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Archive for Spreads/Dips/Salsa

TIP: Create A DIY Guacamole Party Bar

/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/guacamole sabrinamodelle calavocomm 230

Guacamole with crispy bacon and shredded
cheddar. Here’s the recipe. Photo and recipe
courtesy Sabrina Modelle | The Tomato Tart
via California Avocado Commission.

 

National Guacamole Day is September 16th, and we wondered: If there are salad bars and frozen yogurt bars, cereal bars, baked potato bars and chili bars*, why not a guacamole bar? Who doesn’t love the opportunity to customize their foods?

Individual bowls and an array of ingredients enable each person to start with a base of smashed avocado, and pile on the fixings. They can then be mixed in or eaten as is—a mountain of flavors and textures.

Whether for a general party or drinks, we like to include a crunchy salad base, to make a more substantial dish. We prefer shredded cabbage, a.k.a. coleslaw mix. You end up with “guacamole coleslaw” at the bottom of the dish.
 
INGREDIENTS FOR A GUACAMOLE PARTY BAR

To encourage creativity, mix some non-traditional items (bacon? mint? pineapple?) with traditional ones.

  • Avocado: mashed, smashed or diced†
  • Cheese: crumbled cotija, goat cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco or queso oaxaca; shredded cheddar or jack
  • Diced veggies: bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, green and/or red onion, jicama, radish, tomatillo, tomato/sundried tomato
  • Seasonings: cayenne, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and/or minced garlic, hot sauce, lemon and/or lime wedges, paprika, salt/seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce
  • Heat: chile flakes, minced chipotle and jalapeño‡
  • Herbs: chives, cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Salad base: arugula, chicory, escarole, iceberg, radicchio, romaine, shredded cabbage, watercress
  • Toppings: bacon, corn, crushed pineapple, diced mango, olives, salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, toasted nuts
  •  
    Plus:

  • Chips and dippers: celery sticks, crostini (toasted or grilled baguette slices), endive leaves, pita chips, tortilla chips, flatbread
  • Drinks: beer, white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or other crisp, medium-body white wine), white sangria
  •  
    Set the dishes on a table or buffet in this order: bowls, salad, avocado, veggies, heat, seasonings and toppings; include serving utensils with each option.

    At the end of the table, place the forks and spoons for blending and napkins, and dinner plates for the individual bowls and chips. Place large bowls of chips or other dippers on the tables.
     
    ___________________________
    *More food bar ideas: Breakfast & Brunch Bar, Lunch & Dinner Bar and Dessert Bar.

    †Hass avocados are preferred. While other varieties are larger, the Hass variety is creamier, a desired characteristic for guacamole.

    ‡To accommodate those who just like a little heat, have two bowls of jalapeño: one minced and served as is, one with the heat-carrying seeds removed before mincing.

     

    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in what we now call Central America for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs‡‡ called it ahuacatl; the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they adopted.

    The name guacamole comes from Mexican Spanish via the Nahuatl “ahuacamOlli,” a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” 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 anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

     

    Guacamole On Spoon

    Custom-blending guacamole is not only fun; you get exactly what you want. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    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.”
     
    ‡‡The Aztecs, who probably originated as a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico, arrived in Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 13th century.

     
    FUN FACTS

  • Avocados been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
  • Avocados have more potassium that a banana, plus many other health benefits (here are the 12 health benefits of avocado).
  • Leaving the pit in to keep it from browning doesn’t really work.
  • The largest-ever serving of guacamole weighed 2,669.5 kg (5,885.24 lbs), created by the Municipality of Tancítaro Michoacan in Tancítaro, Mexico, on April 4th 2013. But how many tortilla chips were needed?
  • During festivities for the last Super Bowl, 104.2 million pounds of avocados were consumed nationally, mostly as guacamole.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chimichurri Sauce

    Each country in Latin America has a national salsa, or sauce. In Argentina, it’s chimichurri.

    Chimichurri sauce is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, white or red vinegar and red pepper flakes. Oregano can be added. Cilantro can replace parsley in some regions; vegetable oil can replace the olive oil.

    The original sauce is green from the parsley; later red versions add tomatoes, red bell peppers and/or hot chiles.

    In beef-endowed Argentina chimichurri is the steak sauce of choice, also used with other beef-based dishes and any grilled meats.

    As one story goes, the name name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe in Argentina. However, there is no written documentation of this.

    Purportedly, McCurry was sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence in the 19th century, and served in a troop under the command of General Jasson Ospina. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri” sauce (pronounced chimmy CHOO-ree).

