Monthly Archives: February 2012

Shrimp and Avocado Tostadas

‘Guac’ Party resulted in a surplus of ripe avocados. So, in the spirit of not wasting food, I cooked up some shrimp and avocado tostadas.  This was my first time preparing home-made tostadas shells, which were fried up from the leftover corn tortillas.

There were three layers to this tostada:  cumin black beans, pico de gallo and the shrimp and avocado.  The only part of the tostada I didn’t prepare were the beans, which came from a can. I did, however, add a couple teaspoons of cumin to the mixture during heating.

After peeling and deveining the shrimp, I tossed in a few seasonings with lime juice and marinated for 10 minutes before skewering and grilling. Here are my recipes for the pico de gallo and shrimp/avocado mix.

Pico de Gallo–yields 2 cups

1/2 red onion (finely chopped)

2 roma tomatoes ( chopped)

1/3 cup cilantro (roughly chopped)

juice of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 jalapeno with some seeds (finely chopped)

In a medium sized bowl, toss all the ingredients together.

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Shrimp and Avocado Tostadas–more than enough to top 10 tostadas

2 lbs. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 teaspoons of cumin

1/3 cup of cilantro

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne

1/2 jalepeno and seeds (chopped)

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

juice of 3 limes

3 ripe avocados, removed from shell and cubed up

1.  Toss everything together (no avocado) and let the shrimp sit for at least 10 minutes.

2.  Soak your skewers before putting them on the grill to prevent burning.  I had 4 shrimp for each skewer. Discard liquid.

3.  Place on a heated grill until shrimp are cooked on both sides. Fully cooked when pink.

4. Remove shrimp from skewers and toss with avocados. Sprinkle a little more lime juice over the mixture.

5. Layer a tostada with beans, pico de gallo and shrimp and avocado. Top with a few splashes of hot sauce if desired.

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‘Guac’ Party

A typical block party is when a neighborhood comes together to celebrate an occasion worth celebrating.  And last night,  Lisa hosted Cranium night.  We didn’t seal off a block in Long Beach, but we did close down Lisa’s place for a night of foolishness that included Cranium play-offs, Xbox Dance-a-thon and a whole lot of eating.

We opened the evening with a Mexican inspired fare of beef and/or chicken tacos, fresh chips, fresh salsa and fresh GUACAMOLE!  The beef and chicken were purchased from my local meat market and grilled at chez Lisa’s. The chips and salsa were from a restaurant we typically frequent.

All photos courtesy of Andy Hope

However, the highlight of the night was my GUACAMOLE! Some elbow grease, 10 avocados and my power ingredient—cumin, hailed from the toughest critics, enduring praise, admiration and munching. Recipe below.

After dinner festivities were all about Cranium. If you aren’t familiar with the game, get with the program. It’s the ULTIMATE board game that includes charades, Pictionary, trivial pursuit and more to keep the momentum going all night long.

We concluded the game with a hot cup of Ibarra, served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and sprinkling of cinnamon.  When I prepared the hot chocolate, I added a couple dashes of cayenne pepper and a lot of cinnamon to the hot mixture.  The heat of the cayenne complimented the chocolate perfectly. I think everyone dug the cayenne.

A spicy ending to a great night.

All photos courtesy of Andy Hope

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Guacamole Recipe (scaled down version) serves 3-4

3 ripe avocados

Juice of 1 good sized lime

1/3 cup red onions (finely diced)

1/3 cup Roma tomatoes (diced)

1/3 cup cilantro (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (finely diced)

Half a jalapeño with a few seeds (finely diced)

1/2 heaping teaspoon of cumin

1/3 teaspoon cayenne

1/3 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Reserve a seed to keep dip from browning.

(adjust seasonings to taste)

Scoop the ripe avocados from their shells into a large bowl.  Add the dry ingredients and lime juice to the avocados and mash with a fork or masher.  Mash to desired consistency. We like ours smooth-chunky.

  1. Fold the fresh ingredients into the mashed avocado. Put in the seed. Serve with chips or eat with a spoon.

Or—a guacamole recipe sufficient to feed 10-12 people

10 ripe avocados

Juice of 3 fat limes

1 cup red onions (finely diced)

2 Roma tomatoes (diced)

2/3 cup cilantro (chopped)

2 jalapeños some seeds and vein (finely diced)

2 teaspoons salt

1 head of garlic (finely diced)

4 heaping teaspoons of cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

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The Virtue of Sharing Food

Picture it:  Evening out with friends at a newly discovered eatery with plenty of character.  Days counting down to the big event, you do your research and see what reviewers are saying and recommending. You’ve looked over the online menu and have carefully decided what you want to order.

Finally. Saturday night.  You and your party have arrived. Seated and menu in hand. Then, your server proceeds to list the the evenings specials.  Instant dilemma.  The chef’s special–leg of lamb with Moroccan spice rub sounds wonderfully delicious.  Do you stand firm and order the Chilean sea bass or switch?

Your dining companions all order different dishes. You stick to your guns and order the sea bass.  Moments later, everyone’s dishes arrive and start eating in unison.  This is your chance to ask for a taste of the leg of lamb from your mate, who is siting adjacent to you, ordered. He pleasantly agrees and in turn, you willingly return the favor.

The idea of sharing was instilled in us ever since youth.  Sharing is a virtue, considered to be generous and thoughtful.  Share your toys. Share the space on the park bench. Share your food. Heck, Asians have practiced this for ages: family style dining.

Not only is sharing a great way to sample different dishes, but it helps with eating healthier portions and reduces food waste.  When you eat out, how often will you finish the entire plate of food? Yes, you may wipe your plate clean dining in higher end restaurants–but what about everyday chain restaurants? Portions are gigantic!  Yes, there is the option to take food home, but admit it, there are many times when leftovers are left in the fridge for days, uneaten and eventually discarded.

So, if you decide to eat out tonight, split a meal with someone.

Food Ninja and Portable Utensils

What is a food ninja, you ask? In the simplest form, a food ninja, is one who can stealthily sneak food from someone’s plate when they aren’t  looking. But, this is not me.  I’m just prepared. If you have food around, I make no qualms about munching on it.  If your food is unguarded, its a free for all.That’s why I carry my portable utensils around where ever I go.

I bought this set when I was in Vietnam for approximately $2.50.  The spoon served its purpose on those hungry Cambodian nights in my room when the fire was already exhausted. I had a water boiler and some instant oatmeal and my spoon. Oh, and a bowl.  Invest in one today.  Happy Sunday. I’m gonna go eat crepes.