Retro dip • 07.08.08
As far as I’m concerned, living in Sydney, AU has a lot of benefits (people from Melbourne might disagree, but I can’t get into that here.) The weather is generally very nice, the beer is much better than in the States, people actually say “G’day mate” to one another and, let’s be honest, animals over here are hilarious.
However, nearly all of this fabulousness is negated a few times a year when we have to go to work on major American public holidays. Case in point- last Friday. The 4th of July. Independence Day. SK8 and Andy and all Americans in Australia were at work. There were no bbqs or fireworks or sparklers or questionable mayo-based salads left out in the sun for 6 hours for us.
But fear not… We did have some red, white and blue fun! After work, we had 3 other All-American couples over for dinner at our apartment. The burgers were cooked on the stove and the little space heater was cranked up in the corner, but we had a flag, some sparkly star necklaces (when I say we, I mean me) and, most importantly, we had some good old fashioned (literally) cream-cheese pizza-ish retro dip to aid in our meager celebrations.
Note the sparkly star necklaces. All 6 of them!
Andy and the American flag!
Stars and snacks.
Throughout my childhood we spent each 4th of July in Rhode Island, land of my mother’s birth, lots of seafood and the smallest state in the USA. My grandma Joan would make this dip for the various events and gatherings held in the weeks leading up the big party on the 4th and we’d usually have it again on the big day. This recipe is SO very 1950′s or 1960′s (I wasn’t alive then! I don’t know which culinary decade this belongs to!) But, it’s also very good and very versatile and I really really like it. Don’t judge me. Just try it for your next fun summer event, or tiny ex-pat gathering, when you want a taste of home- circa Leave It To Beaver.
Retro Cream Cheese and Shrimp “Pizza” Dip
Serves 8-10 as a snack
2 packages of cream cheese at room temperature (I used Philidelphia Light)
1 jar of cocktail sauce (I could not find proper American cocktail sauce in any store in Sydney, so I substituted spicy sweet chilli sauce and it was fine- but it is better with American style cocktail sauce)
1 bag shredded cheese (cheddar is good or a pizza mix)
6 medium prawns
salt and pepper
Ritz crackers to serve
This is so easy you don’t even need a recipe! Spread the cream cheese on a round serving platter or pizza pan (I just used a dinner plate and it was fine.) You’ll probably have about 1/2 a package of cream cheese leftover.
Top the cream cheese with a layer of the cocktail or sweet chilli sauce. Make sure it’s a good thick layer or all you’ll taste is cream cheese. Top this layer with a few handfuls of shredded cheese.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to boil and drop the prawns in for about 3 minutes or until they are pink. Chop the prawns finely and sprinkle across the cheese layer. Season with salt and pepper and eat with Ritz crackers.
You can play around with this as much as you want. My grandmother would add slices of canned black olives, but I think that some chopped capsicum (bell pepper) would be great, as would chopped onion or even a bit of chilli pepper. You can substitute other crackers for the Ritz, but do so at your own risk. The Ritz are magical and really good with this dip. I can’t explain why, but trust me. Go for the Ritz.