You may be familiar with Alton Brown and his entertaining show Good Eats on the Food Network. Alton is zany, brilliant, and, at times, opinionated. His number one kitchen faux pas? Having something in your kitchen that can only do one thing. He wants you to only have tools and gadgets that multitask.
Suzen and I like to go one step further: make basic ingredient combinations that can be multitasked. Those veggies in the picture above can be used at least four ways:
- A smooth, subtle dip
- A salad dressing
- A condiment for burgers and hot dogs replacing mayonnaise
- A key component in a Mexican squash soup [coming tomorrow!]
The idea here is simple: create a great vegetable base that is available for multiple combinations. The recipe for the “base” below gives you about 2 cups of cooked vegetables, enough for the dip/dressing/condiment being presented today. And there’s enough left over for the soup you’ll see here tomorrow.
While I often preach here about doing everything from scratch, the truth is every cook needs some solid shortcuts. Here I use some store-bought salad dressing. I like the Marie’s brand, found in your refrigerated foods section. The Blue Cheese and Ranch dressing are delicious by themselves, but actually a tad overpowering. Just dipping a chip in straight salad dressing can be eye opening. Here, that striking flavor is extended with veggie tones and then muted with the addition of sour cream.
Brian’s Veggie Dip and Dressing and Condiment
Yield: 1 ½ cup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, washed and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
Additional Ingredients for Dip/Dressing/Condiment:
- ½ cup salad dressing [such as Marie’s Blue Cheese
- ½ cup sour cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
Put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized cast iron skillet and heat on high. When the oil is hot, add the onions, shallots, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes on high, then another 5-10 on medium until the veggies are soft. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the cooked veggies to a 2-cup glass measure cup. You should have about 2 cups total.
Put ½ cup of the cooked veggies in a blender, ideally a Vitamix which produces a much more homogenous mixture. Reserve the remaining veggies for other recipes, or just increase the proportions here to make more dip/dressing/condiment.
Add the salad dressing. For the Vitamix, set the speed to Variable 1. Turn the machine on, then increase the speed to Variable 10 over about three seconds. Process until very smooth, just a few seconds more.
Transfer the blended ingredients to a bowl. Add the sour cream and pepper, then whisk to mix. Store until using.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
The nightmare is always the same. I am hungry, I go downstairs to the refrigerator, open the door, and there it all is. The fridge is filled with stacks of one overpowering awful, disgraceful dish. Salmon cakes. The only thing you can make with leftover salmon.
I haven’t had a salmon cake in decades, and that’s on purpose. To me, they always were as dry as the Gobi. The flavor was salmon, and salmon, and salmon. One overpowering note. And old salmon at that.
So, if have leftover salmon, what do with it? Well, the opposite of those salmon cakes. You want to avoid that dryness and you need a symphony of flavors: salmon in the lead with overtones to create a full complement for your taste buds.
Suzen and I experimented this weekend on some left over smoked salmon. We created the concoction for a dip, but it has multiple uses. You can stuff tomatoes with it, place a large dab on a bed of lettuce for a salad, or spread it on toast for a great sandwich.
The amounts here can be easily scaled up to produce more. And, you can increase the flavor notes if you wish by including:
- Chopped onion
- Herbs beyond chives
- Diced pickles
- Lime instead of lemon
We did use smoked salmon here, salmon we had just smoked ourselves so it was fresh and moist, not dry and leathery. If you have leftover salmon, but it is baked or barbequed and not smoked, you can introduce that smoky flavor by adding a dash — just a dash— of the adobe sauce from a can of chipotles. Really go easy here. You can add but you cannot subtract!
And, for distinction, there is dill here. And no salt and pepper. The combination is truly different.
Yield: dip for 5-6 folks, salad for two
- 6 ounces cooked salmon
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ sour cream
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons diced chives
- 1 tablespoon capers
Using your hands, pull the salmon into small pieces, discarding any skin or tough parts. Place in a bowl. Add the mayonnaise and sour cream. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix well. Add the lemon zest and juice plus the capers. Stir to combine.
Adjust to get the texture you desire by adding more mayo or sour cream. With smoked salmon and the capers, salt and pepper are really not needed here. You are looking for a smooth, subtle flavor with a texture that is easily spreadable.
Source: Suzen and Brian O’Rourke