Suzi's Blog

Inventing Your Own Dips

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You’re about to make a dip. What are you going to use. Onion soup mix in sour cream? Please, take a moment. Look at the post “Not Your Mother’s Onion Dip from Diane Morgan” published on April 17, 2014. There the base is sour cream but also mayo with some vinegar on the side for a dash of intense sour.

We’ll talk about dips in two steps: that base and then the add-ins. It’s just like ice cream.

Dip bases can be many things: sour cream, mayo, sour cream + mayo, mayo + olive oil, whipping cream + olive oil, yogurt, yogurt + sour cream, or crème fraiche. Those are ideas from my “go to” dip book, Delicious Dips by that same Diane Morgan. Clearly, there are more combinations available than listed here. You can play to achieve the flavor and texture you desire. And, in Diane’s book, she never goes to a triple combination, say, sour cream + yogurt + crème fraiche. It’s not just the ingredients, either, but the relative proportions.

Once you have your base, what do you put in? Again, that packaged onion soup mix should just be put aside. Cooking, well caramelizing, your own onion will create a far more satisfactory dip. I almost slipped and said “product.” Product is what you get when you use the soup mix: familiar, ever dependable, but ultimately boring. Live a little.

Dip making can be just the opportunity to empty your spice rack. Don’t be afraid to pick three or four jars of spices that really deserve a happy end of life. A combination of spices and live ingredients — diced scallions, peppers, chives, garlic, or herbs fresh from your garden — will contribute their own flavors and amplify others.

The odds are, your dip creation today will be unique. Never to be repeated. And certainly not to be forgotten.

 

 

Supercharged Mayonnaise

 

 

 

 

Mayonnaise is almost as important to sandwiches as bread. It’s automatic that we spread mayo on that bread, or incorporate it into a salad filling: chicken salad, tuna salad, ham salad, …

Mayo from the store is a good product. It’s nothing like home-made mayo. Nothing. But, if you are whisk-challenged, or simply do not have the time, then there is an easy and delicious way to step up that store product.

Adding some vinegar and sugar — it’s all about balance — can transform that mayo. Here’s the basic recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1-3 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar

Preparation:

Put everything in a bowl and stir to mix. Actually, this is a place where that whisk would be handy.

Discussion:

What kind of vinegar? Any kind. I first saw this idea in The Texas  Cowboy Kitchen cookbook, where mayo and malt vinegar are combined in these proportions for a cole slaw dressing. That’s just the beginning. Today, I used honey vinegar, with only a teaspoon of sugar, to create the spread for a ham sandwich on toasted bread. Ham and honey are a natural pairing. Doing it via honey vinegar was culinary fun.

You’ve got a shelf with more than one bottle of vinegar, and that means you have several ways to apply this technique: for sandwiches, for salad dressings, for dips. It’s rare to find something so deliciously easy and tasteful.