Fresh Herb Couscous

Like pasta in Italy and rice in Asia, couscous is a staple in Morocco.

Serves 6.

½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2½ cups boiling water
2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature (optional)

1. Place the salt, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the basil, and sesame seeds in a small mixing bowl, toss to combine and set aside.

2. Place the water and the couscous in a large mixing bowl and, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the herb mixture and, if desired, the butter, and gently mix.

3. Transfer to a heated serving bowl and serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)

Bruschetta

I’m not going to give complete recipes here, but rather ideas for what to put on toasted or grilled bread. Traditionally, bruschetta is bread that has been grilled over a fire, rubbed with garlic cloves, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with kosher salt. If you don’t have a fire, feel free to do the same in the toaster or oven or grill. When laziness overcomes me, I omit the garlic or use garlic oil instead of olive. It is great served alone or with any of the following toppings.

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Not Your Mother’s Peanut Brittle

I initially made toffee and brittle as a vehicle for using broken bits of pecans that I felt were too small to bag and sell. Although these two recipes are great using the nuts I have specified, they are really special – in fact sublime – when made with nuts that have already been flavored. Any of these Party Nuts! Recipes are great in brittle and toffee; the spicy ones are my favorites.

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Your Basic Nut Toffee

A candy thermometer is a must! There is no recipe in tis book that caused as much frustration and as much revision as this one: I don’t even want to describe how sizeable and how icky my failures were. In fact, until I found this recipe, a slight variation of Helen Witty’s (from The Good Stuff Cookbook), I had despaired of including a recipe for toffee. And yet… really good toffee is so good that I persisted.

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Lauren’s Vanilla Walnuts

The first time that I tested these walnuts, I made a half batch, which my family pretty much devoured. My daughter, Lauren, had earlier begged me to make chocolate chip cookies for her school’s Valentine’s Day party, but after demolishing these she switched her order to a full batch of nuts. I have no doubt that it was a first for fourth graders.

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Hot-Sweet Black and White Sesame Almonds

My friend Lizzy Shaw, who lives in California and comes to visit once a year, made these last New Year’s Eve. When she came back this year, she perfected them. Neither she nor my husband, Mark, could stop eating them.
Although I have used blanched almonds in many of these recipes, I prefer to eat them with the skins on. Some people (not me) consider the skins bitter. If you are one of these people and you like your almonds blanched, simply drop skin-on almonds into a bowl of boiling hot water and let them sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rub off the skins with your hands. Or you can simply buy them already blanched at the supermarket.

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Honey-Cardamom Almonds

Warm and sweet, cardamom is a member of the ginger family. It is most often tasted in Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, and Indian dishes and smelled in perfumes. Although it is somewhat stronger in seed form, I’m a big fan of it ground. Its flavor is definitely prevalent and yet not overpowering in these slightly sticky, slightly peppery, slightly sweet almonds. In fact, it’s almost impossible to tell what the spices are. I suggest you leave your guests guessing. Serve these alongside sliced oranges.

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Rachel Travers’s Cinnamon Spiced Pecans

Rachel is a local food writer who writes frequently for the Boston Globe, and both she and her mother, Bernice, have been invaluable sources for countless extraordinary recipes. This combination is, Rachel says, “more complex than you can imagine sugar, salt, and cinnamon can be,” and she swears that it’s always the most popular item on a buffet table. I t can be easily tripled, but if you triple it, only double the egg and water. She also makes this using walnuts.

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Jenny’s Friend Leo’s Grandmother’s Pumpkin Pecans

This is my favorite recipe: one that gets handed down and handed down and, most important, tastes great and works no matter how many adjustments you make to it. When I told Jenny Alperen that I was spending all my time making spiced pecans, she said she had just tasted some that reminded her of pumpkin pie. And then she did the research. Billie Forer, from Pelham, Georgia, gave this recipe to her grandson, Leo Mascotte, who makes them every year for his big Christmas party. I ended up doubling the spices for an even richer flavor.

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Sugared Bourbon Pecans

I really wasn’t too keen on trying a recipe that is essentially boiled nuts in sugar, and yet I found myself unable to resist eating these once they had cooled. My husband, Mark, compares their taste and texture to that of glazed doughnuts, so if you’re the type who can’t stop at the first doughnut, beware.

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Curried Chili Cashews

Found in the rainforests, cashews grow at the end of the pear-shaped, astringent-tasting cashew apple. Cashew apples, which are not imported to the United States, are usually left on the tree to rot but are sometimes used for wine, vinegar, juice, and preserves. An entire, which can grow up to 40 or 50 feet tall, only produces 10 pounds of nuts per year.

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Salt and Chipotle Chile Almonds

Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. Their rich, sweet-smoky, almost chocolate flavor makes them a welcome additions to almost anything in my house. In fact, there are few foods that my husband doesn’t think they improve. Although they are increasingly available in adobo sauce (a dark red chile and vinegar sauce) at grocery stores with good ethnic sections, I have found the ground or crushed form only through Penzeys Spices at www.penzeys.com or (800) 741-7787.

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Hot Pepper Sesame Peanuts

Dark and nutty, toasted sesame oil is pressed from, well, you guessed it: toasted sesame seeds. It is most commonly used in Asian cooking, and once you use it in your cooking, it is hard to go back to the lighter, less fragrant, run-of-the-mill sesame oil. It does need to be used sparingly, as it has the potential to overpower almost any dish.

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BBQ Pecans

All I can say is, finger-licking good. They remind my friend Susan Benett of Buffalo wings, so whenever I bring them to her house, I always pick up a big chunk of hearty blue cheese. These pecans are not for formal dinners; they’re for feet-up-on-the-coffee-table aftenoons – just add a football game and a beer, or in Susan’s case, an episode of Iron Chef.

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Pecans au Poivre

For pepper lovers only, these nuts can definitely cause an addiction. The technique of cooking then first in a melted mixture of salt, sugar, and pepper creates a hard coating. This coating is then covered in the same mixture, but not cooked again, which results in a pecan with a sort of attractive, but weird gray dusting. Don’t grind the pepper too fine – keep it coarse.

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Garlic Almonds and Hazelnuts

California is the only state that produces almonds commercially. Seventy percent of the world’s supply is grown by 6,000 farmers on almost half a million acres. Almonds are not actually nuts, botanically speaking, but are the seeds of stone fruits, like the pit of a peach. They are rich in protein, calcium, and riboflavin. Only a small portion of the fat in almonds is saturated, and the almond’s fat content is among the lowest of the nuts.

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Indian Almonds with Coconut

The babysitter arrives, we choose a late movie, and then begin the night at one of our favorite East India restaurants in Waltham, Massachusetts. The meals are exotic, the spices aromatic, and the rice pudding – suffused with rose water and cardamom – is sprinkled with a version of these spicy almonds. It’s a heady and rich combination that stays with me even after the babysitter goes home.

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Pesto Pine Nuts

Very expensive and delicately flavored, pine nuts are also called pignoli and pinons. They are harvested from pine nuts and can be found inside the pine cone, a fact that I came to realize only after betting that they didn’t. Most of the pine nuts Americans use are the thin, subtler Italian variety, but a stronger variety is available in Asian markets.

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Saffron Pistachios

Very subtle, with an almost delicate saffron flavor that improves over time, these nuts really need to cool completely before serving.
If you haven’t had a good pistachio lately, it’s probably because you’re eating those grown in California. Although they’re easier to open and comparatively large, their flavor isn’t as good as the smaller, more flavorful Turkish pistachios.

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Pistachios with Anise

It’s no surprise that I have become obsessed with nuts. When our family recently went out for ice cream at Toscanini’s Ice Cream, in Cambridge, I spied a new and unfamiliar flavor: pistachio anise. I tasted it (though I had a scoop of burnt sugar ice cream instead) and immediately ran home to try this combination on nuts.

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Shellacked Balsamic Pecans

I had six friends over for a nut fest and swore that no one would be able to guess the flavorings of this unusual pecan, and yet my friend Toni Bowerman did just that. In fact, in a group of about 12 contenders, these were her hands-down favorite. In spite of all the sugar, these are not very sweet; rather the balsamic vinegar gives them an appealing sourness.

2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper (optional)

Makes 2 cups.

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the pecans, brown sugar, and vinegar in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar melts, the pecans are well coated with the mixture, and there is no liquid at the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and chili powder, if using.

3. Transfer the pecans to the prepared sheet, separating the individual nuts. Set aside and to cool before serving.

If you’re sipping: A red wine like Merlot, Cabernet, or Port pairs well.
Not just for snacking: Swirl them into vanilla ice cream and/or with strawberries drizzled with additional balsamic vinegar.

From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)

Time Chart for Lightly Toasted Nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Cover and freeze up to 1 month.

Almonds: 12 to 15 minutes
Hazelnuts: 12 to 15 minutes
Macadamias: 12 to 15 minutes
Peanuts: 15 to 20 minutes
Pecans: 10 to 12 minutes
Pine Nuts: 10 to 12 minutes
Pistachios: 10 to 12 minutes
Walnuts: 10 to 12 minutes

Lizzy’s Awesome Chunky Blue Cheese Dip with Herbs

Here is another great blue cheese recipe from former blue cheese hater turned blue cheese fanatic Lizzy Shaw.

Makes 2 cups.

2 cups Danish blue cheese cut into ½-inch cubes
Good-quality olive oil to cover
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt to taste

1. Place all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together gently, cover, and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 5 days to let the flavors develop.

2. To serve, fish out the cheese chunks with a fork, (they look pretty with the herb flakes), reserving the herbed oil, and place them in a bowl. To make more dip, continue to add more cheese to the marinating oil until it gets too cloudy and looks ugly.

Serve with lightly steamed broccoli florets, French bread toasts, or triangles of pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Dip

This is perfect for those who want something low in fat but flavorful.

Makes about 1 cup.

