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Ask a Foodie: Did Guacamole Originate in Texas, California or Mexico?


This dish of guacamole, with chopped tomato garnish and red corn chips was prepared by chef Scott Grimmitt at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard for a recent open house.

A friend and I were discussing where guacamole comes from. He said that it was developed in California, decades ago. I thought it came from Mexico. Where does this wonderful avocado dip come from? And, what is the “authentic” way to make it.  — P. K.

A. Guacamole is, indeed, a delicious dish from the gods – the ones who created the avocado, whose buttery-textured fruit is a good source of healthy, monounsaturated fat.

To answer your question, our understanding is that the first guacamole was made centuries ago by the Aztecs, who were native residents of Mexico. According to Wikipedia, the original guacamole was made by mashing the avocado in a molcajete and adding a little sea salt.

“Early recipes from the California Avocado Advisory Board (Calavo), published in the 1940s, were accompanied with a pronunciation suggestion: ‘Say Huakamole’. Later marketers tried to create a  Pacific Island image of the avocado in the 1960s, and a Spanish or Mediterranean image in the 1970s.”

These days, most guacamole recipe ingredients do begin with avocados and salt, then start adding anything from garlic and lemon juice to orange juice and roasted corn kernels. Onion and chopped tomatoes are common add-ins, and some people stir in sour cream or yogurt, or even mayonnaise. (If you are making guacamole, please don’t add mayo!)

Here is a link to a “tastes-like” recipe for Chile’s Roasted Corn Guacamole

Chili’s recipe makes use of this delicious ingredient.

 

 

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Tequila Seduces Guacamole


Use Hass avocados in this guacamole.

Even vegans like to drink. And cook. And sometimes mix the two together. That’s the message of John Schlimm’s funny yet flavorful cookbook, “The Tipsy Vegan: 75 Boozy Recipes to Turn Every Bite into Happy Hour” (Da Capo, $17). And what better way to test that theory during Fiesta than with a bowl of tequila-spiked guacamole?

“What would guacamole be without a tequila chaser?” Schlimm writes. “Luckily for us, with this recipe we’ll never again have to ponder that terrifying question. Share the love and mix a few tablespoons of the lively spirit directly into this classic south-of-the-border dip. Just beware the fire hazard: When adding the jalapeños, carefully taste a slice for determining the sizzle factor, which can vary widely. As for the limes, usually the smoother the skin, the juicier the lime.”

Tequila Seduces Guacamole

3 ripe Hass avocados
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 to 3 jalapeños (depending on your heat preference), stemmed, seeded and finely diced
Juice of 1 lime, about 3 tablespoons
2 to 3 tablespoons good tequila
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Lightly  warmed tortilla chips, for serving

Halve the avocados and remove the pits by whacking them with a knife blade and twisting them out. Use a spoon to scrape out the avocado flesh into a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork just until chunky. Add the cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, lime juice, tequila, salt and pepper and combine with the fork. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit more tequila. Serve at room temperature with plenty of warm tortilla chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

From “The Tipsy Vegan” by John Schlimm

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Get Ready for Super Bowl with Two Avocado Treats


Olé Avocado Strawberry Lime Mojito

More avocados are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year.

If you are looking for an easy way to get avocados on your table without adding more work to your list, check out Olé Avocado, a San Antonio-based guacamole company that has provided the following refreshing recipes. One is for a cocktail that takes a mojito and adds a host of new flavors. The other is for a seafood salad that will disappear from your table quickly.

Olé Avocado Strawberry Lime Mojito

2 ounces chilled simple syrup (combine 1 cup of water to ½ pound of sugar; cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved)
4 tablespoons guacamole, such as Olé Avocado
4 large strawberries, cleaned, hulled and dried
4 mint leaves, cleaned and dried
3 ounces rum
Juice of ½ lime
2 ounces club soda
4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend well. Serve in martini glasses or glasses of your choice. Large mint leaves can be used as garnish.

Makes 2 servings.

