Holy Guacamole!

Prom is over, Graduations have started, people are taking vacations and kids are finishing up school for the year which can only mean one thing, summer is here!

The best part of summer other than being outdoors and enjoying the sun is getting to cook just about anything you want with the availability of wonderful produce. Most folks prefer to eat lighter in the summer due to the heat. There are so many things you can do in terms of a light meal during the next few months that will keep you happy. I have been spending the little bit of free time I have after work cultivating recipes that would be great to enjoy this summer.

The most important thing about summer especially if your outdoors being active is to stay hydrated. This Agua Fresca or fruit water that a friend of mine gave me is an excellent thirst quencher. If your looking for something cold that isn’t heavy like ice cream frozen Greek yogurt cake pops are one of my favorites. My most recent and seasonal Rhubarb Sorbet is easy to make and a great way to rejuvenate from a long day being in the sun.

One of my favorite fruits this time of year is avocados. While they aren’t very arousing to eat plain they are the key ingredient for guacamole. Who doesn’t enjoy a great guacamole? I’m very picky when it comes to this dip. It has to have the perfect balance between acidity and seasoning. If it doesn’t have enough lime juice I ask for more, not enough cumin I add more, etc. Brandon has always been a master at making guacamole and I asked him to show me step by step on how to go about making this properly. His method is a little bit longer than most but the finished product is astonishing. If you follow this recipe and make it according to my ingredients, your welcome.

I love using Xochitl blue corn tortilla chips for this recipe. They are gluten free and kosher. The no salt added are my favorite!

Ingredients for a quality Guacamole:

-4 Each Avocados

-1 Each 5×6 Tomato, small dice

-1 Each Garlic clove, minced

-1 Each shallot (or red onion), minced

-3 Each Limes

-Zest from 1 Lemon (No juice)

-3 Tablespoons Cumin

-TT Salt

-1 Teaspoon Black pepper

–  Teaspoon Red pepper flakes

-1/2 Bunch Cilantro, chopped

Method of Prep:

-Begin by mincing your aromatics (garlic and shallots).

-Place in a bowl and using the back of a spoon grind against sides of the bowl as if you were using a mortar and pestle. Add about a tablespoon of salt to help with the mashing.

–Next, slice all of the avocados and using a spoon, scoop them from their skin into the bowl of aromatics.

-Using a whisk, start mashing up avocado. It’s okay to leave some chunks.

-Add the diced tomato, season with a little salt and fold into the avocado mix.

-Zest the lemon and one of the limes into the dip.

-Slice limes and squeeze as much juice out of them possible into the guacamole and stir.

-Shake a thin layer of cumin over the top and add 2 pinches of pepper flakes, and black pepper, mix.

-Taste and add more cumin if needed. You will taste a lot of acidity from the lime juice making if harder to nail the flavor of cumin. Just keep adding a little bit at a time until you feel its enough. It took me 3 layers to get it right.

-Finish with folding in the cilantro.

Enjoy!

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Spiced Strawberry Jam

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This recipe was published last year but I added a few changes to it and updated the photos. This is one of my favorite ways to utilize strawberries during their peak season.

If you read my post about pickled vegetables, then you should be familiar with my liking for preserving food. I didn’t fathom just how simple canning something is. Since I was constructing strawberry recipes I decided to go ahead and produce jam. Its simple to make and another great staple to have on hand in your refrigerator.

With no more than 3 simple steps and 30 minutes you can have fresh strawberry jam which is a lot better  and cheaper than buying it from the store. You can also use mixed berries or peaches as well for this recipe.

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Mise en Place:

-2 Cups prepared fruit (For this recipe I used 1 pint of fresh whole strawberries with the stems removed.)

-2/3 Cup Granulated sugar

-1 Cinnamon Stick

-2 Cloves Allspice

-1 Teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

-2 Tablespoons Pectin (found in the baking isle by the sugar in grocery stores)

-1 Mason Jar or other freezer friendly container

 

Method of prep:

-In a small bowl crush strawberries using a potato masher (Use the head of a whisk if you don’t have a masher and crush as if you were using a mortar and pestal)

-Pour mashed berries into a small sauce pot along with spices and place on the stove over medium heat. Allow berries to cook down for 20 minutes over a low simmer, stirring often.

-Add in sugar and mix until dissolved.

-Taste and adjust sugar if needed.

-Allow to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

-Remove from heat and pour into mason jar. Let cool in the refrigerator before covering.

-Cover and keep for up to 3 months in the refrigerator or 1 year in the freezer.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Salsa

One of my favorite things about late spring-early summer is the appearance of strawberries. They are at their peak this time of year and come in large quantities for a reasonable price plus there’s numerous  methods with how to use them.

I was playing in the kitchen with some recipes on how else I could use strawberries other than in yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, or dipped in chocolate. I asked a few friends on facebook and received a good amount of feedback. Some great suggestions were: strawberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, tossed in salads, macerated with balsamic, or mousseline cream, and dehydrated for use in granola. One of the pastry Chefs at work mentioned to me she does a strawberry salsa that is served with cinnamon sugar chips  for the brunch buffet every day.

I hunted around my kitchen to see if I had what it would take to make this salsa, lucky for me I did. This is a simple, and enjoyable snack. I paired mine with Chobani vanilla yogurt, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction to add more essence. (A great gluten free option is to use corn tortillas)

For the Salsa:

-1/2 Cup strawberries, stems cut off, cut in small chunks or diced.

-1/2 Mango, peeled, sliced, and diced same size as strawberries.

-3 Each mint leaves, chiffonade.

-1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract

-2 Tablespoons Sugar

Cinnamon Chips:

-2 six inch flour tortillas, cut in fourths.

-Oil for frying

-1 Tablespoon cinnamon

-1 Teaspoon Allspice

-1 Cup Granulated sugar.

Method of prep:

Salsa:

-Cut up strawberries, and mango and place in small mixing bowl.

-add in vanilla, and sugar. Stir until evenly incorporated.

-Finish with mint.

Cinnamon chips:

-Heat up oil in pan on Medium high heat until ready to fry, approximately 15 minutes.

-In a large mixing bowl add in cinnamon, sugar, and allspice. Mix until combined.

-Slowly add in tortillas to the oil up to 4 at a time.

-Cook on one side until golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.

-Turn over using a pair of tongs and cook another 2 minutes.

-Set on a plate lined with 2 paper towels to soak up the oil for 1 minute.

-Using one chip at a time, add to sugar mixture until coated on both sides. set aside.

-garnish chips with salsa and drizzle with balsamic reduction and  dip in Chobani Greek yogurt.

Enjoy!