1 large bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded, and cut into big chunks
1 to 2 garlic cloves, to your taste, sliced
1 scallion (white and green parts), ends trimmed
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon cream cheese or Yogurt Cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the pepper in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped. Add the garlic and scallion and pulse until chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped mint, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Serve with celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, or pita or bagel chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Lizzy Shaw’s Creamy Dreamy Gorgonzola Dip

My childhood friend Lizzy Shaw only recently came to like blue cheese, but now she can’t seem to get enough of it. This dip is inspired by one she got at a market in California; she’s become such an aficionado that she was sure she could improve upon the one she bought. And she was right. This is also great on sandwiches, with Buffalo wings, and even on French fries!
Lizzie says to make sure not to get the waxy, hard kind of gorgonzola sold in wedges, which won’t crumble and often doesn’t have much flavor. You want the creamier version. If your gorgonzola stays in hard squares, instead of crumbling, try mashing it a little with a fork. If it still won’t soften up, or if the gorgonzola is too mild, add 2 tablespoons crumbled Rosenborg Danish blue cheese, which is available in many large supermarkets, or another soft mild blue cheese to make the dip creamier.

Makes about 1¼ cups.

1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 scallion (white and green parts), minced or thinly sliced
3½ heaping teaspoons sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
1 heaping tablespoon cream cheese (regular, not whipped)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch or ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, to your taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mash with a fork until well combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside for 1 hour to let the flavors develop before serving, or cover and refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, let it soften a bit before serving.

Variation: Make the whole thing with Rosenborg Danish blue cheese, or add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little zing. Add about 1 tablespoon whole milk if you like a thinner dip. Thin it with about 2 tablespoons milk if you want to use it as a salad dressing, or just go ahead and add a big dollop of the spread “as is” to any salad and flip out how good it is!

Serve with little crunchy crackers, endive spears, celery sticks, or boiled tiny new potatoes.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Roasted Walnut and Gorgonzola Dip

Very rich and very creamy – in short, this is to die for.

Makes 1½ cups.

4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (half an 8-ounce package) cream cheese, at room temperature, or ½ cup Yogurt Cheese
¼ cup cream (either light or heavy is fine)
1 teaspoon Cognac
4 tablespoons walnut halves, toasted

1. Place the cheeses in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork. Gradually add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, and the Cognac and mash until well incorporated. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the walnuts.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the remaining 1 tablespoon of walnuts, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Variation: Substitute goat cheese for the cream cheese.

Serve with endive spears, radishes, or triangles of pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Goat Cheese Spread with Dried Apricots and Pistachios

A microplane grater is the only type of grater that will get the lemon zest fine enough for this creamy, salty, tangy, sweet spread.

Makes about 2 cups.

¼ cup dried apricots, finely diced
¼ cup boiling water
1 log goat cheese (10 to 12 ounces), at room temperature
⅓ cup pistachio nuts, toasted and finely chopped
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, to your taste
Honey for drizzling (optional)

1. Place the apricots and boiling water in small heatproof bowl and set aside until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the goat cheese and mash well. Add the nuts, buttermilk, mint, and lemon zest and mash again.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, drizzled with honey, if desired, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

Variation: Substitute dried dates or figs for the apricots and pecans or walnuts for the pistachios.

Serve with triangles of pumpernickel bread, crackers, fresh figs or strawberries.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Horseradish Cheddar Dip

The first time I made this dip, I started out with a tablespoon of horseradish. It wasn’t enough, but being a bit horseradish shy, I added only one more. Still it wasn’t enough, and so, tasting after each addition of yet one more tablespoon, I eventually arrived at a whopping eight.
Horseradish has been used as an aphrodisiac, a rub for lower back pain, and a treatment for tuberculosis and rheumatism; it is also used as a bitter herb for Passover seders. About six million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the US – enough to generously season sandwiches to reach 12 times around the world.

Makes about 2 cups.

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded (about 3 cups), at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup prepared horseradish (without sugar)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Place the cheese, sour cream, and butter in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Add the horseradish and lemon juice and process until incorporated.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. If refrigerated, let soften before serving.

Serve with celery sticks, zucchini spears, steamed tiny potatoes, triangles of pumpernickel bread, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Truffled Goat Cheese Spread

The amazing taste and ease of preparation balance the expense of the ingredients in this dip. Truffle oil is produced when truffles are soaked in olive oil. The aroma and freshness weaken over time, so be sure to buy a fresh bottle and make this dip often. It’s also fabulous spooned on top of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or risotto or tossed with linguine.

Makes about 1½ cups.

1 9-ounce log goat cheese, at room temperature
2 to 3 teaspoons truffle oil, or to your taste
4 radishes, trimmed and grated
¼ cup chopped fresh chives

1. Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork to combine

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

Variation: Substitute one 8-ounce package of cream cheese for the goat cheese.