From Olé Avocado

Olé Avocado’s “Frutti di Mare” Seafood Cocktail

12 large shrimp, cleaned, shelled and deveined
6 sea scallops, cleaned and quartered
1 cup guacamole, such as Olé’ Avocado
2 tomatoes diced
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup water
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Ole’ Avocado’s 'Frutti di Mare' Seafood Cocktail

Place shrimp and scallops in microwave covered dish with water, cook 5 minutes, drain and cool in refrigerator 10 minutes. Combine guacamole, tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix together

After 10 minutes add chilled seafood to mixture. Place in small bowls or glasses. Serve with crackers or toasted crusty bread.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From Olé Avocado

 

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Cooking with Guac: Enter Olé Avocado Contest to Win $500


If you love guacamole (and we are pretty sure you do!) the Super (Guac) Bowl is coming up.

Olé Avocado is running contest to find the official “Guac Guru.” If you submit the winning recipe plus a short (50-word) essay, you can win $500 toward a Super Bowl party. Enter here.

All entries must be received by Jan. 27.  Check out Olé Avocado in the refrigerator section at local H-E-B stores for the pre-made guacamole.

Like to make your own? So do we. Here are our favorite tips for making, plus a recipe from Olé Avocado for its Guac & Rock Margarita.

Our tips for good guacamole:

• Buy avocados a couple of days early that are just a bit firmer than you want. Leave them out on a kitchen counter (direct sun not necessary) and by the time you want to use them, they will be just right.

• You can cut a brown spot or two out of the avocado if you find them, but what really matters is the taste. Taste the avocado before you add it to the bowl — if it tastes off (to us that is kind of a bacon-y taste, and not in a good way). Then, don’t use it.

• Leaving the pit in an avocado or in your guacamole doesn’t make it stay green. Two things we do: Squeeze in fresh lime or lemon juice, a tablespoon or so per medium-large avocado. This helps. Also, squeeze some more citrus on top, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

• Good additions (our opinion, of course!) are freshly mashed garlic; onion juice – shave knife across cut half of onion for this, and add a teaspoon or so. Minced onion tends to get soggy, as do diced tomatoes; olive oil – a teaspoonful or two of a good, acidic evoo does wonders for guac. Just trust us on this! Also, minced serrano chiles, just a little without seeds and some finely minced, fresh cilantro. Salt, a touch of white pepper. This is our purist version. We also like the Chili’s variation, which we developed a version of. Sometimes, we’ll also add a tablespoon or so of Herdez Salsa Verde.

• Additions we don’t use: Cottage cheese, chopped tomatoes (love tomatoes, consider dicing and serving alongside); mayonnaise, big hunks of cut up onion.

Olé Avocado’s Guac-N-Rock Margarita

Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1/4 orange
3-4 ice cubes
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
2 tablespoons Olé Avocado

Rim large margarita glass with juice from orange wedge and roll in salt/sugar blend. Blend other ingredients and pour in prepared glass. Garnish with another wedge or slice of orange. Serve icy cold.

Makes 1 margarita

From Olé Avocado

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Griffin to Go: Lobster Guacamole. Any Questions?


Lobster guacamole

It’s vacation time, and here I am in Maui, one of these most beautiful places I’ve had the fortune of seeing twice. My first dinner out this time was at Mama’s Fish House, a Pa’ia landmark that has justifiably earned the envy of many a restaurateur on this idyllic Hawaiian island. The seafood is impossibly fresh and flavorful. The half-open dining area, laden with fresh orchids and birds of paradise, makes you feel one with the environment. The service is friendly and formal without being haughty.

The setting surrounding the restaurant is as close to paradise one could want, with a view of Ku’au Cove, dotted by surfers and windsurfers, that will make you want to move here.

Can you understand why I promised myself a return trip to Mama’s if ever I made it back to the island?

I couldn’t wait to taste some of that brilliant just-caught fish again. Would it be something I hadn’t been able to find since my first visit, such as uku, or would it be a fish I had only read about? Perhaps it would be a new way to prepare mahi-mahi, the sweet-fleshed Hawaiian fish that has certainly earned a national following.

Yes, there were temptations galore, but one dish overrode everything else on the menu. And that was because it promised a taste of home mixed with the islands: lobster guacamole.

Two of my favorite words paired together. What could be better?

This wasn’t your typical Tex-Mex guac.

The view of Ku'au Cove from Mama's Fish House in Maui.

