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Kathryn Gunn – Featured Artist

Once again, the walls of our Market Square restaurant are alive with color.

The work of Asheville artist, Kathryn Gunn is a vibrant collection of color, light and reflection that comes from an intuitive place where music and mindfulness mingle with canvass, acrylic, and curiosity.

Gunn only recently started painting – in fact, until last year, she thought that she couldn’t: “I have always been a lover of art and when I was younger I pursued a career in Art history, but never believed that I could be an artist.”

But when she salvaged the remains of a children’s tempura paint set, Gunn’s artistic interest  started her on a path that would lead to art shows and juried events across the southeast even though the beginning of the journey was a very, very private affair that included only one set of eyes: her own.

Kathryn Gunn

“I took [the children’s’ paints] home with me. I just loved mixing colors. I would hide in my basement and paint on cardboard so I could throw them away as soon as I was finished and no one would ever look at anything I did.”  And even when a friend lured her to a live model drawing event with a promise that the event had “really chill music and you get to drink wine,” Gunn only agreed to attend when she was assured that no one would actually see what she had drawn.

The event proved to be much more than a pleasant afternoon of wine and song because when her drawing turned out to actually look like the model Gunn was moved to continue to explore her artistic side.  Her subsequent experiments with drawing led to more painting and more work with color and form.

Gunn’s approach remains intuitive – she adds color based on a sense of what’s missing and remains open in terms of style and subject style.  “I’m not sure that I’ve found my niche, and maybe never will as I find the next style and go ‘I want to try that out!’”

But her work is certainly informed by nature – in landscapes and even in her abstract and “Flow” works, the colors might leap from the flowers and vistas of the Appalachian Mountains.  But more than that, Gunn’s work reflects a peaceful beauty, one that’s attune to her creative process.  When she works, Gunn is absorbed by the present, because, she says, “When I’m painting, I lose myself in the work, lose track of time, forget to eat, completely absorbed, I don’t even know that I am sore from standing for hours and hours until I am finished. There is really no separation between me and the painting.”

You can get lost in Gunn’s paintings, too at the downtown Market Square Tomato Head through October 1st.  She will then hang at the West Knoxville Tomato Head from October 3rd through November 6th.

Flour Head Bakery’s Orange You a Vol Cake

A bite is not enough

It strikes many people as strange that I can not only sing the UT Alma Mater to its actual tune, but that I can also sing it to the tunes of Gilligan’s Island, Ghost Riders in the Sky, and Amazing Grace.  It is a rare and formidable talent, I admit, but it is one that I worked to master under the unlikely but skillful tutelage of Professor Bill Black of UT Theatres’ costume department.  Strangely, the words themselves were sometimes the answer to a bonus question on the good professor’s final exams.

I do not share this particular skill with just anyone, nor do I share it often; as a rule, I’m not much of an enthusiastic alumnus.  And even as a student I was more likely to be found humming a tune from “Hello Dolly” than singing the solemn, old school song or even the much livelier Rocky Top.  At the time, I was, in my own mind, a great artist to be; school spirit wasn’t my thing.

Knoxville Loves Orange

But now, when the first thoughts of football season approach, my mind, in a paroxysm of nostalgia, returns to the joys of college days and sometimes, just sometimes mind you, the Alma Mater erupts without warning from my mouth.  And whether I’m singing it to the original tune or not, I feel like donning some orange, proclaiming my Volunteer heritage, and learning the Quarterback’s name.

It’s the season, you see!  At times, it’s stronger than the Christmas urge to shop and wear holly prints.  It’s the sheer force of Football Time in Tennessee that, like some chirpy tune, gets under the skin and into the mind, into the vocal chords, and on occasion, into our kitchen as well.

And it’s particularly bad this season.  Perhaps it’s the Eclipse year confluence of Labor Day and the opening game, but this special, perhaps divine madness, has infected our fearless leader, Mahasti, too.  And that’s an extraordinary thing.  Although at first we planned on celebrating the holiday weekend with a special family treat, Red Velvet Cake, the all Vol party vibe took over.  And Mahasti, in an uncharacteristic fit of orange-tinged enthusiasm turned her thoughts away from the crimson, nearly treasonous hue of that cake.  Instead, Mahasti turned it orange.

