Monthly Archives: June 2008

>Guacamole

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Yeah, that’s not my picture of guacamole there. But it’s cute stuff anyhow.

Guacamole is one of these extremely modifiable foods that I love so much. Take a classic recipe and introduce a new twist.

Here’s a classic Guacamole recipe. Actually it’s my mom’s recipe, but she’s never lead me astray.


Classic Guacamole
4 ripe avocados
juice of 1 lime
2-3 cloves of garlic (to taste), minced
2 serrano chilis, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tomato, diced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
…and of course Adobo powder to taste, if you can find it

1) Remove avocado flesh from their skins and remove the pits. Put the flesh into a large mixing bowl.
2) Get ready to get dirty! Wash your hands well. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper to the avocado flesh. Use your hands to squish the avocados to a thick (but somewhat lumpy) mass. Don’t wait long after cutting the avocados, the lime juice will keep them from turning brown.
—– you could use a potato masher to do this, but this is awfully fun.
3) Mix in all of the remaining ingredients. Season to taste.

Isn’t that easy??

There are many ways to modify guacamole. Some of them are obvious: use different kinds of chillis to replace the serrano. Use vinegar to replace the lime juice. Etc.

But in my mind the most wonderful thing to do with guacamole is to make it with fruit.

Think about it. Avocados are fruit- so they work well with other fruits (it’s like a wacky fruit salad). When using fruit in a guacamole you typically replace the tomato… and tomatoes are fruit too. See where I’m going. Pretty much in any fruit guacamole you make the original recipe plus the fruit of choice.

I first ran across this idea in a long-ago issue of Vegetarian Times. They had an article on pomegranates and one of the recipes was for a Pomegranate Guacamole.

Of course, pomegranates aren’t in season right now. So wait until winter to try this.

Here is a closeup of the seeds, called arils:

Pomegranate Guacamole (Mari’s version abridged)
All ingredients from the above recipe MINUS the tomato
1 pomegranate, cut in half

1) Juice 1 half of the pomegranate into a bowl. You may want to wear rubber gloves when doing this since the juice can stain.
2) From the other half of the pomegranate remove all of the seeds (called arils) intact.
3) Follow directions for the original recipe and add the pomegranate juice when you’re smashing the avocados with the lime, salt, and pepper.
4) Follow the rest of the directions for the original recipe, but substitute the pomegranate arils for the tomato.

That’s it. Same process but the arils add a beautiful new flavor and color.

A few years ago my boyfriend and I were visiting some of my family in California. We visited a huge grocery store that my mother and grandmother love and went crazy buying amazing fresh produce for dinner. The result: blueberry guacamole. Make this in the summer when blueberries come into season.

Blueberry Guacamole
All ingredients from the above recipe MINUS the tomato
1 pint of ripe blueberries

1) Divide the pint of berries in half.
2) Puree 1 half of the berries (I use a mini-food processor, but you could crush them if you don’t have one).
3) Follow directions for the original recipe and add the blueberry puree when you’re smashing the avocados with the lime, salt, and pepper.
4) Follow the rest of the directions for the original recipe, but substitute the remaining blueberries for the tomato.

This recipe is very summary and is an entirely different beautiful color from any of the other guacamoles. Serve with chips!

Fancy Cooking
Sometimes gourmet cooking can seem unattainable for the common person. Luckily there are a few tricks to making any dish seem fancy. Just check out Bobby Flay; he makes a lot of cornbread, traditionally food of the South-American Peasant. So here are some tricks.

1) Make up a name that uses as many ingredients as possible in the dish plus at least one descriptor:
“Midwest Summer Blueberry Guacamole”
“Colorful Guacamole with Pomegranate Arils”
(bonus points if you can use the word “deconstructed”.

2) Add fruit to a savory dish. This seems to work especially well with Mexican and Latin cooking. Pineapple goes well with black beans. So does mango. And plantain. In fact almost ANY fruit goes well with black beans.

