When I first started cooking for myself, I tried to make my favorites. Not so simple things like Falafel, potica, red velvet cake, and my pops’ favorite cheese dip. Everything was a disaster. 

The falafel was greasy and fell apart, the potica was thick and heavy like a brick, and the red velvet cake left my hands red for two weeks! My dad’s dip hardened into a crusty brick. I was convinced I was the world’s worst cook.

I was trying to make things I had no basic understanding about. I did not know how important it is to keep a steady deep-frying temperature for fried things, and that food dye demands respect and safety. It took me a long time to learn about gluten development and what that means for baked goods and not all cheeses melt the same.

Making some dips ahead of time does not work as the mixture changes composition as it cools. Dad used to make his dip with Velveeta processed cheese. Most processed cheese will leave a thick hard layer of something that resembles a lily pad on a pond if you don’t cover it immediately because it’s not really cheese.

There was so much food science to learn that it’s taken me years to perfect certain things—even my dad’s cheese dip. Being a cheesemaker has helped me better understand food science and the process cheese goes under when it is heated and cooled which can affect the way your “cheesy” recipe will turn out.

I see many cheese dips across the Internet using mozzarella cheese and other cheeses that don’t necessarily melt into the dip that make a creamy cheesy consistency. This dip is similar to my dad’s but uses real cheese. I love fontina cheese because it’s an excellent melter.


Cheesy Corn Dip

2 cans whole kernel corn (15oz cans), drained 

1/2 cup mayonnaise

8 ounces cream cheese

1 small 8 ounce can of green chiles 

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

2 cups fontina cheese grated and divided

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (not granulated)

1/2 tsp salt 

½ tsp black pepper

½ pound cooked bacon, crumbled

2 scallions, sliced

Scallion greens for garnish 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl, combine corn, mayonnaise, cream cheese, green chiles, cheddar cheese, 1 ½ cups of the fontina cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, bacon, and the scallions.

Spread the dip in the pie plate sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of fontina and bake for 30 minutes until the edges are bubbling and golden brown. 

Serve the dip warm with super crunchy crackers.


Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes by emailing her at wisconsinmilkhouse@gmail.com.

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