Saturday, December 19, 2009
Crustacean Celebration: Dippity Do!
There was a popular hair product when I was a teenager called Dippity Do. It promised, as hair products still seem to do, to make the human equivalent of a bald cat magically transform into a pampered Persian.
Its translucent day-glo colors (pink and green for regular and extra-hold, respectively) and unforgettably awful smell made dipping into a fresh jar an experience both sensuous and revolting. Then smearing it on your hair and rolling the strands onto juice can-sized rollers which, if you were lucky and had a hair dryer or, if you weren't and had to sleep on them till your hair dried, was emblematic of the pursuit of beauty at all costs. Especially since the beauty part didn't usually turn out exactly as one might have hoped.
And the food at the holiday parties one attended after that gauntlet of preparations seemed to cause the same reactions of sensuousness and revulsion, though the colors were (only somewhat) more subdued. Velveeta cheese squares on saltines topped with a pimento olive slice. Cheese balls molded from gummy, flavorless cheese-like substances and rolled in chopped walnuts that looked like something that had plummeted from the sky. And who could forget the dry little meatballs covered in barely reconstituted cream of mushroom soup, not to mention the day-glo Vienna sausages?
But there were gems scattered among the lumps of coal on those tables that I remember fondly and still crave at this time of year, particularly the dips consumed with crunchy, salty potato chips. They were usually simple, creamy and whipped up in moments. I ran into a descendant of those classics not long ago and thought now might be the perfect time to share it, with holiday parties coming up that might benefit from a jewel on the table.
Hot Artichoke and Crab Dip
From New Seasons Market
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts (Trader Joe's brand are a great value)
1/4 c. capers
6 oz. crab meat (fresh is better and cheaper if you buy a whole crab and crack it yourself, but canned works, too)
1 c. parmesan, finely grated
1 c. mayonnaise
Drain and chop artichokes. If using canned crab, drain well and combine with artichokes, capers, cheese and mayonnaise. Put in baking dish and bake for 20 minutes at 350°. When warm and bubbly serve with your favorite crackers, baguette slices or tortilla chips. (Also makes a great stuffing for salmon fillet or chicken breast.)
Check out these other examples of the crabby-licious goodness that is the Crustacean Celebration at GoodStuffNW: pasta with crab and radicchio; killer crab cakes; crab crostini; and a company-worthy crab-filled cioppino.