Deviled Jalapenos

What makes a food devilable?

Because I would devil a glass of water if I could.

I’ve oogled over Trisha Yearwood’s Deviled Potatoes. And recently, learned about a deviled crab recipe that originated in the American south. I’m sure there’s a million versions. A food capable of holding in filling must be a requirement, but I gave my imagination ample space to run wild after that.

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Enter jalapenos.

This wouldn’t cut it as a crowd-pleasing recipe – I don’t think. You can remove the seeds and membranes, and leave out the pickled jalapeno if you need to cut some of the burn, but you’re still chomping into a raw jalapeno.

An obvious alternative? Use the sweet, small tri-colored peppers you can usually get in bulk at any grocery store nowadays. If you want to go this route, just substitute the sweet peppers and nix the pickled jalapeno – the preparation instructions will remain the same, with an equally scrumptious outcome.

I’ve been contemplating new ideas for game day bites that can be made ahead of time and tossed on the coffee table. I’ve already made enough buffalo chicken dip in my life to fill a 10-foot hole in the ground.

But my boyfriend can’t tolerate spicy food, even in moderate amounts. I had purportedly added hot sauce to a dish, and after a minute of did-I-didn’t-I, we realized he was feeling heat from the black pepper that must’ve been a bit too freshly cracked.

I haven’t isolated a hard and fast rule as to what makes something deviled. One of my earlier blog posts for Tuna Nicoise Deviled Eggs recounts the history of the word deviled, which essentially meant anything heavily seasoned. Like the deviled egg, this recipe includes dairy ingredients, and presents itself halves-side-open.

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Whether it’s the jalapenos or the sweet peppers that appeal to you, you aren’t going to disappoint your guests with a dairy-saturated cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and aromatic garlic filling.

And it’s about time I gave Buffalo Chicken Dip a much-deserved break.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 10 jalapenos, all cut in half longwise, with half the peppers minced
  • 1 / 2 block room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 / 4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated finely
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 3 to 5 dashes Tabasco sauce
  •  5 pepperoncinis, minced, for garnish

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Plate 10 jalapeno halves, mincing the remaining jalapeno halves for including in the filling. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a bowl, combine the minced jalapeno, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, and most of the pepperoncinis, reserving 3 to 4 minced tablespoons for garnish.
  3. Equally distribute the filling amongst the jalapeno halves, overfilling them a little bit. Top each half with the remaining pepperoncini.
  4. Pop the plate in the fridge to allow the peppers to chill.
  5. Serve within 2 hours, or the pepper flesh will begin to dry out and shrivel.

 

Bacon Grease Chip Dip

In a past life I regularly indulged in a bacon blue cheese dip I discovered at a New-Orleans themed bakery called Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia. I learned this neighborhood eatery had earned its chops in the national culinary scene led at the helm by an amazing and inspired executive chef, David Guas.

But back to the dip. It was borderline illegal.

I haven’t been back there in years, and looking at their menu online it looks like they are no longer serving it. Even more reason for me to try to recreate something similar.

One feature that made this bacon dip stand out from the rest had a lot to do with the unabashedly high level of sodium in it – you couldn’t eat too much of it at once. But I love that salt overload. It was right up my alley.

The base of the dip had to have been sour cream – probably some cream cheese too. And it was served ice cold, with kettle cooked Zapp’s Voodoo Potato Chips.

Mixed with hearty, thickly sliced scallions stalks, the chunkiness of the blue cheese complemented the overwhelming bacon flavor. I mean, it was overpowering.

This dip is going to make you question the extent of your love for bacon. I think this is a frontier we should all allow ourselves to explore.

Although I can’t go back for this beloved dip, I need to get my butt over there for their Muff-A-Lotta sandwich, which won a spot in Food & Wine’s nationwide search for the “20 Best Sandwiches,” and their pimento cheese dip, because I have a strong suspicion they do that r-e-a-l right.

There’s so many bacon dips out there, but this one shot to the top of my list and is likely there to stay  – what’s your favorite go-to or passed down recipe for bacon dip?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves approximately 4 as an appetizer. This is heavy stuff!

