Onion Dip


Of course, everyone has had onion dip made with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix. In the early 1950s a recipe for California Dip, combining this product with sour cream, became the rage. This classic dip is still popular today. Here is a recipe from scratch.  You could even use 1/2 fat cream cheese and sour cream if you are so inclined…

Onion Dip

6 Tbs unsalted butter
2 medium onions, diced
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs chives, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

In a small skillet, melt the butter and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and caramelized until the onions are a light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove the onions from the skillet. Add 1/2 the onions to a food processor with the cream cheese, sour cream, and garlic powder and process until smooth. Fold in the reason of the onions with the chives, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Cheesy Chutney Dip

mango chutneyChutney refers to a wide-ranging family of condiments from Indian and South Asian cuisine that is a mixture of spices, fruits and vegetables. There are many varieties of chutney. American and European-style chutneys are usually fruit, vinegar and sugar, cooked down to a reduction. Mango chutney and Major Grey’s chutney were developed for the European market.

While living in England, one of my favorite sandwiches for lunch was simply cheese and chutney, which you could buy in almost every market. Boots Dispensing Chemist made a particularly good one, as well as Marks & Spencer and good old British Rail. I wish chutney was more popular / mainstream in the United States.

Another one of my favorite things I make for lunch is cheese and chutney quesadillas. Two cultures colliding! A true fusion of favors or should I say flavours?

Anyway, here is a wonderful dip recipe.

Cheesy Chutney Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chutney
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Crackers, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients. Spread the mixture into a greased baking dish and top with the Cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

In-N-Out Burger

I’m not much of a hamburger fan, but In-N-Out Burger does it for me.  I think it’s the best fast food burger anywhere hands down.  In-N-Out Burger is a West Coast institution. One reason why they are so successful is because they have  kept their menu very simple. There are only four food items on the In-N-Out menu: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double-Double and French Fries. They have sodas and three shakes: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. And that’s the menu in its entirety, or at least that’s what they want you to think. The truth of the matter is that there is an extensive “secret menu” available for those in the know. In fact, the secret items actually outnumber the items legitimately on the menu. When you order a Flying Dutchman, “Flying Dutchman” prints out on your receipt. It’s in the computer.

Veggie Burger: A hamburger with extra tomatoes instead of meat
Extra Toast: This order toasts your bun a little bit more than usual making it extra crispy
Protein style: Protein style removes the bun and wraps your burger in lettuce like a burrito.
Grilled Cheese: A bun, tomatoes and onions, if you want them, grilled with melted cheese.
Flying Dutchman: For the ultimate meat eater. No bun, no veggies, just two beef patties and two slices of cheese.
Double meat burger: a double double without the cheese.
Animal style: makes any burger come with extra pickles, extra sauce, grilled onions, and a mustard cooked patty.
3 by Meat: three beef patties and no cheese.
2 by 4: a double double with two extra slices of cheese. Not for the weak hearted.
Chopped Chilies: This adds diced jalapenos to any burger
Mustard grilled patty: ask for this and they will spread your patty with mustard before grilling it.
No Salt: you wouldn’t think that this would apply to a burger but it does. In-N-Out patties are heavily salted, ask for no salt and you will get a much healthier and fresher tasting patty.

Fries animal style: an order of French fries drenched in cheese, grilled onions, and special sauce (a thicker thousand island dressing)
Fries Light: French fries taken out of the fryer a little early. These are a little bit raw on the inside and less crispy.
Fries Well-Done: The opposite of fries light. This order leaves your fries on the fryer extra long, making them really crispy and oily.
Cheese Fries: Fries with melted cheese on top

Neapolitan shake: All the milkshake flavors swirled together, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
Root Beer Float: Half vanilla milkshake and half root beer soda.
Choco-Vanilla Swirl: A chocolate milkshake swirled in with a vanilla milkshake
Lemon-up: Lemonade and seven up mixed together.
Large and extra large shakes: if you ask for a large shake they’ll give you a shake in a medium sized soda cup and extra large in a large soda cup.
Tea-Ade: An Arnold Palmer. Half iced tea and half lemonade.

