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avocado and shrimp wonton baskets

When entertaining, I like to make appetisers that err on the side of healthy.  I also make sure there’s a mix of food while being cognizant of the dietary restrictions our guests might have.  Last month I made wonton noodle soup but only used half the wonton wrappers; the rest I froze.  There’s always a bag or two of shrimp in the freezer and I usually have an avocado on hand.  This recipe is easy to make and in roughly 10 minutes you can have the filling completed by the time the wonton baskets are cooked and cooled.   Continue Reading →

open-face sandwich with poached egg

open-face sandwich with poached eggSandwiches have been around for centuries.  The term sandwich is believed to have been named after John Montagu who was the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Legend has it that in 1762 he asked for meat (most probably salted beef) to be served between slices of bread to avoid interrupting a gambling game.  I love a sandwich that’s loaded to the gills but eating it with some degree of grace is not easily achieved.  Introduce an open-faced sandwich and now you talkin’ (spoken like Joey Tribbiani from Friends).  Sourdough is one of my favourite types of bread.  It is lovely toasted and used as a base to build a sandwich. Continue Reading →

Micro Greens, Avocado and Strawberries

micro green saladMicro greens are sprouting up everywhere (pardon the pun) from local farmers’ markets to specialized food shops.  What are they, you ask?  Think of tiny seedlings bursting into young greens from vegetables and herbs.  Micro greens are typically one-inch to two-inches in height.  Although little in size, they tout an intense flavor but not as strong as mature greens and herbs.  In restaurants you’ll notice them as a garnish on food.  Are micro greens the same as sprouts?  Continue Reading →

How To Cut and Peel an Avocado

How To Cut & Peel an AvocadoI was in the kitchen the other day getting ready to use an avocado as one of the ingredients for my portobello burger, when I fondly recalled the conversation I had with my son.  He wanted to know if there was an easy way to get the pit out of an avocado.  I hadn’t really given much thought about it as I’ve been using avocados for a number years (akin to breathing).   It’s funny the things we take for granted as being everyday knowledge.  It was like an aha! moment when I told him how easy it was.  For Jason and others out there who aren’t sure, here’s my step-by-step tutorial. Continue Reading →

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

fried green tomato sandwichAlthough fried green tomatoes (no, I’m not referring to the movie) might be a dish hailing from the southern United States, in the Maritimes we enjoy them, too.  My father loved the sight of green tomatoes in our vegetable patch.  His favorite way to eat them?  Fried with bacon and eggs, of course! Continue Reading →

Zucchini Noodles and Avocado Dressing

zucchini noodle salad with avocado dressingI love pasta and could eat tons of it and not gain an ounce when I was younger – attributed to a high metabolism and being very active.  However, this menopausal woman isn’t able to boast that statement any longer without increasing my waistline.  Sooo, I cook it when I am craving it leaving me to think of ways for a pasta substitute.  Continue Reading →

Grilled Guacamole

grilled guacamoleThere are oodles of recipes incorporating an avocado but the most familiar is guacamole and everyone has their own version.  Grilled guacamole is a slight spin on an old favorite. The avocado has been around for thousands of years and is rich in potassium (helps regulate blood pressure) and vitamin A (helps your eyes).  Avocado paste can be applied to the skin to help with rashes and to smooth rough skin.  Guacamole is so easy to make and is a crowd pleaser at a barbeque, pot luck or family gathering.  I’ve been making guacamole for years and was recently inspired by the one I saw from The Kitchn.

2 avocados, halved, stones removed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5-6 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 large tomato, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped
juice of one lime

gucamole ingredientsTurn barbecue on to medium heat. Make sure grate is clean and lightly oiled. Place avocado halves flesh side down and grill 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Scoop out flesh and in a bowl lightly mash avocado. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Serve with your favorite corn chips.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Try to select avocados that aren’t too ripe otherwise the consistency will be mush-like.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

chocolate avocado puddingFood blogging for me is always a new adventure and while it’s generally been fun there’s a tiny percentage when it isn’t.  There are times when a recipe never gets published because it just didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to and couldn’t be salvaged or because I lost my zeal and couldn’t be asked to take photos.  I don’t have a schedule as to what I’ll post this week or next week…a lot of it depends on how I’m feeling that particular day.  And, I never know what will inspire me to write a post.  The inspiration for this post comes from a text my sister sent asking what to do with avocados before they spoiled.  I sent her the usual suspects such as avocado soup, deep-fried avocado wedges, incorporating them in a salad, baked with an egg, avocado smoothie and so on.  I also did a quick scan on the web and stumbled across a slew of avocado pudding recipes.  Chocolate avocado pudding definitely caught my eye.  Avocados are naturally rich and creamy making them a perfect ingredient in a pudding.  But how would it taste?  I was, to say the least, a bit leery but felt the combination should be fine.

