While my beer was fermenting from last episode, I got busy prepping the four recipes from the 75th episode of Good Eats. The main player in this episode is that famous star of the cocktail party:  dip. Alton raises the question in this episode of what, exactly, constitutes a dip. Is salsa a dip? Alton concludes that salsa is not, in fact, a dip. Why? It does not meet Alton’s dip criterion, which is that a dip must be able to travel from its vessel to your mouth without going “splat” on the floor. Sour cream and onions do, however, make a suitable dip, which is the first one up in in this episode.

Onion Dip from Scratch

Sour cream and onion dip, also known as “California Dip,” was apparently very popular in the 60s, and Alton’s take on it begins with a bowl containing 1 1/2 C sour cream and 3/4 C mayonnaise (I used homemade mayo).

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Sour cream and mayo (homemade) make the dip base.

The next step is to heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat, adding 2 T olive oil, 1 1/2 C diced onions, and a pinch of Kosher salt. The onions should be cooked until they are caramelized and golden, which will take about 20 minutes.

Once the onions are golden brown, set them aside to cool a bit. Finally, add the onions, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/4 t white pepper, and 1/4 t garlic powder to the sour cream/mayo bowl, stirring to combine.

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Caramelized onions added to dip base, along with Kosher salt, white pepper, and garlic powder.

This dip came together super easily and was quite addictive, and I served it with good bread, baby carrots, and bell pepper.

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Alton’s onion dip with veggies and bread.

The sweet caramelized onion flavor is just right with the tangy sour cream and creamy mayo, and it is easy to see how this would be a crowd favorite.

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Back when I did Alton’s episode on artichokes, I seriously questioned his judgement in not including a recipe for spinach/artichoke dip. Alas, I guess this dip episode explains why he did not. Spinach and artichoke dip is definitely one of my favorites, so I was excited to make Alton’s version. Alton has a newer version of this recipe on his web site, which I actually made for our neighborhood New Year’s Eve party this year. The big difference between the Good Eats recipe and the new recipe is that there is a higher ratio of cream cheese to spinach.

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Ingredients for artichoke/spinach dip: mayo, sour cream, frozen spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, Kosher salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan.

For the original recipe, begin by combining 1/4 C mayo (I again used homemade), 1/4 C sour cream, and 6 ounces of cream cheese, warmed in the microwave.

Heat 1 C of chopped frozen spinach and 1 1/2 C frozen artichoke hearts  in a cup of boiling water until warmed through; I had to use canned artichoke hearts, so I did not heat them. Be sure to thoroughly drain the spinach, squeezing out any excess water.

To the mayo/cream cheese mixture, add the spinach and artichoke hearts, along with 1/3 C grated Parmesan, 1/2 t red pepper flakes, 1/4 t garlic powder, and 1/4 t Kosher salt.

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Spinach, artichoke hearts, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and Kosher salt added to dip base.

This dip is, of course, best served warm. You can keep the dip warm by putting about an inch of water into a Crockpot, setting the bowl of dip into the water. Set the Crockpot to low and it will keep the dip warm for serving.

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Spinach and artichoke dip, kept warm in a Crockpot.

We ate Alton’s artichoke dip with bread, crackers, and veggies.This dip creamy, tangy, has a touch of heat, and has a variety of textures.

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Spinach and artichoke dip.

I do have to say that I prefer Alton’s updated version of this dip over the original, as I like a greater ratio of dip base to artichokes/spinach. We also really appreciated the heat from the red pepper flakes in this recipe. This is one I will make again, albeit the updated recipe.

Guacamole

A dip episode would not be complete without a recipe for guacamole. We make guacamole pretty frequently, usually just tossing together some avocados, lime juice, Kosher salt, garlic, and sometimes some salsa. If I want to put more time into it, I go to a recipe my mom created that uses roasted tomatillos. To make Alton’s version, squeeze the juice of a lime into a bowl and add the flesh of three avocados, tossing the avocados to coat them thoroughly and prevent browning.

Drain the lime juice from the avocados, reserving it for later.

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Lime juice drained off of avocados and set aside for later.

To the avocados add 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/2 t cumin, and 1/4 t cayenne pepper. Mash the avocados with the seasonings, using a potato masher.

Once you have your desired consistency, add 1/2 an onion, chopped. Next, add 1 T cilantro, 1/2 of a seeded jalapeno, 1 clove of garlic, 1 T of the reserved lime juice, and 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped.

Mix everything together, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and let the dip sit in a cool place for two hours before serving.

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Alton’s guacamole.

Of course, we ate our guac with some tortilla chips. This guacamole was good, but it was nothing outstanding, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to make it again. I did like the additions of the tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno, as they added texture and flavor, but I thought it could use a touch more heat.Mom’s recipe remains my favorite, as those roasted tomatillos take guac to a new level.

Chicken Liver Mousse

Last up in this episode was Alton’s chicken liver mousse, which was to be my foray into cooking with liver. I only made half a batch of this recipe, as it was just for the two of us and the shelf-life of this dip is only a couple days. For a full batch of the dip, heat a large saucier over medium heat and melt 2 T of butter.img_5891 To the melted butter add 2 C chopped onions, 1 chopped Granny Smith apple, 1 t fresh thyme, and a heavy pinch of Kosher salt. Cover the pan and let it cook until the contents are golden.

Next, add a pound of cleaned/drained chicken livers to the pan. I found chicken livers near the chicken in my grocery store. Honestly, I find chicken livers hard to stomach when they are raw; they just are not at all appetizing to me, and I may have gagged a little… just a little.

Anyway, stir the livers gently, cooking them until they are gray on the outside, but still pink on the inside; Alton says this will take about three minutes, but it took several minutes longer for my livers to be cooked. Once the livers are cooked, add 1/4 C brandy to the pan and simmer for a minute.

Remove the pan from the heat, letting it cool for five minutes. Once the liver mixture cools, puree it in a food processor until it is smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat a cup of heavy cream until it has soft peaks.

Finally, fold the whipped cream into the liver mixture in two installments.

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Alton’s chicken liver mousse on crispy baguette.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to two days. We thought this was just okay. We have had other chicken liver pâtés that we have really enjoyed (in fact, we had a great one last week at a restaurant), but this one was not our favorite. The color of this mousse was sort of gray and unappealing, and Ted commented that he found the mousse overly sweet. Of the recipes in this episode, this one was our least favorite.

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