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/grilled rib eye steak with chimichurri sauce dartagnan 230r

    Classic: grilled beef with chimichurri sauce. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

     
    Another theory is that the name comes from the Basque settlers who arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to grilling expert Steve Raichlen, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order.” [Source: Raichlen, Steven, “Planet Barbecue!,” Workman Publishing Company. p. 159. ]

    It’s easy to make chimichurri in a blender or food processor; but purists may want to make it the original way, with a mortar and pestle. We find that pesto made this way tastes better than food processor pesto, even when the exact same ingredients are used.
     
    RECIPE: BASIC CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Ideally, make the chimichurri sauce a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves, tightly packed
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves or 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute total.

    2. ADD the oil in a steady stream, with the motor running. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine.

    3. TRANSFER the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, allowing the flavors to meld. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

     

    Grilled Halloumi With Chimichurri Sauce

    This chimichurri sauce has been made elegant by pureeing. It’s served with a vegetarian dish, Grilled Halloumi And trumpet Mushrooms. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

     

    CREATE YOUR SIGNATURE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    You can adding or substitute other ingredients to create a signature chimichurri:

  • Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar.
  • Use fresh or roasted chiles instead of the red pepper flakes.
  • Add minced onion.
  • Try balsamic or flavored vinegar instead of wine vinegar
  • Give it an Asian spin with fresh ginger and mint, or an Indian influence of green curry and cilantro.
  • Turn it into mint sauce by substituting mint for the parsley; or make a parsley-mint blend.
  • Substitute basil for “Caprese sauce.”
  • Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard.
  • Make red chimichurri sauce by adding red bell peppers and/or raw or roasted tomatos (Red Chimichurri Rcipe).
  • For elegance, purée the naturally textured sauce into a smooth one (see photo at left).
  •  
    21+ WAYS TO USE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Like Italy’s pesto, chimichurri is a bright green, herb-based, versatile sauce that you can use with:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Burgers
  • Caprese salad dressing
  • Crostini (serve the toasts with grilled meats)
  • Eggs, any style
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Fries and onion rings
  • Grilled fish or seafood (recipe: Mango Grilled Shrimp With Chimichurri Grilled Mango-Citrus Chimichurri Shrimp)
  • Grilled halloumi or other grilling cheese (see photo above)
  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb, pork
  • Hot dogs, brats and other sausages
  • Marinades (add more oil, vinegar, citrus juice or and/or water to thin out)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta (toss pasta lightly with EVOO before adding the chimichurri)
  • Rice and other cooked grains
  • Soup and stew garnish
  • Tacos
  • Tofu
  • Sandwich spread (mix with mayo or mustard)
  • Vegetarian dishes, including veggie wraps
  • Vinaigrette
  • Yogurt sauce (blend into plain Greek yogurt)
  •  
    Other ideas? Post them here.
     
    SEE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SALSA IN OUR SALSA GLOSSARY.

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Pineapple Salsa

    blueberry-pineapple-salsa-blueberrycouncil-230

    A salsa with something special: blueberries! Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    July is National Blueberry Month, and the price of the little blue nuggets should be at its lowest. In fact, experts recommend that blueberry lovers with lots of freezer space buy and freeze them to enjoy in winter. (Freezing tip: First freeze the berries in one layer in baking pan or rimmed cookie sheet so they don’t stick together; then store in freezer bags.)

    But our focus today is on summer and fruit salsa, with this recipe from the Blueberry Council. Use it with tortilla chips or to top grilled fish or chicken. We also like it as a topping for lemon sorbet (without the red onion)!

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY PINEAPPLE SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, pineapple, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and red onion. Season with salt, taste and add more lime juice as needed.

    2. SERVE with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

    Find more delicious recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org. Check out the savory blueberry pizza!
     
    BLUEBERRY BUYING TIPS

    When you buy fresh blueberries, look for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery white surface bloom. If the bloom is gone, the berries are old.

    If you see juice stains on the bottom of the container of blueberries, the fruit can be bruised. Pick another carton.

    Berry size isn’t an indicator of maturity, but color is: The berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, and won’t ripen after they are picked (but you can use them in cooking).

    Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Wash the blueberries just before using.

    Don’t buy more than you’ll use, and and eat them within 10 days of purchase (the sooner, the better).

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Salsa For National Salsa Month

    Five_Pepper_Salsa-melissas-230

    Salsa fresca, made with raw ingredients. Other salsas are cooked. Photo courtesy Melissa’s.

     

    Salsa, which has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000 (when it supplanted ketchup),actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The chile was domesticated around 5200 B.C.E., and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E. both in Central America. The Aztecs combined the two, often along with other ingredients like beans and squash seeds, into a condiment, which the Conquistadors named “salsa,” or sauce. Here’s the history of salsa.

    May is National Salsa Month. If you’ve never made salsa at home, now’s the time.

    Basic salsa couldn’t be easier: salsa fresca, “fresh salsa” made with raw ingredients, is a combination of chopped tomatoes, onions, chiles and lime juice.

