Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dip, spread or mix

This is a sort of three-in-one recipe, but you need to choose which of the three you want to end up with at the outset. Saturday tea-time without munchies is oh-so-annoying. Those were the circumstance in which the subject of this post was born. After the Siesta, we wondered "Coffee with what?". There was a fresh unopened packet of plain crackers, but we could obviously not have just that with coffee for Saturday afternoon. Hence we made the below Caramelised onion dip.

Caramalised Onion dip with plain crackers
You will need:
-one small or half a large Onion
-two tablespoons of sunflower oil or other neutral tasting cooking oil
-three table spoons plain set Yogurt (the one that comes in a carton and never goes sour)
-25-50gms of any soft Cheese (regular mozarella or chedder)
-five Black pepper corns
-a teaspoon of dry Oregano or three leaves of fresh Basil (both yield distinct tastes to the dish)

There is the core recipe which I will run through first. 
Grate the cheese and keep aside. This will give it time to get soft. Slice the onions as finely as you can. Don't run it through the food processor to get fine but shapeless pieces. Use a knife and slice finely. In a skillet heat the oil and swirl it around to cover the base and then "place" in the onion slices. Avoid crowding them too much, the more spread the better. 
Now, if you have been wondering why I didn't say extra virgin olive oil, which would make it appropriately fancy for this dish, here is the reason. Extra virgin olive oil is known to have an excellent flavour, several health benefits and is hence fairly expensive. What is less known however is that this flavour (and the health benefits) literally go up in smoke when the oil is heated. It is an utter waste to use this oil for caramelising (culinary term for burning) anything. Back to the onions.
So there isn't much stirring around to be done while caramelising. Just leave the slices where they were placed and watch closely. When you can see them browning, wait for a minute more and then flip the pieces to brown the other side. Once evenly brown (fairly dark brown), take out the slices onto a kitchen towel or tissue paper to let the oil drip off and cool.
Meanwhile, in a bowl take the yogurt, softened cheese, salt and crushed pepper. I always write pepper corns instead of pepper powder in recipes because I always crush them in a mortar just before use. It takes 30 seconds more and makes a huge difference in flavour. Use a hand mixer and whip the mixture for 30 seconds until creamy. Add in the caramelised onions and the herb you are using, dry oregano or fresh basil leaves snipped with scissors, and mix with a spoon (don't run the mixer, the onion stripes will act as whips and make a mess... yes it happened to me). The dip version is ready. Serve with crackers or an unhealthier option would be chips.

The spread version has to be thicker. Increase the amount of cheese and hang the yogurt before use. Increase amount of spices too. If you don't know about hanging yogurt ask me in the comments :). This will yield a thicker consistency, that can be spread on toast or in sandwiches.

The last of the three is to use this as a salad dressing. Loosen the dip version with a little milk, half and half or cream. Increase amount of spices and you want to add one other spice as well: just red chilly flakes and/or some crushed garlic cloves are good options. After tossing the salad, add half a teaspoon of white vinegar.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds very yummy! Will give it a shot asap... :)