Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Best Dip of All Times

This Christmas we tried a little experiment. Faced with another year of 35 people for a sit-down holiday meal at the farm, the three families here, only one of whom was willing to actually host, decided we would make the switch to finger food. There would be spiral-cut ham sandwiches, peel-and-eat shrimp, and a variety of dips and other dishes, all purchased at Sam's Club. It was pretty pedestrian fare, but I didn't mind at all. It was a lot less work, and we'd had a good dinner, though not exactly fancy, on Christmas Eve when we were a smaller number. We had lots of homemade cookies, and it was fine.

The "kids," however, meaning the middle generation of 20-somethings, were not happy. They used some very derogatory language about the meal; I believe "depressing" and "pathetic" were at the top of the list. It was Christmas. Where were the mashed potatoes? Who knew they were so sentimental? I mean, they don't want to watch It's a Wonderful Life, or my annual Christmas fave, Remember the Night. We watched Taking of Pelham 123 on Christmas night (albeit, after a late afternoon matinee of Up with 14 kids squeezed onto a sectional in Tim and Annie's wonderful big-screen basement projection room).

On the 26th I was feeling a little guilty. Not a lot guilty, but it did strike me to the heart when someone said, "I mean, no one even made an interesting dip. It was all from Sam's Club." I'd already had plans to make an interesting dip, but given the post-Christmas blues (and the fact I wasn't going to make even one more Christmas cookie), I made an extra trip to the grocery store for the ingredients.

And what I made was something that Catherine's boyfriend Homer had featured on his blog a few years ago. I'd held onto the recipe and now was the time to make it. As I was putting the cottage cheese and feta cheese into the food processor, he said: "Wait a minute. Are you making The Best Dip of All Times??"

"Why yes," I answered. "Yes I am."

It is truly the best dip of all times, and he got the recipe from a guy named Mario who is a fan of his band, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Mario came to a show in Germany and brought the dip as part of the spread for the band before the show. They liked it so much, he brought it again, and the recipe for Homer to post on his blog, to another show. The ingredients were in grams, but I did some rough calulcations, and here's what I came up with:

Best Dip of All Times

1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup feta cheese
2-3 cloves garlic (note: this is very garlicky. You can cut back if you want)
1/2 cup sour cream

I blended the cottage cheese and feta cheese first. Then I added the tomatoes, walnuts and garlic and blended them. Finally, I added the sour cream, mostly because this was the ingredient I was least sure about. You see, the recipe we got from Mario said: "cream, small package." Hmmm. I'm sure it's not actual cream. And how much is in a small package? It could be sour cream or it could be cream cheese. Either would be delicious. The dip is very creamy with the sour cream, and you can still dip a cracker or, much better, a hunk of bread, into it. If you used cream cheese, you'd probably want to add that first to really whip it up, and even so you'd probably need a knife to spread it onto the bread or cracker.

I'm not sure even The Best Dip of All Times made up for the lack of mashed potatoes. It did go pretty far, however. I'm also pretty sure we're not going back to the full Christmas dinner with the family in its present form...

Tonight I made my black bean soup, with its secret ingredient, sundried tomatoes. It was easy and a big hit, as big a hit as last night's real meatballs and spaghetti with tomato sauce from the garden tomatoes. The fridge is looking pretty empty, and I do not know how people cook for six every night of the week. But I'm so happy to be here "on the other side of Christmas." Today was another of those near-perfect days. It began with cross-country skiing at Quarry Park, on fresh snow with at least an inch clinging to all the branches of the trees. Then waffles at home, and a great movie, Up in the Air. Finally, the black bean soup, and continued great discussion and laughter. The only thing that would have made it better would be the Vikings playing, and winning, tonight. But that will have to wait until tomorrow... :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Susan - That dip sounds great. I would suggest using chevre, rather than crumblier feta, and also, I almost always substitute Greek strained yogurt for sour cream (healthier, and just as creamy, in my opinion). I'm going to have to try this and let you know how it goes. Sounds yummy!