By Amber King  |  We’ve gone Dippy this December! I grew up in Petersburg, Alaska where the 24th of December marks a very festive time in town. All the businesses close down for business and open up to the whole community with a traditional Julebukking, as a way to thank the community for patronage over the year. Some elements of today’s Santa Claus come from these traditions in the cold dark north such as going door to door with gifts, caroling and receiving food or money for a happy holiday and the essence of being naughty or nice. Today the Julebukk is a straw goat that can be placed under a Christmas tree as a surprise. Once found the recipient must do the same for the next family and so it travels from house to house.
Tis the season, gathering with family and friends and you need something quick to bring to the party, so I offer you a collection of my favorite dips, some retro, some foreign and packed full of punch and a few that are just a simple addition that anyone can quickly assemble either on site or before the shindig, if you’re lucky you have leftovers or a clean bowl. Feast away. From my table to yours, Skoal
Amber King can be emailed at

Best French Onion Dip Ever
(This is serious business in our household, and thank goodness they make organic potato chips to match)

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cup beef broth or 1 3/4 cup mushroom broth
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar (probably the only recipe you’ll see this in
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt or mayonnaise

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add broth, scrape up any browned bits, and simmer until the liquid is almost evaporated, 10 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are deep golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes more. Stir in onion powder, then stir in vinegar and cook until evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Combine sour cream and yogurt in a medium bowl. Stir in the onion mixture. Chill for at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the onion mixture for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Cover and refrigerate the dip for up to 3 days. Who wouldn’t want that in a pinch in the freezer!

Chicken Liver Mouse
(Seriously it’s making a comeback, better than bacon)

  • 4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar (or sub champagne vinegar)
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs chicken livers, rinsed & halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cognac or good quality Kentucky bourbon
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 10 caper berries, thinly sliced crosswise

In a large skillet, cook the mustard seeds over moderately high heat until toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer to a dish and cover with the sherry vinegar. Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the livers, season with salt and pepper and cook until barely pink inside, about 8 minutes. Add the cognac and simmer for 1 minute. Scrape into a food processor; let cool.
Add 1 1/2 sticks of the butter to the livers and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Fold in 3 teaspoons of the mustard seeds, 3 tablespoons of the parsley and 8 of the sliced caper berries (or capers if you can’t find the larger berries) and season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Spread the mousse in a 6-cup soufflé dish and top with the remaining parsley, mustard seeds and caper berries.
In a small bowl, gently melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Skim the foam from the surface. Spoon the clear butter evenly over the mousse, leaving behind the milk solids; tilt to distribute the butter. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Smoked Salmon Dip

  • 2 8-oz pkg cream cheese, at room temperature (look for neufenchel to reduce fat, but please don’t buy low fat cream cheese)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
  • 2 Tbsp fine minced red & green onion
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish (wasabi, Siracha, or hot sauce of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lb smoked salmon; finely shredded (I use a fork)

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, onions, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well.
Chill the spread and serve with crudités (raw veggies) or water crackers. I prefer sockeye smoked salmon; it’s drier and sweeter than other smoked salmon. For a fancy service dollop on slices of cucumber with dill sprig on top, makes a great passed hors d’oeuvre.

Roasted-Cauliflower-and-Sesame Spread
(Because nothing is hotter than cauliflower right now!!)
(Adapted from Jerry Traunfeld’s recipe)

  • 1 head of cauliflower (2 pounds), halved crosswise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 3 Tbsp tahini (sesame) paste
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Smoked Sitka sea salt, Sesame seeds and cilantro leaves for finishing
  • Pita bread or chips, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the oil, ginger, garlic and coriander and season with salt. Spread the cauliflower in a roasting pan and roast for about 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and lightly browned in spots. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor. Add the tahini and lemon juice and pulse to a chunky puree; season with salt. Add the cilantro and pulse just until incorporated. Transfer the spread to a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds, drizzle of olive oil and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve warm with pita bread or chips.

Brown Sugar Fruit Dip

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown cane sugar
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (try making your own this year it’s a great little gift too)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur (optional or you can add a touch of raspberry jelly)
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • brown sugar to garnish
  • Assorted fruit for dipping

Beat brown sugar and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla, zest and, if desired, coffee liqueur, beating until blended and smooth; fold in whipped topping. Cover and chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired. Serve with assorted fruit.