Let me start by saying that I could very well be one of the world’s least qualified guacamole reviewers. Up until about a two years ago I hated the stuff. Wouldn’t touch it.

But then, one fateful night, I had a little accident. The combination of a dimly lit room, lively conversation and a few jalapeno caipirinhas in my system caused me to dip my chip into the wrong bowl. Instead of salsa or queso, the tortilla landed smack in the center of guacamole. But I didn’t realize it until it was too late.

Chip enters mouth. Chew. Swallow. Hmmm…tasty. “What was that?” I ask. Friend, well aware of my aversion to the green stuff, hesitantly filled me in and then waited for my reaction. I reached for more. A new day had dawned.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I now love all guac. Far from it. It has to be really, really good. So far that list is pretty short and includes just a handful of restaurants, one of which is Sol in downtown Franklin.

So when I was given a jar of the newly launched Jason’s Guac Starter to sample, I was game. You see, this starter was created by Jason McConnell, the chef owner of Sol. If his guacamole at Sol passed the Beth test, then there was probably a pretty good chance this would too.


Keep in mind that I had never in my life made fresh guacamole at home, so having this jar of starter to use on my first attempt was quite handy. All I had to do was purchase 2 avocados, smash ‘em up, and then add 1/2 cup of the starter. Perfectly foolproof. Not only was it totally easy, but it was really good! I made a batch for a party, and then a few days later a batch for us to munch on while watching football one lazy Sunday afternoon. (this would make a tasty and super easy appetizer for those Super Bowl parties just around the corner…)

Since I’m no guac expert, I really don’t expect you to take my opinion as the final word. As luck would have it, Whole Foods is hosting some upcoming Rock the Guac demonstrations–so go see for yourself!

Event Info
What: Jason’s Guac Starter Demo

When: Saturday, January 30th 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Whole Foods Green Hills
Hill Center
4021 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215

or if you can’t make that one, they’ll be doing it again the next weekend at the Cool Springs location!

When: Saturday, February 6th 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Whole Foods Franklin
1735 Galleria Boulevard
Franklin, TN 37067

Product Info
11.5 oz jar $5.99 at Whole Foods
4 pack $20 at jasonsguacstarter.com

Here I come again!

That’s right folks, I’m heading to the Windy City this weekend for the 2nd time in less than 3 months. Don’t you know I must really love that place if I choose to go for a visit in JANUARY!?

Truth be told, I’m missing my Chicago friend Libby. As you might recall, I didn’t get to see her on my last visit and even though I had an amazing time- something just felt off. Of the dozens and dozens of times I’ve been to Chicago, only my very 1st trip in the early 90’s and this last one in November have been sans Lib.

Since the day we graduated from college and went our separate ways, I don’t think we’ve gone more than a year without seeing each other. Despite her living in Chicago and me living in San Diego and now Nashville, we’ve always stayed connected. By my calculations, it’s now been 50 weeks since I last saw her. It’s time.

Meet Libby.
Otherwise known as: Lib. Libbers. LibM90.

Celebrating in 1996
We’re both crazy Geminis with birthdays less than a week apart

Together again for birthdays in 2008

Lib always whisks me off to fabulous places all over town, and I’m sure this time will be no different. So stay tuned next week for the full report on our adventures! ~

`

My wine education that is.

It’s almost here and I’m sooooooo excited I can hardly stand it: Fido’s Wine Education Series 102!

If you have no clue what I’m talking about then I have to assume you just recently started reading this blog. Because those of you that have been with me for a few months simply must remember Wine 101.

I mean, c’mon, I can’t imagine that you would have forgotten THE BEST WINE CLASSES I’ve ever experienced, right?

I’m all registered and anxiously ticking off the days on my calendar. Who’s going to join me?

Wednesday nights from February 3rd – March 10th
7 – 9:30 p.m.
$30/person per class (UPDATE: cost lowered to $20!!!)
RSVP to events@fidocafe.com

Sign up fast because class size is limited!

Fido
1812 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212

(615) 777-3436

I mean, it’s probably not quite as important as a presidential election, but still…

The Metromix Nashville Best of contest is under way and a few of my favorites are on the list.

Who gets my vote for Best Restaurant? Here’s a few hints.

And what about Best NEW Restaurant? This one got my adoration from first bite.

For Best Sushi my answer hasn’t changed for many, many years. Do you recall my mention of it a few months ago?

