[FHCx83] National Chip and Dip Day/National Melba Toast Day

It’s a chip and dip!


Oh boy are we excited for today! Chips are awesome. Dips are awesome. Let’s make a mash-up (and we’ll throw some Melba Toast in to help with the dip!).

We present: The SPAK Chip and Dip Experience, March 2016:

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Three dips represented: AK‘s Beautiful Bruschetta, SPad’s Excellent Eggplant Dip, and SPom’s Outstanding Onion Dip

Alright alright, here are the recipes…

AK‘s Beautiful Bruschetta:

  • 5 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 6 leaves basil, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Vinegar
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Basically you just mix it all up once everything is chopped. It’s HEAVENLY. We could eat Bruschetta day in and day out, despite the fact that neither SP nor AK typically enjoy raw tomatoes! That’s the power of this dish.

SPad’s Excellent Eggplant Dip (made by SPad himself for the holiday, thanks SPad!):

  • 3 large eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 bunch scallions, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

First you have to “overcook” the eggplants in the microwave after drizzling with oil. Make sure to cover it in wax paper first! Alternatively you can roast or grill them in foil. Once softened and fully cooked, scoop the flesh out of the skin and let it cool. Then you can finely chop/mince the flesh of the eggplant. Blend in the remaining ingredients and let it chill in the refrigerator at least overnight.

This dish has been a hallmark of holiday hors d’oeuvres in the SPamily household. Thanksgiving, Passover, you name it, this eggplant dip is there. The recipe, handed down in SP‘s paternal family, will make you love the eggplant more than any other dish. Serve it with crackers or chips or melba toast. This dip is on point.

SPom’s Outstanding Onion Dip (made by SP for the holiday. Sorry SPom.):

  • 8 oz light sour cream
  • 5.33 oz non-fat plain greek yogurt (We used Chobani)
  • Goodman’s Onion Soup Mix – alternatively, the Lipton one is also amazing because it has bigger onion bits in it.

This is the smallest recipe represented here today, but it’s the most popular dip for chips around these parts. Whenever there are cold cuts dinners, this dip is often found sitting next to some Old Dutch Rip-L chips. It’s really up to you how much of the onion soup mix you want to put in but in this house we like to lay it on there (AK, excitedly: “Whole thing! Whole thing! Whole thing!”). Make sure you’ve got some water on hand to help counteract the saltiness of the soup mix! This dip is creamy and flavorful and leaves the most amazing taste in your mouth. Stop reading this and go make some!!

Tomorrow is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, much to AK‘s displeasure.


Whose house?! Icehouse!

We’ve been dormant! Mostly because we’re moving. Part of this moving business includes getting the new kitchen remodeled (into an extra-new SUPERKITCHEN!) which, of course, means more excuses to go out to eat! Yay. This time, we chose Icehouse. It’s kind of toward uptown Minneapolis, but isn’t that not technically uptown? It’s south of downtown. The neighborhood might be called Whittier but also we might have made that up. How’s this: Icehouse is on the Eat Street bit of Nicollet.

And the inside is real purty. Photo credit: heavytable.com

SP fancied himself a cocktail and decided to forego his usual citrus-focused drink choices for what Icehouse has dubbed the “Little Richard,” which is described on the menu as “zesty jazzberry phosphate rum-punch with vanilla cream foam.” Slightly obscure Mary Poppins references aside, it looked like this:

"HOOOOOO! Shut up." - Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

“HOOOOOO! Shut up.” – Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

As a bonus, it makes your burps taste like Jolly Ranchers!

We, as a SPAKtastic unit, love few things more than we love mushrooms, onion, and garlic (in any configuration or combination, really). That said, it of course follows that we ordered the Cast Iron Mushrooms as a starter. It’s a gorgeous varied heap of squishy shroomy goodness, topped with goopy burrata cheese. According to the internet, “burrata” means “buttered” in Italian; hopefully that’s an effective indication of how perfect the texture is. You’d think that exquisite cheesy mushrooms in a cast iron dish (as promised!) would be enough, but it also comes with a side of crostini AND roasted garlic in a sort of oily paste form. No onions to be found in this dish, but that’s not a letdown. Just imagine: delicately grasping a crostino between your thumb and forefinger; trying to contain yourself as you use your butter knife to scoop up some garlic paste and gingerly spread it on the roasty toasty bread; fumbling with your fork to gather up enough mushrooms to adequately adorn the layer of pure garlicky heaven; and, finally… the euphoric crunch resonating throughout your skull as the savory symphony plays on over your tastebuds.

