avocados: they’re for guacamole, right?

enough gastronomy.  reading about avocados this week got me fired up, and today i couldn’t stop myself.  i got home from work and decided to engage the avocado with every ounce of cooking chutzpah i could muster.

avocados aren’t just for guacamole.  yeah, guacamole is great.  but that crazy green fatty fruit is so so so much more than something to mix cilantro and lime juice with.  think outside the box, and give one of these recipes a try.  our scaly pear-shaped friend will thank you for it, i’m sure.

avocadegg

don’t be mad because you didn’t think of it.  eggs are amazing.  avocados are amazing.  bacon is amazing.  so naturally, if you made a breakfast food that combines all three, it would have to be amazing by association.

easy to make and so obvious that if it were a snake it would have bit you, starting any day off with two avocadeggs will make you feel superhuman.  get ready.

you’ll need:

  • avocados
  • bacon
  • eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce (or red pepper flake)
  • toothpicks
  1. cut your avocado in half and remove the pit.  if you are up for a challenge, run your knife between the skin and the flesh of the avocado.  cut a small sliver of the bottom of each half so they sit evenly on a plate or baking tray.
  2. if you decided to challenge yourself, slide a piece of bacon into the small gap you created between the flesh and the skin of the avocado.  if you feel like giving up, create the same perimeter around the avocado, only on the outside of the skin.  fasten with a toothpick broken in half.
  3. crack an egg into where the pit once was.  if done appropriately, your bacon fence will contain the white of the egg.  add salt and pepper to taste, and a little bit of red pepper.
  4. bake until the egg is done and the bacon is crispy.
  5. feast of three of nature’s greatest foods in a single meal.

makes 2 avocadeggs

guacamole (poor man style)

IMG_0305i hope most people know how to make guacamole, but just in case i figured i would relay my own recipe.  just as a warning, this guac isn’t exactly the smooth and creamy kind.  this guac is the hearty paste made for applying to sandwiches, chips, burritos, and salads.  prepare yourself.

you’ll need:

  • avocados
  • half a red onion
  • garlic
  • lime juice
  • one tomato
  • salt and pepper
  • cilantro
  • one fresh jalapeno (optional)
  • a dollop of queso fresco (cream cheese or sour cream works, too)
  1. cut your avocados in half and remove the pit.  keep in mind, the key to really good guacamole is the ripeness of your avocados.  if they are too ripe, they will be brown and stringy and terrible.  if they aren’t ripe enough, they will be hard and difficult to work with.  run your knife lengthwise along the flesh of the avocado three times, and then crosswise an additional three times.  use a spoon to scoop out the diced flesh into a large mixing bowl.
  2. mince your red onion extremely finely.  red onion has a more intensely spicy flavor than more other types of onions, so you need to take extraneous measures so as to prevent a dinner guest from getting a mouthful of guac that is more than 50% onion.  once finished, add to your mixing bowl.
  3. peel a few cloves of garlic and cut off the ends.  like the red onion, mince extremely finely.  i go heavy on the garlic because i love it, but i will leave that up to you.  you can seed and mince your jalapenos right now as well (if you chose to include it).  add to the mixing bowl.
  4. cut up your tomato into smaller than bit-sized chunks.  add a little bit of the juice that escaped to the mixing bowl but do not (i repeat do not) add the tomatoes to the bowl.  as tomatoes are the only ingredient on the list that is high in water, if you add them too early (or if you plan to save some of the guacamole for later) they will completely ruin the texture and flavor.
  5. a few splashes of lime juice, some shakes of black pepper, a few pinches of salt, and a spoonful or two of queso fresco should render the concoction complete.  give it a good mash, but make sure to leave some chunks.  smooth guacamole is a little too boring if you ask me.
  6. finely mince the leaves of your cilantro, and stir into the guac gently.
  7. last, serve the tomatoes alongside your guacamole and allow each dinner guest to select the amount they would like to add one portion at a time.  this is a clever way of preserving the mantra, “to each their own.”  some people like guacamole without tomatoes, while other like guacamole that is more than 50% tomatoes by volume.
  8. snack, chat, and if you feel the need to store the leftovers until tomorrow, remember to add the pit back into the tupperware or saran-wrapped bowl.

serves 3 or 4 people a nice pre-dinner snack

the voyager

IMG_0287i like walking.  i like biking.  i like running.  and i like hiking, too.  generally, being in motion means i’m having fun.  but the funny thing about always being in motion is that, more often than not,

that stomach starts to grumble.

and that is why sandwiches are excellent.  “sandwich” could be the most vague word ever used by a chef, in that it basically just means stuff between pieces of bread.  but why not embrace the vagueness?  why do people who profess to be sandwich connaisseurs limit themselves to humdrum sandwich contents like ketchup, yellow mustard, and bologna?  why not get unconventional with it?

this sandwich was born out of the desire to have a “snack” during an all night walk.  a friend and i had decided to walk to a neighboring city after work, have a beer, and walk back.  about 20 kilometers didn’t really worry either of us, but i promised that i would bring some food for the all night walk if he brought some booze.  he brought the booze, and i brought a few snacks.