Ever since Steel Magnolias burst onto the silver screen with its funny Armadillo shaped groom’s cake, Red Velvet Cake has experienced a resurgence and a mighty propagation across all kinds of food formats – from industrially produced cookies, to ice cream and shakes and even some savory applications, the name Red Velvet has been splashed across all sorts of things masquerading as tasty food.  And all the while, the essence of the cake and its flavor profile has gotten lost in pointless permutations and bastardized attempts at creativity often based less on taste than color.

Touchdown!

But it is not the redness of the cake that makes it special; it is instead the fine crumb, a good rise, and the gentle tug of tang against cake’s essential sweetness. Certainly red is fun, but without the velvet texture of the cake, the hue is meaningless and the name despoiled as a marketing flag.

In our recipe, we use buttermilk, sour cream and vinegar which bring a lively flavor to the cake, but also react with the baking powder to give it plenty of lift.  And the acids help break down some of the protein in flour to create a more tender, even, ahem, velvety bite.

In fact, we think this cake is so good, it doesn’t need to be slathered in creamy icing – a straightforward sprinkle of powder sugar will do.  But there’s an added advantage to using this simple garnish – with just a teeny moment of craftiness, you can turn your cake into an orange checkered end zone.  And, as you know, a triumphant visit to that area is the real icing on the cake.  So, here’s to you, Old Tennessee…

Flour Head Bakery’s Orange You a Vol Cake

3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 TBL Baking Powder

1 tsp. Salt

2 Eggs

1 3/4 cup Sugar

1/3 cup Sour Cream

1 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

1 ¼ cup Buttermilk

1 TBL Yellow Food Coloring

¼ tsp Red Food Coloring

2 TBL Cider Vinegar

2 tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of a 9X 13 pan with parchment paper, grease the sides, and set aside.

Into a medium bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Place eggs in another medium bowl, with sugar and sour cream and beat lightly with a whisk. Add oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk to incorporate the ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Whisk well until all the flour is incorporated. Pour the batter into prepared your pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool in pan. Flip the cake out of pan onto a cooling rack. Peel parchment paper off the bottom. Re-flip cake back onto a cutting board. Cover the cake with a checkerboard stencil and dust the top generously with powdered sugar. Cut into desired size squares. Serve with a side of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

To make the checkerboard stencil – on a piece of parchment paper, outline your pan. Using a ruler, outline a grid, then color in the squares on a diagonal to make a checker board pattern. With an Xacto knife cut out the colored in squares, being careful to leave the borders of each square intact.

Flour Head Bakery’s Zucchini Bread

Prepped Ingredients

If you polled farmers about garden humor, I suspect that you’d find out that the poor, prolific zucchini is a popular subject for jokes.  That’s because, like rabbits, this summer squash greets life with a singular drive to be fruitful and multiply.  I have one gardener friend who tells tales about drive-by” squashings”; these midnight capers involve sneaking from house to house to leave big bags of the squash on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors, all in an effort to make sure that the squash glut gets eaten – just by somebody else.

That’s why we have recipes galore for zucchini; from bread to cookies, thrifty and clever cooks have found all sorts of ways to use up legions of the rapid reproducer, and do it in a way that combats the inevitable squash fatigue that comes with late summer.

But what’s really great about these recipes is that they’re also excellent options for the devious parent who stays awake at night plotting ways to sneak vegetables into the food of their unsuspecting offspring.

There’s almost an industry about this kind of cunning cooking.  You might remember some flack over the publication of Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, which involved accusations of plagiarism by the author of a similar cookbook that dealt with sneaking good food into kids’ diets.

Well, there’s no controversy with this recipe.  Zucchini Bread remains one of the easiest and most popular ways to use

The Batter

up the surplus, and has the added value of irresistibility!   Admit it, you’re already thinking of just how much butter one slice can handle. The Flour Head version has some added perks – including a unique addition of sunflower seeds and a healthy dollop of yogurt – both of which add a little je ne sais quoi to an old favorite.  Best of all, it’s popular with all ages so it’s a perfect too to aid the dastardly deed of feeding little people squash and making them love every minute of it.

