Betsy and I have been in a many month debate over whether or not it’s possible for me to produce really awesome queso (cheese dip) without using the super-processed cheese that rhymes with Smellveeta. While the queso recipe on the back of the Rotel can is a favorite of mine I figured there was queso before their was processed cheese, so there must be a way!
I think I finally found that way!
This was a big bowl of awesome.
Betsy and I love going out for Tex-Mex and it’s a guarantee that we will get the largest queso they serve as a appetizer. We were recently in Austin, TX (home of Tex-Mex) and went out to eat at this joint called Magnolias. They had this awesome version of queso called “Mag mud.” It was a silky smooth cheese dip plus avocados, fresh salsa and black beans. The idea is that you mix everything together to form a “mud” and then devour it.
I’ve been getting some emails from readers asking me to go in depth on various ingredients that I use frequently on Macheesmo. So I’ve decided to start a new type of post called “Ingredients 101″ where I’ll discuss a few basic ingredients in each post. This will include both how to select the ingredient and how to actually prepare it.
I decided not to do videos for these just because I find that in most cases I think I can get across the idea with some basic photos and a few sentences. Ideally, this is faster for you to reference than having to watch a 5 or 6 minute video on each ingredient.
Also, I haven’t really devised a schedule for posting these posts. I’ll just write one when I have three ingredients that need to be discussed. This is where you come in! I’m only going to write about submitted ingredients, so if you have an ingredient you want me to feature, leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Also, my method may not be the only (or best) way to prepare these things. Feel free to correct me or offer other methods. On with the learning!
Quite possibly my favorite fruit in the world. Selection: If you are eating your avocado right away, you want one that is heavy for its size, not bruised, and gives a bit when lightly pressed. If the word “Mushy” comes to mind when you press on it, it’s past its prime.
If you aren’t using it for a few days, pick a harder fruit and store it in a paper bag. It will soften up in no time.
Preparation: Avocados have a very large, pesky seed in the middle. We’ll deal with it accordingly.
Step 1. Slice the avocado in half on the long axis. Rotate your knife around the avocado and then twist the two halves in opposite directions. They should pop apart. One half will have a very large seed in it. Step 2. Put the side without the seed face down on the cutting board. Step 3. Gently tap the seed with the blade of your knife (top right). No need to go Samurai on the thing. Your knife should about half way into the seed. Step 4. Twist your knife and the seed will pop out! (bottom left) Step 5. Using a spoon, scoop out all the avocado meat by working around the edge of the fruit. (bottom right)
Once you get the two halves of avocado meat out of their shells, you can chop them up really easily!
Sometimes on weekends I like to make a big bowl of popcorn to just kind of snack on throughout the afternoon. Normally Betsy is studying and I’m either cooking or writing something. No matter what’s going on, a big bowl of popcorn is a solid snack.
I abandoned microwave popcorn years ago and have never really looked back. Popcorn is dirt cheap and once you know how to correctly make it on the stove you can experiment with all kinds of interesting toppings. I’ve made two other varieties of popcorn before on Macheesmo, the caramel variety in that post is especially delicious.
One of the things I’ve been trying out more recently is using whole spices and mixing my own spice mixtures. A few weeks ago I worked out a pretty solid Five Spice powder and turns out you can put it on popcorn!
There are a lot of different varieties of five spice powder, but most involve something with some heat, something with an anise flavor, cinnamon, and in most cases clove. It’s normally put on cuts of meat like duck and chicken, but I figured it might work great on popcorn.
Ok. I promise this is the last sourdough recipe for awhile. I just couldn’t help making a delicious breakfast dish though. My barm was sitting in my fridge, feeling dejected, and I promised that I would try to use more of it while it was still nice and lively.
I reaffirmed two things when I made these sourdough pancakes.
1. I really, really like good pancakes and sourdough pancakes are maybe as good as it gets.
2. Blueberries make good pancakes into excellent pancakes.
I made my sourdough loaf on day 2 of my barm and it wasn’t all that sour. I made these pancakes on day 4 and the flavor was definitely better. They had a really nice sourness that wasn’t overpowering at all. When you added the fruity blueberries and the sweetness of the syrup, they were really close to perfect.
Whoa! One year ago today I wrote my first post on Macheesmo which was read by approximately 2 people (girlfriend, mother) and I think is maybe the only post ever on Macheesmo to not include a photo.
To be absolutely honest, I’m completely surprised that I’ve been able to keep this site alive for a year. But after 3 hosting switches, over 300 posts, and over 300,000 visits, I must say that I’m really enjoying this little hobby. I’m still looking forward to writing and cooking and posting everyday and so I expect to keep at it!
Mostly though, thanks to all you lovely Internet readers out there who stop by regularly to check out the food and photos. Maybe you have occasionally learned something, or more likely the case, maybe you’ve taught me something. This site would really suck without the comments that people leave and the very nice emails I receive.
Ok. Enough with the gushing!
Switching gears… I decided that I would try to follow Top Chef this season and so far I’m loving it. The last episode was really good. For the poll this week, vote for the dish you want me to try to fix up from the last episode. These are the three dishes that the judges picked as the worst. Now keep in mind that I’m not saying I could do better than any of these chefs given the circumstances (75 minutes in the blistering Nevada desert), but I figured it would be fun to try to improve their problem dishes.
Also you can suggest a different dish from the Top Chef challenge if you want.
Instead of my normal links, I thought it would be cool to do a little year in review type deal. Is it self-promoting? Definitely. But here are some of my favorite posts in the last year. One per month.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the first thing I wanted to make with my sourdough starter was an awesome sourdough loaf! As is sometimes the case I think with new starters, my loaf wasn’t really very sour. It had a bit of tang to it, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
That’s okay though. Sourdough is one of those things that takes time. It takes time to develop the right flavors in your starter and I’m fairly sure that mine will only get more flavorful from here on out.
It also takes time to make each loaf, but I really enjoyed the process and the loaf was pretty good considering it was my first one.
Not bad for my first try!
I’m again following Peter Reinhart’s instruction here and he breaks down the bread making process into 12 steps. I think this makes it pretty easy to follow, so I’m going to use his structure.
It finally happened. I finally took the plunge into the world of sourdough. It’s been a long time coming. My real hindrance for the sourdough starter has been planning. I’m just not that great at planning two weeks in advance or whatever.
But a few weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to try my hand at this sourdough starter thing. There is a lot of near gospel on the Internet about this sourdough business. I really liked Ruhlman’s write up on sourdough although I decided not to use his method.
Instead I went with Peter Reinhart’s method from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. That means starting with these two kind of strange ingredients:
Yep. Pineapple juice and whole rye flour. That is going to make us a living and breathing starter.
Also, let me apologize in advance. Turns out that starter photos are kind of boring. Canned pineapples and rye flour is basically the best photo in the post.