Monday, March 29, 2010

Mom's Famous Guacamole

Spring is here! Or, well, it was. Spring lasted a whole week and a half in these parts before it snowed again (last Thursday night!) and frosted (every night since then). But trust me, it was gorgeous before that. I mean, 70's sunny and just BEAUTIFUL! Now, I don't know about you, but that kind of weather is exactly the kind of weather that makes me crave a good bowl of guacamole. Mmmm, delicious greeny and garlicy and cilantro(y?). I'm getting antsy just thinking about it!

With the weather being so nice, we've been spending more and more time outside. Lots of runs, hikes and horseback riding. In fact, just working on days that are gorgeous and sunny can make me crazy to be outside. I hear that the gorgeous weather is on it's way back, and I couldn't be more thrilled.
My poor plants are sick of being inside. They are almost wilting thinking of the gorgeous sun that used to be outside. Any my lemon tree is CRAVING more sun. It's two perpetually yellow-green lemons have been nearly ripe so long, I'm starting to think they're never going to be ready to eat. Sadly, with the weather cold again, they won't be able to see the sun for awhile. It's enough to make a girl completely crazy.
I guess the only thing that can be done right now is a rain dance, of sorts. Maybe if we all get together and make some summery guacamole, the weather will take pity on us an be gorgeous again. I mean, look at the deliciousness above. Really? How can Spring hold out on us?

Give this recipe a try. I know it's super easy and super tasty, even if it's not what they serve in Mexico. (This is what Christian, the Mexico expert, tells me. He also tells me that this version is way more awesome.)

Mom's Famous Guacamole
Makes 2-4 servings (how greedy for deliciousness are you?)

What You'll Need:
1 Mortar and Pestle (or, in not available, a large bowl and a very sharp knife w/ cutting board)
1 small knife
1 spoon

1 avocado, perfectly ripe (You want it to be soft, but still firm enough to hold without poking a hole in it)
1 small tomato, chopped roughly
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small bunch of cilantro (about 1 1/2 cup - 2 cups of leaves)
1 Lime
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

What You'll Do:

To begin, use mortar and pestle to combine garlic and cilantro into a paste. If you are using a knife, chop everything has finely as possible and stir together. Stir in chopped tomato and juice the lime over the top. Salt and Pepper to taste. Stir together until everything is coated.

Cut avocado in half, removing pit with a spoon. Spoon out chunks of avocado into the mix, keeping them chunky (This is not your mom's pureed guacamole!). Mix gently to combine.

Serve immediately with salty corn chips!

Monday, February 1, 2010

White Chocolate Cardamom Cupcakes

What a new year we've had. From working with our new horse, to adjusting to having two people in our house again - the holidays were the least of our concerns! On the cooking front, I made cookies for everyone's Christmas presents. Judging by how few of my family members had cookies left two days later, I'm going to say there were a major success.

Recently I've been all about stews and soups and hearty stir frys. Mmm. Anything to help warm our frozen fingers and toes after we come in from the frozen barn. There's just something comforting about knowing you'll be coming home to a warm, filling meal that makes being outside for hours bearable.

But, Baby, it's cold outside, and I am craving desserts!

With all the changes going on in our household, it's been hard to keep up blogging about my cooking. But, I know. Excuses, Right? The other day I sat and though, "what's the best way to say 'I'm sorry?'"

Obviously cupcakes ...

... especially if they are covered in white chocolate and deliciously nutty cardamom and almond sprinkles. Oh man.

I'm not going to brag at all, but this recipe (and adapation of one at La Tartine Gourmande, merci!) will make anyone forgive you of anything - to a point, of course! The deliciously moist cake portion is just sweet enough without making your teeth ache, but then you hit the frosting. And, let me tell you, I don't even like frosting, but this frosting makes me beg for more. It's nutty cardamom laced flavor cuts through the buttery texture, and the almonds add the satisfying crunch that makes them even more addicting!

Now, get out there and make these cupcakes. It's 2010, and you need to celebrate!

White Chocolate Cardamom Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

What You'll Need:

1 tin of muffin molds
12 Paper cups to line tin


For cupcake-
1/2 cup all-purpose whole wheat flour

3/4 cup whole wheat
pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup good quality grated white chocolate
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

For icing-

1/2 cup good quality chopped white chocolate

1 tsp vanilla extract
Caramom, for sprinkling

1 handful chopped almonds (optional)

What You'll Do:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line tins with paper cups.

2. Spread almonds out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow them to cool, then chop semi-finely.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda and cardamom until well combined. Add in sugar and grated white chocolate. Continue whisking until well distributed.

4. In a smaller bowl, beat together melted butter, eggs and yogurt until lighter in color and creamy.

5. Add wet ingredients into larger bowl of flour mixture. Mix until well combined.

6. Divide mixture between muffin molds. Fill tins only 3/4 of way up cup to allow proper rising during baking.

7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are firm and a golden color around edges. Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.

To frost-

1. Melt chopped white chocolate and vanilla in a double boiler over simmering water.* Mix constantly until creamy and well broken down.

2. While warm, quickly frost cupcakes using a butter knife and spatula. Before frosting sets, sprinkle over a touch of cardamom and finish with chopped almonds.

3. Let frosting set on cupcakes and serve.