Dip In

Our cooks in the test kitchens Down Under argue that chips and dip are pantry staples, on a par with premium olive oil or high-grade flour. Although we haven’t reached a consensus on this yet, we do agree that a good dip is the ideal accompaniment to hosts of things edible. Having a few favourites up your sleeve will certainly help in times of unexpected or last-minute snacking.

In dip terms, the two elements to success are the base and the flavourings.

Let’s talk base first – hot or cold, creamy or crumbly, sweet or savoury? Hot dips can be either sweet, like our Mini Molten S’more Skillet Dip with a chocolate or cream base, or savoury and cheesy, with a cheese base. Don’t forget to keep your hot dip hot; no one likes a lukewarm dip. Using a terracotta or porcelain serving bowl will help retain the heat. Creamy dips frequently have a cream cheese or sour cream base, combined with mayonnaise, salad cream, or natural yoghurt to loosen the consistency. If using cream cheese, warming it slightly will make it much easier to manage and reduce lumps. Crumbly or textured dips, like our favourite Layered Mediterranean, often call for hummus which is typically grainy and quite firm. Spread a thick layer on a shallow dish, drizzle over your olive oil and sprinkle with assorted herbs or spices. In their comparatively recent comeback, sweet dips are making a name for themselves, now so much more than just a side on a fruit platter. Think whipped feta with honey and pomegranate, spiced chocolate with churros, or, surprisingly, Creamy Werther’s Original Dip with crisps.

Now you have your base, it’s time for the fun part, adding your flavours. The number of combinations to experiment with when making your own spice mix is almost endless. On the other hand, don’t pass up a good quality packet mix – half the work is done for you, and mostly with fail-proof results. Packet soup mixes are a great standby for a savoury dip with chips; just add in a smattering of minced garlic or Dijon mustard to up your game. Use either vinegar or lemon juice for a touch of acidity, and don’t be afraid to add a little sugar to round it out. Fresh or dried herbs tick the colour, flavour and texture boxes, as do chutneys and relishes. A topping of almonds, pecans and honey on a warm slab of cream cheese can produce rave reviews, and a dusting of chilli flakes over a cheese dip is the perfect winter warmer.

Almost as important as the dip itself is dip etiquette. Chip to dip ratio should be kept in mind in the planning stage. Will there be enough for everyone to have a dip? And if you are a dipper, remember your manners and scoop small. Dip left in the bowl can still be enjoyed, but congealed globs of leftover dip on plates certainly cannot! The elephant in the room is, of course, double dipping. Let us confirm that this is never, ever ok. Except in rare circumstances where you are the only dipper, in that case, there is no one to judge. Flipping and dipping, however, (to make use of the un-nibbled end of your carrot stick) can be acceptable, at a pinch. Finally, similar to surf lifesaving, dip chip-saving is essential. Dive in and save your floundering potato crisp, you may not want it now, but neither do any of the other guests. Just please use a spoon and not a life ring.

So, while we continue our chip-and-dip-as-pantry-staples debate, stock up on cream cheese, chocolate, spices, herbs and toppings, and dip in!

Recipe Inspirations

Mini Molten S’more Skillet Dip

Layered Mediterranean Dip

Creamy Werther’s Original Dip- Thermomix


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