"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Monday, August 4, 2008

Guacamole and Benne Seed Pita Toasts

Can you believe I've never made guacamole?

It's true. I just never have. The issue is the avocados--I never think to buy them in the quantities I need to get them all ripe at once, and the thought of actually planning that far in advance--to think, oh, I need to make guacamole for the weekend, so I'll BUY the avocados on Monday so they'll be ripe enough to use...I'm not that organized, folks.

But at work yesterday there were three big fat perfectly ripe (almost over-ripe) avocados and we had a small dinner party on the calendar. The guacamole planets aligned.

This is the simplest of recipes--it's really a base recipe, since the book lists several variations afterward. It's so simple, it's not even on epicurious. Basically, it's avocados, salt, lime juice, chopped white onion, and serrano chilies.

The only place where I deviated a tiny little bit was with the serranos. When you're making food for a table full of senior citizens in New England, it's best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the hot stuff. I added a quarter of a banana pepper (the mildest of the hots).

For my maiden guacamole voyage, it was a great success. I was a little worried about browning, but the lime juice kept it nice and bright.

To go with the guac, I made Benne Seed Pita Toasts. If you're wondering what the heck benne seeds are, they are nothing more than sesame seeds--"benne" is what the Bantu folk of West Africa call them, and it's the name they still use in Charleston, South Carolina, where benne seed wafers and candy are a local specialty.

These pita toasts were buttery and crisp. I got smart and put them in a zip-lock the second they cooled so they wouldn't soak up the humidity in the air. About a third of the sesame seeds fell off, but that's ok--there were plenty left. They were a perfect accompaniment to the guacamole, and together they were a fantastic summer hors d'oeuvres.

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