Making the Perfect Avocado Salad

 

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The Ingredients

Avocado...4 large, ripe avocados…about 2C cubed…peeled, pitted, and  cubed or chopped about the same shape and size of the cucumbers

 

 

Cilantro and Other Herbs.…Any tender fresh herbs are great additions to your avocado salad—such as cilantro, dill, oregano, cumin, parsley, chives, and basil. If using fresh herbs—such as  fresh cilantro, parsley, basil, dill or a combination—use 1/2C chopped. If using dried herbs, use 2Tbsp chopped

 

Cucumber...1 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise and then slicedChoose thin-skinned, seedless cucumbers—such as English, hothouse, or Persian cucumbers—instead of regular garden cucumbers. If you are using garden cucumbers, peel off some or all of the tough skin and scoop out some of the seeds before adding to the salad.

 

Garlic…Garlic is an optional ingredients, but if you do decide to use garlic, use either a small garlic clove or 1/2tsp minced.

 

Jalapeño…This is another optional ingredient, but will add some zip to your salad. If you are going to use jalapenos in your salad, make sure to first remove the seeds and white membrane from the pepper.

 

Lemons or Limes…The lime dressing is what makes or breaks this simple salad. You can use either limes or lemon. If using limes, use 3Tbsplime juice or squish a couple of small limes. If using lemons, use 2Tbsp lemon juice or the juice of one medium lemon.

 

Olive Oil…Using 1Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil makes the salad dressing well-rounded and luxurious.

 

Onion...1/2C red onion…could also use ½Vidalia onion, if available…very thinly sliced…Soak the sliced onion in water for a few minutes before adding to the salad. This will preserves the flavor but get rid of the harsh, lingering aftertaste.

 

Tomatoes...You can use either a pint of cherry tomatoes that have been cut in half, a large ripe beefsteak tomato that has been chopped, or 1# Roma tomatoes that have been seeded and chopped. Cherry or grape tomatoes will probably be the best choice because they are almost always sweet—even when out of season. The important thing is that the tomatoes you choose are juicy and ripe.

 

Other Options...Along with these “expected” ingredients, feel free to experiment with other veggies and cheeses also…such as bell peppera oe feta.

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The Instructions

Combine avocados, tomatoes, cucumber, and whatever produce or cheese that you have decided to use in a large serving bowl.

 

Whisk together the dressing ingredients—lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, herbs or spices—in a small bowl.

 

Pour the dressing over the top.

 

Toss everything together gently until the  avocado and cucumber are well coated in the dressing.

 

Sprinkle feta on top.

 

Taste to see if you need to season the salad even more…by drizzling more olive oil or lime juice on top of it, sprinkling salt and pepper on top, or adding your favorite hot sauce.

 

Since avocados brown so quickly, it is best to serve the salad immediately.

 

You could also cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day.

 

In fact, you may want to wait and add the avocado right before serving the salad.

 

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one day. Even though the avocado will brown slightly and the vegetables will become more liquidy, the salad will still taste delicious.

Making the Perfect Carne Asada

 

Carne Asada - Cilantro, olive oil, soy sauce, orange + lime juice, garlic, jalapeno and cumin make for the easiest and most flavorful marinade. SO SO GOOD.

Carne asada is a grilled and sliced steak that has been marinated and perhaps seared before being grilled. This is a popular dish in Latin America, especially northern Mexico.

 

 

Carne asada is served  both as a main dish or as an ingredient in other dishes—such as tacos and burritos.

 

 

The perfect carne asada is perfectly juicy and perfectly tender….and perfectly grilled to perfection….regardless of whether you choose to eat the meat plain,… on a taco, burrito, or anything else you can think of.

 

 

The perfect carne asada is the perfect proof that “simple is often better.”

 

 

The perfect carne asada is simple, fast, and easy to make…making it perfect for your next event—regardless if it is a small get together or a large gathering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Perfect Paprika-Based Barbecue Rib Rub

Making the Perfect Chicken Paprikash

When You’re Hungry in Hungary

Paprika…The What

Making the Perfect Stuffed Bell Peppers

Don’t Be a Dumbo About Making Gumbo

If I were to talk about both choosing the perfect ingredients for your gumbo and using the perfect method, this would be an extremely long post.

Instead we’re gonna talk about the perfect ingredientsw…and talk about method in the next.

Making the perfect gumbo is about like decorating a Christmas tree. There are an umpteen thousand different ways to do it, and every one has their own opinion of what your finished project should look/taste like.

But regardless your personal preference, there are some tips about choosing ingredients that remain the same regardless what type of gumbo you may be making.

 

 

 

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Mear

A few things to keep in mind as far as the meat are…

1. If you are making chicken gumbo, use the legs becacuse they will give the best flavor.

2. Buy bone-in chicken, and then cook your chicken on the bone, but take off the skin if there’s any on it.. This will add extra richness to your gumbo. Just make sure that you carefully remove all bones from your gumbo before serving…especially if you are serving it to your Cajun grandmother.

3. Brown your meat over high heat before sticking in into the pot. This will add more flavor to your gumbo.

4. If using a sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, wait and add them at the end of your cooking time…otherwise they get get rubbery.

