Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chop Chop (Adventures in Dips)

My Cuisinart food processor is as old as the hills and I hate the thing. There's no reason to replace it because it works perfectly but it's heavy and cumbersome and annoying to clean. It is the perfect tool to make my pie dough and ideal for my favorite cheesecake recipe. But for the majority of the year it sits tucked away in the bottom of a cabinet. Sometimes I encounter recipes that require a food processor but I'll either pass them up or just chop things by hand.

Chop Chop (Adventures in Dips)
Chop Chop
But a few weeks ago I was reading about interesting sauce/ dip ideas in an issue of Bon Appetite and the need to puree some ingredients meant I wouldn't be making those dips. But I really wanted to. And so, on a recent shopping trip to Costco, my cart included a little baby version of the giant monster lurking in my cabinet. The Cuisinart 4-cup chopper is light, easy to handle and simple to clean. It looks a bit fragile but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will hold up because I've named it "chop chop" and I love it already.

It has no slicing capability and only two settings - mush and extra mush (although I believe Cuisinart refers to them as chop and grind) but it is the ideal machine for whipping up interesting purees and sauces. Armed with loads of fresh herbs and some staples such as olive oil, lemon juice, low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat sour cream, low-fat buttermilk and mustard, my kitchen has turned into a sauce experimentation lab with some great results.

My tried and true low-fat creamy dill sauce is always a hit and the little chop chop just made the task easier. Take a small minced clove of garlic, 1/4 cup of low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of low-fat buttermilk and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Mix in a handful of fresh dill and season to taste for a great all-purpose dip.  I especially like serving this with cocktail tid-bits.

A basic lemon vinaigrette got an addition of a large handful of basil leaves and produced a fragrant and delicious dressing for a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad. Whisk together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 1 minced clove of garlic, the basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Whisking together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of mustard, a minced clove of garlic, salt, pepper and a small handful of fresh sage leaves created a great sauce for chicken.

Chop Chop (Adventures in Dips)
I made a creamy tarragon sauce with 1/4 cup of low-fat sour cream, 3 tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of mustard, salt and pepper. The result was a cool and refreshing dip for veggies, especially cucumbers, and a wonderful accompaniment for chicken.

Pea and Butter Bean Spread
Chop Chop (Adventures in Dips)
Butter beans, less interestingly called lima beans, are one of my favorites and they marry beautifully with peas. Saute a chopped onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it's lightly caramelized.  Once cooled, puree it together with about half a cup each of cooked peas and cooked lima beans. Add salt, lots of pepper (peas love pepper) and a big handful of fresh dill. I like to leave the mixture somewhat chunky and you can add a bit of water or stock if it's too thick. Spread on toasted, crusty bread for a delicious appetizer.

1 comment:

  1. I have one of those little choppers and it really comes in handy. You will love it. It looks like it got quite a workout here-tasty looking dips. Will keep these for the celebration on the 4th. Thanks for sharing.


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