Monday, December 31, 2012

Oh dear.  I did not make the 52 weeks.  I somehow forgot that a "retail" business, even if it's not a brick-and-mortar business, get's very busy from October through Christmas.

The good news is that we did 5x the amount of holiday orders as last year!

The bad news is that I didn't do a guacamole recipe for the last quarter. Not even one!

Here's to a New Year full of new guacamole.

Happy 2013 to you and yours on this New Year's Eve.

The Avocado Diva and friends.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Carpinteria Avocado Festival WINNER's recipe for Guacamole

I would be remiss if I didn't supply the TOP winner of a guacamole contest - since this is the week of the Carpinteria, 3 day avocado festival!

Here is the winner of LAST year's guacamole contest:

Winning Recipe by Cherisse Kirkendall of Carpinteria
7 Hass Avocados (Med)
4 Diced & Seeded Roma Tomatoes
1 Cup Fine Diced Red Onion
2Tbls Fresh Squeezed Lime
1 ½ Tbls Lawry’s Garlic Salt
Dash Pepper
Mash avocados in a bowl to desired texture and add red onion and seasonings to taste. Slice tomatoes and remove seeds. Cut into medium size squares. Fold in tomatoes. A little chunky is always good. Serve chilled.
If you are anywhere NEAR Santa Barbara, California in early October - you don't want to miss this FREE, wonderful, 3 day festival on the beach. Loads of fun and you can meet the "official" California Avocado Commission "stuffed guy" (above).  
If you live far away - consider planning your next vacation to attend! Seriously, October is one of THE best month's to visit our central coast - the fog is gone, the days are hot (but not TOO hot!) and still pretty long - the beaches are much emptier (all the kids are back in school) and the hotel rates have gone back down. 
Some come visit AND eat some guacamole like a DIVA!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Silence of the Lambs Guacamole

Lamb avocados are in season right now - late summer and early fall. The "Lamb" avocado is often very large and has an exceptionally firm flesh even when full of oil. It is related to the Hass avocado -- with a bumpy, black skin and a nutty flavor. It is an ideal avocado for making guacamole.

I use my Williams-Sonoma avocado cuber tool on my Lamb - as it has a thick wire mesh that cutes through the Lamb flesh very easily. (I wish I could sell this on - but it's an exclusive to them).

Here's the technique: cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Push the cuber into the avocado's flesh (see photo 2). Holding onto the avocado's skin-side, make a 90 degree twist of the tool - and the avocado comes loose in cubes!

It's easy to then dump the cubes out with a quick flick of the wrist and make quick work of the Lamb.

My "Silence of the Lambs" reference is of course, because this handy little tool looks a LOT like the scary mask that Hannibal Lector wears in the movie. So perhaps you can enjoy your Lamb guacamole with a nice chianti....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guac Kabobs

Mupu Hass works well
 Did you know that here at the Avocado Diva ( we "test" out the avocados ahead of time to make sure they will be ripe? We usually get them a couple of weeks ahead of time to make sure they have enough oil and will ripen well for our customers. That's is what happened with these avocados - and lead to this unusual "kabob" recipe.

The avocado shown here is a "Mupu" Hass - an avocado developed for a micro climate near Santa Paula - called the "Mupu" ranch.  This Hass relative ripens later in the summer/early fall and is extra firm and hearty.

The Diva was ripening them in late August - and they were still a little too hard.  Soft enough to cut open -- but still very firm. Not wanting to waste these beauties - she decided to try grilling them (sometimes when you heat an oily avocado - it softens nicely) -- and it worked on these Mupus!

She then added some other ingredients - found in guacamole and thus her "Guacamole Kabobs" were born - just in time for a Labor Day bbq. Here's the easy recipe!

2 to 3 firm Hass varieties (Lamb, Mupu or regular Hass)
green onions - cut into large pieces
heirloom, small tomatoes (e.g. - cherry or grape type)
the Diva's Guacamole Spice Mix 

Cut the avocados into large wedges, peel and de-pit. Cut wedges into 1/2s or 1/3s (depending on size of avocado). Dress with lime juice and a sprinkle of Guacamole Spice Mix (7 sea salts, loads of garlic, 13 other herbs).