Serve with cucumber rounds or triangles of thinly sliced pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Spicy Feta Dip with Fresh Mint and Cilantro

Inspired by an appetizer I once had of feta cheese marinated in cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes, this dip is herby, spicy, savory, and creamy. It’s great on burgers, on eggs, or with anything accompanied by black olives.

Makes about 1 cup.

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup lowfat plain yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ to ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes, to your taste
1 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1. Place the feta and yogurt in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork until combined but still slightly chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately garnished with orang zest, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serve with pitted black olives, sliced baguette, or warmed pita triangles.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Todd English’s Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

I came across this great dip when I wrote The Figs Table with Todd English in 1998 (Simon & Schuster). Todd rarely used it as a dip but instead dolloped it on pizza, salads, pasta, and burgers and swirled it into polenta. It’s not only versatile, it’s also a snap to make and lasts up to a week.

Makes 1 cup.

1 cup crumbled goat cheese or ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Kosher salt to taste (depends on the saltiness of the goat cheese)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the goat cheese in a medium-size mixing bowl and mash well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

Serve with celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, grape or cherry tomatoes, endive spears, blanched asparagus, pita chips, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Andy Husbands’s Hot Crabmeat Dip

When Andy gave me this dip recipe, it was 1996 and he had just opened his first Boston restaurant, Tremont 647. He’s been very busy since then ¬– he now owns Sister Sorel and Rouge, both in the same neighborhood.
This dip is best made on the day you are going to serve it; if you would like to do some work ahead of time, mix everything together and add the crabmeat just prior to cooking. This dip is also great uncooked.

Makes about 2 cups.

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to your taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh horseradish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place a small skillet over medium-high heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Place the garlic in a medium-size mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, celery, shallot, lemon juice, parsley, horseradish, mustard, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and mix well. Using a spatula, lightly fold in the crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Transfer to a small casserole and bake until light brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serve with crudités of your choice, crostini, or crackers.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Mark’s Classic Clam Dip

My husband, Mark, grew up eating this dip regularly and takes great pride in making it. According to Mark, “It’s perfection in its simplicity. You can vary what you dip but you don’t mess with the ingredients.”

Makes 1½ cups.

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature, or 1 cup Yogurt Cheese
1 6.5-oz. can minced clams, drained, reserving the liquid
¼ cup minced red onion
Tabasco sauce to taste

1. Place the cream cheese in a shallow bowl and mash. Add the clams and onion and mash again. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved clam juice and mash until it has the consistency you like. Season with Tabasco.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Serve with potato or corn chips, baby carrots or carrot sticks, celery sticks, or endive spears.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Nancy Olin’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Nancy describes this salsa as “really pretty and mind-blowingly good.” Don’t even think of making it with canned or froze corn – it must be made in the summertime with the freshest corn off the cob you can find.

Makes about 3½ cups.

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob
3 tablespoons water
1 15.5-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup minced scallions (white and green parts) plus more for garnish
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Place a medium-size skillet over medium heat and, when it is hot, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne ad cook for 1 minute. Add the corn and water, cover, and cook until the corn is tender, about 3 minutes.

2. Off the heat, add the beans, scallions, lime juice, and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, season with salt and black pepper, and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight to let the flavors develop.

3. Transfer to serving bowl and serve garnished with chopped scallions.

Variation: add chopped red bell pepper, tomatoes, and/or fresh cilantro to your taste.

Serve with tortilla chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Lauren’s Famous Guacamole

Beginning at about age 4, my daughter, Lauren, became the guacamole maker in our house. She basically followed my recipe but added a few of her own touches. In fact, when my friend Steve Steinberg turned 50, his wife, Nancy, requested that Lauren make the guacamole for his surprise party; she went through a whole case of avocados. It isn’t surprising that she no longer enjoys making it.
Be sure to buy avocados well ahead of when you want them; you can surely find them rip;e in the supermarket. To hasten the ripening process, place the avocado in a paper bag with an apple or a banana; it’s ready when you can push it in slightly. If it’s already ripe enough, simple refrigerate it; it won’t continue to ripen in the fridge.
This guacamole is also great in sandwiches and omelets and on burgers.

Makes about 1½ cups.

2 perfectly ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
½ small beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
¼ to ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, to your taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ to ½ fresh jalapeño or canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (optional), finely minced
5 springs fresh cilantro for garnish
2 very thin slices lime for garnish

1. Place everything except the cilantro sprigs and lime slices in a mediums size mixing bowl and toss gently to mix. Do not overmix; it should be somewhat chunky.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the cilantro sprigs ad lime slices, or place a few avocado pits in the guacamole (to prevent discoloration), cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Serve with tortilla or pita chips, warmed pita triangles, or endive spears.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Tropical Fruit Salad

The truth is that there are enough salsa recipes for an entire other book, but I couldn’t resist this one, which is more unusual than most. Try it with grilled fish.

Makes about 3 cups.

