Posts Tagged ‘Mexican food’

Why in the world have I NOT been making guacamole all my life?

The answer, of course, is that I spent most of my life eating (or, more specifically, not eating) the mediocre guacamole served in so many Mexican restaurants.

Overprocessed into a perfectly smooth paste and refrigerated well past the point of freshness, restaurant guacamole has always been something I avoided. I never ordered it, and never considered making it at home.

Thankfully, a restaurant finally changed my mind on guacamole a couple of years ago. When a friend ordered the dish at Cantina Laredo, the server made it tableside, mashing several fresh ingredients together with a fork. It was delicious. It was chunky. It was FRESH.

I thought maybe it was only my taste buds maturing, so in a couple of weeks I tried the guacamole at another Mexican place.  Nope. Back to stale and pasty. I realized that unless I witnessed the smashing of the avocados, the guacamole was likely to disappoint.

Still, I didn’t attempt to make my own. The husband wasn’t enthusiastic about the dish, and, having never dealt with avocados before, I was a little awed by the process.

Fast forward to last week. Somehow, guacamole is an official Super Bowl food, and Earth Fare was offering me two free avocados with a $5 purchase.

Please. I can spend $5 in Earth Fare without ever leaving the Wall o’ Grains.

I looked for a simple recipe, although now I realize that guacamole, like pico de gallo, is one of those dishes that doesn’t require a recipe so much as a healthy willingness to taste as you go. (Check.)

I settled on the California Avocado Commission’s recipe for Guacamole Autentico, which seemed beginner-worthy. It was a cinch to put together (turns out it’s extremely easy to work with avocados), and I thought it was delicious (the husband is still not a guacamole fan, although he readily ate a couple of bites to be nice).

Lime and cilantro are dominant flavors in this recipe, and not everybody likes cilantro. I would probably use two Serrano chilies instead of one next time for more heat, or I might just switch to a jalapeno. And I could totally live without the tasteless bits of Roma tomato, but a REAL tomato may have potential. I forgot to add hot pepper sauce, and I used plain old salt and pepper instead of sea salt and white pepper — still delicious. I mashed it all together with a potato masher, not a fork, because I was hungry and the fork method was taking forever. Just don’t get too overzealous with the mashing no matter what you use.

Guacamole Autentico

Recipe from the California Avocado Commission

4 servings

  • 2 ripe, fresh California avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 ripe, medium Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1⁄4 cup minced sweet white onion
  • 1 Serrano chili, seeded and minced
  • 1⁄4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste

Cut avocado into large chunks and mash coarsely in large bowl with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and blend gently; leaving some small chunks is fine. Taste and adjust seasoning with more pepper sauce, salt and pepper if desired.

Serve immediately. Eat with enthusiasm.

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First, an admission: I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Chili’s salsa, so I can’t tell you whether this Chili’s Copycat Salsa recipe that I found via Pinterest tastes like the real thing or not.

As a certified salsa junkie, I CAN tell you that I’ll be making this recipe again.

I love making fresh pico de gallo, but there’s only so much time a girl can dedicate to chopping onions, jalapenos and tomatoes into tiny little pieces. (Also, the inferiority of grocery store “tomatoes” has simply become unacceptable. When a potent blend of jalapenos, lime juice and cilantro doesn’t hide your insipidness, you’ve reached new lows as an ingredient.)

I can live with store-bought salsa, but it’s just so nondescript. Brands advertised as spicy are inevitably as plain as can be, and I wouldn’t be able to tell one brand from another in a blind taste test even if I had money riding on it.

The canned tomatoes in this recipe caught my eye, since they meant I wouldn’t be rewarding mediocrity in the produce section. I couldn’t actually find a small can of jalapenos, but I have to admit that maybe I didn’t try too hard after I spotted the big jar of sliced jalapenos. Toss and taste, unless you’re scared of heat.

All the ingredients blended together quickly in the tiny food-processor attachment that came with my immersion blender (I only made half the recipe).

I’ll warn you: The end product has what some might find an overwhelming cumin flavor. It’s what makes this concoction distinctive, but it might not be for everyone.

The heat from the jalapenos is subtle, kicking in a couple of seconds after you bite into a chip filled with salsa. Two days later, however, the salsa seems to be packing a little more heat, making me wonder how long I could safely store this mixture in the fridge to allow it to achieve maximum intensity.

Chili’s Copycat Salsa

Recipe from Six Sister’s Stuff

  • 2 14.5-oz. cans whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1 4-oz. can diced or whole jalapenos (not pickled)–about 4-5 jalapenos (or less if you don’t like a lot of spice)
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, cut into quarters (you can also use dried minced onion)
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. lime juice

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

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