How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dippy Signature

Readers of this space know that we love to cook all kinds of things, some of which are quite fancy. It is a bit funny, then, that my signature dish is just a dip. I had not made it for quite a while, but brought some to a party recently, to rave reviews. When looking up the recipe -- James' Killer Queso Dip -- on my web site, I was reminded that this dip actually brought me temporary fame in the online recipe world, as it made me the Featured Chef on for a week or so several years ago. I had not heard of the site, but its managers found my dip and liked it!

Pam and I cannot remember where we originally found the recipe, but we know I have been making it since our Texas days in the mid 90s, if not before. The original recipe called for one cup of salsa, leading me to make the double recipe my standard dose, since salsa usually comes in a 16-ounce jar. The real key to the dip's success, though, is that I do not use ordinary salsa -- I always get something a bit more complex and smoky, usually a chipotle salsa, and usually as local as I can find.

This weekend I have made the dip twice, with a new variation. Rather than using roasted red pepper from a jar, I roasted my own. After years of being intimidated by this process, I tried it about a year ago (as I describe in detail in Busy Kitchen). It is actually easy and quite rewarding. For the dip, I used a very large, mild red pepper that was being sold as a red bell pepper but was deep red and shaped more like an oversized poblano. I charred, sweated, peeled, seeded and chopped it, stirring it gently into the dip. (I use a silicon scraper rather than a spoon, with low heat to get this dip smooth.)

The roasted pepper is not only better flavor, but it avoids the use of a glass jar, so this is a "greener" red pepper. Realizing that the dip might benefit from the residual oil in which peppers are packed, I added a tablespoon or two of my own. We are way beyond ordinary olive oils at Casa Hayes-Boh, though, so I used some oil infused with Persian lime. I think this moved the dip to a whole new level!

All this use of lime-infused oil created a potential crisis. Next week, the comestibles for Pam's birthday will be lime-themed, so I called our friends at Lebherz to ship us some more, along with some chipotle-infused oil, which might be added the next time!

(December 16, 2016)

We forgot to mention beverage pairings! At my department meeting yesterday, fellow geographers enjoyed this with freshly roasted coffee from Jinotega, Nicaragua. (Incidentally, if six professional geographers bring lunch together, it is going to be varied and delicious!)

For adult-beverage pairings, we recommend Malbec or a pale ale.

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