Mortar and Pestle Guacamole

 Tap into your inner caveman with this guacamole recipe:

Homemade Guacamole Recipe

My favorite kitchen tool is my stone mortar and pestle. It sits proudly on my kitchen counter, holding its own in a caveman-esque sort of way, flaunting its primal elegance in between the stove and the espresso machine. It’s smugly confident in its weight and kitchen hierarchy (deemed decorative) while my food processor and standing mixer are banished behind cabinet doors (deemed clutter). New kitchen techniques are awe-inspiring and futuristic, yet my mortar is old and wise with a lineage extending as far back as the Old Testament. Sous-vides, anti-griddles, and smart ovens may be cutting edge, favored by professional chefs and culinary buffs, but my mortar has a stellar history as an essential tool to Native Americans, ancient Romans and Greeks, medieval pharmacists, and home cooks spanning the ages. It is the embodiment of simplicity and timelessness, pleasingly tactile and massively elemental. And it’s affordable.

What can you do with a mortar and pestle? You can grind, pound, and smash to your heart’s content (a useful method of expression these days), making pestos, pastes, sauces, dips, dressings, and marinades. You can grind seeds into powder. (I assure you that the results of lightly toasting cardamom, cumin, or coriander seeds, and then grinding them to a fine powder in a mortar will yield results unparalleled by the pre-ground versions.) The mortar is also the perfect place to smash garlic with sea salt, adding fresh-cut herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, and mint. Crush the garlic first with the salt, then add the herbs and bruise them by giving them a few turns with the pestle to release their juices and flavor. You will be left with a powerful, aromatic paste you can smear on meats and poultry before roasting.

You can make guacamole, a perfect crowd pleaser, just in time to make for your Super Bowl party. Serve with chips, and you have one-stop-shopping in a primitive vessel. If you don’t have a mortar, then simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork to achieve a chunky consistency.


Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes about 2 cups

1 small red or green jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove,  chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra chopped leaves for garnish
3 to 4 large ripe Hass avocados
2 tablespoons coarsely grated yellow onion with juice
Juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)

1. Combine the jalapeño, garlic, and red onion in a mortar. Press on the ingredients with your pestle, and grind them around the mortar in a circular movement, 3 to 4 times. Add the cilantro and gently bruise the leaves with the pestle.
2. Add the avocados, yellow onion, and lime juice and mash to form a blended but chunky consistency. Mix in the cumin, salt, black pepper, and hot sauce, if using, and taste for seasoning. Serve garnished with additional chopped cilantro.

BLT with Avocado and Sriracha Mayo

blat tastefood

Step aside kale detox and juice cleanse. It’s the new year, and I’m having a BLT. Not just any BLT, mind you, but a two-fisted BLT, sandwiched between crusty country levain bread, layered with creamy slices of avocado and smears of sriracha-licked mayo. What’s more to say? Happy 2015 to you!

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado with Sriracha Mayo

Makes 1

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Sriracha
2 thick slices country style bread
1 to 2 lettuce leaves
2 to 3 slices vine-ripened tomato
2 to 3 slices crisp cooked bacon
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced

Whisk the mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl.
Lightly toast the bread. Smear the mayo over each slice. Top one bread slice with lettuce, tomato, bacon and the avocado. Top with the remaining bread slice. Enjoy.

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado, Balsamic Syrup, Sea Salt, Grilled Bread

The avocado is a healthy staple in our California kitchen.  Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and high in monounsaturated fat.  They are rich in potassium, zinc, and B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K.  Due to their creamy texture and subtle flavor, the avocado is a perfect base for dips, drinks and even ice cream, while their coolness provides a foil to spice and heat in salsas and salads. Having said that, my favorite way to eat an avocado is on grilled bread with lemon and sea salt. When I feel extra fancy, I reduce balsamic vinegar to a viscous syrup which I  paint on the avocado slices. The only adornment required is a pinch of sea salt and a shower of black pepper. It’s simple, sublime and all about the avocado.  Continue reading Avocado Bruschetta

Bacon, Avocado, Tomato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Bacon Avocado Tomato Salad

This salad is a vehicle for bacon.  At least that’s how I viewed it when I made it the other day.  In all fairness, it also showcases beautiful sweet Early Girl tomatoes and cool, mild avocadoes. It also presents a light, rustic-style dinner completed by a hunk of piquant Gruyère cheese, Walnut Levain bread and a glass of Côtes du Rhône.  But, really, it’s about the bacon.

Bacon, Tomato, Avocado Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6

1/2 lb. (250 g.) slab bacon, cut in 1/4″ cubes
6 cups mixed greens (red oak, frisée, arugula), washed
4 small red tomatoes, such as early girl, quartered
1 small red onion, thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
1 avocado, diced
Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Prepare salad:
Sauté bacon in a skillet over medium heat until browned and fat is rendered, about 8 minutes.  Transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towel.
Arrange mixed greens in a serving bowl or on individual plates.  Top with tomatoes, onion slices, avocado and bacon.  Drizzle with Dijon Vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Dijon Vinaigrette
(Makes about 1/2 cup)

1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare vinaigrette:
Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a small bowl.  Pour in the oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking, to emulsify.



Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Avocado bruschetta

Avocados are plentiful here in California, and since we moved here, they are appearing with greater frequency in our kitchen.  Avocados are the pear-shaped fruit of the avocado tree, and are grown in temperate climates around the world.  California avocados were originally introduced from Mexico and can be found year round in the markets (or trees, if you should be lucky enough to have your own.)

Versatile and packed with nutrients the avocado is a healthy staple in the kitchen.  They are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and high in monounsaturated fat.  Avocados are rich in potassium, zinc, and B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K.  Their smooth texture and subtle flavor make the avocado a perfect base for dips, fillings, drinks and even ice cream.

Combined with other textures the avocado adds a distinctively creamy, cool and rich component to a dish. My favorite way to eat avocado is in salads or on toast, where the cool, creaminess of the avocado compliments the crunchy, savory textures of the salad or the dryness of the bread.

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 servings

2 slices peasant bread (pain paysan) or sourdough
1 large garlic clove
Extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup (60 ml.) balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
One ripe but firm Hass avocado
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare bruschetta:
Preheat oven grill or griddle pan
Smash garlic clove with side of chef knife.  Rub garlic over bread.  Brush lightly with olive oil. Toast bread in oven or on griddle, turning once, until golden brown.

Prepare balsamic vinegar reduction:
In a small saucepan bring balsamic vinegar and lemon juice to a boil.  Simmer until reduced by half.  Set aside to cool.
Trim tip of avocado.  Run knife vertically around center of avocado, cutting into flesh until knife meets the pit.  Gently twist the avocado open and remove pit.  Carefully remove skin, keeping avocado intact.  Slice avocado horizontally in 1/4″ slices.
Fan avocado slices on bread. Brush with balsamic syrup.  Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.