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
As time goes by, each of us develops a personality and a reputation. It can be shocking how far apart those two are. For example, I have a refined and superior sense of humor. But no one, not a single soul, in my family thinks so. How I could be associated, by blood or marriage, with so many people who …
There is one thing for which I have earned, fairly, fame. My guacamole. It’s simply the best. For a party with 10 people last week, we were asked to bring dessert, bread, and guacamole. Dessert, an incredible pie by Suzen, will be blogged tomorrow. Today, it’s my guac.
Making guac for that many people actually demands a little thought. You don’t really just scale up. Some changes are needed from my recipe for just two people. How do you do ten people? What changes make sense? And how can you add a party flair to your creation.
First, some rules of thumb:
- You want a half to one avocado per person
- One small to medium lime per avocado
- You want pickled jalapenos, both whole ones and those advertised as sweet or candied slices
- You need one bunch of cilantro for every 4 avocados
- One small red onion for every two avocados
- And, lastly, one peeled clove of garlic for every two avocados
What don’t I use anymore:
- Bottled lemon or lime juice [that’s a pathway to hell!
- Chili powders or cumin
Everything needs to be fresh.
Two final notes, how big should the avocados be? Ideally, the size of medium fist. Not those smallish ones the size of a big lemon, because they are too small and you’ll need a gazillion of them.. And not any of those “big” ones the size of World War II hand grenade. Why not? The flavor and texture do actually resemble a hand grenade. Secondly, how ripe? You want perfectly ripe: not so hard it is a chore to peel nor so soft that you can literally mash the avocado in your hand. In the first case, the avocado is not ripe enough and will lack flavor. In the too soft case, the flavor is just plain yucky.
The party flair? Divide the avocados into two groups. The first ones you mash along with the onion and garlic. The holdbacks you simply slice and stir in to get a lovely chunky texture.
Normally I only used candied jalapeno slices. For this volume, though, I do like a little extra heat. So, I call for using regular pickled jalapenos. That give you spark and heat. If you used, for example, just cumin powder you would get a much more subdued flavor with afternotes that I feel detract and distract from the lovely avocados.
Crunchy Guacamole for Ten
Yield: adequate for 8-12 people
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- 6 limes
- 3 whole pickled jalapenos + the juice in the jar
- ¾ cup of pickled sweet or candied jalapeno slices [look in a Mexican market or on line] + the juice in the jar
- 2 small red onions
- 6 fist-sized avocados at peak ripeness
- Salt to taste
- 2 bunches of cilantro
Finely dice the garlic cloves and place in the bottom of metal bowl. Juice one lime and put the juice over the garlic. Set aside.
Take the whole jalapenos and slice sideways. Scrape away the seeds if you wish or keep the seeds if you are brave, lazy or both. Repeat with the sweetened slices. Add the two to the garlic. Put about ½ cup of liquid from the two jalapeno jars into the bowl. You can mix and match from the jars. I prefer using the thicker, more interesting juice that comes from the sweetened jalapenos.
Carefully dice the onion and add to the bowl. Juice two more limes and add to the bowl.
Using a pastry cutter, carefully mash up the garlic, jalapeno slices and onion. You are not seeking to create anything like a uniform mixture. You are just cutting through the ingredients to release and mix flavors.
Take four of avocados. One at a time, take off the peel and halve them. Remove the stone, saving at least one stone to put on top of the guac to prevent browning — yes, it really works. Put each of the two avocado halves on a cutting board, round side up. Using a very sharp knife, make lengthwise slices ¼ inch apart. Repeat sideways so you have a checkerboard pattern of cuts. Transfer the avocado to the bowl and immediately stir into the mixture. You want it covered with fluid to prevent that ugly browning.
Repeat with the three other avocados. Now, take that pastry cutter and work around in the bowl mashing the avocado. All the ¼ by ¼ inch chunks from your cutting should be gone.
Take the last two avocadoes, again halve them, cut them and add them to the bowl. Do not mash. Simply stir to mix.
Add salt to taste. More lime juice to taste. More jalapeno pickling juice to taste. You have great power here. Just remember, you cannot un-juice.
Finally, take one bunch of cilantro — about 1 cup in volume — and dice both leaves and stems. Add to the bowl and stir to mix. Taste and, if you desire, add more cilantro.
On Saturday Suzen informed me that by using 2 full bunches of cilantro, I had overdone it. Again. It’s a matter of personal preference and the flavor intensity of the cilantro. It’s best to confirm with our spouse before adding too much. Or so I was told.