Chipotle Vinaigrette

Is there anything better than a vinaigrette that you want to use on everything? I doubt it. We’ve used it to dress up grilled vegetables, served it drizzled over a Mexican steak bowl, and of course just as dressing for a simple salad. The added bonus is that this is the easiest dressing to make.

Use it in a variety of ways – today it was drizzled over a Mexican Steak Bowl, and it was perfect with the combination of sweet, smoky and spicy.
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

The directions are embarrassingly easy ….. simply toss it all in a blender and let it whizz until everything is creamy and smooth. The combination of chipotle, honey and lime is brilliant.

Grilled steak and vegetables, served over a bed of Mexi style rice and garnished with a juicy fresh tomato and cilantro salad. This dressing is amazing.

This recipe came from the the Love and Lemons website, and you can be sure anything from Jeanine Donofrio is going to be delicious.

Thai Inspired Steak Salad

It’s hard to spot the salad underneath, but it’s there! A tangle of wheat noodles and crunchy salad greens is the base of this – go ahead and use rice noodles or just omit the noodles entirely.

I love a full meal deal salad! This tangle of vegetables, both fresh and grilled, served mixed with noodles and garnished with steak and nuts is just the best. It’s on repeat around here. Go ahead and splurge for the best steak – you don’t need much to make it a complete meal.

This dressing is the star of the show – it is light and bright with just the perfect amount of zing.

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (reduced sodium)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw sugar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds **
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • kosher salt to taste

** I’m a big fan of toasting nuts or seeds as it adds so much flavour. Watch closely because they go from deeply toasted (my personal favourite) to black …. beware. (yes, I speak from experience)

Whisk all the ingredients, except the oils, together in a bowl. Once combined, slowly drizzle in the oils and continue to whisk until well blended. This is the part where you taste, and adjust if needed – sometimes you need a bit more lime juice, salt or sweetener. If you prefer your dressing on the spicy side, add in a bit of Thai chili or chili flakes.

This recipe is just as versatile as whatever you have on hand. Tonight this dish included:

  • Chinese wheat noodles (cooked)
  • salad greens
  • mint leaves
  • basil leaves
  • cilantro leaves
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • bean sprouts
  • grilled red pepper
  • grilled zucchini
  • steamed baby bok choy
  • grilled beef tenderloin
  • toasted cashews
  • toasted sesame seeds

I like to make a salad out of the cold cooked noodles and fresh vegetables, and pile that in the bottom of my bowl. Arrange the cooked vegetables around the sides along with the grilled steak. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle the cashews and sesame seeds over.

If you have time, and have a steak that needs marinating, just use a bit of the dressing. This works equally well with chicken, pork or tofu. If you want to use shrimp make sure to only give it a quick marinade.

When grilling the vegetables, drizzle with a little of the dressing before and after grilling.

When you start with a fresh salad as the base, everything is tastier!!

Korean Pancakes

OMG – so good. This and a salad was perfect for dinner.

I love making scallion pancakes, really wanted something that could be a whole meal deal, and ended up with this – a bit of mash up between Korean Pajeon pancakes, Japanese Okonomiyaki and Chinese scallion pancakes. This gojuchang dipping sauce makes it slightly more Korean influenced, but if you don’t have gojuchang in your fridge then you could easily make a dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar. (or buy something!)

PANCAKE BATTER

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch (could sub corn starch if this isn’t one of your staples)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Oil for cooking

VEGETABLE SUGGESTIONS

  • shredded cabbage
  • slivers of spinach
  • very thinly sliced cauliflower
  • minced red onion
  • very thinly sliced red pepper
  • lots of thinly sliced scallions (spring onions)

Prepare all your vegetables and set aside

If you are inclined to do so, go ahead and add shrimp or cooked shredded chicken to make it a heartier pancake. If you do – I’d add it as soon as the batter is spread out in the pan so you can distribute evenly.

DIPPING SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp gojuchang
  • 1/2 tsp finely slivered ginger
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 finely sliced spring onion
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix well and taste. NO REALLY, SERIOUSLY, TASTE!!! Every different product has a slightly different flavour profile, and you have your own taste preferences so make sure this dipping sauce hits all the notes you are looking for and adjust as needed. Of course, if you aren’t a cooking nut like myself, you may not have all that in your pantry so just buy a jar of dumpling/gyoza dipping sauce! ha ha

METHOD

Whisk together dry ingredients until well combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and stir in the ice water and minced garlic. Stir just until combined, then add in the vegetables.

