tofu and avocado soup: sometimes, less is more.

tofu and… avocado?  has the poor man finally lost his mind?

while the answer to that question might be “yes,” this is still a pretty dang tasty recipe i threw together the other day.

i am a firm believer that some of the world’s best soups are those that are just as good hot as they are cold, which is certainly the case of some of my favorites.  this soup in particular was inspired by none other than vichyssoise, one of america’s most classic soups.

as with some of japan’s greatest foods, the key to this soup is its mildness.  it contains no shocking flavors, no expensive ingredients, and requires no complex cooking methods at all.  literally any person with a food processor or a blending wand can make it.  and therein lies its beauty.

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crostini: the toast with the most

bread.  let’s all be honest with ourselves, it’s just downright amazing.

just to quickly clear up any misinterpretations, when i say the word “bread,” i mean magical foods like challah, french bread, italian bread, pumpernickel, rye bread, pita, and even our unleavened friend matzah.  what i don’t mean is the nasty highly processed white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you make a sandwich out of it.  are we all on the same page?  ok, let’s continue.

the invention of bread gave humanity all kinds of stuff.  it gave us sandwiches (arguably one of mankind’s most versatile and transportable foods), croutons, bread bowls, french onion soup, and a boat load of other things which make my life wonderful.  some historians even think bread was the innovation that inspired beer (although other historians believe exactly the opposite, namely that beer, as one of the oldest beverages known to man, was the inspiration for bread).

but let’s address the elephant in the room.

toast.  if toast was a liquid, i would bathe in it.  if it weren’t so darn crispy and scratchy, i would probably try to make an overcoat or some cool article of clothing out of it.  maybe a hat.  yes, i like toast that much.

roughly torn chunks of french bread, once toasted to perfection, accentuate the majesty of the already incredible fried egg.  toasted pumpernickel bread, raw garlic, and pickles have been the backbone of the russian diet for well over 100 years.  what would french onion soup be without a disk of toast slathered in cheese?  it would be run of the mill onion soup, that’s what.  i could go on, but i won’t, because i want to talk about the crostini.

the sweet, sweet crostini.

picture a super thin disk of toast.  then picture a smattering of two or three high quality delicious ingredients delicately nestled atop the aforementioned toast disk.  sound simple?  that is because it is.  but as our good friend lord polonius said, “brevity is the soul of wit.”

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cobb salad: domo arigato, mister robert.

i always wondered why a cobb salad was called a cobb salad.  when i was a kid, i always imagined that it had something to do with corn (which was of course perpetuated by the fact i had no idea what the ingredients of a cobb salad were, or how to spell it for that matter).  as i got older, i just assumed someone named it after a person or a place just like most other well-known foods are.

recently, my curiosity got the better of me, and i looked it up.  looking back, i kind of wish i never had.  it is, of course, named after the restaurateur who was the (supposed) original creator of the cobb salad, none other than a mr. robert howard cobb.

yes, you read that correctly.  his name was bob cobb.

poor guy.  at least he invented a delicious salad to soften the blow of having cruel parents.  thanks for not losing faith, buddy.  i dedicate tonight’s dinner to you.  this is my japanese-style take on your classic american man-salad.

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and then countless recipes sprang out of the woodwork.

i’ve been posting and cooking, and cooking and posting, and drinking coffee, and then cooking and posting some more.  occasionally, i even sleep.

but that archiving stuff, i’ve been neglecting that.

and so, in one fell swoop, i’ve decided to upload a boatload of recipes that have been skulking menacingly on the hard drive of my computer.

give them a quick once over if you have time, and should you feel the need, try cooking them once or twice and tell me what you think.  constructive criticism only makes us better, and i could certainly do with a little improvement.

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.

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your friend, the avocado.

sure, they are delicious.  yes, they are rich in flavor and smoother than a baby’s bottom.  and even if you have only ever used them in guacamole, you can still appreciate the fact that, in the scope of all of the fruits and vegetables of the world, the avocado is an oddball.

but here are some things i bet you didn’t know.

avocados contain little to no starch or sugar because they trade it for the ability to consist of (depending on variety) up to 30% oil.  yeah, now you know why they are so darn smooth.  this percentage of lipids is roughly equivalent to that of marbled beef.  however, this comparison would only truly apply if the meat were marbled with olive oil and not animal fats.  avocado oil consists of primary monounsaturated oils (one of the best fats for you, in case you were wondering).  so next time you think about eating a nice steak, pick up an avocado.  obviously i’m being a little facetious, but think about it.

why so much oil and why so much flesh?  because avocados supposedly evolved to cater to larger animals with high caloric needs.  simple enough.  funny how nature works, huh.

the word avocado come from a nahuatl word, ahuacatl.  avocados are pear-shaped, fleshy, and have rough, bumpy skin, so you shouldn’t be that surprised to find out that the word ahuacatl means “testicle.”

not all avocados are the same.  native to central america, there are three main varieties.  the family native to mexico is from the subtropical highlands, and is the most resistant to cold temperatures of the three varieties.  these do best at around 40F/4C.  the remaining two families are native to guatamala.  the first comes from the tropical western coast, and is therefore the least temperature resistant.  they should be stored at around 54F/12C.  the second guatamalan variety is from the semitropical highlands.  it contains the most moderate qualities among the three varieties.  it has reasonable temperature resistance, and contains the least stringy flesh and lowest seed to flesh ratio.  hass, fuerte, pinkerton, reed, bacon, zutano, booth, and lula avocados are a genetically engineered mix of all three of these varieties.

if an avocado is refrigerated before ripe, its cells are damaged and it will never ripen.  if you wish to ripen an avocado, expose it to a contained environment with an abundance of ethylene (that is code for a paper bag with a banana in it).

mexican avocados have leaves which resemble anus or tarragon in aroma due to their abundance of estragole and anethole.  guatamalan avocados are lacking in this trait.  when dried and crumbled, these leaves go swimmingly with fish, beans, or chicken.

that is probably enough information for now.  you might already have a mess in your kitchen, and adding to it by exploding your head would simply be irresponsible of me.

happy cooking!