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Showing posts with label avocado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label avocado. Show all posts

Thursday, January 7, 2021

My Mindful Guacamole


Chips not included. 

A successfully done guacamole, in my opinion, begins in a molcajete. These are heavy-duty stone mortar-and-pestle situations that are responsible for the sauces (or salsas) of the Latinx/Indigenous peoples of the Central and Southern Americas. I do not have one, so I use my own trusty mortar and pestle, which is made of clay and wood. It's easily my favorite tool in the kitchen that allows me to create pastes, spice rubs, pestos, salsas, and - of course - guacamole. If I had to put it in a category, it definitely would go in the category of "Cannot live without."

Can you make this recipe in a bowl with a spoon or fork? I suppose. But why would you do such a thing when you can use a tool that will serve you for decades to come? The virtues of a good mortar and pestle are many. It's satisfying in a sensory way to hear and feel how spices grind against one another! Mostly, though, I love the mindfulness it allows me to achieve while grinding. You get to stand there, hang out, pound away at any frustrations, and transform an ingredient to your will. I love grinding garlic into coarse salt and pepper, to release the aromas, and to mesh together all the flavors of the ingredients, in a beautiful and sensuous concoction that goes in apart...and ends up together.

Maybe this is a metaphor for coming together during and after hardships to rise stronger than ever? I'd like to go more into mindfulness, but let's just get straight to the recipe for now. 

My Mindful Guacamole

  • 2 medium avocados
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 a small lime
  • 1/2 a jalapeno, chopped 
    • Trust me, it will give you a head start
  • A dollop of sour cream
    • I use the vegan kind, made by Tofutti! If you want to use the dairy-kind, that's just fine
  • As much cilantro as you like (I think I put 1/8 cup in, chopped, but I can't say for sure)
  • Two fat pinches of salt
  • About 10 grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
Add to your mortar and pestle first the salt, pepper, and spices. You're going to want to crush these together first, as it shouldn't take long at all, but it's very important that the salt take on the flavors of all of your dried spices. Next, take your garlic cloves, chopped jalapeno, and half of the cilantro you decided to use. Grind all of this together, slowly at first. You're going to want to grind this against each other for at least 60 seconds before you begin pounding. Don't pound hard unless you have a potholder or towel between the bottom of the tool and your counter, lest you damage it. I pound gently, just enough to get a solid sound, and grind after every other pound, in circular motions. Here's my rhythm:

Pound-pound grind. Pound-pound grind. Pound-pound grind.

I hope that made sense? 

You're going to do this until you get a gorgeous paste, and you'll not proceed until you get that paste. Trust me, it's worth it, as you'll get much more flavor out of that garlic and jalapeno than you imagined with a hand-tool like this! It'll turn a muddy green color when it's right. Don't rush this part, okay? This is your time of meditation, of calm, of honesty with yourself. It takes me 3-5 minutes, and I love it!

When your paste has been achieved, no matter how long it took, add the avocado. When you open the avocado and scoop out the goodies, you are certainly allowed to chop the flesh up a little. Grind this into your paste until things are just barely combined and you can still see some visible chunks, add your lime juice.

Grind the avocado into the sides of the bowl, quite slowly, using downward strokes. I love watching the flesh of the avocado get smashed on the sides...it's so satisfying! And the color stays that beautiful green with the addition of the lime juice and the acidity and heat of the garlic and jalapenos.  You're going to keep grinding and stirring gently until it creates thick and beautiful guacamole. All that's left now is to add in a dollop of sour cream and the rest of the cilantro, and stir in until wholly incorporated! If there's a time to correct the seasoning, it's now.

In defense of the sour cream: Yes, it's absolutely authentic. The Tias y Abuelas of the world will side with me in saying that there are some people in the Latinx community that use sour cream in their guacamole! Like Filipino food, many cocinas are individualistic and they say that only their way is right... Let me tell you, my friend: they're all right so long as they are made with love and intention. I like sour cream because it lightens the guacamole, helps it maintain the bright green color longer, and it makes it more spread-able for when you want to put it on a tortilla or a tamale or a sandwich. I use the Tofutti/vegan sour cream because I'm hella lactose-intolerant, and it's just as good as the dairy sour cream. I've also baked with this product, and it's excellent!

