Whipped Feta Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Note: For best flavor, use feta that comes in a block and is packed in brine; avoid pre-crumbled feta, as it can be dry and chalky. Serve this variation of a traditional Greek dip with pita cut into triangles, or as a dip for cutup vegetables. It’s also good as a sandwich spread. Peppadew peppers are sold pickled and can usually be found with olives and capers at the supermarket. To make the dip hotter, use cayenne pepper or hot Peppadews, or add more red pepper flakes. From “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street.”

• 8 oz. feta cheese (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

• 3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

• 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

• 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (see Note)

• 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more to garnish

• 2 tbsp. chopped mild Peppadew peppers (see Note)

Directions

In medium bowl, cover feta with fresh tap water and let sit for 10 minutes. In small bowl, combine lemon juice and garlic and let sit for 10 minutes. Discard garlic clove. Drain feta and pat dry, then crumble.

In a food processor or electric stand mixer, combine feta and cream cheese. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add oil, lemon juice, paprika, pepper flakes and black pepper. Process until well mixed, about 30 seconds. Scrape bowl, add mint and Peppadews, then process until combined.

Taste and season with pepper flakes and black pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint.

Jalapeño Jack and Andouille Dip

Makes 3 cups.

Note: Cheese and beer are a natural pairing; add sausage and chips and you’re set for a party. The dip can be made up to one day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated. To reheat it, you may need to add some extra beer to achieve a smooth consistency. Reheat slowly and add the beer by the tablespoon, stirring constantly over low heat. From “The Big Book of Appetizers,” by Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder.

• 8 oz. jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese, grated

• 8 oz. Colby cheese, grated

• 2 tbsp. flour

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 6 oz. uncooked andouille sausage

• 2/3 c. beer

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

• Tortilla chips, for serving

Directions

Add the grated cheese and flour to a large bowl and toss to combine thoroughly.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil to the pan. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces until it is no longer pink. Drain any grease from the sausage, and set the sausage aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the beer to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cheese mixture in 1/2-cup increments, stirring until melted before adding more cheese. The mixture will become thick and creamy.

Stir in the sausage and cilantro. Transfer the dip to a fondue pot or other flameproof dish. Set over candles or Sterno to keep hot. Serve with tortilla chips.

Basic Pesto Dip

Makes about 1 cup.

Note: Serve with an assortment of fresh vegetables or chips. From “Spreads, Toppers & Dips,” by Diane Rozas.

• 1/4 c. plain yogurt (regular, low-fat or nonfat)

• 1/2 c. sour cream (regular, low-fat or nonfat)

• 1/4 to 1/2 c. pesto (homemade or commercially made)

• 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, or more to taste

• Salt and freshly black pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt and sour cream. Stir in pesto and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a serving dish. Serve at room temperature, or cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and chill before serving.

Hot Crab and Artichoke Spread

Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Note: This classic dip (some might say elegant) has never gone out of style. Serve it with crackers or toast points. From “50 Best Salsas and Dips,” by Jane Kirby.

• 1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts

• 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

• 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

• 1/4 c. mayonnaise

• 2 small garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

•1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1/8 tsp. cayenne

• 1/2 lb. fresh or thawed frozen crabmeat, well drained and patted dry

• 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain artichoke hearts. Squeeze them in a clean kitchen towel to remove as much liquid as possible. Reserve 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and set aside.

In food processor, combine remaining Parmesan cheese with artichoke hearts, cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne. Purée until smooth.

Pick over crabmeat to remove any bits of shell or cartilage. Add crabmeat and lemon juice to artichoke purée and pulse just until mixed. Pour into a 1 1/2-quart gratin or shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is golden. Let stand about 10 minutes to cool and set slightly. Serve warm.

 

Caramelized Onion Dip

Makes 3 cups.

Note: Once you taste this, you’ll never go back to the dehydrated packaged version again. Sweet onions are particularly flavorful in this dip, though any onion will do. The recipe calls for large onions, but that’s strictly to cut the peeling time for the cook. From “Come One, Come All/ Easy Entertaining With Seasonal Recipes,” by Lee Svitak Dean.

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 4 large onions, preferably sweet, such as Vidalia or OsoSweet (about 4 cups coarsely chopped; see Note)

• 2 c. sour cream

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• Salt and white pepper

• Chopped chives, for garnish

Directions

Add olive oil to a large sauté pan or Dutch oven and heat. (The caramelization will go faster with a pan with a shallow edge, but the sheer amount of onion, which eventually cooks down, will require a pan large enough to hold all of).

Over low to medium heat, cook onions, uncovered and slowly, until the moisture leaves the onions and they turn lightly brown and become nearly a purée as they caramelize. This takes a long time, at least 1 hour, but there is no active effort on the part of the cook. (Simply check the onions occasionally.) Don’t give up and turn up the heat or the onions will burn.

Remove the onions from the pan and cool. If working in advance, either refrigerate or freeze the onions in a tightly covered dish or in a plastic freezer bag. To thaw, place onions in the refrigerator for several hours.

To finish the dip, mash the onions with a fork. Stir in the sour cream. Add the lemon juice and season t taste with salt and white pepper. To serve, garnish with chives, if desired. Serve with chips or vegetables.