I’m not sure who out there is writing the master plan these days but between mother nature and the top brass in sports programming, someone must want me to spend an awful lot of time in front of the TV. We barely made it past the Super Bowl and now my favorite spectator event — the Winter Olympics — will begin broadcasting at the end of the week. That, combined with the nine inches of snow that fell in our New Jersey neighborhood on Monday and the ice storm that is descending on us now, has this family happily parked inside scanning our entertainment choices. And cooking. And snacking.
One of our favorite quick snacks is chips and dip. But not any chip, and not any dip. We’re talking tortillas here, and our favorite tortilla chip is the Irving, Texas-based Xochitl brand. Kindly, they make sure the phonetic pronunciation is all over their bag: “so’ cheel.” And I know everyone out there has their own personal preferences when it comes to tortilla chips, but if you ever come across a bag of either the white corn or blue corn Xochitl totopos de maize chips, pick up a bag and give them a try. I find them lighter and crunchier than other brands. More “corny” and far less oily. No preservatives or trans fats or GMOs either. All good things.
And if you do pick up a bag, you’ll need something to go with them. We already posted a pretty darn good (and easy) salsa recipe with fresh lime and cilantro. How about some guacamole too?
We’ve been making this recipe for so long that I neither remember where I first ran across it nor do I worry any longer about proportions or ratios. It’s a little different every time and that’s perfectly OK. You probably aren’t surprised that this version is light on the spice considering the three- and six-year-olds in the house, but you can always add some hot sauce, diced jalapeño (fresh or pickled) or half-a-teaspoon cayenne pepper if you like some sizzle in your guac. Personally, I think that this mild guacamole is the perfect accompaniment to other spicy elements on the table when it is served.
The one non-traditional thing about our guacamole — though there are a million versions out there, so this probably isn’t that strange — is the diced tomato we mix in. But having included it for years, I wouldn’t have it without. I really like the way the avocado, tomato and onion play against one another here, brightened up by the citrus juices and cilantro.
This is a healthy snack, packed with fiber and the vitamins K, B6, E and C, but that our kids lick the spoons when we make it is perhaps the best reward. But don’t take it solely from us. Make a batch for yourself and experiment a little. And sure, you can have this as part of a “stuck inside in front of the television” chip spread, but you should also try a dollop on a taco, or served with baked chicken and some Mexican rice. Or, if you’re getting all Sochi on me, maybe you can try some with Russian piroshki or pelmeni. I’m not sure that’s the prefect pairing…but you won’t know until you try. As they say in Russia, prijatnovo appetita!
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion, from approximately 1/4 of a large onion
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, diced (or, if you make this in the middle of summer, one large regular tomato, diced…though I find that in a winter like the one we’re having, grape tomatoes are the only ones in the store that actually taste like a tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño pepper (optional…and we often opt against it)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon finely diced cilantro (optional)
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank’s, or your favorite brand) to taste
Serves: 8 – 10 as a dip
Halve the avocados, remove the pits, and scoop out the avocado flesh into a medium bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork until it is mostly smooth but still has a few lumps. Add the onion, tomatoes, and jalapeño pepper if you’re using it. Stir in the lemon juice, lime juice, cilantro, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Taste and correct for seasonings, adding the hot sauce if you wish. You may also want to add more cilantro, another squeeze or two of lemon or lime juice, or even more onion. Entirely up to you!
Kid rating: four stars. Daughter 2 is the one licking the spoon. Daughter 1 approaches this dip a little more carefully, but when eaten with chips, salsa, and sour cream, she’s a convert.
Parent rating: four stars. My husband and I would add more spice and more cilantro if the kids let us. But even on the mild side, this is a super-quick snack that is equally great for an afternoon or evening in front of the TV or served with a Mexican feast.