You know it’s a good week when you get to eat avocado twice — an indulgence I don’t usually allow myself that often.
It almost made up for the ice (in Raleigh) and snow (on the way to and in D.C.) I had to put up with.
Avocado is one of those wonderful food textures I love. Scallops are another.
But back to the avocado …
The first taste was at my friend and yoga teacher Cyndi’s house. She served an avocado salad alongside chipotle chili for dinner on a cold, cold night. The salad was lively and fresh tasting, and the chili was perfectly spicy. Both loose recipes (she encourages modifications) are directly below, in her words:
Cyndi’s avocado salad
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 t. or so of agave syrup or honey
- couple dashes of ground cumin
- 1 finely chopped, seeded and deveined jalapeño pepper
- 1/4- 1/2 finely chopped red or sweet onion
- salt and pepper
Whisk above together in the bottom of your serving bowl and let sit while you chop:
- 1 cucumber, seeded
- 1/2 pint of ripe grape or cherry tomatoes (I slice them in half and squeeze the seeds out)
- 1 medium ripe avocado
- good handful of cilantro
Toss everything together and ideally, let it sit at room temp for an hour to bring the flavors together.
Sauté in olive oil:
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 3-4 carrots, chopped
- couple dashes kosher salt
Let these soften a bit and add in:
- 1 large green pepper, chopped
Add the spices:
- 3 good palmfuls of good quality chili powder
- generous palmful of ground cumin
- less generous handful of ground coriander
- even less generous palmful of allspice
- couple grinds black pepper
Sauté the spices with the veggies for a minute or two to bring their flavor up. Add next:
- several chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (this is the heat of the dish so more = more heat) I like using the adobo sauce too…all of it from a small can.
- either several squares decent quality dark chocolate or a palmful of good quality cocoa powder plus a good hunk of butter and a good palmful of sugar
The chocolate component relates to the chipotle component, so taste and adjust accordingly. Toss until chocolate melts and everything melds. Then add:
- a can of diced tomatoes
- a small can of tomato sauce
- a tomato-sized can of water, more or less to your desired consistency (You can add some tomato paste if you want a richer consistency or more tomato flavor. Masa harina can also thicken and is more traditional.)
Allow everything to simmer until the veggies are softenen. Then add:
- can of dark red kidney beans, well rinsed
- can of pinto beans, well rinsed
- cup or so of frozen corn
- if you want a vegetarian version, add a can of black beans
- if you want a meat version, in a separate skillet, sauté and season some ground beef or turkey, drain off the fat and add
It’s good to let it simmer for a few hours on a very low heat to let the flavors develop. (Terry’s note: Sorry about the weird spacing. Can’t seem to conquer. Something to do with bullets, I’m thinking.)
My second serving of avocado was at a restaurant in Washington called Rosa Mexicano. It was one of those groovy upscale Mexican restaurants where they make fresh guacamole tableside, in one of those molcajetes. It was worth the hefty price tag.
I also had one of the strongest margaritas in the world. It was small but packed a powerful punch, with Gran Marnier + tequila. It warmed my stomach going down, and I felt tipsy before I was even half finished.
My salmon dish with fruit salsa and mole was very yummy, and the rice and beans were also much better than what’s typically served at Mexican restaurants. BUT I suspect the cooks might have used MSG, as my tummy blew up like a balloon and stayed painfully distended for hours (my typical reaction to MSG). Eek!
My belly was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t eat many of the goodies prepared that evening by the Breedloves’ aid Bev at Phil’s promotion party. But what I did nibble was delicious. Nearly all the sweet treats were miniatures, which I adore since tasting more than one doesn’t seem so sinful.
I particularly enjoyed the pear thyme tartlets (made with goat cheese), the mini fig tartines and a delectable chocolate mousse confection whose name I didn’t catch.
Each chocolate delight had a whole raspberry hidden inside and were a big hit at the party. Here’s how Bev made them: Mix Oreo crumbs (with or without the cream centers, as you prefer) with melted butter and Chambord and press into the bottom of silicon molds to form a little crust. Make a chocolate ganache (she recommends 70% cacao), and add a little Chambord. Stand the berry on end on top of the crust and spoon in the chocolate. Freeze. Pop them out of the molds and let thaw slightly before serving. Yum.
- Bottom layer: those tiny little crunchy toasts
- Second layer: a thin spread of softened, unsalted butter
- Third layer: a thin spread of fig jam
- Fourth: a thin slice of manchego cheese (one of my favorites)
- Fifth: slivers of speck (or, Mom suggests, country ham — or, I suggest, prosciutto)
Thanks, Cyndi and Bev!