The key to sneaking good vegetable matter from the garden and into your kid is subtlety.  So it might be wise to make this when the kids are not around.  Or at least have the secret ingredient already prepped and ready to add to the recipe in a flash while you distract your kid with something like taking out the trash (even if you don’t succeed in assigning the chore, the inevitable whining will keep the juvenile mind occupied long enough for you to slip the zucchini into the batter unnoticed).  And don’t be tempted to shortcut the shredding of the squash; you don’t want the vegetable to look anything like itself!  After all, if you can’t see it or taste it – it isn’t really there! With this recipe – all they’ll taste is delicious.

One of the byproducts of using zucchini is that it adds lots of moisture to the recipe, so you’ll have a tender bite that tastes great at room temperature and lends itself to some butter-melting toasting, too!   You’ll probably find yourself wanting to make this even when the garden isn’t overwhelmed with squash production.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Zucchini Bread

Finished Loaf

1.5 cups All-purpose Flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground clove

½ tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup sunflower seeds

4 cups shredded Zucchini, shredded, about 3 small zucchini

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup whole milk plain yogurt

6 TB melted Butter

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter and lightly dust a 9×5 loaf pan with flour.

Place flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a large bowl. Add pecans and sunflower seeds and stir with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Shred Zucchini on the large shred of a box grater and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, sugars, yogurt, and melted butter. Add the egg mixture and the shredded zucchini to the flour mixture, and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The miixture will look quite thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Drop the oven temperature to 350 and bake another 35- 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, or a thermometer registers 203 degrees.

Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15- 20 minutes, before removing from the pan.

For the best flavor, allow the bread to cool completely then place the bread in a plastic bag and let it rest for 12 – 24 hours before enjoying.

 

 

Jessica Payne – featured artist

Once again Tomato Head walls shimmer with the many-hued and luminous paintings of Jessica Payne.  One of our

Poppy Borealis

favorite local artists, Jessica’s work fills the space with vivid color and imagery that excites the eyes and provokes conversation.  One of her favorite memories is when, “I was eating at the downtown Tomato Head during one of my exhibits a few years ago, and I saw a family in the middle of the room looking around and discussing my paintings.  At one point a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, went up to look closer and immediately turned around and with a frown said, ‘Mommy it’s already sold.’”

Jessica grew up in Knoxville as the youngest of six in a long line of artists, and drawing and painting were hobbies that she came by naturally – both her father and grandmother spent their free time putting color on canvas.

But while she took art classes and thought at times that her career might veer toward the arts, it was only after she took a degree in Social Work and Women’s studies and started a path to law school that she felt a tug to a more creative vocation.

It was in the week of her 25th birthday while she sat outdoors when she committed to a different way of life: “I spent my birthday weekend sitting and observing so many beautiful things that had been around me for a long time.  I felt an intuitive pull to change my life in a drastic way.”

Swing Tree in Winter

Promptly thereafter, Jessica joined Americorps where her urge to create found expression in the earth as she worked to help establish Beardsley Farm; later the same urge would lead her to study cooking, until finally through a variety of online courses and her own drive, she found both an approach and technique for painting that helped unlock her artistic life.

She says: “A huge thing I learned from artist Flora Bowley, after taking her online course Brave Intuitive Painting, is to keep painting until something works.”  This approach helps keep Jesssica’s creative energy in flow, and it works in conjunction with her technique of layering.

“I find something that works and then focus on that. If it doesn’t work, I paint over it.  I often keep painting over my canvas until something clicks or sparks with me.  This opens the door to the philosophical idea of non-attachment. I’m not afraid to paint over something that I spent a while creating if it no longer works/looks pretty.”

Jessica’s technique results in vibrant and multi-faceted imagery that contains the genuine chaos of natural creativity that, she says, eventually evolves into order: “After I have a few layers of marks and colors, I like to take my painting outside and look at it far away.  I like to see if I can see any images in the painting…sort of like seeing images in clouds.  Sometimes I see birds, mountains, vases, trees.  Working and expanding upon what is already there after the spontaneous marks, is part of my process, too.  This process is so fun and mysterious.”

One of the most fun aspects of Jessica’s art is that her paintings often shine.  She says, “I love things that sparkle.  My

Water Prayer

inner five year old is always ready to play with glitter! Because of the use of glitter and mica, my paintings change when the light source changes.  There are many times when I walk by a painting and it sparkles so much that it looks like it is plugged into electricity.  When the sun hits a painting with glitter, it glows.”

