Tag Archives: avocado

Best Guacamole Ever!

Best Guacamole Ever!

This best guacamole ever recipe will definitely change the way you look at that mixture they call guacamole at the market. I find most of the brands out there both watery and mysterious. Why chance quality. The simple fact is, when my best guacamole recipe is so simple to make why settle for second rate! Even the amounts of finely chopped sweet onion, tomato, jalapeño and cilantro in this recipe are minimal so there’s not a whole lot of prep going on either. These amounts are just enough to add hints of lovely flavors and not take away from the sweet creamy California avocado’s.

Avocado’s are on sale just about every other week at the market so take advantage of this and load up. You can never buy too many and they don’t all have to be perfectly ripened right at that moment. They will ripen on your counter in a matter of days.

If I am not serving this best guacamole ever right away I put one of the avocado pits back into the middle of the guacamole, cover it with saran wrap and put it into the refrigerator until I’m ready. The saran wrap should go directly onto the surface of the guacamole so as not to let the dip oxidize and turn brown. If part of it does oxidize just skim that part off with a spoon and there will be a fresh green surface underneath. And, when making guacamole it’s best when it’s eaten the same day, or definitely by the next.

If you are a big fan of avocado’s you really need to try chocolate avocado mousse! My pulled beef taco’s would be incredible with the best guacamole ever. Serve up a variety of appetizer’s for your get together and add in Sweet potato fries  and salmon gravlax, both incredibly delicious and fun eats! A chocolate pecan pie just might put the party right over the top! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 3 small/med size ripened California avocado’s
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Sweet or Vidalia onion (Georgia onion)
  • 1/4 finely chopped sweet tomatoes any color (cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes…your fav)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (fill 1/4 cup first with whole leaves then chop that)
  • 1/2 of a lg jalapeno, finely chopped with seeds removed, approx. 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” – (rice wine vinegar and olive oil are my secret ingredients that give the guac that little someting extra!)
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce …I use Siracha (which is sold right next to the Tabasco)

Directions:

  1. Slice and remove avocado flesh from the skins as shown in the photo above and place in a large bowl, save one of the avocado pits to add to dip at the end
  2. Slice off any black or dark spots on the avocado’s and discard
  3. Finely chop sweet onion, tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro and add to bowl with avacado’s
  4. Add in s&p and olive oil and rice wine vinegar
  5. Begin to slice halved avocado’s with a knife to help break them up
  6. Then begin to mash with a fork and stir around all of the ingredients
  7. Lastly add Siracha (hot sauce) and 1 tsp of lemon juice
  8. Mix gently to combine and add pit to the middle of the guacamole
  9. The pit helps to preserve guacamole until it get’s all eaten up 🙂
  10. Serve with chips, turkey or beef burgers, salsa …be creative!

Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche


Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche

mixedcevicheMaking shrimp & scallop ceviche really can’t get an easier then this! Ceviche is a South American dish that’s usually served as an appetizer. The fish cures/cooks in citrus juice for an hour or two while you get all your salsa ingredients in order. The citrus curing juices are drained from the fish, leaving a tender shrimp & scallops to be tossed with salsa and voilà. The base of the shrimp and scallop ceviche here is my mango salsa recipe.

When I thought of making ceviche this week, sombrero popped into my head! I went to several store’s, costume store’s included which don’t exist anymore, and was out of luck. I then called my dear friend Maria who to my surprise had an authentic sombrero for me to borrow that her parents had picked up on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. I have to say it is a very cool hat, not to mention really beautiful. Although it has some weight to it so your neck gets a bit of a work out and you have to be careful not to knock into the walls because depth perception can be deceiving.

When I make this shrimp & scallop ceviche. or any ceviche for that matter, I like to cure my fish in lime juice and then drain that juice before adding the fish to my salsa ingredients. In my opinion, the flavors stay fresher that way. By draining the fish juice that’s released from the shrimp and scallops in the curing process it keep’s a better balance between fish and salsa. There are some recipe’s that have you toss everything into one bowl but I feel it taste’s better when you drain the curing fish juices prior to adding the fish into the salsa.

Since the texture’s of shrimp & scallops are a little different I have you cut the shrimp in 1/2 horizontally, and then dice, so the needed curing/cooking time between the two is closer. You could always change up the fish in this recipe to and go with all scallops or another favorite flaky fish. It’s all about being creative and using what’s freshest at the market!

