A popular culinary magazine has a feature where they ask someone who they would invite, from the past or present, to a dinner party and what the person would cook for the meal. It’s a fun question to ask yourself. My list would include Julia Child, Ina Garten, Lauren Braun Costello, Gail Gand and Josefina Howard. But, I would not be doing any cooking. Are you kidding? With these fine chefs coming over, I would hostess a pitch-in supper! Julia would show up with a perfectly roasted chicken, Ina would arrive with a fabulous vegetable side dish in tow, Lauren would whip up her sensational mashed potatoes, and Gail would bring something spectacular for dessert. And for the cocktails and appetizer, Josefina Howard would bring her famous Pomegranate Margaritas and Guacamole.
show the recipe ->
Now, of all the women I just mentioned, Josefina Howard is perhaps the least known by most of us. I first heard about her several years ago when my husband and I were in New York City and looking for a place to have dinner. I picked up a local paper and read an article about a restaurant called Rosa Mexicano which was run by Josefina Howard. We were fortunate enough to get a reservation for that night.
Up until that evening, I had never been much of a guacamole fan. My experience with it was limited to a runny bright green substance that slid off the taco chips before I could get them into my mouth. But the guacamole at Rosa Mexicano’s was different. Chunky and full of bright, fresh flavor. And, as it turns out, pretty healthy too.
For a while the avocado labored under a bad reputation for its high fat content of approximately 15 grams per half of a medium sized fruit. But two thirds of the avocado’s fat is monounsaturated, which is known to reduce triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, and LDL, the bad cholesterol. According to the California Avocado Commission’s website, fresh avocados contain over 25 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and are a good source of vitamin E and potassium. With about 160 calories, no cholesterol and 5 grams of fiber in half of a medium sized fruit, the avocado can be easily and deliciously incorporated into anyone’s healthy eating plan.
The most popular avocado in the United States is the Hass avocado which has a pebbly black/brown skin. If you want to use your avocados within a day of purchase, buy ripe ones that yield to gentle pressure. When you take them home, keep them in a bowl on your kitchen counter. If you want to save them for later use, choose firmer ones and put them in a brown paper bag on your kitchen counter. They should ripen in a few days. To prevent discoloration when you are using them in recipes, sprinkle the avocado flesh with a little lemon or lime juice.
The avocado has a lot to offer the home cook. Mash the flesh until it’s spreadable; then use it instead of butter or mayonnaise in sandwiches. Its creamy texture and buttery flavor makes it a wonderful addition to salads as well as an accompaniment to or ingredient in pork, tuna, salmon, chicken and shrimp dishes. I’ve even seen chefs substitute avocado flesh for the butter in a frosting recipe and some have made ice cream out of it. But I think I’ll keep my avocado use simple and go for Josefina Howard’s guacamole every time.
In my fantasy dinner with Julia, Ina, Lauren, Gail and Josefina, we all gather on my back patio at sunset on a warm summer evening and swap stories about our culinary adventures. The margaritas are flowing, Josephina makes yet another batch of guacamole and the laughter is deafening. Six women who share healthy appetites for life and food talk with and over each other as women tend to do. Supper is getting cold. No one even notices.
The folks at Rosa Mexicano have been kind enough to share their recipes with me. Trust me, they are the only guacamole and margarita recipes you’ll ever need.
show the recipe ->