Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fancy Southwestern Marinated Cheese Dip with Whipped Feta, Colby Jack + Pepper Jack Cheese Cubes, + Marinated Herby Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Fancy Southwestern Marinated Cheese Dip with Whipped Feta, Colby Jack + Pepper Jack Cheese Cubes,
Marinated Herby Roasted Red Pepper Dip
There is something about this dip that everyone just adores... and I'm not sure I get it. Well, I didn't until I made a schmancified (adjective of shmancy) version of it. That's what I like to do, so deal with it. The original recipe comes from here and involves a task-worthy cutting & stacking of cream cheese and cheddar cheese. I hated it. You have to practically freeze the cream cheese in order for it to look correct after cutting or it gets all schmeary (adjective of schmear). Also, that means you had these clunky blocks of cheese and drippy dressing that you have to handle with your hands, which is NOT good for a party. Lemme tell y'all, that shit gets all over your dress. Nonetheless, it was still the hit of the party and my family couldn't stop raving about it. I decided to revamp it some to make it more party-friendly. It did the trick and is even more of a success than the first recipe. Instead of boring cream cheese, I made a whipped feta cheese and spread it onto a plate to form cloud-like piles of fluffy cheese. You could also just use whipped cream cheese or even some yummy Boursin Cheese (or my version of whipped goat cheese would do it all up just fine). In replacement of creating blocks or stacks of cheddar cheese, I cut up some Colby Jack + Pepper Jack Cheese into tiny cubes, which makes it impossibly easy for dipping!! YAY for easy dipping. Then here comes the best part... the Marinated Herby Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette. In a large mixing bowl, you just toss in some olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime, fresh parsley + cilantro, green onions, garlic, finely diced roasted red pepper, minced candied jalapeno, honey, and spices... and it's all done! I let the mixture marinate overnight at least, but it gets better with age. The other recipe suggests marinating the cheese in the vinaigrette mixture, but whenever I did that it made our cheese uber-rubbery and chewy. But, even then, it was still gobbled up at every chance. Thus, I decided to make the vinaigrette and marinate it, then the next day, I added the small cubes of cheese to it and let it soak for about an hour so that it absorbs some of that delicious flavoring. Then you just top your whipped feta schmear with the marinated vinaigrette + cheese cubes, making sure that you get as much of the peppers, herbs, and onions you can. It's really up to you if you want to add some of the "juice" to the dip. While it certainly adds a whole bunch of flavor, it also gives way too much moisture to the whipped feta and can get a little deflated. We serve our dip with some toasted pita chips or Triscuits because it seems to match the flavor profile. You can easily change that up though if ya want. So get on to the store, grab the ingredients, and make the dip... tonight. Or tomorrow if you can. Because it's perfect for any occasion honestly!! Enjoy :)

For the Southwestern Marinated Cheese:
1C Olive Oil
1C White Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, or Apple Cider Vinegar (whatever is your preference)
1 Lime, Zested & Juiced
4T Fresh Parsley, Minced
4T Fresh Cilantro, Minced
5 Green Onions, Minced
4 Cloves of Garlic, Smashed into a Paste (using a little sea salt will help this along)
2C Roasted Red Pepper, Drained & Diced
¼C-½C Candied Jalapenos, Finely Chopped
1-3T Sugar or Honey
½t Cumin & Dried Oregano 
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
1 8oz Block of Pepperjack Cheese, Cut into Small Cubes (about ½-inch pieces)
1 8oz Block of Colby Jack Cheese, Cut into Small Cubes (about ½-inch pieces)

For the Whipped Feta Cheese:
8oz Creamy Feta Cheese, Room Temperature (or very soft)
2oz Cream Cheese, Room Temperature (or very soft)
3T Cold Heavy Cream
Pinch of Salt & Pepper

For the Southwestern Marinated Cheese Dip:
Prepared Whipped Feta
Prepared Southwestern Marinated Cheese Cubes
Any Extra or Excess Marinade, For Spooning Over the Top of the Dip
Crackers or Chips, For Serving

1. For the Southwestern Marinated Cheese: In a large mason jar, add in the olive oil, vinegar, limejuice & zest, parsley, cilantro, green onions, garlic paste, roasted red peppers, candied jalapenos, and sugar. Cover the jar tightly and shake vigorously until well mixed and incorporated. Taste to see if it needs some salt & pepper, to your liking. Place the small cubes of Pepper Jack & Colby Jack cheese into a Ziploc bag. Pour the prepared marinade over the cheese cubes and let them marinate in the refrigerator overnight or at least 6-8 hours.
2. For the Whipped Feta Cheese: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the softened cream cheese and salt until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the sides and turn the mixer to medium-high speed and add in ¼C heavy cream. Continue whipping, while continuously adding a little bit of a crumbled feta cheese at a time, until the feta cheese is combined throughout. Add in the remaining ¼C heavy cream and beat on high until it is light & fluffy. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Spoon this mixture onto a serving plate.

3. For the Southwestern Marinated Cheese Dip: After the cubed cheese has marinated, beat together the two cream cheese blocks until whipped. Place the cream cheese into a serving platter or dish in a thick, even layer. Strain out the marinated cubes of cheese and arrange them over the cream cheese (pressing the cubes in slightly, so they adhere to the cream cheese). Using a spoon, spoon over as much or as little of the marinade as you like, just make sure to get all of the roasted red pepper, candied jalapeno, herbs, and green onion (that’s all the good stuff that adds a delicious flavor a beautiful pop over color). It is up to you how much of the liquid marinade that you want to pour over, some people don’t want all of it on there because it can make the dip a little runny or messy, but I like to spoon almost all of the marinade, just because it has too much flavor to waste! It’s all up to your preferences.
4. Serve the dip cold or at room temperature with some crackers for dipping!

1 comment:

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