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Lee's Kitchen: A trio of summer dips

Recently, on Facebook, a friend sent me a terrific party idea that had me dreaming how much fun it would be.

In a dining room — my friend says it is not her dining room table — someone plastic-wrapped an entire top of a dining room table, then dumped many big packages of tortilla chips around all the edges of the table. Into the center were big bowls of chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuces and chopped cilantro, along with sour cream and guacamole. Just before the party began, they added pots of warm refried beans (black or pinto beans) and warmed queso (if it were me, it would be Velveeta). Probably after a few margaritas, the party would begin as the guests made their own nachos.

Now, I would have done that on a big picnic table in the yard or on a deck or patio. Unfortunately, in the middle of a pandemic, big parties aren’t happening these days. Maybe next summer, wouldn’t it be fun to do this? Then again, with your own shelter-in-place family, you can do it this year.

But this summer, consider dips with chips and fresh vegetables, outside, with no double-dipping. You can dip with toasted pita chips, tortilla chips or, best of all, sliced fresh vegetables. My new Food Network magazine suggested five dips a bit more exciting than onion or warm artichoke. Here are three from the magazine’s July/August 2020.

Roasted Pepper Skordalia

Broil 2 large red bell peppers, turning, until charred, 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let steam 20 minutes. Remove skin, stems and seeds. Puree the peppers in a blender with ¼ cup each blanched almonds and lemon juice and 6 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook 2 russet potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks) and 6 smashed garlic cloves in salted simmering water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until dry, about 2 minutes; remove from the heat and mash. Fold in the pepper puree. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and top with chives

Beet and Cashew Butter Dip

Put three medium beets on a sheet of foil and drizzle with olive oil; wrap in foil and place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes; let cool. Rub off the skins. Puree beets in a food processor with ¾ cup cashew butter, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, half of one jalapeno, 1 small chopped garlic clove and 1 teaspoon each chopped ginger and ground cumin; season with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup fresh mint and puree until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil and top with more mint.

Tomatillo Guacamole

Cut 3 avocados, remove the pit and scoop out the fruit. Smash the avocado and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 3 diced tomatillo (husked and rinsed), ½ cup diced cucumber, 2 chopped scallions, 3 tablespoons each chopped cilantro and pickled jalapeños and the juice of 1 lime; season with salt and to with more cilantro.

 

On the Side

It was a great weekend for lobster. Recently I went to the Cousins Maine Lobster truck in front of Outer Light Brewery in Groton and ate a lobster roll and a bowl of lobster bisque.

The next day, friends took me to Ford's for a late birthday dinner. I chose, as always, the lobster risotto, the most decadent dish at Ford's, or anywhere, for that matter. But, following Nancy's lead, I began my dinner with the half-avocado, pitted and cubed and topped, at least two inches high, with an ambrosial mixture of diced crab and lobster, perfectly seasoned and held together with just a bit of mayonnaise. It was served with a small soup spoon so each bite contained seafood and very ripe avocado. Usually I don't get an appetizer, but from now on I will.

Ford's
15 Riverview Ave., Noank
(860) 536-2842
Reservations required this summer

 

Lee White lives in Groton. She can be reached at leeawhite@aol.com.

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