Tuna Dip, Pepper Soup, Grasshopper Pie

TIMES STAFF WRITER

DEAR SOS: Sometime ago you printed a recipe for Carlos 'n' Charlie's Tuna Dip. My friends enjoyed the dip but didn't think it tasted like the one served at Carlos 'n' Charlie's on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. They all but called me a liar! Has the restaurant made changes in the recipe? I would love to have the actual recipe to take to Texas at Christmas.

--GAIL

DEAR GAIL: We wrote to Carlos 'n' Charlie's asking for verification of the old recipe we've been using for some years. They replied: "We are sorry to see the printed recipe you attached. We don't know where you got the recipe but it is incorrect. This is the correct formula."

It seems that while the ingredients are identical, proportions are somewhat different. And don't ask us why!

CARLOS 'N' CHARLIE'S TUNA DIP

1 (12 1/2-ounce) can tuna, drained

1 1/2 to 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded

1 (1-inch) piece green onion (green part only)

1 (1-inch) piece of celery

1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt, pepper

3 to 4 leaves cilantro, chopped

Blend tuna, jalapenos, green onion and celery in food processor or blender. Blend but do not puree too finely. Blend in mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Blend to desired consistency. Sprinkle with cilantro. Makes 2 cups.

DEAR SOS: Would you print a recipe for red pepper soup?

--MARTI

DEAR MARTI: The late fashion designer Rudi Gernreich shared this recipe with us. It's a perfect starter for an elegant dinner party.

RUDI GERNREICH'S RED PEPPER SOUP

1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine

2 tablespoons oil

4 cups chopped leeks

6 large sweet red peppers, seeded and sliced

3 cups chicken broth

Salt

6 cups buttermilk

White pepper

Chopped chives, optional

Lemon slices

Caviar, optional

10 to 12 green, yellow or red peppers, capped and hollowed out

Melt butter with oil in large skillet. Add leeks and red peppers. Reduce heat and cook, covered, 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Check occasionally to prevent scorching. Add chicken broth and season to taste with salt. Simmer, partially covered, over low heat 30 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.

Blend pepper mixture in food processor or blender until smooth. Strain into large bowl. Stir in buttermilk and white pepper to taste. Garnish with chives and thin slice of lemon with small dab of caviar centered on lemon slice. For single servings, ladle soup into pepper shells. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

DEAR SOS: I don't remember the source of this Grasshopper Cheese Pie, but I believe it is the recipe that W.P.N., one of your readers, was looking for. This one contains the lime-flavored gelatin she described.

--VIVIAN

DEAR VIVIAN: You were one of dozens of readers who took the time to send what each thought was the true recipe. This comes closest to W.P.N.'s description for Grasshopper Pie. We added some creme de cacao to give the pie an authentic Grasshopper touch.

GRASSHOPPER CHEESE PIE

1 (8 1/4-ounce) can crushed pineapple

1 (3-ounce) package lime gelatin

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon half and half or non-dairy cream

1/4 cup creme de menthe

2 tablespoons creme de cacao

1/2 cup whipping cream

Graham Cracker Crust

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to make 1 cup. Bring juice mixture to boil. Remove from heat. Add gelatin, sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Cool.

Beat cream cheese, gradually adding half and half, creme de menthe and creme de cacao. Beat until light and fluffy. Add cooled gelatin mixture, little at time. Blend well. Chill until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

Whip whipping cream. Fold whipped cream and drained pineapple into gelatin mixture. Turn into pie shell. Chill until firm, about 3 hours. Makes 1 (10-inch) pie.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

Combine crumbs, sugar and softened butter and mix well. Press firmly with back of spoon over bottom and sides of 10-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees 8 minutes. Cool before filling.

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