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Velvety Avocado Soup (Potage velouté d’avocat)


Velvety Avocado Soup

Need a soup that you can make in 15 minutes or less? That’s the beauty of this simple creation from “La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking: 1,000 Simple Recipes” (Rizzoli, $45) by Françoise Bernard. Mix chicken broth, avocado and a few simple seasonings and you’re all set.

And you can make it even nicer with a simple tip that Bernard includes: “Sauté diced crustless white sandwich bread in butter to make croutons and use them to garnish the soup.”

Velvety Avocado Soup (Potage velouté d’avocat)

4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
A few fresh tarragon leaves, torn (see note)
Pepper, to taste
A little salt, to taste
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth until very hot. In a blender or food processor, combine the avocado with the tarragon, and season with pepper and salt. Add enough chicken broth to cover and pulse 2 or 3 times. Gradually add the remaining chicken broth, pulsing to blend. Add the crème fraîche and egg yolks and purée until smooth. Serve immediately in a soup tureen or bowls.

Note: Chives or chervil can be used instead of tarragon.

For a bolder flavor, add 1/4 clove garlic, no more.

Makes 4 servings.

From “La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking: 1,000 Simple Recipes” by Françoise Bernard

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Crab and Avocado Cakes


Fry crab cakes until golden brown.

What better way to dress up crab cakes than with avocado, dill and a pinch of cayenne pepper? The recipe for these easy treats is from Melissa Guerra’s “The Texas Provincial Kitchen Cookbook,” by way of Terry Thompson Anderson’s “Lone Star Eats: A Gathering of Recipes from Great Texas Cookbooks” (Shearer Publishing, $21.95). You can serve them as an appetizer or a main course.

Crab  and Avocado Cakes

1 pound regular lump crab meat, picked over
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
3/4 cup bread crumbs, divided use
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Olive oil (about 1/2 cup)

Mix together crabmeat, avocado, shallot, egg, butter, lemon juice, dill, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. When well mixed, form into 12 cakes.

Heat oil in a skillet. Gently dredge the cakes in the remaining bread crumbs, and fry in the heated oil, turning once. When golden brown, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Note: Use two spatulas to turn over delicate crab cakes. Lift up a crab cake with one spatula, then turn over onto the other spatula, then slide crab cake back into the hot oil.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Melissa Guerra’s “The Texas Provincial Kitchen Cookbook”/”Lone Star Eats” by Terry Thomson-Anderson

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Add Some Spice to Your Halloween with Three Avocado Treats


Spicy Spookamole

Looking for ways to add fun to your Halloween parties? Try one of these recipes from Avocados from Mexico. Deviled eggs become Deviled Eyeballs, guacamole is transformed into Spicy Spookamole, and the Sorcerer’s Soup is a refreshing, cold mix of avocado and chicken broth with a touch of hot sauce.

For more ideas, click here.

Spicy Spookamole

2 fully ripened avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped
4 ounces fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed coarsely chopped
Salt, to taste

In bowl, combine avocados, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and chipotle; mash until combined but still chunky. Heat a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat; add chorizo. With a wooden spoon, break chorizo into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook and stir until brown and crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer chorizo onto guacamole. Serve with chips or raw vegetable sticks, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Avocados from Mexico

Deviled Eyeballs

8 hard-boiled eggs
2 fully ripened avocados from Mexico, halved pitted, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground or cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Devilish eyes:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Red food coloring
Black olive slices

Deviled Eyeballs

Peel eggs; cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to medium bowl; arrange whites on serving platter. To bowl of yolks, add avocados and lemon juice; mash until smooth, mixing well. Stir in horseradish, salt and peppers. Fill egg white halves with heaping tablespoon of mixture, piling high; sprinkle with herbs, if desired.

To make devilish eyes: Mix 3 tablespoons mayonnaise and 50 drops red food coloring; spoon into small plastic bag. Cut the very tip off one corner of the bag; squeeze red mayo through the hole and pipe onto eggs. Top with sliced black olives to form eyeballs.