You can transfer your guacamole into a serving dish, but - if the truth is to be told - I often serve it in the bowl of my mortar and pestle. I don't think I need to tell you how to enjoy this, only that if you are to store it, make sure you have the lid of your container touching the surface of the guacamole, or a sheet of clingfilm touching it. You don't want to get a gray skin!

I love guacamole as an ingredient or as a mid-afternoon snack. It's creamy, it's cooling, and it's full of healthy fats. Furthermore, if you are an absolutely crazy-for-crafts DIY kind of person, you can boil avocado skins and pits to get a beautiful pink color for a natural dye. No, really! 

Check out more info here!

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today. I hope you're all staying safe, indulging in some mindfulness and some self-care, and remembering to breathe. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Healthy Desserts: A Tribute to Avocados

noun: dessert; plural noun: desserts
  1. the sweet course eaten at the end of a meal.
    "a dessert of chocolate mousse"
I always liked to think of a meal as a sort of literary device. Perhaps a paragraph, or a short story, or even a sentence. Just a single sentence. The more the courses, the longer your written piece.
Say you were hosting a dinner party with friends. Your party would have canapes or passed hors d'oeuvres, maybe cocktails to start. Then a salad or a soup. Then the entree. Then the dessert. The 1st course would be your thesis statement, be that your first bite of a pickled quail's egg on a canape, or a salad of tomatoes and frisee. It would be the start, the indicator of where your diners(readers) would be taken on their journey. Your entree would be your body, the main paragraph or paragraphs of your short story. Your curry or pan-seared duck or roast beef would be your whole story. The dessert, no matter what it is, is your closing statement. Your question mark. Your exclamation point. I don't always think it's proper to end a sentence with an exclamation point--I honestly think it's a bit like laughing at your own joke--but it can be appropriate to do so.  
This cake from Succotash was NOT an afterthought.
So often, dessert is an afterthought. There are far too many restaurants, in my humble opinion, that take dessert seriously. Don't get me wrong, it is of the utmost importance that your entrees and salads are tip-top, but dessert is so often shoved to the side. You'll see restaurants shove desserts over to the pantry cook or the sous chef, or (worse) over to Sysco or US Foods to send them cheesecakes or overly sugary and fatty chocolate layer cakes. I don't see too much wrong with it. Just like I don't see too much wrong with teaching a donkey to wear a top hat; there's just not much of a point to it.
I actively participate in a Twitter livechat called #Foodiechats, where food lovers can unite and talk about food, what they do with it, and what they like or dislike about it. It happens every Monday night at 8pm EST. I sometimes am not so active with my tweeting, but that's usually because I have work. If Monday nights are slow, however, I get to go home and tweet to my heart's content. The topic of Healthy Desserts came up, somehow, and thus it became the subject of my blog, today.
Healthy desserts? Oxymoron, don't you think?
I see nothing wrong with making adjustments to your dessert lifestyle by substituting coconut oil for butter(when appropriate), but I don't think that a cake is where you should get your daily fiber intake. So let me just tell you right now that this is not a blog for someone wanting to lose weight. Don't cut desserts. Cut cheetoes or crappy TV dinners or fast food out of your diet before you cut out a well-made chocolate cake. Eat anything you want, just make it yourself.
Let me repeat that: Eat anything you want. Just make it yourself. People cook differently from the way that companies do.
This flourless chocolate cake, for example: ENTIRELY GLUTEN-FREE
Also, you're probably not gluten-intolerant. There's most-likely no such thing. You either have Celiac's disease, or you don't. The whole Gluten-free thing is more of a fad than anything. You have Celiac's, Gluten ataxia...but you're not gluten-intolerant. It's been debunked by the scientists that discovered it, pretty darn recently. And you shouldn't go gluten-free without talking to your doctor. Actually, you shouldn't try any real diet without talking to your doctor. But you don't have to be on a diet to enjoy gluten-free desserts that were gluten-free before it was cool, or be vegan to enjoy vegan desserts. You'd be shocked as to how many desserts were gluten-free already. And let's not forget that gluten-free doesn't even have to mean healthy. Chocolate is gluten-free. Butter is gluten-free. Pesticides are gluten-free. So is cyanide, arsenic, and anti-freeze. All gluten-free! I realize that cyanide isn't necessarily meant for human ingestion, but you get my point, don't you? Fad diets are dangerous. Unless you're the one profiting off of all of the latest labels. In which case, good on ya, you slimeball.
Anyway, healthy desserts, in the mind of this humble Pastry Chef, are simply things that are still that fabulous indulgence, still that wonderful "ahh" at the end of the meal, but not loaded with bacon or chocolate or topped with obscene amounts of whipped cream and caramel sauce. Honestly, the Pastry Chefs get shafted a lot because of how good the meals are when the Head Chefs do their jobs: because if you're so satisfied with your excellently prepared meal, why would you want something else afterwards? You're stuffed! You're "Oh my God so full" right now. Why would you want to eat more?
Trust me. You do. Especially if the restaurant you're dining at has an in-House Pastry Chef, you do. So give the poor guy/gal a break and order that cake. Or not. Since cakes aren't often gluten-free.
This Fabulously French blog has a vegan chocolate mousse made with avocado instead of eggs. And here's another great recipe, which I snagged from Tumblr:
Head to Tumblr.com for more great recipes and food porn!
Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Blackberries and Pistachios
This recipe can easily be doubled to serve more people. The mousse thickens as it refrigerates.
serves 2 to 4
  • 2 very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted (60% cacao)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh blackberries, for garnish
  • chopped pistachios, for garnish
In a food processor, add the avocados, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if necessary. Spoon the mousse into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The mousse will become thicker as it refrigerates. Garnish with blackberries and pistachios and serve.
Want something more than chocolate mousse? Oh, fine, you greedy pig. Try this recipe for Avocado Ice Cream, instead, courtsey of Alton Brown.
Avocado Ice Cream
  • 12 oz avocado meat(2 or 3, once pitted)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice(1 large lemon should do)
  • **Zest of said lemon(this is my own personal touch to it)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk(not skim, not 2%, whole milk, if you please)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar(but I have tried this with raw sugar, and it turns out pretty great)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Pop the first five ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. If you desire, you can add a few cilantro leaves and get funky with it at this point(it adds fiber, a green color, and it just reminds me of my Southwestern roots), as well as a few grinds of black pepper. Transfer this to another vessel(a glass bowl, large-ish tupperware container, whatever) and whisk in the heavy cream until fully incorporated.

