Monday, June 30, 2008

le grand aioli

Sounds so chic, non? I actually can't think of anything less glamorous than mayonnaise, but somehow the French manage to even make condiments sophisticated.

Saturday night we had our friends Martha, Jo, and Mike over for a grand aioli, a family-style feast of fish, bread, eggs, and vegetables, all of which can be topped with the centerpiece of the spread: aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise. Jacques Pepin says he can't think of another dish that lends itself better to a party. And I do whatever Jacques says. Plus, Dan's been itching to make homemade mayo lately, so what better way to use it?

Le Grand Aioli:

Roasted curried chickpeas
Paloma cocktails (recipe coming soon)
Grand aioli
Strawberry-almond yogurt cake with whipped cream

Assembling the spread really couldn't be easier. There's not much cooking involved and the prep is minimal, even though there are a lot of different components going on. In addition to hard boiled eggs and grilled cod, I served raw veggies (cherry tomatoes, fennel, radishes) and cooked veggies (asparagus, green beans, and new potatoes) and a sliced baguette. For the cooked vegetables, blanch them in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, then dump them into a bowl of ice water until they cool. I boiled the new potatoes and tossed them in a little olive oil, salt, and red wine vinegar, but you could also serve them plain at room temperature. If you time it right, you can prepare all of the cooked ingredients in the same large pot of boiling water, just use tongs to remove each ingredient from the pot before adding the next one.


Once you've made homemade aioli (or plain mayo, if you omit the garlic) you'll never go back to the jarred stuff. I'll admit, Miracle Whip is great on a turkey sandwich, but this is a whole other animal. And watching the oil and egg yolk emulsify is fun in a science experiment-y kind of way. Dan made plain and basil-flavored, and I preferred the basil with the grand aioli. All of the other parts of the meal are cooked so simply; the addition of herbs made everything a bit more flavorful.
(Serves 6 to 8 people)

1/2 clove of garlic, minced
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/2 cup basil (or any other herb)

If using the basil, combine it and the oil in a food processor. Process until the basil is in small bits. Place the egg yolk and mustard in a bowl and whisk. Start to add the oil very slowly, first a few drops at a time, then in a long, thin drizzle. As you whisk, it will begin to emulsify. Once you've blended in about a half cup of oil, you can add the rest faster. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Strawberry-almond yogurt cake

This summery confection is a twist on Orangette's gâteau au yaourt à la fraise, French-style yogurt cake with strawberries. I basically stuck to the recipe as written, but amped up the almond component of the cake with almond extract, which made it extra fragrant. Serve with sweetened whipped cream, extra berries, and toasted sliced almonds (which, as you can see below, I forgot).
(Serves 6 to 8 people)

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds (about 1 cup slivered almonds, ground in a food processor)
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. almond extract
2 handfuls quartered strawberries (or frozen whole berries)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, oil, eggs, and extract. Stir until blended together. Stir in the dry ingredients. Pour two-thirds of the batter into a greased 8-inch pan. Scatter the strawberries on top of the batter layer as evenly as possible. Top the berries with the remaining batter. Don't worry if a few berries peek out. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes; the cake should be golden brown when done. Let cool and then remove the cake from its pan, turning it upside down onto a plate.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Hello? Anyone still out there? I'm sorry for the lack of posts this week. Having people over for dinner requires you to, you know, be at home. This week has been a whirlwind of celebrity soccer matches, dinners out, and other things keeping me away from the kitchen. However, I'll be back in full force this weekend with a menu I'm excited to share with you soon.

Until then, here's links to a few dinner party-related things I've found interesting lately:

I've never given much thought to ice cubes, but apparently there's a whole method to making superior cubes: How to Make the Best Ice Cubes for Summer Cocktails [via The Kitchn]

Want to make your standard cheese plate more interesting? Here's tips on getting out of a cheese rut: Upgrade Your Cheese [via Serious Eats]

One of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, has a nice round-up of summer side dishes that would be great for a BBQ: Dead Simple Slaw and 6 Heat-Wave Reprieves [via Smitten Kitchen]

Blender drinks are back, people! The New York Times says so! So dust off that Cuisinart and whip up some daiquiris: The Pulse of Summer: Blender Drinks Are Back [via the NYT]