Cast Iron Mushrooms with Crostini and Roasted Garlic

Cast Iron Mushrooms with Crostini and Roasted Garlic

Pure fungal heaven.

SP has spent a couple months coveting the Icehouse Burger from afar, ever since he saw it in a local magazine. One of the things that makes it special is the option of adding a slab of foie gras to it, and we saw to it that this opportunity was seized. Some burgers are the type you cannot possibly avoid getting all over you, and the Icehouse Burger is no exception. Rather than excess ketchup and mustard, what drips down your arm is a veritable stream of fatty duck and even fattier beef juices — plus, a truffle demi-glace, which was poured over the meat as it was served. When you bite into it, it’s like biting into a meat cloud bursting with rain-juice.

“So good. There were onions, it was buttery, sweet, salty, and… **indistinct satisfied muttering**… The fries were so good, too. Restaurant-style, hand-cut fries. They know what they’re doing. **more muttering** Crispy outside, fluffy inside, salted correctly. No way they’d ever let anything sit under a warmer to get soggy and stale. The tomato aioli that came with the fries was nice and smoky. **a sound that might be characterized most closely with “nnnnph”** A burger you won’t regret.” – SP, in a burger-induced haze

The top bun practically bounced right back off after SP put it on. A burger not to be trifled with.

The top bun practically bounced right back off after SP put it on. A burger not to be trifled with.

Meanwhile, across the table, AK chowed down on some Hanger Steak. It arrived on a bed of greens and wild mushrooms with sherry, topped with veal sweetbreads, and a croquetta on the side. Our server explained that the steak is served at a default of medium to medium-well as a result of being cooked sous-vide, which usually isn’t preferred (medium rare is the SPAK way), but the meat came out a beautiful, dark, and ultimately irresistible pink. It was tender, juicy, flavorful, and everything it should have been. It’s unclear what exactly was in this particular croquetta, but whatever it was, it was awesome. The insides were moist and salty, while the outside had a lovely crunch. The thought of what goes into sweetbreads usually gets us both feeling a little skeevy, but once you can get past the inherent rubberyness, the taste is rich and enjoyable. Neither of us remember what the sauce on the plate was, but it paired nicely with any of the other items in the dish. Some kind of remoulade, maybe?

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Lest we forget the sides. This time around we decided to get two to share: 1) Beer Battered Eggplant, and 2) Bacon, Egg, & Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

Beer Battered Eggplant with basil pesto, saffron, and giardiniera dollops for dippin'

Beer Battered Eggplant with basil pesto, saffron, and giardiniera dollops for dippin’

The batter didn’t taste that beerish, but not in a bad way. Nor in a way that makes you feel cheated. It was a very light batter that melts in your mouth without ever separating from the eggplant treasure within. The eggplant doesn’t come out of the battering/frying process too squishy or overly salty, either. Yum!

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The mac & cheese is one of the items we were most looking forward to but, sadly, also the one the ended up being our least favorite. Not because it was bad! It was very good! But something always has to place last. If you tend to enjoy white cheddar mac & cheese with thinner and not so much of the in-your-face types of thick melty cheese, this one is perfect for you. The bacon pervades the dish pleasantly, and the goo from the poached egg on top is a welcome addition (eggs over easy is a SPAK breakfast favorite!). Lastly, the smattering of roasted tomato and rosemary was a very present taste without being too pungent.

And then… there was dessert. We love chocolate. We love chocolate so much that we got both of the chocolate-centric desserts available to us: the Dark Chocolate Torte, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Each came with either a sorbet or ice cream, the freshness of which managed to dampen the heavy richness of all the chocolate. We’ll let them speak for themselves:

Dark Chocolate Torte with apricot ice cream, raspberries, and sunflower seeds

Dark Chocolate Torte with apricot ice cream, raspberries, and sunflower seeds. Plus, some sort of vaguely brown butter-esque sauce.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate sorbet, ganache, oreo crumb, and cinnamon. Although, I could swear there was also a vanilla sorbet. You can kind of see it behind one of the pieces of cake in the middle. But maybe that was just the ganache.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate sorbet, ganache, oreo crumb, and cinnamon. Although, we could swear there was also a vanilla sorbet. You can kind of see it behind one of the pieces of cake in the middle.

We’re full.