Thursday, January 1, 2009

Winter Cheese Dip

Every year when the temperature drops below freezing or when the first snow falls I get hungry for what's called in our house, cheese dip. But, it's not ordinary cheese dip, it is served cold but is blazing hot. Grandma Vard used to make it only in the winter and pour it into any kind of container she had laying around. And it was a big deal when she brought over a batch. My first memory of eating cheese dip, I was eating it out of a Cool Whip bowl while watching Mel Brooks' "To Be or Not To Be" (any time I see Mel Brooks, I also get hungry for cheese dip). I am now the official Vard family cheese dip maker. Every time I go back to Wichita I either bring some with me or my brother makes me make some while I'm at his house.

This is not for the feint of heart, so only make it if you enjoy hot food. It's very simple to make and only takes 4 ingredients; 1 can of stewed tomatoes, a couple of cloves of garlic, Trappey's sport peppers and a brick of Velveeta cheese. Empty the stewed tomatoes, peeled garlic cloves and peppers (make sure you drain all of the vinegar first and use the Trappey's peppers pictured above) into your blender and liquefy them. Verify everything is liquefied, you don't want any chunks of garlic or peppers in your cheese dip. If you want it a little extra hot you can throw in a jalapeno. In my younger days I used to put in a habanero but my o-ring actually developed the ability to talk so it could tell me not to do that anymore. Every instance of me applying salve to my o-ring has been directly correlated to habaneros in cheese dip. When everything is liquefied dump the mixture (it's actually a pretty good salsa) into a big pot and put on a burner at about medium heat. Open up your brick of Velveeta (you must use Velveeta, not some cheap store brand, it's well worth the extra dollar or two) and rip it into little chunks. Add the chunks a couple at a time while stirring (stir continuously or you will get burned cheese at the bottom of your pan) when they melt add some more. You can dip chips into the mixture and eat it while you are melting the cheese, this is the only acceptable time to eat the cheese dip when it's warm. When you've melted all the cheese take the cheese dip off the burner.

I prefer to dump mine into 1 big bowl and eat it from there over the next couple of weeks. But you can split it into smaller portions if you want. The thing is, though, you need to make the decision right then, you can't go splitting up a big bowl after the cheese has cooled (you can but you would be breaking the rules). Dump the cheese dip into the bowl(s) you have selected and let it sit on your counter for about an hour. It will develop a nice crust (pictured below) like a creme brulee. Once it cools down to room temperature you can put a lid on it and put it in the refrigerator. If you don't wait long enough you will get some condensation that can threaten the little crust on top.

Once the cheese dip has been in the refrigerator about 4 hours, it is ready to eat. I actually like to wait until the next day so that it is good and cool, but sometimes you just can't wait. I have a method of eating cheese dip that is a bit manic. I poke a hole in the middle with a chip and continue to eat from that hole as long as I can, it's my version of ice fishing. Also, most people will eat cheese dip with tortilla chips, but I like it best with Wavy Lay's (they're the only potato chip that won't break when you're trying to dip them, cheese dip has a very heavy custardy texture). My father used to eat it with pretzels or crackers if we didn't have any chips, I never tried that, it seemed gross. Also, you should not drink anything while you eat cheese dip, your mouth will become a firepit if a liquid is introduced to it. It's seriously best to just remain thirsty while eating.

I've never known cheese dip to get old or go bad so you don't have to worry about trying to cut the recipe in half. I eat cheese dip in lieu of meals 2-3 times a week during the winter. Stella won't touch it. I've put my sister-in-law on notice because I caught her scooping some out of a bowl and warming it in the microwave before eating it, ruining the cold bowl and the portion she warmed up. You just have to trust that it is better served cold. Cheese dip will definitely improve your winter season and your bowels will never be cleaner.


Donna said...

I can tell I'd love this. But I don't need another unhealthy recipe, so I guess I'll pass. I'm still obsessing over the face that I haven't made a cheese ball this winter. And I SO want some cheese ball.

Chimpotle said...

You can officially never talk about the food I eat ever again.

Applecart T. said...

Back already — you don't like St. Louis cheese-and-crackers pizza but you will eat Velveeta? : ) I tried to be happy about this kind of dip, but when you see how quickly it congeals into *plastic*, you feel bad for your heart (I do) and have to stop. The first five seconds, though, is good.