It’s surely a bit tired by now—after all, it’s had a decade-or-more-long run on American Shabbos tables. But no, apparently not.
I’m speaking of the ubiquitous dip course.
I feel weary just thinking about it. But if you’re going to serve dips (and guests look awfully surprised when I don’t), try healthier, better-tasting homemade versions than the store-bought ones, if you’ve got the time.
Commercially prepared dips, for the most part, contain things that don’t belong in food: Chemical preservatives. And why do some brands of hummus manage to be all natural and others are loaded with preservatives? Cottonseed oil. Cotton makes a great food—for moths.
Store-bought versions often contain ingredients that don’t belong in dips: Sugar in jalapeno dip—why? I just don’t get it. And why do they add corn starch to hummus? Did the nomadic Middle-eastern cooks who surely invented hummus have boxes of corn starch stuffed into their camel’s saddle-bags? They didn’t even have corn!
As I mentioned, I’m awfully tired of dips. But if you enjoy dips, then go ahead and serve them. After all, Rebbe Nachman says that we accomplish far more spiritually by eating Shabbos food with delight than we do by fasting on other days.
HJC’s Basic Tahina (sesame dip)
It is easy to make homemade hummus. It’s even easier to make homemade tehina. It forms the basis for a variety of dips. Why buy?
juice of one lemon, or, to taste
In a medium sized glass or crockery bowl, with a fork, stir lemon juice into tahini. Drizzle in water and whisk until mixture turns pale and is emulsified. You can make it as thin or as thick as you like.
If you want to jazz it up, add any combination of the following (optional):
1/4-1/2 teaspoon any single spice or combination of the following: ground cumin, coriander, dried mint leaves, cayenne or your favorite hot sauce, thyme, zatar, sumac, paprika
1 tablespoon* finely chopped herbs (fresh mint, cilantro, parsley work well individually or together)
So much better than bought.Lasts 3-5 days in the fridge. 6 servings.
*Note to my British readers, you know who you are, an American tablespoon is smaller than a British one, which is more like a small American serving spoon. For conversions: http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking
HJC’s Hummus (chickpea dip)
The tahina makes a great base for hummus. To the above amount of tahina blend in 2 cups cooked (or sprouted) pureed chick peas. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and increase lemon juice and amount of spices. 6 servings. Lasts one week in the fridge.
HJC’s Babaghanoush (eggplant dip)
Make one recipe of tahina, using any spices or herbs, but be sure to use the garlic.
Preheat oven to 500°. With a fork, prick holes in a large, very firm eggplant. Place in roasting pan or wrap well in foil and place directly on oven grates. Roast for about 35-45 minutes or until very soft.
Alternately, you can broil eggplant (you may have to cut it in half in order to fit it under your broiler) until charred and soft. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, cut off ends and slice open eggplant. If eggplant is organic, you can leave in some of the peel if you like. If not, discard peel.
Scoop out flesh and mash well with fork or hand blender. Do not over-puree, a rougher texture tastes better. Season with salt, to taste. Lasts 3-5 days in the fridge. 10-12 servings.
HJC’s Mild Aioli
Aioli, the ubiquitous, and deservedly popular Provencal sauce makes a wonderful dip that most likely hasn’t appeared on your Shabbos table. You must only use cage-free (free-range is even better), eggs, organic would be nice, the fresher the better, at room temperature.
This is delicious as a dip with non-sweet challah (especially my French-bread Challah), raw or cooked vegetables (steamed green beans, broccoli, potatoes, radishes, scallions, tomatoes, etc.) It’s also very good with salmon (especially with capers), or other fish.
Like all mayonnaise, aioli is heat sensitive so prepare this in a cool kitchen or other cool spot. If it is a bit warm, make the aioli in a stainless steel bowl, set inside another bowl filled with ice.
3-4 garlic cloves
a few grains unrefined sea salt
2 egg yolks (if using blender/food processor version, you may, if you like, use 1 whole egg and 1 yolk; be sure to wash eggshells off well before cracking eggs)
2 teaspoons or more lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/3 cup organic, hi-oleic safflower or organic canola oil
1/2 to 2/3 cup fruity, flavorful extra virgin olive oil
In a largish mortar smush the garlic cloves and salt gently with a pestle, until paste is formed. If you prefer, you can do this with the back of a wide chef’s knife on a cutting board. In a bowl, gently whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and mustard.
For traditional aioli, pour this into the mortar and emulsify the aioli with the pestle. If you prefer, transfer the garlic into the bowl, and make the aioli with a whisk
Combine garlic and egg yolk mixtures. Begin to drizzle in the safflower or canola oil. (You can make aioli with all olive oil, as is traditional, but this recipe produces a slightly lighter-tasting dip.)
As you drizzle in the oil, mix in a slight pounding motion with the pestle or whisk lightly, very slowly so the mixture emulsifies. Then add in the olive oil, the stream can be quicker now that the basic emulsification is there. Watch carefully that you don’t add in too much oil or the aioli will break. (If it breaks, whisk an egg yolk in a bowl, and whisk in the aioli until re-emulsified).
If you prefer, you can do this in the food processor. Still, smash the garlic by knife or with a mortar and pestle, otherwise it tastes bitter. Add the garlic and salt to the food processor, pulse in the egg yolk and whole egg, lemon juice and mustard until completely mixed. Drizzle in the safflower/canola oil while running the food processor.
For a better flavor, stop at this point and whisk in the olive oil by hand. Or, if you’re in a rush, finish in the machine.
Variations: Tarragon—With the garlic, add one teaspoon dried or one tablespoon fresh, tarragon. Excellent with salmon or crudites.
Herb—Use a tablespoon or two of a single, fresh herb (such as dill or basil) or mixed herbs.
