Thursday, May 31, 2007

Holy Guacamole Kids!

I'm thrilled to see that guacamole season is back! I took a short cut this winter when I was in desperate need of a guac fix by using a jarred guacamole mix by Frontera brought home by the BF. It was good (tangy and citrus-y), but couldn't hold a candle to my home-made version. I have been known to pack a mortar and pestle in my suitcase when traveling for extended vacations where I would have access to a kitchen. Because of my penchant for making this while on vacation in exotic locales, it brings me a certain level of instant "Zen" when I make this at home. Play with this set of ingredients and see how it suits ya . . .

DM's Guacamole

2 ripe Haas avocados (the small leathery ones) pitted, cubed and scooped from shell - here's a video that teaches you the technique: How to Dice an Avocado: Easy Cooking Tips & Techniques
1 medium jalapeño chili, finely diced (seeded if you want your guac mild)
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 Tbls finely minced red onion
1 tsp coarse kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 - 2 roma tomatoes - seeded and diced
4 - 6 dashes Mexican Hot Sauce (like Cholula) or Tabasco Sauce
3 - 4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro - chopped
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime

1) Place the diced chili, garlic, minced red onion and salt in a mortar bowl - grind with pestle until a wet paste starts to form and the items seem well mixed (Touch a bit to your tongue and swallow. If you feel a slight burn in the back of your throat, it's just right)
2) Mix paste with the avocado - mash and mix until incorporated, but avocados still a bit chunky
3) Add chopped Onion, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine - taste for salt - add more if needed
4) Stir in tomatoes and cilantro. Sprinkle with lime juice.

I prefer to serve these with "Garden of Eatin" blue corn chips, but this goes great on chicken burgers as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sangrita! A Bloody Good Way to Tequila!

While doing business in Mexico City a couple of years ago, I was introduced to Tequila y Sangrita by my Mexican colleagues. Apparently, a common way to drink Tequila in certain parts of Mexico is to accompany a good anejo or reposado with a sweet/savory/spicy chaser of tomato juice, citrus juices and spices. With some salt and limes on the side, it can make for a pleasantly mellow Sunday afternoon on the porch, or a weepy, messy night depending on how far you take it. Based on your taste (I like mine sweet and spicy), you can adjust the proportions, but here is what's in it generally:

1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
2 Cups Tomato Juice
1/2 Cup Lime Juice
1 TBSP Finely Minced Onion
Several Dashes of Smoked Tabasco Sauce (or a hot sauce of your choosing)
A couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Seasoned Salt and White Pepper to taste
A dash of baker's sugar if you'd like (which I do)

Mix and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to let flavors blend. Some folks will strain it, but straining Tomato Juice doesn't always work so well, so I'll drink it chunks and all. Serve chilled in shot glasses with a good quality tequila and fresh lime wedges. The key here is to sip, not shoot! Good tequila is meant to be savored, not inhaled.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Ride on the Safari Express

I was at a reception earlier this week hosted by the Community Capital Alliance - an organization with which I volunteer. The event was catered with an unusual, but extremely flavorful array of North African delights from an exquisite but rustic pan of beans to various curried meat concoctions to rich wrapped sandwiches rolled with fresh baked product. Despite the vary Minnesota bland array of tastes at the event was very well received - especially the wrapped sandwiches.

With my half-day off "Summer Fridays", I had time to visit the caterer for the event, Safari Express at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. As a late lunch I enjoyed a spicy lamb wrap sandwich and a small salad. The lamb was tender and rolled with a spicy yogurt-based sauce and encased in what seemed to be a fried flat bread. The rest of the menu has great standbuys in international and directory grown food like curries and stews, but all the action was on my taco.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fowl encounter without a knife

I tried to have an impromptu picnic by the Mississippi river courtesy of Surdyk's Bistro 2 Go Cheese Shop and a lovely lunch box I found there filled with great piece of baked bread, cheeses and fruit enough for one. Instead, I ended up dodging evil wild geese and piles of their shit while attempting to consume my soft and hard cheeses with no knife or any other utensil next to a stagnant stretch of backwater. My own damn fault I guess, for trying to be spontaneous and whimsical but the cheese was very good!

Papas del Sol (Potatoes of the sun)

I've been a bad blogger - but summer's here so time for new experiments in the kitchen.

Potatoes have crept back into my regular diet as a starch alternative to rice, so I'm trying to find new ways to eat them rather than mashed or baked (nuked in my case). I decided to take some cooked red potatoes and pair them with some nice sunny Mexican inspired flavors (thus - potatoes of the sun). The lime juice tames the heat of the peppers and adds a sunny flavor to boring old potatoes.


1lb small red potatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium jalapeño chili, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup coarse chopped cilantro
1 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
2 tbls Olive Oil
Salt to taste


1) Boil potato for 10 minutes or until cooked, but still al dente firm - drain
2) Heat large saute pan over med-high heat - add oil when hot
3) Add Garlic and Jalapeño - saute until chilis soften and garlic starts to brown
4) Add small amount of green onion and drained potato quarters
5) Gently toss the potatoes to coat with oil.
6) Sprinkle with salt and paprika and toss until well blended
7) Heat for 3 -4 minutes until potatoes are lightly browned
8) Sprinkle with Lime juice to tame the heat of the peppers
9) Pour into serving bowl - top with cilantro and green onions

I served this with shrimp sauted with ancho chili powder, garlic, salt and olive oil finished with a splash of silver Tequila. To get something green on the plate, I roasted some asparagus - I'll be smelling that tomorrow! Overall, a small risk in the kitchen from my curiosity that did not kill the cat.