Instead of corn chips, the plate came garnished with a series of sweet potato crisps in various colors and shapes, all made in-house. (Once I get back home and make this for myself — and I will make this at some point — Terra chips will do just fine.)

The guacamole was made with buttery rich, ripe avocados mashed with a tiny touch of heat. I would probably use minced serrano and maybe some minced sweet onion to the mix, but the beauty of the dish was that the flavor of the avocado was enhanced, not masked. It was then topped with diced lobster meat and crowned with a wreath of microgreens that carried just a tiny bite.

Together, the ingredients offered a reminder of home while opening my eyes to a new world of flavor combinations. That’s the joy of giving comfort food a boost. It also makes travel all the more fun. I had the same feeling last fall when I tasted the truffled macaroni and cheese at Virginia’s Inn at Little Washington. And it’s what makes me start to dream of return trips.

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Grilled Tomato Guacamole


Only use ripe avocados when making guacamole.

“A little grill char on the tomatoes and green onions adds a lot of character to the guacamole,” writes Robb Walsh in “The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook” (Broadway Books, $18.99).

Grilled Tomato Guacamole

2 tomatoes, hard stem area removed
4 green onions
4 ripe avocados
1 cup minced red onion
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and leaves chopped
4 teaspoons freshly squeeze lime juice
Salt, to taste

Put the tomatoes and green onions on a hot grill, turning often. Cook until the green onions have some color and the tomatoes are nicely charred, but not falling apart. Allow to cool, then chop the tomatoes and green onions.

Scoop out the avocados and combine the fresh with the green onions, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Season with lemon juice and salt to taste. mix the guacamole until everything is just incorporated, but still chunky. Serve with tortilla chips as a dip or on lettuce as a salad.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

From “The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook” by Robb Walsh

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El Bucanero Reels In Some Fine Seafood Flavors


If I get asked one question more often than any other, it’s the one that starts with the phrase, “What’s your favorite …?” Already, I’ve been asked that about the restaurants along W.W. White more than a dozen times. It’s a hard one to answer when you look at the wealth of edible riches along the street, because that answer depends on what I’m in the mood to eat.

But I also have to say that I’ve been to El Bucanero, or Mariscos El Bucanero, three or four times in recent months, so it definitely has a hold on me.

I first discovered how good their food could be last fall, when the restaurant took part in the New World Wine & Food Festival’s Taste of Mexico and served a fresh ceviche to the throngs.

Food: 4.5
Service: 3.5
Value: 4.5

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

It took a invitation from friends a couple of months ago, though, to get me to the restaurant. There I discovered the joys of some of the best shrimp tacos I have ever tasted. The fried shrimp are as sweet and firm as you could want, wrapped in a warm, handmade corn tortilla. A creamy, tangy tartar sauce plus a sliver of perfectly ripe avocado on top pushed it over the top. The pickled carrots on the side made a nice accompaniment.

The fish tacos are just as good, with firm strips of fish in a corn meal batter tucked into the tortillas. If I prefer the shrimp version, it’s merely because I haven’t tasted shrimp quite that good in some time.

Other dishes that coaxed contented smiles included fried fish with garlic, shrimp with a smoky chipotle sauce and several styles of ceviche with pristine flavors bursting through the citrus marinade.

The folks at El Bucanero know how to make great guacamole. You might think that’s a commonplace in a town known for its Mexican food, but too few restaurants go beyond mashing avocado with fork and charging extra for it. Not here. El Bucanero’s recipe includes cilantro and plenty of pico de gallo incorporated to great effect. Spread on one of the house crescent moon tostada chips, the guac was gone quickly, as we battled over who got the last bite.

Service has been as attentive as you might expect for a homey, family place that’s often overrun with people. When a friend ordered beef on a Friday night during Lent, it took quite a while  for the plate to appear. In fact, the plate didn’t arrive until after the rest of us had finished. The waitress was so embarrassed by the delay that she took it off the bill.

No matter how many foodies hear about El Bucanero, the praises of which have been sung in such publications as Texas Monthly and the San Antonio Current, the clientele seems to remain local to the neighborhood. Don’t dismiss it lightly. You’ll be hard-pressed to find Mexican seafood in the city to equal this.

