Curried Chutney Dip and What are Your Signature Dishes???

Hi everyone and please click on the title of this post to read more. What a memory lane strolling weekend I had. Yesterday, I had a mini reunion with some Junior High School friends who have moved, like me, out of the City, but are still close enough to visit. It was so fun to see all these twelve year olds all grown up with kids that can play with my kids.

I decided to host a little brunch for all of us so that we could all hang out as families. I made some of the old stand-bys: Jalapeno popper dip, edamame dip, curried chutney dip, Mona’s french Toast casserole, asparagus goat cheese frittata and almond paste Challah (soon to be on the blog).

I remember someone once wrote that we should not change our dishes to accommodate all our guests but that we should change the guests so that we may perfect our specialties or our “signature dishes” and not have to struggle with something new and experimental at the expense of our friends and family. Isn’t that pure genius? It just makes so much sense.

My old friends seemed surprised that I had prepared so many of these varied treats but I have been making most of them for years and their prep have become second nature. They are some of my signature dishes.(Watch all these brunch guests and the dishes in the video below and see how I used Jacquie’s leftovers after the brunch…)

For many, it can seem overwhelming to take on cooking when we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves becoming prolific, creative chefs. Why not consider the more realistic goal of a smaller number of dishes for our repertoire and perfect those? Who doesn’t want to be known for a few, excellent dishes, dishes that people will associate with us and remember us by when we are not around?

Thanks to my friends for coming to our house and for creating some happy, food filled memories with our families. My friends promised to make some of these dishes if I posted them and here is one that I have not yet posted (all the rest are on the blog except the challah one that is coming soon). It is a slight variation of the “mango chutney log” that my friend, Abby’s, grandmother used to make. I know that her grandmother, Charlotte, was known for her family get togethers filled with all sorts of her specialty dishes. I did not know her well, but always think of her when I make this crowd pleasing appetizer. I hope you like it!:

Variation of Charlotte Kriegel’s Chutney Dip:

8 oz. Philadelphia Brand firm cream cheese
2 scallions, thinly sliced into rings
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup plus 2 TBS pineapple chutney (or any kind of sweet chutney like mango)
3/4 cup chopped almonds (you can use sliced almonds but they are much more expensive)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted

In a med. sized glass bowl, microwave the cream cheese so that it is a little soft, NOT liquidy. Stir in all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds until they are well combined. Plop the cream cheese mixture onto wax paper, form into a log or a ball,and place in the fridge until it firms up, maybe an hour. Once it is firm, roll the molded dip in the sesame seeds. If you cannot wait until the dip is hardened, just leave in the bowl and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with a spreader and put on crackers, pita or bagel chips. Use leftovers as a spread on bagels or in sandwiches.

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3 Responses

  1. Alma, I love that you included this topic in your blog yesterday. One of my signature dishes is gingered greens and tofu from “Moosewood Cooks at Home,” and I made it Saturday night when I had to cook for two friends who are diametrically opposed in their eating: one is a total red-meat person and the other is very veggie-leaning. They both loved it! Thanks for your great work 🙂

  2. I had a small dinner party the other night and made 3 of your dips: cilantro, jalapeno popper and curried chutney. They were all a hit! They were really easy to make and I was able to prepare the first and last a day before so I had less work to do that night. Thank you!

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