I love it when folks make my recipes! We had a big wedding in our family late this summer and celebrated ahead of time with a shower here at Glover Gardens. The nuptial couple took on the task of making one of the appetizers, my Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread. Their version was better than mine! (I think it was the love.) I’m revisiting this recipe right now because it is perfect for fall parties.
So – a little bit about this dish. It is salty, tangy, creamy, super-garlicky and fresh, with the brightness of fresh tomatoes and herbs. As you’ll see in the original post, I’ve seen guests fight each other for the last few bites. Really.
In addition to being an uber crowd-pleaser, this dish is easy to make! It is perfect for cocktail parties or wine tastings.
I’ve blogged before about the Grill-Meister’s smoked salmon. It is amazingly good. He makes it for all major holidays and any time we have a party; I think there would be a revolt if the smoked salmon was not on the appetizer menu at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is expected. (Did I say it’s amazingly good?)
My Sister-by-Choice sent me a text last month that got me to thinking that the Grill-Meister needs to start making a double batch: “Not that there’s ever any leftover smoked salmon that Tom makes, and it’s delicious by itself, but saw this in the Bon Appétit Thanksgiving edition magazine and thought of you.” She attached a picture of this recipe from Bon Appétit: Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip.
Yum! I didn’t have to twist the Grill-Meister’s arm to get him to double up on the salmon, and the dip was as good as it looked. The double batch thing will be permanent.
Served with Belgian endive and little toasts, this 7-layer dip is very festive and just right for a holiday or cocktail party. Thanks for the tip, Sister-by-Choice! What else ya got?
I published the Grill-Meister’s smoked salmon recipe and process as a gift to all cooks who have a smoker or want a reason to buy one. Find it here: Tom’s Smoked Salmon .
My colleague and friend Stephanie makes the most marvelous dip, and we pester her to bring a batch to us at least monthly. It’s ‘formal’ name is Creamy Jalapeño Dip, but we mostly refer to it as Green Dip. And sometimes, Crack Dip (because it’s addictive). It’s that good!
Stephanie brings a big ol’ batch of Green Dip to work with a couple of giant bags of tortilla chips and some veggie dippers, puts it all out in a common area, and backs away slowly: then we attack it like we’ve been starved for months.
Stephanie makes the Green Dip / Crack Dip with her son Josh, and together, they won the dip category of our Halloween Dips and Desserts competition at work, a bit of team-building fun we had together last month. Our contest was patterned after the Food Network’s show Chopped, and yours truly was a judge. Fun!
A self-described “Team Mom, Stephanie is generous with her time and her Green Dip, and has provided the recipe so that I can share it with all of you. It is PERFECT for a post-Thanksgiving football weekend (add it to your tailgate party!), and great on a turkey sandwich. In fact, there are tons of ways you can use this dip – see the list at the end of the post.
Stephanie was the food stylist for this post, providing the photo below. I think she might need to be a guest blogger in the Glover Gardens Cookbook!
Creamy Jalapeno Dip, AKA Stephanie’s Green Dip
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1-oz. packet of ranch dressing mix
1 small can diced green chilies (mild or hot, depending on your taste)
2-4 fresh jalapenos (depends on pepper size and desired heat), cut into pieces; remove and save seeds and spines
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, pulled off of stems
Juice of 1 small lime
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pinches cumin
Throw all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. Add jalapeno seeds and spines to increase heat as desired. Serve as an appetizer with chips or fresh veggies.
And there’s more…
The best thing about the Green Dip is using the leftovers. It will keep for about 10 days in the fridge, which is good, because this recipe makes a large batch. Since Stephanie started gifting us with this dip (including once as a get-well gift after a hospitalization), I have used it in various and delightful ways:
As a spread for a turkey sandwich, chicken breast sandwich, or just about any sandwich (think Green Dip BLT)
Whipped into leftover mashed potatoes for a whole new take on them
In scrambled eggs, before scrambling – a couple of tablespoons provides a creamy richness, and just the right bit of spice
Swirled into creamed corn
As a condiment on fish tacos, shrimp tacos, any tacos, fajitas
Tossed with chopped chicken breast and minced red onions for a quick chicken salad
As a dip for boiled shrimp in place of – or addition to – cocktail sauce or remoulade
As a salad dressing – it’s great with romaine and crisp, brightly colored bell peppers
In place of mayo, plain yogurt or sour cream in a variety of other uses
The final say…
There are tons of recipes for dips like this out there on the internet, but Stephanie’s is The BOMB. It’s the only version of a creamy jalapeño dip I need, because she and her son Josh have fine-tuned this recipe over the years they’ve been making it. Trust me on this.
I love to create in my kitchen on weekends, take a bunch of photos, and then recreate the yumminess in posts here in the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog. Alas, there are no kitchen creations to post this weekend, as I have an early morning flight for a business trip tomorrow and am busy preparing and packing. I do have a recipe to share, though: Churrasco’s chimichurri sauce. Have you had chimichurri before? It is sooooo good – a foodie-worthy sauce that is very simple to make. Churrasco’s is a Houston-based South American restaurant chain, and they deliver the real South American goods. “Churrasco” means beef, or more generally, grilled meats, in both Spanish and Portugese.
