Newsletter 34: Avocado
Avocados: Nature’s Butter
Avocados are a pear-shaped fruit featured in dishes around the world, from ice cream in Brazil to guacamole in Mexico to sweet drinks in Vietnam and the Philippines. The avocados are not only cholesterol free, but are also rich in monounsaturated fat (15% of the recommended daily allowance), making them a healthy and delicious addition to your cooking; we like to use them as a substitute for butter on our bread. They are also rich in vitamins B, E, K and folate.
Your sense of touch will tell you when an avocado is ready for eating: the fruit should gently yield in your palm, but not be too mushy (a sign of over-ripeness).
If the avocados you find are not yet ripe, sit them on a windowsill for several days, or place them in a brown paper bag and store them at room temperature.
Note: Once an avocado has been sliced open, it should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to prevent the flesh from turning brown.
To peel a ripe avocado, cut it lengthwise around the seed and rotate the halves to separate. You can remove the seed by lifting it out with a spoon, or if you are really talented, you can strike the seed with a knife and twist it out (this takes some dexterity, so if you mess up don’t sue us).
Important note: Avocados should never be fed to non-humans, so refrain from sharing a taste with Fido, Kitty or Tweety. The fruit contains persin, a toxic fatty acid that can be deadly to animals.
Avocados are a classic match with seafood and meats, but we’ve taken a few twists this week with a dessert and a savory dish.
Shrimp & Avocado Canapés
12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cherry tomatoes
1 plash of red wine vinegar
Salt, pepper and cayenne, to taste
pumpernickel or wholemeal bread or other rye bread
Cut bread into rounds with a 1½-inch cookie cutter and set aside.
Blanch shrimp in boiling water for a minute or two, just until cooked through; they should curl up nicely. Remove the shrimp from the water and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool. When cooled, blot them dry with paper towels.
Make a purée of avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice, a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Chop a bit of the fresh dill and toss it with the shrimp along with a small splash of red wine vinegar and tiny dash of salt to season.
Assemble your canapés by spreading a little of the avocado purée over each round of bread. Top with a dilled shrimp. Thinly slice the cherry tomatoes and top the shrimp with a tomato slice and a small sprig of dill.
Avocado Coconut Puddings
1 small ripe avocado
½ teaspoon lime juice
1 cup milk
1 cup coconut milk
½ vanilla bean
1 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch of nutmeg
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, toasted
Purée the avocado with ½ teaspoon lime juice using either a hand-held immersion blender or a food processor. Place the avocado purée, ¾ cup milk, coconut milk, vanilla bean, orange zest, nutmeg, and ½ cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, blend the remaining sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks with the other ¼ cup of milk to form a smooth paste. Carefully temper the simmering milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to make sure not to shock the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon for about 2-3 minutes, until the mixture beings to thicken, but does not come to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another minute until fully thickened.
Strain the pudding through a fine mesh sieve and then pour into 6-8 small ramekins or bowls. Put plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent formation of a skin. Refrigerate until chilled, and serve the pudding within two days.
Remove the plastic from the tops of each pudding. Place a dollop of whipped cream in the center of each pudding and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Garnish with an orange chip and enjoy!