If you aren’t lucky enough to live in the In-N-Out Burger zone, here is a make it at home version.

In-N-Out Hamburger

Makes one hamburger

¼ lb ground beef (animal style: mix in tbsp mustard)
1 fresh hamburger bun
Dash salt
1 Tbs special sauce, see recipe below
Large tomato slice (or 2 small slices)
Large lettuce leaf
2 slices American cheese (Singles)
-or- 1 slice real American cheese
1 whole onion slice (sliced thin)

Special Sauce
2 Tbs plus 2 tsp mayonnaise
1 Tbs ketchup
2 tsp sweet pickle relish
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp distilled white vinegar

Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, sugar, and vinegar in small bowl. Stir to combine.

Preheat a frying pan over medium heat. Lightly toast the hamburger bun, face down in the pan.  Set aside.

Form each half into a thin patty slightly larger than the bun.

Lightly salt patty and cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side.

Flip it over and immediately place slice of cheese on. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Assemble the burger in the following stacking order from the bottom up:
bottom bun/ dressing/ tomato/ lettuce/ beef patty with cheese/ onion slice or grilled onions/ top bun.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Gus’s BBQ 

Last night, we went to Gus’s BBQ in South Pasadena, CA for dinner.  Gus’s has been around since 1946, though it’s been sold and re-done in the past few years.  For some reason, I ordered the pulled pork nachos.  My expectations were low.  Boy, was I wrong!  Everything about this messed up pile of meal was fantastic!  I could kick myself for not taking a picture of it.  Anyway, if you live near here, I recommend that you “high tail” it over there and order this dish.  Below is a rough estimate of the recipe.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Serves 3 – 6

2 cups (more or less) leftover pulled pork
1 bag regular corn tortilla chips
½ cup (more or less) sliced, pitted kalamata olives
BBQ baked beans
4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
4 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup (more or less) jarred jalapeño slices
3 Tbs barbeque sauce

Some sort of vessel that you can take from oven to table easily.  A cast iron skillet works well.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  This should take about half an inning of an average game.

Line the bottom of your baking vessel with a mix of blue and white corn tortillas.

Scatter pulled pork over the top of the tortillas.  Layer with sprinkled cheese, olives, beans and jalapeño.

Repeat until you’ve achieved a level of height you’re comfortable with.

The top layer should be mostly cheese. Squeeze some barbeque sauce on top of the nacho pile. Top with guacamole.

Bake approximately 10 – 15 minutes.


I have always loved McDonald’s.  There, I’ve said it, I grew up eating it – always a plain hamburger and orange soda when I was little.  I am fascinated by McDonald’s in other countries.  I remember when I lived in Paris that they serve wine and beer.  What a good idea!  Anyway, here is a list of interesting international McMenus.  Fascinating! 


Maharaja Mac – a Big Mac made of lamb or chicken meat.

McAloo Tikki – vegetarian burger



They serve beer.



McLobster lobster roll



Ebi Filet-O – shrimp burgers

Koroke Burger – mashed potato, cabbage and katsu sauce sandwich

Ebi-Chiki – shrimp nuggets

French Fries With Seaweed Flavouring 

Green Tea-flavored milkshake
 McLaks – sandwich made of grilled salmon and dill sauce

 McPollo Jr. – has guacamole


Costa Rica

Gallo Pinto – rice and beans.



Greek Mac – burger made of patties wrapped in pita 

The Love Burger – prime cut chicken grilled to tender perfection. Smothered with the tangy taste of honey mustard sauce and topped with a delicious combination of juicy tomatoes and fresh lettuce
Kampung Burger – farm fresh lettuce, cheese, a patty of chicken sausage and a tangy slice of chicken, topped by a slice of pineapple – all packed between two old-fashioned toasted muffins,
McPepper Burger – Two beef patties smothered in a thick, spicy black pepper sauce and topped with diced onions
McTowkay Burger – an egg and a beef patty marinated in a special “towkay” sauce, crispy lettuce and mayonnaise, all sandwiched between a sesame bun.
Kiasu Burger – extra large lean chicken patty seasoned with extra spices, marinated with extra sauce, topped with fresh lettuce, all sandwiched on an extra large sesame seed bun.