½ pineapple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped
1 ripe papaya peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
Juice and grated zest of 1 well-washed lime
Kosher salt to taste

1. Place everything in a medium-size nonreactive mixing bowl and mix well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Serve with tortilla or potato chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Toni Oberholzer’s Tsatziki

When my friend Toni was pregnant with her first child, Wyatt, she used to go to a local diner and request a sandwich made with tsatziki, bacon, and tomato. It was unbelievably delicious and although it wasn’t on their menu, they always made it for her, albeit reluctantly. Later, when I wrote about it for the Boston Phoenix, a local newspaper, the owners added it to the menu, and I am told it’s now one of their most popular items. Of course, this tsatziki is great as the dip it was intended to be, though it also makes a tasty garnish for burgers, omelets, or steak sandwiches.

Makes about 2 ¼ cups.

2 cups Yogurt Cheese
1 large European cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves, plus more for garnish
¼ to ½ teaspoon kosher salt, to your taste

1. Place all ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl and combine well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped mint, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Variation: substitute goat cheese for the Yogurt Cheese.

Serve with warmed pita triangles or cherry tomatoes.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Judith Shaw’s Dip for Watch-Your-Weight Freaks

When I sent an e-mail to my friend Judith asking for dip recipes, she told me she didn’t have any. Two days later, she sent this e-mail: “I guess I a way it’s not true that I don’t have a dip recipe. I will reluctantly call this a dip in deference to your need. But it’s for rigid people (a.k.a. fat phobes) like me.” Really more like a finely chopped salad, this dip is unusual and refreshing.

Makes about 1½ cups.

3 carrots, finely, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Place all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl and combine well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover ad refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Judith suggests serving this with slices of daikon or those gorgeous round radishes that are reddish inside.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Basil Tapenade Dip

This tapenade-like dip isn’t the classic version but, rather my interpretation of it. Not for everyone on a low-sodium diet, the combination of olives, anchovies, and capers makes for a wonderful, although incredibly salty, concoction. It’s reminiscent of pesto in flavor, but saltier and brinier. Try it on grilled swordfish.

Makes about 1¼ cups.

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup pitted black Kalamata olives, drained
¼ cup pitted green olives, drained
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves, quartered
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup mayonnaise

1. Place the basil, olives, anchovies, garlic, capers in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until well chopped While the machine is running, slowly add the lemon juice and olive oil through the feed tube and process until the mixture comes together,

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serve with unsalted crackers or endive spears.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Joan Goldberg’s Light! Fresh! Delicious! Dip

My friend Nancy got this amusingly described summer dip from her friend Joan Goldberg and, in fact, it lives up to its description, as she says.

Makes 4 cups.

1 16-oz. container sour cream or 2 cups Yogurt Cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
2 medium-size cucumbers, peeled, seeded if desired, and finely chopped
2 cups packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts) or ½ medium-size red onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Joan says that Frito Lay’s ridged potato chips are the only way to eat this dip.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Artichoke and Prosciutto Dip

Inspired by a dip I tasted in an Italian restaurant, this artichoke lover’s dip is salty, cream, and tart. It is virtually impossible to leave even a drop of it in the bowl.
Prosciutto is an Italian ham, cured by dry-salting for one month followed by air-drying in a cool curing sheds for half a year or longer. It is usually cut into tissue-thin slices that highlight its intense flavor and deep pink color. Prosciutto di Parma, imported from Italy, is widely regarded as the best, though it’s not necessary to make this dip taste great; a domestic brand will work fine. Prosciutto can be kept refrigerated well wrapped, for several weeks.

Makes 2 to 2 ½ cups.

4 thin slices prosciutto, chopped
1 37.5-oz. can artichoke hearts (8 to 10), drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 8-oz. container sour cream or 1 cup Yogurt Cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise

1. Place the prosciutto, artichoke hearts, parsley, and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until combined.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Serve with French bread toasts or pita or bagel chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Artichoke and Feta Dip

This is the rare dip that contains as much vegetable as it does cheese. Chunky, salty, and light, it’s one of my favorites.
Feta, the only cheese other than Parmesan that can always be found in my refrigerator, is a classic Greek white cheese that is both salty and tangy, a winning combination for me. Traditionally made from sheep or goat’s milk, it is now mostly made with pasteurized cow’s milk.

Makes 1 to 1½ cups.

1 6-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
½ cup sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, minced
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1. Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and gently combine.

2. Transfer to a small serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped dill, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Serve with celery sticks, endive spears, crackers, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

New Orleans-Style Muffuletta Dip

A muffuletta is a round hero-like sandwich that originated at the Central Grocery in New Orleans in the early 1900s. Layers of provolone cheese, Genoa salami, and ham are topped with an “olive salad,” which is what distinguishes it from all other sandwiches. This chunky, salty, almost spicy dip does credit to its inspiration.

Makes about 1½ cups.

½ cup pitted Spanish green olives, drained
½ cup pitted brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata), drained
¼ cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves, to your taste
½ teaspoon dried Greek oregano
Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
¼ cup mayonnaise

1. Place the olives, onion, garlic, and basil in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight to let the flavors develop.