Michael Rhulman says he isn't fascinated by dinner parties, and would rather read about the "default meals" that people make at home on weeknights. Harumph. [via]

Monday, June 23, 2008


We wanted to have a picnic in Prospect Park Sunday night with our friends Mindi and Tom, but rain clouds rolled in, forcing us to come up with a plan B. Mindi was exhausted from a weekend-long painting project, and I didn't want to go out to eat, so they came over to our place (bearing beer and fresh mint from their landlord's gardenaren't they great?) and we had a low-key indoor picnic. As gorgeous as the park is right now, we didn't have to lug blankets or hide our beer, and we were also able to listen to the new My Morning Jacket album (awesome) and watch the U.S. women's gymnastics trials on TV (scary). As it rained and thundered outside, it felt especially cozy being at home among friends.

Indoor picnic:
Baba ghanoush and potato chips
Linguine with pesto and roasted tomatoes
Tossed salad with fennel, parmesan, and red wine vinagrette
Cookies, berries, and chocolate

This recipe has made many, many meals. I've spooned it on grilled fish, pork chops, and crostini, tossed it with vegetables and pasta, and used it as a salad dressing of sorts. Dan also likes eating it straight out of the bowl. For this menu, I added pesto to 2 pounds cooked linguine and tossed in a mix of cherry tomatoes that had been roasted in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
(Makes about 2 cups)

3 handfuls of basil leaves (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, and basil. Pulse until slightly pureed. Pour in the olive oil gradually, pulsing with each addition until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, parmesan, and salt. Taste as you go, making sure it's balanced. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator.

Baba Ghanoush
I served this dip with potato chips but it would also be great with crudite and the classic accompaniment, pita bread.
(Serves 4-6 people)

1 large eggplant
1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini
1 garlic clove, minced
1 minced shallot
2 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place it on a baking sheet, cut side down. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until soft. As it is cooking, mix the tahini, shallots. garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin in a large bowl. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it cool a bit. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and puree it in a food processor. Pour the puree into the bowl with the other ingredients. Stir until combined and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with chips, pita bread, and crudite, or keep it covered in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 20, 2008

dinner, minus the Post-Its

I like thinking about menus as much as I like cooking. Sitting on the train, or during a lull at work, I'll daydream about dinners I haven't even invited people to, or parties that are weeks away. Skimming produce at the farmer's market triggers all sorts of half-baked ideas. Wouldn't it be great to serve a big bowl of fresh corn salad? But with what? Fish tacos? Shrimp skewers? And more importantly, serve it to whom? Luckily there's always someone to cook for, always some new occasion, or excuse-for-an-occasion party to throw.

But when I have spur-of-the-moment dinner plans that don't involve choosing a restaurant (which can also lead to a deliciously endless decision-making process) it's actually kind of refreshing to choose a few dishes, stick to them, and not sweat the details. All dinner parties require a little amount of planning, but sometimes it's easy to get way too wrapped up in it. Like second-guessing whether people will like something and making fretful last-minute changes. Or meticulously writing out each course on multiple Post-Its, in a very O.C.D. fashion. Yeah, I do this.

On Tuesday, Dan and I made plans with our friend Julie to have dinner at our place Thursday night. Instead of over-thinking (It's just three friends having dinner in the living room, Lisa.) I came up with this menu on my walk home from work. Feeling summery, I decided to make a big panzanella with fresh herbs and tomatoes, and serve it with grilled lamb sausages. Dessert would be Key lime pie. Nothing groundbreaking. No Post-Its were involved. Just a few simple, tasty dishes that could be thrown together as you change out of your work clothes and pour yourself a glass of wine.

Weeknight dinner with Julie:
Prosciutto, three types of cheese (kindly brought by Julie), and cherries
Grilled lamb sausages
Key lime pie

A tweaked version of Ina Garten's recipe for Italian bread salad.
(Serves 6-8 people, or 3 with leftovers)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 baguette cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut 1/2-inch thick slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 shallot thinly sliced
A handful of basil leaves, chopped
A handful of parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Toss the bread cubes with the olive oil in a large bowl, then spread them out on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 300 degrees, or until golden.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, shallots, herbs, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Key Lime Pie
This is one of my favorite desserts. And being a Florida girl, I am ultra-picky about it. In my opinion, the best ones have a soft, slightly custardy texture, a graham cracker crust, and are made with real Key limes so they have a pale yellow color (not green). I almost bought a delicious Steve's Key lime pie, but decided against it when I saw that a tiny mini pie was $5. And I like my recipe anyway.
(Serves 6-8 people)

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs (about 6 oz. of cookies)
6 Tbsp. melted butter
3 Tbsp. sugar

Process the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Stir until combined, then press into a 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.