McSki – Ski-Thru service. Skiers can ski up to the counter and order their favorite McDonald’s sandwich. 

McNifica  – a hamburger sandwich with cheese, tomato, onion and lettuce.

Hong Kong

Rice Burgers – burgers are in between, not buns, but two patties of glutinous rice.

Curry Potato Pie
Red Bean Sundae

McBurrito a la Mexicana

McKebab – two patties with Middle Eastern seasonings, stuffed into a pita bread.



McHuevo –  like a regular hamburger, but it is topped with a poached egg.
Samurai Pork Burger – sandwich marinated with teriyaki sauce.


New Zealand
Kiwiburger – hamburger with a fried egg and slice of beet.


McSpaghetti – Pasta in a sauce with frankfurter bits.

Sliders, have they slid too far?

White Castle sliderThe “Slider” has become trendy, high-end bar food, popping up on way too many menus. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating bar snacks instead of entrees that arrive on platters that would serve a family of four.

The slider or Slyder originally came from White Castle nearly 80 years ago. When I lived in New York City, I would schlep to Queens on the subway just to have sliders from the source. It was total nirvana! Living in California, I am now reduced to buying them frozen in the supermarket. It’s better than nothing!

A slider is something very specific. Sliders and mini burgers are NOT the same thing. Sliders are a thin, thin slip of beef, cooked on a griddle with onions piled atop patty. The steam from the onions does as much cooking as the griddle. The buns are placed atop the onions, absorbing the pungent aroma and flavor. They are square for more efficient use of griddle space.

A mini burger is just a reduction of a regular old hamburger. Like Mike Teevee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The slider has slid into both upscale and working class venues.

T.G.I.F.s serve Ahi Tuna sliders – NOT!!!! What about smoked salmon sliders? Kobe beef with caramelized onions in truffle oil, crab cake sliders, shredded pork sliders, yada, yada, yada…..

Poutine – Canadien mal bouffe

I always enjoy talking about food (quelle surprise!).  I especially like to talk to people who are from other countries.  I find that you can learn a great deal about other cultures through their food customs.  A good friend of mine is from Canada and she often pines nostalgically for Poutine. I had never heard of Poutine (pronounced [poo-TEEN]) – what the hell is Poutine?  The minute I returned home I spent about an hour online researching it (probably one of my most favorite pastimes).  The two people I know who love it, tried to explain to me what it was.  It sounds rather horrifying, though completely intriguing.

Poutine is the ultimate French-Canadian junk food.

It originally came from Quebec.  Jean-Paul Roy claims to be the inventor of Poutine in 1964; and so does Restaurateur Ferdinand Lachance in 1955 – kind of like the French Dip dilemma.  It is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh “Cheese curds”, covered with brown “Gravy”. The subject of the gravy is widely debated-some say it should be beef, others declare chicken gravy is the only way to go.

Poutine The dish is found all across Canada and sold in diners, pubs and chip wagons, as well as international fast food chains (like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, etc).

The main problem with trying to make it at home, is finding the cheese curds.  I went on a field trip to several markets.  This is not hard for me given the fact that I am in at LEAST 3 markets per day.  I found cheese curds at Whole Foods, I then went to Trader Joe’s and saw that they have it too!  Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, which some would say is their defining characteristic.

Tjs Cheese Curds

The French fries are of medium thickness, and fried so that the insides are still soft, with an outer crust. Fresh cheese curd (not more than a day old) is used. To prepare, first place the hot fries into a bowl or large plate, then spread the cheese curd on top. The cheese curd should be at room temperature. Then pour piping hot gravy over the cheese curds and fries.