We have a wonderful realtor, Phil Lopez. He bent over back wards to help us buy our house this summer (the sellers were mad that they were losing money and took it out on us – thank goodness that is over!) and we wanted to do something to thank him and his wife, Gabby. So, of course, we had them over for dinner. It was a good excuse for us to cook up something tasty! We had guacamole and margaritas with Alex’s beef stew. I know, I know, the menu doesn’t exactly match, but avocados were on sale at Whole Foods that Friday and avocados lead to guacamole which leads to margaritas in my mind! Here are the recipes.
This makes a large batch because the avocadoes were too cheap to turn down and it always makes a good snack. Did you know you can prevent the brown on top by placing the pits into the guacamole? I put in 3 for this recipe and it kept quite well.
- 6 avocados
- 1 large onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3 limes
- 2 teaspoons salt (preferably sea salt)
- 3 tomatoes
Peel and de-pit the avocados. Then mash them up in a large bowl. Dice the onion, garlic and tomatoes and add them to the avocado mixture. Then juice the limes and add it along with the salt. Jalapenos or cayenne pepper can also be added to give it some kick. However, Alex is allergic to the capsaicin in the pepper so we are a pepper free household.
I don’t like the super sweet mixes you usually get so I stole this recipe from my brother-in-law, Will. It is quite potent so don’t plan to do any driving anytime soon after drinking them. I usually plan them for an appetizer drink so that everyone is sober enough to go home.
- 6 shots tequila
- 6 shots lime juice
- 3 shots cointreau
- 3 shots grand marnier
I prefer key lime juice where possible. However, it isn’t always possible. This time I used half meyer lemon and half lime juice. Mix everything together and drink!
Alex’s Beef Stew
This recipe got its start in Alex’s early days after college, when he lived at the Oakton Community Center with the Brads. Originally this was made in a crockpot, using bisquick and cheap burgandy wine. I made some additions influenced heavily by Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon and now it is quite hearty, fatty, and gourmet!
- 1 lb. thick-cut dry-rubbed bacon
- 1½ lb. lean stew beef
- ¼ c. flour in a small bowl
- 1 medium onion, medium diced
- 1 bunch small-medium carrots, sliced in 1-2” chunks on a diagonal
- 5 medium yukon gold potatoes, cubed similarly to the beef
- 4 c. beef broth
- ½ c. Red wine (we like Cabernet Sauvignon) – reserve the rest for the meal and be sure to have a glass while cooking
- fresh rosemary
- fresh sage if it’s in season, ground/dried otherwise
- whole cumin
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Lay out the bacon slices on a jelly roll pan in a single layer, and place them in the oven. Check them at 20 minutes. They should get nicely crispy at the edge.
Drain about 2T. of the bacon fat into a large sauté pan. The exact measurement isn’t important, just use enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Pour the rest of the fat into a heavy cast iron casserole pot (with a lid, aka coquette pot), and set the bacon aside.
Heat up the bacon fat in the coquette pot until it is nice and hot. Then add in flour until there is no more grease left. The flour and grease mixture should be fairly thick and brownish in color. This is called a roux in french cooking. Stir the roux and let it cook for a few minutes until it begins to turn a darker brown. Then add in beef broth. Stir vigorously for several minutes. Put the heat on medium and stir it occasionally as it thickens up.
While the roux is heating up, heat the fat in the sauté pan. Pat the beef dry with a kitchen towel, and roll the chunks in flour. Then drop them in the heated bacon fat. Brown on each side for about 3 minutes, then add the beef to the coquette pot. Chop up the onion and then sauté it in the remaining bacon fat until it becomes translucent. Then transfer it to the coquette pot with the beef.
Add the carrots, potatoes and rosemary. Grind the sage and cumin, and add those along with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, pour in the wine, stir, and place in the oven with a lid on it for 30-45 minutes.
When ready to serve, remove from the oven. Rip the bacon into chunks and toss in, stir again. Purée some of the stew for babies as needed (This is a Walter favorite!).