Farmers’ Market Guacamole

Hey there! In my last post on the summer cucumber salad, I challenged everyone to hit up their local farmers’ market. I’m lucky enough to have a number of markets in my area that set up shop weekly, as well as a great farm that has a stand open every day. I recently went looking for corn on the cob (which was fantastic!) and ended up buying some onions, tomatoes, and peppers as well — I just couldn’t resist. Add in some avocados from the supermarket, and I was ready for some guacamole!

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Guacamole dip

Ingredients

  • 1 small or 1/2 large white or yellow onion (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
  • 2 small tomatoes (about 3/4 – 1 cup)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • Chipotle powder
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a food processor or mini-chopper, combine the tomato and onion in large chunks. You can increase or decrease the total amount as desired (and depending on how big your avocados are) but I like about 1.5 times more tomato than onion. Open up the jalapeno, remove the seeds and the ribs, and chop into large chunks. Add the jalapeno and the garlic clove to the tomato and onion. Pulse your processor until you have a finely chopped but still chunky texture. Don’t go all the way to a puree. Set aside.

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Prepare the avocados. Start with the ripest avocado. Slice in half and remove the pit, then score the flesh crisscross as shown before scooping out with a spoon into a medium bowl. Add 1 tsp of lime juice and mash with a fork until it’s fairly creamy. Add the second avocado and the rest of the lime juice, and mash just a little bit, leaving some chunks this time.

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Spoon the tomato-onion mixture into the avocados gradually until you reach your desired proportions. Mix well. Add some chipotle powder if desired, and some salt and pepper. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. You’re probably wondering where the cilantro is… I just happen to not like it very much so I don’t include it, but you could certainly add some at this point as well.

Grab some chips and your beverage of choice and you’re good to go! Enjoy!

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Summer Favorite – Cucumber Salad

Hello everyone! Where I live, the unofficial last weekend of the summer was quite a dreary one, but hopefully we still have a good number of warm and sunny days to look forward to. If so, here is a great summer salad that’s super easy and very refreshing. The first time I made this, it was part of a picnic dinner we had in a local park and it really hit the spot. I think we had it with some grilled steak, but it could really go with anything.

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Cucumber Salad serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber or two small garden cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp dried dill or 2 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

Peel the cucumber if desired, then cut into quarters lengthwise. Chop quarters into 1/8″ thick slices. You should end up with about 3 cups or so. Add to a medium sized bowl.

Add the onion, dill, olive oil, and vinegar and mix well.

This salad tastes best if it can sit for a few hours in the fridge to let the flavors meld a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste just before serving. Don’t add the salt before the salad sits or it will draw some water out of the cukes and leave you with a puddle in the bottom of the bowl.

That’s it – simple, refreshing, and great summer side dish. If you’re lucky enough to have a good farmer’s market nearby, give it a look, get some super-fresh cukes, and give this salad a try! Hope you enjoy it!

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Inaugural Recipe — Ham and Swiss Pizza

Hello everyone! What better way to start my recipe blog than with a great pizza recipe. Everyone loves pizza, right? It was really the first food category that I gravitated to and started experimenting with (and pizza is great for experimentation). This recipe was one of the early successes. My wife and I used to throw Super Bowl parties every year and more often than not, I’d spend the entire first half in the kitchen rolling out pie after pie, with all different toppings, to varying levels of appreciation from our friends. This one never seemed to disappoint.

Now we tend to make individual size pizzas with different crusts, sauces, and cheeses to satisfy everyone in the house. I hope to show a good handful of different pizza ideas as this blog moves along. For now, let’s dig into one of my favorites.

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Ham and Swiss Pizza serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pizza dough or 1 large pre-made pizza crust (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • 1 – 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 6 oz deli ham
  • 6 oz deli Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • Cornmeal

Preparation

For making pizza from a dough, you will need a pizza stone and a pizza peel (see the Resources tab). Coat the stone with cornmeal and pop it in the oven. The cornmeal will keep the pizza from sticking to the stone. Let the dough sit out while you preheat and prep the other ingredients. It will be easier to work with as it gets closer to room temperature.

If using pre-made crusts, these can generally go right on the oven rack or a baking sheet (depending on how crisp you want things to get) in the upper part of the oven, or directly on a pizza stone (no cornmeal required).

Preheat the oven to 450.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard and the olive oil with a small whisk. Add pepper and garlic powder to taste, then add the thyme. Whisk to combine.

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For the ham and the cheese, for some reason I like to slice them in long strips for this recipe, but you could dice them, too. You could even use cookie cutters if you really wanted to…

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If using pre-made crusts, skip to the next paragraph. If using dough, roll it out on a floured surface to your desired thickness. A pound of dough should make about a 12-14″ pizza. Remove as many air bubbles as you can either by hand or by poking with a fork. Coat your pizza peel with cornmeal and place the dough on it. Give it a little shake to make sure it slides on the peel. Add more cornmeal if necessary.

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Spread the mustard mixture on your dough or crust, leaving a bit of an edge. Top with the Swiss, then the ham, then the red onion. Pop it in the oven, and bake 6-10 minutes, but keep an eye on it for your desired doneness.

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Let it cool for a couple minutes before slicing. As you can see, I like a salad with pizza. For drinks, I know most people like beer with pizza, but if you’re more of wine person, for reds go with a Beaujolais or a non-oaked Chardonnay if you prefer whites.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you try this and enjoy it!

Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Pizza | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments