avocado toast

January 24, 2016
by Mimi Holtz
3 Comments

Avocado Sunshine on Toast: Winter Fun

avocado toast

We were thrilled to get 3 inches of rain earlier this month,  and equally thrilled to be able to  take a week off from irrigating the avocado groves to do some local touring with friends who were visiting us from Vermont.   Today I’m sharing some of our Fuerte avocado deliciousness and some fun places to visit when you’re in the San Diego area.

As much as we love our winter rains,  it’s great to have some sunshine on our toast for breakfast!  With Fuerte avocado season in full swing, we’ve been enjoying creamy avocado slices every morning with our  eggs and on toast.  Fuerte avocados are known for their characteristic full nutty flavor.  Come to think of it,  I think they are my all time favorites!

Fuerte avocados

How to Enjoy Fuerte Avocados on Toast

It’s important to remember not to wait until the Fuerte avocado gets too soft. It should just barely ‘give’ when gently pressed in the palm of your hand.  Cut the avocado all the way around,  twist to separate the halves, and gently pull the peel away from the fruit.   Then slice or use a larger piece to make cut-outs with small cookie cutters.  Mash up any left-over pieces and spread on toast.

sliced Fuerte avocados

Fresh sliced Fuertes on sour dough toast with some seasoning sprinkled on top is a fine breakfast!

Valentine avocado cut-out

Or cut out a soft green heart to put on top of those sliced avocados!

avocado heart on mashed avo

Mash the left-over pieces of avocado and add a heart on top with some salt and pepper for your Valentine!

high surf San Diego

Fun Day Trips Around San Diego

After those heavy rains here in San Diego,  we had some beautiful high surf at the beaches!   We visited Sunset Cliffs and Juan Cabrillo National Park to watch the waves with our friends Leslie and Leo who were visiting from Vermont.  We had been looking forward to their return ever since they visited for the first time two years ago.   This time we had a whole week of activities planned!

Myrtle Creek Nursery

Since Leslie is a master gardener,  we visited Myrtle Creek  Botanical Gardens and Nursery  in Fallbrook, the Avocado Capital of the World, where the Inland Empire Food Bloggers had such a great time last spring.

Jake's Del Mar lunch

While our husbands stayed on the ranch to talk about farming,  Leslie and I drove over to Del Mar for lunch at one of my favorite places,  Jake’s Del Mar.   Their  winter signature cocktail is a Persimmon Rye- Car,  a variation on the Sidecar, with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Cointreau, fresh persimmon puree and fresh lemon.   Perfect for a chilly winter day at the beach,  sip this tasty toddy and you’ll warm right up!  Then cool off again with their famous Mud Pie with macadamia nut ice cream for dessert!

avocado and smoked salmon

We enjoyed our Fuerte avocados in the evening as appetizers paired with Ducktrap smoked salmon and crackers!  This is the best smoked salmon any of us have ever eaten, and I must say a big THANK YOU to our cousins from Memphis for sending us such a lovely gift!

San Clemente to Lake Elsinore

Another day trip included breakfast on the San Clemente Pier at  The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar , and plenty of time to watch the surf from the pier.

YouTube Preview Image

We drove by Mission San Juan Capistrano,  followed by a gorgeous drive east through the hills on the Ortega Highway to Lake Elsinore.  We still had time for some wine tasting in Temecula at Ponte Winery where we tasted 6 wines and  discovered their amazing Port.   We drove back toward home on the De Portola Wine Trail, stopping at Cougar Vineyard and Winery where there is live music on Sunday afternoons, a wonderful deli, and a new barrel room with huge projection TV — a great place to watch a football game!

avocado and fig spread on toast

There is “no place like home”,  especially when we can make special memories with friends from Vermont!  They’re back in the cold country now, looking forward to skiing in the beautiful Vermont snow.  We’ll be here enjoying our avocados on toast — with a little white fig spread and bacon — and looking forward to more rain!