 

 

Now for a few recipes as to which meat can be used and some recipes to try…

 

 

 

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Vegetables

In a  previous post we learned that The Cajun Holy Trinity consists of onions, celery, and bell peppers—not carrots, as in the classic French mirepoix which consists  of onions, celery, and carrots,

As in most cooking, it is always best to use fresh ingredients instead of the frozen stuff…even though the frozen stuff is so much more convenient…

Tomatoes…Tomatoes are typically found in Creole gumbo recipes,..not Cajun…(so not going to get into the specifics of this, just trust me on this one)…versions of the dish

Okra…Okra is often used as a thickener. Okra is often used as a thickener and While there are many gumbo recipes that do not call for okra…and many people do not like adding the okra because they claim that it makes their gumbo slimy…,the word “gumbo” is actually derived from the West African word for okra.

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Liquid

You can use either water or stock/broth to create the base of your gumbo., but using water will mean that your gumbo will end up having much less flavor…so I wouldn’t recommend it.

And of course you can buy stock/broth from the grocery store, but it’s also easy to make your own…and perhaps cheaper.

So how you make your own stock?

The stock or broth that you use depends on the type of gumbo you are making, but here are three basic recipes…

Making the Perfect Cajun Gumbo

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Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

The perfect Cajun gumbo is not exactly a soup…not exactly a stew…but an ultimately thick and hearty dish consisting of the Cajun Holy Trinity…celery, bell peppers and onions…and perhaps one or several varieties of meat and seafood—such as andouille sausage, shrimp, and crab….and, what I think is the best part, the okra.

The perfect Cajun gumbo is the result of the merging together of several different cultural groups—such as French, Spanish, African, Irish, and American Indians—from as far back as the early 1800s….combining the best that the world has to offer into one great big pot of soup.

The perfect Cajun gumbo is one of these Southern comfort foods is gumbo…the ultimate comfort food if you’re from Louisiana…(trust me, my husband and I were stationed at Fort Polk for three years….only part that I did like about living there was the food.)…

 

There are so many different recipes for gumbo out there…but like any true Southerner knows, the best gumbo or any other ultimate comfort food can only be found in their mom or grandmother’s kitchen.

 

 

It;s amazing to look back and realize just how much time our own mothers…(well maybe)…but definitely our grandmothers in the Deep South spent in the kitchen, especially on Saturdays to get ready for “after meetin’ eatin'” on Sundays….another Deep South ritual.

Like most other comfort food in the Deep South, making gumbo does not require a recipe…you just “wing” it for the most part.

 

 

As for me personally, there are two types of people that I hate more than any other group in this great big world…those who can play piano by ear, and those who can cook without a recipe.

Most Southern chefs are the type of cook that can take a handful of this and a handful of that and whip up something awesome…I would love to say that I’m one of those chefs. 

 

 

Truth is…I’m not.

 

 

Gumbo recipes that you will find online will run the gamut from being as thick as porridge or as thin as soup…being a caramel color or being darker mahogany…consisting of sausage, ham, shellfish, chicken, and any and all other kinds of varmints—including such things that most of us not having grown up in the Deep South would even consider eating…such as squirrel.s

So in the next two posts, we’ll take a look at a few ingredients that can be used in gumbo…and then a few tips on how to make your own gumbo as good as your Cajun grandmother’s…(well, maybe not that good)…

The Cajun Holy Trinity

Usually when I think about  bell \peppers, the first thing that  comes to mind is stuffed bell peppers.

However, the most common use of bell peppers is the almost daily use of “The holy trinity,”…used just about in every recipe…such as Cajun foods and Creole foods like etouffee, gumbo, dirty rice, red beans and ricer, and jambalaya…stews, soups…spaghetti sauce…and more.

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What is the Cajun Holy Trinity?

The holy trinity consists of some combination of onions, bell peppers, and celery, dependent on the recipe you’re using.

The Cajun holy trinity originated in France however….where another trinity of the local cuisine reigned supreme. This was a basic combination of onions, carrots, and celery…called mirepoix.

Mirepoix had been the starting point for most cooking in France since the 1700s,

When the Cajuns began settling in Louisiana, they expected to start cooking their meals by using the trio of veggies that they had always used in classic French cooking…but this was not the case…because carrots did not grow well in the Louisiana soil. Bell peppers were used instead of carrots.

Even though the Cajuns had been using this mixture for generations, it was not until Paul Prudhomme, the celebrity Cajun chef started using this term in the last 1970s or early 1980s that this became what this combination was called.

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Other Spice Blends Around the World

Sautéeing a trio of three chopped veggies is a common first step in many different types of food around the world…such as…

  • Chinese food…onions, soy sauce, and rice
  • German suppengrün…carrots, leeks, celery roots
  • Greek food…olive oil, lemon juice and garlic
  • Indian food…tadka…onions, garlic, ginger
  • Italian food…tomatoes, garlic and basil
  • Mexican food…rice, beans and chilies
  • Spanish food…soffrito,,,onion, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes

 

 

 

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Cooking with the Cajun Holy Trinity

The Cajun holy trinity is not actually meant to be a side dish or meal in and of itself…rather a seasoning blend that breaks down while you are cooking and adds more flavor to whatever you are cooking.

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Making the Holy Trinity

Start by washing the three ingredients. Then mince them up with a sharp knife.

Now sauté your vegetables in butter or oil over medium heat…(more on this later as we start looking at different Cajun recipes)

Once the vegetables start cooking down, lower the heat and finish cooking the food until it is transparent and darken in color…about 30 to 40 minutes.