Monday 28 December 2009

Two Low-Carb Festive dips: Red Pepper & Cumin Dip, and Avocado, Crème Fraîche & Coriander Dip

 Chermoula-style Red Pepper & Cumin Dip, and
Avocado, Crème Fraîche & Coriander Dip
Two lovely low-carb festive dips: one cool, pale and creamy; the other a zippy rust-red zing of garlic, cumin and red pepper. Served together, they make a good contrasting pair, with finely chopped fresh coriander singing out as a common ingredient.

Something else these dips have in common: both recipes are the work of my two younger sisters, who magicked them, independently, from their kitchens during a week of feasting. (For the first time in three years my entire family - my mum, my three sisters, my three brothers-in-law, and many cousins - is assembled in Hout Bay, Cape Town, and we have spent the last few days happily shuttling between houses, shuffling cousins between beds, and filling ourselves with festive cheer).

I liked these dips so much that I disgraced myself by licking out the bowls. Then I went home and made them myself, but they were demolished by my teens before my tongue got within slurping distance.

Every flavour my tastebuds crave - the zing of lemon, the sting of garlic, the sweet smokiness of the roasted peppers, the stealthy warmth of cumin - is contained in these recipes, and I can't help being intrigued that all three of my sisters adore the same flavours. Is this genetic, I wonder? It can't be that we were raised in the same household: in the 60s and 70s, when we were kids, coriander, raw garlic and cumin and other newfangleds were neither available nor on the family menu.

The first recipe, which is reminiscent of a Moroccan chermoula mixture, uses Peppadews, which are small, mild-tasting bottled peppers. If you can't get these, use bottled red chillies, or any similar heat-producing agent, such as Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper, in quantities to suit your personal heat-meter. Please use very fresh powdered cumin and paprika (both spices start to taste dusty as they age) and remove all the stalks from the herbs before you chop them.

My sister served this in dollops over a bowl of creamy cold crème fraîche. (She says this paste is lovely with fresh fillets of fish: smear the paste on the skinless side of the fish and bake in a moderate oven until the fish is done and the topping just bubbling.)

The second dip is similar to a guacamole but fresher, lighter, zingier and made utterly delicious by a lot of crunchy fresh coriander.  It came about, says my (other) sister, because she had only one usable avocado to mix with a lot of crème fraîche and coriander. (I don't know what is going on with South Africa's usually bountiful avocado crop right now, but I can tell you that they cost a staggering R12 each right now, and that they are downright puny.)

Red Pepper, Cumin and Garlic Dip

6 ripe red peppers [capsicums or bell peppers]
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 bottled Peppadews, drained and sliced (or a bottled chilli pepper, or Tabasco sauce, to taste)
2½ tsp (12.5 ml) powdered cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
the juice of a lemon
the finely grated zest of half a lemon
½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped fresh coriander leaves [cilantro]
½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180°C. Place the peppers, whole, on a baking sheet covered with a piece of tin foil. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until they have collapsed and blistered. Turn off the heat and let them cool completely in the oven.

Bake the peppers until they're blistered and soft.
Remove the tray from the oven, slip the skins off the peppers, and remove the stalks and any seeds. Place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor or liquidiser.

Add the garlic, Peppadews, cumin, paprika, olive oil and lemon juice, and whizz to a paste. If the mixture is too thick to turn the blades, add a little water or lemon juice.

Now add the lemon zest and finely chopped coriander and parsley, and press the pulse button once or twice so that the mixture is just combined (the herbs should retain a crunch). Season with salt and pepper and decant into a pretty bowl.

Serves 6-8, as a snack 

Avocado, Crème Fraîche & Coriander Dip

1 large avocado
250 g (1 tub) crème fraîche
the juice of 1 small lemon
2/3 cup (125 ml) very finely chopped fresh coriander leaves [cilantro]
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Halve the avocado, remove the pip and scoop out the flesh. Place in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and add the crème fraîche and lemon juice.  Whizz to a smooth paste. Tip in the coriander leaves and pulse once or twice, or until the herbs are finely minced.  Season with salt and pepper and decant into a bowl.

Serve these dips with a bowl of olives, iced celery sticks, cucumber discs and feta cheese, if you're low-carbing, or with hot pita bread or toasted baguettes if you're not.

Serves 6-8, as a snack 

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Koek! said...

Welcome back! Lovely dips...

Marisa said...

So with you re the pathetic avocados in stores this season. On a different note though, that redpepper dip looks seriously divine. Don't blame you for licking out the bowls.

Jane-Anne said...

Thank you for the feedback!

Homemade Heaven said...

The Chermoula-Style Red Pepper, Cumin and Garlic Dip has me drooling. I love this kind of dip, and can imagine how good it would be as a sandwich spread with some nice leftover cold meat - yummy!
Hope you had a wonderful New year and all the best for 2010!

Jeanne said...

Oh, I think I'm in love... Now all I have to do is wait for the weather to warm up enough that these dips seem appropriate! So lovely picturing the entire family in one suburb shuffling from house to house throughout the festive season! Wishing you all the very best for 2010 and look forward to that drink on your deck in march

Elaine Hurford said...

I'd love to share another red pepper dip with you all.....where do I post? And my version of that addictive Greek dip/sauce Skordalia.

Elaine Hurford said...

I'd love to share another red pepper dip with you all.....where do I post? And my version of that addictive Greek dip/sauce Skordalia.