2. Mix well, transfer to a serving bowl, and serve immediately.

Serve with pita chips or thin slices of toast.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Hot and Steamy Artichoke Dip

My daughter, Lauren, describes this dish as looking odd but tasting great. She was sure a hot dip would be weird but demolished most of it herself.

Makes 1½ cups.

1 6oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Place all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl and mix well. Transfer to a small casserole and bake until bubbling hot, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately from the casserole.

This is best with thick tortilla chips and pita chips; it really doesn’t pair that well with crudités or thinner chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Anchovy, Tuna and White Bean Dip

This is a variation on a classic Italian salad.

Makes about 1½ cups.

1 cup cooked white beans
1 6-oz. can white tuna packed in spring water, drained
1 small anchovy fillet, rinsed
1 garlic clove, peeled
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon capers, drained
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
2 thin slices lemon for garnish

1. Place the beans, tuna, anchovy, garlic, lemon juice, capers, and pepper in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Add the parsley and basil and stir by hand to combine.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the lemon slices, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Serve with endive spears, crostini, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Curried Tuna Dip

This is a more delicate version of the traditional curried tuna, hefty enough to fill a tea sandwich but light enough for dipping.

Makes about 1½ cups.

1 6-oz. can white tuna packed in spring water, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or olive oil
1 tablespoon orange juice
¼ cup cooked white beans
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, cilantro, or basil leaves
2 orange slices for garnish

1. Place the tuna, mayonnaise, orange juice, beans, salt, and curry powder in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Add the parsley and stir by hand to combine.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the orange slices, or cover ad refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Serve with bagel, pita, or corn chips or the crudités of your choice.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Salmon, Caviar, and Chive Dip

Very pale pink with green flecks, this delicate, beautiful dip lasts about two seconds in my house. It’s great on any sandwich made with black bread, slathered on matzos and bagels, spooned into soups, or added to omelets.

4 ounces smoked salmon, shredded
2 scallions (green part only), chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature or 1 cup Yogurt Cheese
¼ cup milk
Juice and grated zest of 1 well-washed lime
Tabasco sauce to taste
2 tablespoons red salmon caviar for garnish

Make about 2 cups.

1. Place the salmon, scallions, and chives in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped. Add the cream cheese, milk, and lime juice and zest and pulse until it comes together. Season with the Tabasco.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the caviar and chopped chives, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Serve with celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, endive spears, or pita chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Garlicky Fava Bean Dip with Basil

Bright green and silky smooth, this recipe, yet another offshoot of hummus, was created by Lydia Shire and Susan Regis, two of Boston’s most inspired and brilliant chefs.

Makes about 1 cup.

1 cup shelled fresh fava beans
4 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 thin slices lemon for garnish

1. Place a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Bring a medium-size saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add the beans and cook until they turn bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain, then transfer to the ice bath for 1 minute and drain again. Peel the beans by pinching the end of each one; it will easily slip out.

2. Place the beans and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper through the feed tube and process until well incorporated. Stir in the basil by hand.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the lemon slices, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serve with warmed pita triangles or pita chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Red Bean and Chipotle Dip

I came up with this dip completely by mistake. My guests were on the way, and I had no time to spare and wasn’t paying attention when, hoping to make hummus, I threw red beans instead of chickpeas into the food processor fitted with a steel blade. When I realized my mistake, it was too late, so I made a few changes to the recipe and discovered I liked this one even better. You can try this recipe using any kind of bean.
Chipotle chile powder is available through the Penzeys catalog (414-474-0277 or www.penzeys.com). You can use it anywhere you might use cayenne pepper; it lends a wonderful smokiness.

Makes 1½ to 2 cups.

1 15.5-oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup orange juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon of chipotle chile powder (if you can’t find it substitute cayenne pepper), to your taste
Juice of ½ lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Place the beans, garlic, orange juice, cumin, salt, chipotle, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cilantro, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Serve with pita or corn chips or the crudités of your choice.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Bagna Cauda

Translated as “hot bath,” this specialty of Piedmont, Italy, is often part of the Italian Christmas Eve buffet. Traditionally, slices of cardoon (an edible celery-like member of the artichoke family) are dipped into the sauce, then eaten with a slice of bread held underneath to catch the drippings. It must be served hot, so serve it in a dish that can be placed over a little warmer, or serve it from a small slow cooker.

Makes 1¼ cups.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed, or 1 head garlic, roasted and squeezed out of the skin
1 2-oz. can oil-packed anchovies, drained
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)

1. Place the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. When it is warm, add the garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring and ashing the anchovies constantly, until they disintegrate, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and stir until incorporated into the mixture. Season with pepper. Stir in the cream, if desired.

