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!
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!