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Holiday Dip Time

I love doing party food. As a matter of fact, we could spend a whole year talking about nothing but party foods. There is such an incredible variety of flavors, textures, colors, ingredients and cuisines.

This week we are going to visit the delicious chapter of dips. All of us are familiar with the store-bought onion dip. It's actually not too bad, if you're really hungry, but it is very one-dimensional. Perhaps, next year, I’ll have an opportunity to publish a couple of onion dip recipes that would truly knock your socks off. However, today we will stick with Southern Shrimp Guacamole.

We eat a lot of shrimp in our house. It's very handy, easy to thaw quickly, low in fat and is friendly to a wide variety of spices and flavors. Shrimp goes well as a main dish, an appetizer, a side dish or in this case an avocado-based chip dip.

When buying shrimp the simplest to use are those that have already been shelled. However, I would recommend that you buy those that are already de-veined, but with the shell still on. Some of the flavor of the shrimp is lost when the shell is removed prior to freezing. By purchasing those that have been de-veined, but the shell still on, we are adding convenience and still retaining the flavor. Plus, if you need the shells to simmer in a recipe for sauce, you have them. But, simmering shrimp shells for sauce is for another column.

Southern Shrimp Guacamole

12 medium to large shrimp, shelled and de-veined1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil pinch of salt pinch of ancho chili powder5 ripe avocados1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro1/4 cup sour cream1 cup diced ripe tomatoes1 medium red onion, very small dice3 cloves garlic, crushed1 Serrano peppers, seeded and minced1 mango, peeled, seeded, small dice tortilla chips for dipping

Preheat the broiler. Toss the shrimp with the olive oil salt and chili powder in a medium bowl. Broil shrimp for about two minutes on each side, until opaque in the center. These may also be sautéed in a large frying pan. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the shrimp into chunks about the size of a pea. Set aside.

Meanwhile, remove the flesh from the skins of the avocado, throw away the seeds, and mash the flesh with the lime juice into a chunky smooth consistency. Fold in the shrimp and all the remaining ingredients, except the tortilla chips.

Taste your dip and add salt as needed.

If you bring this dish to your next party everyone will be asking you for the recipe.

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