El Bucanero
2818 S. W.W. White Road
210-333-0909
Lunch and dinner daily.

Photos: Nicholas Mistry

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Holy Guacamole: It’s Simply Good


One of our perennial complaints about guacamole in San Antonio restaurants is that it is frequently no more than mashed avocado. This isn’t so bad when it’s really fresh, ripe avocado. You can add a little salsa, salt and lemon from your iced tea and get by. But the gooey olive green-turning-to-brown stuff is really bad.

The basis for a good guacamole is the fruit, of course; just at the best stage or ripeness, where it has a bit of firmness but easily mashes with a fork. Too soft, and the fresh taste leaves and (to me) a strange bacon-y taste takes over.  After the avocado, I like garlic, lemon or lime juice, salt, chopped cilantro, minced serrano, onion juice or sliced green onions, a dash of olive oil and a little Tabasco.

Olive oil? You might think adding evoo to guac is bringing coals to Newcastle. But olive oil is also monounsaturated, as is avocado oil, so it’s not unhealthy, particularly, and just adds a little more fat.  I like the flavor it adds — extra fruitiness and acid, and I also think it does something nice to the texture. It has been, in fact, my (no longer) secret ingredient.

Bonnie’s Guacamole

1 medium clove garlic, mashed and minced
2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
Juice from half a lemon or a whole smaller lime, watch for seeds
1 teaspoon onion juice (see note) OR 2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile, or to taste
Salt, to taste

Rub half the minced garlic around a plate-sized shallow bowl. Put the peeled and pitted avocados in the bowl and mash with a fork until it’s mixed, but leaving it at a rough texture. Add the rest of the garlic, the lemon or lime juice, onion juice (see note below) or minced green onion, cilantro, olive oil, red wine vinegar, Tabasco and serrano chiles. Gently stir in the ingredients, taste for salt and add as much as you like.

Note: For onion juice, slice an onion in half. Then, hold the sharp blade of a French knife at an angle, at the top of one half on the cut side, and push it down over the raw onion so that juice and a little pulp flow out. I especially like to do this if the guacamole needs to keep for a day, or overnight. Diced raw onion gets soggy.

Also: Putting pits in the guacamole doesn’t keep it from turning brown. But the lemon juice and vinegar help, as does putting a length of plastic wrap over the top of the bowl, bringing it down to touch the surface of the guacamole. Air causes the oxidation that turns the green to brown.

Makes 2-2 1/2 cups guacamole.

From Bonnie Walker

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Chef’s Corner: Rosario’s Shrimp Nachos


Rosarios Shrimp NachosWith two popular downtown  San Antonio restaurants to her credit, Lisa Wong continues to reign among the city’s top restaurateurs.  Rosario’s Mexican Cafe y Cantina, 910 S. Alamo St., and Acenar, 146 E. Houston St., are popular with tourists, but also bring plenty of San Antonio locals downtown.

Rosario’s Shrimp Nachos are perennial favorites.  The warmed pico de gallo makes a flavorful sauce and the combination of shrimp and melted cheese can’t go wrong.

Rosario’s Shrimp Nachos

Nachos:
6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
12 fried tortilla chips for nachos, preferably homemade
Pico de gallo
1/4-to 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Guacamole, your recipe, for garnish
Pico de gallo:
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup white onion, diced
7 or 8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Lisa Wong of Rosario'sTo make pico de gallo: Place tomato, onion, cilantro, minced and seeded jalapeño and lime juice in one bowl. Mix well, then set aside.

To make nachos: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice shrimp in half lengthwise for 12 pieces.  Over low-to-medium heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Add shrimp and sauté about 1 minute per side or until cooked through. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Sauté pico de gallo in same pan with remaining butter-garlic mixture for 1-2 minutes till cooked through.  Set aside.

Take 12 nacho chips (triangular corn chips, homemade preferred) and place on cookie sheet. Place a shrimp half on each chip and top with pico de gallo and grated Monterey Jack cheese. Place in oven until the cheese is melted and the nachos are hot.

After you take them out of the oven top each nacho with guacamole and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From Lisa Wong of Rosario’s.

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