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TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Spice Up National Spicy Guacamole Day

November 14th is National Spicy Guacamole Day. If you don’t like heat, regular National Guacamole Day is September 16th.

Most people make guacamole to taste, adding crushed red chile flakes, some hot sauce, or minced jalapeños.

But you can use different types of heat, all of which provide slightly different nuances to the heat.

 
WAYS TO SPICE UP GUACAMOLE

1. HOT MIX-INS

Add more heat in your favorite forms. You can divide the batch to test your preferences.

  • Alpeppo pepper: Crushed red crushed flakes from Syria (and to a lesser extent, Turkey) with a deep, rich aroma some compare to ancho, plus a sweet fruitiness.
  • Cayenne and/or red chili flakes: The longstanding classics.
  • Gochujang: A pungent and savory condiment made from fermented soy beans and red chili peppers. It is traditionally used to season Korean foods like kimchi.
  • Harissa: A paste typically made from various dried red chili peppers, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds and garlic.
  • Hot mustard: A hotter mustard, like Chinese mustard. Look for Colman’s in powder or prepared mustard.
  • Hot oil: chile-infused oil and mustard oil are two options. Alternatively, you can drizzle them on top of the bowl as a garnish.
  • Hot sauce: Note that more than a few drops of red hot sauce will darken the guacamole. If you want to use a lot, look for a green hot sauce, made from green chiles.
  • Jalapeño, habanero or other hot chile: Use green to blend in or red for contrast (red chiles have more heat). Mince them.
  • Onions: White onions are the hottest, followed by red onions. Mince them.
  • Prepared white horseradish: Save the red for a garnish.
  • Sriracha: A hot sauce that originated in Thailand, made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar.
  • Wasabi: Paste or powder, this relative of western horseradish, from Japan, adds heat without prominent horseradish flavor.
  •  
    2. SPICY TOPPINGS/GARNISHES

  • Horseradish: Grated fresh horseradish or prepared red horseradish, which is white horseradish colored with beets. It makes a bright rim around the surface perimeter of the bowl.
  • Microgreens: arugula or mustard.
  • Radishes: a fine dice.
  • Red horseradish: White
  • Spicy pumpkin seeds: Make your own or buy SuperSeedz in Somewhat Spicy or Super Spicy.
  • Szechuan peppercorns: The tingling sensation has a slow onset and lingers for a long time. Crush it as a garnish. Szechuan peppercorn is not a true peppercorn, but a member of the citrus family typically. The different types of pepper.
  •  
    BEYOND TORTILLA CHIPS: WAYS TO SERVE GUACAMOLE

    Before it became a dip with tortilla chips, guacamole was an all-purpose sauce (see the History Of Guacamole in the next section). Today, you have a broad choice of how to use it, beyond Tex-Mex, with:

  • Anything grilled
  • Avocado toast (with or without a fried egg) or omelet filling
  • Baked potatoes
  • Burger topping (photo #4 above)
  • Chicken salad: blend with mayonnaise
  • Cobb salad, instead of sliced avocado
  • Condiment/topping for fish
  • Deviled eggs
  • Flatbread: with any topping from arugula and bacon to sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • Guacamole mayonnaise: half and half, or however you like it
  • Hot dog topping
  • Hummus: ditto
  • Mayonnaise substitute
  • Pizza: instead of tomato sauce, topped with bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, red onion, chicken, whatever
  • Sandwich spread: on a BLT, ham, turkey, veggie or other favorites sandwich
  • Stacked appetizer: alternate with layers of salmon or tuna tartare (photo #3 above)
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Tortilla chip alternatives: Japanese black sesame rice crackers, Swedish flatbread like Wasa crispbread
  •  

    Guacamole With Crudites

    Guacamole-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Tuna Tartare On Guacamole

    Burger With Guacamole

    Tuna Guacamole Hors d'Oeuvre

    Avocados On Tree

    [1] Spicy guacamole with crudités (photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog). [2] Guacamole-stuffed cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy Frontera Fiesta). [3] Spicy guacamole under tuna tartare (photo courtesy Chicago Cut Steakhouse). [4] Burger with guacamole (photo courtesy The Organic Grill). [5] Guacamole-tuna hors d’oeuvre (photo courtesy Ippudo | NYC). [6] Avocados on the tree (photo courtesy Avocados From Chile).

     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in the area for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs called it ahuacatl (ah-ha-kwa-tay); the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard the word as aguacate, ah-hwah-cah-tay, the spelling and pronounciation they adopted. The sauce made from it evolved into was ahuacamOlli, a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce].

    Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples With Honey, Fruit Dip With Chutney

    For the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah—which begins Sunday at sunset—apple slices and honey represent wishes for a sweet new and fruitful year.

    This simple combination is so yummy, we wonder why it isn’t a regular snack for everybody.

    The recipe is simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Small bowl of honey
  • Cocktail napkins to catch honey drips
  • Optional small plates
  •  
    You can make it into a bigger event with spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai; or mulled cider or mulled wine. If the day is warm: iced tea.

    Why apples?

    According to Reform Judiasm, neither the Bible nor the Talmud dictates the minhag, or custom, of dipping apples in honey. It has nothing to do with eating the apple in the Garden of Eden: The Bible never identifies the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16–17).

    Over the millennia, scholars have variously interpreted the fruit as the apple, carob, citron, datura, fig, grape, pear, pomegranate and quince.

    However, the Midrash, a method of interpreting bible stories, says the Garden of Eden had the scent of an apple orchard. In Kabbalah the Garden Of Eden is called “the holy apple orchard.”
    More likely, apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish relationship to God. In just one source, the Zohar (a 13th-century Jewish mystical text), it states that beauty, represented by God, “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.”

    Why is the apple used in all the Garden of Eden paintings?

    It was chosen as the by Western European painters.

    Why honey?

    The customary New Year’s greeting, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year), has existed at least since the 7th century.

    Honey—whether from bees, dates or figs—was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world. But in the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from bees.

    Why join in on the custom?

    So go forth and acquire apples and honey, and serve this sweet treat at home: at breakfast, for snacking, or as dessert at lunch and dinner.

    Check out the different types of honey, and use the occasion for a tasting.

    Invite friends and family. You don’t have to come from a certain culture to enjoy their food—as most Americans are fortunate to know.

     
    RECIPE #1: CHUTNEY FRUIT DIP

    Not a fan of honey? You can make a fruit dip from chutney, jam or preserves (the differences) with plain yogurt, sour cream or yogurt, or a blend. Add a dab of mayo if you like. Stir in the fruit condiments to taste.

       

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Honey: the original fruit dip? In biblical times, a paste of dates, also called honey, was used. [1] Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF. [3] Photo courtesy Between The Bread | NYC. [3] An idea from Martha Stewart: hollow out an apple to hold the honey.

     
    You can use any flavor of fruit. This recipe, from B & R Farms (photo #4), uses their Dried Apricot Chutney. The cream cheese makes a thicker dip, and the following proportions make two cups, enough for a group.
     
    Ingredients

  • Fruits of choice: apples but also a mixed platter of bananas, grapes, kiwi, melons, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces light sour cream
  • ½ cup chutney
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients well and refrigerate in a covered dish. When ready to serve, wash and slice the fruit and place as desired on a platter.

    2. Stir the dip and place in a bowl. The dip keeps for a few days; stir well before each use.

     

    Apricot Chutney Dip

    Honey Glazed Apples

    [43] Fruit platter with apricot chutney dip from B&R Farms (use any chutney, jam or preserves). [5] Glazed honey apples from Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: GLAZED HONEY-CINNAMON APPLES

    We adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, substituting honey for table sugar (photo #5).

    Enjoy them plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of raisins or dried cranberries; or with a creamy topping.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 3 hours in a slow cooker. Alternatively, you can sauté the apples.
     
    Ingredients For 7 Servings

  • 6 large tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Optional garnish: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Topping: heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL, core and cut each apple into eight wedges. Transfer to a 3-quart slow cooker. Drizzle with lemon juice.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle with the melted butter.

    3. COVER and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until apples are tender.

     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS:
    SUGAR, MAPLE, SYRUPS & MORE

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Salsa Gazpacho & 15 More Uses For Salsa

    Salsa  Gazpacho

    Shrimp Cocktail With Salsa

    Salsa

    [1] Salsa-based gazpacho (photo courtesy Knudsen). [2] Shrimp cocktail with salsa; add avocado and lime wedge for a “Mexican shrimp cocktail” (photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com. [3] Grab your favorite salsa from the shelf and check out the 15 ideas below (photo courtesy Mrs. Renfro’s).

     

    If you have more salsa than you need, turn it into a refreshing gazpacho. Or use it in one of the 15 different options below.

    While most Americans think of salsa as a snack with tortilla chips, it began as a general sauce for cooked foods in Mexico. Tortilla chips weren’t invented until the 1940s, in Los Angeles (the history of tortilla chips).

