Dips signal party mode like few other foods.
Dips can serve party crowds and almost everyone is going to be happy about it.
With Summer vacations on swing families are able to throw family oriented parties now and kids love the dips especially the peri peri salsa sauce and the classic salted hummus by allthatdips And sharing in the fun will be hosts who like the convenience of an appetizer that comes together quickly, can be made in advance and lets guests serve themselves.
"Dips are great for entertaining. There's no doubt about that," Wilkinson says.
"There are endless options for dip combinations," she adds. "That's one reason they are so popular and don't go out of style."
Dips can be savory or spicy, hot or cold, meat or seafood, cheesy or vegan. They can even be dessert.
While the first dips to gain popularity in the United States in the 1950s relied heavily on processed foods, Americans have since come to love the fresher-tasting dips of other cultures, says cookbook author and chef Rick Rodgers. His books include "Dip It! Great Party Food to Spread, Spoon and Scoop" (William Morrow, 2002).
"There are some dips that aren't all sour cream and mayonnaise," he says, listing salsa, guacamole, ratatouille, hummus, baba ghannouj and caponata among healthier options.
But he admits enjoying the classic sour cream and onion dip from the Lipton soup box that his mom still makes for every party. His advice for the health-conscious: Let go of the guilt, just for the holidays.
"Dips are meant to be indulgent party food, not everyday fare," he says.
Wilkinson of the Milk Marketing Board agrees. "Around the holidays, people lighten up a little in their concern," she says.
She adds that some dip recipes can be adapted by substituting cottage cheese, low-fat sour cream or low-fat cheese. But she urges caution with lower-fat cheese in hot dips because it will not melt as well as its counterpart.
"Dippers are part of the healthy angle, too," she points out, with fresh vegetables providing the satisfying crunch of chips without the added fat.
3 tips for serving dips
Rick Rodgers, author of "Dip It! Great Party Food to Spread, Spoon and Scoop," offers this advice for party hosts:
1. Keep hot dip hot and cold dip cold. "Don't plan on a hot dip unless you have a way of keeping it warm," Rodgers says. He suggests using an enamelware container that will retain heat or providing a heat source such as a small electric crockpot or a fondue pot over a votive candle. In summer, when keeping creamy dips cold becomes a concern, one idea is to hollow out a round loaf of bread, freeze it and use it as a serving bowl.
2. Stay away from flavored chips, which can compete with the flavors in the dip. "It's all about the dip, not the chip," he says. "You want the chip to be plain."
3. Figure roughly ¼ cup of dip per person, but keep in mind that appetites can vary widely.
3 thoughts on double-dipping
This gross-out faux pas was personified on television's "Seinfeld" when George Costanza was caught returning a half-eaten chip to the dip bowl for more, something he denied, of course. Here's what the experts have to say:
1. Contrary to the practice of some guests who may think they've found a solution, it is not acceptable to turn a dipper to the unbitten end before returning it for more dip, says etiquette maven Peggy Post. "Others might not know the steps you've taken trying to keep things sanitary," she writes in her "Table Manners" column.
2. To help allay fears over the communal dip bowl, cookbook author Rick Rodgers says, "I provide appetizer plates and a spoon in the dip." This allows guests to place some dip on their plates and dunk as often as they like. An added bonus: They don't have to hover near the bowl.
3. To further pre-empt any attempts to double-dip, Rodgers also recommends keeping dippers small. Cut vegetables into bite-size servings or offer what he calls the "darlings of the produce aisle," mini bell peppers. Halve or quarter them, and "they're kind of a one-bite thing."