And if you can’t guess who gets my vote for Best Bar then you’ve been living under a rock. If that’s the case, let me help you out.

Click here to cast your votes and make a difference this election season ;-)

A couple of weeks ago I see this on Twitter:

Making an African stew for photo shoot tomorrow. Smells like curried ginger sweet potato peanut butter cookies…w little bits of jalapeno”.

And I swoon.

Curry? yes please. Ginger? oh yeah, baby. Peanut Butter? always. Jalapeno? you know I like it spicy!!

Jennifer Justus, food writer for The Tennessean, was tempting me (and plenty of others) with her tweet. Actually, not just tempting, but teasing, because she wouldn’t give up the recipe! Well, at least not immediately. We had to wait an ENTIRE WEEK until it was in the newspaper. But oh, was it so worth the wait.

Print

West African Vegetable and Peanut Stew

Makes 4-5 servings. Adapted from The Tennessean article "One Pot Meals are Simple, Satisfying"
(original recipe by Grace Parisi from Food & Wine Magazine, August 2000)

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups frozen cut okra
1 cup frozen green beans or 1/4 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeños and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Whisk in the water and peanut butter, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the sweet potatoes and carrots, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes. Add the okra and green beans, cover partially and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer the stew to bowls and serve hot. Pass the cilantro, peanuts and lime wedges at the table.

Note: The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently over moderately low heat.


Okra on FoodistaOkra

There’s still plenty of time left to take advantage of Nashville Originals Restaurant Week!

I had a wonderful meal at F Scott’s on Tuesday night, and tonight I’m looking forward to visiting one of my old favorites, Yellow Porch. Reports have indicated that the pork chop I’m eyeing is a winner, so you better believe that’s what I’ll be feasting on tonight.

If you haven’t already, peruse all the menus, find one that appeals to you, then call to get a reservation before they’re all gone!

And for those of you that have been out on the town hitting up the Nashville Originals this week, let’s hear the scoop. Where have you gone, what have you eaten? Inquiring minds want to know!

I happen to know for a fact that some of you made a New Year’s resolution to kick your cooking skills up a notch this year, so I’ve got just the thing for you.

Tomorrow night Chef Michael Martin of Whole Foods Franklin will be giving a FREE cooking class for those that need a little help in the kitchen.

Join Michael & the Whole Foods Demo Team at 6:30p.m. at the Cool Springs Whole Foods Market to learn how to make some easy, healthy recipes like Soy Ginger Chicken with Winter Greens, Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans!

Register for this class at the customer service desk or call (615) 778-1910.

Thursday, January 14th
6:30 p.m.
Whole Foods Market
1735 Galleria Blvd
Franklin, TN, 37067


So you know that cornbread I served yesterday with the Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya? I might have said I would share the “recipe” with you today, and that might have been stretching the truth just a tiny bit….

You see, the cornbread was a mix. From a box. Shocker, I know.
Please forgive me for not making it from scratch, but to be completely honest, this is much better than any cornbread I’ve ever made myself.

A few weeks ago a friend had me over for dinner, and she served chili and cornbread. She’s not a cook (she’ll readily admit that), so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cornbread. In fact, I ate 3 pieces, which is unusual for me since I’m not much of a bread girl. I wanted to know her secret – because really – if she could make cornbread this good, then I could (no offense sweetie!).

That’s when the truth came out (not that she was trying to hide it). We were devouring Trader Joe’s cornbread from a box.

Do any of you remember the Kenny Rogers’ Roasters corn muffins from way back in the day? If you do, then I don’t need to explain how tasty they were. I ate more than my fair share during college and have tried to recreate them many times since without much success. No more experimenting necessary, because this cornbread is about as close as you can get. So if you never got to try Kenny’s, now’s your chance.

Trader Joe’s Cornbread Baking Mix $2.69

The little pieces of corn, a hint of sweetness, and a moist, soft texture, with just enough crunch around the edges make it the perfect cornbread. Perfect. Really.

Over the past few months, several people have asked me exactly what products I buy at Trader Joe’s because they’re overwhelmed when they go in. Nothing looks familiar. So I thought it might be fun to chronicle my favorite TJ buys here on my blog. I’ll keep a running list as I go, so you can use it as your cheat sheet if you want. Stay tuned for more delicious product recommendations in the weeks and months to come!

Trader Joe’s
3909 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 297-6560

Not in Nashville? Click here to find a location near you!