"El Barto's" Mexican Cheese Dip
By Lorena Deiters DeitersMom
Perhaps it’s the fond memories of our early salad days, but nothing feels like home to me and my husband like a visit to our favorite restaurant, “El Az” (as it’s known by hip natives) in Lansing/East Lansing. I think we fell in love over those bean burritos, menudo, topopo salad and the original cheese dip.
Since moving to Grand Rapids when we married nearly 20 years ago, we've used every possible excuse to make that hour-long trip for a taste of our favorite Mexican cuisine. Unfortunately, we crave it more often than those few trips allow. So, we scoured the internet for taste-a-like recipes, grilled other MSU alums and recalled the college days when my husband shared a house with one of the restaurant's cooks.
This is the recipe we finally settled on. The real key is letting it sit at least overnight before diving in, so the flavors can blend.
Our friends who've enjoyed the "real thing" say this is very close to the original. It's always a hit at parties and work potlucks, and it's so easy to make!
Serve with the cheese dip, a side of frijoles (refried beans) and your favorite spicy salsa. Layer each chip with beans, dip and a dab of salsa for the perfect experience. Olé!
Patty Coram Patyanc - Jun 18, 2011
Sounds delicious! I will have to puree the cottage cheese so the picky eaters will try it before judging it.
Cin Straw's Kitchen NanatomyGrands - Jun 18, 2011
OhBoy...good thing we aboth like cottage cheese. I have never tasted a mexican cheese dip with cottage cheese in it....actually I've never heard of anyone ever putting it in, (I will be leaving out the jalapeno though as neither of us like them, tender mouths).
One of the best things you posted was the story behind the recipe...I love love love that as much as the recipes.
Stephanie Dodd skeen - Jun 19, 2011
sounds really good; thanks for posting.
Lorena Deiters DeitersMom - Jun 19, 2011
Thanks, Cindy! It's funny how certain foods can evoke so many good feelings and strong emotions.
We have played with this recipe a lot over the years. You might want to try a little jalapeno juice in place of the actual peppers to give it a little more Mexican flavor and cut down on the onion. You can also use garlic powder in place of the onion soup mix. And we've tried different shredded cheese blends -- it's all good! Our goal was to imitate our favorite version, but experimentation is fun. It's really a very versatile recipe that can be altered to fit your taste.
Have fun and enjoy!
Cin Straw's Kitchen NanatomyGrands - Jun 19, 2011
Lorena, I don't do much garlic powder (I have to watch my sodium intake), and the onion mix has enough (but also has other flavors too). I usually use gaarlic oil or fresh. I grow garlic in my garden, so there is nothing like picking it fresh.