And they say that a leopard can’t change his spots. Well, they’re wrong.
Typically, I am not a big fan of dips.
It has been my experience that most dips are uninteresting semi-liquid glops designed to mask the flavor of something equally uninteresting.
But despite this admitted prejudice, I stand before you a changed man – one no longer shackled by the weight, memories and horror of parties where my only semi-acceptable food options were pigs-in-a-blanket or a sad blue cheese dip sitting alone in the middle of a crudite platter.
I’m not that familiar with Portuguese cooking, so I was excited at the chance of opening up a whole new world of tastes, flavor combinations and ingredients (I have over 150 cookbooks – I know, I need rehab – and surprisingly, not one of them is on Portuguese cuisine).
While there were quite a number of recipes that caught my eye, it was the Patê de Azeitonas Verdes (Green Olive Dip) that really piqued my interests.
The base of the dip is what the Portuguese call a ‘milk mayonnaise.’ Unlike what you would expect, this ‘mayonnaise’ doesn’t contain egg yolk or mustard. It’s made from milk that has been emulsified and whipped into a beautifully silky and creamy sauce. I had to see this for myself.
Not only is the dip simple to make, it’s delicious. It’s easily one of my favorite new recipe discoveries. The type of dish you know is going to be a party favorite (goodbye crappy blue cheese/crudite platter)
The dip is a beautiful marriage of flavors: earthiness of the green olives, creaminess of the whipped milk and brininess of the anchovies. NOTE: I am not a big fan of anchovies. But I don’t think the recipe would be the same without them. So I only used three anchovy fillets instead of the six called for in the recipe.
I tried the Green Olive Dip with another recipe that I found in the cookbook: Herb Potato Skins. Again, another great find. They puff up as you fry them (the skin separates from the vegetable)…the result is a crispy and light potato snack.
Green Olive Dip & Herbed Potato Skins…I’m thinking you’re gonna like this one.
GREEN OLIVE DIP & HERBED POTATO SKINS
From The New Portuguese Table by David Leite
GREEN OLIVE DIP
1/3 cup whole milk
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 small garlic clove, smashed
6 cilantro sprigs (leaves and tender stem)
Pinch of freshly ground pepper (white pepper is ideal, but black will do)
¾ cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup pitted green olives, chopped (rinsed quickly if particularly salty)
Add the milk, anchovies, garlic, two thirds of the cilantro, and the pepper to a blender and pulse to combine. With the motor running, pour the oil in a fine stream. Keep whirring until the oil is incorporated and the mixture thickens, 30 to 40 seconds.
Scrape the dip into a serving bowl and stir in the olives. Mince the remaining cilantro, sprinkle on top and serve.
Makes about 1 ½ cups.
HERBED POTATO SKINS
1 cup roughly chopped mix of herbs (thyme, sage, cilantro)
3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups thick Yukon Gold potato peelings, patted dry
Freshly ground black pepper
Dump half the herbs in a medium saucepan and pout in the oil. Heat the mixture over very low heat until the herbs begin to sizzle, about 8 minutes.
Strain the oil through a fine sieve and discard the herbs.
Return the oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350˚F on a deep-fat or candy thermometer. Carefully lower the potato peels into the oil and fry until golden and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir frequently an adjust the heat so they don’t burn. Just before the potatoes are done, dump the rest of the herbs into the oil and fry for 30 seconds to crisp them.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the skins and the herb to paper towels, toss to drain well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.