Like all ice cream mixtures, this must chill for a decent amount of time. Hot mixtures into an ice cream maker? Not a good idea. Let it chill for at least a couple of hours, or all day if you can, before processing in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. The avocado as an egg substitute sets up fairly quickly, though, so be prepared to let it process for a mere 5 to 10 minutes before ingesting. For a softer texture, go ahead and eat immediately, or scoop into a freezer-friendly container and let it harden for another couple of hours.

The texture is silky-smooth and tastes just like avocados, which is(freakishly) a good thing. But if you don't want a straight-up avocado dessert, use it as a component instead. Things like this were discovered in Culinary School for me when I studied Chef David Chang.

Wait, you say. Avocado as a component in dessert? Yes! Chef David Chang did it, with his Cereal Milk Custard dish,
which is a fabulous panna cotta made from the strained milk used for cereal. This is an idea which is fucking genius, by the way. I mean, seriously--the best part about cereal is the yummy milk you get afterwards! And this motherfucker made it into a dessert? Someone give him a Nobel Prize. Or just tweet at him to tell him how great of an idea it was. And tell him I sent ya.

This was a life-changing dessert, even if it was just done by me in culinary school.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Panna Cotta is gluten-free too. So start googling, guys. Maybe if my boss lets me, I'll give you my panna cotta recipe to try at home! But not for awhile. That Pistachio Panna Cotta of mine is what got me my job and this baby is staying secret for a good long while.

In the meantime, however, please enjoy the recipes. Happy cooking, and happy avocado-eating!

Oh, and follow me on Twitter @WannaBGourmande for more updates, and to ask me questions about desserts. Happy eating!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Molecular Gastronomy

I'm subscribed to this channel on YouTube called MoleculRFlavors. I would watch their videos and be amused about them. I always thought it was cool, but a lot of work for egg nog or chocolate or whatever. I actually used to think it was kind of pretentious and stupid...until I tried it for myself.

Honestly, I've never been so blown away by food in my life.
Insert picture caption here.

