Guacamole

On Saturday, we decided to have a Mexican food themed dinner. It being Cinco de Mayo gave us an excuse to enjoy some of my favourite foods. On the menu was some yummy homemade guacamole, followed by spicy chicken enchiladas. But, by the time I got home at 8pm (a very late dinner time for me!), I didn’t have the enthusiasm necessary to cook the entire meal. So I started by making the guacamole, deciding that if we were still hungry afterwards then I would attempt to make the enchiladas.

The guacamole was quite filling. I’ll be making the enchiladas later this week. It was a very casual dinner/large snack. We shared the guacamole and a bag of tortilla chips while sitting on the couch watching Heroes.

I tried guacamole for the first time at Gabriel’s restaurant in Santa Fe, NM. In fact, I think this was also the first time I’d tried avocados! I remember the experience so clearly! It was my first visit to New Mexico (to meet Bryan’s family). The restaurant is famous for having fantastic guacamole made right at your table. The ingredients arrive on a cart and you choose what you want in your guacamole. The avocados are sliced and the limes are squeezed in front of you. All of the ingredients are fresh.

The first time I tried making it at home on my own, the avocados were not ripe and I was impatient. I wanted to share this recipe with my family, and decided I couldn’t wait for the avocados to ripen. Big mistake! I couldn’t cut through them (in fact, when I tried to anyway, I ended up cutting through the pit in the center of the avocado). I put the chunks I was able to peel away from the skin into a blender and they were roughly chopped, but not creamy nor tasty. I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that waiting until the avocados are ripe is a very important step. Sometimes they are already ripe (or even over ripe) when you find them at the store. You can tell that an avocado is ripe when it is firm, but squishes slightly when you press on the skin. If the avocados aren’t ripe, that is, they are as hard as a softball when pressed, be patient! Let them sit on the counter (not in the fridge) for a few days to allow the avocados to ripen. You’ll be glad you waited!

What Mexican foods did you enjoy this weekend? What is your favourite Mexican or Tex Mex food?

Guacamole

(adapted from a recipe on a magnet purchased at a museum in Los Alamos, New Mexico)

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe Hass avocados – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 lime, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
    • Or 2 tablespoons of concentrated lime juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro – approximate cost $0.15
    • Or 1 tsp dried cilantro if fresh cilantro – approximate cost $0.10
  • Sea salt (to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon) – approximate cost $0.05

Optional ingredients (not pictured)

  • Lemon juice (if lime juice is not available) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 roma tomato or other variety (if grape tomatoes not available) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/4 – 1/2 red onion, diced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeño pepper – approximate cost $0.12

Method

  1. Prepare all of the ingredients you would like to add to your guacamole (except avocados, lime, and salt) and set aside in a bowl.  Preparing these ingredients first keeps the avocado from turning brown before serving the guacamole.
    1. Slice tomato into small pieces
    2. Mince garlic
    3. Mince cilantro
    4. De-seed and mince jalapeño pepper (See a tip on easily de-seeding hot peppers in an earlier post)
    5. Dice red onion
  2. Slice and scoop the “meat” from the avocados into a large bowl.
  3. Mash the avocados with the tines of a fork.
  4. Pour lime juice over the avocado and mix (this helps keep the avocado from browning).
  5. Add your choice of optional ingredients (tomatoes, garlic, etc.)
  6. Mix until the ingredients are coated in avocado.
  7. Salt to taste and mix well.
  8. Serve and enjoy with tortilla chips.

Makes 2 servings as a meal (approximate cost: $2.95 per serving) or 5 servings as an appetizer (approximate cost: $1.18 per serving).

We also tried the wine I brought home from Virginia. We passed the Peaks of Otter Winery (however, I picked up this wine at the market in Roanoke) on our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was slightly sweet with a hint of apple flavour. I enjoyed it. Bryan did not.

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Uncooked tomato sauce served with raw zucchini or spaghetti noodles

This tomato sauce is among my favourite dishes. It’s easy to make, healthy, tasty, and versatile. There’s so many ways to present it and it can be enjoyed for either lunch or dinner.Since finding the recipe on TheKitchn last summer, I’ve prepared the sauce a number of times with slight variations each time to suit whomever is enjoying the dish.

Here are a few variations you can try:

  • Make it a raw meal by making zucchini “noodles” with a spiral turner
  • Serve with cold or hot spaghetti noodles
  • Make it vegetarian by excluding the meat
  • Include a salty, cured meat such as prosciutto, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • Use a blender to puree the ingredients into a sauce-like consistency (do this after marinating the mixture)

This sauce is fantastic because you can make a large portion, set some aside in a dish and pack it for lunch. By lunch time, it’s marinated enough to enjoy! You can also let it marinate all day and simply prepare your choice of pasta when you arrive home and dinner is ready in 15 minutes!

