red eyes of argus

Argus the “all seeing” was a primordial giant of Greek Mythology said to have so many eyes that only a few of them would sleep at a time. However, according to the myth, Hermes was able to lull them all to sleep at once, and then slew him.

John Philips Cranwell, in his 1959 cookbook Fast and Fancy originated the canapé spread named above. He stated when introducing it that “The appearance of the roe in its bed of sour cream suggests the bloodshot eyes of Argus, his face made pallid by the effect of too much nectar.”

His recipe, eye popping as it was, was just a little bland for my taste at the time (I was 29), so I changed its flavor, but just a little. It is both delicious and decorative.

  • 16 oz fat free sour cream
  • 4 oz package ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 oz lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried dill weed
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 oz red salmon caviar
  • unsalted crackers (Bremner® wafers are good here)

Combine the sour cream, ranch dressing mix, lemon juice, and pepper in a colorful serving bowl, being sure to mix the ingredients thoroughly. Fold in the caviar carefully until also mixed in uniformly.

Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Serve in the bowl with the crackers on the side.

This is also good as a dip with potato chips.

seven layer avocado bean dip

I first tasted this dish while visiting my brother Jim in Houston, TX, on my way to the New Orleans World Fair and Expo in 1984. It was made by his wife Millie. Since then, I have seen it on many a party menu and have always enjoyed it, but never more than that first time. It was featured in our Thanksgiving Feast of 1988.

  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 tsp New Mexico red chile powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 ripe avocados, mashed
  • 1 package Lawry’s taco mix
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 4 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • ¼ lb grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ lb Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small can black sliced olives
  • 1 package corn scoops or sesame wafers

In a glass serving bowl, layer the following ingredients evenly, cleaning the sides of the bowl after each, so the layering is attractive.

Mix the refried beans with the chile and garlic powders and lay it an even first layer in the bowl.

Add the avocado mashed with the lemon juice as the second layer.

Mix the dry taco mix with the sour cream and Mayonnaise, then add as the third layer.

Lay down the cheddar and Jack cheeses in the next layer, followed by a layer of green onions, a layer of tomatoes, and top with a layer of sliced olives.

Serve with a spreading knife and sesame wafers or as a dip with the corn chips.