2. Transfer to a heatproof serving bowl or a small slow cooker and serve immediately.

Serve with boiled tiny new potatoes in their jackets, red bell pepper strips, celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, or blanched cauliflower florets and slices of fennel bulb.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Classic Hummus

Hummus, the classic Middle Eastern dip of chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, and lemon juice, is also known as hummus bi tahini. I like to vary the beans and the flavorings: variations includes substituting chopped or pureed roasted pepper or chile peppers or olives for the basil, or adding 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon, lime, or orange zest. White cannellini beans are an excellent stand-in for the chickpeas.

Makes about 1½ cups.

1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 garlic cloves, to your taste, crushed, or 1 head garlic, roasted and squeezed out of the skin.
3 to 4 tablespoons tahini, to your taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin, or more to your taste (optional)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ to 1 cup chopped fresh basil or cilantro leaves, scallions (white and green parts), or chives or a combination (optional), to your taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lemon, lime, or orange slices for garnish
Paprika for garnish

1. Place the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Gradually add the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, if desired, and salt and process until fully incorporated. Season with pepper.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with the lemon slices and paprika, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serve with celery sticks, baby carrots or carrot sticks, snow peas, blanched cauliflower florets, or pita or bagel chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Creamy Sesame Dip

Though this combination of flavors is most often seen on Asian noodles, it translates wonderfully into a creamy, spicy dip. Don’t leave out the tea – it adds an ineffable smokiness.

2 tablespoons sesame seeds for garnish
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup tahini
½ cup brewed black tea, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to your taste
1 scallion (white and green parts), chopped, for garnish

Makes 1¼ to 2 cups.

1. Place the sesame seeds in a small skillet and toast over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Set aside and cool.

2. Place the mayonnaise, tahini, tea, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, chili powder, and cayenne in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days to let the flavors develop. Garnish with the chopped scallion and sesame seeds.

Serve with snow peas, red and green bell pepper strips, or blanched asparagus.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Joey Steinberg’s Cookie Dip

One Valentine’s Day, I called my friend Nancy to check out the amount of parsley in her friend Joan Goldberg’s dip. She wasn’t home, and when I asked her husband, Steve, for a dip idea, he suggested I ask his 5-year-old son, Joey. Here’s Joey’s dip. I am sorry I don’t have the ability to reproduce the conversation, replete with Joey’s at-once serious and exasperated tone.

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (Jif)
½ pint ice cream (“maybe vanilla or chocolate or both”), softened in the microwave till it’s mushable
Small splash of milk (“I use whole milk,” says.)

“Put everything in a bowl and mush it all together,” instructs Joey.
“What would you dip in it?” I ask.
Cookies,” he says, a bit irked, as if it’s obvious. “Christmas cookies.”
“What if it isn’t Christmastime?” I ask.
“Well, then,” he says, “big, medium, and little hearts. Or stars, for nighttime. Paint them with a little frosting,” he adds. “Pink for Lauren [my daughter] and blue for Ben [my son].”
“What about for you?” I ask.
“Yellow for me.”
“And what about for Charlie [Joey’s brother]?”
“Blue. Charlie likes blue too. Okay, bye.” And he hangs up.
Serve immediately.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Pomegranate Molasses

I first has this exotic and unusual dip at a local restaurant called the Blue Room when it was owned and run by Chris Schlesinger. When I couldn’t figure out the ingredients, Chris generously shared the recipe with me.
The most unusual ingredient is the pomegranate molasses, considered by some to be the balsamic vinegar of the future. A deep, red, tart, almost astringent, thick syrup, the name molasses is somewhat of a misnomer, as its sweetness comes from the concentration of the fruit rather than from sugar. You can find pomegranate molasses in any supermarket with a large ethnic section or in Armenian or Arab specialty markets.

Makes about 2 cups.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1 cup walnuts, toasted
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Add the onion, garlic, brown sugar, and cumin and cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days to let the flavors develop. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.

Serve with warmed pita triangles.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Lauren’s Caramelized Onion Dip

Everyone seems to like dip made from onion soup mix and since that really isn’t my style, I decided to come up with a, shall we say, fresher version. Salty, creamy, sweet, this is my daughter Lauren’s idea of heaven.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large or 2 small red onions, thinly sliced and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ cup sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (if Lauren isn’t eating it)
1 scallion (green part only), chopped, for garnish

Makes 1 to 1½ cups.

1. Place a medium-size skillet over low heat and, when it is hot, add the oil and butter. When the butter melts, add the onions and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deeply browned and caramelized, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and let cool.

2. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and mix to combine.

3. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Serve immediately, garnished with the scallion, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Lauren likes this best with pita chips but also enjoys it with crudités and tortilla chips. I like it with triangles of thinly sliced dark pumpernickel bread.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Stan Frankenthaler’s Green Goddess Dip

Created in honor of actor George Arliss, who was appearing in a play called The Green Goddess, written by William Archer, green goddess dressing was introduced during the 1920s by the chef at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel (where Arliss was staying). Arliss was later nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film version but lost out to himself, for his role as Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
Thick, creamy, herby, and decidedly old-fashioned, this dip was inspired by Boston chef Stan Frankenthaler’s green goddess salad dressing. Also try it on grilled, broiled, or steamed fish.