Try not to put the tomatoes in the fridge at any point. I find that chilling them takes away from the flavour of the finished meal. However, I do always store the leftovers in the fridge and let it warm to room temperature before enjoying.

Uncooked tomato sauce

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 pint of mixed tomatoes (any combination of yellow, orange, pink, green, etc.) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 medium-sized Roma tomatoes – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 10 leaves of basil, cut into fine strips – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 cup olive oil – approximate cost $1.50
  • Salt to taste – approximate cost $0.05
  • 200 grams of meat, such as prosciutto or bacon (Optional) – approximate cost $3.50
  • Parmesan cheese (optional) – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Slice all of the various tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Place garlic, basil, and olive oil in a large serving bowl. Stir mixture well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow mixture to sit on the counter for 3-4 hours.
  3. Place tomatoes in olive oil mixture. Stir mixture until all tomatoes are coated with oil and garlic is evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
  4. Recover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture marinate for 2-4 hours (leave on the counter).
    1. Note: If you don’t have time to marinate the basil in the oil before adding it to the tomatoes to marinate, you can skip this step and mix it with the tomatoes immediately. But there’s more flavour if you can include the step.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles or spiralled zucchini “noodles” (for a raw dish) and, if desired, top with more fresh basil leaves, meat of your choice, and Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $1.55 per serving of sauce without meat, or $2.13 per serving of sauce with meat).

You can use almost any tomatoes you have on hand, but having a small variety of tomatoes tends to give the dish more flavour. If you’re not using smaller tomatoes, use 6-7 medium-large sized tomatoes.

Raw Chocolate Truffles with Cashew Kream

At the raw cooking workshop, we prepared raw chocolate truffles with cashew kream. I’m usually note a huge fan of sweets, but the tartness of the lemon in the sauce made it taste refreshing. This was very enjoyable!

Raw Chocolate Truffles with Cashew Kream

Recipe by RAW food chef Renee Shaidle

Chocolate truffles with cashew kream

Ingredients

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup almonds (soaked and dried)
  • 1 cup of dates
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 lemon, squeeze
  • 2-3 tbsp agave

Method

Truffles

  1. In a food processor, blend walnuts and almonds for about 30 seconds.
  2. With the food processor still running, add coconut, cacao, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  3. When the ingredients are well mixed, add the dates to create a sticky consistency. Continue to process until all ingredients are mixed well.
  4. Divide the mixture into 1 tsp portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

Cashew kream

  1. Blend the cashews, lemon, and agave until it forms a smooth icing-like consistency.

Putting it all together

  1. Serve the truffles with the cashew kream drizzled on top.

If you’re interested in Renee’s raw food cooking class, see her website: http://beliveonline.com/events or, if you want raw cooking without the work, check out Marbles restaurant in Uptown Waterloo.

Raw Zucchini Pasta

This was my favourite of the two dishes we prepared at the workshop. The zucchini was a tasty and healthy alternative to pasta for this entree. I’ll probably make this frequently during the summer. For now, I still prefer hot pasta when the weather is cool.

The recipes do not specify quantities, so I made this again at home and made my best guess at replicating the dish. I love it! Nana loves it! Bryan would rather have traditional pasta noodles and thinks the sauce is alright, but would prefer it warm, which is actually pretty easy to accommodate without a lot of extra work.

Raw Zucchini Pasta

Recipe by RAW food chef Renee Shaidle

Raw zucchini pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized zucchini
  • 2-3 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5-6 basil leaves
  • 3-4 oregano leaves
  • Sea salt (to taste)

Method

Pasta

  1. Shred 1 medium zucchini using a spiral spinner (such as this vegetable twister) to make a spaghetti-noodle-like shape.

Sauce

  1. Combine tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, oregano, and a ½ tsp of salt in a blender.
  2. Blend for a few seconds so the sauce is still chunky.
  3. Taste the sauce to determine if more salt is necessary. If so, add a small amount and blend again.

“Cheese”

  1. Grind white sesame seeds in a coffee grinder until it takes on the texture of parmesan cheese.

Sprouts

  1. Buy a mixture of arugula, radish, and mixed greens.

Putting it all together

  1. Assemble like any other pasta: zucchini pasta topped with sauce, cheese, and sprouts.

If you’re interested in Renee’s raw food cooking class, see her website: http://beliveonline.com/events/ or, if you want raw cooking without the work, check out Marbles restaurant in Uptown Waterloo.

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