Friday, November 14, 2008

Liquid Avocado in San Antonio

After Blanca Aldaco gave us a margarita-making lesson at Aldaco's Mexican Cuisine, in San Antonio, there was one additional variety she thought we should try - an avocado margarita. The staff initially presented our table with a gargantuan martini-style glass of the pale green concoction and six straws, so we could share. By the time our food arrived they had split the remaining cocktail into separate glasses so we wouldn't have to reach across the table.

This unusual cocktail tastes nothing like guacamole. As smooth and creamy as a milkshake, with tequila so subtly blended in that you barely know it's there and a ring of chili-lime salt around the rim of each glass, this knockout alcoholic beverage could easily sneak up on you. And you'll want to order another as soon as the first is gone.

Just be sure to save room for some of Aldaco's Guadalajara-inspired food, from Traditional Chicken Enchiladas and tortilla soup to pozole rojo (pork/hominy soup), shrimp ceviche tostadas, and the decadent dessert, Pastel Tres Leches. You may need a 'go box' too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Orange & White Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate mousse is such a simple and scrumptious dessert - but it's also what most people expect when they think of a dessert mousse. And I sometimes like to create new twists on familiar tastes. Here's my latest. See what you think:

Orange & White Chocolate Mousse
approximately 6 servings

6 ounces white chocolate
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other brandy-based orange liqueur
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 oranges, with sections cut from fruit
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier per orange

Melt white chocolate slowly in double boiler, until smooth and creamy. Beat egg yolks until thickened and dark yellow. Add Grand Marnier and cinnamon, mixing gently but thoroughly. Add melted white chocolate in small amounts, stirring after each spoonful, to create custard.

Beat egg whites until firm. Fold into white chocolate and yolk mixture slowly. Pour mousse into individual dessert glasses. Allow to cool overnight.

While the mousse cools overnight, soak orange sections in Grand Marnier. Top each mousse serving with a handful of orange sections, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

At Home With Georgia O'Keefe

There's a haunting beauty to Georgia O'Keefe's beloved Ghost Ranch, located 65 miles northwest of Santa Fe. O'Keefe bought a house and seven acres here, in 1938, where she lived for more than 50 years. Massive rock walls colored with wide mineral striations are topped with rock spires that jut purposefully into the brilliant blue sky. She painted most of her landscapes at the west end of the ranch, including the twisted juniper trees that also captured her interest.

But O'Keefe valued all kinds of natural beauty and purchased her second New Mexico property about seven years later. Located only 13 miles from Ghost Ranch, her other home and studio offered totally different panoramic views. One of the earliest people to install picture windows, O'Keefe looked out on quiet mesas, mountain vistas, wide fields and spindly cacti from her simple, unadorned white bedroom, where her collected stones and bones lined the window sill.

Just as her natural surroundings shaped and inspired O'Keefe's art, her art captured the spirit of this wild and wonderful environment for generations to come.