    There is no one salsa recipe: Every region of Latin America has its own style, with recipes divided between tomato-based red salsas and tomatillo-based green salsas. Within each category are many different salsa styles (see our Salsa Glossary).

    You can find dozens of ways to use salsa beyond Tex-Mex. It’s a great pantry item to grab when you need to make—or fix—something, as you’ll see in the list below this salsa recipe.
     
    BONUS: ¼ cup of tomato-based salsa counts as a one serving of vegetables!

    RECIPE: SALSA GAZPACHO

    Ingredients

  • 8-ounce jar mild salsa (or your favorite type—you can even use fruit salsa)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped and seeded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime (2-3 tablespoons in a medium lemon, 2 tablespoons in the average lime)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: small dice cucumber and bell pepper, cilantro leaves or whatever you have*
  • Optional garnish: Greek yogurt or sour cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROLL the room temperature lemon or lime on the counter, pressing down. This will release more juice.

    2. PURÉE the salsa in a blender or food processor. Mix with the other ingredients (except garnishes) in a mixing bowl.

    3. REFRIGERATE for an hour or more, covered, to allow the flavors to meld.

    4. POUR into serving bowls or cups, garnish and serve.
     
    _____________________
    *Use diced avocado, chopped fresh herbs, carrot coins or radish slices, corn kernels…just look in the fridge and the pantry.

     

    MORE USES FOR SALSA

    Salsa is a versatile ingredient. Beyond Tex-Mex cuisine, you can use different types of salsa for even more variety. For example, you can use a sweeter fruit salsa to make omelet toppings/fillings or sauces for grilled meats, even as a garnish for pound cake or sorbet.
     
    Condiment, Dip, Garnish Or Spread

  • Baked potato: Mix with plain yogurt or sour cream for a spicy topping.
  • Bruschetta or crostini: Mexican-style (the difference between bruschetta and crostini).
  • Cracker spread: Top a brick of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese and serve with crackers, toasts, baguette slices, etc.
  • Dip: Mix with ketchup, mayonnaise, plain yogurt or sour cream as a dip for chips, crudités, fries, etc.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich: Instead of tomato slices, use salsa—especially when tomatoes are not in season.
  • Ketchup substitute: From breakfast eggs to lunch burgers to meat loaf and grilled meats, poultry and seafood for dinner, salsa adds some spice.
  • Mac and cheese: Use as a garnish instead of bread crumbs.
  • Queso: Mix with cheese sauce for a queso, a popular Mexican dip and sauce (tip: you can substitute Velveeta—not as elegant but so much quicker).
  • Seafood: Substitute for cocktail sauce with a seafood cocktail; serve as a sauce with cooked fish.
  •  
    Flavor Booster

  • Compound butter: Make compound butter, refrigerate, and have an “instant” sauce for anything, including proteins, rice and other grains, vegetables.
  • Eggs: Stir into scrambled eggs or add to frittatas, omelets and shakshouka (Eggs in Purgatory).
  • Hearty dishes: Perk up casseroles, soups and stews.
  • Marinade: Add salsa to oil and lime juice, and you don’t need extra seasonings. It’s the same for a ceviche marinade.
  • Tomato sauce: Use it on pasta and pizza.
  • Season anything: From deviled eggs to stuffed mushrooms to Bloody Marys.
  •  
    Have other ideas for salsa? Let us know!

     

    Queso Dip With Salsa

    Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Salsa Burger

    [1] Make a queso dip with salsa and cheese sauce (a quick substitute is Velveeta; photo courtesy El Original | NYC). [2] This {Chicken fajita” grilled cheese adds a layer of salsa, which also works on a plain grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s the recipe from ClosetCooking.com. [2] A salsa-topped burger or cheeseburger hits the spot (photo courtesy Pace).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve A Guacamole Trio

    Guacamole Recipes

    Chunky Guacamole

    Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Top: Serve three different guacamole “flavors” at once (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). Center: Chunky guacamole (photo courtesy Calavo Growers). Bottom: Guacamole in cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy FronteraFiesta.com).

     

    So many guacamole recipes, so little time!

