If food could multitask, this cheese dip would be the best example. Prepare the dip as a dip but use it in many other ways. It’s good as a salad dressing. Just pour over vegetables, toss and serve your salad. Stir the dip into hot macaroni and you have an instant mac and cheese dish.
Seriously, this is such a versatile cheese dip. I originally made it as a dip for cucumber sticks and tortilla chips, a vegetarian snack for Sam, but Sam liked it so much that she cooked fries and battered eggplants just to have more things to dip in the creamy, gooey mixture. If we had onions, she would have cooked onion rings too. But, alas, we need to go to the market first before we can have onion rings.
And just what is that liquid floating on top? Ah, that is the big secret. Read on and you’ll find out.
First, you need grated cheese. And cream. The kind of cheese you use will determine the amount of cream you need. The harder the cheese, the more cream you’ll need to make sure that the dip does not turn into a solid mass after it cools.
Now, the flavorings and aromatics. I opted for roasted peppers (a combination of bell peppers and chilis), scallions and garlic. Then, salt and pepper.
How to make the dip? First, you scald the cream. To scald means to heat it just below the boiling point. You want it to get just hot enough to melt the cheese but you definitely do not want to boil the cream because boiling will make it curdle.
Place the grated cheese in a bowl and, once the cream is hot, pour it in and stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Do this before adding the rest of the ingredients so that the mixture is no longer hot. The peppers are already soft from roasting and you don’t want them to get mushy in the hot cream. The scallions, you want to remain crisp. So, stir the cream and cheese together first until smooth. Then, add the rest of the ingredients, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir.
Finally, we get to the yellow liquid on top.
Just before serving, drizzle in a tablespoonful or two of melted butter. It really makes a world of difference.