The Cheap-Ass Gourmet: Avocado Squawk-a-mole
Yesterday I posted the instructions for eviscerating an avocado safely (i.e., without including bits of your hand in the end result), and today a colleague and I got talking about garlic, of which neither of us can ever get enough. (Ask me about the infamous Garlic Sandwich incident** of 1988….)
Anyway, all this talk of garlic and avocados got me thinking about one of my favourite foods — guacamole. Suitable for dipping onto a nice crunchy tortilla chip, spreading on toast and covering with fresh sliced tomatoes, or garnishing a fajita, a burrito, a tostada, or a nice plate of Huevos Rancheros, guacamole is arguably one of nature’s most perfect foods.
Here’s what you need:
- a couple of very ripe avocados (number will depend on how many people you’re feeding)
- at least 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- a couple of lemons or limes, or one of each
- fresh cilantro (this has a very distinctive taste and if you don’t like it, skip it; I love it, myself)
- chili powder (yup, the commercially prepared stuff is just fine)
- a couple of drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Halve the avocados and scoop the fruit/meat out into a big bowl. Mush them up with a fork a bit. You will get very messy so have a couple of forks handy if you’re anything like me and hate getting your paws dirty.
Peel the garlic thusly: lay a clove on a cutting board and place the flat edge of a knife blade on top of it, sandwiching your victim between the knife and the cutting board. Think of someone you dislike and wham the flat knife edge with your fist (have a look at the photo here: I do not want any irate emails from the bereaved relatives of people who have fatally maimed themselves through taking out their aggression on a wrongly placed knife!).
After you’ve delivered a good smash, simply remove the skin from the garlic (it will just sort of crumble away in your fingers) and then squish the naked clove through a garlic press (or chop it if you don’t have one) into the bowl with the avocado mush. Add as much or as little garlic as you like — I like a lot, which is why you don’t see any vampires hanging around Casa Smiter (or any unwanted neighbours either, for that matter!).
If you’re using cilantro, wash a good handful of it, pat it dry with a paper towel, and use kitchen scissors (or your mum’s sewing scissors, if you’re feeling cheeky) to chop it into the avocado-garlic mush.
Next, the citrus portion of our exercise. Cut your lemon or lime in half width-wise and, if you happen to have a citrus juicer, use that to squeeze the juice from your victims. If not, simply squash them over a bowl or a measuring cup and then fish the seeds out with a spoon. (Nothing ruins a good guacamole like going “ptui! Ptui!!” in the middle of a meal…)
Carefully pour a bit of the juice into your avocado mush and then give everything another mash/mix with your fork. You don’t want it to be too runny. Add more juice as required.
Finally, it’s seasoning time: start with a teaspoon or so of chili powder, half a teaspoon or so of salt, a nice healthy grind of black pepper and a few drops of Tabasco, stir everything up, and have a taste. (Use a new, CLEAN utensil to do this & then put it in the sink after. Don’t be a gross double-dipping cook. Seriously! Ew!) (I once had a friend who used her hands to mix food, then let her dogs lick her hands off — then put her hands back in the bowl. Note my use of the words “once had”… )
Anyway, season ‘er up as you like it and you’re ready to go. Some people like to add chopped tomatoes to their guacamole; I am not among them (texture thing…) but go ahead, if that’s what floats your boat!
And if you happen to have a pitcher of Sangria handy (and yes, I do have a recipe… patience, patience…) all the better.
- between $1 and $5 for avocados, depending on season & pricing (sometimes you can get bags of them cheap)
- say 65 cents for your lemon and/or lime (they’re usually sold by the 3s where I shop)
- $1.49 or so for your cilantro
- a few cents for your garlic and seasonings (again, if you’re seriously adding these up, you might want to adjust your medication…)
So you get a nice fragrant bowl of squawkamole for anywhere from $3.00 to maybe $8.00 depending on the season and how much you make. Not a bad deal, eh?
And now, because you’ve been so good, I shall briefly relate to you….
**…the Infamous Garlic Sandwich Incident of 1988
It was Christmas Eve and my former brother-in-law and I were seated at the kitchen table sharing a few laughs and the better portion of a bottle of Jack Daniels. Inevitably, we became a bit peckish and began foraging for food.
Not being in the mood for cooking (probably a good thing, given our advanced state of merriment), we availed ourselves of a nice loaf of crusty Italian bread, a plate of nice soft butter, and some delicious Havarti cheese.
However, something was missing, and in a split second, we decided that the AWOL item was garlic, naturellement.
We carried our booty to the table and began slicing and assembling, slicing and assembling, viz. thick slice of bread, lashings of butter, some thinly sliced cheese and, atop that, thin slices of fresh garlic. Oh yes…my mouth waters to recall it, actually.
Fast-forward to the next morning, when we staggered blearily downstairs for toast, coffee, and the family Christmas morning festivities — and found the rest of the household backing slowly away from us and then rushing to open windows and doors. Garlic is, of course, the gift that keeps on giving, and with every exhalation — even 9 hours later — our “friends” list grew shorter.
Jokes were made about Santa steering wide of the house, and dead reindeer, and paint peeling off walls, but I still fondly recall, with a frisson of guilty pleasure, that most delectable of snacks, relished once and never to be repeated (until I am too far gone to care).