That green sauce on the steak is chimichurri sauce, and it is wonderful. Fresh, green and garlicky in its olive oil base, it brings a brightness to the steak. I can’t get enough chimichurri, and it is good on so many other things! Scrambled eggs, fajita tacos, grilled chicken, as a dip…the possibilities are endless. In addition to topping steak with it, Churrasco’s serves chimichurri with dried plantain chips as an appetizer.
Whenever I go to Churrasco’s, I bring home plantains and chimichurri sauce, to continue the South American party at home.
There are lots of chimichurri recipes out there, but I am loyal to this one from Churrasco’s, published in Food and Wine magazine. Simple and delicious, it has only four ingredients and can be made in less than five minutes. Although the recipe calls for curly parsley, flat-leaf parsley is also excellent, and you can substitute cilantro for a different south-of-the-border flavor.
2 bunches curly parsley, thick stems discarded
1/3 cup garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate, but allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Here’s a link to the recipe in Food and Wine, which also has instructions for the steak. Another of my finds at Churrasco’s was the Pisco Sour.
My Aunt-Mom turned me on to this terrific and easy recipe for remoulade a few years ago. The recipe on the McCormick’s web site suggests serving it with boiled shrimp, which is how I first encountered it, but it is good in many, many other ways:
We love salmon at Glover Gardens. Smoked, baked, grilled – you name it. Occasionally, there are leftovers, which we regard with glee, because that means we can make this salmon spread. We prefer to make it with Tom’s Smoked Salmon, but any smoked or cooked salmon will do.
The deceptively simple recipe yields a rich and sophisticated spread that is fancy enough for company. The bright flavors of the lime juice and zest combine beautifully with the briny, salty capers and smoky earthiness of the salmon.
In addition to being great on crackers, there are lots of other ways to serve this spread:
As a filling for finger sandwiches: spread it thickly on OroWheat Sandwich Thins, add thinly sliced red onion and cut into quarters – easy peasy!
As a stuffing for hollowed-out cherry tomatoes, another quick and elegant appetizer
Smeared on green apple slices
As an omelet filling
Instead of tartar sauce for fried shrimp or oyster po’boys
In fact, it’s so good on so many things that you might just want to make a double batch.
Smoked Salmon Spread
Cooking Time: 15 minutes; Serves 6-8 as an appetizer
There are two versions of this recipe: the spread and the dip. The only difference is the sour cream: if you want a dip, add it, if you want a spread, don’t.
4 ounces or more of wood-smoked salmon (or any smoked or cooked salmon), skinless
1/4 small red onion, roughly chopped
8 oz. of cream cheese (can substitute reduced-fat or Neufatschel)
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. capers, separated
Zest from 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
6 drops of Tabasco
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sour cream (optional – only if you want a dip)
1 tbsp. finely chopped tomato and/or red onion (optional, for garnish)
Pulse the salmon in the food processor or blender until it is finely ground, then add the red onion, cream cheese, 2 tbsp. of capers, lime zest, lime juice, Tabasco and salt. Process until almost smooth. If you are making the dip rather than the spread, add the sour cream and process until just mixed.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the additional capers and optional tomato and/or red onion. Serve with crackers, baguette slices or pumpernickel toasts.
Note: If you want a chunkier spread and have extra salmon, coarsely chop up to 2 oz. more of it by hand and stir it into the spread after you remove it from the food processor.
If you don’t smoke your own salmon or have leftover grilled or baked, you can buy 4 oz. packages of smoked salmon in the refrigerated section next to the seafood counter at most major grocery stores.
I might be a Condiment-aholic. I love-love-love condiments. Especially those with southwest flavors. One of the simplest, oldest and best of the southwest condiments is salsa. I found a wonderful fresh salsa recipe years ago in a cookbook called Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen, her Garden Fresh Salsa (click here). Over the years, I added a little of this and subtracted a little of that, and pretty soon it was my own recipe.
I love to make it in the summer when the garden is overflowing with peppers.
Salsa goes with just about everything!
Here are some of the ways you can use this salsa, in addition to the comfort-food snack of tortilla chips and salsa:
As a quick sauce for a flat-iron steak
On grilled meats, grilled fish or grilled vegetables
Mixed with olive oil and Zippy Southwest (or your favorite spice mix) to make a marinade
Mixed with cream cheese for a quick spread
Poured over a goat cheese log for an easy but elegant appetizer
Atop poached eggs, toast and bacon for a variation of Eggs Benedict
As a dollop on top of hot tomato soup
Added to ground beef before you shape it into burgers
As a spread for a southwestern turkey panini or in a grilled cheese sandwich
And the obvious – as a required condiment for all sorts of yummy Tex-Mex or Mex-Mex dishes, like quesadillas, tacos, burritos, taquitos, etc.
There’s a long list of ingredients in this recipe, but this salsa comes together quickly.
1 bunch of cilantro, washed, ends removed
Leaves from 4-5 sprigs of fresh oregano
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil (10-15 leaves)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole pickled jalapenos or 2 tbsp sliced pickled jalapenos (choose your desired level of heat)
2-6 fresh chile peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, roughly chopped
½ Spanish onion, roughly chopped
28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve the juice)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of honey
2 tsp of coarse sea salt
¼ tsp cumin
1 cup of fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
Assemble cilantro, oregano, basil, garlic and pickled jalapenos in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
Add the chile peppers, bell pepper and onion and pulse 8-10 times until the additional ingredients are about a medium dice. Add drained tomatoes and pulse about 4 times.
Add lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt, cumin and ½ cup of the reserved juice from the canned tomatoes, then pulse several times. Pour into a medium bowl and then add the chopped fresh tomatoes.
Stir, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more of the reserved juice from the tomatoes if you’d like the consistency to be thinner.
Makes about 5 cups, but doesn’t last long!
You can play with this salsa in all kinds of ways. Substitute cider vinegar for more of an acidic kick, or double the lime juice and leave out the vinegar altogether for a super-fresh citrus taste. Adding a chipotle pepper instead of the pickled jalapeños will give the salsa a sultry smokiness. Leave in the seeds and ribs of the peppers if you want to increase the heat, or toss in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes at the end.
You can serve the salsa immediately, but it’s amazing if you let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour or two and the let it come to room temperature before serving.
I like to browse in libraries and stumbled on a very old Italian cookbook years ago that didn’t have any pictures, but enticed me with stories of how each recipe would fit into the typical Italian family’s day. One of the them was simply goat cheese slices topped with olive oil that had been flavored with fresh oregano and garlic, and it would be available in the kitchen in the late afternoon for grazing while dinner was being prepared. Yum! I played with the recipe over the next few years and this is my kicked-up version.
I’ve actually seen guests compete for the last bite. It’s that good.
1 8 oz. log of goat cheese
1 tbsp. capers
1 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
2 green onions, thinly sliced
8-10 grape tomatoes, quartered
4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, cut longways in narrow slivers
1 tbsp oregano, chopped, plus 1-2 sprigs of whole leaves
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
At least an hour before serving, add the garlic and chopped oregano to the olive oil and let it sit at room temperature. Slice the goat cheese into 1/4 inch disks (click here for the best technique for slicing goat cheese) and arrange in a small serving platter or plate with a rim. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes, capers, olives, green onions and grape tomatoes evenly over the goat cheese. Drizzle the olive oil mixture over the platter and garnish with the whole oregano leaves. Season liberally with freshly ground pepper and a little salt. Add more olive oil if desired. Serve with crackers or bread.
With its appealing colors and burst of Mediterranean flavors balanced by the tangy saltiness of the cheese, this dish is one of my family’s favorites. I serve it as an appetizer and it usually doesn’t even make it to the dining room. It is also a big hit at parties and can be made ahead and refrigerated; be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. While leftovers are rare, they are terrific in a Sunday morning omelette.
At Glover Gardens, summer brings lots of grilled shrimp, and sometimes we have leftovers. This creamy, spicy dip is quickly assembled and makes the most of leftover grilled shrimp – it’s the perfect appetizer for a summer barbecue.
You don’t have to wait for leftover shrimp – this dip is so good that it’s worth grilling the shrimp just to use in the recipe (minus a few for the chef’s tasting privileges).
The Grill-Meister I’m married to usually grills the shrimp at Glover Gardens, but I do the prep, and I usually just marinate it in olive oil, Zippy Southwest and maybe a little lime juice before threading it onto skewers for him. But I haven’t blogged that recipe yet, so here’s one for you if you’re in the mood to grill shrimp for this recipe.
4 chile peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (I use jalapeños and serranos)
2 cups grilled shrimp (or any cooked shrimp), coarsely chopped
Mix cream cheese and sour cream until smooth; then stir in Tabasco and lime juice. Add the rest of the ingredients, taste, and season with salt. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and sprinkle with paprika, then chill for at least one hour to let the flavors “marry”. Serve with crackers or sturdy chips.
This dip is a variation of a more savory version my Dad makes during the holidays, which uses Worcestershire for flavor and celery for crunch. The lime juice, chiles and Tabasco transform it to a summer dish that is perfect next to the pool. It pairs beautifully with a Mexican beer or a margarita.
I recently posted my Pico de Gallo recipe and promised it can be used in many other dishes. Here’s a super-quick one that I make all the time, usually the day after I first make the Pico (if there is any left over).
1/2 to 1 cup of leftover or freshly made Pico de Gallo (click here for the recipe)
Juice of 1/2 lime
I fresh avocado, chopped (click here for instructions on how to chop an avocado)
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients, adding more salt if necessary. The result is a chunky, delicious condiment as shown in the photo below.
I used this recipe recently while at our cabin in the mountains of Colorado to create a quick guacamole for my pulled pork tacos. (I’m still working on perfecting the pulled pork recipe, which is made in the crock pot and is a real time-saver.) It was great to be able to quickly throw together the guacamole so I could have more time to savor my al fresco dinner watching the sun set over the mountains.