Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guacamole!


I used to hate avocados.  Maybe I never really tried them.  But then one day in college, I had to make some.  I realize we're reaching pretty far back here, but I remember the day clear as yesterday, probably because it was so influential to my future loves of both guacamole and entertaining.  It was probably junior year.  I did my work study at the Humanities Center and we used to sponsor these Friday afternoon events called "Wine-Down."  Wine-Downs weren't very well attended, but they were probably one of the coolest events on campus.  They were basically free wine and cheese parties.  Philosophy and English Profs would show up and mingle with students.  There would be free food and free wine and nobody seemed to care if you were old enough to drink it.  There'd be random music... some kid would show up with a guitar or pony up to the piano.  And there would be great intellectual conversation on topics as random as you could get.  I'd spend the better part of Friday afternoon preparing a spread that would include lots of gourmet cheeses, fruit, homemade breads, etc.  One day, the center's coordinator asked me to whip up some guacamole, which I had never even eaten before, let alone prepared!  So Sue taught me how.  We made a great guacamole and I ate some.  It was good.  I wasn't in love yet, though... that would take a few years and a lot more "trying."  But I got an introduction to guacamole and I was open minded about experimenting more!  
Since then, the burrito entered the mainstream American diet, and I, like many, took part in the craze.  
Note about burritos: Did you know that a vegetarian burrito bowl from Chipotle with guac, cheese, rice, black beans, and sour cream weighs in at like 700 calories?  Imagine what happens when you add meat to that!  Are you a Chipotle Fan?
OK, I had to share that, but back to my love affair with guacamole (which Chipotle did contribute to!).  So as I'm sure you've experienced, the more I ate guacamole, the more I loved it and now it's a staple.  I almost always have a couple avocados on the counter ripening to perfection.  I make guacamole an average of once a week and often eat it for dinner with some multi-grain tortilla chips (which I'm always on the hunt for new varieties of!).  Sometimes (OK, I admit, more than sometimes), I even melt some freshly shredded Vermont cheddar cheese over the tortilla chips. 
Note about cheese: I stopped buying the bags of shredded cheese when I noticed mold inhibitors and potato ingredients to prevent caking listed on the ingredients.  It only takes a minute to shred some cheese and it's worth it to eat REAL cheese that tastes better and that's not going to kill all the bacteria in my tummy!  Oh, and buying the blocks is usually cheaper and the packaging typically tells you where it's from!  
Back to Guac.  Over the past few years, I think I've perfected the recipe, but I always change it up depending on what I have on hand.  I had guacamole again for dinner last night and it came out delicious.  The avocados were perfect (they're pretty cheap at most grocery stores right now).  I checked the stickers by the way, and the avocados were from Chile. I hate to buy produce from so far away and really wish we could cultivate avocados in New England, but it's not going to happen... at least let's hope not!  Gotta keep my eyes peeled for more California and Florida avocados in the future... 
Note about avocados: Full nutrition facts for your standard avocado are here.  Point is, they're good for you!  Please don't let the GOOD monounsaturated fat scare you away from a good avocado!


Here's how I made the guacamole I ate for dinner last night and then some variations that I like and recommend:



Andrea's Guacamole Recipe 
2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded of course
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (1 plum and 1 on-the-vine, but it doesn't matter!)
jalapeño, finely chopped
juice of half a lime (tip - microwave it for 10 sec to get the juices flowing)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
About 2 tablespoons of finely chopped red onion
kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A dash of Tabasco
About 2 tablespoons of chopped FRESH cilantro
Directions: Combine all ingredients and mash with a potato masher!  Eat it with tortilla chips!

Variations (experiment by adding a few things here and there):
Chopped Black Olives (this tends to conjure up some disagreement, but my theory is that if it goes well on nachos, why not?)
More red onion or other varieties of onion (or you might not add any onion at all, which is fine, too!)
More cilantro!
Omit Tomato 
Spices: Garlic Powder, Cayenne and/or Chili Powder
Don't Add:
Mayo/Mustard (Some friends have suggested adding mayo and/or mustard - I tried it once and find this addition to be GROSS and an unnatural way to Americanize an otherwise simple and delicious central american dish!)
A packet of guacamole seasoning (read the ingredients... you probably have most of them in your spice cabinet and the ones you don't have you probably don't want to eat anyway!)
Too much salt (your chips will probably have more than enough!)


I should have brought the leftovers for lunch!  Oh well, looks like I'll have some more guac for dinner tonight!