Posted by: meriambull | October 3, 2010

Culinary Adventures Part 1

Today my afternoon was spent in the kitchen.  Not really on purpose, just in response to some cravings.  Thursday night started as a slow night on TV and we ended up watching a PBS cooking show about Mexico.  The whole episode was about guacamole.  Guacamole, much to my husbands excitement, has become a new love of mine.  When I was young and immature I would not touch the stuff.  Ten years ago I learned to tolerate it in a desperate measure to endure a spicy dish when no sour cream was available.  I am definitely a guac snob, though.  I’ve found a few brands of store-bought guacamole that is acceptable, but the absolute best way to have this amazing dip is fresh, made from scratch.    Watching the show spurred a craving for home-made guac.  Lucky Ron!  The TV chef roasted his garlic.  Now I’ve found this is really easy, but I’m not sure it makes that big of a difference, so I’m not sure it’s worth the extra time to let it cool.

For you those of you who are new to fresh garlic a whole garlic is a head of garlic.  When you break that apart into all the little pieces, those pieces are the cloves.  The head is covered in a whole bunch of papery skin that peels away very easily, but never seems to end.  When you break the cloves free they are covered in a bit stiffer skin that peels off, with a little work.  There are tools with which you can cheat on the pealing part and I am sure they are wonderful, but I’m a bit cheap and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to just do it by hand.  And I promise you, for some recipes using fresh garlic is oh, so worth the effort.

To roast the garlic break the head into cloves, discarding all the papery skin.  (But don’t peel the cloves.)  Now throw those cloves into a dry non-stick skillet and turn it onto medium.  Stirring frequently, but not constantly, let the garlic cook until it is dark brown, but not burnt, and soft.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Gently squeeze cloves to extrude the warm, buttery soft garlic from inside.  So if you want to try that in your quac, go for it.  Roasting it softens the flavor so you would use a whole head for three avocados, but if you just want to mince it fresh, use about one per avocado.

I also tried Serrano chili peppers for the first time.  I was a little scared when I looked them up after I bought them.  Apparently they are hotter than jalapeno, which is what I usually use.  I used two, with some trepidation, but knew if it came out hot and spicy, Ron would be a happy camper so I went with it.  Ron thinks it would be better with three, but it did taste good.  Me, the wimpy one, had some tingly lips and tongue, but I didn’t drink three glasses of tea and I wasn’t compelled to let Ron have the rest.  If you have a food chopper or a mini-food processor, use it.  You definitely want these peppers chopped up small.  Also, the heat is in the seeds and the membranes (the white part).  I tried to scrape all of that out.  If I weren’t eating it and Ron were having a man party with all of his spicy food loving buddies I would have put everything in. Here is the recipe: (Please excuse the Mom moments.)

GUACOMOLE

1 head of garlic, roasted or 3 cloves, minced

1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped fine

juice from 1/2 lime

3 avocados

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp salt

2 or 3 Serrano chili peppers or 2 jalapenos (chopped fine, with or without seeds, depending on desired heat)

1 handful chopped fresh cilantro (if desired and if you remember get it at the store, which I did not)

Cut avocados in half with a sharp knife.  (The seed in the middle is huge.  Just slice in until the knife stops and then roll the fruit along the knife blade until you make a circle.  Then give each half a little twist and they will come a part.  Carefully, but firmly, smack the seed with the sharp edge of the knife so that the knife sticks in the seed.  Give a little twist and it will pop right out.  Carefully remove seed from the knife.  The seed is a little slimy.  Don’t cut yourself!)  With a metal serving spoon scoop out the pulp by running the spoon around the edge of the skin.  Place in a medium bowl.  Mash with a potato masher until desired consistency.  I like mine a little lumpy, but some people like it really smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Cover with plastic wrap by placing the plastic directly on the surface of the dip.  Avocados are like bananas and turn brown, except since they are green it is a very disgusting blackish brown.  Very harmless, but quite gross looking.  Refrigerate for about two hours before serving so the flavors can blend.  (We didn’t eat it for about four hours, but I wouldn’t try to make it the day before a party.  I’m not sure it would hold up very well without discoloring.)

If you are really tight on time, but find a great deal on some good avocados at Kroger they sell fresh pico de gallo by the prepared salads in produce.  It works pretty good for the onions, peppers, and tomatoes, but absolutely use the lime juice because the acid helps keep the avocado from turning brown, as well as some added flavor.

There you go!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Stay tuned for my next adventure for the day: Garlic Roasted Chicken.



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