Fuerte season will be over soon, and we’ll have to wait another whole year to enjoy this flavorful California avocado variety. Have you ever eaten Fuerte avocados?  People who know Fuerte avocados usually have stories to tell about a special tree in their grandmother’s back yard,  or family memories of recipes they enjoyed with these original California avocados.   If you’d like to try some,  California Avocados Direct will ship a box to you or as a gift anywhere in the USA.

Avocado Toast Valentine

January 23, 2016
by Mimi Holtz
0 comments

Chocolate Pecan Cake: Queen of Hearts

 

Chocolate Pecan Cake

With Valentine’s Day coming up,  it’s time to follow through on my promise to share the recipe for this scrumptious chocolate pecan cake.  I found the recipe that inspired this cake in Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart, a 2013 James Beard award-winner.   Last October I met both authors at the LDEI Conference in Charleston, SC.  and have been enjoying their book ever since.

The truly exciting part about this cake is the shape.  I love that the hearts come together to form a star in the middle!   The name of this pan Continue Reading →

January 2, 2016
by Mimi Holtz
4 Comments

Holiday Favorites

 

Chocolate Pecan Cake

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!   I want to send my sincere wishes for happy blessings to come your way in 2016!  Today I’m sharing some of my holiday favorites,  because I wasn’t able to do much posting throughout November and December.   Just before Thanksgiving we managed to catch a terrible cold virus.   We missed out on all the festivities and stayed in bed for most of a week.  My Thanksgiving holiday favorites this year?  Bowls of hot Cream of Wheat cereal!  To cheer myself up, I used mini cookie cutters to make shapes with the butter. It’s fun to watch it melt,  stir it in, and eat it up while it’s hot.

cream of wheat cereal

First of the Holiday Favorites: Benefit Concert for  Meals On Wheels

One of my  holiday favorites just after Thanksgiving  is the benefit concert
that the Coastal Communities Concert Band performs every year.   I play flute and piano in the band, and I’m also the announcer.  This year was our 21st annual concert to benefit Meals On Wheels.

Meals On Wheels Benefit Concert

Throughout the year, the wonderful volunteers of Meals On Wheels deliver nutritious meals to seniors in our community, taking the time to spend a few minutes in conversation, and keeping a friendly eye open in case that person might need extra attention. Over 3,100 local seniors are served throughout the year and may receive meals for every day, including holidays, enabling many to continue to live independently and stay in their own homes.There are even meals for pets dogs and cats!

Here is something you may not know about Meals On Wheels: On their birthday, each client receives a bouquet of flowers and a gift, and a special present during the holidays too. These special gift boxes are donated, sorted, and lovingly wrapped by volunteers as well.

For seniors who can no longer go out on their own, Meals On Wheels volunteers are a friendly connection to the community, to show them that they are not forgotten, that they are remembered, appreciated, and cared for.

Unexpected Gifts!

Gourmet Garden dried herbs

It’s a real treat when a delivery truck pulls up to my doorstep with something unexpected.   I was so grateful to receive a full set of Gourmet Garden lightly dried herbs, including their new Chives,  delivered to my door as a surprise.  These lightly dried herbs are perfect to use in homemade soups and casseroles.  I would have to say that one of my  holiday favorites is having a fresh set of herbs in the fridge, ready for anything I might decide to cook!

The Glenaires of La Costa Glen Retirement Community

As the month of December flew by, we were putting the finishing touches on the holiday performance of the Glenaires Chorale of La Costa Glen Retirement Community in Carlsbad, Ca.  I am honored to direct this  enthusiastic group of singers, meeting every week and presenting two shows each year; one in June and one in December.   This year we had new scarves and bow ties,  a feisty elf to add some special effects to our music, and an ambitious musical program that they performed to the delight of a full house!

Glenaires holiday concert

The following week The Glenaires presented concerts for the Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing units of their community.   Our daughter came along to help turn pages while I accompanied the singers on piano, and she played a flute solo as well.  Making music with family and community is one of my all-time holiday favorites.

