(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Dive into warm-weather barbecuing season with unforgettable grilled dips sure to make a splash. These remain my favorite easy entertaining solutions.
Dips, of course, are often non-gourmet affairs that involve no more than mixing together a couple of cold and dry ingredients. That's fine most of the time, but if you're having a special gathering, consider adding the smoky, rich distinctive flavor that comes from grilling either some of the key ingredients-or the entire dip.
Can you imagine, for instance, the improvement to your favorite easy "plain" onion dip recipe if you simply grill your onions (which can then deliciously caramelize)? Better yet, for even more flavor, barbecue a variety of onions and relatives of onions, such as white onions, green onions, red onions, yellow onions, Vidalia onions, Walla Walla sweet onions, chives, leeks and shallots.
Leftover grilled meat or vegetables (like the brisket and corn-on-the-cob in the two recipes that follow can be if you want to have the ingredients on hand ahead of time) also make for easy elements. And, in fact, the creamy, two layer BBQ brisket dip below uses not only the sweet and savory meat but, like the aforementioned suggestion, both grilled white and green onions as well.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
BBQ BRISKET DIP
3 cups shredded and coarsely chopped cooked barbecued beef brisket
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup chopped grilled white onions
1 tablespoon mixed chopped fresh herbs of choice (see Note)
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Grilled garlic bread, for serving
Yields 4 to 6 servings.
In a large bowl, combine brisket, green onions, grilled onions and fresh herbs. Add hot sauce and barbecue sauce; mix and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine ranch dressing, sour cream, cream cheese and egg. Whisk together until smooth. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and all the mozzarella; whisk until well incorporated.
Preheat grill to medium (about 350 F). Place brisket mixture in an oven or grill-proof pan or casserole dish. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Transfer brisket dip to grill, close lid and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until brisket is hot and cheese topping is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately with grilled garlic bread.
Note: Use whatever chopped herbs you prefer. This cookbook author especially likes a mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme with dishes like this that include meat.
-King of the Q's Blue Plate
BBQ GRILLED CORN DIP
6 medium ears (preferably sweet) corn, husks removed
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (see Note)
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (2 & 1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
Tortilla chips, for serving
Yields about 25 servings; about 5 cups.
Grill corn, covered, over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender, turning occasionally.
Cut corn from cobs. In a large skillet, saute the onion and jalapeno in butter for 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost tender. Add corn and garlic; saute 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and chili powder. Stir in cheese and corn mixture. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 400 F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle with olives and green onions; serve with tortilla chips.
Note: When handling peppers, experts recommend wearing latex gloves and not touching your eyes during or afterward.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
If you would like meals every day to seem like a picnic, follow the sage (and rosemary, and thyme) advice in "The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket"
. You can definitely pack up fun feasts from this IACP award-winning book by Marnie Hanel
, Andrea Slonecker
and Jen Stevenson
, however, it may be just as refreshing to serve up their light and innovative ideas at your kitchen table or in your backyard. That's because ease is the issue, like raiding a Greek market for a perfect blend of treats like dolmades, olives, baba gahnoush, tabbouleh and baklava.Lisa Messinger
at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.