  • 10 slices center cut bacon, small diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 2 / 3 cup crème fraiche
  • 4 stalks scallions, sliced thickly, dark green stems excluded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Hankerings’ Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips are a great accompaniment to this dip.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Cook the bacon on medium heat until the fat is rendered, browning the bacon until it is crispy. Remove 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and some of the bacon for garnish.
  2. In the same skillet, add the garlic, sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan throughout this entire process.
  3. Add the cream cheese, crème fraiche, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir until uniform throughout. The bacon fat will need to be stirred in slowly. It will appear separated from the cream cheese, but eventually it will incorporate into the mixture. Remove from the heat, place dip into a separate bowl, and allow to chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Once chilled through, stir in the chopped scallions. Briefly heat the bacon fat, if hardened, in the microwave until it is pourable, and pour over the dip. Garnish with bacon as well, if desired.
  5. Serve cold with kettle-cooked potato chips.

Pan-Seared Foie Gras Mousse Au Poivre

Whoever first had the idea to whip fatty goose liver with heavy cream, and then proceed to add a cap of hardened butter on top – I praise you.

I find myself saying so and so is my favorite food, then a minute later claiming something else is my favorite food.  “Pizza,” “mashed potatoes,” “bacon,” “tacos,” “macaroni and cheese,” “oysters,” “pickles,” “queso,” “Chipotle burrito bowls” and “any cheese on the face of the earth” have come out of my mouth at some point in response to that question.

But if I’m being honest, foie gras is my favorite food of all time. I mean it.

There’s really not much you can do to make foie gras, in whatever form it comes in, better than it already is. So my idea here was to leave the mousse completely unadulterated, and treat it like a steak. So I seared it on high with an au poivre coating, which if you don’t know what that is – is just a fancy way of saying crushed black peppercorns – and it was hard not to inhale the whole thing Kirby-style.

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The quality of the foie gras mousse, or any foie gras product you’re purchasing, should always be sky-high. Go ahead, skimp on the fresh shrimp for the frozen shrimp. But I’d never mess around when it comes to foie gras. With all the intense animal flavor in there, there’s not much room for error. And you don’t want to gross any other eaters who are already tentative on trying it.

Whole Foods sells a great brand – Greenwich village-based Trois Petits Cochons. But any high quality brand would be delicious here.

My next move? Making my own foie gras mousse! Stay tuned. But before I give it a go, any pointers?

 I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 to 6 as an hors d’oeuvre.

  • 8 oz. foie gras mousse, of your choosing
  • 6 to 8 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *450.
  2. Right from the fridge, slice the mousse in long pieces, and distribute the peppercorns evenly on one side of the mousse. Press down on the peppercorns so they embed.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Place the mousse slices in the oil, searing for 2 minutes on each side, browning the mousse slightly. Be careful when flipping, as the mousse can fall apart. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. To make the crostini, put the slices of baguette on a sheet pan and brush each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven and broil until the crostini are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Arrange the seared foie gras mousse on a serving plate alongside the crostini. Serve with parsley for garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

Garlicky Spinach, Crab & Artichoke Dip

Your classic all-American dips, the ones you’ll see at any football party – onion, buffalo chicken, bean & cheese, bacon, ranch, spinach-artichoke, crab-artichoke – have been a socially acceptable excuse to eat what is typically just a hot, cheesy mayonnaise mixture. One of the many reasons I love the country we live in.

The spinach-artichoke or crab-artichoke dip you’ll find in restaurants everywhere is no exception. We inhale chipfuls of it under the guise of eating vegetables.

Sometimes I’ll make a skillet of dip for dinner. What else do you need? I get so full on it, the main course ends up being out of the question anyway.

And what’s the deal with the imitation crab meat? Why do I love it so much? I knew it was made of pollock, but I learned it’s essentially a manufactured paste formed into sticks and dyed red to mimic the appearance of those nice, long pieces of crab meat you’ll pull out of crab legs. I do have a serious love for processed meats, so it makes sense I’d have a love for processed seafood.

Imitation crab meat may imitate too well, because I prefer it over actual crab in this recipe. It makes it much more of a dip you would’ve eaten while you grew up. Plus, it’s cheaper.

So much garlic is required to help this dish reach its potential. I’m talking double the amount of garlic you think you’d need. Not a whole bulb, but a whopping eight to ten cloves. You’ll be surprised how the garlic still manages to linger in the background with all the other flavors in here.

The other musts? Citrus and Old Bay seasoning.

I love lemon, but I find lime doesn’t get as much action in savory cooking that isn’t Tex Mex, and it’s a match made in heaven with any seafood. So I added the juice and the zest of both in here.