Saffron—Add a pinch of saffron dissolved in a teaspoon of water when adding lemon juice. Very good with any fish.
Chrain—Add one tablespoon freshly grated horseradish root or prepared horseradish, to taste. Serve with gefilte fish. Obviously.
Tomato—Peel, seed and cut two perfectly ripe plum tomatoes into a brunoise (a very tiny dice made by cutting strips of the tomato (julienne) and then cutting into small cubes). Stir gently into aioli.
Blush—In the food processor, roughly pulse one perfectly ripe, medium-sized, salad tomato, a drop or two of red wine vinegar, and stir into aioli. Lasts 2-3 days, max. (Fridge). Serves 10-15.
About 15 ears ago a my friend Daniele taught me how to make this Greek dip, spread or sauce. There are several authentic versions using a variety of ingredients. This one uses the typical ingredients, olive oil, garlic and potatoes, but incorporates almonds, too.
Daniele’s version used stale bread and almonds or walnuts. She used Finnish or Yukon Gold potatoes since she preferred a very creamy sauce. And tons of garlic.
Like aioli, skordalia is an emulsion, although an eggless one, traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. You can use a food processor or hand immersion blender, which is what my recipe calls for, but make sure the potatoes are completely cool or else they will turn very gummy.
Russet (aka Idaho or baking potatoes) make a lighter skordalia, but waxy potatoes can be used if you prefer. In Europe there are varieties of potatoes that are sort of in between the two, and these work best in my opinion. In America, you’ll have to get them at a farmers market or grow your own.
1 pound potatoes, boiled in skin, peeled, and cooled
Some of the reserved potato water
A lot of garlic. Seriously, at least 6 cloves. (I am not a big garlic fan but garlic is the raison d’etre of aioli and skordalia).
3/4 to 1 cup very flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 to 2/3 cup ground, blanched almonds (Bob’s Red Mill almond meal is perfect for this)
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, red wine vinegar or a combination
Unrefined sea salt
Put the potatoes through a ricer, or mash with a light touch, but thoroughly, in bowl. Set aside.
Smash the garlic with the side of a chef’s knife or Chinese chef’s knife, and slip off peels. Smash garlic into paste. Combine garlic in food processor if using, or bowl with about a tablespoon of the water, olive oil (use the smaller amount first), lemon juice and/or vinegar, and sea salt.
With an immersion blender or food processor pulse until well mixed. Add in almonds, pureeing for a few seconds, then add potatoes and pulse or blend lightly until smooth.
If a thinner skordalia is desired add more potato-water. If a creamier skordalia is desired add more olive oil. Taste for seasoning. Excellent with challah, cooked, baked or fried fish, steamed or raw crudites, beef or lamb. Lasts 2 days in the fridge, but best eaten within 24 hours. 8 servings.
HJC’s Roasted Pepper Dip
2 large, heavy-for-their-size, fleshy red peppers
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, and smashed into paste (with back of knife or mortar and pestle)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar (optional)
Prick peppers lightly with fork and roast in a 500 degree oven until most of the skin is charred, turning once or twice. Place in stainless steel bowl and cover with plate. Let steam for 20 minutes. Remove peppers and scrape skin off, slice peppers in half (careful of residual steam) and remove stem, seeds, and veins.
Puree until very smooth in food processor or with immersion blender along with garlic, oil, and vinegar if using. Thin with more olive oil if necessary. You can, of course, use a mortar and pestle for a more rustic texture.
This lasts up to 10 days in the refrigerator.Makes about 1 cup 4-6 servings.
HJC’s Better Tomato Dip
(I admit it. You can buy a fairly good, preservative-free and sugar-free brand of tomato dip. But still, homemade is better. )
2 large, ripe, farmers’ market (organic) beefsteak or other intensely-flavored tomatoes—otherwise, why bother?
extra-virgin olive oil
unrefined sea salt or Celtic sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (optional)
apple cider vinegar or squeeze of lemon (optional)
1-3 cloves minced garlic (optional)
4-6 fresh basil leaves (cut in chiffonade, optional, but very good)
Wash, quarter and blend tomatoes with immersion blender or in blender. Do not over-blend, some texture is desirable. Drizzle in some olive oil, just enough to smooth out the texture and flavor, add a dash of salt and let sit for ten minutes. Stir and taste. Does it need more zest? Add pepper. Does it need more acid? Add vinegar or lemon. Do you like garlic? I don’t in this, not with really good tomatoes, but add it if you like. Basil is very good and gives a fragrant, slightly sweet flavor. This is better after the flavors have had a chance to meld for an hour or two. Keeps well for 2 days. Serves 4-6.
HJC’s Moroccan Olive and Lemon Dip
Commercial olive dip contains super-salty green olives and mayonnaise (containing loads of sugar and refined oils.) This version, though salty, is more exciting. A little goes a long way.
3 Moroccan preserved lemons (you can use store-bought or homemade), finely diced
6 Middle-eastern salt-cured black olives, soaked in water to cover for about 30 minutes, drained, pitted and finely diced
18-24 Middle-eastern cracked, green olives, rinsed, pitted and roughly chopped
About 3/4 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil or blend of olive oil and sunflower oil
1 small bunch fresh mint, washed and checked for bugs, or 2 heaping teaspoons best-quality dried mint
1 bunch fresh parsley, checked for insects, washed and finely chopped (use stems and leaves)
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or dried red chillies
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or 2 teaspoons apple-cider vinegar
Combine all ingredients. Let flavors meld at least two hours. Taste and add lemon juice or vinegar to taste, more hot peppers to balance flavors. Keeps in fridge for up to 10 days. Serves 8-10.