Glenaires Chorale

Oh Christmas Tree

This year we almost didn’t have a Christmas tree.  We just didn’t have the energy to go out and get the tree, and then decorate it.  On the day before Christmas Eve,  our son found an enormous tree that had not been sold because it was so big.  He hauled it to the ranch in his pickup truck, and with the help of The Farmer,  got it into the house and all set up while I was at a rehearsal for Christmas Eve choir and orchestra.

Christmas tree

It was so special to come home after a full day,  still tired from that nasty head cold,  and find the most gorgeous Christmas tree EVER in my family room.   The next day The Farmer helped me decorate it, even though he was also recovering from that head cold,  and on Christmas morning our family gathered around the tree for our celebration.   The greatest holiday gift of all  is when family comes together to make things happen for each other.

I Saw Mommy Quiche-ing Santa Claus

A wonderful package of Kerrygold cheeses arrived in the mail,  just in time for Christmas!  Of course I made some quiches for our Christmas morning gathering.  One had gluten free crust and the other had a regular crust,  but both quiches included that wonderful Kerrygold cheese!   Quiche is the perfect dish to serve when you need to have it all prepared ahead of time.  Even though we were out late for Christmas Eve church services,  the quiches were all ready to heat in the morning when the family arrived to open gifts.

Kerrygold Cheese

 Each year during the holidays,  we are reminded of the years gone by and the special memories of celebrations and happy times with our family.   Now that our children are grown,  our house is much quieter,  but the ornaments and decorations that we have accumulated over the years help us remember those years.

Christmas ornaments

Friends and Family

One of my holiday favorites is taking time to stop and visit with friends we haven’t seen in a long while,  or connecting with telephone calls, cards, and greetings via e-mail.

Recently  I learned about WhatsApp,  which allows me to send photos, messages, or talk on the phone for free!   I was especially happy to reconnect with my German exchange sister in Bavaria via WhatsApp and look forward to a closer relationship with her in 2016.

Looking Forward!

All of the 2015  musical performances are finished now, and they all went well.  I’m busy selecting and planning the music for the seasons coming up in 2016.  As a family we’re especially excited because we’ll be welcoming a new baby in May!  I’ll be a grandmother for the very first time!

grandchild expected

As we begin 2016,  here’s to beautiful California avocados and healthy living!  Fuerte avocados are in season, and the Hass avocados are beginning to size up now too!  California avocados (especially Fuertes) are among my holiday favorites too!

 

Fuerte avocado

California avocados and Cutco knives are  holiday favorites!

 Many thanks to YOU, loyal readers,  for all the fun we share through the seasons.

I’ll leave you with this as we look forward to another year together: 

“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.”
Swedish Proverb 

Fuerte avocados

photo by Rachel Holtz

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enchiladas cookbook

December 12, 2015
by Mimi Holtz
3 Comments

Book Review: Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex

 

Enchiladas cookbook

Ever since I moved to California in the late 1970’s,  I have been wanting a really good cookbook for Mexican food.  I don’t mean just a few recipes, but a reference book that explains all the key ingredients of Mexican cuisine, like tomatillos, Mexican cheeses, and  fresh and dried chilies.  Who would expect that a book named simply “Enchiladas” would fulfill all these wishes?  This one does.

Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn have teamed  with chefs from some of San Antonio’s best Mexican restaurants to produce Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex, published by Trinity University Press.

ingredients

This isn’t just a book about enchiladas,  but a primer on all the basic techniques of the Mexican cochina,  including homemade tortillas, queso fresco, crema Mexicana, and chorizo.  This definitive cookbook explores the enchilada through the history of the Mexican people over thousands of years.

fundamentals

Not only are there sixty traditional and contemporary enchilada recipes, but there are recipes for salsas, salad, and sides to accompany them.   Ever wanted to make really tender pot beans or savory refried beans?  How about perfect Mexican rice,  six different ways?   This book explains how to prepare beautiful  slow-cooked  and perfectly seasoned meat fillings,  as well as  seafood and vegetable options.  Now we can try making corn tortillas from scratch, even the colorful flavor-infused ones!