For the filling:
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
4 oz. Key lime juice (I like Manhattan brand if you can't find Key limes)

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and condensed milk and stir until smooth. Gradually pour in the key lime juice, stirring until combined. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Once the pie comes to room temperature, chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Serve with whipped cream, if desired. I like my key lime pie straight up--or with a meringue topping.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

drinks for non-drinkers

It's still too effing hot to cook in our apartment. We've managed to boil water for pasta but other than that, it's just been salad, salad, salad. Whose genius idea was it to start this blog at the beginning of summer, anyway? Oh, right.

Even if it's too muggy to summon an appetite, you can at least enjoy a cool drink. There are many people in my life who avoid alcohol for various reasons so I'm always on the lookout for interesting beverages without liquor. And all the better if they can also double as delicious mixers. Here's two party-tested recipes that are my latest favorites:

Basil lemonade

An herbal twist on a summertime classic. You could also substitute mint, thyme, or lavender for the basil.

(Serves about 6 people)

1 1/2 cups lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup water, plus 5 cups cold water (regular or sparkling)
A handful of basil leaves, plus additional for garnish

Combine sugar, 1 cup water, and basil leaves in a pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool. When cool, remove the basil leaves, squeezing their juice into the syrup. Juice the lemons into a pitcher. Add the basil syrup and 5 cups of water. Refrigerate until cold. Serve with ice and extra basil leaves in each glass.


- Mix half lemonade with half sparkling wine (Prosecco, Cava, Champagne, etc.)
- Add a shot of vodka and a splash of sparkling wine
- A shot of light rum, gin, or vodka
- A shot of limoncello

Watermelon aguas frescas
(Serves about 6 people)
This drink was inspired by the thirst-quenching fruit drinks served by Latin American food vendors at the fantastic Red Hook soccer fields in Brooklyn. Many stands serve a colorful array of fruit juices—lime, cantaloupe, pineapple, tamarind—ladled out of big glass jars.

6 cups cold watermelon, cut into chunks
1 lime, juiced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Combine sugar, water, and ginger in a pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool. When cool, remove the pieces of ginger from the syrup. In a blender, puree the watermelon until it is a smooth liquid. Add the syrup and lime juice and blend until combined. Refrigerate until very cold and serve with ice, if desired.

- A shot of light rum, tequila, Midori, or vodka
- Blend with ice, a shot of tequila, and a shot of triple sec to make a watermelon margarita
- Add a shot of light rum, a squeeze of lime, and a few mint sprigs for a mojito(ish?) drink
- Combine half aguas frescas with half sparkling wine

I need more ideas! What are your favorite summer drinks?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

too hot to cook?

So that insane heat wave finally broke, and it is now a balmy 88 degrees in our apartment instead of 108. Perfect for entertaining, right?

Not having a patio or porch or yard (or, um, central A/C), has led me to think about recipes that don't involve cooking with much heat. Or any heat at all. What is dinner party-worthy, other than gazpacho, or salads, or sandwiches? I'm not rolling out sushi, people.

Here's an easy menu, recently made for a weeknight meal with Dan and easily adaptable for a group.

Hot weather dinner:
Summer rolls
Watermelon mojitos

Watermelon, feta, and mint salad
Vietnamese-ish noodle salad with grilled shrimp
Store-bought gelato and sorbet
(I recently discovered Ciao Bella's key lime with graham cracker swirl gelato, and I have to say it's my new favorite flavor. And it's perfect with this menu.)

Watermelon, feta, and mint salad
(Serves about six people)
This is a thrown-together dish, you don't even really need a recipe for it. The bodacious Nigella Lawson serves her version with olives, sliced red onions, and parsley, but I think this is simpler and has more of a salty-sweet balance. The salad can easily be adjusted depending on how many people are eating and whether you're serving this as a side dish with lots of other things, or as the main component of a menu. It's a great thing to bring to a BBQ.

