May 4, 2009

Salud! L’Chaim! Cheers!


Welcome, welcome, welcome—whether you are an avid foodie, beginning cook, food-blog enthusiast, or just here for the pretty pictures, I hope you’ll find Blue Jean Gourmet to be a fun, un-intimidating resource for really good food and straightforward kitchen advice.  Please make yourself at home.

We’re launching today on Cinco de Mayo–I can’t think of a better occasion!  What other holiday gives me an excuse (not like I need one) to whip up a batch of guacamole and a blender-full of margaritas?  I’m so excited to share these two recipes with you as they are the perfect encapsulation of what the Blue Jean Gourmet philosophy is all about: really good food does not have to be really fussy.  Both of these recipes are a cinch to make with quality ingredients and a little practice.  Sure, pre-prepared guacamole and bottled margarita mix are readily available, but neither can hold a candle to their homemade counterparts.   You’ll wow everyone (including yourself) and never go back to the packaged stuff.

I also love these recipes because they literally tell the story of how I ended up here in the first place.  You see, long ago my newlywed parents worked at a Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee.  My father was the manager, my mom a bartender–I really love the fact that my Indian immigrant mother used to tend bar in a Mexican restaurant in the deep South–only in America, right?

Mom’s good looks earned her many tips and opportunities to hone her margarita-making skills, and my father continued to work for Pancho’s for many years, cementing my family’s love affair with all things Tex-Mex.  When I make my own version of these recipes now, I feel I have earned my place in my family’s rich, weird culinary history.

Since Blue Jean Gourmet is just now making its way into the web-world, please check back periodically for added features and new posts.  You can also follow BJG on Twitter, become a BJG fan on Facebook, or use good-old-fashioned email to contact the Blue Jean Gourmet herself (that’s me!): bluejeangourmet (at) gmail (dot) com.  I’d love to have your thoughts and feedback: is there a food item you would like to see featured?  Cooking technique you want to master?  Let me know and I will do my best to help you out.

In the meantime, invite some friends over and give these recipes a whirl.  You can make Cinco de Mayo last all week!


a well-stocked liquor cabinet

Makes 4 generous servings, doubles well!

8 oz (1 cup) fresh-squeezed lime juice (trust me, it’s worth the trouble)
juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup tequila (the better the quality, the better the margarita)
1/4 cup Cointreau or other orange liquor (Triple Sec, Grand Marnier)
2 T Minute Maid frozen limeade (more if you prefer a sweeter drink)*

Frozen margaritas–Fill a blender with 3 cups of ice.  Pour in liquid ingredients; blend, serve.
Margaritas on the rocks–Stir liquid ingredients together in a pitcher; serve over ice.
To salt glasses–Rub the rim of an empty glass with a lime wedge.  Pour 2 T kosher salt (looks pretty, but regular will do just fine) onto a small plate.  Turn glass upside down and, using a rocking motion, dip the rim in salt, rotating to coat the entire rim.


IT’S HANDY: Leftover margarita mix keeps perfectly well in a tightly-sealed jar in the fridge.  Cocktails at a moment’s notice!

* This is my mom’s genius secret ingredient–it’s cheap, keeps forever in the fridge, & saves you from having to make simple syrup.



3 ripe avocados*
juice of 1 lime
2 small cloves or 1 large clove garlic (less if you aren’t a fanatic like me)
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

First, sprinkle the garlic with a generous pinch of salt.  Using a knife with a wide blade, chop the garlic with the salt at an angle, making a kind of paste–mince the garlic, then smush it with the back of the knife, go back to mincing, etc.

Transfer the garlic/salt paste to a bowl with the onion, jalapeño (if using), and lime juice.  Muddle these ingredients together with a fork.  Next, halve the avocados, removing the seeds and scooping out the flesh with a spoon.  Add the avocados to the lime juice mixture and smash the halves with the back of a fork until the desired texture is reached (I like mine a little chunky).

Unless you are one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap (and if you are, I feel sad for you), garnish with the chopped cilantro, stirring a bit of it into the mix.   Serve with blue or white corn tortilla chips.

* Okay, avocados.  Sometimes people are intimidated by them, but there’s no need!  I can offer two tricks:
1) Only buy the little, dark, bumpy Haas avocados, if you can get them.  You want fruit that gives a bit when you give it a squeeze–no mushy spots!

2) Ripen them at home on the counter using a paper bag & an apple or a banana.  Apparently, apples and bananas naturally give off gasses which conveniently help avocados to ripen.  I promise, this trick works.  Enjoy!



  1. Fabulous site, Nishta! Thanks for sharing your love of food and cooking adventures with all of us. I look forward to journeying with you on your culinary explorations. Happy Cinco de Mayo!


    Comment by Martha Dyson — May 5, 2009 @ 6:57 am

  2. Really nice job on the blog-webpresence. I felt as if you and I were sitting at the kitchen table chatting and exchanging ideas on food. Pantry lists are a super idea and very well done. Congratulations.

    Comment by Cal Preece — May 5, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  3. Yay Nishta! Welcome to the Blogosphere, and I look forward to following your blog–and really miss your food in person!

