Guttenberg New Jersey is a tiny town on the Hudson River. Guttenberg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guttenberg,_New_Jersey) was where I first tasted Guacamole. I was in my early 20’s and a restaurant on the river named The Lighthouse was reported to have the best Fettuccine Alfredo in the state. So if a restaurant had the best fettuccine I had to go. The night I went the crowd was out the door and everyone was shuffled into the bar so that the business could sell more alcohol while you waited patiently for a table that was probably empty the entire time you were waiting. As I made my way to the bar atop the counter sat a large bowl filled with green stuff.
“What the hell is that?”
The bartender gave me a look like what planet do you live on and said,
“What the hell is Guacamole?”
Realizing I was a true Yankee who lacked any sense of cultural awareness outside of the NY-NJ area his tone softened.
“Avocado dip. You eat it with chips.”
Next to the bowl of green stuff was a bowl of chips. I still didn’t know what Guacamole was because I didn’t know what an avocado was. My educational enhancement options at the time were limited in the pre-Internet, pre-cellphone days and the bartender left to serve someone else who was more likely to spend more money on alcohol. I wasn’t getting enough information to discern what the green stuff actually was. I remember grabbing what I thought was a potato chip, took a dip, and ate Guacamole for the very first time in my life. Funny to think back on this because I recall nothing about the Guacamole. All I remember was the chip.
When the bartender came back hoping I would finally order an beverage I asked,
“What the hell kind of chip is that?”
And with an attitude of this guy is asking too many questions and wasting my time he went off to serve someone else. Thus ends the story of my first encounter with Guacamole and CORN chips. I wouldn’t have any more such encounters until I moved to Texas and tried Mexican (actually Tex-Mex) food. But this is another story altogether.
BTW I love Guacamole now and I know what a corn chip is.
Asian and Alton Brown Inspired Guacamole
3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled
1 large lime for fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons medium red onion, minced
1 medium sized tomato, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Scoop the avocado into a small mixing bowl.
Squeeze most (but not all) of the lime juice over the fruit.
With a fork or a spoon mash the avocado but leave some small chunks (for chunkiness).
Fold in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Sample for seasoning and adjust to your taste.
Serve with CORN chips.
I take a paper towel and gently drain the tomatoes before adding to the fruit. The paper towel will absorb excess juice, pulp, and seeds. This dip is basically the kid version and is very mild. The adult version can be bold. I usually add several dashes of hot sauce. Fresh garlic and jalapeño peppers will also give a nice kick. Remember the most but not all part of the lime juice? If you’re not serving immediately, squeeze some lime juice over the top of the dip (don’t mix in) and stick it in the fridge. This will help delay oxidation. No one likes brown Guacamole.
“Only if you send me your Citrus Gazpacho recipe.”
The exchange was made and Frenchy’s recipe follows:
For 6 Cups
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 TBLS white wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups orange juice
zest and fruit of 1 orange-remove the peel and pith
zest and fruit of 1 pink grapefruit-remove the peel and pith
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 TBLS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Cayenne pepper to your taste
Instead of using fresh tomatoes which you must boil for 20 seconds, then dunk in ice water to stop the cooking, cool, peel, then dice-you can use a can of diced tomatoes.
Use an immersion blender or container blender to mix the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, orange juice, orange and grapefruit zest. Puree. Pour over the cucumbers, peppers, onion, orange and grapefruit, olive oil and seasonings.
This is best when it has been refrigerated overnight. Top with fresh cut basil before serving. A few pomegranate seeds in each serving for color.
Beautiful in martini or cocktail glasses as a starter.
Historical Note for Family and Friends
Frenchy is a real person and our friendship predates my marriage to The Boss. When the Doctor and the Architect were tiny humans themselves we would have wonderful meals at Frenchy’s. I’m positive I’ve had this gazpacho but at my age I can’t remember when. Enjoy!
When friends get together for food and drink, the conversation sometimes gets a bit quirky. It was a small get together of six and somehow the conversation turned to dip.
“What’s in that cheese dip you guys made once. It was awesome.”
“We didn’t have any dip tonight. What are you talking about?”
“I had it one of the other times we were together. It had cheese in it.”
Now that was helpful.
“What else was in it? What kind of cheese? What did it taste like? What kind of chips were served? Can you remember anything else about the dip?”
Imagine six people trying to figure out which cheese dip recipe it was based upon a single clue: cheese. Then the quirky one who started the whole quirky conversation said,
“It also had chilies in it.”
“Oh, you must be referring to Nicky’s Cheese Dip.”
To The Box. I found an email dated January 10, 2010 from one to all of us in the group. There it was and here it is.