Thread all ingredients onto water-soaked kabob sticks. (see photos - but any order will work!)

Season with Diva's Guacamole spice mix
Grill over hot fire for 4-5 minutes, turning once or twice.

Grill without turning too much!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

10 Little Known Secrets to GREAT GUAC

FRESH avocados straight from Chris Sayer's trees

  1. Use the freshest, in-season, oil-based avocados. If you can get them straight from the ranch (e.g. - via the Diva! those are the best. (E.G. - winter = Bacon, spring = Fuerte or Santana, summer = Lamb, Gem, Esther and winter = late season Lamb or perhaps an import). 
  2. Always WASH your avocados. Wash them, dry them well - then set them out to ripen (or put them in the crisper). Why do you need to wash your avocados? Orchards are dusty places - avocados always have dust on them. Even from packing houses -- you would not believe how dirty they are. Not to mention when I'm in the orchards - there are always birds (who don't wear little birdy diapers...), there are always coyotes, rats, possums, raccoons, squirrels, etc. etc. You get the picture. Most orchards don't use much (if any) pesticides or herbicides - but still - you should wash for those too.  A good rinse and scrub with a soft brush or even a paper towel is fine. Then dry them. If you leave them wet, they ripen oddly. 
  3. Plan ahead. Avocados fresh from a tree take 7 to 10 days to ripen. If you get them from the store (and thus, a packing house) - they may only take 2 to 3 days. So plan ahead for guacamole.
  4. Smash AND Cube. The best guacamole is smooth AND chunky. Mash about 2/3 of your avocado - but leave a good 1/4 to 1/3 of them in bigger chunks for a truly delicious guacamole. I like to make my "mash" and season it well (see tip 9). Then make a bowl of "chunky" items (chunks of avocado, tomatoes, chilis, onions, etc.) - Carefully fold the chunks into the mash to finish your excellent guacamole. 
  5. Be sure and use an acid. Most people squeeze a lime or lemon into their guacamole. This helps to keep the avocado from turning brown (as it oxidizes) AND it adds great flavor. You can use grapefruit juice or even a vinegar if you like. For extra flavor - you can even use the zest of lemon or lime. It adds a very bright note to your guacamole.
  6. Dry your cilantro. If you like cilantro in your guacamole - use a lettuce spinner to dry it. OR roll it in paper towels before you chop it.  Wet cilantro gets ugly black and the extra water is no good for guacamole. 
  7. Check for roots.  Sometimes the seed is already starting to grow a root in a well ripened avocado. Just nick out the root so you don't get a weird, hard bit in your guacamole.
  8. Get all the green! The most nutritious and flavorful part of an avocado is the deep green flesh next to the skin. If you use a tool or spoon to get the avocado out - be sure and "scrape" the skin clean to get ALL of the dark green part. This adds more avocado flavor as well as extra vitamins and minerals - as they lurk in the darkest, greenest part of the avocado.
  9. Cut out the root IF its there
  10. Season guacamole well. Most people under season their guacamole. Avocados are very bland. Use lots of salt, garlic and chili sauce and keep tasting as you mix. (Or the Diva's Guacamole Spice Mix, easy!)  Taste test it with the chip or veggie you are going to serve - because that can affect how much seasoning. (E.g. - chips are salty - so if you are serving your guacamole with chips, it needs less salt than if you are serving it with carrot sticks.) 
  11. Season EACH component
    Dry cilantro in a salad spinner
  12. Season each component. This is a "chef trick" - season the tomatoes separately. Roast the chilis for an added flavor. Toss your cilantro with the chili sauce. Etc. Etc.  Season each component and you'll find the overall guacamole will taste that much more complex. 
Finally -- I like to put my guacamole in a beautiful dish and top it with a few sprigs of cilantro (if I used cilantro) as well as a ring or two of the onion or chili plus a few pretty tomato pieces. Not only is it lovely (and we eat with our eyes first!) - it also gives clues to our friends of what tastes and elements we used in our guacamole. 