Makes 16 egg halves.

From Avocados from Mexico

Sorcerer's Soup

Sorcerer’s Soup

2 fully ripened avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup Mexican crema, crème fraîche or sour cream, for garnish
Finely diced tomatoes, for garnish
Finely chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish

In the container of a blender combine 1 of the avocados, 1 can of the broth, pepper, salt and hot pepper sauce. Process until smooth and creamy; transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with remaining avocado and broth; stir into the bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap on surface of the soup; refrigerate until very cold. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, dividing evenly. Garnish each portion with a spoonful of cream and a sprinkling of tomatoes and parsley.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Avocados from Mexico

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Inside-Out Burgers with Avocado and Sprouts


What’s a Labor Day party without grilling some burgers? Give yours a twist this year by cooking the cheese inside.The following recipe from “Good Housekeeping Grilling” (Hearst Books, $24.95) also gains from the addition of guacamole, lime, cilantro, sprouts and tomatoes, all welcome additions to any burger.

Inside-Out Burgers With Avocado and Sprouts

1 1/2 pounds lean (90%) ground beef
2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup alfalfa or radish sprouts
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
4 multigrain hamburger buns, split
2 small tomatoes, each cut into 4 wedges

Lightly spray a ridged grill pan with nonstick cooking spray, then heat on medium until hot, or prepare outdoor grill for covered direcct grilling over medium heat.

Meanwhile, on a work surface, shape ground beef into 3 1/2-inch patties, handling meat as gently as possible for best texture. Place cheddar in center of 4 patties, leaving a 1/2-inch border around each patties edge. top with remaining 4 patties, and press edges together to seal. Lightly sprinkle burgers with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to season both sides.

Place burgers in hot grill or on hot rack, and cook 12 minutes for medium or to desired doneness, turning burgers over one halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash avocado with lime juice and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another owl, combine sprouts and chopped cilantro.

Serve burgers on buns topped with sprouts and avocado mixture. Serve tomato wedges on the side.

Makes 4 burgers.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 480 calories, 36 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 27 g fat, 102 mg cholesterol, 730 mg sodium.

From “Good Housekeeping Grilling”

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Chefs’ Corner: Johnny Hernandez’s Ceviche Verde


Ceviche Verde

In the newly redesigned Bon Appétit magazine, the August Challenge for four chefs was to come up with a dish using avocado. One of those chefs was San Antonio’s Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria.

His recipe was for a sensational Ceviche Verde, which calls for tomatillo, green olives, cilantro and jalapeño in addition to avocado.

The other recipes are from Carly Groden of Proof in Des Moines, who offered an avocado smoothie, Greg Baker of the Refinery in Tampa with Avocado Salad with Peaches and Shaun McCrain of Book Bindery in Seattle with Avocado and Crab Soup.

By the way, Hernandez was also honored recently by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Business Owner of the Year.

Congratulations to him for both honors.

Ceviche Verde

1 pound fresh Pacific halibut or other firm-fleshed fish, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3/4 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup diced tomatillo
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tostadas or tortilla chips, for serving

Place the fish in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Add lime juice and toss to coat. Marinate until the edges of the cubs begin to turn opaque, about 30 minutes. Add avocado, olives, tomatillo, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, if using. Add olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Serve over tostadas or with tortilla chips for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

From Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria/Bon Appétit

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Ridiculously Good Food at Great Prices Await at Metro Basilica No. 2


Underneath all that crisp lettuce is a huarache covered with equally crispy carnitas.

OK, so the name doesn’t exactly inspire too much confidence: Tacos y Burritos Metro Basilica No. 2. It apparently refers to a Mexico City metro stop, but how many San Antonians will know that before asking? (The No. 1 store seems to be in California, so don’t look for it.)

