I first learned to make guacamole at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, where one of the activities was a cooking demonstration. Ever since, guacamole has been a regular party staple in our household. Who doesn’t like guacamole? Fresh and flavorful, guacamole is excellent all year round.
There’s room to play in making guacamole. Normally, I use a habañero pepper (about 1/2, deseeded), but you can also use serrano or jalapeño peppers, depending on your preference. Recently, we like using serrano peppers because they have a good balance of heat and flavor (David calls it “umami”). A few of my friends don’t like cilantro, in which case I’ll swap out cilantro for basil and make what I call “Mediterranean” guacamole. Although traditional guacamole uses yellow onions, sometimes I like to use red onions, which are sweeter. You can use heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes, depending of what looks best at the market. I like my guacamole crunchy, so you can definitely play with the ingredient ratios.
Here’s the basic mix as a guideline:
Chili is the perfect “dinner-in-a-bowl” for cold winter nights. The great thing about chili is that it’s a make-a-lot-of dish that will feed my very hungry husband for at least a couple of meals, and it tastes even better the next day. Also, chili is great for a casual party like, say, Superbowl Sunday. Sadly, chili disappeared for a while from our dinner repertoire when we began eating paleo, because my old recipe involved beans, corn, and maple syrup, none of which we eat anymore. This winter, I thought I would conceive a new, paleo-friendly chili — and so I experimented with fennel, hoping fennel would add a nice texture as well as some sweetness to the chili. I also cooked up sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) to make some “crouton-like” garnish for texture and an avocado relish to cut the heat. The result is our new paleo chili, which we are sure to enjoy throughout the winter! We loved the fennel in the chili, and the sunchokes added a lovely earthiness.
When we lived in Stockholm last winter, I made some spicy pork ribs for a birthday party we threw for our colleague. The ribs were a hit, and made for an excellent — and hands-on — party meal among friends. Now back in my own kitchen in Brooklyn, I have more spices in my pantry to play with — and recently, I came up with a rub that I think works even better. I like to put the rub on the ribs overnight before cooking. Although these ribs aren’t of the smoke-house variety, we still think they are delicious, tender, and do come off the bone quite easily. We tend to prefer the St. Louis style pork ribs over baby-back — there’s more meat to them (always a plus for David), and I like how the fat renders off while roasting, giving the ribs a nice, juicy quality without being too fatty.
We’ve found gorgeous organic, heirloom mini-tomatoes here in Stockholm — perfect for making my “Mediterranean salsa” even more colorful! This “salsa” is great alongside meats (pork chops, steaks), as a dip (with gluten-free crackers, for instance), or with eggs (fried or scrambled). Very simple to make, and tasty. In a large bowl, mix together: chopped up the tomatoes; a small red onion, minced; finely mince jalapeno pepper (less or more depending on your tolerance for heat); a big handful of basil, chiffonade; and 2 tablespoons or so of capers (depending on how much you like capers). Squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Drizzle some olive oil, and season with salt to taste.
P.S.> No need to use heirloom mini-tomatoes, of course. Any delicious, preferably organic tomatoes would make a great Mediterranean-style salsa!