2 eight ounce packages of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 four-ounce can of chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces diced jalapeño peppers
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Blend the cream cheese and mayonnaise using a hand mixer.
Stir in the Parmesan, peppers and chilies.
Place mixture into an ovenproof serving or baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.
Serve warm with chips.
Random thoughts – For the chips use tortilla chips or Frito’s (if you’re into that sort of thing). For some strange reason I always thought this dip had a few dashes of hot sauce in it. Add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce (trust me on this). He Who Asked the Question will probably play with this recipe by removing some fat and calories while preserving the original flavor profile.
Do it. And if you come up with a tasty low cal version, please share. Let the cream cheese soften a bit at room temperature. Start the mixer at a slow speed unless you want cream cheese and mayo splattered on the wall.
Drain black-eyed peas and mash, leaving some whole.
Add all other ingredients, stirring to combine.
Spread into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Serve warm with tortilla chips.
I stole this recipe. I did the usual change one or two things but refuse to claim this recipe as an original. Instead of canned beans I prepared my own from dried beans. The hot sauce is optional because I forgot to add it and when we started to chow down the dip didn’t really need any more heat. As far as bean dips go this recipe is a keeper. There were only six people at the gathering and we ate it all. So the recipe serves six.
The stuffed mushrooms all got eaten too but that’s another recipe for another day.
Helpful Hints – This is a Texas thing, black eyed peas for good luck at New Year’s. So here are a few hints. Salsa is not optional and I think I used a half cup but since I tossed and didn’t measure it might have been a little less or a little more. Hell on the Red from Telephone Texas. Use a different salsa but the dip won’t taste the same. If you like your dip spicy add more jalapenos. Add hot sauce too but it better be a good Tex-Mexican hot sauce. Don’t do the sriracha thing that everyone else does or it won’t taste the same.
one 16 ounce can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
two small cloves garlic
juice from one half a large lemon
extra virgin olive oil
one teaspoon each dried oregano and dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes, just a dash
In a food processor pulse the garlic until finely minced.
Add the beans, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
Pulse until the beans are well chopped. Add EVO in a thin stream and pulse until you have the consistency of a thick paste.
Taste for seasoning and add your salt and pepper at this point.
Transfer to a serving bowl and dust lightly with chili powder.
Serve with chips or pita bread wedges.
Every now and then you have to try something different. Instead of hummus I decided to make a white bean dip instead. Cannellini beans.
I was headed down the usual path with the garlic, lemon, oregano and thyme. Most recipes suggest paprika to top the dip. I went to my spice cupboard to check the expiration date of the paprika. As I suspected, time to toss and buy some fresh paprika. One of the local stores has herbs and spices in bulk. The prices are reasonable, the quality is high, and you have to fill little plastic bags marked with a large sticker to identify the contents with the code for the cashier to use at check out. Well, I grabbed a small plastic bag from the spice cupboard, got a spoon and dusted the dip with the paprika I just bought.
Sorpressa!!! It was chili powder.
Tips – When you screw up like this don’t tell your guests. If they don’t like the dip, remove the dip, toss in the garbage and blame it on some old (fill in the blank). Hmm, you say. The paprika must be old. That’s what is throwing off the flavor. Go to your fridge, break out some cheese and nobody will really care.
Now if your guests like the dip, of course, take as much credit as you want.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, drop the garlic and process until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until the hummus is smoothly pureed. Serve with fresh whole wheat pita bread wedges.
I’ve been making hummus since my college days. There was a graduate student from the Middle East whose name I’ve forgotten that had a room down the hall from me in the dorm. What makes this memory so unforgettable was the introduction of hummus to my taste buds. Love from the first bite. Like I said, I’ve been making hummus for a long time. This hummus recipe was one of our appetizers at this weekend’s gathering of exquisite friends. Before I get off point let me share my hummus tips.
I never thought there would be a big difference between organic and regular tahini/canned chickpeas. I was wrong. Use organic chickpeas and you’ll never go back to the private label brands ever again. Raw garlic is pretty garlicky. Use one clove. Any more fresh garlic than a single clove and you will no longer have gatherings with your exquisite friends. Most hummus recipes call for a lot more tahini than a 1/4 cup. Go ahead and use more tahini if you prefer but I’ve found out that a little tahini (like raw garlic) goes a long way. I happen to like my hummus lemony. One lemon is usually what your exquisite friends will tolerate without forcing them to abruptly depart mumbling something under their lemony breath. Go easy with the salt but use enough extra virgin olive oil to create the consistency of hummus you prefer.
And that’s it. We like to spread our spread thinly on a large serving plate, drizzle with more EVO and sprinkle a little paprika and parsley on top.
Two cloves of garlic and the juice from 1.5 lemons.