Wednesday, March 18, 2009

when i dip you dip we dip

A few months ago, at the start of what now seems my interminable unemployment, I decided to start a supper club. I suppose I was partially inspired by an article in the New York Times, and partially by the economy, but mostly because I love spending time with friends and cooking for them. Everyone seemed to love the idea, and our as-yet-unnamed dinner party circuit began. I hosted the first installment last weekend, and given the space constraints of my ideally located but slightly cramped abode, I decided to do tapas. Small plates, if you will.

(A few years ago, after going out for a friend's birthday, my then boss asked how it was. I said, "Oh, we went to this tapas restaurant." She looked at me, aghast. I said, gesturing, "You know, small plates." To which she replied, "Oh . . . I thought you said something else." So I just say small plates to avoid confusion).

It was, I think, a smashing success. I went for a mostly vegetarian menu (which, I must say, is not easy in Spanish cuisine. They love the jamon!), everything was relatively simple, and we finished the night with 13 happy people - was it the food or the wine? - lots of empty bottles, and zero leftovers. I will be posting the recipes over time. Including: potato and parsnip croquettes; shrimp with zucchini; taleggio and potato tortilla; and baked mushrooms with a Manchego bechamel. Unfortunately, I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures of everything. So you'll just have to use your imaginations. And make the dishes yourself!

First up, a little trio of dips. The favorite one of the night was the spiced carrot. Sweet with the bite of chili and the mellow, maple-y-ness of fenugreek. All of the dips come from Market Vegetarian by Ross Dobson.

Spiced Carrot Dip
serves 6 to 8

1 cup vegetable stock
4 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 large red chili (i used a green one, and it looked a bit more festive)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and white pepper

Put the stock in a saucepan and add the carrots, oil, onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are soft. Add chili, fenugreek, and cumin and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and chop until blended but there is still a bit of texture. Season to taste, and serve.

Roasted parsnip and garlic dip
serves 6 to 8

2 tbsp chilled unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 garlic bulb, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a small baking dish. Put the parsnips and garlic in dish, pour over the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the garlic and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves into a food processor or blender and discard the skin. Add the parsnips and cream, blending thoroughly, until smooth. Season to taste, and serve.

Beet and caraway dip
serves 6 to 8

*my friend Dan said this dip reminded him of Passover; I suggested a Jewish deli. If you don't like rye bread, I would skip this dip, or make it without the caraway seeds

3 medium beets, uncooked
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp caraway seeds
salt and pepper

Put the beets in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 45 to 50 minutes, topping up the water as necessary. The beets are done when a skewer goes through with little resistance. Drain and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins. Roughly chop the beets, and put in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients and process until smooth. (If you want your dip to look extra pretty, save some of the sour cream, and swirl in after blending for a nice marbelized effect!)


- e


Jill said...

yum! wish i could've been there!

Jill said...