This book captures the love of Mexican food,  with expertly crafted recipes,  beautiful photographs, and historical details.  Just what I have always wanted:  a book that teaches the essentials of Mexican cooking. There is plenty of good reading material and fabulous photos that make this a great coffee-table book.  The instructions and recipes are done in  simple and easy-to-follow detail, so that home cooks like me will be able to make homemade enchiladas with all the fixings for family dinners.

As a blogger who lives on an avocado farm,   I thought this book might be something my readers would also enjoy.  I love this book, and I’m pretty sure anyone who loves  avocados (and we all do, don’t we!) will love this book.  (Wouldn’t it be the perfect gift along with a box of fresh California avocados?)

Order directly from the book’s website http://www.enchiladasbook.com, and a portion of every sale will go to Lighthouse for the Blind, San Antonio.   I’ve never been to San Antonio,  but after visiting the websites for the authors’  restaurants,  I think it’s high time for a trip!

I have permission to share a recipe from the book with you, so I chose one of my favorite enchiladas:  Enchiladas Suizas.  This is the basic recipe from the book,  but there is also a second recipe for the La Fonda Enchilada Suizas that the authors serve in their three restaurants,  La Fonda on Main, Cappy’s, and Cappyccino’s in San Antonio, Texas.  I’m thrilled to share that recipe with you here as well!

Enchiladas Suizas  (from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex)

Yields 12 enchiladas / Serves 4-6

 Enchiladas Suizas was invented in 1950 at Sanborn’s in the historic Casa de Aulejos (House of Tiles) in Mexico City, Suizas or “Swiss,” refers to the dairy in the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce:

  • 1 pound (454 grams) tomatillos, husks removed, cored
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, destemmed
  • ½ medium white onion, peeled, coarsely chopped, and root end removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¾ bunch cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (237 ml) crema Mexicana
  • Kosher salt to taste

For the filling:

  • 2 cups (260 grams) poached and shredded chicken

For the assembly:

  • 12 white corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil as needed for softening tortillas
  • 2 cups (240 grams) queso asadero or queso Chihuahua, grated

For the garnish:

  • 1 cup (237 ml) crema Mexicana
  • White onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Cilantro leaves
La Fonda Suizas

The La Fonda On Main Enchiladas Suizas is garnished with a romaine salad!

Enchiladas Suizas, La Fonda on Main

Yields 12 enchiladas / Serves 4-6

 In La Fonda’s version of this classic enchilada recipe, pepitas add a nutty flavor to the sauce, and the enchiladas are topped with Swiss cheese and garnished with a refreshing Romaine Lettuce Salad.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (47 grams) white onion, diced
  • 2-3 cups serrano chiles, destemmed and chopped (see note)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup (65 grams) raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 pound (454 grams) tomatillos, husks removed, quartered
  • 1 cup (237 ml) crema Mexicana
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (14 grams) kosher salt, or to taste

For the filling:

  • 2 chicken breasts (approximately 1 pound, 454 grams), poached and shredded

For the assembly:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil as needed for softening tortillas
  • 2 cups (240 grams) Swiss cheese, shredded (or substitute asadero or Chihuahua)

For the garnish:

  • Romaine Lettuce Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large leaves romaine lettuce, ribs removed and shredded
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, deseeded, and chopped
  • 1 small serrano chile, destemmed, deseeded, and minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Cilantro sprigs to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vegetable juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Toss lettuce, tomatoes, serrano chile, green onions, and cilantro sprigs together. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Whisk the lime juice and oil together until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Just before serving the enchiladas, pour the lime juice and oil dressing over salad and toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Disclosure:  I’m grateful to to have received a signed complimentary copy of this book to review.

blood orange banana bread

November 23, 2015
by Mimi Holtz
1 Comment

Blood Orange Banana Bread

blood orange banana bread

This  Blood Orange Banana Bread smells divine!   Well, all banana bread smells great, but THIS banana bread has blood orange olive oil in it and the aroma of the citrus is heavenly!   I’m going to share the recipe for this easy quick bread with you, and I want you to know right up front that it was inspired by a recipe I found in a new cookbook,  Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie DuPree and Cynthia Graubert. Continue Reading →

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