And do I need to explain why I’m adding Old Bay? Because this is a crab dip, dummy! 😊

What is the best chip for this dip? That’s the million dollar question. But I think if this question were posed in an episode of Family Feud, pita chips would win out. It’s just the classic go-to for accompanying spinach artichoke dip – probably since cavemen roamed the earth.

Homemade pita chips are a cut above the store-bought pita chip brands. Here I bought a stack of packaged pita bread, cut the rounds into eights like a pizza, brushed the triangles with olive oil, and sprinkled them with salt & pepper. Then just broil until crisped.

Don’t worry about getting too full on this – if you’re not having a main course, that means you can eat the entire skillet for dinner! And no one can judge you for it. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

F o r  t h e  D i p

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 1 / 2 cup parm reg, shredded
  • 8 – 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 8 oz. quartered artichokes, in oil or water
  • 6 sticks imitation crab meat, chopped roughly
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1 / 4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

F o r  t h e  P i t a  C h i p s

  • 1 package pita bread
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *450 (you will later lower the temperature to *375).
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and add the frozen spinach, artichokes, garlic, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Sautee on medium-low heat for about five minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, parm reg, imitation crab meat, juice and zest of one lemon and one lime, fresh parsley, Old Bay seasoning, a heavy pinch of salt and a heavy pinch of pepper. Combine & set aside.
  4. Cut the pita bread into eighths. Lay the triangles on a sheet pan, brushing both sides with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Broil in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Reset the temperature on the oven from *450 to *375.
  6. After five minutes of sautéing the vegetables, remove the mixture from the heat, adding it to the mayonnaise mixture. Combine.
  7. Pour the dip into a medium-sized skillet, evening out the surface. Put the dip in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the dip is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Drizzle with olive oil for garnish. Serve alongside the pita chips.

Beef Wellington Tartare

What’s the opposite of a picky eater? Whatever it’s called, I’m that. But I won’t preach perfection. Black licorice, pretzels, grape juice, mint or, and here’s the kicker – puff pastry – don’t do it for me.

Beef Wellington should absolutely fall in my wheelhouse. Mushrooms, filet mignon, Dijon mustard, ham, Pâté, shallots & garlic. And it’s a gorgeous presentation to boot.

This sans-pastry recipe let’s me have my cake and eat it too. And the runny egg doesn’t hurt either.

Chances are you like puff pastry. I wish I did. But this dish encapsulates the essentials of the classic, with a lot less hassle. I’ve heard several horror stories – one that involved waking up at 6 AM to mince mushrooms. Another recalled a burnt pastry and undercooked beef situation.

Speaking of holiday cooking disasters, does anyone else watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation year-round and think it’s wildly underrated? I can recite that entire damn movie line-by-line. That dinner scene when Clark goes to carve the turkey Ellen’s sister put in the oven too early, and it cracks open with a puff of smoke, makes me howl every time.

I’ve eaten everything from grasshoppers to alligator to pig eyeball. And a lot more weird stuff that I can’t remember. I’ve liked every single one of those food experiences. But I still can’t stomach puff pastry. Go figure.

To quote cousin Eddie at that famous dinner scene…

Save the neck for me, Clark.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 2 tartare servings.

  • 1 6 oz. filet mignon, chopped finely
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 4 oz. foie gras Pâté, or another Pâté if preferred, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 4 oz. Parma ham or prosciutto
  • 2 quail eggs yolks
  • 8 button mushrooms, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 / 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, minced, plus additional for garnish
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Flatbread, for serving with the tartare

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the beef, half the shallot, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Set in the fridge to marinate.
  2. On medium-low heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sauté the mushrooms, the rest of the shallot, garlic and thyme. Add a pinch of salt to render some of the liquid from the mushrooms.
  3. Once the mushrooms are lightly browned, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. To arrange the tartare, take a 3 inch round mold and press down on a layer of Pâté. This will be the tartare base. Brush 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard on top. Then add a slice of Parma ham or prosciutto of similar size and shape, followed by half the cooled mushroom mixture. Finally, top with half the chilled beef mixture, pressing down in the mold to form into a circular shape. Repeat for the second tartare.
  5. Place both plates, while still in the round mold, in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
  6. Remove from the fridge, slide the tartares out of the round molds, and create a slight indent on the top with your thumb, sliding a quail egg yolk into the indent.
  7. Sprinkle with minced thyme, serving immediately alongside flatbread for scooping.