I haven’t specified any amounts for the vegetables, so feel free to experiment with how you like the pancakes. This amount of batter will make 4 good size pancakes with a generous serving of vegetables in each one – feel free to pack in as many veg as you like – you literally only need enough batter to hold it all together in the fry pan.

In a non stick pan, heat about 3 tbsp oil until quite hot – stick a wooden chopstick in, and if it sizzles you are ready!

Scoop in about 1 cup of batter and quickly spread it out so it resembles a pancake. Gently swirl the pan allowing the oil to circulate so the pancake gets crispy bits and nicely browned. Like any pancake, only flip it once you start to see bubbles popping on the surface.

Flip, drizzle another tablespoon or so of oil around the edges and swirl so this second side also gets crispy around the edges.

When nicely browned on both sides, remove to paper towel lined plate and keep warm. As soon as you remove it from the heat sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and a fresh grate of salt.

This is what I had in the fridge today, so this is what the pancake had! Go ahead and find your own favourites, I really wanted bean sprouts but couldn’t find any decent ones at the store.
You could easily get more vegetables in there, and also create a thinner batter with just a bit more ice water. Whisk an egg into the batter if you are looking for extra protein but want to omit any seafood or meat, and keep it vegetarian.
Todays version included some raw shrimp, which I quickly placed as soon as the batter was down in the pan, and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. I wouldn’t use cooked shrimp as they might toughen up.
What a beauty!
Sprinkle with seasoning as soon as you take them off the pan and keep warm until ready to serve. I also sprinkled with a little bit of Furikake today.

If you have never tried gojuchang, then do so! I love it. My first foray into cooking with it was for KFC, Korean Fried Cauliflower and was immediately hooked. It is a Korean chili paste that has so much flavour – slightly tangy and not too spicy.

Creamy Garlicky Shrimp Tagliatelle

I don’t know about you, but an advertised 20 minute recipe NEVER takes me 20 minutes.  This one was close tho ….. and very easy.  Not only easy, but delicious and I’m more than happy to spend a few more minutes to achieve delicious.

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  • 8 ounces dried tagliatelle pasta (or really, any pasta you like!)
  • 2 tbsp butter (separated, see below)
  • olive oil
  • 10 ounces small, peeled and cleaned shrimp
  • 3 garlic cloves (yes, really)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I like sauvignon blanc but any dry white will work – stay away from sweet tho)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup asparagus (cut into 1″ pieces)
  • 1/2 cup minced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (do NOT use purchased grated!)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • black pepper
  • more parmesan for serving
  1. Get a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.  Salt and add pasta.  Cook to one minute short of the cooking instructions …. (in order to finish in the cream sauce).
  2. Before draining, scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  3. Get a nice flat bottom skillet (non-stick works great here) and melt 1 tbsp butter.  Drain your shrimp and pat dry (you don’t want them to steam) ….. toss the shrimp into the melted butter and sauté quickly – until ALMOST cooked.  Depending on your shrimp size this might only take a minute or two.  There is nothing worse than rubbery, overcooked shrimp.  Well, okay, lots of things are worse including this COVID nightmare we are living through….  Remove from heat and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  4. In the same skillet heat the other tbsp butter and add a splash of olive oil – once melted add the onions, sauté until soft, add mushrooms and cook until just lightly browned, then add the garlic, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes.  Add chili flakes.
  5. Stir in the white wine and allow to reduce slightly, then add the chicken broth, cream and parmesan.  Season to taste ….  I didn’t need to add any more salt but that finishing black pepper is great.
  6. Add your mostly cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to cover.  The sauce will continue to thicken and this is the time to add some of your reserved pasta water a bit at a time, only as needed.  Stir in the shrimp to heat through, toss with parsley and serve with a grating of fresh parmesan and black pepper.
  7. Dig in!
These plump & juicy little guys are barely cooked and will finish in the cream sauce
Easy to make this a vegetarian meal – just stir in as many veg as you like and omit the shrimp.

Alex’s smash hit dressing!

Longer brighter days are coming and I can’t wait. We have a salad almost every night, and with the warmer weather approaching they often take the form of a “meal in a salad”. This dressing hits it out of the park for a delicious flavour bomb to dress pretty much anything with. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

Salad tonight, but it could easily dress a rice bowl or serve over salmon.
  • 1/4 cup tamari (can sub soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • dash of fish sauce (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated (unless they are home grown, then maybe 1/4-1/2 a clove) :o)
  • 1″ ginger, grated
  • thinly sliced scallions

Put everything in a jar and shake vigorously – really vigorously. If you use warm water it will help loosen up the miso if it’s straight out of the fridge.

