The Incredible Beauty of Beauty

I spent the afternoon in Los Angeles with my friend Kathy Delgado yesterday and was reminded of just how exciting (not to mention happy making) it is to be with a friend who spends her life in pursuit of beauty. In the hour that we sat at the ever-inspiring Joan's on Third, we plotted my next book, Kathy's first book, and, naturally, the absolute beauty of a cheese board, which got me thinking about these roasted grapes. (Beautiful, right!?) The recipe, in a nutshell, is this: Put however many bunches of whatever kind of grapes (red, green, muscat, champagne) you want to roast on a baking sheet and stick them in a 350°F oven for anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes, until they are a third to halfway along their journey to becoming raisins. (The recipe is revised from Mozza at Home, which I wrote for the great Nancy Silverton, queen master maker of food that is equal parts delicious and beautiful.) Remove the raisin-ized grapes from the oven and lay them lovingly on a board with some of y ...

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Plain and Perfect Guacamole

Over the 10 years since I perfected my guacamole recipe and won a Los Angeles-based Guac-Off, it has become nothing short of a legend in my own mind. My guacamole has been talked about (mostly by me), written about (mostly here), and copied, even by people who normally don't go around copying things. My guacamole inspired the one the trend-setting chef Nancy Silverton serves for her Mozza restaurant staff parties. But the one thing my guacamole hasn't done during that time is change. Because it's perfect in the way that only simple things can be. I learned it from my step-grandmother, a Oaxaca native living in Mexico City, who casually mashes up a molcajete of guacamole the way you or I might whisk an egg. Like: No. Big. Deal. The key word here being MASHED. The word guacamole comes from the word "molir," which means "to grind" or "to mash." It does not mean "to mince." Minced onion-and-tomoato guacamole is more like avocado pico de gallo. Where this (if I do say so myself) perfect gua ...

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If It’s the New Year, it Must Be Lentils

When I first started to experience the illuminating relationship between what I ate and how I felt, lentils became my first new friend, with brown rice a close second. At the time, I did my writing at a place called The Writers Room, an “urban writers colony,” in the Village in New York City. I would spend all day there and grab lunch at a health food deli across the street. Brown rice and lentils. Every day. Same thing. I loved it. It’s the Italian tradition to eat lentils on New Years Eve and I wrote about in detail here. Lentils, the bean eaters say, resemble tiny coins, so ingesting them at midnight as the one year moves into the next is supposed to bring prosperity in the year to come. Far fetched, I know, but what’s the harm in trying? The wild rice in this version brings a great chewy element to the lentils, plus it makes it go further. Plus I just wrote a book on grainbowls so, yeah. There’s that. Here's to eating well and, if it just so happens, getting rich.   & ...

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If It’s the Super Bowl, It Must Be…  (Avocado) Guacamole!

Last year there was a lot of talk and controversy about green pea guacamole, and, well, let's just go ahead and leave it there, if you don't mind, in the last year. If you want to mash green peas with ingredients you perceive as enhancing them, be my guest. But guacamole, which literally translates from the Nahuatl, "avocado sauce," is mashed avocado, plain and simple. In fact, the plainer, the simpler, the better. I learned to make guacamole, I mean really learned to make real guacamole, about 15 years ago, when I spent a month in the kitchen of my step-grandmother, my grandfather's widow, a lovely woman and wonderful home cook who goes by the Garcia Marquez-ian name, Josefina Figueras Viuda de Carreño. Over the course of that month (which I wrote about here for Saveur), Josefina taught me everything from complicated dishes of my ancestors, such as Pork in Guajillo Chile Sauce to favorites from Josefina's native Oaxaca and, at my request: guacamole. When I asked Josefina to teach m ...

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