    The solution: Make guacamole trios, three different recipes at a time. Here are some favorites of ours:

  • Bacon Cheddar Guacamole Recipe
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini Recipe and Deconstructed Guacamole Crostini
  • Roasted Corn Guacamole Recipe
  • Sour Cream Guacamole Recipe
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    You can also go for the Do-It-Yourself option: a Guacamole Party Bar. With the mashed avocado, lime juice and salt, provide some of the following:

  • Tomato group: tomato, tomatillo, salsa, sundried tomatoes
  • Onion group: chives, onion, green onion/scallion, pickled onions, red onion, shallots
  • Heat: chili flakes, minced chiles, hot sauce
  • Cheese: blue cheese, cotija, queso fresco, grated cheddar (try jalapeño cheddar) or jack
  • Creamy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Fruit: dried fruits, mango, melon, papaya, pomegranate arils, strawberry
  • Herbs: basil, bell pepper, cayenne, cilantro, garlic cloves, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, jicama, radish/daikon
  • Wild card: bacon, crab meat, minced pork or ham, olives, toasted nuts
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    And then, there’s Crocamole, a crodadile-shaped presentation for kids.

    Serve a trio of chips, too: perhaps yellow tortilla chips, blue tortilla chips and pita chips.

     
    Also check out this fusion recipes from California Avocado Growers for Cajun Guacamole, French Guacamole, Greek Guacamole, Italian guacamole, Japanese guacamole.

    There are 21 pages of guacamole recipes on the website, including a Cranberry Guacamole recipe for the holidays.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the wild avocado, a tree fruit that had grown in the region for millions of years. Dating back to Mayan times (pre-Aztec), guacamole was made from avocado, onion, chiles, fresh tomato, and salt, a recipe that is still made today.

    The conquering Aztecs called the avocado ahuacatl. The “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, hence, ah-hwa-CAH-tay. AhuacamOlli (ah-waka-MOLE-ee) is a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

     
    When the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés arrived in 1519, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they used. In Spanish, ahuacamOlli became guacamole (huac-ah-MOE-lay).

    Guacamole ingredients were mashed in a molcajete (mol-cah-HET-tay), a Mexican pestle carved from volcanic stone (today granite is an easier-to-clean option). Over time, different regions of Mexico mixed in local ingredients, creating countless variations.

    Ahuacatl, avocado, first meant “testicle” in Nahuatl. The Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by any genteel person concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the polite name, “alligator pear.”
     
      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES: Irish Spuds & Green Dip With Green Beer

    Green Beer & Fries

    Green Food Color

    St. Pat’s snack: wedge fries, green dip and a green beer. You can color any light-hued food green. Photos courtesy McCormick.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day you’ll be able to buy green-tinted bagels, beer, donuts, and more; but you can also plan to color your own foods.

    Chocolate chip cookies? Mashed potatoes? Milk? Oatmeal? Pancakes? With a bottle of green food color you can have a blast/

    Here are three recipes from McCormick, maker of that green food color, to add to the collection: Irish Spuds With Green Ranch Dip, Green Beer and Leprechaun Lemonade.

    For St. Patrick’s Day fun, color your food green.

    Here, roasted potato wedges and crudites are dipped in a green-tinted ranch dressing and served with green beer or “Leprechaun Lemonade.”

     
    RECIPE: IRISH SPUDS WITH GREEN RANCH DIP

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds russet* baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried parsley or other green herb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup ranch dressing†
  • 1/4 teaspoon green food color (20 to 25 drops)
  • Crudités: 2-3 varieties of raw vegetables
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Cut the potatoes into 3-1/2-inch wedges and place them in a large bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat well.

    2. MIX the chili powder, optional parsley and salt. Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. While the potatoes are baking, slice the crudités.

    4. MIX the ranch dressing and food color in medium bowl until well blended. Serve it as a dip with the potato wedges and crudités.
    _______________________________
    *Idaho is a brand name for russet potatoes grown in Idaho.
    †If you want to make your own dressing, here’s a ranch dressing recipe.

     
    RECIPE: GREEN BEER

    Ingredients Per 12-Ounce Beer

  • 1 can (12 ounces) light-colored beer (Pale Ale, Pilsner or other Pale Lager, Wheat Beer)
  • 5 to 6 drops green food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the food color in a glass. Add the beer and stir gently until evenly tinted.

     

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups lemonade‡
  • 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 15 drops green food color
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in a pitcher. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
     
    Variations

  • For Strawberry Leprechaun Lemonade, use replace the raspberry extract with strawberry extract.
  • For an adult version, stir in 1/2 cup Limoncello or a clear spirit (cachaça, gin, rum, tequila, vodka); or 1/4 cup of each.
  •  

    Green Lemonade Recipe

    Leprechaun Lemonade can be turned into a cocktail with Limoncello and/or a clear spirit. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    __________________________
    ‡Here’s a recipe for homemade lemonade.

      

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