Monday, 4 January 2016

Warm Smokey Cheese Dip

Last night we had the last get together of the Christmas / New Year season, and I made this dip in an effort to use up some of the green onions and extra cheese that we had in the house. I also used some whiskey, as none of us are really whiskey drinkers.

 I served it with pita chips, made by cutting pita bread into eight pieces and tossing them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper...bake until crispy at a temperature of 325F.

The dip itself was incredibly rich, slightly spicy and is all gone! Yes, I would make it again, but not too often; this would be a tasty and much too easy way to pack on the pounds!

In a bowl, combine:

3/4 cup soft cream cheese
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons whiskey
salt and pepper to taste

Stir in:

1 handful of finely grated Parmesan
2 large handfuls of grated aged Cheddar

Taste and adjust the salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

Scrape the dip into a small ovenproof dish.

Place into a 350F oven and bake until heated through and bubbling; this should take about 20 - 30 minutes.

Give the warm dip a good stir before serving it; the oils in the cheese separate slightly during baking.

Serve accompanied by crackers, bread or pita chips.

  • Warm dips are easy to put together ahead of time; put the dip in the oven to bake just before the guests arrive.
  • Soft cream cheese makes a good base. Either use spreadable cream cheese, or allow the brick of cream cheese to warm up and soften before using it.
  • Another cheese that is a good base for a warm dip is soft goat cheese.
  • Add any chopped fresh herbs that you have available, keeping in mind that the cheese can overpower milder tasting herbs. Good choices are chives, thyme, rosemary, basil.
  • Spices can add a lot to the cheese; I chose smoked paprika for the slight heat and smoky taste. Cayenne pepper, chipotle or ancho chilies can add heat and smokiness as well. Fennel seeds; pink, green or black peppercorns; nutmeg and cumin are also good choices.
  • The type of cheese you use is completely up to you...I also like to use goat cheese, blue cheese, asiago, pepper jack and smoked white cheddar.
  • Instead of green onions, fold in leftover caramelized onions; chopped sundried tomatoes; chopped cooked spinach; diced artichokes; roasted garlic or red pepper.
  • A fun presentation for a warm dip like this is to cut the top off a crusty round loaf, such as sourdough, and carefully remove as much of the soft inside as you can. Save this for breadcrumbs or croutons. Place the hollowed out loaf onto a baking sheet and into a 300F oven to toast and dry the inside of the bowl out slightly. Allow the bowl to cool before filling it. Place the cheese dip into the bowl and bake it right away (if you allow it to sit in the bread bowl too long before baking it will make the bread soggy). Serve.

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