Welcome to Naomi Kooker's blog.

At age 6 my mother let me into the kitchen, alone. By seventh grade I was feigning sick to stay home from school, "miraculously" feeling good enough to make baked-stuffed pork chops for dinner. My passion for cooking led me to a job as a sous chef in a Manhattan restaurant and, later, to stand quietly in the corner of (and eventually do one thing in) Restaurant Guy Savoy's kitchen in Paris. I overcame the ultimate cooking challenge when I made butter cream icing over a Bunsen burner at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It was for a friend's wedding cake, the centerpiece at the reception the next day. It was midnight. With just hours to go, I managed to whip up the icing, then carefully place the last few candied violets onto the cake before the reception. Oh, how grateful I was for that Bunsen burner and the corner bodega that was open 24 hours.

It all worked out in the end. It always does.

Food, cooking and eating are inextricably linked to life. Life is better when good food is involved, and even better when good company is part of the eating.

Thank you for stopping in and being part of a growing dinner party of readers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Great Guac

Rummaging through the Haas avocadoes in the produce department at Roche Bros. in Wellesley, Mass., I try to find at least two dark green ones that have some give. Not many. “It’s nice to see someone else is as picky as I am,” says the woman next to me.

Great guacamole starts with ripe avocadoes, no ands, ifs or butts. Hope all you want, but like a relationship, you never really know until you’re into it how it’s going to turn out. So choose wisely. Too soft and the avocado could be on the verge of rotten; too hard, with no time to ripen, the guacamole is stiff and tasteless as opposed to creamy-ripe avocado goodness.

The avocado should be very dark green to even blackish green, soft when pushed with the thumb, not mushy. Your best bet is to buy firm avocadoes at least three days ahead of when you’ll need them so they have time to ripen. Ripening takes time.

What I also love: avocados ripen quickly when put in a brown bag with other ripe fruits like bananas, apples or tomatoes—apparently the release of ethylene gas from the ripe fruit quickens the ripening process of the avocado. It makes me think of relationships as well: People ripen better when placed with other fruits. We’re happier, too.



2 ripe avocados

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro, cleaned and chopped

Juice of 1 lime



2 tablespoons vine-ripe tomato, finely chopped

2 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped


Cut the avocados in half by running a knife down the center. Twist the two halves apart. Peel away the skin and put the avocado in a medium size bowl.

Add garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Mash well with a potato masher. Add a pinch or two of salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, using more lime juice or salt. To jazz it up, add finely chopped tomato and red onion.

Cover the guacamole with plastic wrap so the plastic comes in contact with the guacamole, leaving little room for air, which causes the avocado to turn brown. Keep in refrigerator up to a day. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips and salsa.