The New York Times tweeted yesterday, “Add green peas to your guacamole. Trust us.” And everyone went berserk. Feelings ranged from rage and confusion to steadfast defense of the Times’ suggestion. President Obama didn’t buy it. Jeb Bush wouldn’t add peas to his guac either. Deb Perelman, Dan Pashman, Sam Sifton, Jean-Georges and Alex Stupak weighed in on the debate, mostly in support of the controversial guacamole mix-in. Where do you stand? Is it OK to put peas in guacamole? If not peas, what is OK to add to guac?
I taught my daughter’s third-grade class how to make good guacamole. It was my second time working with classroom 3B, this time not in the art room but on a diminutive desk in the classroom itself. On this knee-high rectangle of beechwood-colored Formica with a scooped out slot for a pencil at the top, I was able to use skills gained long ago interning at a doll-size garde manger station, elbows pinned to my sides.
When kids came into their classroom, they found tortillas, knives and avocado halves on their tables, and the other ingredients were ready on mine. It smelled like onions and cilantro. Passing teachers poked their heads in to see why. I worked fast to outpace the kids’ hunger, questions and strong desire to get avocado goo on their sleeves. Eventually I guided my 19 cooks to a high-five-inducing guacamole (with a side of chips).
First I told them the safe and polite way to handle their plastic knives (by the handle, always cutting away from your body, the other hand’s fingers curled under, etc.). Then we cut up tortillas to make chips. They are studying fractions, so there was a lot of debate. Some tables chose eighths for more chips, some went with sixths for bigger chips, and others chose straight strips for the sake of innovation. We tossed them in a bowl with oil and salt, layered them on sheet pans and popped them into the oven down the hall in the art room. Then we moved on to the main attraction.
No bowl is more likely to be scraped clean than one holding guacamole. The more, the better. As non-negotiable at a tailgating party as it is next to a plate of sizzling fajitas, the most sought-after dip depends on creamy, perfectly ripe (firm, with just a bit of give) avocados. As it turns out, after it’s been pitted and sliced with chef-level dexterity, the trusty avocado has more tricks to it than good old guac, and you can use it to make everything from soup to sweets.
Next time your nearest avocado reaches that fleeting range of ripeness, do something other than mash it with a fork. Instead, puree it for a silky Chilled Avocado Soup (bottom left) that’s taken with a spoon instead of a chip.
It’s that time of the year again when eating massive amounts of guacamole and enjoying a margarita is 100 percent acceptable. Yes, that’s right: Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner.
This year’s Cinco festival is even more exciting than usual because my first cookbook, Absolutely Avocados, is out and about, and being sold all across the country. It has a little bit of everything from breakfast to dessert — and it’s all about avocados.
If you’re set to make the ultimate guacamole this upcoming weekend, keep my five rules, or guidelines, in mind:
1. Avocados: There’s nothing worse than spending a few bucks on avocados at the market and then getting home only to realize they are overripe and brown on the inside, right? The trick to buying perfect avocados each and every time is looking for an avocado that is just the slightest bit tender. It shouldn’t be mushy, and it shouldn’t be rock hard. Rather, give it a gentle squeeze; if it gives the slightest bit, then you’re good to go.
Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
Guacamole is definitely a top 10 crowd-pleaser, so we decided to mix it up and add four more ways to keep the party going.
While guacamole is an obvious choice for Cinco de Mayo, it’s also a tasty one. It’s simple to prepare, fresh in flavor and loved by all. Sure, it’s the safe choice, but ultimately you want to make something that your guests will enjoy, not fear.
I’m a minimalist when it comes to guacamole — because avocados are naturally creamy and indulgent, simpler is better in my book. Bobby’s recipe is foolproof and includes only four extra ingredients: red onion, fresh jalapeño, lime and cilantro. Just chop, mash, squeeze and in 10 minutes, you’ve got the perfect party dip. The diced onion adds texture to the velvety avocado and the jalapeño brings a touch of heat and warmth. The MVI (Most Valuable Ingredient) of the dish, however, is the lime. It makes each bite refreshing and bright and will keep your guests digging in for more.
Wait — Super Bowl Sunday is about a football game? Not in my world. Super Bowl Sunday is all about the food. And drinks. OK, and maybe the awesome commercials on TV. But mostly it’s about the food. And you can’t just whip up anything for this very special Sunday that happens once a year — no, you’ve got to go big with the best appetizers and finger foods out there.
Each year we throw a big Super Bowl Sunday fiesta. I think some people actually watch the game, but most come to eat and have someone else cook for them. For those people that truly understand football (I’m clearly not included in that group), I’m a big believer in having tons of appetizer and finger food options for people to grab while they sit in front of the TV. There has to be an assortment of wings, potato skins, chips, dips, desserts and, most importantly, guacamole. Oh yes, it’s not a party without guacamole.
I mean, in my mind it wouldn’t be a football party without a big bowl of guac. Something about it just screams to be eaten while watching football and lounging around on a lazy weekend. This year I’ll be whipping up a guacamole from Alton Brown.
Alton’s guacamole is filled with fresh ingredients like onions, tomatoes, cilantro and garlic — he spices it up with ground cumin and cayenne pepper. Keep your guacamole bright green by tossing the avocados in fresh lime juice, the acid will keep the fruit from turning brown.
Get the recipe: Alton’s Perfect Guacamole
Browse Food Network’s Cinco de Mayo feast for more Mexican-inspired recipes.
The Food Network staff Guac Off ’09 stretched across two states and in the end, two were left standing. Without further fanfare, we want to announce our two winners and share some photos.
Get the results here.
As I walked in this morning, I noticed a sign on the mailroom door announcing the All-Staff Guacamole Cook Off this Friday! I decided to postpone a few other blog ideas to next week and share some fun facts about the delicious green dip.
Did you know that guacamole dates back to the Aztecs? The Aztecs were particularly fond of ahuaca-mulli, or avocado-sauce, because of the high fat content of the fruit (apparently, an avocado is a fruit!). But don’t be alarmed! Read more