It’s Friday the thirteenth, in December, and I haven’t quite recovered from Thanksgiving yet. I am still finding stray Legos in odd places, and I just threw away a baggie brimming with some gelatinous remnant of endive. Boxes of Christmas decorations litter the guest room floor because we still haven’t gotten around to buying a tree, let alone decorating it. I am just a little disorganized and frazzled. I could use a good cocktail party.
I require no witty banter. I don’t like fancy cocktail parties that call for panty hose and intricate finger food. Who really needs toast points, coated with egg, with a dab of caviar? Manicure? Me? Preposterous! I like the kind of gatherings where everyone has thrown out their vegan-keto-intermittent-fasting mentality, and we are all grouped around a bowl of Knorr’s (or Lipton’s) onion soup dip, shoveling and excavating with Ruffles. Yumsters. Who has time to be precious with puff pastry? Bring on the chip and dips. And throw in some nuts and Cheetos, please.
The Disappearing Act
This evolved from your basic 1950s onion dip for what I imagined to be John Cheever-y kinds of cocktail parties. I think it is a step up the slippery evolutionary kitchen slope because I use Knorr soup mix, which sounds imported, no? Regardless of the shopworn cliché and conceit, this dip is very popular with our guests, whether they be guzzling the French 75s or clinking their icy bottles of Coke.
Makes 2 cups
2 cups sour cream
1 package Knorr’s onion soup mix
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons green onion, finely chopped
Mix all the ingredients together and chill until it’s time to serve. Excellent with veggies, but much better with big fat crunchy kettle fried chips.
If you would like to bypass all the sodium and preservatives in the store-bought mix version, and you have a time to fuss, you can make this Alison Roman version from the New York Times. They say the prep time is about an hour and fifteen minutes:
Sour Cream and Onion Dip
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound yellow onions (about 3 medium), thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Olive oil, for drizzling
¼ cup finely chopped chives
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add onions and shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and starting to turn a nice golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often to make sure the onions don’t stick along the bottom of the skillet. Cook until onions are a deep golden brown and reduced by about half their original size, another 45 to 55 minutes. Resist the urge to turn up the heat to make them caramelize faster. It will lead to burning.
Transfer onions and shallots to a cutting board and finely chop. Place in a large bowl along with sour cream, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil, season with pepper and sprinkle with chives.
For once, Martha has an easier way. A little compromise, although you do have to cook a lot of bacon.
Loaded Baked-Potato Dip https://www.marthastewart.com/1535444/loaded-baked-potato-dip
With this dream recipe you can forgo the dip. Think of the time you can save!
Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
I tried it out on the neighbors last year at our little New Year’s Eve fête, and it was hoovered up in record time.
1 12-ounce bag of potato chips (the store brand is the best value!)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes.
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
In a small sauce pan, or frying pan, warm the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the 4 cloves of garlic-pressed garlic. Cook at a low heat for 3 minutes, until fragrant. There is nothing like garlic to make the house smell homey and divine. Let the oil cool for about 5 or 10 minutes.
Put the chips in a large, shallow bowl. Drizzle with the garlic-infused oil. Toss the chips, gently. There is nothing worse than tiny little mingey bits of chips when one is trying to impress… Add the parsley and half the Parmesan cheese.
Warm the oven to 350°F degrees.
Put the chips on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Warm in the oven for about 7 or 8 minutes. Put the chips back in the original shallow bowl, scatter in the rest of the cheese, and toss. Serve warm. Yumsters.
How about stepping up your hummus game, and making it from scratch, too? There is nothing wrong with buying hummus, and serving it straight from the container, but if you are having a little soirée, wouldn’t it be nice to be smug, and swan around knowing you are serving homemade hummus? That is something you will never see in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Don’t forget the pita.
Homemade Humble-bragging Hummus
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 cup
3 heaping tablespoons of tahini
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
Drop the garlic clove into a food processor and add the lemon juice. Add the tahini on top and the salt and cumin. Process until the mixture looks peanut-buttery, about 1 minute. Stream in the olive oil, a little at a time, with the motor running. Process just until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the chickpeas and process for about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go, until the chickpeas are completely blended and the hummus is smooth and uniform in color.
Go out into the back yard and looks for greens and pinecones. I added some holly sprigs to a big, shallow bowl of whole, fresh cranberries with a fat white pillar candle to be our holiday centerpiece. You can get creative with citrus fruit and even a pineapple, depending on your need to strive. Chill some Prosecco, warm up some mulled wine, have some holiday cheer ready for your dear friends, who want come in from the cold.
“After all, what is your host’s purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they’d have simply sent champagne and women over to your place by taxi.”
-P. J. O’Rourke
“Without peanuts, it isn’t a cocktail party.”