Thai One On


This past St. Patrick Day’s weekend, our friend JoAnn was in town, and we went as far from Ireland as possible, creating a Thai dinner that began with a Siam Sunray and ended with coconut cake and slices of pineapple and mango. In between was my first attempt at a vegetarian Pad Thai (that turned out rather well) and Andy’s always-excellent yellow chicken curry. Plated up with some jasmine rice, it was a filling meal, perhaps at slight odds with the green and orange insanity surrounding such classic events as the ‘Kegs and Eggs’ parties going on around the world. (Lord knows what state the condo will be in after my brother spent the weekend there.) For our part, we kept it clean and relatively-well-behaved. When you have the company of good friends, there’s less of a need to go completely crazy.

We began with the requisite cocktail – in this case the aforementioned Siam Sunray – which had just enough of a red chili pepper bite to keep us warm, and a citrus-shaded tempering of lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves to keep it fresh. JoAnn had asked about a red pepper dip I made a while ago, so I had that on hand too. It was actually a Red Pepper Relish, to which I added cream cheese to turn it into a dip. (When in doubt, add cream cheese and you can call just about anything a dip. If you want, you can substitute plain yogurt for one of the cream cheese packages for a slightly healthier version, which is what I did this time.) The recipe follows:

Red Pepper Relish Dip

{The key to this recipe is the cooking time: you cannot rush it. Set a timer for the half hour, and let it boil that entire time, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, the consistency should have changed remarkably, at which point you can turn it down and add the cream cheese and yogurt. The amount of red pepper flakes is up to you, but this is meant to be a hot dish, so don’t wimp out.}


  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix together red bell peppers, onion, white wine/rice vinegar, sugar and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to strong simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook 30 minutes, or until thickened. Turn down heat and add cream cheese until combined. Pour into baking dish and serve while hot. It can be refrigerated and heated up at a later time – it can also be served cold, but will be much thicker and more difficult to spread. It works well on pita chips or whole wheat crackers, but any serviceable carrying-craft will do.

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