In addition to regular posts about our travels, I plan to share some recipes here and there, here's two quick ones that go hand in hand.
It’s no secret that the majority of my working life has been spent in kitchens, first as a dishwasher, then prep cook, line cook, sous chef, and head chef, but I’ve never cooked much at home. As most people who work in restaurants can testify, some of the best professionals eat the worst. Greasy cheeseburgers, takeout pizza delivered to the back door of a fine dining restaurant, or late night frozen chicken wings over beers post shift are all part of the restaurant life routine. After filling in at one of the better restaurants on Cape Cod I was done earlier than the regular staff, part of the trade-off of being sent home early: going on a Burger King run while everyone else served the final few tables in the dining room. It was eleven o’clock at night and after serving fifty-dollar steaks and hundred-dollar bottles of wine all night, the sommelier, chef owner, and myself stood hunched over a garbage barrel, eating rodeo cheeseburgers and drinking rolling rocks.
Since being on the road, cooking at home has been a pleasure, not a chore. It’s something I can enjoy again and want to do since I’m not doing it eighty hours a week under the dim fluorescence of an industrial kitchen. Here’s a quick, on the road favorite, pico de gallo and fresh guacamole. Enjoy!
Pico De Gallo ~ Serves 4
2 Medium Ripe Tomatoes
1 Small Onion
1 Small Red Bell Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic
1-2 Jalapeno* Peppers (however spicy you like it)
½ Bunch Cilantro
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce (whatever your personal favorite is, I like Cholulah)
Medium Mixing Bowl
Citrus Juicer (or the two God gave you: your hands)
- Dice Tomatoes, Onion, and Red Bell Pepper, place in mixing bowl and set aside
- Finely chop Garlic, Jalapeno Pepper, and Cilantro. Add to mixing bowl and set aside.
- Zest using the microplane and Juice the Lime
- Add Lime Zest, Juice, Red Wine Vinegar, Salt, Pepper, and Hot Sauce to bowl and stir well
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
*For a spicier batch try substituting Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Guacamole ~ Serves 4
First off, let’s dispel a major guacamole myth that drives me batshit crazy when I hear it, “If you put the avocado seed in the center prepared guacamole, your guac won’t turn brown! I swear it works! My best friend’s brother’s sister-in-law’s roommate told me she does it that way, and her guac is neverbrown.” If you’re B.S. alarm isn’t sounding when you hear this, there may be no hope for you.
One thing causes brown guacamole, oxidation. It’s the same thing that turns apples brown when grandma is baking and no one is throwing avocado pits at her. The solution is the same for you as it is for granny, acid. Just like adding lemon juice to the apples, lime juice will help prevent browning with the guacamole. Ascorbic acid reacts with the oxygen in the air at a faster rate than the avocado (or apple) thus preventing browning. If your guacamole is going to sit on a buffet for a while, double down on lime juice or throw in some red wine vinegar, that should help slow everything down. The only real solution is to eat faster!
Now, on to the preparation. If you’re going to go through the trouble of making fresh Guacamole, there’s really no reason not to make a batch of Pico De Gallo. If you skip making the Pico, you still have basically the same amount of work in prepping all the same ingredients as a Guacamole starter. My suggestion is never make one without the other. It’s about the same amount of work with double the reward.
2 Perfectly Ripe Avocados (as rare as unicorns, so do your best to find them, or plan ahead and ripen in a paper bag on the counter)
¼ Cup Prepared Pico De Gallo
½ Bunch Cilantro
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce
Large Mortar & Pestle or Medium Mixing Bowl & Potato Masher
- Cut Avocados in half and remove seed with knife and scoop flesh with tablespoon. Place flesh in Mortar/Mixing Bowl
- Chop Cilantro, zest and juice both limes, add to Mortar/Mixing Bowl
- Add Pico De Gallo, Salt, Pepper, and Hot Sauce.
- Mix well with Pestle/Potato Masher
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed and serve.