Remember, always when preparing a fish dish, you will want to serve it the same day you make it and odds are there won’t be any leftovers! You may want to make it a party theme of appetizer’s to go along with this shrimp & scallop ceviche, and serve something like buffalo chicken dip, salmon BLT slider’s, fresh pesto, mozzarella and roasted tomato on a crostini, or shrimp & mango in wonton’s and end it with a dessert that will have everyone talking...fresh berries in a dreamy cream topping made from melted cream cheese and fluff that’s an incredible taste SENSATION!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. lg shrimp, peeled and deveined, 1/3″ diced
  • 1/4 lb of sea scallops, 1/3″ diced
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet mango
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion – Vidalia onion -finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini cucumber diced 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped (1/2 cup after it’s chopped)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced cherry tomato
  • 1/3 cup finely diced avocado
  • 1 jalapeno finely chopped without the seeds
  • juice from 1 lime – for the final ceviche
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice – for the final ceviche
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar – (“seasoned”)
  • juice from 4 limes for the shrimp/scallop for the curing marinade
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of Tabasco
  • Bag of blue corn chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash and devein the shrimp
  2. Wash the sea scallops and remove little fibrous side muscle that’s attached to the scallop
  3. Pat the shrimp and scallops dry on paper towels
  4. Cut up the shrimp in 1/2 horizontally and then into 1/4″ pieces
  5. Slice up the scallops in 1/2 horzintally and then into 1/2″ pieces
  6. Put them into the same bowl… a non-reactive bowl like a glass bowl
  7. Roll the limes to soften them up
  8. Squeeze the lime juice over the shrimp and scallops
  9. Make sure there is enough juice so all the shrimp and scallop pieces are submersed in the lime juice and place into the frig until they are opaque…and place into the frig for 1- 2  hours
  10. NOTE: you should check the fish at 30 minutes intervals to see how it’s curing/cooking …depending on the coldness of the fish, kind and size it wil be ready at different time’s but it’s EASY – if it’s opaque then it’s done!
  11. Finely chop the tomatoes, jalapeno, sweet onion, cucumbers, mango and cilantro and set aside in a large bowl
  12. Drain all the liquid out from the shrimp and scallops and discard
  13. Add the shrimp and scallops to the large bowl with the salsa, add in juice of 1 tbsp lemon juice, juice from 1 lime, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, dash of Siracha, salt and pepper to taste
  14. Put back into the fridge for 15 minutes for flavors to marry
  15. Serve in martini glasses with blue chips…YUM!

Cold Cucumber Soup

Cold Cucumber Soup

This homemade cold cucumber soup is out of this world! It has texture and flavors that won’t stop! Not one of the flavors in this soup over powers another, it’s the perfect balance. You actually find yourself trying to distinguish between them only because you are aware of all the fresh vegetables and herbs that went into this amazing cold soup.

Being a born and raised East Coaster I have to say I have never been a big “cold soup” kind of person. With our unbearably cold winters we have here I really appreciate a very hot bowl of soup to warm the bones. So when ever I’m making this cold cucumber soup I’m slightly biased going in, not willing to give merit where it is due, until I take my first spoonful and it all changes!

My cold cucumber soup completely stands on it’s own and is very satisfying not to mention the medicinal qualities that cucumbers offer. Cucumber’s can reduce puffiness, help to eliminate toxins in your body and we all know that slice’s of cucumber over your eyes can help to reduce dark circles! Some of the vitamin’s cucumber’s offer are A, C and folic acid and minerals of potassium and magnesium.  All and all this homemade cold cucumber soup is a win win situation.

This homemade cold cucumber soup would be great for lunch with a side sandwich or grill up some shrimp like I did in the show. One of my favorite accents to this soup are seared scallops cut in half and placed right in the center on the soup. You can check out in my “Seared Scallop Show” to see exactly how to make the scallops.

King crab meat is also a lovely topping to this cold cucumber soup and was a big hit when I presented this soup this way to the tasting judges at my second MasterChef open casting call in NYC this past March (2016)! All of the MasterChef casting call judges didn’t have any critique for my soup during the tasting phase…they just said “they really, really loved it!” When I made my cucumber soup for the MasterChef casting call I added fresh fennel to the recipe to change it up and give it that je ne sais qua…that extra special something!

This cold cucumber soup is an amazing way to start your dinner party or even have for a luncheon. If you are thinking of other course’s to add to your soup you should check out my stuffed mushrooms, yogurt chicken kabobs, bolognese sauce with homemade pasta and end with my perfect chocolate cake that will rock your world! Enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 European cucumbers peeled and cubed – 4 1/2 cups – you do not need to remove seeds with the European cucumbers
  • If you are using regular cucumbers, peel and slice down the middle and remove the seeds scooping them out with a small spoon and cut into chunks
  • 3 ex-lg green onions or 5 small sliced in 1″ pieces from green tips to whitish green stems
  • 1/4 cup of diced cherry tomatoes OR diced heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ an avocado cut in chunks
  • 1 jalapeño chopped (take out seeds)
  • 1 lg garlic clove put through garlic press
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp Greek Yogurt – whole milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of honey
  • 1/4 cup of seasoned rice vinegar
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt – to taste  – (NOTE: I said 1 tsp in the show but I meant to say 1/2 tsp!)
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper

