Ingredients for docent Rose Greenfield’s “Baked Mushroom Cheese Dip” from The NMNH Docent Cookbook (1984).

A Recipe from the Archives: Baked Mushroom Cheese Dip

Need some snack inspiration for your family’s Super Bowl game watch? Look no further than the 1984 NMNH Docent Cookbook. Read about how we whipped up the "Baked Mushroom Cheese Dip."

In 1984, National Museum of Natural History docents teamed up to create a cookbook of their favorite recipes for staff. Alongside dish titles, like "Castle Puddings" and "Janet's Polish In-Law's Walnut Cake," are the names of the docents and their particular specialities at the Museum. Several years ago, archivist Jennifer Wright took a stab at two recipes—Elephant Hide and Ivory and Gourmet Golden Squash

Cover of the cookbook in a folder. The title is "The NMNH Docent Cookbook." There is a drawing of an

Inspired to bake a new dip for the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday, I flipped through the pages of the appetizer section to find a vegetarian-friendly dish. I landed on a “Baked Mushroom Cheese Dip,” submitted by Rose Greenfield, a docent on the “Weekday Highlights.” Dairy lovers, rejoice! Everyone else, bring your digestive aid pills! 

Baked Mushroom Cheese Dip

1 Tbs. Butter
1/2 Lb. Finely Chopped Fresh Mushrooms
1/2 C. Finely Chopped Onion 
1 Lg. Pkg. of Cream Cheese
1 C. Sour Cream
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/8 Tsp. Pepper
Dash Cayenne 

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease 1-1/2 quart casserole. 
  2. Melt butter in skillet and saute onion and mushrooms about five minutes.
  3. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, cayenne. Fold in mushrooms and onions. Pour into casserole.
  4. Bake until edges bubble and cheese is hot. Serve hot.

GIF of butter sizzling in a pan. Someone adds onions and someone adds mushrooms.

In quite a few recipes in this book, the docents sometimes assume their audience can cook by instinct. I assure you, dear reader, I cannot. So when Greenfield suggested I “bake until the edges bubble and the cheese is hot,” you had better believe I turned on the oven light, sat down, and stared into the abyss for entirely too long. Let me save you the time and share that you can bake the dip for about 20 minutes on the top rack. 

A white-ish chunky dip is served in a square, white bowl next to a platter of chips.

So how did it turn out? The dip got great reviews in the Niekrasz household. I should note that I doubled the amount of seasoning Greenfield called for, but that still wasn’t quite enough. A few family members suggested we add scallions, chili powder, and even more cayenne next time for a little more flavor. 

Related Collections

  • National Museum of Natural History. Office of Education and Outreach, Docent Program Records, 1974-2004, Accession 10-239, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Related Resources

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