guacamole, ’70s style

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Two weeks ago, food for fun kicked off its Cooking with Great-aunt Helen series. (Please suggest another title–this one isn’t doing it for me.) My mom’s Aunt Helen was a fierce and independent spirit, passing away at 92. She never … Continue reading

roasted guaca-chickpea-licious

A great deal on perfectly ripe avocados (69 cents each!) had me thinking guacamole. Knowing they were at that use-them-now stage of ripeness lent a sense of urgency to this project, but somehow it wasn’t urgent enough as days went by without any guac. A post from Sophie gave me the brilliant idea to combine avocados with chickpeas for a tasty spread. But again–in part because I had neither the smoked paprika nor the alternate suggestion of smoked sea sat on hand–this didn’t get made. (Sorry, Sophie!)

Tonight, though, I knew it was use it or lose it. Those bargain avocados would go to waste (and that’s no bargain) if I didn’t get my guac on. Or maybe my chickpea spread on? Then again, a friend had recently explained how she roasts peppers, onion, and tomatoes for her guac–maybe I should go that route? Things were getting mighty confusing.

So I did what home cooks have long done: I made it up as I went along. First the roasted veggies. I really wanted to try my friend Kathleen’s method of roasting veggies–garlic included–before mixing them into the avocado. I grabbed what I had in the fridge–half a tomato, two small sweet yellow chiles, an already diced and seeded jalapeno, one-fourth of a red onion–and laid it all on a baking stone. Spritzed generously with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt, they roasted at 450°F alongside a foil packet of an oil-rubbed garlic clove.

Before roasting

Meanwhile, I pureed two of the über-ripe avocado along with the half-can chickpeas I had on hand. Also tossed in the mix was another clove of garlic as I wanted its raw bite as well as the roasty sweetness that would come from the roasted clove. Just for kicks I added a few sprigs of leftover parsley along with a generous handful of cilantro leaves and stems. Next up was the juice of two small limes (2ish tablespoons, but just guessing) and a stick blender took care of the rest.

When the roasted veggies were done,

veggies after roasting--don't they smell good?

veggies after roasting–don’t they smell good?

I added them to the avocado-chickpea puree along with another 2 or so tablespoons lime juice and blended them into a smooth of a paste as possible. A fan of chunky guacamole, I rough-chopped the final two avocados and gently stirred/mashed the cubes into the other ingredients along with another 2 or 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro. Lots of freshly cracked pepper and coarse salt followed. A taste test suggested I needed a bit more bite and plenty more heat, so in went two additional cloves minced garlic and a generous pinch (just shy of 1/4 teaspoon?) cayenne.

The resulting mixture was hard to define. Guacamole, maybe, but what were chickpeas doing in there? Certainly not a hummus: the texture was more spread than dip. And the roasted veggies added an earthy sweetness not found in guacamole or hummus. The good news? Definition not required to enjoy this–or any other–dish. A savory and delicious combination of recipes, tips, and tricks, it’s proof that you don’t always have to know where you’re going when you cook.

defying definition, but it tastes so good!

defying definition, but tastes so good!

avocado cookie

Anyone out there reading culinary mysteries? I’ve always loved a good book, and when I learned there is an entire genre devoted to food fiction there was no stopping me. I go so far as to keep a spreadsheet (oh, the geekiness) of the 21 or so series I follow, complete with columns for author, website, and series titles.

A decade or so back, our local library hosted a mystery book club. When I saw they were featuring a food mystery I’d recently read, I signed on for the meeting. These mystery fiction buffs tore my little culinary crime to pieces. Weak plot, they said. Too many loose ends. One-dimensional characters. All the while I was thinking, “but it has recipes!”

It’s absolutely all about the food for me. Some series are better written than others, but they’ve all been fun, solid reads. The stories are light and entertaining. There’s little violence and no gore. The prose is usually rich with food-related descriptions (butter lemon sky, coconut-white snow). And the heroines (so far, all but one protagonist has been female), whether cookie baker, donut maker, coffee shop owner, tea shop lady, television cooking star, caterer, or chocolatier always saves the day. And yes, the recipes: Most series feature recipes throughout or a handful at the end. I’ll often copy and try anything that looks unusual or amazing. The following, from Joann Fluke’s fun-to-read Cinnamon Roll Murder, qualifies as both.

chocolate AVOCADO cookies–who knew?

Sinco de Cocoa Cookies

A few tweaks, but mostly taken straight from Cinnamon Roll Murder. Fluke explains her play on the word “cinco” (five main ingredients–butter, flour, eggs, sugar, avocado) as these cookies being “sin”fully delicious. They are excellent–rich, deep, and dark. Avocado seems a strange addition, though it contributes to the cookies’ richness for sure. Make ’em, serve ’em, and surprise your friends and family.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate (I used a baking chocolate substitution: 3 tablespoons baking cocoa and 1 tablespoon oil for each ounce chocolate for a total of 9 tablespoons cocoa and 3 tablespoons oil)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup very ripe avocado (about 1 large)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Coarse salt

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets.

In saucepan, gently melt butter and chocolate. Set aside to cool.

In large bowl, combine sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in cooled chocolate mixture. Blend in avocado. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir flour mixture and chocolate chips into batter just until combined.

Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets. Flatten slightly with clean hand or back of spatula. Sprinkle very lightly with coarse salt. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or just until set. As with brownies, take care not to overbake or cookies will be dry. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 5 dozen.