Some final notes on fruit guacamole
So 2 summers ago I decided that the blueberry guacamole worked so well that it was time to shake it up and try a different berry. So I tried the blueberry recipe but used raspberries. This didn’t work at all: the flavor of the berries didn’t hold up to the flavor of the avocado and the whole berries disintegrated when I mixed the chopped ingredients in. I suspect that blackberries might hold up better (they have a stronger flavor and are less delicate), but I don’t know if I’ll try it.

In Bloomington, IN (where I currently live) the sour cherry trees are full of ripe fruit and an enterprising friend and I have harvested as much as we possibly can. If I have any fruit left after the bigger preservation projects (sour cherry booze, sour cherry ice cream, sour cherry pie) I might try for a sour cherry guacamole. Don’t know if it will work out, but it’s worth a shot.

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>A new idea

>The issue: I like pie but I think it’s unhealthy. It has tons of sugar. The crust has hundreds of calories all from shortening. And it’s a pain in the ass to make.

The solution:

1) Get your friend to take you on her cherry harvesting expeditions. NEVER disclose the location of their trees.
2) Get pretty into the harvesting, discover a mulberry tree with freaking huge mulberries. Stain your hands purple collecting them.
3) Read a wacko vegan blog about making a vegan pie with tortillas for crust.
4) Try it and discover that it really works and that your pie is actually HEALTHY with reduced sugar and a almost-shortening-free crust.

Easy Tortilla Crust Cherry Pie
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar (raw/natural is always better)
1/2 tsp vanilla (I’ve got the good Mexican stuff thanks to MBL. Aren’t you jealous?)
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 Tbsp very cold water
1 egg whisked (egg wash)
1/8 tsp salt
2 burrito sized flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350.

1) Whisk corn starch and cold water together in a seperate cup.
2) Mix sugar, vanilla and cherries. Add corn starch mixture and mix throughly.
3) Brush a pirex pie pan throughly with melted butter.
4) Push 1 tortilla into the pan and arrange artfully.
5) Brush the inside of the tortilla with the rest of the butter (to keep it from getting soggy).
6) Pour filling into tortilla
7) Brush edges of the tortilla with the egg wash.
8) Cut some decorative holes into the 2nd tortilla.
9) Place the 2nd tortilla on top of the pie pan and squeeze the edges together with the 1st tortilla.
10) Brush the top of the pie with more of the egg wash.
11) Sprinkle sugar on top.
12) Bake until the top tortilla barely starts to burn. Bake as LONG as possible.
13) Allow to cool for at least 15min to allow the mixture to thicken.

*notes*
– For the top of the pie I grated some of a Mexican cane sugar cone on top. I’ve had the cone around for awhile and couldn’t figure out how to use it. But a week ago I thought, “A HA! I’ll grate it!”
– I think you could do this with any fruit. Adjust the sugar according to your fruit’s sourness. Tonight I’m going to try this with the gooseberries I bought on a whim at the farmers market (waaaay too sour to eat raw).
– I think a slice probably has around 100calories!!
– Your signifigant other will *heart* you.

There’s nothing better on a beautiful summer day than two girls, one pickup truck, one step-ladder, and a cherry tree.

>The Stinkin’ Rose

>So, some of you know what I do in my spare time:


http://www.chrisrall.com/bhrg/scars/slides/DSC_4774.jpg

I skate with the very awesome Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls. In this case the BHRG Flatliners, our All-Star Team

Our league has a night-before-bouting tradition: we have a team potluck including tons of carbs, and then we go to the late-night session at our local rink and beg them to do a fast skate (this has happened twice since I started skating and I often go once a week).

I hosted the potluck this time and made my mom’s garlic bread recipe.

Here’s the thing about my parents. They consume almost intolerable amounts of garlic unless you’re used to it on a day to day basis. My mom even likes to take store-bought salad dressing and drop several cloves in there, where they sit. And sit. And when you get to the bottom of the bottle it’s pretty rough going. Last time I tried I couldn’t use the dressing at the bottom.

