Garlicky Homemade Cream Cheese Dip with Balsamic Mushrooms

Greek yogurt is the latest craze in the dairy aisle, and rightfully so: it’s thicker, creamier, and tastier (in my opinion, at least) than standard yogurt.  In large part, that’s because it’s double-strained instead of single-strained, which means more of the whey drips out, leaving a more concentrated, full-bodied yogurt behind.  Another difference is that authentic Greek yogurt is made from sheep’s milk.  (Although sadly not the yogurt varieties that are exported to the U.S — those are all made from cow’s milk.)

My favorite brand and variety of Greek yogurt is Fage’s whole-milk yogurt.  No contest!  Sometimes I even strain it yet again to make what’s essentially homemade cream cheese.  It’s much fresher and tastier than the plasticized molded blocks you find on grocery store shelves.  Just fit a colander over a large bowl, scoop the yogurt into the colander, stick the whole assembly in the fridge, and let it drain overnight.  In the morning, you’ll have yogurt-turned-cream-cheese so thick that you can stand a spoon in it.

That ultra-creamy, ultra-luxurious texture allows you to mix just about anything into it to make whatever dip or sauce you can dream up.  In fall, for example, try mixing your homemade cream cheese half-and-half with cooked, mashed pumpkin (or canned pumpkin), a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a splash of maple syrup.  It’s just like the inside of a pumpkin pie!  It’s the perfect dip for fall fruits like apples and pears.  For this dinner dip, though, I went with savory seasonings like garlic and capers.  You know what it reminded me of?  A seriously tasty and fresh version of Doritos Cool Ranch Tortilla Chips.  (That used to be my favorite junk food when I was a kid.)  Just goes to show that you can re-fashion junk food into real food any time you like!

Garlicky Homemade Cream Cheese Dip

1 cup homemade cream cheese, a.k.a. strained whole-milk Greek yogurt (see above second paragraph for instructions on how to do this)
1 or 2 T. capers, depending on how much you like their briny flavor
About 1 tsp. caper brine
1 tsp. fish sauce OR 1 tsp. anchovy paste OR 1 tsp. of a Worcestershire-style sauce without high-fructose corn syrup (sadly, the Worcestershire sauce sold in the U.S. does contain HFCS; the version sold in England does not)
1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir together. You can serve the dip immediately with whole-grain crackers or chips (pictured are Eden’s organic white corn chips), with freshly cut veggies, with toasted whole-grain pitas or thin slices of bread, or even with a savory main dish like chicken or lamb and/or noodles. This savory, garlicky dip would be a great stand-in for sour cream or alfredo sauce!

I enjoyed my leftover dip with button mushrooms that I had sautéed with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of thyme and rosemary.

Dip will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Enjoy!

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