Dips have great party appeal, especially
during Steelers season
Dip is hip.
Party guests love to dunk, scoop and spread everything from
cheese-based mixtures to hot garlicky olive oil spiked with
spirits and -- don't tell anyone at first, lest they protest
-- canned little fishies.
Why not consider a dip buffet for your next Steelers
gathering or cocktail party? Most dips and their dippers can
be made ahead with minimum last-minute fuss. In fact, dips
usually taste better after an overnight visit to the
Most of your time will be taken prepping veggies or baking
olive oil-basted pita or tortilla triangles, but that can be
done ahead of time, also.
Here are some
dips that differ from the norm. Be prepared to share the
This recipe was shared by Rania Harris, a Mt. Lebanon
caterer and director of Rania's To Go Cooking School. Offer a
knife or spreader so guests can easily transfer the dip to the
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled gorgonzola cheese (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup pitted and chopped imported olives
- 6 large cloves roasted garlic (about 2 tablespoons)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- About 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed
- Pita Crisps (recipe follows)
In a bowl, combine the Gorgonzola, shallot, olives, roasted
garlic and black pepper. Mix to combine, but be sure to leave
the dip a bit chunky.
Stir in the olive oil, a little at a time, just enough to
make a diplike consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate,
Serve with Pita Crisps.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
- 4 (5-inch) pita rounds, white or whole-wheat or
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Using a very sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut the
rounds in half, then cut each half into 4 wedges. Pull each
wedge apart, following the "pocket" separation, to make 2
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Dip and basting brush into the olive oil and lightly coat
the inside part of each wedge. Place the wedges oiled-side up
on a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes,
turning the sheet 180 degrees after 5 minutes. The wedges will
crisp and turn brown.
Remove the crisps to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight
container until ready to serve.
Makes 64 wedges.
Bagna Cauda (Warm Bath)
Rita Venturino, director of Rita Venturino's Italian Table
Cooking School in Richland, offers this classic hot Italian
dip that will amaze family and friends. Expect a crowd to
gather around for a dunking marathon, so keep plenty of
dippers handy. When testing this recipe, the Trib food staff
used clarified butter, which keeps the dip clear to the
bottom. Also, bourbon can substitute for the brandy.
To quell the sharp bite of the raw garlic, soak the cloves
in milk for a few hours.
- 6 large canned flat anchovy fillets (1 small can),
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 6 small cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Crusty Italian bread, cut into slices, slices cut in
half, for dipping
- Bite-size vegetables, such as mini-mushrooms, sweet
pepper strips, radicchio leaves, cauliflower or broccoli
pieces, asparagus stalks or grape tomatoes, or a combination
Place the anchovies in a very small saucepan and mash them,
using a wooden spoon. Add the olive oil, butter and garlic;
gently simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the brandy and black
pepper. The mixture will bubble up as the alcohol burns off.
When the bubbling subsides, return the pan to medium-low heat
and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Transfer the dip to a chafing dish, warming tray or mini
slow cooker. It should constantly simmer during serving.
Serve with bread and vegetables for dipping.
Deviled Crab Dip
This recipe is from "Everyday Celebrations: Savoring Food,
Family and Life at Home" by Donata Maggipinto (Chronicle
Books, $24.95 paperback). The author writes: "This richly
satisfying, warm dip has a spicy bite, hence the description
'deviled.' A friend of mine calls it 'a never-ending crab
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for
greasing baking dish
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 sweet green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 3 cups fresh bread crumbs, divided
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell
- 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Crudites or crackers, for serving
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 6-cup baking dish.
In a medium skillet or saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter
over low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, for
about 3 minutes. Add the green pepper and celery and cook,
stirring, for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Put 2 cups of the bread crumbs in a large bowl and
gradually stir the milk into the crumbs. Mix well. Let stand
for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the crumbs
are moistened evenly.
Add the crabmeat, onion mixture, parsley, lemon juice and
dry mustard. Mix well. Add the cayenne, salt and black pepper.
Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. Place the remaining
bread crumbs in a bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons
butter and stir it into the crumbs. Toss the crumbs to coat
with the butter, then sprinkle evenly over the crab mixture.
Bake until lightly browned, for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve
with crudites or crackers.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Potted Bock Beer and Brie Spread
This recipe is from the National Beer Wholesalers
Association. The dip complements bread sticks, raw vegetables
or crackers. It works well on a buffet or as a passed hors
d'oeuvre; serve it from a rustic crack or an elegant bowl.
Pale Bock beer offers a sweet tangy finish. Bock beer is a
dark, sweet, full-bodied lager traditionally brewed during the
spring in Germany.
- 2 wheels baby brie cheese, about 13 ounces each, rind
- 4 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, cut into chunks
- 2/3 cup pale bock beer
- 1/3 cup dried tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
- 1 tablespoon white wine Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Crackers, raw vegetables, bread sticks, for serving
Cut the brie into small chunks. Place in a food processor
with the Cheddar chunks, beer, dried tomatoes, horseradish
sauce, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Pulse the mixture,
scraping down the sides of the processor bowl, using a rubber
spatula, until the mixture is fairly smooth, but with some
bits of cheese present.
Add the parsley. Pulse the mixture just to incorporate. If
the mixture is too thick, work in a little more beer until of
the desired spreading consistency.
Pack into 2 (2-cup) crocks and cover the surface of the
spread with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one day before
serving to allow the flavors to blend.
The spread can be made as long as 1 week ahead;
Let the spread come to room temperature before serving.
Accompany with crackers, raw vegetables, bread sticks or a
Makes 4 cups.
Roasted Eggplant Dip with Spiced Pita
This milder cousin of baba ghannouj has no tahini, so you
can fully taste the roasted eggplant. Be generous with the
parsley; its fresh green taste pumps up the dip. The recipe is
from "Party Appetizers: Small Bites, Big Flavors" by Tori
Ritchie (Chronicle, $14.95).
For the dip:
- 1 Italian eggplant, about 1 pound
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 or 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt, to taste
For the pita crisps:
- 3 (6-inch) pita breads
- Olive or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the whole eggplant in a baking dish just large enough
to hold it and pierce the eggplant 2 or 3 times, using the tip
of a knife. Place the garlic cloves on a small square of foil
and splash them with a bit of oil. Close the garlic in the
Put the foil packet in the dish alongside the eggplant and
place them in the oven. Bake until the garlic is soft when
squeezed -- open the packet to test it -- for about 35
minutes. Remove the garlic and let it cool in the foil.
Continue to bake the eggplant until it is wrinkled, soft
and almost collapsed, for about 25 minutes more. Let it cool
in the pan and leave the oven on.
While the eggplant cooks, make the pita crisps. Cut the
pitas in half and peel them apart to make quarters. Arrange
the quarters on a work surface and brush them well with oil.
Stir together the salt, paprika and cayenne in a small ramekin
or bowl and sprinkle them over the pita quarters.
Stack and cut the pita into wedges -- you should get 3
wedges per quarter, or 36 total.
Spread the wedges on baking sheets and bake them until
crisp and golden, for about 12 minutes. The crisps can be
cooled and stored airtight for as long as 2 days.
Cut the stem off the cooled eggplant and pull off and
discard the skin. Chop the flesh and set it aside.
Peel the garlic cloves and put them in a food processor
fitted with the metal blade. Add the parsley and pulse until
it is finely chopped. Add the chopped eggplant, 1 tablespoon
lemon juice and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Pulse
until combined -- do not puree.
Taste the dip and add salt and more lemon juice or oil --
or both -- as needed. Pulse again until the mixture is almost
smooth; it should have the texture of guacamole.
If the dip is made ahead, transfer to a bowl and wrap with
plastic wrap, pressing it right onto the surface. Refrigerate
for as long as 2 days.
Serve the dip in a bowl surrounded with the pita crisps.
Makes 12 servings.