Hence her garlic-bread is aggressive. But so much better than a tame/lame garlic bread.

It’s usually goes this way:

1 loaf of bread (this time a lovely local ciabatta; slipper bread)
1/2 stick of butter
3 gloves of garlic, pressed in a garlic press
1/8 tsp. salt

Melt the butter with garlic in the microwave (stopping and stirring often to prevent burning).
Add salt.
Spread onto slices of bread (or loaf halved lengthwise) with a spoon and bake in a 400-degree oven until browned.

But this time I was making a LOT (2 loaves). And for some reason I wanted to make herby garlic bread even though I’d done so before.
So:

2 loaves of ciabatta (halved lengthwise)
1 stick of butter softened
6 cloves of whole garlic
3/4 tsp herb mix (basil, oregano, dill, parsley)
1/4 tsp salt

I pureed everything together in my beloved tiny food processor.
Spread onto both sides of both loaves and reassembled the loaves.
When the bread was looking kinda done I opened one of the loaves to expose the garlicky innards and sprinkled some leftover shredded romano cheese on it and let it bake for 5 more min.

I promise that you won’t be disappointed and neither were the Flatliners. We beat Cincinnati 114 to 65. Possibly because we were so garlicky that they couldn’t stand to get near us.

Don’t forget the Gilroy Garlic Festival

>A most impressive dessert.

>First of all: thanks to everyone for all the nice comments you’ve been leaving. Love getting those “someone has commented on your blog” emails.

2nd: Yes, you may be right, the tiny tart tangerine I had in San Francisco may have been a yuzu. I’m honestly not sure! I’ve never found a yuzu for sale (it can be hard to find these things in the midwest), so I’ve never seen one in person. I can buy yuzu juice, but it’s terrifically expensive… so I haven’t. I can buy ponzu (soy sauce + yuzu juice), but it always has shrimp or anchovy added to it so I can’t eat it. Therefore, my palate is wonderfully uneducated about yuzu.

Now, back to the entry…..
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Imagine that you’re in a fancy restaurant. At the end of your meal (or perhaps in between courses as a palate cleanser) you are offered a light fruit sorbet. Oooh, very fancy.

Those restaurants have pulled the wool over your eyes, taken you for every penny, and generally abused your wallet. Because sorbet is mind-numbingly simple to make. You don’t even need an ice cream machine!

Your life will be easier if you make this with a food processor. You can do it without one (I’ll describe how below), but really. The only expensive piece of kitchen equipment I think everyone should fork out for is a food processor.

First, let’s go over some major categories of frozen dessert. You will of course find varying definitions of these items from chef to chef, but these are the definitions from a cookbook only about sorbet so I feel pretty confident using them.

sorbet- water based: fruit puree and simple syrup
sherbert- milk based: the same as sorbet but the water is replaced with milk
granita- ingredients of a sorbet, but ice crystals are blended with a fork rather than fully incorporated
ice cream- dairy based: like a sorbet but water is replaced with cream

Of course this is very basic. Not all sorbets/sherberts/granitas/ice creams are made with fruit. Ice cream often uses a custard (egg) base, not just cream. Etc. etc.

Think of it this way: most frozen desserts include:
1) flavor
2) liquid
3) sugar
3.75) sometimes a thickener

They’re all made by recombination of these ingredients.

Now back to sorbet. My mother has made sorbet every summer for as long as I can remember. I did it too, long before my acquisition (theft) of the ice cream machine from her).

Know how it works?

Here’s the basic outline:
1) Create base.
2) Freeze
3) Blend frozen base
4) Freeze again.

