I maintain that if there is one thing that makes foods more fun and enjoyable, it is a good dip. Think about it – how much more fun is it to eat raw veggies, potato wedges, flatbreads, or even fruit when you have something to add some extra zing? Don’t get me wrong, those things taste great on their own, but dips are like the cherry on the sundae. They make it okay to play with your foods. They can transform a food you don’t enjoy into something you love. They are a mainstay at any party or social function. And they are even a great way to get in extra nutrition (think protein & fibre with hummus, or healthy fats with guacamole). 3 cheers for dips!
Given the above statements, it’s no wonder I was excited to have the chance to check out a new cookbook dedicated entirely to the world of dips. 150 Best Dips & Salsas by Judith Finlayson & Jordan Wagman (published by Robert Rose) is a great guide to all things related to the art of dipping. It includes recipes for a variety of dips and salsas, as well as a whole chapter dedicated to “dippables” – think chips, flatbreads, potato wedges, and crostini.
Seriously, I would challenge you to not find a dip or salsa that satisfies your tastes or dietary preferences. I think pretty much every kind of salsa you can think of is in this cookbook, including a whole chapter on fruit salsas. There are dessert dips, seafood dips, chip dips, and more. The flavours range from salty and sweet to spicy and sour. Many of the recipes are simple and use only fresh ingredients, often using things you probably have on hand in your pantry or fridge.
While there were plenty of recipes that looked amazing, I ended up picking 2 to test out. Somehow I ended up choosing two creamy dips – in hindsight, perhaps I should have tried out a salsa or dessert dip instead, but whatcha gonna do? Just means I need to make some more dips!
The first dip I tried was the Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip, because it literally consisted of 2 ingredients – feta cheese and roasted red peppers. It almost seems like a silly recipe, because it is so simple, but it’s a great reminder that you can create delicious foods with only a few simple ingredients. I loved this dip, because it’s something you could easily whip up when unexpected company comes over or you find yourself invited to a potluck last minute. It is rich, so it’s great to serve with raw vegetables to balance it out.
The next dip that caught my eye was the Nippy Oyster and Bacon Dip. I absolutely adore smoked oysters, so I was all over this dip. How could you not love cream cheese, bacon, jalapeno peppers, and smoked oysters? It was super creamy and rich (and I even used light cream cheese!), with just a little kick of spice. A great dip to serve warm on a cold fall afternoon with your favourite flatbread, crackers, or potato wedges as suggested in the book. Even my seafood hating boyfriend liked it, because it was easy enough to avoid the oysters if you wanted. I was okay with that, because it left more for me 🙂
Overall, I really like this cookbook, and think it will make a great addition to my library. I’m definitely looking forward to some more potlucks so I can try out more of those dips and salsas. Good thing the holiday season is almost upon us!
Nippy Oyster and Bacon Dip
makes 2 cups
- 2 slices bacon, cooked to crisp then crumbled
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, preferably sharp
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 can (4 oz/85 g) smoked oysters, drained and cut in half
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, finely chopped
- potato wedges
- potato chips
- blanched broccoli or cauliflower spears
1. In a small slow cooker (3 1/2 quart maximum), combine bacon, cream cheese, cheddar, mayonnaise, black pepper, and jalapeno pepper. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Add oysters and bell pepper and stir again. Cook on high for an additional 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately with desired vegetables or set temperature to low until ready to serve.
Note: I do not have a small slow cooker, so I simple used small pie plate the oven – 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, then added the oysters and red peppers, and cooked for another 5-7 minutes until bubbly. I then dished it out in smaller containers to serve.
Let me know – what’s your favourite kind of dip or salsa? Share your recipes in the comments below!
Disclaimer – this cookbook was provided to me free of charge to review for the blog. All opinions and photos are my own. Recipe reprinted with permission.