         -FOR COLD CUCUMBER & FENNEL SOUP …ADD:

  • 1 cup cut up fresh FENNEL  …for a change up try this with the FENNEL – YUM!
  • chopped fresh chives for garnish
  • seared scallops , cooked Lobster, Shrimp, or Crab to top the soup in the center

Directions:

    1. Add all the ingredients in the list above to your blender except olive oil
    2. Begin to puree while slowly pouring in olive oil through the opening at the top
    3. Continue to puree for 20-30 seconds
    4. Be patient, all the vegetables in the cucumber soup will begin to slowly puree
    5. Stop and scrape down any herbs or vegetables stuck on the side’s and pulse for 10 more seconds
    6. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour
    7. Serve with a sprinkle of dill, finely chopped tomato, cucumber and avocado
    8. Top the center of the soup with seared scallops – room temperature cooked lobster, king crab meat, or shrimp AND then a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Black Bean Salsa & Swordfish Recipe

Black Bean Salsa & Swordfish Recipe

2015 is here so let’s not procrastinated and get right down to business with some refreshing and heathy dinners. You can’t beat this black bean salsa & swordfish with its nutritional values and taste to boot! It’s so nice to brighten up our menu after the starchy celebratory holiday meals. With this black bean salsa you still get that “comfort food” feeling because the black beans are so creamy and filling. Black beans are considered to be the best “meat-free” sources of protein serving up 15 grams each of protein and fiber per 1 cup…not to mention black beans have the highest antioxidant level of all beans!

I first learned how to make salsa almost 20 years ago from a Chef in San Franciso name Barclay. He was a chef at one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco called Bix (on Gold St.) Bix had foie gras that was to die for and the most outrageous bar burgers that had to be made from filet mignon because they melted in your mouth like butter! Needless to say Barclay made a killer salsa and I’m thankful to him for starting me out on the right path when it came to making salsa.

This black bean salsa is almost identical to my “best mango-avocado salsa ever” on my website except I minus one mango and add 2 cans of Goya black beans. This is a such a quick and easy recipe and if you don’t have time for the chopping you’ve got to check out the produce department at your local store because most of them do offer a section of pre-chopped vegetables or you could pre-chop everything yourself the night before you put this dinner together.

Fresh swordfish is now being caught off the Carolina’s so it’s an ideal fish to buy. Swordfish is a hardy kind of fish and eats like a steak so it is very filling. The oils in the swordfish are also as nutritious for you, if not more, as eating that black bean salsa. So what a team this black bean salsa & pan seared swordfish makes…you just can’t beat it! The best thing is it doesn’t have to be summer to whip this meal up either…enjoy. Make sure to watch my YouTube cooking show that goes with this recipe and don’t forget to subscribe on my YouTube channel so that you can receive my latest cooking show releases!

You may want to try baked asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, or roasted chick peas for an appetizer and the chocolate avocado mousse for dessert to go along with this dinner.

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INGREDIENTS: You need approx. .30 lbs per person for the swordfish

NOTE: CLICK HERE If you need some guidance on cutting up the avocado and or mango AND look to directions in that recipe

  • 2 cans Goya black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 lg mangoes chopped 1/4″ cube
  • 1 avocado chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 1 cup or 2 med/lg size tomato’s or 5 small tomato’s chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 1 cup or 1/2 extra LG Vidalia onion (or yellow) FINELY chopped
  • 1 FINELY chopped jalapeno
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • a dash of Siracha (optional)
  • S & P
  • 1-2 lbs of fresh swordfish cut up into .30 lbs pieces per person

DIRECTIONS: Pre-Heat oven to 350º

  1. Add all of the salsa ingredients ( all the first items in the list except the fish) into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Cut up the swordfish into .30 lb pieces and salt and olive oil them
  3. Heat cast iron pan or heavy bottom pan to med/high
  4. When pan is hot add in swordfish and sear 3 minutes on each side and then put into the oven for 5 minutes to finish
  5. Spoon up salsa in the center of the plate and place a piece of swordfish on top
  6. Squeeze a piece of lemon over the top and mangia mangia : )
  7. We really love to eats this salsa with blue chips.
  8. I have also served this salsa up on the tips of endive leaves, and or with a cooked shrimp on top of that ….yum!
  9. I must warn you this salsa is highly addictive……consume at your own risk! LOL

 

Chocolate-Avocado Mousse Recipe

Chocolate-Avocado Mousse

You will be amazed how this fruit can be transformed into a creamy, chocolatey mousse! Yes, an avocado is actually a fruit from an avocado tree. I read through so many recipes that it took a bit to figure out which chef inspired me here but I finally got it done. Some recipes have you grinding chia seeds to thicken the mousse but the avocado is already thick and creamy so I find that step unnecessary. Others have honey or a man-made “all natural” sweetener added in but I think the agave nectar is the best option.