    Comment by Simmons Buntin — May 5, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  4. Hey Nishta! Welcome to the blogosphere! Your site’s great, and margaritas are the perfect way to start out. Congrats!

    Comment by Katie Frantz — May 5, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  5. Wow! I am so impressed, Nishta! Thanks for the great recipes…I just might have to give them a try tonight! The pics are gorgeous!

    Comment by Jenny Stenberg — May 5, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  6. thanks, Jenny! If you try the recipes, please let me know how they turn out. Hi to David.

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — May 5, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

  7. Cal–thanks so much for the feedback, that was exactly the “feel” I was going for, so it’s great to know I achieved it!

    Martha–you are one of my many culinary inspirations! I’m excited to have your readership.

    Kathy–I love how you remember everything.

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — May 5, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  8. I was thinking about going OUT to grab a margarita with the girls but with these recipes, i’m thinking about just calling them over to have some chips and guac and queso! where’s the queso recipe? 🙂

    Comment by Von Nguyen — May 5, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  9. Von, glad to know I’ve inspired you! I promise I’ll work on a queso recipe just for you.

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — May 5, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  10. Thanks Simmons & Katie–I appreciate the enthusiastic welcomes!

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — May 5, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  11. nishta,
    I am so impressed and excited. I have laughed that it has taken me until this year to establish a new Indian food connection now that you are grown and gone. If I can only convince her to bring Panchos cheese dip too! I am looking forward to seeing some of the Mehra family recipes. Have a fun night!

    Comment by Katherine house — May 5, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  12. BEAUTIFUL Nishta! You’ve carved out such a lovely, happy space here in the blogosphere, and I feel honored to know you. I really can’t wait to read more and learn your culinary secrets.

    Comment by Heather — May 5, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

  13. Nishta!

    Great work on the site, and these recipes are going to be traveling a long way: this weekend I’m going to a sort of “Neuve de Mayo” party (what can I say, the International Date Line screws up everything) with a bunch of other American ex-pats from Weta, and although I’d already settled on fajitas and guac (my recipe is similar to yours, except it adds a couple of coarsely chopped tomatoes, a splash of orange juice, and a drop of tequila), and now I’ll add margs to the mix! One question though: the lady who invited me is eight months pregnant. Would you recommend any particular mixins to make a virgin version taste more like the real thing?

    @Von: my three-parts-blue-jeans-no-parts-gourmet queso recipe is: a block of Velveeta with a can of RoTel tomatoes and a chopped onion, cooked in the microwave for a few minutes until the cheese goes all freaky-bubbly. My challenge to you, Nishta, is to present a less pre-processed version of this recipe, not because it’s not delicious, but rather because New Zealand has invented neither Velveeta nor RoTel. Good luck, and thanks for your excellent work!!

    Comment by Mark — May 5, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

  14. This looks great Nishta–awesome!

    Comment by Jennifer Schwartz — May 6, 2009 @ 1:39 am

  15. Mark–you are hilarious. thanks for reading & sharing! I’ll have to work on a processed-cheese-alternative queso.

    In the meantime, when I’ve blended margaritas for pregnant friends, I’ve upped the orange juice, thrown in more frozen limeade, & added either sour mix or lemon juice to try to emulate the tequila taste. Hope that helps–enjoy those fajitas!

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — May 6, 2009 @ 10:15 am

  16. You’re inspiring me to cook– impressive feat!! I would consider myself one of those novice cooks, or is there something below novice? Perhaps that will change with your motivating guidance. I need to put the veggies i’m growing in the back yard to good use in the kitchen!

    Comment by Liz Keltner — May 6, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  17. Dear Nishta:
    I just saw the history and am so proud of you.
    I love you.

    Comment by Radha — May 19, 2009 @ 8:55 am

  18. Hey, Ms.Mehra you got a really cool blog site i think it’s great. i did not know you like to cook. Hey did you know that my dad is a good chef? Bye.

    Comment by Dennis Smirnov — May 21, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  19. Hey Ms. Mehra! Cool blog!!! I love food too and I love to cook so this will be my favorite blog ever!!! We (Tech Class) are all commenting you!

    Comment by Leigh — May 21, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  20. Hey! Just checkin out the recipes in Tech. You Rock!

    Comment by Brandon and Hayden — May 21, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  21. Hey, Ms. Mehra. Some of us are on the web looking at your blog. I love your blog. Nice work.

    Comment by Rifqa S. — May 21, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  22. Hi! It’s Aaron. This is a cool food web- site!

    Comment by Aaron — May 21, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  23. Hey Ms. Mehra its Ethan, and my tech class is checking out your site. I didn’t know cooking is one of your hobbies. My mom and dad are great cooks and would love to take a look at your sight. If you want you could email her the sight. She would love the sight and I bet could give you some good recipes.

    Comment by Ethan Middleman — May 21, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

  24. Nishta!

    What a great website! My mouth is already watering! Thanks for letting me know and my husband is thanking you too b/c we’re both having fun with your good recipes. LOVED seeing you at art class! Take good care. Laura G

    Comment by laura — July 15, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

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