The color, the variety of imagery, not to mention the playful use of glitter and mica, give our featured artist’s work a liveliness that almost leaps from the walls in a joyful celebration of the beauty that surrounds us and lives inside us, too.

Don’t let it pass you by.

Tomato Head’s Creamed Corn

Ingredients

Prepping the corn

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tsp jalapeño pepper finely chopped (optional)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 ears of corn, kernels removed (3 to 4 cups)

1.5 cup heavy cream

On the burner

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, jalapeño and rosemary and sauté until onion is translucent.  Add corn kernels and stir until corn and onions are mixed together well.  Add cream and bring mixture to a boil.  Stir and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer, stirring occasionally for fifteen minutes.  Remove rosemary sprigs.  Serve immediately.  Can be refrigerated and reheated over low heat.

Serves 6-8

Ready to eat

Cucumber Salad

If you’re anything like me, the presence of a large bowl of cucumbers and onions dressed with vinegar and perhaps a IMG_0205little sugar or salt is a sure sign of a well-balanced summer meal.  As long as there’s a platter of sliced tomatoes, some well-buttered ears of corn, and cold hunks of melon to look forward to, it’s a warm weather feast worthy of any country table and any country appetite.

But that bowl of pale green and white has a special place in my heart because it represents some pretty sensible kitchen magic.

The cucumber itself is the perfect summer food because it is truly cool – its interior is about 20 degrees cooler than its surface.  That relates to the fact that the vegetable is 96% water and wears a well-insulated jacket in a fashionable shade of green.  What makes the summer table work so well is the presence of lots of moisture, and cucumbers, like much good, fresh produce, is bursting with hydration.

cuke salad ingredientsWith all that goodness going on, you wonder why on earth you’d want to cover it up with any dressing at all?  But the cucumber salad takes on an additional level of brilliance for the summer table precisely because of that dressing and its slightly sour disposition.

Vinegar’s acidity commends it to the summer diet because of its refreshing quality.  What, you don’t think of vinegar as refreshing?  Perhaps you’d prefer a glass of lemonade or a crisp gold glass of sauvignon blanc?  What makes both of those beverages work in the summer sun is their acidity – think of it as a brightness that acts in the same way as does a squeeze of lime over a taco or lemon over fish.

When the cucumbers dive into their dressing, they are literally bathed in extra refreshment.  It’s a relish, really, that’s light, summery and enlivening and a perfect match to food from the grill. And if you’re a fan of the cold fried chicken picnic, cucumber salad is almost a miracle worker for making the mouth sing after the richness of the crisp and golden-brown main course.

Tomato Head’s version of this Southern staple combines the traditional recipe with a little mint and jalapeno.  The dab of heat actually works to increase the refreshment quality because it wakes up your mouth’s receptors.  And mint adds additional refreshment with an alluring flavor that sets this dish apart from granny’s delicious but predictable version.

It’s quick, it’s fresh, and it’s cool.  Just like a cucumber ought to be.

Tomato Head’s Cucumber Salad

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

For the Dressing:

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 Tbl sugar

3/4 tsp salt

Mix vinegar together with sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat just until sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

For the Salad:

4 cups cucumber

1/2 cup onion

2 TBL minced jalapeno

2 TBL mint, chopped

2 TBL of vinegar mix

Thinly slice the cucumbers and onion and place in a medium bowl. Add the chopped Jalapeno and mint. Pour the dressing over the cucumber mixture and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with Fried Chicken, or any grilled meats.

Serves 6-8 people.

Dino Liddick – Featured Artist

image4The image of the tortured artist is cliché because it’s often true, and, more so, because we talk about it a lot.  In fact we love it.  It may be that it appeals to a strange human craving for martyrdom:  we love those who suffer for their passions.  But not all artists fall on their swords or mutilate their ears; for a whole bunch of them the creative process reflects an earnest desire to bring a burning passion or drive to create into harmony with a good, even calm life.

Dino Liddick is one of the seekers of calm.  Dino’s exhibit, “With the Eye, For the Mind” is currently hanging in our Market Square location, and the work that comprises the show is built upon a foundation of mindfulness and kindness.  Some of that is a reaction to an emotional life, and some is related to sheer practicality.