The look of the place doesn’t exactly win too many points either. Sure, it’s ultra clean, but it’s also sterile and nondescript in an equally unnoticeable plaza along Culebra Road. The boxy layout of the dining room tables makes you feel as if you were being herded through.

All of which could explain why only two other tables were occupied the other night when we slipped in for dinner.

But the food is so unbelievably good that it will win you over at first bite. This is Mexican street fare that you usually find around here only at a taco truck, only better. Forget the chips and salsa, and concentrate on huaraches, sopes and mulitas, all with the most divinely cinnamon-laced horchata in town.

The restaurant is on Culebra Road.

It’s a small menu, but everything is choice. And the prices, most under $5, are a steal.

We tried two sopes, which were visually indistinguishable until you dug a fork into them. Each arrived with a mountain of shredded lettuce topped with avocado, slivers of tomato, sour cream and queso fresco. Underneath was a smear of lardy beans and plenty of meat — we tried both the asada and the chicken, and found plenty to enjoy in each. Everything was situated atop a handmade base made from corn. Think of your favorite tostada, only on steroids in terms of size and flavor. A squirt or two of the fiery green salsa or the smoky roasted red just carried the freshness of the dish to a whole new level.

The same sumptuous mound of lettuce covered the carnitas huarache, which also had a thick-yet-tender, oblong corn tortilla on the bottom. The succulent strands of meat had been crisped on the edges, giving a variety of textures as well as its juicy pork flavor to the dish.

I was not familiar with the mulita, so I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Two corn tortillas were stuffed with the meat of your choice (I opted for what turned out to be a spectacularly well seasoned al pastor), ripe avocado and a salty cheese that sort of melted together with just a few welcome drops of grease, which you will want to sop up with any tortilla so you don’t miss a single bite. Individually, each ingredient shone; together, they eclipsed everything else on the table, which was no mean feat.

Salty cheese and al pastor meat pack the mulita.

I just wish that a few slivers of radish had been added to each of the dishes, as they would have offered a lively little kick and a complementary crunch. I hope they’re available with the pozole, which a flier on the wall said is now offered daily. I wish I had seen that first. Or maybe not. It gives me something to go back for. With a mulita on the side.

Tacos y Burritos Metro Basilica No. 2
7627 Culebra Road
(210) 680-1412
Open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

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Give Your Breakfast Some BAM!


Bacon-Avocado-Mango Breakfast Sandwich

Every time someone uses the word “bam” near a kitchen, Emeril Lagasse comes to mind. The celebrity chef, who told us all that “pork rules,” would probably love this version of BAM, a breakfast sandwich made with bacon, avocado and mango.

The silky smooth textures of the mango and avocado are a nice contrast with the crisp bacon and the hot buttered bread. If you want to make this more like a Mexican torta, use crema instead of butter.

It’s a great way to get two fruit servings with breakfast, so you can start the day right.

Bacon-Avocado-Mango Breakfast Sandwich

4 thick-cut slices bacon or 6 regular slices bacon
2 bolillos, toasted, or 4 slices Texas toast
Butter or crema (optional)
1 Ataulfo mango
1 large avocado
Salt, to taste (optional)

Over low-heat, fry the bacon, turning frequently, until you reach the desired crispness. Using a paper towel, remove any excess grease.

Meanwhile, cut the bolillos in half and toast. Spread butter or crema, if using.

Peel and slice the mango. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and cut out slices, removing them from the peel.

To assemble: Place one side of the bread down on a plate. Top with bacon, mango and avocado. Sprinkle a little salt on, if desired. Top with other half of bolillo or toast.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

From John Griffin

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Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl


Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

Nomi Shannon, aka the Raw Gourmet, created this easy yet bold salad using ingredients you’re like to have around your kitchen. Don’t have something? Try a variation. As Shannon says, “This is just wicked simple — and there’s pretty much endless variations of the chop bowl.”

You could add celery or any color bell pepper for crunch. Use peaches or nectarines instead of mango. Spritz some lime juice on instead of the vinegar. Add serrano pepper for heat.

Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

1 medium ripe tomato, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium Ataulfo mango, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium avocado, chopped into ½-inch cubes
6-10 fresh mint leaves, torn up
Pinch of sea salt
¼- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, optional

Gently stir together tomato, mango, avocado, mint, salt, cinnamon and vinegar, if using. Allow flavors to mingle for 15-30 minutes.

Makes 4 side dish servings or 1 main course serving.

From Nomi Shannon, the Raw Gourmet

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Peruvian Causa with Potato, Crabmeat and Avocado


“This is just potato salad,” celebrated chef Norman Van Aken said Friday during the Culinary Institute of America’s Latin Flavors, American Kitchens symposium. Of course, with a pound of crabmeat, it’s a bit more than that. It’s a light, refreshing salad that gains from the addition of avocado, sherry vinegar, Creole mustard and Tabasco.

Van Aken, progenitor of Floribbean cuisine, didn’t stop with the potatoes. He layered the  dish with the causa on the bottom and topped it with a piece of sautéed fish. On top were microgreens tossed in a passion fruit vinaigrette and a sabayon on the side.

Peruvian Causa with Potato, Crabmeat and Avocado

3/4 pound new potatoes, scrubbed
1 1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 cup corn kernels, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute
1/2 cup inner celery ribs, rinsed and finely chopped
1 cup crabmeat
1 Hass avocado
1/4 cup olives, Niçoise or arbequina, pitted and chopped
1 tomato, skinned, seeded and chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and chill.

Whisk the mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, Tabasco sauce and thyme together in a bowl.

Peel the potatoes and dice into 1/4-inch cubes. Combine diced potatoes, corn, celery and crabmeat. Toss with dressing.

Gently fold in avocado, olives and tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the chopped chives.

Makes 4 servings.

From Norman Van Aken/Culinary Institute of America

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Chefs’ Corner: Chilled California Avocado Soup from Biga on the Banks


Chilled California Avocado Soup with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo

The lure of smooth avocado purée mixed with the lively crunch of shrimp and pico de gallo is the foundation of this recipe, which comes from Martin Stembera, chef de cuisine at Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St. But the secret doesn’t stop there. Flavors of orange, lime and honey as well as garlic and shallots all combine to make a rich treat that is cool and refreshing on a hot Texas day.

Chilled California Avocado Soup with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo

2 teaspoons canola oil
4 medium shallots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup plus 2 ounces fresh orange juice, divided use
16 ounces chicken stock (2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 to 3 ripe California avocados
Salt, to taste
Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo, for garnish (recipe follows)

Orange Shrimp Pico de Gallo:
4-6 shrimp
1 teaspoon canola oil
Pinch of chopped garlic
Pinch of shallot
Orange juice
Diced onion, to taste
Diced serrano or jalapeño, to taste
Diced and seeded tomato, to taste
Chopped cilantro, to taste (optional)
Orange oil (optional)

For the soup: In soup pot, turn heat on medium low to warm up oil. Then, add shallots with garlic and let them cook slowly until they have released some liquid and are transparent. Add 1/4 cup orange juice and reduce by half. Then add chicken stock and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Chill this mixture and then blend it until smooth.

Add lime juice, honey and 2 avocados and blend until smooth. If soup is too runny add remaining avocado; if it’s too thick add additional orange juice. Season with salt to taste.

Serve chilled with Orange-Shrimp Pico de Gallo.

For the pico: Cut 4-6 large cleaned shrimp into bite size pieces and sauté in a little oil with shallot and garlic until shrimp turn pink.

Remove shrimp from pan and put orange juice in the pan, reducing it until it becomes thick.

Add shrimp back to pan, toss with the orange juice reduction and chill. After shrimp mixture is chilled, add 4-6 tablespoons of your favorite pico de gallo recipe or a mixture of chopped onion, serrano, tomato and cilantro, if using. Add a few drops of pure orange oil for an extra orange punch, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Martin Stembera of Biga on the Banks

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