Barbecue-Spiced Squid with Cayenne-Blue
Fried calamari is a Pittsburgh favorite -- this unusual
recipe uses a barbecue spice mix to coat the squid, which is
dipped in a cayenne-blue cheese aioli at serving time. The
recipe is from "Hot Hot Hot! Cooking with Fire and Spice" by
Paul Gayler (Kyle Press, $19.95 paperback). Gayler is an
English-born chef who has studied in Southeast Asia, the
American Southwest and Mexico and has a fondness for North
African, Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisines. He is executive
chef at the Lanesborough Hotel in Hyde Park Corner, London.
The inspiration for this dish, the author writes, came from
a trip to Houston, where he did a promotion for a hotel. "The
chef took me to a restaurant called Pignetti's, where we drank
tequilas all night, and the owner brought us a spicy
deep-fried squid with a blue cheese sauce. Here is my slightly
adapted version -- tequilas optional."
Cayenne-Blue Cheese Aioli (recipe
- 1 1/4 pounds cleaned small or medium squid
- 2 tablespoons Barbecue Spice Mix (recipe follows)
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- Salt and ground Szechuan pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Make the Cayenne-Blue Cheese Aioli.
Slice the squid bodies into rings 1/4-inch thick and leave
the tentacles in large pieces. Mix the Barbecue Spice Mix,
cornstarch and baking powder. Heat some vegetable oil in a
deep-fat fryer or a large, deep pot to 375 degrees.
Dip the squid pieces in the milk and then in the spice mix,
shaking off any excess. Fry in batches in the hot oil for
about 1 to 2 minutes, until brown and crisp. Do not overcook
or the squid will be tough.
Remove the squid and drain on paper towels, then sprinkle
with salt and Szechuan pepper. Serve immediately with the
aioli and lemon wedges.
Makes 4 servings.
Cayenne-Blue Cheese Aioli
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces blue cheese (3/4 cup)
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the garlic, lemon juice
and a little salt. Add the oil, drop by drop at first,
whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and thick.
Gently mix the blue cheese with the hot water to form a paste,
then mix into the sauce. Add the cayenne and more salt, if
needed. Cover and refrigerate.
Barbecue Spice Mix
This mix can be sprinkled over vegetables or rubbed on fish
or meat before barbecuing or broiling.
- 1/4 cup crushed red pepper
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until
thoroughly combined. Transfer to an airtight container and
seal well before storing. The mix will keep in a cool, dry
place for about a month.
Lime Mousse Dip
Dip as dessert -- why not? The classic is chocolate fondue,
but this Lime Mousse Dip is a refreshing change, and it lends
itself to dippers such as blueberry bagel chips, fresh
pineapple spears, wedges of plums or Toasted Pound Cake
Crisps. The recipe is from "Delicious Dips" by Diane Morgan
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- Freshly grated zest of 2 large limes
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) crème fraîche
- Toasted Pound Cake Crisps (recipe follows)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle
attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add
the confectioners' sugar, lime zest, nutmeg and salt. Mix on
low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then beat on high
speed until fluffy, for 1 minute longer. Add the lime juice
and mix to blend in, scraping the sides of the bowl once or
In a separate bowl, whisk the creme fraiche, using a
balloon whisk, until it holds soft peaks. Using a rubber
spatula, fold the creme fraiche into the cream cheese mixture.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least
2 hours before serving to allow the mixture to thicken. Serve
The dip can be prepared 1 day in advance. Cover and
Makes 2 cups.
Toasted Pound Cake Crisps
- 1 loaf (10.75 ounces) frozen all-butter pound cake,
thawed; or 1 loaf bakery pound cake.
Position the oven racks in the center and top third of the
oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready 2 rimmed baking
Using a sharp knife, trim the ends of the pound cake and
then cut the cake crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut
each slice on the diagonal to form 2 triangles. Arrange the
slices in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake until the
slices are beginning to turn light brown at the edges, for
about 5 minutes.
Turn the slices over, switch the position of the baking
sheets and bake until the slices just begin to pick up color,
for about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Arrange in a basket or serving bowl and serve immediately.
The pound cake crisps are best served within 8 hours of
making them. Store uncovered until serving.