Wednesday, 9 January 2013
I had major plans of starting off the new year on a sweet note, but 2 cake baking disasters back to back left me disinterested in the same. I am pretty sure I've lost my cake baking mojo and poor Ro is bearing the brunt of it, along with eating the severely dry mocha cupcakes I baked (and couldn't get myself to dump).
Instead I thought I'll blog one of my recent favourites, the jalapeno popper dip. I love Jalapeno poppers, but unlike the US, its very difficult to get your hands on some fresh Jalapenos and even if you do its ridiculously expensive. But when I do have this craving for poppers I head on over to Borough market and pick some up, but of late I have been using the pickled jalapenos for my cooking requirements. It cant be used to make poppers, but I do generously use them in my Mexican dishes as well as dips and such.
Penn State Snacks had sent me their Christmas (pretzel) range to review a while back and their challenge was to incorporate it into a recipe. They sent me 3 different flavours, each good it its own way. The sour cream and chive was deemed my favourite and I can very proudly say I myself finished off 3/4th of the pack. Their popular salted giant stars were perfect for Christmas entertaining and I served it with a sweet apricot chutney at one of my Christmas parties. The kids enjoyed it and that does say a lot about the flavour doesn't it :). Their brand new flavour- Maple bacon pretzel knots were used in this jalapeño popper dip and I must say it was a pleasant discovery. Instead of using bread crumbs to sprinkle on top of the dip, I crushed the maple bacon pretzels and used that instead. The subtle sweetness of the maple was a good addition to the creaminess of the cheese and heat from jalapenos. I still have half a pack of pretzels left and I may use it up to coat some chicken drumsticks and bake them.
The jalapeño dip was served as a starter along with some carrots and cucumber sticks and tortilla chips at a party we had at home and everyone loved it. I wouldn't claim this dip to be healthy in any way, but serving it with some chopped veggies kinda makes it a wee bit acceptable. Oh well, who am I kidding, its an uber cheesy dip- hot and spicy- and I don't think anyone would say no to it. So go on, give it a try and see what I'm talking about.
Recipe adapted from here (serves 8, as a starter)
Mayonnaise- 1/2 cup
Cheddar cheese- 1/2 cup (coarsely grated)
Parmigiano Reggiano- 1/4 cup (coarsely grated)
Pickled jalapeños- 90 to 100 gms, drained and roughly chopped
Maple bacon pretzels- 3 tbsp (crushed *)
Parmigiano Reggiano- 2 tbsp (finely grated)
In a mixing bowl mix together the cream cheese, mayo, cheddar and parmiggiano reggiano until well combined.
Add the chopped jalapeños and continue mixing till you get a smooth-ish mix.
Transfer this mix into a baking dish and smoothen out the top as much as possible. Keep aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175C.
*Transfer the pretzels into a zip lock bag and using a rolling pin crush them as finely as possible. Alternatively, transfer them into a spice grinder and grind till fine.
Mix the Parmigiano cheese into the pretzel mix and sprinkle over the cheese mix, as evenly as possible. Tap the bowl on the kitchen counter to evenly distribute it,
Place on a baking tray and chuck into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or till the cheese starts bubbling from the sides and the crushed mix on top becomes a light golden colour.
Serve right out of the oven.
Notes: Replace the maple bacon pretzels with equal amount of bread crumbs. I have tried it both ways and cant pick a favourite. Love both equally. You can also use any other crisp/ chips in its place as well.
I dont like too fine a crumb so I left a few chunks here and there.
Feel free to halve the recipe and bake it for only about 12 to 15 minutes.
Use more jalapeños if you want it spicier. Add one fresh one along with the pickled ones for some extra kick. The heat was just perfect for us.
Add flavourings like garlic powder, thyme etc. to give it more oomph.
With thanks to Penn State Snacks for sending me a sample pack of pretzels