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      La Belle Cuisine

The Awesome Avocado

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"Once encountered in its ripened state, the avocado easily turns
into an obsession. Feel free to embellish practically any soup or
main course with it if you are among the addicted.”

~ Huntley Dent, in 'The Feast of Santa Fe'

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Feast of Santa Fe:
Cooking of the American Southwest

by Huntley Dent, 1985/1993, Simon & Schuster

“The avocado is a winter fruit, which means it is cheapest beginning in February
or thereabouts and expensive in September. The best kind to buy are black ones
from California, their skin crinkled enough to justify the old name of alligator
pear. Usually bought hard and unripe, they can ripen quite satisfactorily in
three to five days if placed in a closed bag and stored in a dark place. You can
interrupt the process at any point by putting the fruit in the refrigerator.
Underripe avocados are hard to peel; their flesh is unyielding and soapy-tasting.
Ripe ones are easier to peel, aromatic, and buttery in texture - hence the other
old name, ‘Indian butter.’ If, as often happens, you want an avocado on the spur
of the moment and run into those in the supermarket that are mushy to the touch,
do not be deceived. They are unripe ones which have been mashed by other in- quisitive customers and left to a dismal fate – pulpy, but still not ripe. It is better
to do without avocado altogether than to buy those. Cut-rate cooks sometimes
carry home the hard young avocados or the squashy unacceptable ones hoping
to palm them off in a guacamole heavily spiked with onion and garlic. That is
a very bad practice best left to restaurants.
Avocado flesh oxidizes and turns brown on contact with air, so it is wise to peel
and slice it at the last moment, just as you are ready to garnish a dish. Prematurely
cut slices can be kept reasonably fresh by submerging them in ice water – another
restaurant practice. Rubbing the cut surfaces with lemon juice, which one sees as
the usual cookbook advice, is tedious and mostly ineffective. Half an avocado left
over can be preserved by leaving the pit in, wrapping the half in plastic wrap,
and pressing the wrap directly onto the flesh so that it is not exposed to air. So
protected, the half can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days at most, where it
will decline in flavor slightly day by day. Although some may find them tolerable,
off-season green avocados from Florida, shaped like smooth gourds, seem to be
inferior overall – tougher to peel, slower to ripen, quicker to rot and, because of
their lower oil content, ultimately less flavorful even at their best. Frozen avo-
cado spreads are generally watery and without flavor, and not worth their cost.
Once encountered in its ripened state, the avocado easily turns into an obsession. Feel free to embellish practically any soup or main course with it if you are among the addicted. People who are primarily attracted to the ‘designer’ green shade of
the avocado sometimes make it into cold avocado soup, avocado mousse or avocado
ice cream, recipes for which most definitely do not appear in this cookbook.” [!!]

Ripe-Avocado Appetizers

“Now that the avocado is permanently established as a fixture in New Mexico cooking, it seems a shame to restrict it to a few uses only. There is more to do
with it than make guacamole or garnish tostadas. Avocados can be capricious
about how long they take to ripen once you get them home, particularly if
they are late-winter ones, so you may find yourself blessed with two or three
perfectly ripe ones a few days after you had planned to use them. Here are
some ideas about serving them as an appetizer. I am assuming that one half
is enough per guest (an underestimation if the fruits are small or have
unusually large pits).
These preparations are meant to show off the avocado itself, so I have not
gone into the various garnishes that are possible. However, among the
best of the traditional ones are:

  • Boiled shrimp made into salad or simply moistened with salsa. (The shrimp
    are usually placed in the cavity of the avocado.)
  • Shaved country ham or prosciutto, cut as thin as possible by the butcher
  • Raw beef tenderloin, cut as thin as possible by the butcher; moisten with
    fresh salsa or green chili relish. (The meat slices are rolled up and placed
    on the side. Present with lime wedges on the side.)"

All the following avocado recipes are for 4 people.

Avocado with Avocado Sauce

4 ripe avocados, cool but not chilled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 small green onions chopped into 1-inch lengths
2 generous dashes Tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste

First cut 3 of the avocados into thin slices in the following way: Halve each avocado, unpeeled, remove the pit, and slice each half in half again. Peel
the quarters by slipping your thumb between flesh and skin, just sliding
down to separate the two. Now slice each piece into 4 slices lengthwise
and gently fan them out on small salad plates. Allot 2 quarters - that is,
8 slices - per person.
Quarter and peel the remaining avocado. Place it in the jar of an electric blender with all the other ingredients. Blend into a smooth sauce, taking
time to scrape down the sides of the jar as necessary. Taste for seasoning
and spoon a ribbon of the sauce down the center of the avocado slices.
Serve cool and as quickly as possible so that the avocado does not lose
its fresh taste and color.
This green-on-green appetizer satiates even a fanatic [I plead guilty!], and
the presentation is lovely enough in it simplicity to suit a dinner party.


