Spreads/Dips

Guacamole recipes are all the same… sort of

Posted in Spreads/Dips on March 18th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

Avocados are kind of like herbs I realized – I always want them on hand for cooking, both spontaneous and planned, but always have to worry about using them up before they go bad. What would be ideal for me, I’ve decided, is a little avocado tree right next to the AeroGarden (as soon as someone invents one of those for me, that is.)

I’ve both been promised a family guacamole recipe from a friend and want to ask a coworker for his that was some of the best I’ve ever eaten, but neither of those were happening quickly enough to deal with the large avocado I had sitting at home which had to be used that night or risk losing it.

On top of that I had left my phone at home that day! I can’t believe how lost I am without that thing. It’s not only my connection to the outside world (while I’m in the outside world, yes you can call my redundancy on that) but I don’t know how I lived before pocket Google. How do you look up what you might be missing for a recipe when you’re already at the store?

Well I started by trying to find some actual guacamole to look at the ingredients list but unfortunately Safeway only sells “guacamole dip”, which is essentially green-flavored sour cream with corn syrup. Finally I was able to find a packet of powdered mix next to the avocados which didn’t seem to include anything special that I didn’t already have.

I did look online once I got home but no recipe really stood out over another. If had to pick one, I’d say I was most inspired by Alton Brown’s guacamole, because of the cumin.

Directions:

  • Throw stuff in immersion blender cup and blend

Stuff:

  • Avocado(s)
  • Chopped onion
  • Cilantro
  • Minced garlic
  • Cumin
  • Lime juice
  • Kosher salt

My guacamole still came out on the goopy side. I think I’m using either too much lime juice or not enough avocado. I tried to bulk it up by throwing in the rest of the onion (I didn’t put in the full amount originally afraid of it being too oniony) and more cilantro.

The Alton Brown recipe said to leave it at room temperature for an hour but said nothing about fancy bowls, so I left it to sit, as is.

Ultimately I was too impatient to wait a whole hour. The end result, “Oh hey, guacamole tastes a lot better on tortilla chips than rice cakes.” I think it’s the salt, both on the chips and in the guac.

Pesto mashed potatoes

Posted in Garden, Pesto, Potatoes, Vegetables on March 3rd, 2011 by admin – 3 Comments

Pesto night came upon us again and this time I was able to take a picture of the aftermath.

For some reason when I get an idea, I have to Google it to validate it… and then become disappointed that I’m not the first to think of it. Things like ‘I wonder if you can make pesto mashed potatoes.’

Yes you can, and it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect, doesn’t need a recipe. I certainly didn’t follow Rachel Ray’s recipe, which explicitly says “1 cup prepared store bought pesto”. (Andrew says she doesn’t cook, she assembles things.)

Coincidentally I did use the red potatoes in her recipe.

I almost feel like this should be saved for a token St. Patrick’s Day post because this looks like such the typical “let’s take a normal food and turn it green for the holiday”.

I didn’t do anything special except add a bit of milk to make it mash easier so it tastes… exactly like pesto and mashed potatoes would taste, if they happened to be mixed together, instead of sitting next to each other. Nothing special, but not bad if you really need a new idea for all that pesto.

The harvest: Tri-basil Pesto

Posted in Garden, Pesto, Spreads/Dips on March 2nd, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

The basil in the AeroGarden went crazy despite our best efforts to throw basil into practically everything we cooked. Macaroni and basil? Sure. Tuna salad and basil? Why not? That meant it was time to make pesto. In fact Andrew’s theory was that pesto was invented just to use up the insane amount of basil that grows on a plant. I think he is right.

I thought I took an “after” picture for comparison but it’s too late now since the garden looks pretty much the same again. More pesto coming this week.

Andrew gets full credit for actually making the pesto, using this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

This was a “tri-basil pesto” because we used leaves off of our three plants – genovese, globe, and lemon basils. Genovese is the traditional pesto-making basil. Next time I’m planning one type of basil, since pesto is still good, but more other herbs we actually want to use. Cilantro please!

I don’t remember off the top of my head, but knowing Andrew he wasn’t content to stick to one kind of cheese either and must have used his three-cheese Italian blend. The little bag of pine nuts seems more authentic than walnuts, but was pretty expensive for what you get.

Directions:

  • Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

  • Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Watching Andrew do the “to taste” part, I realized that phrase never really caught on in my head except for making cheese sauce. I have to remember how that works… or let the husband cook for us more.

Served with some fancy bread… and finished on pasta the next day.

Immersion Blender Guacamole

Posted in Spreads/Dips on February 15th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

What do you do when you stock up on avocados because they’re on sale and realize you don’t have enough time to fit them into the meal schedule before they’ll go bad?

Make guacamole!

What do you do when you’ve made guacamole and have no tortilla chips to eat it with?

Eat it on…. rice cakes?

My immersion blender came with a book of a lot of actual good sounding recipes. They called this one, “Easy Creamy Guacamole”.

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, ripe, peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

I ended up chopping my garlic out of habit before reading closely but I don’t think it makes a difference.

Directions:
Place all ingredients into mixing beaker.

Insert […]

Okay is it really necessary to call out your product by its full name with multiple registration symbols in the very booklet that came with it? Insert the stick thingy, even if you have a different brand of stick thingy it should still work, into the avocado and let it do its thing. Look at the picture above if there’s any question on which brand of stick thingy I have.

My first thought was, ‘this is turning into a goopy mess!’. And then I realized that’s what guacamole is.

Transfer to a decorative bowl to serve with tortilla chips.

Decorative bowl… decorative bowl… My little Asian dipping bowls didn’t seem like what they had in mind. Neither were the everyday bowls or the other everyday bowls… that just leaves…

My bridal shower gifted Hello Kitty bowl!

I never did get around to buying those tortilla chips but it tasted more like an avocado spread than true guacamole. For avocado spread it was good, even on rice cakes. For guacamole, I’m still looking.

Super Simple Hummus

Posted in Spreads/Dips on December 14th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Between Andrew’s recent interest in The Mediterranean diet, and our anniversary dinner where we were served hummus with olive oil and fancy bread, I’ve had a renewed interest in hummus lately. However instead of buying those overpriced little tubs, I remember hearing that it’s absurdly easy to make.

Of course there’s a million additions and variations, but I’m starting at the very beginning with… “Hummus“.

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor.

First put the blade into the food processor… I always forget that step. Or when I remember, it pops up because I don’t have the bowl locked into place. Why do these things thwart me so?

That garlic isn’t crushed either… this is why you’re supposed to read the recipe through before starting.

Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

This used to be a can of garbanzo beans… amazing!

I used the lower amount, three tablespoons, of lemon juice and Andrew still thought it was way too lemony. Me, I ate it all up. The reason mine may have come out so strong is I’m not yet using tahini. I read somewhere that the tahini is not substitutable but it is omitable. I’m not ready to commit to a $11 jar of sesame seed paste until I check out Uwajimaya for a smaller/cheaper option.

Instructions say to serve fresh with olive oil but my hummus has been going straight into a container to bring to work, along with a box of Kavli crispy thins for a (sorry for the cliche) guilt-free snack.