Sunday, April 6, 2008


Have you heard of the card game Pinochle? Well, apparently, it's back "in." Or knowing myself, it's been in for a while and this is the first I'd heard of it. As it turns out, however, thanks to my grandparents, I was raised playing it. I was taught when my hands were too small to hold all of the cards (there's a whopping 12 dealt) and my family allowed me to spread everything out under the table. I was told what was played and I would throw up the right card to play on the trick. In any case, now that the game has managed to surface again, I am one of the few people out there among my friends that knows how to play. Cards on the table, this time. Of course, I had to turn this into an evening where I can cook for everyone, too.

I decided to make guacamole. I began with a Martha Stewart recipe that my chiles rellenos friend whipped up while we were at the beach. Then, after doing that and realizing that I had about a bazillion leftover avocados (her recipe calls for ... one), I started to riff on her theme. The one idea I borrowed, and will borrow again, goshdarnit, is her use of mortar and pestle. To be honest, I lack these things in my kitchen (why must they be so heavy?) so I improvised with a mint muddler (hello mojitos!) and a pyrex bowl. I think it worked out well:


avocados... let's say 3, peeled and chopped
5 tbsp chopped cilantro, more to taste
1 small - medium white onion, finely chopped
3 large juicy tomatoes, seeded (or substitute salsa fresca and use a little less onion), chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp kosher salt

Trick to cutting avocado: take your knife and cut the avocado in half length-wise, avoiding cutting the pit. Twist the two halves apart and chuck out the pit (you can attempt to do this with your knife, but your thumb is a little safer). Holding one of the halves in one hand, take your knife and cut into the avocado flesh through to the skin (but not through the skin) in a checkerboard pattern. Scoop out the chunks with your thumb or a spoon.

Combine 2/3 of the cilantro, the onion, the garlic, the jalapeno and the salt into a bowl. Combine with the mint muddler until (these are Martha's words) "smooth and juicy." Blend in the avocado chunks with the muddler, but keep it fairly chunky. Blend in the remaining cilantro, tomato or salsa and top with lemon juice.

I'm a blue corn chip fan myself, but pretty much anything will work with this. I'm multi-tasking with the guac tonight for make-your-own-burritos. And enjoying the spring!

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