This recipe is from Giada De Laurentis’ team except I change it up by adding a little more chocolate and by using Perugina “milk chocolate bars (Italian) or Ghirdelli milk chocolate chips instead of the Ghiradelli semi sweet chips.  This mousse is pretty rich so using the creamy milk chocolate bars lightens it up a bit and another reason being I wanted to get my two children to eat the mousse …they love the milk chocolate. Yes, that would be the kids who don’t eat anything green. I told you I would get them to eat something green sooner or later. I just left out the part that one of their favorite desserts, chocolate mousse, was made with avocado’s when serving it up to them…needless to say they LOVED it! They will thank me some day.

Make sure to watch my YouTube cooking show that goes with this recipe and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE on my YouTube channel so that you can receive my latest cooking show releases!

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Ingredients:  

  • 4  VERY RIPE-California avocado’s (SOFT not TOO MUSHY because they get brown inside)
  • 7 oz. Perugina milk chocolate bars chopped up ( 2- 3.5 oz bars)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp fine salt
  • fresh raspberries and whipped cream for garnish-optional
  • Fresh mint

Directions:

  1. Chop up all the avocado’s and put them into the food processor.
  2. In a small bowl melt the chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar in the microwave for 30 seconds x3 stirring at each interval…..WATCH so as not to BURN the chocolate (everyone’s microwave is a little different).
  3. Add the melted chocolate, and the next 5 ingredients to the food processor and purée for 30 seconds, stop to scrape the sides, then purée for 1-2 minutes, stop to scrape the sides and purée for 10-20 seconds more.
  4. Scoop out the avocado mousse into your favorite glasses or bowls.
  5. The mousse will be slightly warm from the food processor so put the glasses or bowls into the refrigerator for 2 hours to chill before serving.
  6. Garnish with whipped cream and raspberries…Yum!

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TIP:  There is an easy way to get the pit out of a avocado which I have displayed in the pictures above.  After running the knife around the flesh of the avocado against the edges of the inside pit… put the knife down and twist the avocado halves and pull apart. Then stick the knife into the pit and do the same thing holding on to the knife with one hand and carefully twist the avocado pit and it will pop right out.  Then knock the pit off onto the board away from your hands.  This can be a little tricky the first time so I would advise that this would be for an adult to try.   Finally, Insert a large spoon and scoop the avocado along the edge of the avocado skin to remove avocado flesh.

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TIP:  VERY IMPORTANT….it is wise to remove this end stem off the avocado because it would taste extremely bitter if it were to accidentally get into the mousse.

Best Mango-Avocado Salsa Ever

Best Mango-Avocado Salsa Ever

This truly is the most amazing salsa ever!  In fact I found salsa difficult to photograph so I took many pictures of the finished salsa worried that you won’t be able to tell how delicious it is just by looking at the pictures.  Gotta love those sweet and hot flavors together and just knowing that it is all so good for you makes it even better, if that’s possible.   I make this for friends when they come over it’s the first thing gone.   There really is nothing like refreshing mango-avocado salsa in the hot summer months but why should we have to wait until then when we can enjoy ripe mangoes in the winter too!  When I go to the market to buy mangoes this time of year they are usually not quite ripe enough to eat right away.  It’s one of those things where you need to plan a few days ahead so you have time to leave them on your counter to fully ripen.   It’s definitely worth the 2-3 day wait for the mango to soften slightly and the juicy flesh to turn a deep golden color and taste as sweet as honey.  Be sure not to let them get too soft….better to be slightly soft then mushy because that lovely golden flesh starts to turn brown.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lg mangoes chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 1 avocado chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 2 med/lg size tomato’s or 5 small tomato’s chopped 1/4″ cubed
  • 1/2 vidalia onion (or yellow) FINELY chopped
  • 1 FINELY chopped jalapeno
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • a dash of Siracha (optional)
  • S & P

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. We really love to eats this salsa with blue chips.
  3. I have also served this salsa up on the tips of endive leaves, and or with a cooked shrimp on top of that ….yum!
  4. I must warn you this salsa is highly addictive……consume at your own risk! LOL

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TIP:  There is an easy way to get the pit out of a avocado which I have displayed in the pictures above.  After running the knife around the flesh of the avocado against the edges of the inside pit… put the knife down and twist the avocado halves and pull apart. Then stick the knife into the pit and do the same thing holding on to the knife with one hand and carefully twist the avocado pit and it will pop right out.  Then knock the pit off onto the board away from your hands.  This can be a little tricky the first time so I would advise that this would be for an adult to try.   Finally, Insert a large spoon and scoop the avocado along the edge of the avocado skin to remove avocado flesh.