Drizzle lightly and grill – another sure fire winner.

This recipe came from our friend Alex – she is an amazing cook, and agreed to let me post it! #abcooks

Miso Herb Roasted Veg stock

The perfect base for any kind of soup – wonton tonight, laksa another night.

Cold dreary days lead to healing soups! Even the start of this, with the miso coated vegetables roasting in the oven promises great flavour. I promise you will feel like brighter days are coming by the time you finish this bowl of deliciousness. (Is that a word?)

  • 4 tbsp white miso paste
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sheet of dried seaweed (optional but recommended)
  • 1 large yellow onion, skin on, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed clean and thinly sliced
  • 2 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in half, skins on
  • 4 inch knob of ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 5 sprigs parsley (or any other herb you have around!)

To finish: juice of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine miso, oil and water, whisk to combine.

Place piece of seaweed and all prepared veg on the parchment and toss well with the miso mixture.

Roast for at least an hour, until veg are lightly browned.

Turn into a large stock pot, and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours.

Strain the stock off, discard the vegetables (you’ve cooked all the goodness out of them!) and add in the juice of 1 lemon, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

This is delicious!!! I got it from the kitchen of Jillian Harris, she calls it Gut Healing Veggie Broth, and it is a sure fired winner.

Don’t you just know how good it is going to be already??
Once that miso gets tossed in there with it all and starts roasting your whole house smells fabulous.
The broth alone is a great starting place for amazing soups.
LAKSA – totally delicious with this stock.

Korean Kimchi Fritters

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I am really not certain about how authentically Korean these fritters (Pajeon – pancakes??) are, but anything with kimchi & bound together with some potato starch is a step in the right direction.

We loved the way this entire bunch of vegetables was quickly tied together in a very light batter that puffed up and was still so delicate.  Don’t miss out on the dipping sauce – its the perfect accompaniment.

PANCAKES/FRITTERS

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup potato starch (or 1/4 cup each white rice flour and cornstarch)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup ice water
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup finely chopped kimchi
  • 4 cups finely chopped or grated mixed vegetables (carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, kale, whatever you’ve got)
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch-long sections and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or peanut oil, plus more as needed

DIPPING SAUCE

(highly recommend doubling it if you like dipping as much as we do)

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger or garlic (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil, plus more to taste
  • Pinch of granulated sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Prepare the pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, potato starch, salt and baking powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine water, egg and kimchi. Whisk kimchi mixture into flour mixture, and whisk until smooth. Fold in vegetables and about three-quarters of the scallions. (Save the rest for garnish.)
  3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Scoop 1/4 cup portions of batter into the skillet, as many as will fit while not touching, flatten, and fry until dark golden on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue to fry until other side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with a little more salt. Continue with remaining batter.
  4. Before serving, make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, ginger or garlic (if using), sesame oil and sugar. Sprinkle sliced scallion over pancakes, and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

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When you start with a big bowl full of these colourful vegetables you just know it is going to be delicious!  Today I used zucchini, orange bell peppers, red onion and the leafy parts of Gai lan.

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don’t overcrowd your pan – these fritters need some room to crisp up and not steam

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These were so good I can’t wait to make them again!

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I served the fritters with Korean Gojuchang noodles, and while it was all finger licking delicious, the colours and textures just cried for something green and crunchy – maybe lightly stir fried broccoli?  Strange given that this whole meal is so vegetable forward, but I really wanted something light and crunchy to go with it all. Next time.

I found this recipe on NYT cooking, and couldn’t wait to try it.  The fritters are as versatile as the vegetables found in your garden or fridge.  I love the way red onions cook up, so used those in place of scallions in today’s effort.

 

Asian Chicken Mushroom Bowls with Peanut Sauce

So unlike me, but every so often I’m looking for a quick and easy dinner!  This hits all the notes with a delicious sauce, crunchy vegetables and the bright hit of those pickled vegetables – don’t skip them!

