Dirty Martini Dip

25 May

I’ve given myself the self-proclaimed title of “Dip Whisperer.” There is always at least one, if not two or three, of these one-bowl wonders present at all of our gatherings. I love dips because they are the perfect party food — most can be made in advance, there’s endless flavor and dipper combinations and, if we get down to it, they’re just so darn good.

While Knorr Spinach Dip is one of my old stand-bys, I’m always on the look-out for new dips that are a good fit with veggies.

This dip recipe was inspired by a jarred Dirty Martini dip we got as a “freebie” at the 2011 Fancy Food Show. Now I love me a Dirty Martini (or two) and I love me some dip so I couldn’t think of a better combination. While the jarred dip was okay, it had lots of ingredients I didn’t recognize and it was a little too dense to be a true dip. Plus I’m a purist and it kills me to use pre-packaged and pre-made anything. So I read the ingredients, googled “Dirty Martini Dip” recipes, made a few tweaks and, viola, came up with a Dirty Martini Dip perfect for veggies like cucumbers, celery and baby carrots. It’s also wonderful with crackers.

Note — some of you teetotalers out there may scoff at the idea of adding liquor to the dip but it really intensifies the dip’s flavors and is a must-do. Plus how can you call it “Dirty Martini” without a little bit vodka?

Dirty Martini Dip
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened (light okay)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (light okay)
1/4 c. green olives with pimento, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. sour cream (light okay)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 1/2 tablespoon olive brine (“juice” from the olive jar)
4 pickled jalapeno slices (such as Mezzetta Deli Sliced Tamed JalapeƱo Peppers)
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vodka

1) Place all ingredients in food processor work bowl.

2) Process using short pulses, scraping bowl as necessary, until well combined.

3) Chill for at least two hours (can be made a day ahead).

4) Serve “up” in a martini glass with crackers, celery, carrots and other vegetables. Garnish with a few slices of pimento-stuffed green olives.

Makes 1 1/2 cups of dip

Advertisements

Golden Gate Bridge Cupcakes

22 May

Like a lot of other folks, I’ve been on a cupcake kick for a while now. I’m armed with all the key cupcake-making accoutrements — cupcake liners, 1M icing tip, gel food coloring in all the colors of the rainbow and an Oneida cupcake carrier that has logged almost as many miles as my car. I’ve made champagne ones, Almond Joys (chocolate cake with almond custard filling and coconut frosting) and even ones with Creepy Crawly bugs and Aliens. But so far my favorites are the Double Vanilla with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting that I made for our friends Lisa and Patrick’s Going-Away party.

Since our dear friends are moving to Florida after many years in San Francisco it seemed only fitting to make a cupcake that would make them homesick for our beautiful city by The Bay. Using a technique I picked up in Karen Tack’s “Hello Cupcake” book, I decided to make Golden Gate Bridge cupcakes. She uses piped chocolate for many of her creations including the Creepy Crawly cupcakes mentioned above.

The first step for these little cakes was to create the bridges. First, I googled “Golden Gate Bridge stencils” and found an image that worked for my needs (http://www.pacificwinegroup.com/Our_Wines.html). After printing the image out on a piece of paper and making sure it was the right size, I placed it on a cookie sheet and placed a piece of wax paper over the image. I melted some white chocolate at half power in the microwave and used a combination of orange and red gel food colorings to get the bridge’s famous “International Orange” color.

Scooping the melted chocolate into a zipper plastic bag with the corner cut and a coupler with a #3 Stecco decorating tip, I piped out the chocolate, following the lines in the drawing. Once I made as many as I needed, I placed the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes so the chocolate would harden. Using a large offset spatula, I very carefully removed the bridges from the wax paper and placed them on top of the frosted cupcake, flat side up.

While the cupcakes looked and tasted amazing, they weren’t enough to make Patrick and Lisa stay. Boo hoo!

Double Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flower
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup whole milk

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2) Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl, set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and egg white and beat together on low speed until well combined. Using a knife, cut down the middle of the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into bowl. Add vanilla extract. Beat until combined.

3) Beat batter on low speed, alternatively adding the flour mixture and milk in three additions, ending with the flour. Scrape down bowl as needed and beat on medium-high speed until no flour remains, about 30 seconds. Do not overbeat.

4) Scoop batter into gallon-size zipper plastic bag. Cut off 1/2 tip from the corner of the bag. Using the bag, divide the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until lightly golden and toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the rack and cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup clover honey
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Place cream cheese, butter and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat until combined. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar, mixing until it is of spreading consistency.

White Chocolate Golden Gate Bridges
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
orange and red gel food coloring

1) Place bridge picture on cookie sheet and cover with a piece of wax paper.

2) Place white chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 20 seconds. Stir. Repeat process until chocolate is smooth, about 90 seconds total. Remove chocolate from microwave and place several drops of orange and red food coloring. Stir to combine.

3) Transfer melted chocolate to quart plastic bag, corner cut and fitted with a #3 Adecco tip. Trace chocolate over Golden Gate Bridge stencil. Move drawing around underneath wax paper and repeat 11 more times.

4) Place cookie sheet in refrigerator and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Cupcake Assembly

1) Divide frosting into two bowls. Place a few drops of blue food coloring in one bowl and stir to combine. Place blue frosting on one side of gallon zipper bag, corner cut and fitted with 1M tip. Fill other side of the bag with white frosting.

2) Hold pastry bag approximately 1/4 inch above the cupcake at a 90 degree angle. Pipe a spiral of icing, beginning at the outer edge and working inward. Stop pressure and pull bag away.

3) Carefully remove chocolate bridges from wax paper using large offset spatula. Place Golden Gate Bridges flat-side up on center of each cupcake.