This guacamole recipe has a great citrus taste with a hint of garlic. The key to a great texture is to use avocados that are semi-ripe instead of using ones that are very ripe. This way they retain some of their texture and create guacamole with some texture, instead of making wallpaper paste. If you can find them, the addition of Campari tomatoes add sweetness without much acidity, and the tomatoes retain their texture in the mixing, making this guacamole something special (of course any tomatoes will taste great, use what you can). In the image above you will see the peaks and valleys that indicate the rough texture of the guacamole, which is achieved by using avocados of the proper ripeness, which means no more searching in vain for the softest, ripest avocados. I can often make guacamole with avocados I buy the very same day.

5 semi-ripe Hass avocados

4 medium Campari tomatoes (or other medium sized tomato if you don’t have Campari)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 medium red onion
3 limes
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1 tsp salt

1. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit) and place into a bowl.

2. Juice the limes and pour juice into the bowl with the avocado. Limes will juice more easily if you roll them against a flat surface first with the palm of your hand, pressing down firmly while you roll for a few seconds.

3. Dice the onion and add to the bowl.

4. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with your fingers. Cut the tomatoes into a small dice and add to the bowl.

5. Using a garlic press, press the garlic cloves into the bowl.

6. Cut the cilantro leaves into small pieces and add to the bowl.

7. Add salt.

8. To achieve a well textured guacamole, the method for the best result is to take a regular steak knife and rip through the avocado pieces continuously, cutting the halves into smaller and smaller pieces in the bowl. This will let you mix all the ingredients together without mashing the avocado into a paste. Use a fork to finish the mixing by folding in the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with diced tomato and a sprig of cilantro leaves if desired.

Serve with tortilla chips to about 8-10 people.

Tip summary
Tip #1 – Use semi-ripe avocados, not fully ripe ones for great texture. Over-ripe avocados can have a musty flavor that some people don’t like anyway.
Tip #2 – If you can find them, Campari tomatoes will retain their shape instead of breaking down into mush. Their low acidity helps the dish retain a nice balance of taste and sweetness.
Tip #3 – Cut the avocado instead of mashing it. This will result in a nice, chunky guacamole instead of paste.

Updated Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans & Rice

Black Beans & Rice

This is a variation of the classic black beans and rice dish which is a favorite of my family. While I have never been a big fan of beans, for some reason I can’t keep myself away from this particular dish, so I make sure to cook plenty as it only gets better as the leftovers sit. For those who want to limit the fat content, the rice can easily be made without the coconut milk and this dish is just as good.

Ingredients for the beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 16 oz can black beans (or 1 1 lb 13 oz can)
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 cube of chicken bouillon (for a vegetarian version vegetable bouillon can be used)

Ingredients for the rice
1 cup uncooked white rice ( I prefer Basmati, but any rice will do)
1 can of coconut milk (approx 13 oz)
water (usually 2x the amount of rice)

Directions for the beans
1. Cut the onion and garlic into small pieces and saute at a low heat until the onion is translucent. The garlic can be pressed if desired instead of cut.  This will impart a more spicy garlic flavor.

2. When the onion is translucent, add the beans including the liquid in the can (a lot of protein has leached out into the liquid and this will add to the creamy mouth feel of the dish if it is included).

3. Add the bouillon cube and simmer the beans at low to medium heat for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer as they will get softer the more they cook. There is no need to cook them more than an hour, though. As they cook, periodically stir the beans, and crush a few of them against the side of the pot if you wish to impart more creaminess to the dish. When the beans are done to your satisfaction, remove from the heat and serve over rice.

Directions for the rice
1. The key here is to replace some of the water with the coconut milk, so check the instructions for your rice and if you require 2 cups of water for 1 cup of uncooked rice, add the coconut milk to a measuring cup and top off with water to reach the desired volume of liquid. If you would prefer to not use coconut milk for any reason, just use the required amount of water instead.

2. If you have a rice cooker, put rice and liquid in and turn on. If you are using a pot, bring the liquid to a boil and then stir in the rice.

3. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer (very low boil), and let cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

4. When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and let sit covered, in the pot for 5 minutes. If you can’t wait to eat because the beans look so good, feel free to put the rice on a plate or a bowl anyway and cover with beans and eat.

In most cases this will serve four people. However, in my house, two of us manage to eat this all in one sitting. You can easily double or triple the recipe with no modifications.

Chicken Gertrude

Wonderful for parties and oh, so easy.

1 10 lbs chicken
2 Tbsp. salt
1 bunch celery leaves (cut from the top of a bundle of celery)
2 lbs. sliced mushrooms
2 c. cooked rice
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 onion, finely chopped

Ingredients for cream sauce
6 Tbsp. Butter
6 Tbsp. Flour
3 cups chicken broth (from cooking the chicken)
4 c. grated cheddar
2 teaspoons salt
dash of pepper

1. Cook the whole chicken in 2 quarts water with 2 Tbsp. salt, and celery leaves until tender.

2. Cool in broth, remove meat from bones and cut into bite size pieces (reserve broth for the cream sauce).

3. Saute mushrooms and combine with the cooked rice, sliced almonds, and finely chopped onion.

For the cream sauce
1. In a pan, melt the butter and add flour and whisk together into a roux (paste). Add 3 cups chicken broth and whisk together.

2. To the broth mixture, add 4 c. grated cheddar 2 teaspoons salt and a dash of pepper.

3. Combine with chicken mixture and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or so until golden and bubbly. Don’t overcook or the sauce will separate.

Serves 12

Supreme de Volaille a la Milanaise

This classic, simple chicken dish is rich and flavorful while still being easy to make.

4 chicken cutlets
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup fine, fresh bread crumbs
1 egg, well beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated

Sauce Ingredients
4 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Lightly season each cutlet with salt and pepper.

2. Line up three plates — one with 1 cup flour, the 2nd with the egg , 1/8 tsp salt, and1/2 tsp olive oil mixed together, and the third with the mixed cheeses (Parmesan & Romano) and bread crumbs.

3. Take each cutlet, coat with flour, then egg mixture, then cheeses. Let rest on waxed paper for at least half an hour.

4. Saute the cutlets in butter (4 Tbsp) and olive oil (2Tbsp) for approximately 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes in second side, until brown and firm to the touch.

5. Keep warm in a low oven (150 degrees) until ready to serve.

For the sauce:
Put 4 Tbsp butter in a skillet over moderate heat until it turns light brown. Remove from heat and, add lemon and parsley. Spoon over cutlets and serve.

Serves 2 to 4

Petti di Pollo alla Bolognese

2 whole chicken breasts, split, skinned & boned
3 Tbsp. finely minced parsley
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 lb. Bel Paese cheese, cut into thin slices
flour for dusting
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. chicken stock
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter, firm, cut into little bits
8 very thin slices prosciutto

1. With a very sharp knife, slice each breast in half horizontally. Place each piece between sheets of waxed paper and lightly pound with the flat side of a wooden mallet until the chicken is about 1/4” thick. Salt and pepper breasts and coat with flour, shaking to remove excess.

2. Butter an ovenproof serving dish with 1Tbsp. butter. Be sure dish will hold all the chicken in one layer. Set aside.

3. Heat 3 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. oil together in large, heavy skillet over fairly high heat. Add chicken and saute 2 minutes on each side, without over browning. Place in a serving dish.

4. Completely mask each piece of chicken with a single layer of prosciutto. Lightly sprinkle with parsley and mask completely with the Bel Paese. Be sure the cheese comes down over the edges of the chicken so it will become sealed.

5. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over chicken. Gently pour in chicken stock around the chicken, dot with bits of butter and place in upper third of a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Run under broiler for a minute or less to brown slightly if necessary. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 2 to 4

NOTE: To do ahead, stop after sprinkling with Parmesan and refrigerate. Add stock and butter and heat before serving