Avocado with Grapefruit Dressing

“Usually the unctuousness of avocados is set off by a sweet or sour dressing,
but there the accent is bitter and therefore more sophisticated. The use of
grapefruit and Belgian endive takes us leagues away from Santa Fe.”

2 ripe avocados
1 tablespoon frozen grapefruit juice concentrate,
thawed but not diluted
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh grapefruit sections and/or
Belgian endive leaves

Place half an avocado, whole or in slices, on small salad plates and garnish with the grapefruit sections and/or small Belgian endive leaves (3 or 4 per serving). Using an electric blender or whisking by hand, make a dressing
from the grapefruit concentrate, oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Drizzle over
the avocado and serve cool.


Avocado with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

2 ripe avocados
2 or 3 roasted and peeled red peppers, either
homemade or bottled as “sandwich peppers”
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon powdered mild red chilies
Salt and pepper to taste

Quarter, peel and slice the avocados as described in Avocado with Avocado Sauce [above]. Mix the remaining ingredients in the jar of an electric blender and purée into a smooth sauce, stopping as needed to scrape down the jar
with a spatula. Place a ribbon of the richly red sauce down the center of the
sliced avocado and serve, cool, as soon as possible. Unlike the other sauces, this one improves if kept for a few hours in the refrigerator, so it can be
made ahead if you like.



Carmen's Infamous Avocado Salsa

Makes 4 cups

One 16-ounce package frozen corn kernels, thawed
Two 2 1/4-ounce cans sliced ripe olives, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced, or 1 bunch
scallions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried cilantro, or
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce, to taste
4 avocados - peeled, pitted and diced

In a large bowl, combine the corn, olives, red bell pepper and onion.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro,
salt, pepper, and cayenne or Tabasco. Pour this into the corn mixture and
toss well to coat the ingredients thoroughly. Cover the salsa and refrigerate
8 hours, or overnight. Just prior to serving, stir the avocados into the salsa.
Serve with corn chips.


Avocado Salad Dressing
Tom Fitzmorris

”One of the best things about eating at LeRuth's [New Orleans] was the
avocado dressing they served on their salads. One day, I had a few extra
avocados and decided to see if I could improvise something similar (like
most of LeRuth's recipes, this one was a secret). Here's what I came up
with, which I thought was pretty good, if I say so myself.”

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dill
2 tablespoons Tabasco jalapeno
pepper sauce
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
2 medium size ripe California
Haas avocados

1. Mix all the ingredients except the avocados in a bowl with a wire whisk.
2. Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, then scrape out the contents with a spoon. Avoid the stringy parts at the stem end. Add the avocado
to the other ingredients and mash it in with the whisk. Add 1/4 cup cold
water, and whisk until smooth. Add a little more water to thin the texture
as desired.
3. Right before serving, toss greens (red and green leaf, romaine, Boston,
or Bibb lettuces recommended; watercress makes a nice accent) with
the dressing. Garnish individual salads with thin slices of avocado and
Makes enough dressing for about eight side salads.


Gigi’s Avocado and Roquefort
Salad Dressing

1 large ripe avocado, quartered
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch cayenne pepper

Mix all dressing ingredients in food processor until well blended.
Keeps well in the refrigerator.

The Awesome Avocado, continued...

Holy Guacamole!

Featured archive recipes:
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Gigi's Avocado Mold
Gigi's Herbed Avocado Cheese Spread
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and Coriander

Avocado and Chicken Salad
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Avocado Fruit Salad
Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad
Avocado Salad with Gazpacho Dressing
Chicken, Avocado and Papaya Salad
Crab and Avocado Salad with Louis Dressing
Seafood-Stuffed Avocado Salad with
Creamy Artichoke Dressing

Shrimp on a Mousse of Avocado
Tomatoes Stuffed with Avocado
Tropical Fruit Salsa with Avocado
Avocado Gazpacho
Gazpacho with Shrimp and Avocado
(Wolfgang Puck)

Avocado Lobster Chowder
Avocado Vichyssoise
Gigi's Chicken and Avocado Casserole
Pork with Smoky Tomato Sauce, Potatoes,
and Avocado (Rick Bayless)


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