An appetizer is a small dish meant to stimulate the appetite for the larger meal to come. Here are three very different appetizing dips, all from the award-winning chefs of the Maine Windjammer Association.
PEEKYTOE CRAB DIP – from the Stephen Taber serves 6
“The best thing about this dip is that it is highly versatile. Over the summer, I use a variety of cheeses and vegetables, depending on what we have on hand. If we have a little corner of Humboldt Fog cheese leftover, it goes in. One of the challenges of cooking on a schooner is that there is no convenience store. When we leave the dock, we have to make do with what we have (unless Captain Noah makes a stop in Buck’s Harbor or Stonington to pick up cheese or broccoli from the general store or farmer’s market.) The following is my standard version of crab dip, and I’ll provide some ideas on how to utilize what you have on hand as well.”
1 small sweet onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz peekytoe (rock) crab meat, cooked and picked
1 cup sharp cheddar or other melting cheese, shredded or crumbled
½ cup Parmesan, finely grated
2 tsp tarragon, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup panko style bread crumbs
½ tsp dry mustard, or 1 tsp Dijon
Melt butter over medium-low heat. Slowly sweat onions, adding garlic after a few minutes. Add a dash of salt. Once they are soft and translucent, add cream cheese and milk, mixing well. Turn down heat if the cheese begins to sizzle. Once mixed, add crab and stir to combine. Mix in half of the cheddar and Parmesan, followed by tarragon, lemon juice, Worcestershire, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Adjust the seasoning, as the sweetness and salinity of the crab may vary.
Spoon the dip into an oven safe serving dish. Mix remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Place a couple thin slivers of butter on the bread crumbs, then bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until top is golden brown. All of the ingredients are fully cooked, so if you are in a pinch for time, stick it under the broiler until the top is melted and toasted. You can also make this early in the day and chill, but add cooking time to make sure it is heated through.
Try adding any of the following to use up leftovers or make it more interesting:
• Add 8 oz chopped spinach to cooked onions, or ½ cup thinly sliced fennel
• Add a roasted or preserved pantry ingredient, such as chopped artichokes, giadiniera, or roasted red peppers
• Use up those last bits of leftover cheese, substituting some chevre or brie for cream cheese
• Add other fresh garden herbs – thyme pairs well with the cheese and crab
BARBARA’S FRESH VEGETABLE DIP – from the Mary Day, a recipe from Barbara Horn
1 pint sour cream
1½ T prepared horseradish
1 T paprika
1 T minced chives or scallions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp tarragon vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
1/8 tsp black pepper
Mix all together and chill well. If you don’t have tarragon vinegar you can use plain and put in a small pinch of dried tarragon, or fresh if you have it. Serve with raw vegetables.
TOMATO AND HERB DIP from the Heritage
This recipe makes good use of ripe summer tomatoes and fresh herbs.
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
½ cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of oregano, sage, basil and chives)
2 T dried basil
4 T Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
Crackers or garlic toast, for serving
In a bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes and their juices into the cream cheese, stirring and mashing with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Add the herbs and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Chill for 1 hour before serving. Serve with crackers or garlic toasts.
For more information about recipes from the galleys of the Maine Windjammer Association click here.