6 cups sliced or cubed watermelon
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Handful of fresh mint, julienned
1-2 limes

Arrange the watermelon on a platter or place it in a bowl. Cut the limes and squeeze their juice over the fruit. Sprinkle the feta over the watermelon and top with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Vietnamese-ish noodle salad with grilled shrimp
I used to order this all the time until I realized how easy it is to make at home. Rice noodles are cooked and chilled, then tossed with fresh herbs and vegetables in a tangy vinagrette.
(Serves 4 to 6 people)

For the salad:
8 oz. dried rice vermicelli noodles
2 cups diced, seeded cucumber
4 cups thinly sliced nappa cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced fresh snow peas
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped basil
3 scallions, minced
1 cup salted peanuts

2 lbs. shrimp, cleaned and de-shelled
1 lime
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
Salt to taste

For the dressing:
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 to 1/2 minced jalapeno (to taste)

In a large bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add all of the salad ingredients, minus the noodles and peanuts and set aside. Cook the noodles according to package directions, then drain. Run cold water over the noodles until they are cold. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the lime juice, oil, and salt to the uncooked shrimp and mix until the shrimp are evenly coated. Cook on a hot grill or grill pan until pink, about five to six minutes.

Add the cooked, cooled noodles to the vegetables and dressing and toss until combined. Divide into bowls or serve in one large bowl, topped with the grilled shrimp and peanuts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

summer sorbet

I have to share one more recipe from Audrey and David. To cool off everyone's mouths from the rendang, they served a homemade strawberry sorbet with a handful of mint leaves on top. It was light, refreshing, and just barely sweet. The perfect summer dessert.

And considering that it has been NINETY EIGHT degrees here in New York, you might want to try subsisting solely on this for awhile. Or bathing in it. Whatever.

Strawberry Sorbet
(Serves about 4-6 people)
2 packages frozen strawberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
About 3/4 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until dissolved, and cooled)
Mint leaves for garnishing (optional)

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and zest in food processor. Add simple syrup (and maybe a little water) until the puree is smooth. Can be served immediately, but ideally, it goes in the freezer for a few hours first. It will freeze solid overnight, but it can be thawed.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

dinner for eleven

Dan and I got married in January. The best part of the wedding, other than getting married and dancing with my Dad to Bernadette by The Four Tops, was how it brought a large group of our friends together. People who had only met once or twice, or had never met at all, bonded that weekend and started hanging out back in New York. Like, a lot. And sometimes without us.

This particular group of friends is funny, loud, generous--and, a major plus--they also like to cook. Well, most of them. Some just bring beer, and that's fine too. David and Audrey, two very ambitious cooks and hosts, made dinner for 11 of us Friday night and it was quite a spread.

Sliced mango with salt, sugar, and chile powder
Cheese with dried figs and crackers
Waffle cookies filled with caramel (I really, really need to find out the name of these things. I ate at least two dozen of them.) **I have been informed that they are called Stroopwafels. Thank you, guys.**

Beef rendang
Brown rice
Red cabbage slaw

Homemade strawberry sorbet with mint

There were so many delicious things to write about here, but the rendang alone is worth a post. The dish, typically served in Malaysia and Singapore, is made of beef slowly cooked in coconut milk and a fiery blend of spices. It's exotic and familiar all at once, like a beef stew with Asian flavors.

It was completely delicious, but kind of a risky thing to serve to a crowd. It is very, very spicy, takes a long time to cook, and is most likely unfamiliar to everyone. But I urge you to try it (or at least order it in a restaurant), because it's the kind of dish that is really the centerpiece of a meal. David and Audrey served it simply with brown rice and a red cabbage slaw. We crowded around their dinner table, passed the dishes family-style, and tucked in--drinking and laughing and sweating. Really sweating.

Beef Rendang
David said he quadrupled the recipe and added some lime zest. He also substituted half lite and half regular coconut milk. A link to the original (kind of inexact) recipe by Tracey Parrish is here.
(Serves about 4 people)

1 to 2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
Extra garlic, sambal olek, soy sauce and oil (I assume "extra" means 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, and other items applied liberally to the meat)

4 to 6 cloves garlic
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, skinned
1 medium onion
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
3 to 4 Tbsp. sambal olek (Indonesian chili sauce, do not use sweet Thai sauce)
salt to taste or soy sauce

1 cup of coconut milk or paste
1 to 2 tsp. tamarind paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 to 3 mashed kemiri/candle nuts
oil for frying

Rub the beef with the extra mashed garlic, Sambal Olek, soy sauce and oil. Let marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge. Make a paste (in a blender or food processor) of everything in the second group of ingredients. If it is too thick to blend add some oil. Modify the spices according to taste, however you must use a lot of the chili paste as this is the central ingredient for the sauce.

