Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Guacamole

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Guacamole with corn chips is a great addition to any party menu!

The ingredients needed to make guacamole are:

When using avocados, planning ahead is essential. If you try to make guacamole with a hard, under-ripe avocado, both the texture and the taste will be all wrong. When buying avocados, buy the ones that yield to gentle pressure but are not soft or mushy. Fortunately, you can speed up the ripening process by placing hard avocados in a brown paper bag for a couple of days. (That’s why you need to plan ahead!)

Check out my previous posts on how to crush garlic, squeeze juice from a lemon or lime and how to clean and cut jalapeno peppers, because they are what we are gong to tackle first.

Be sure to use fresh limes (or lemons) and fresh garlic and fresh jalapenos for this recipe.

Let’s start cooking!

Crush 2 cloves of garlic.

Squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lime; we will need 2 teaspoons of the juice.

Seed 1 jalapeño pepper and dice it into about 1/8 inch bits. (I always wear disposable gloves when cutting hot chili peppers!)

Cut one tomato in half with the stem end to the right of the knife blade. It is not necessary to peel the tomato.

Squeeze out all the seeds.

Chop the tomato into about ¼ inch bits.

Cut two avocados lengthwise (rather than making the cut around the width.)

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Separate the two pieces.

Leave the avocado on the cutting board and give the pit a thwack with a big sharp knife.

Give the knife a twist and carefully remove the pit.

Pinch the pit off the knife with your thumb and forefinger and throw it away.

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With a spoon, scoop out the avocado.

It’s OK to put the skin down the garbage disposer, but I just throw the pit in the trash. (It’s sort of like throwing a golf ball in the disposer. You just wouldn’t do it!)

For this chunky guacamole, I like to use a fork to mash it. You could also use a potato masher if you like.

Now add the other prepared ingredients to the avocado. Don’t forget the hot pepper sauce!

With a spoon gently blend everything together.

Give it a taste and see if you need to add some salt and pepper.

It’s important to note that, once exposed to air, an avocado discolors very quickly. Adding lime or lemon juice helps to prevent discoloration. It is widely believed that an avocado pit left in guacamole will help to maintain the lush green color. Wrong! Stick with the lemon or lime juice.

By the way, avocados are almost always eaten raw. They actually turn bitter when they are cooked. Who knew?

Enjoy!

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How to Cut and Peel an Avocado: A Basic Guide

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

Avocados are a fruit, (yes a fruit) that contains (unsaturated) fat. That’s what gives them that wonderfully rich, buttery taste. There are a lot of varieties of avocado but the two that are most readily available here in Boston are the Hass and the Fuerte.

The Fuerte avocado has a smooth thin green skin while the Hass is darker, almost black, with a pebbly textured skin. Many people prefer to use the darker (Hass) ones because they have a richer more pronounced flavor. (Unfortunately, they also have a few more calories than the Fuerte avocado.)

When using avocados, planning ahead is essential. For example, if you try to make guacamole with a hard, under-ripe avocado, neither the texture nor the taste will be very pleasant.

Buy avocados that yield to gentle pressure but are not soft or mushy. Unfortunately, this kind of avocado is difficult to find in many grocery stores since avocados, like bananas, continue to ripen even when they have been taken off the tree. Your supermarket will often buy fresh-picked avocados, so you usually don’t have any choice but to buy a really hard avocado.

Fortunately, you can hasten the ripening process by placing the hard avocados in a brown paper bag for 2-4 days. As with bananas, you can speed up the ripening process by sticking an apple (preferably a green Granny Smith apple) in the bag as well. (It’s the ethylene from the apple that does the trick!)

How to Cut and Peel an Avocado

Begin by cutting two avocados lengthwise rather than making the cut around the width.

(It will be virtually impossible to remove the pit if you slice it in half around the fat part.)

Separate the two pieces. Leave the avocado on the cutting board and (CAREFULLY!) give the pit a thwack with a big sharp knife.

Twist the knife and the pit should pop out.

If you now put the back of the knife against your palm, you should be able to pinch the pit off of the knife with your thumb and fore finger, with no danger of getting cut. (I’m right handed so I would continue to hold the knife in my right hand and put the back of the knife in my left palm to remove the pit from the knife.)

With a spoon…

…scoop out the avocado.

It’s OK to put the skin down the garbage disposer, but I just throw the pit (actually called the stone) in the trash. The stone is about as hard as a golf ball!

It’s important to note that, once exposed to air, avocado discolors very quickly. Adding lime or lemon juice helps to prevent discoloration. It is widely believed that an avocado pit left in guacamole will help to maintain the lush green color. Wrong. Stick with the lemon or lime juice.

Avocados are almost always eaten raw. If your recipe calls for adding the avocado to something hot, do it at the very last minute, just before serving. They actually turn bitter when they are cooked…Who knew?

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How to Make (And Use) Whipped Cream

print recipe card posted in Recipes, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Real whipped cream has a decadent taste and texture. Whipped cream imposters are convenient, but there is nothing like the real thing!

At the grocery store, there are many different types of milk and cream that are available.

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When making your own whipped cream buy whipping cream or heavy cream. The butter fat content of whipping cream allows it it whip and is what gives it that great taste and texture. (My post How to: Milks and Creams will give you a better understanding of many different dairy products.)

It is possible to buy real whipped cream in a can, but even then, you get an airier product that liquefies faster than homemade. So, it’s definitely worth knowing how to whip up the real thing. So let’s get started!

What You Need to Make Whipped Cream

Here Are the Three Easy Steps to Making Whipped Cream

  1. Start by chilling the cream, the bowl and the beaters or whisk in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes
  2. Pour one cup of whipping cream into the bowl and beat until it holds soft peaks. Soft peaks should fold over when the beaters or whisk are lifted. If using an electric mixer, start on medium speed to prevent splattering, then speed up. If using a whisk, circle it vigorously in the cream, watching as it thickens. It’s a workout for your arm and shoulder! You’ll know you’ve over-beaten it if the consistency starts to turn buttery.
  3. Once soft peaks start to form, you can add sugar (one or two tablespoons), and any other flavorings you like. Beat again until soft peaks form.

The Ingredients:

Start beating and once the cream begins to thicken (soft peaks). Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar…

…and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Continue beating…

until the cream reaches desired consistency (do not over beat!).

Tips for a Successful Whipped Cream

  • One cup of whipping cream makes about 2 cups of whipped cream.
  • For flavoring, one teaspoon of vanilla is often added per cup of whipping cream. But the flavoring possibilities are endless; you can add other flavor extracts, liqueurs, or powdered cocoa. There are lots of flavored whipped cream recipes to try – even bourbon!
  • If you’re using whipped cream on a dessert that will be sitting out for a while, adding icing sugar, rather than granulated sugar, in step 2 will help it keep its shape
  • Whipped cream can be kept covered in the fridge for about three days – but it will begin to break down if you have not added any stabilizer to it.

How to Use Whipped Cream:

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