Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Fennel and Blue Cheese Dip

Are you getting sick of seeing breakfast foods every day? I'm not, I think it might be my favorite meal of the day.

I feel like Christmas is coming faster than usual. Don't you? Over the next week we'll be posting 2 or 3 recipes a day just so you're covered and don't miss these delicious recipes for the holidays.

This first dip is a yummy appetizer. This came from a Better Homes and Garden's Special Holiday publication that my sister and I both bought last year. It has so many good recipes in it and this is one of our favorites. I love all the different flavors and textures--creamy from the cheese, mayo and sour cream (that's not unhealthy is it?) and the crunch from the crumbled bacon, blue cheese chunks and fennel. If you haven't tried fennel before go out on a limb and do it. One of my favorite salads (I'll post it later) has fennel in it.

The recipe calls for this dip to be served with endive leaves and radishes but it is equally delicious with crackers or some toasted bread.

Hot Fennel and Blue Cheese Dip
Better Homes and Gardens

4 slices bacon
3 medium fennel bulbs* (8 oz. each)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-ounce jar mayonnaise
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1 4-ounce package crumbled blue cheese
20 dried whole black or pink peppercorns, crushed
finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 2 tablespoons)
fine dry bread crumbs (about 2 tablespoons)
Radishes and/or Belgian endive leaves or crackers and bread

1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. In a skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon; set aside.
2. To prepare fennel, cut off and discard upper stalks of fennel. Remove any wilted outer layers and cut a thin slice from the fennel base. Wash fennel and cut in half lengthwise; remove core. Cut crosswise into very thin slices.
3. Add fennel and garlic to drippings in skillet. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes until fennel is just tender and begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, blue cheese, bacon, and peppercorns to fennel; mix well. Divide mixture between two 16-ounce oven-proof crocks, souffle dishes, or other oven-proof dishes. In a small bowl combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; top mixture in each crock with Parmesan mixture.
4. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until just heated through and tops are light brown. Do not over bake. Serve with radishes and/or Belgian endive leaves. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

* Test Kitchen Tip: You may substitute 4-1/2 cups shredded cabbage or 3-1/2 cups chopped cauliflower for the fennel. Cook as directed.

Posted by: Sallie & Julia
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