Makes about 1 cup.

1 garlic clove, sliced
2 to 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, to your taste
1 tablespoon capers, drained
½ cup spinach leaves, washed well and patted dry
2 scallions (white and green parts)
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
2 springs fresh tarragon
¼ cup sour cream or Yogurt Cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. Place the garlic, anchovies, capers, spinach, scallions, parsley, and tarragon in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Add the sour cream and blend again until smooth. Stir in the mayonnaise and pepper, if desired, and mix to combine.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with parsley leaves, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

This is splendid with something slightly bitter like endive, but almost any vegetable works, especially lightly steamed asparagus spears or baby artichokes.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Creamy Avocado Dip with Mint and Basil

Although I’m a huge, huge fan of guacamole, I still wanted an avocado dip that was lighter and, well, just different. This one is creamy and mild, unless, of course, you choose to add some cayenne, chipotle, or hot sauce. This also happens to be sensational drizzled on grilled steak, stuffed into omelets, or substituted for mayonnaise in cheese and tomato sandwiches.

Makes about 2 cups.

4 very ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and mashed
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ to 1 tablespoon kosher salt, to your taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder, to your taste (optional)
½ to 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, to your taste (optional)

1. Place everything in a medium-size bowl and mash together well.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with chopped basil, or cover and refrigerate for no more than 1 hour before serving, as the avocado will begin to discolor.

Serve with endive spears, red bell pepper strips, or tortilla chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Caesar Aioli

What more could you want than the great taste of Caesar dressing in a dip? Don’t be tempted to leave out the anchovies – they are rich in omega-3 oils, calcium, and iron. If you find your anchovies are too salty, soak them in cold water for half an hour, then drain.

1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 very fresh large egg yolks
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Strips of lemon zest for garnish

Makes about 1½ cups.

1. Place the garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until well chopped but not minced. Add the lemon juice and egg yolks and process until well incorporated. While the machine is running, gradually add the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, through the feed tube, and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, except the lemon zest, and process until thick.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Serve garnished with the lemon zest.

Note: Because this recipe contains raw eggs, it’s a good idea when serving this to keep it chilled: place it in a bowl, then place that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice.

Serve with steamed tiny new potatoes, asparagus, broccoli florets, endive spears, radishes, pita chips, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Ben’s Chipotle Dip

When I first made this dip, my 9-year-old son, Ben, declared: “Mom, this is the best dip of yours I have ever had.” He is no ordinary mac and cheese/pizza/cheeseburger kind of kid. Ben loves spicy food and while he doesn’t really like creamy food, this combination hit the spot. Chipotles are smoked jalapeño peppers and add both heat and smoky flavor to dishes. They are available at any supermarket with a good ethnic section or at specialty stores.

Makes about 2 cups.

1 8-oz. package of cream cheese or goat cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice, to your taste
3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced scallions (green part only), plus more for garnish
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or basil leaves, to your taste
Finely grated zest of 1 well-washed lime

1. Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and lime juice in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until creamy. Stir in the remaining ingredients by hand.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, garnished with scallions or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Serve with blanched asparagus, celery sticks, or endive spears, or pita, bagel, or potato chips.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

Silky and yet slightly chunky, this bright pink aioli is great for vegetable dipping as well as for slathering on roast beef sandwiches and drizzling over grilled steak. When you are preparing it, be sure to add the oils very slowly so the mixture emulsifies properly. (If you don’t, it will be too thin, but then you can simply use it as a salad dressing.)

2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded, and cut into large chunks
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 very fresh large egg yolks
1 teaspoon water
½ cup canola oil
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder, to your taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish (optional)

Makes about 2½ cups.

1. Place the red peppers and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until well chopped but not minced. Add the lemon juice and egg yolks and process until well incorporated. While the machine is running, add the water, then gradually the oils, 1 tablespoon at a time, through the feed tube and process until thick.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Serve chilled, garnish with parsley, if desired.

Serve with boiled tiny new potatoes, blanched asparagus or broccoli florets, endive spears, radishes, pita chips, or French bread toasts.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)

Creamy Almond-Pesto Dip

This pesto is made with almonds instead of pine nuts and since it’s mixed with lots of creamy things, don’t think of it as a substitute for classic pesto. It’s great on burgers and grilled chicken, too.

Makes about 2 cups.

¼ cup whole almonds, toasted
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ cups fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. cream cheese (half an 8-oz. package), at room temperature, or ½ cup Yogurt Cheese
¼ cup sour cream, full-fat plain yogurt, or Yogurt Cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place the almonds and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until well chopped. Add the basil and pulse again until chopped. While the machine is running, gradually add the oil through the feed tube, and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until thick.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. Server garnished with basil leaves.

Serve with baby carrots or carrot sticks, celery sticks, endive, jicama sticks or slices, or steamed tiny new potatoes.

From Party Dips! 50 Zippy, Zesty, Spicy, Savory, Tasty, Tempting Dips (The Harvard Common Press, 2004)