Certainly the artist has responded to emotional crises in his work, but for Liddick, the art isn’t merely a kind of therapy: it’s a statement of being.  “Sometimes somebody will ask me how I feel, and I say, well, look at that painting – that’s how I feel.”  On his website, he writes, “Rather than pulling ideas from the mind to produce ‘art,’” he, “practices clearing his mind through the process of a piece.”

Rather than formulate a work, Liddick hopes the piece will come together intuitively without too much conscious involvement.  It’s an effort to feel rather than to think.  When he’s moved by a subject or situation, Dino tries “to go home and reach that feeling, and let that feeling come into shape. I try to paint the feeling and then put in the shapes – I don’t try to the paint the shapes and then put in the feeling.”

In addition to his sensory exploration and mind clearing, Liddick has a practical side that comes with a sense of humor.

Often, he says, when the creative urge hits he’ll “usually have an abundance of white or an abundance of blue [paint]. I’ll image2be thinking of new painting so I’ll follow the path of least resistance. And I say, ‘Hey you got to love this color! Why not make it easy on yourself and make a nice blue painting,’ instead of saying, “Oh no! I’m an artist with this idea for red so I’m going to go out and spend $200 on red!’ I try not to be stuck up with myself.”

There’s also a Zen element to Dino’s conversation and art, and accepting the path of least resistance is part of his overall search for balance in the chaos that life can easily become.

“Whether I’m doing red or blue painting it’s up to me. If I get stuck or caught up in making a red one when I’ve got a lot of blue, I’m not taking the path of least resistance… I’m going to take this hard way.  I see people struggling through their day, and they say l’ve got all this I’ve got to do… I slow down and just go home and chill and think be happy with your day instead of putting your happiness at the end of this long hard exhausting road.  It’s almost like we Americans say you’re not happy unless you practically kill yourself today.”

“With the Eye, for the Mind” by Dino Liddick will be on view at the downtown Knoxville Tomato Head on Market Square from June 5th through July 2nd.  The exhibit will display at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from July 4th through August 3rd.

Cheese Straws

I do not often think of myself as a Southerner.  It’s not prejudicial – I am fond of the South in many ways and often eat and cook like a Southerner ought to do.   I’ve grown okra, I can tie up a tomato, I know how to make a fair tea cake, I prefer my grits with red-eye gravy, and my cast iron skillet is seasoned and ready for cornbread at the drop of a hat.  Why, the only things really that keep me from calling myself a true Southerner are that I have never thought of East Tennessee as being particularly Southern, and, much, much more to the point, I don’t care for cheese straws.

Getting Ready to Mix

Getting Ready to Mix

Don’t misunderstand me, I like the idea of cheese straws, and I even like the taste of them.  What I do not like is the shape – this essential southern snack, when forced through a cookie press like a big hog through a tight sty, takes on a cylindrical, sometimes frilly edged form that I find difficult to abide.

In case you might wonder, it is not a cylinder phobia of which I am afflicted.  I enjoy driving with all 4 of them firing as much as the next person, and should I find myself eating a whole carrot, I am content to nibble away as any cartoon bunny might.  But in the matter of cheese straws with their delicate and tender construction, I am entirely discontent to approach the thing as one might approach a corn dog.

That delicate construction has a propensity to crumb or even break off.  If the straw is made to be delicious, it will be a little unctuous and may very well leave a slight stain on one’s seersucker should it break apart.  Furthermore, I subscribe to the idea that decent cocktail food should be easily eaten in one, perhaps two bites.  I have seen straws that strain that rule to upwards of four ungainly mouthfuls.

Who, I ask you, would be so indelicate as to imagine that I could possibly eat that way in polite society?  Why a cheese straw of such a length would most certainly tickle the epiglottis and provoke an unseemly gag or, if it did not, might open one up to very scurrilous remarks upon the absence of that reflex.

So you see my point, I am quite sure.  Fortunately, the very good and sensible Mahasti also understands this woeful

Ready to Cut the Wafers

Ready to Cut the Wafers

dilemma.  For this reason, she has proved us with a very politic solution.  In fact it’s much more politic and agreeable than almost anything else I’ve heard so far this year.  You see, after Mahasti assembles her base recipe she rolls it up into a long cylinder (of which, I remind you, I am not phobic) and slices it into the most delicate little rounds you can imagine.