For 52 more recipes, tips and tricks - please subscribe to this blog! You'll find out WAY more than you ever knew about guacamole!

The Avocado Diva

scrape out ALL the green
Wash your avo

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

SALT.... Guacamole Is Yummy With 7 Kinds Of Sea Salt

7 sea salts from around the globe = Diva Style 

Shhhh -- the Diva's gonna share a secret... come closer.



Avocados are -- well -- pretty bland.  Shhhh.

Oh yes, they ARE creamy. Luscious. Oily. Kind of like - cream cheese. Or mozzarella. Or tofu.

Avocados are a wonderful foil for soaking up flavor and a great partner for flavor - (much like cream cheese or mozzarella or tofu...)

The Diva makes it easy for you.
The bottom line is - to make a GREAT guacamole you need to use some delicious and high quality salts. The Diva knows this and has (literally) gone to the ends of the earth to gather sea salts from 7 oceans and mixes them together JUST for others who savor the flavor of heirloom (aka heritage) avocados. So if you want to make a good guacamole - be sure and use a killer sea salt.

If you want to make a GREAT guacamole - use the Diva's 7 sea salt blend. It includes flakey sea salt from Australia (the Diva lived in Oz for a summer in 2009), black salt from Hawaii, red salt from Kauai, Kosher salt from New York, pink salt from Himalayas, Korean sea salts and Mexican salt from Baja. She has them blended together with 13 herbs and spices as well as some garlic from California. The taste is amazing.

Finally - if you want a super, secret, amazing (and very easy) way to make guacamole - the Diva has a Guacamole Spice Mix. The Guac Mix has a hint of heat from chilis and the taste of cilantrol from the crushed seeds of cilantro.

You just smash up an avocado or two; add a 1/2 teaspoon or so of her Guacamole Spice Mix - with a squeeze of lemon or lime.  You *can* add other ingredients (tomatoes, onions, cilantro, etc.) - but you don't have too! It's that easy - the Diva's been making this spice mix AND her guacamole for over 20 years. You can make a world class guacamole that easy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Do NOT use these avocados for guacamole...

Mexicola avocados - tiny - rare 
 You may know that the Avocado Diva is passionate about her "heirloom" avocados (aka "heritage" avocados.) They are ALL delicious and special to her.

But -- SOME are NOT good for guacamole.

Here are a couple of examples -

a. The Mexicola avocado. These tiny black avocados are super small and have a very large pit. So there isn't much flesh; however, the skin is edible! And it has a VERY distinct flavor - like black licorice (or anise or fennel).  These avocados are the "original" avocados - what the Spanish explorers would have found when they trekked through the jungles of South America on their search for Gold.  All that said - they are NOT good for guacamole. WAY too much work to peel and pit. Plus - they are SO special - you should eat them like a magnificent, gourmet treat - because that's what they are. Bite into one and you'll never forget it!

Softball sized Reed avocados - not for Guac
b. Reed Avocados - the Reed is a late summer avocado and kind of hard to find. Not impossible - the Diva will ship them usually in late August or September. Yes, the Diva can get them for you (especially if you get her "Avocado of the Month box"). If you are lucky enough to live in So. Cal. YOU might find them in a farmer's market. But for the Diva - they are the one summer avocado that has a bit too much "liquid" (water?!) for guacamole. MOST summer avocados are very oily and rich and make a great guacamole.  The Reed is better suited for a healthy shake or to make an ice cream - or better yet -- eat as a "fruit" - with other berries. (Yes, "other" berries; as technically, the avocado IS a berry.) But don't waste this beauty on guacamole.  It's not well suited for that.

c. The Nabal - so rare - I don't even have a photo of one! Nabals are the "Rancher's Stash" avocado. The Diva can usually only get a few each summer. And if she does - just like her farmer and rancher partners - she *kind* of hordes them. And eats them with just a spritz of lemon, lime and a shake of her 7 sea salt mixture. It would be a SERIOUS crime to use a Nabal as a guacamole avocado.

d. So what SHOULD you use for your guacamole avocado? You'll have to read the other 51 weeks to see what that might be.  ;-)