It’s amazing how much better homemade is compared to store-bought. Friend M recently gave a low carb talk and asked me to make some dips for the attendees to try with the crackers he had brought from the Ben Banter line. Apparently the red pepper dip was a hit and people wanted to know where to buy the dip. Since I’m not going into food production and sales anytime soon, I figured it would be good to put the recipe into writing. I don’t think I’m about to change professions!
Anyway I realise that most people are not home cooks and don’t have a whole range of kitchen gadgets. I’ve constantly been surprised when some friends have acquired high end gadgets like the Thermomix (a German contraption that costs more than $2000) when they barely know how to cook…it’s like gifting a Lamborghini to a new motorcycle rider. One thing about having to downsize into my smaller kitchen, it’s really clarified what is essential to cook well. And most times I survive with a simple hand blender and a regular chopping board (albeit with a really good knife). I’ve always itched to help others set up their own kitchens and if it were up to me I would recommend only 10 basic sets of items:
- A really good chef’s knife (I use a Kyocera ceramic knife as it keeps its sharpness for a really long time).
- A chopping block (anything works as long as it’s not some paper thin thing that you get from the $2 shop)
- A good sized cast iron pan (for steaks and searing)
- A good-sized pot or Dutch oven (I love my Calphalon pot although the Le Creuset one is a close second)
- A non-stick frying pan (for eggs and stir fries)
- A good set of measuring spoons and cups (I love the Oxo measuring cups) and a weighing scale
- Hand-blender (I use the Braun multiquick hand blender that also has an immersion attachment for blending soups)
- Basic kitchen utensils eg vegetable peeler, tongs, can opener
- Very good oven gloves (the Calphalon ones are the best as they are made of cotton, allowing flexibility of hand movements, but are amazingly heat proof with strips of silicon lining the outside of the gloves)
- Meat thermometer
And the optional extras are a spiralizer for making zucchini noodles and of course, my favourite Instant Pot, although one can definitely survive just with a stove and regular oven.
It doesn’t cost much to set up this kind of kitchen – probably a quarter the cost of the Thermomix. And all you need to function well in the kitchen is a good brain, an excellent palate and some understanding of kitchen basics.
Anyway this red pepper dip is a really simple recipe with minimal technique needed – just a hand blender actually. You can use red peppers from a jar, but I found that using fresh red peppers is cheap and the roasting process is so simple that the extra step is nothing to worry about.
The great thing about this hand blender is that it takes up minimal space in my little kitchen.
Red Pepper Dip
- 4 red peppers
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp regular olive oil
- 250g (1 block) of Philadelphia cream cheese
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp dried red peppers
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 deg C
- Cut the peppers into quarters and scoop out the seeds and membrane on the inside. Toss in 3 tbsp of regular olive oil.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay out the red pepper pieces, skin side up.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes till the skins of the red peppers are wrinkled and slightly charred.
- Remove from the oven and allow the peppers to cool. When cooled, peel off the skin of the peppers and discard. If not making the dip immediately, you can store the red peppers in 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces and place in a food processor with the red peppers and blend well. Add the salt, ground black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and dried red peppers and mix well.
- Refrigerate the dip and serve cold with some low carb crackers (I recommend the Ben Banter seeded crackers!)