DD Chicken 5

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 (3.5-ounce) package shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 head butter lettuce

or

  • stir fried vegetables
  • cooked rice

FOR THE PEANUT SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLES

  • thinly sliced cucumbers & radishes
  • salt
  • vinegar (use what you have on hand, either white vinegar or rice wine vinegar

Thinly slice vegetables and place in non-reactive bowl.  Sprinkle with a little salt and then just cover with vinegar.  Set aside.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To make the peanut sauce, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce and ginger in a small bowl. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons water until desired consistency is reached; set aside.
  2. Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground chicken, mushrooms, carrot and shallot. Cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain excess fat.
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in hoisin sauce, chili garlic sauce and fish sauce until heated through, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.
  5. To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style, drizzled with peanut sauce.

I’ve adapted (translate copied, but give credit where it is due!) this to a rice bowl from a Damn Delicious recipe for lettuce wraps …. if you haven’t been over to her site, treat yourself and go review a few recipes.   Needless to say we didn’t use carrots as Grant HATES cooked carrots so we just ignored that portion altogether.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand to supplement the chicken mixture to create a colourful, delicious bowl.

DD chicken 2

Get everything ready to go, this all comes together so quickly.

DD chicken 3

Brown the chicken, mushrooms, onions, garlic and ginger, then stir in the sauce.

DD Chicken 6

Today’s vegetables were crunchy and delicious – use whatever you have on hand

 

DD Chicken 4

This takes only a few minutes to come together, so have your vegetables ready to go, and your rice cooked so you can put it all in your bowl within 20-30 minutes.

DD chicken 1

The leftovers are amazing in these fresh, soft pita’s I made.

Hot Tomato Feta Salad & Crispy Flatbread

Tomato Feta Salad 2
This could just as easily be an appetizer as a side dish ….tonight it was a side dish for our roasted chicken and it was delicious!  Super quick and easy, along with ingredients I love and that made it a total win.

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped, pitted Kalmata olives
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8- to 10-ounce block feta
Crackers, flatbread*, pita chips, or crostini, for dipping

In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper.

Feel free to substitute the feta with haloumi, or goat cheese, either would be great.

On a grill: Heat your grill to medium-high. Set the feta block in the middle of a piece of foil. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Fold up the edges of the foil so that it will hold in any liquid as it cooks. Place the packet straight on a grill for 15 minutes to warm it through. Remove from grill and transfer to plate or serving dish.

In the oven: Heat oven to 400°F. Check to see that your dish is oven-proof. Place the block of feta in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15 minutes.

Both methods: The feta will not melt, just warm and soften. Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers; eat immediately. As it cools, the feta will firm up again.

Flatbread 1

I’m guilty of poaching this recipe right off the Smitten Kitchen website, and if you haven’t visited that site, hop on over.  Deb Perelman has fantastic recipes, but even just her writing style is worth a read.

Flatbread 4

Can’t believe how good these are!  I had to use the herb I had on hand, so these are made with thyme, not rosemary.  Can’t wait to try with fresh rosemary out of my garden.

*Flatbread.  also from http://www.smittenkitchen.com

  • 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil plus more for brushing
  • Flaky sea salt such as Maldon

Heat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with olive oil.

Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a large, wide bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Use your hands to gently knead dough inside the bowl 4 or 5 times, until it comes together in a semi-smooth ball.

Divide dough into 3 large or 6 smaller pieces and roll out one piece at a time on an unfloured counter, to about 10-inch (for larger pieces of dough) or 7-inch rounds (smaller pieces) — shape can be rustic; dough should be thin. Lift flatbread onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. I can sometimes squeeze 6 small flatbreads on a half-sheet pan; sometimes I need to bake 1 to 2 in a second batch.

Lightly brush tops with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top (if using), pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating flatbreads if needed on the pan for even color. Let cool then break into pieces.

I cut mine into triangles before baking, and they came out perfectly.  Read the full Smitten Kitchen recipe for more ideas, you will be happy you did.

Buttermilk Ranch Dip or Dressing

Veg

Vegetables first!  The kids absolutely love a big platter of fresh vegetables, but this ranch dressing really makes it a favourite.  Ready for them to arrive from the ski hill today and this platter will disappear in minutes.

This is the best creamy dressing to have on hand for those hungry moments. .. … or when the kids are arriving home from school or the ski hill.  In general, we prefer vinaigrette’s for salad dressing, but this is so comforting and delicious we love it too.

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (you could use regular milk but I like the tang from buttermilk)
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp each dried basil, oregano & parsley (in the summer of course fresh is best)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice (according to your own taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Give the whole thing a good mix and allow to sit long enough for all the seasonings to fully wake up and join the party.  This is perfect as a dip, for a salad dressing I would thin it out a bit with either a bit more buttermilk or even a touch of water.