  • You can customize your salsa with beans, bell peppers, cilantro, corn kernels, and fresh herbs.
  • You can vary the texture: uncooked salsas can be puréed until smooth, chopped finely like pico de gallo or be served semi-chunky, in which case it is called a salsa cruda.
  •  

  • You can include Old World ingredients like garlic and olives.
  • You can add fruit—mango, nectarine, peach and pineapple are the most popular—for sweet heat.
  • You can make salsa verde, green salsa, by substituting tomatillos or avocado for tomatoes (guacamole is avocado salsa; the tomatillo is not a small green tomato but a relative of the gooseberry).
  • You can vary the chile flavor and strength, from mild to hot, from green and vegetal to smoky chipotle.
  •  
    If you want to make a cooked salsa, another world of ingredients opens, including roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes to.
     
    USING MORE THAN ONE CHILE

    There are many easy recipes for salsa fresca; most use jalapeño chiles. But you can layor the chile flavors by adding other varieties.

    We adapted this recipe from one for Five Chile Salsa from Melissas.com. It adds an Anaheim chile to the jalapeño.

    The Anaheim chile was developed around 1900 in Anaheim, California from New Mexican pasilla chiles. (See the different types of chiles.)

    The Anaheim is not a hot chile. It has a modest heat level, as low as 1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Jalapeños are about 10,000 SHU, while habaneros are 100,000 SHU or more.

    Bell peppers are also chiles (all chiles come from the genus Capsicum), but they have no heat. Chiles, new world fruits, were mis-named “peppers” by Columbus’s sailors, who compared their heat to black pepper (no relation).

    While much of the world continues to use the misnomer “pepper,” we use it only for bell peppers, calling all other varieties by their proper name, chile.

     

    RECIPE: THREE CHILE SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 3 roma* (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 Anaheim chile
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • Juice of one lime or lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEED and dice the tomatoes and peppers, chop the cilantro and red onion.

    2. MIX the tomatoes and peppers in a bowl with the cilantro and red onion.

     

    salsa-baked-potato-TexaSweet-230

    Top a baked potato with salsa, with or without sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

     
    3. JUICE the lime or lemon over the other chopped ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.

    4. MIX the ingredients until well combined, serve with tortilla chips, or as a garnish.

     
    *Named after the city of Rome, Roma tomatoes are also known as Italian tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes.
     
    WAYS TO ENJOY SALSA

    Breakfast

  • On eggs as a garnish
  • Mixed into frittatas and omelets
  •  
    Lunch

  • As a sandwich condiment—especially with grilled cheese or roasted veggies
  • Mixed into chicken, egg, macaroni, potato or tuna salad
  • With fries, instead of ketchup
  • With anything Tex-Mex
  •  
    Dinner

  • As a sauce for seafood cocktail (add some horseradish!)
  • Atop a baked potato, or mixed into mashed potatoes
  • Made into compound butter and served as a pat atop grilled meats
  • Mixed with cooked rice or other grains
  • With mac and cheese
  •  
    Snacks

  • Mixed into deviled eggs
  • Mixed into a dip with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt
  • On nachos
  • With chips
  • With crudités
  •  
    What’s your favorite use? Let us know!

      

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    RECIPE: Lobster Guacamole

    In the chips? Add lobster to your guacamole!

    This recipe is adapted from one sent to us by Dos Caminos restaurant in New York City.

    RECIPE: LOBSTER GUACAMOLE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped white onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño or serrano chilies (seeds and membranes removed for less heat)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 2 large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small plum tomato, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 pound whole lobster or 4 ounces lobster meat, steamed, cleaned and rough chopped
  • Tortilla chips
  •    

    lobster-guacamole-temazcalcantinaboston-230

    Fancy schmancy: lobster guacamole. Photo courtesy Temazcal Cantina | Boston.

     

    Garnishes

  • Optional garnish #1: Japanese pickled ginger (a.k.a. gari or shoga—here’s a recipe to make your own)
  • Optional garnish #2: Diced tomatoes, extra lobster meat
  •  

    mango-lime-bowl-cabochips-230

    Tortilla chips taste so much better when warmed in the oven before serving. Photo courtesy Cabo Chips.

     

    Preparation

    1. MASH 1 tablespoon of cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion, 1 teaspoon minced chile and the salt together in a medium size bowl, using the back of a spoon to mash against the bottom of the bowl.

    2. ADD the chopped lobster to the bowl. Add the avocados and gently mash them with a fork until chunky-smooth.

    3. FOLD in the remaining cilantro, onion and chile. Stir in the tomatoes and lime juice; taste to adjust the seasonings.

    4. GARNISH with the pickled ginger or extra cilantro. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.
     
    TO WARM TORTILLA CHIPS

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper (optional, for easier clean-up).

    2. ADD the tortilla in a single even layer. Heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the chips are warm.

     

      

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