2 amazing dips for effortless holiday eating and entertaining
Making copious amounts of amazing homemade dip for the holidays seems to be turning into a very handy habit, despite my fickleness with food. Every now and then I get this niggly feeling like I should be overthinking my next meal just like everyone else seems to around this time of year…but then I remember I have a zillion dips in the fridge.
With a few homemade dips in the fridge, you’re just a loaf of bread, bottle of passata, or bowl of potatoes/pasta away from a delicious, effortless lunch or dinner, that seems like you’ve slaved away, when actually you practically just mixed some stuff in a bowl. As a bonus for those of us enjoying summer Christmasses, you’ve also always got options in the fridge for an impromptu picnic. Then there is the very awesome feeling you get when several people at a potluck dinner ask who made this dip, and you get to shyly put your hand up (ok who am I kidding, I totally owned that shizz).
Here are two of my favourites, which also happened to elicit a lot of the aforementioned hand-raising at a recent potluck. On top, a creamy, herbacious roasted cauliflower dip; below that, a caramelised mushroom, onion, garlic and thyme dip, which really needs no selling at all. Bonus: they’re both incredibly fun to make. The oven does the work for you, and then you get to do the fun bit of putting things in a bowl and blitzing, tasting and adjusting seasonings as you go while reliving all your childhood
reenactments fantasies of being one of those people on TV who cook all day long and get to say “and here’s one I prepared earlier.”
If you’re planning to serve these up for New Years, you can give this super quick cheat’s ciabatta a roll too, using other racks in the oven for dip components while it bakes (note you want a warmish kitchen for that bread). This way everything can be done in advance so when your friends arrive you can be ready to mingle while everyone asks what the amazing aroma in the air is. Of course you could also do some crackers or something (salt and vinegar kettle chips/crisps are pretty outrageously amazing with these dips, as I discovered).
Creamy roast cauliflower dip
makes 2-3 cups, and you can do more florets than specified below and reserve some for pasta or to mix into a salad.
measures very approximate – let your taste buds guide you!
- 2 large handfuls cauliflower florets (walnut sized)
- cooking oil
- 200g tub sour cream
- 2 T finely chopped dill (tarragon or basil could be nice too)
- 2 T sliced spring onions/scallions (some white and some green parts)
- 1 Tbs capers (with their brine or salt), or cornichons would be yummy too
- 1 Tbs dijon mustard
- freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste
- optional: few drops sherry vinegar, or lemon zest & juice
Brush florets with plenty of oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 200C (400F) on a single layer until plenty of brown splotches appear and the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes in a preheated oven, but you can start these from a cold oven). Blitz with everything else in a blender, food processor or with an immersion/stick blender. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Caramelised mushroom, onion, and garlic dip
makes just under 2 cups
measures very approximate – let your tastebuds guide you!
- around 500g brown button mushrooms (portobellos are the next best thing, but I don’t think they’d be as nice), halved/quartered so they’re all roughly the same size
- 1 large onion, chopped into 2cm dice
- 6-7 large garlic cloves, crushed (peel them after they come out of the oven, much easier)
- optional: sprigs of thyme or rosemary or both
- cooking oil and (optional) butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional extra virgin olive oil at the end
Brush mushrooms, onion, and garlic with oil, and arrange on a baking tray, not too spaced apart – you don’t want them to dry out too much in the oven. In fact I even washed my mushrooms in water (yeah, this is technically a no no in the culinary world, but in this case it resulted in a moister end product). Dot with small slices of butter, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 200C (400F) until the mushrooms are golden brown, the onions are soft, and there’s some juicy stuff lingering about. Pop your herbs in and mix things up on your tray to coat everything in the juices. Lightly cover with tinfoil (or in my case, I just folded over my reusable nonstick sheet a bit to partially cover the mushies), and turn off the oven, but leave the mushrooms in for the next hour.
Remove garlic skins, and herbs, and blitz in a blender, food processor or with an immersion/stick blender. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Scallion pancakes (that’s spring onion for the non-Americans)