It’s mid-April. There is the chance that there will be no more snow. Time for shorts. Time for dips.
Oh, Suzen has just informed me that the picture above is of kolrabi, not onions. It’s a pretty picture. Pretend they are red onions. Do not proceed with kolrabi. My defense? I grew up with canned vegetables and never ate anything from a farmers market.
There are two ways to make onion dip. Adequate dip comes quickly, literally in a couple of minutes. Just open up that packet of onion soup mix, add in the sour cream, stir, and you are ready to dip and sip and enjoy. Truthfully, more onion soup mix has to be bought to make dip than soup. This dip is adequate, perhaps even good. It is not great.
That’s the second way to make dip, a great onion dip. It takes, end to end, almost an hour. Every minute of your investment will prove to be perfectly rewarding. This dip, courtesy of cookbook author maven Diane Morgan, is simply honed from every perspective: the ingredients, the relative proportions, the steps, the cooking times.
You’ll appreciate the difference at first taste. It may be onion dip, but it’s just so much more, not “just” onion dip. There is complexity and layering here that may be hard to explain but can easily be enjoyed.
In my kitchen I do have packets of soup mix. And I have real, fresh onions. There is no question about which path I will follow.
You can, by the way, have that first beverage of evening during the hour it takes to prepare this dip. Time flies and you should enjoy the changing rainbow of aromas that emerge as the onion complex shifts from one stage to the next.
Not Your Mother’s Onion Dip
Yield: 2 cups
- 3 tablespoons pure olive oil
- 3 large sweet onions (about 3 pounds), such as Walla Walla, Vidalia, or Maui, cut into ½ inch dice
- 2 large shallots , finely diced
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- ⅓ c u p balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions and cook, covered, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue sautéing, adjusting the heat to low if the onions begin to brown, until the onions are completely softened and begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes longer.
Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes longer. Add the sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the onions turn a beautiful caramel color, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. When the vinegar has evaporated, remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and cool about 15 minutes.
Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to the onion mixture. Stir until completely combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
This dip may be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature, or rewarm in a microwave or in a skillet over low heat just before serving.
Source: Delicious Dips by Diane Morgan [2004 Chronicle]
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/1000th second at ISO-3200
On a snowy Sunday, I found Suzen checking out our cookbooks.
“What are you looking for?” I asked. I can be helpful. Sometimes.
“Something interesting,” she said calmly. She’s not six feet tall so her hand was reaching up to manipulate the books on the top row.
“Something chocolate?” I suggested. Suzen likes chocolate.
“Go away.” Her fingers kept moving across the titles.
The Instant Bean was published in 1996 and you can still buy one at Amazon. We had not played with the book in a long time, but now we know that was a mistake.
When we go to an Italian restaurant, I have two ways of knowing if it is going to be authentic and good. First. Caesar Salad. If it’s on the menu, since this salad was created in Tijuana, I know I am in a non-Italian restaurant. Second, the bean dip. If it comes, and if it is wonderful, then I know I can trust that menu, every item.
Bean tip as a deciding factor? Yes. Very yes. If you have ever had great, great bean dip then you know exactly what I mean. Beans, of course, are referred to as beans. In the food family, they always get to sit in the back of the bus. That’s a mistake. Beans can be components for the best in food. Think chili for example, or a bean salad with tuna.
Ah, but in those cases, the beans are not that much on their own. Chili contains spices. Salad has salad dressing. A bean dip is in essence beans. The trick is to get great flavor and texture from the beans alone. And, as an added hurdle, you want something that his balanced. Not too this, not too that.
This recipe is gargantuan. It is full of flavor, yet it has precisely that balance of ingredients so no one note overpowers you. Except, of course, there is this definitive bean flavor that makes you say, “Oh, that’s what beans are all about?”
As the recipe below suggests, this bean puree can be used in many ways: appetizer, first course, spread for sandwiches, or fun topping for radishes or cucumber. Once you’ve made this, you are quite likely to have a bowl around in your fridge, ready to use and enjoy.
Puree of White Beans with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary
Yield: 2 cups serving 4 as first course
- 1 15-ounce can white beans or cannellini, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 head of oven-roasted garlic [recipe follows], the cloves squeezed from their skins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper or more to taste
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend, pulsing several times and scraping down the sides, until smooth. Add more olive oil or borht if you like a creamier consistency.
Serve with toasted pita triangles asa first course, asa dip with raw vegetables, or as a spread on 1/8 inch-thick slickes of daikon radish or slightly thicker slices of cucumber.
Yield: 1 head
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Slice off the top quarter of the head of garlic, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake until the cloves are soft eand creamy, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in the foil or unwrap.
When cool, break the head apart and sqeeze each clove from its skin. Roasted garlic can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept chilled in a tightly closed container.
Source: The Instant Bean by Martin Stone
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS Macro Lens 60mm, F/4.5, 1/50th second, ISO-250