Friday, March 12, 2010

when I dip, you dip, we dip

So many of life's greatest things start with infusing oil with red pepper flakes.

A few weeks ago, we hosted a game night.  While the beau made an amazing stir-fry, I threw together this Spicy Baked Feta & Roasted Red Pepper Dip to start.

I feel like I have been dicing garlic and shallots forever.  And a day.  Anyone else get frustrated when dicing shallots?  At least onions are one solid bulb.  NOT SO WITH SHALLOTS!  They have two or more parts, and their tiny, and... gah!

So, after the olive oil and red peppers are allowed to get funky, (you want the oil to get nice and orange,) throw in the shallots and garlic.  Cook those until they have softened.  In goes the flour, and let it thicken a bit.

While all this was going on, I was roasting a red pepper.  In the past, I have done this over a flame stove-top.  However, because I don't HAVE a gas stove,* I broiled.  Put the pepper on a baking pan on the top rack in the oven and broil.  To stop the oven from cycling,** I left the door ajar.  This way the heat is constant, which is perfect for roasting!  As you can see above, the objective is to get the pepper good and charred.    Then, pop the pepper into a ziplock bag and seal.  Let the steam work it's magic, (in this case, magic= loosening the skin.)  After 5 minutes, it should be cool enough to handle.  Remove from bag, and peel off skin.  Ta da!

*Yes, I am lamenting about this AGAIN.  And yes, technically, I have a gas stove... it's just not hooked up!
**To my knowledge, ovens "cycle" like your heat or AC cycles.  This means that it will kick on for a while to get up to temperature, and then rest.  Kicks on again, as needed, to heat itself back up to temperature.  By leaving the door ajar, the oven is constantly working to hit the desired degree.

Doesn't this look appetizing?  Oooooo yeah.  This is when everything but the shredded cheese is combined.

Top with shredded Parmesean (or other hard & sharp cheese), because why bake a dip if it's not going to have a cheesy crust?  WHY?!??!  Anyways, into the oven!

While I definitely enjoyed the dip, I think it fell flat on the "spicy" classification.  And this was after adding a bit more.  To make again, I would try with an extra clove of garlic and a full teaspoon, probably more, of red pepper flakes.... maybe some parm IN the dip instead of just on top?  I dunno. 

None of this mattered, as the guests gobbled it up!

 Spicy Baked Feta & Roasted Red Pepper Dip
adapted from Cookthink

1/4c extra virgin olive oil
3/4tsp red pepper flakes
1 minced shallot
3 minced garlic cloves
1Tbsp flour
1c Greek yogurt
1/2c feta, crumbled (or, you know, more.  whatevs)
2Tbsp milk*
1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and diced
Shredded Parmesean, for topping

Turn oven on (High) Broil.

Roast the red pepper under the broiler or over a flame.**  For broiler, leave door ajar and put pepper on a tin-foiled baking pan on the top rack.  Rotate the pepper every 1-2minutes, allowing each side to blacken.   If using a flame, hold near fire and rotate regularly until desired color is reached.  Put the pepper into a ziplock bag, seal, and let rest for ~5minutes.  Remove from bag, peel off skin, seed & dice.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat for about 5 minutes until infused and orange.  Add shallot and garlic and cook another 5 minutes or so, until soft.  Add flour, stir to remove clumps & combine, and remove from heat.

Reduce oven temp to 350F.

Combine the yogurt and feta together with the back of a fork.  Add milk.  Then mix in the olive oil mixture, followed by the diced red bell pepper.  Put in oven-safe dish and sprinkle with Parmesean, (Asiago & Romano would also work.)  Bake for 45 minutes, until browned on top and bubbly around the edges.  Serve with crackers or pita chips.

*The recipe calls for whole milk, which I never keep in my house and don't buy unless absolutely needed.  I either replace with skim, or do mostly skim milk with a splash of heavy cream. 
**Store-bought roasted red peppers would work just as well.

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