It was Victor Hugo who said, “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
Victor Hugo was all kinds of things. A poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist. A statesman. A human rights campaigner. A talented visual artist. A Catholic at odds with his faith. A sexually charged egomaniac. A man with a complicated and at times, incredibly tragic personal life. And above all, a Frenchman, even though he lived for some time in exile in the Channel Islands.
Hugo said a lot of intelligent, enduring and endearing things. And this week – when I had an idea whose time had come and felt that power – I knew exactly what he was talking about.
I had invited a couple of friends in for a kind of impromptu, pot-luck, appetizers-only dinner. We started with berry infused vodka before moving on to wine and a feast of appetizers. All night, we sat outdoors, on the back patio under the stars. It was a perfect early summer night. We devoured a platter of sushi, black olive and garlic tapenade with pita crisps, a mountain of vegetables and spinach dip, a fresh bean salad, a cranberry and almond salad, and a spicy, baked cheese dip with French bread.
Somewhere in the middle of a mouthful of baguette and baked cheese dip – I had an idea. An idea whose time had come. In fact, probably a long overdue idea. It was an idea about taking control of a situation in my life and like so many really good ideas – actually a very simple, obvious idea. And there was power in finally getting there. Hugo was absolutely right. Perhaps it was the berry infused vodka, or the wine, or the company, or the warm summer night, but I’m going to give the cheese dip credit. It deserves it.
I like cheese. A lot. Almost every kind of cheese. I could easily give up meat so long as I could still have cheese. But if I became a vegan – I’d have to be one of those cheating-cheese-eating vegans.
I expect a cheese snob would turn their nose up at this dip. Never mind. Their loss. I think this dip is insanely delicious. It’s one of my favourite party things. And I love eating the leftovers cold the next day. In fact – I spent all day the day after the appetizers-only party looking forward to coming home from work and pouring myself a glass of cold white wine and eating up the leftover baked jalapeño and cheddar dip for dinner. It did not disappoint.
Baked Jalapeño and Cheese Dip
454 grams (1 lb) cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s)
1 200 gram can jalapeño peppers, drained
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix all ingredients together in the food processor, pulsing until desired consistency is achieved.
Spoon into an 8 x 8 inch glass or oven-proof pottery serving dish.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving with a sliced French stick.