Heat oil in pan until it is very hot. Add the beef and sear until brown all over (about 4-5 mins). Add the spice paste, mix and cook on high heat for another few minutes. Add the final group of ingredients (except candle nuts). Bring to boil then simmer for about 2 hours. Stir regularly (every 20 mins. or so) as the sauce tends to be thick and dry. With half and hour to go, check sauce thickness. The sauce should be thick when finished. Add candle nuts to thicken and then leave the lid off to reduce the liquid levels and make the sauce a thick, pasty consistency (stir more frequently to stop sticking).

Asian Slaw
The original recipe, from Alton Brown via the Food Network website, calls for peanut butter, which Audrey and David omitted. The slaw was tasty without it, but I think it could be also be good with chopped toasted peanuts.
(Serves 4-6)

1 3-inch piece ginger, grated fine
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut butter (optional)
1 head Napa cabbage, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, julienne fine
1 yellow bell pepper, julienne fine
2 serrano chiles, minced fine
1 large carrot, grated fine with a peeler
3 green onions, cut on the bias, all of white part and half of the green
2 Tbsp. chiffonade cilantro
2 Tbsp. chiffonade mint
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, or food processor combine ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, oil, and peanut butter. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients and then toss with dressing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Oh, snacks. I'm not much for eating in between meals, but whenever I have people over, I always have at least one thing to nibble on before dinner. A tray of snacks forces you out of the kitchen to spend some time hanging out with people after they arrive, and then gives them something to eat while you disappear to finish everything up. Eating something also allows you to have a drink or two while you're cooking and not start a kitchen fire.

Fancy hors d'oeuvres can be great but aren't really necessary. My mother-in-law likes to set out foie gras smuggled from Paris with toast points and that makes me feel totally sophisticated, but there's also a place in my heart for potato chips and onion dip. The things people really appreciate are as simple as a bowl of good olives, or a few cheeses, or maybe once in awhile something more elaborate involving puff pastry. But I only bother with that if you're a really, really good friend.

So although I'm aiming to mainly write about menus on this site, hors d'oeuvres deserve equal attention. Depending on how many people are eating, I usually serve between one and three things. Here's a few of my standbys that can be mixed and matched and assembled pretty quickly.

Radishes served with butter and sea salt
Jarred, pickled hot peppers stuffed with blue cheese
Sausage wrapped in puff pastry with spicy mustard
Mixed veggies served with aioli
Crostini topped with homemade pesto
A plate of pickles (Rick's Picks are my favorites)
Sliced mango sprinkled with cayenne pepper and lime juice
Mini meatballs with a side of marinara sauce
Figs, peaches, or melon draped with proscuitto and torn basil
Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with parmesan
Deviled eggs

Here's two more:
Spiced cashews
Poured into little take-out boxes, these nuts make tasty holiday gifts. Or stored in a Tupperware, they're a fancy little snack to take to a cocktail party. They're also equally good by the handful straight off the baking sheet.
(Serves about 4-6 people)

1 lb. unsalted unroasted cashews (almonds would work well too)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast until warm and golden, about 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Toss the warm nuts in the bowl with the spice mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

My Guacamole
I make this so much I worry that it's played out and people won't touch it, but the bowl always gets scraped clean. And then I wonder why I didn't make more.
(Serves about 4 people)

2 ripe avocados (I usually use Haas. They must be black and yielding to the touch when you squeeze them)
1/3 cup sour cream (optional, good for less-than-perfect avocados)
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 small white onion, minced
1 to 1/2 minced jalapeno, as much as you can stand
Juice of one lime

Peel and mash the avocados in a bowl with a fork. Add sour cream, if using, and combine until the avocado is mostly smooth, but not pureed. Add the cilantro, onion, jalapeno, and lime juice. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately with crudite and tortilla chips (note: Tostitos are far and away better than the fancy gourmet brands) or keep covered in the refrigerator.


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