and two voyager sandwiches.

you’ll need:

  • wheat bread (or french bread)
  • spinach
  • a chicken breast
  • smoked salmon
  • wasabi
  • mayonnaise
  • ham
  • an avocado
  • eggs
  • onion
  • soy sauce
  • black pepper
  • salt
  1. wash the chicken breast with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.  butterfly and season with a little bit of salt and pepper.  lightly oil a frying pan, and once it is hot, add the chicken.  cook on medium-high heat skin side down for 4 or 5 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 3.  if not yet done cooking, cover and allow an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  set aside and wait for the chicken to reabsorb the juices.
  2. remove the stems from the spinach and rinse with cold water.  set aside in a colander and make sure that there is little to no water remaining before using.
  3. slice some onion nice and thin.  remember, transparency is important.  while you are at it, cut the avocado in half, throw away the pit, and remove the peel.  slice half diagonally into long semi-thin slices.
  4. add wasabi and mayonnaise at a 1:1 ratio into a small bowl.  throw in a dash of black pepper and a tiny bit of soy sauce for the flavor and to thin the texture.
  5. clean your frying pan.  once again, add a little oil and bring to medium-high heat.  add the ham a few pieces at a time.  be careful, ham tends to spit when it fries, to don’t go getting your hands, eyes, or other sensitive organs too close to the pan during this step.  as each piece finishes, it it aside on two to three sheets of folded paper towels.
  6. put three pieces of wheat bread into a toaster over.  try not to over-toast, but in this situation it is okay if the bread ends up a little too crispy.  contrast of texture never hurt anybody.
  7. while your bread is toasting, fry two eggs in the fat the ham yielded.  season with salt and black pepper.  slice the chicken breast as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife.
  8. assemble the sandwich.  spread wasabi-mayonnaise on each piece of bread.  one layer at a time, add spinach, fried eggs, ham, thinly sliced onions, avocado, and spinach in that order to the bottom piece of bread.  add another piece of bread, wasabi-mayo side up.  add spinach, onion, chicken, avocado, smoked salmon, and spinach in that order.  finish with the third piece of bread, wasabi-mayo side down.  fasten with a frilly toothpick (if you have one long enough).
  9. brace for food coma.

makes 1 voyager sandwich

 

devocaded eggs

IMG_0295let’s not fool ourselves.  deviled eggs are great, and second-to-none among comfort foods.  i’m pretty sure that everybody’s mom at some point in time made deviled eggs and let you lick the spoon.  and even if your mom didn’t, you probably lie about it and say that she did.  yeah, they are that good.

the sad truth is that deviled eggs, like most deviled foods, will kill you young.  if cholesterol wanted to be elected for government office, it would erect a giant billboard with a picture of deviled eggs, because it knows that people just can’t resist.

but, contrary to common belief (especially in the united states, russia, and japan), there are things in this world that can be used as a creamy thickener that are not mayonnaise.

enter avocado, savior of deviled egg lovers everywhere.

you’ll need:

  • an avocado
  • 6 to 8 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • cilantro
  • a splash of hot sauce (or red pepper)
  • a tiny bit of onion
  • one clove of garlic
  1. put some water in a pot and add a copious amount of salt.  add your eggs before the water starts to boil, especially if they are right out of the fridge.  bring to a strong boil over high heat, turn off the burner, cover, and let sit for 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. drain the water, put the eggs in a bowl filled with ice water, and set them aside in the fridge.
  3. mince the garlic and onion ridiculously fine.  they should basically be a paste when you are done.  add them to a small mixing bowl.
  4. once you think your eggs are chilled, remove them from the water and peel off the shells.  do your best not to break the whites, but we all know that mistakes happen from time to time.  don’t worry about it too much, your friends still like you and i’m sure you have all kinds of redeeming qualities to compensate for your deviled egg making deficiencies.
  5. use a very sharp knife to cut each egg in half lengthwise.  pop the hardened yolks into the bowl with the onion and garlic.
  6. split open your avocado and remove the pit.  use your knife the cube the flesh while still in the skin, and then scoop the insides out with a spoon into your egg-onion-garlic bowl.
  7. add hot sauce, black pepper, and salt.  mash until very smooth.
  8. use a spoon to transfer the mixture into a small sealable plastic bag.  squeeze out the air and seal.  roll the empty part of the bag so that the mixture is pushed towards the bottom.
  9. this part can be a little tricky.  use a pair of scissors to cut off the very corner of the bottom of the bag.  what you are making right now is, for all intents and purposes, a poor man’s icing applicator.  try to make your hole as small as possible, or the flow of filling will be nigh uncontrollable.
  10. place the open corner inside the crater that once held the yolk of the egg and squeeze with an even amount of pressure.  don’t move your hand.  as the egg fills, it will make a beautiful little rippling effect as the contents of the deviled egg expand outward.  repeat until no more eggs remain to be filled.
  11. finely dice or hand-shred some cilantro leaves, and carefully garnish each egg.  it would be a shame to smash such beautiful, delicate, (semi) healthy creations.
  12. eat all of them by yourself (relatively) guilt free.

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