A party isn’t a party unless there is guacamole on the table. Or at least that is how I feel. But then again, I love all things avocado. There is something about guacamole that everyone seems to love. It is simultaneously smooth yet chunky, spicy yet mellow and takes corn tortilla chips from ordinary to extraordinary. And guacamole is versatile. Sure it is a natural pairing for chips but I also love to use it as a dip for fresh vegetables and smeared on top of a cheeseburger. I’ve also been known to eat it as is by the spoonful. Yes, I like it that much and judging by the speed at which it disappears when I make it, others agree.
The key to a good guacamole is ripe avocados. You want your avocado to be soft yet not mushing. Peeling a perfectly ripe avocado can be a messy endeavor. To make the process easier, I like to split the avocado in half lengthwise and pop out the pit. Holding each half in the palm of my hand I score the flesh through to the skin in a grid pattern. Holding the avocado over a bowl, simply invert the skin and use a fork or spoon to scrape out the flesh. And here’s an added tip: if you don’t plan on serving the guacamole right away, and it tastes best if it sits for at least half an hour, place the avocado pits directly into the dip and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. The pits will keep the avocados from turning brown.
3 ripe avocados, cut into chunks as described above
1 small shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, seeded and minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup finely minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt & pepper
- Place the avocado in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork until it is slightly chunky or has reached a consistency you prefer.
- Add the shallot, garlic, chili pepper, lime juice, cilantro and cumin powder. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the avocado pits to the guacamole, cover tightly with plastic warp and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, remove the pits, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
Yields: 2 cups
The old adage that everything is better with bacon holds true. In my quest for new bacon related recipes I stumbled upon this one from King Arthur Flour. Because it is made in a crock pot, the hands on time for this dish is minimal and your entire house will be filled with the sweet and salty aroma of this jam before you are done. I was initially taken aback by the ingredients, which individually I love but I just couldn’t fathom being put together as a single dish (maple syrup mixed with coffee???), but the results surprised me……..after all everything is better with bacon. Whether served on bread slices and paired with a salad for a light dinner or paired with bread and goat cheese as part of a buffet table, this jam is a hit.
Not having boiled cider on hand, and being unable to have it shipped to me, I improvised by making a reduction of apple juice cooked with a whole cinnamon stick and five whole cloves. The result isn’t quite the same but the resulting syrup seemed to do the trick.
1 1/2 pounds bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the bacon into 1″ slices and cook in a large skillet until well browned. Drain the fat and reserve the bacon.
- Place the cooked bacon and all other ingredients into a 2 quart or larger crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove the cooked jam from the crock pot, remove the bay leaves, and carefully transfer to a food processor or blender. (I used a bowl and my trusty stick blender). Pulse until the consistency is to your liking, a soft, spreadable jam. You can leave the bacon in larger bits or pulse until very small, your choice.
- If you find the jam too liquid for your taste, transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick and syrupy. Adjust the seasonings and serve warm.
- Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm in the microwave before serving.
Yield: 2 cups