More specifically:
1) Create a 1:1 simple syrup on your stove (see my mojito blog entry from 2 weeks ago for instruction). Allow it to cool completely.
2) In your food processor puree your chosen fruit.
3) Add the simple syrup to the fruit puree in the food processor. Blend until fully incorporated.
4) Pour the syrup/puree mixture into a shallow tupperware container. Freeze this overnight or until completely solid. If you used a very fibrous or seedy fruit (mango, pineapple, strawberry, blackberry, etc) you should strain
5) With a big ol’ spoon chunk up the frozen puree and put the chunks back into your (cleaned) food processor. Process the heck out of that until all of the chunks are completely broken up, but no further or it might start to melt. At this point it will be exactly the same consistency as one of those frozen icee drinks you get out of the machine at a gas station.
6) Scrape all of the frozen mixture back into the tupperware container and put it all back in the freezer. Let it sit for several hours (4-6 at least) and then scoop and serve.

Isn’t that easy?

The fork method
This is the same way you make a granita, in fact I would call anything made this way a granita rather than a sorbet. Instead of pouring the fruit mixture into a tupperware, pour it onto a long metal sheet pan (with a lip!). Every half an hour stir the freezing mixture with a fork, breaking up all ice crystals and trying to keep the consistency smooth. But trust me, this is the HARD way.

Sherbert
This is made exactly the same way as sorbet, but milk is substituted for the water. Proportions for the liquid can change, so consult a recipe rather than substituting wildly right off the bat. Avoid using acidic ingredients that would make your milk curdle (like lemon juice or pineapple juice).

Sorbet tips
1) Add some lemon juice to fruit purees to help preserve the fruit from oxidation. Most recipes will include at least a teaspoon.
2) You should add a pinch of salt to any sweet dish to intensify the sweetness. Sorbet is no exception.
3) Some sorbets will include a whipped egg white added to the mixture right at the end. This creates a lighter and fluffier sorbet. These sorbets also melt faster, so feel free to eliminate or include as you wish.

What kind shall I make?
There are tons of books just about sorbets, I own several and they’re nice. When you make sorbet a recipe is great to have around as a reference- fruits vary in the strength of their flavor and their sugar content, just refer to the recipe to check the proportion of ingredients.

The simplest way to find a sorbet recipe (or really any recipe) is a combination of your imagination and Google:

1) Think about ripe fruit or see what’s available and then imagine your recipe. Strawberries are in season right now, so that’s my example.
2) I google this phrase, “strawberry sorbet recipe” and I check out a couple of results. I don’t want a recipe that suggest frozen fruit, or that uses corn syrup instead of simple syrup. I’m looking for a recipe that mimics the process I described above. I found several sorbet recipes that I discarded, some that added orange or apple juice or yogurt, or corn syrup. But I finally locate this strawberry sorbet recipe*.
3) I copy the proportions, follow the sorbet-making process, and a few hours later I’m good to go. If I dated ladies they’d be very impressed (hint hint guys), but I don’t so I’m limited to showing off at dinner parties. If only my guests knew how little effort I’d put into this.

Want to “pump it up”?
– Add herbs or spices or teas to the simple syrup as it is cooking (see previous mojito blog entry for instructions and ideas)
– Add extra ingredients (such as mint) to the fruit while it’s initially being pureed. For example, I think some coarsely ground black pepper would go great with my strawberry sorbet.
– Consider mixing fruits
– Try non-fruit ingredients: chocolate sorbet and sherbet are both wonderful. Based on the chocolate sherbet I invented a chai sherbet that’s fricking fabulous and made with fat-free milk.

Finally, some actual suggestions

My all-time favorites:

  • Cantalope Sorbet- 1 whole cantalope
  • Mango Sorbet- 2 large mangos or 4 small. Be sure to strain these fibrous suckers.
  • Chai Sherbert- follow a chocolate sherbert recipe and substitute pre-made chai mix for coco powder. While dissolving the chai mix add 6 chai teabags and allow to steep for5 min while mix cools. Don’t let the teabags sit too long or they’ll get very bitter. If your chai mix includes sugar experiment with decreasing the sugar in the recipe.

Sorbet is easy to make and easy to experiment with. Try it.