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Salsa Negra Although the dark complex flavor of this salsa defies description, I would say, “deliciously sweet with a deep smokey flavor and a fiery punch that makes you take notice.” Using canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, this salsa comes together quickly and is versatile enough to be used as a seasoning base for other dishes, like the dip shown above.

Sweet-Sour Chipotle Seasoning (Salsa Negra)
Recipe by Rick Bayless as seen on Parade.com

INGREDIENTS
2 (7½-oz) cans chipotle chiles en adobo
2 Tbsp molasses
¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar or sweet sherry vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup soy sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the chiles (with canning liquid), molasses, sugar, vinegar and ½ cup water in a blender and process until completely smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan over medium heat.

2. Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low and continue simmering, stirring regularly, until the mixture is the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. If necessary, add water, a splash at a time, until the salsa is the consistency of runny ketchup. Cool, taste, and season with salt if needed.

Chef’s Note: Refrigerate salsa in a tightly covered pint-sized jar, where it will keep for a month or two.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I was a bad girl. By not reading the directions thoroughly, I screwed up. I added the soy sauce with the other ingredients in my blender. I cooked down the salsa negra in step 2, but because I added more liquid by adding the soy sauce prematurely, I did not let it cook it down to a tomato paste consistency.

2. I used light soy sauce with good results and added no more additional salt.

3. In Food and Wine, Chef Bayless says of this salsa, “Balsamic vinegar might seem like an unusual ingredient in Mexican food, but it is common in Baja. This recipe makes more salsa than you’ll need to make Shrimp with Spicy Chipotle Tomato Sauce, but it keeps in the refrigerator for weeks and can add an intense, smoky heat to grilled meats, stews and tacos.”

4. Taking Chef Bayless’s recommendation, I made a dip using the salsa negra. Using 16 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, I added some salsa negra (to taste) and some crumbled bacon. The dip packs enough flavor alone, if you just want to spread it on a bagel. I like it spread on a blue corn tortilla chip, drizzled with Mexican crema, and topped with a cilantro leaf.

Enjoy!

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crudities  with dip Instead of serving a tray of high-calorie appetizers at your next party, how about presenting a beautiful platter of fresh crudités? Boring, you say? Not if you serve the crudités with a variety of interesting dips! Don’t be fooled by the simple list of ingredients in the Herb Dip; the fresh herbs really shine in this easy and delicious recipe. Tempt your guests with the cooling flavor of lime juxtaposed against the heat of chilies in the Chili-Lime Sour Cream Dip. Last, but certainly not least, the Peanut Sauce is sure to be a crowd favorite – what’s not to like about peanut butter with a little attitude?

Herb Dip
Recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, scallions, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 2 cups

Linnell’s Notes:
Due to the cream cheese, this recipe produces a thick dip. To further cut calories, you could experiment with low-fat versions of the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise. For best flavor, though, you’re going to have to leave some fat in the recipe!

Chili-Lime Sour Cream Dip
Recipe from Better Homes and Garden

Ingredients:
One 16-ounce carton of sour cream
Two 7-ounce cans of diced green chilies, drained
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup jarred salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mild or hot chili powder
2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
Bottled hot pepper sauce to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl combine sour cream, chilies, cilantro, salsa, garlic, chili powder, lime peel, salt and bottled hot pepper sauce. Cover and chill overnight.

Makes 3¾ cups

Linnell’s Notes:
The level of preferred heat can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the amounts of chili powder and hot pepper sauce. Also, the type of salsa you use, will affect the heat of the dip. Chilling the dip overnight allows the flavors to meld.

Peanut Sauce
Recipe originally from Sunset Hors D’oeuvres Cookbook

Ingredients:
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chili sauce or ketchup
1/2 – 1 teaspoon soy sauce, to taste

Directions:
Mix ingredients until well-blended. Serve with raw vegetables (cucumber, jicama, bell pepper, carrot and celery)

Makes 3/4 cup

Linnell’s Notes:
After tasting this at one of her parties, I begged my friend Tina for this recipe. Because it’s a crowd-pleaser, I double or quadruple this recipe when I make it!

Enjoy!

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