The picture on the right is a peekytoe crab summer roll with avocado puree, soy air, cilantro leaves, and a yuzu vinaigrette. Aside from the soy air(soy sauce + soy lecithin + immersion blender), what else is unusual about this dish?

Well, the rice paper it is wrapped in, for one, is not your average rice paper. It's made by using the water from washing and cooking rice(all white and starch-filled) combined with agar agar and a few other tasty things to make it gel in sheets. We used a big circle cutter to create the 'paper' sheets, which were basically super-thin rice gelatin discs. Fill, roll, serve...that was it. The texture was really amazingly delicious, and it was nice and cool. It also didn't get greasy or slimy like normal rice paper might have when absorbing the fatty goodness from the spicy crab aioli that was binding the crab meat together.

Here's the cool thing about molecular gastronomy: it's not the pretentious crap you thought it was.

I actually would used to think that it's a lot of work for nothing really that special...in fact, I used to think it was a lot of work for something that was just plain weird. But it's not. It's 100%, totally, absolutely not! It's actually a handful of really cool techniques that create something totally new...i.e., cooking.

Being a Chef is all about mastering a bunch of techniques that can be applied to any and every ingredient known to man to create something new. It's about combining flavors and textures, making a new experience. That, in short, is molecular gastronomy. It's techniques plus ingredients plus flavor combinations. It's cooking, at its very base.

Picture caption. Not all of these can be witty, guys.
 Take this dish to the left, for example. Do you know what it is?

No? C'mon, take a guess before I tell you! That's the fun of it!

Still no? Okay, it's a root beer float.

What? No it's not, you crazy ho.

No, seriously! It is! That's vanilla ice cream with root beer pearls. Or root beer caviar. Same difference.

It's a classic dish/snack/night cap that's presented with a new technique in a new way. It's not in a glass with a red and white striped straw or topped with a cherry(though it could be), or is it served with a burger(though it could be). But it has root beer and vanilla ice cream...so it's got the same flavors of a root beer float!

It's made with a technique called 'spherification.' Wanna see what it looks like? Check this video out!

This is a version of what we did. This is obviously with mint and not root beer, but you get the idea. The entire channel has actually a REALLY cool bunch of stuff you can watch.


Anyway, the neat thing about molecular gastronomy is how much you can do with it. Encapsulating, spherification, aeration, foams, gellification... It's the new saute, braise, chill, and bake. (Kinda.)
 This is a Turtle Bite. It has flavors of caramel, chocolate, and pecans. The caramel is powdered by making caramel sauce then pulsing it in a food processor with a CRAPTON of maltodextrin, which turns anything you want into a powdery sand. It basically saps out all the fat and liquid out of stuff and makes everything dry...yet keeps the flavors and color. The chocolate is made into a 'jelly cube' which, to be honest, I didn't love. It had such an amazing chocolate flavor, but none of that tasty snap-and-melt quality that is my favorite thing about chocolate...but hey, this technique is awesome! 

Oh, and the pecan is a laquered nut with a beautiful maple sugar kind of syrup thingy. It's tasty and delicious and deep. I think it was salted, but I can't remember, since I only ate six of these things.

I'll find a better graham cracker recipe for you later. This recipe sucked.
And these little guys? Okay, they're s'mores. But how many times can you say you've made your own marshmallow and graham cracker and chocolate jelly before?

Ole'  Space Yeller? How is that a thing???
These dudes are encapsualted pears with grated Chinese Long Pepper and olive oil in eucalyptus gel...accompanied by Nergentoff's notebook. (Her name isn't ACTUALLY Nergentoff, by the way...it's just what she's saved as under my phone's contact list.) This was my favorite dish of the day, because of both technique and flavor profile.

The crunch of the pair could be replaced with a nice crisp apple, and the lemony-tastiness of the eucalyptus gel could be replaced with ginger, or lemongrass, or something else. Instead of olive oil you could use sriracha. You could do anything! And the best part about this kind of thing is that it's really cheap and easy to do...but looks amazing and expensive. It's a neat way to wow guests at a party, or get those picky, awful children of yours to eat vegetables without them thinking they're eating vegetables! Just lie and say they're space food, from the movie "Ole' Space Yeller." (They're kids. To a certain point, they'll believe anything you tell them.)