spread onto a 10-inch round serving platter.  Spoon chutney over top; sprinkle with coconut, pecans, green onions and dried currants.  Chill until serving.

Pairing Suggestions:

This curry-based recipe with exotic flavors would make a great addition to discussions about A Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Bolter by Frances Osborne, and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Romesco Dip

Thanks to Lisa Kingery, culinary educator, master food preserver, and food blogger at Local Global Kitchen, for this wonderful and popular dip recipe. We are lucky to have such a talented chef in our group!

Romesco originated in Catalonia, Spain. No two versions are exactly the same, but all contain almonds or hazelnuts, garlic, peppers and olive oil.  This recipes has gotten me all kinds of complements and has become a staple dip you can find in my frig almost always. I use mostly as a dip but sometimes serve it with meatballs or fish.  It's complex, delicious and addictive.

½ cup almonds
1 small clove garlic
3 roasted red sweet bell peppers, seeds and skins removed
1 T vinegar
½ t salt
1 t paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 T olive oil

Add almonds to a food processor and finely chop. Next add garlic, peppers, vinegar, salt, and paprika and processes to a course puree. With the processor running drizzle the olive oil in until it becomes a thick, and creamy paste.  Serve at room temperature.

How to Freeze Sweet Bell Peppers: Roasted and Fresh

Sweet red, yellow, and orange bell peppers come into season in Southeast Wisconsin in Mid September and end soon after the first frost. It is a small window of time to take advantage of one of the most delicious farmers market treats.  During peak season they are a steal of a deal selling for 33 cents each!!! So eat as many as you can and buy as many as your freezer can store while they are in season.

How to Roast Sweet Bell Peppers

Peppers can be roasted on a grill, under an oven broiler or directly on the grate of a gas stove, however the grill is probably the easiest way to do larger quantities and it can be done while grilling other food.

Grill Method

  1. Wash peppers and leave whole.
  2. Place whole peppers on a clean grill on medium high heat.
  3. Char and blister each side of the pepper (3-4 minutes each side) turning with a metal tong.
  4. Once the pepper is charred evenly, place  in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap to keep the steam in.
  5. Allow the peppers to steam at least 15 minute. 
  6. If you plan to eat the peppers soon, remove the stem, seeds, and skins your fingers. Do not use water to wash the seed away as this will reduce the sweet, smoky flavor attained in roasting.

Oven Broiler Method
Follow the steps above but #2. Instead place peppers on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler.

Stove Top Method
Follow the steps above but #2. Instead place peppers directly on the grate of the stove top and turn gas to high. You can roast 2 or 3 peppers on each grate. This only works with gas stoves.

To store in the refrigerator:
Roasted peppers kept in an air tight container will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator. Peppers drizzled with olive oil will keep for about 1 week.

To store in the freezer:
Place roasted peppers with skins and seeds still intact on a cookie sheet. Freeze and transfer to a freezer safe bag or box. It's easier to remove the skin and seed from partially defrosted peppers as the pepper is stiff and easier to handle.

How to Use Roasted Red Peppers

They are frequently used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking so use them when you cook these types of dishes.

Omelet filling
Sandwich topping
Add to pasta
Add to red sauce
Dress with olive oil and basil and serve as a side
Put on pizza

Baked Brie with Sundried Tomatoes, Pesto and Pinenuts

This wonderful and very popular appetizer is submitted by Heather. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Sundried tomatoes, chopped finely - at Sendiks by the nuts/candy section there are dehydrated sundried tomatoes that are moist but not in oil; otherwise get dried sundried tomatoes, soak in hot water covered in tupperware for 30 minutes.
Basil pesto
Brie (cut in 1/2 so you have 2 full circles)
toasted pinenuts

Mix sundried tomatoes and pesto together.
Place half of brie on baking sheet or stone. Cover with 1/2 of the pesto-sundried tomato mixture and 1/2 the pinenuts.  Layer with the second half of brie. Cover with remaining pesto-sundried tomato mixture.  Top with the remaining pinenuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until Brie is melting.  Serve with toasted french bread.