These are cheese wafers and have the same kind of ethereal lightness that I imagined manna having when it floated down into my imagination during Sunday School.

I suppose you can take your crunchy cheese snack in whatever shape you want it.  But I hope you’ll understand that while I may not have the genteel quality of a real Southerner, I do have delicate sensibilities which is the next best thing.

So Bon Appetit, y’all.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Cheddar Cheese Wafers

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

½ lb Sharp Cheddar, shredded

4 oz butter (1 stick), soft

3 TBl water

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp Cayenne

½ tsp Paprika

1 tsp Bl pepper

2 tsp baking powder

In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add the shredded cheddar and mix until the cheese breaks down and forms a smooth paste.  Add water and mix just until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cayenne, paprika, black pepper and baking powder.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until it forms a smooth ball.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and shape each piece into a log.  Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Slice the log into 1/8 inch discs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, with ½ inch of space between each wafer.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the wafers from the oven, turn the oven off and allow the oven to cool for 10 minutes.  Return the wafers to the oven and allow to rest in off oven for 30 minutes or until crisp. (the wafers will crisp up as they cool)

Unbaked wafer logs can be kept in the refrigerator up to 5 days, and can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Guacamole

Juliet famously pined, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”  Of course she was considering handsome young Romeo whose family name represented an ancient feud and was, one might say, the Hatfield to her McCoy.  But names matter, at least in some matters they do, and sometimes for odd reasons.

Consider the Avocado.  Its real, rather, its original name, ahuacate, is an Aztec word for a certain part of the male reproductive equipment that resembles the, ahem, sack-like shape of the avocado.  Get the picture?

20170506_075758

the ingredients are ready

The folks who wanted to market the oily fruit to Americans certainly got a picture – one can only imagine their faces when someone explained the name.  I suspect they had nightmares of rival campaigns trying to denigrate and rebrand their product as Aztec testicles. Fortunately for the avocado farmers, the renaming worked; and that’s also fortunate for us – just imagine a world without avocado.

Guacamole, like popcorn, chocolate, and chewing gum, dates back to the Aztec Empire, too.  In fact, the basic recipe hasn’t changed very much: avocado, tomato, onion, some hot pepper and cilantro.  And many folks will argue that the basic recipe is all you need.  But we know that history and available ingredients change recipes all the time – not to mention the human drive to mix things up.

20170506_080743

chips and dip anyone?

And this is exactly what Mahasti’s recipe does.  While it stays true to the basics, the addition of both mango and blueberry give the dip a surprising depth of flavor and pops of delicate sweetness.  Mango’s texture is a perfect substitute for tomatoes in this variation while the blueberries add an additional kind of fun bite to the eating of it.

The fruit has a tasty interaction with the jalapeno, too – the heat of the pepper actually accentuates the sweetness of the fruit while the blueberries in particular act as an internal balm to the jalapeno’s warmth.  There’s gotta be some food science to explain it, all, but, all I know is that this mix is uniquely delicious.

20170506_075243 (1)

the rumble in progress

This recipe also has the distinction of being the winning Guacamole in the soon to be legendary contest: Guac Rumble 2017 between Mahasti and WBIR’s Daniel Sechtin.  Certainly Daniel’s traditional version was delicious – especially with his deft use of serrano peppers and garlic; but Mahasti’s version swayed the judges by sheer force of flavor, and, of course, because it’s awfully attractive, too.

Tomato Head’s “Better than Daniel’s” Guacamole

½ Mango

2 TBL Jalapeno, chopped

3 TBL Cilantro, chopped

3 TBL Red Onion, chopped

3 Ripe Avocado

½ cup Fresh Blooberries

1 TBL Lime Juice

½ tsp Salt

Cut ½ mango off, remove the flesh with a spoon and chop into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.

Chop Jalapeno, cilantro and red onions, and add them to the bowl.  Cut avocado in half and remove pits.  Score the avocados into sections, and scoop out into the bowl.  Add blueberries, lime juice and salt.  Mix well smashing the avocados with the side of the spoon a little if too chunky.

Serve Guacamole with chips as an appetizer, or alongside tacos, or enchiladas.

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design