Serves 2

3 to 4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 half cup milk

IMG_4183 by The Culinary Chase

  1. In a food processor combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Do a taste test and adjust according to taste.
  2. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

IMG_4185The Culinary Chase’s Note: Leaving the pudding in the fridge allows the flavors to intensify.  Decorate with fresh fruit such as raspberries, chopped strawberries (my favorite), chopped bananas and a sprig of mint.  Enjoy!

Gazpacho

gazpachoIt’s funny how conversations get replayed in your head.  I was just thinking now about one I had a couple of months ago with my daughter, Laura.  She asked me if I liked her at this age (20) or when she was younger.  I paused, thought about what she asked, and said that I enjoy this moment in time just as much as before…they’re just different stages in our lives.  She smiled and hugged me.   I spoke to Jason, my son, yesterday and talked about how he was liking his new home, work etc. and of course how the cooking aspect of it was going.   He told me he loves to cook so that’s not an issue.  Jason was always eager to help out in the kitchen while Laura was keen to eat!  They’re two different people (thank goodness) and since Laura has been in an apartment for the past two years (university life), things have changed and she now calls me to ask how to cook this or prepare that.  It makes my heart sigh when I hear they tried a recipe from my food blog and had success.  They know how much I encourage them to eat a sensible diet and hope that this recipe is one they’ll try, too. This Spanish liquid salad is perfect when it’s too hot to cook. Gazpacho originated in the south of Spain and was food for peasants and shepherds.  Packed with vitamins and minerals, it’s a perfect way to incorporate veggies into your diet.

Serves 2

1 cup English cucumber, chopped
1 yellow pepper or red, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
14 oz. can Italian finely chopped tomatoes
1 large heirloom tomato, coarsely chopped
1 avocado, chopped (bite-size pieces)
1 can (10 oz.) tomato juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
handful cilantro, chopped
1 garlic, minced
Tabasco sauce (to your liking)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

gazpacho ingredientsIn a large bowl, add ingredients and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning and add more liquid (water or tomato juice) if too thick.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
If you like, once the soup is combined you can remove half of it and purée, then pour this back into the chunky soup.  Make sure the gazpacho is well-chilled.  Enjoy!

Daylily Petal Salad

Daylily Petal SaladHow decadent! Daylilies in a salad!  Using flowers in a dish isn’t a new thing for me but it has been a long time since I last did so.  My grandmother always had a bed of nasturtiums in her flower garden which she used in bouquets around the house and if memory serves me correctly, she ate them in a sandwich.  In the 80’s it was all the rage to make candied (sugar coated) violets, rose petals, pansy flowers etc. as beautiful decorations for desserts.

I was asked to review Cooking with Flowers and was quite excited when the book arrived.  It’s full of sweet and savoury recipes…I have already bookmarked the ones I want to try.  This salad was easy to make, fantastic flavors and made for an interesting discussion around the dinner table.  Daylilies are native to Japan, China and Korea and were mentioned in the writings of Confucius (551-479 BC).  The Chinese grew these plants for their beauty and medicinal value.

Serves 4
adapted from Cooking with Flowers

4 cups arugula (rocket)
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
petals from 6 daylilies (washed lightly and dried on paper towel)
aged Gouda, shaved (use a vegetable peeler)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Maldon flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

dayliliesPlace arugula leaves in a bowl. Add avocado, lemon juice, splash of olive oil and daylilies. Gently toss. Arrange on a platter or individual plates and top with shaved cheese, sea salt flakes and pepper. Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Gorgeous! Daylily buds will keep in the fridge for several days. However, the flowers should be consumed the day they are picked for optimum freshness and taste.  The flavor of the daylily will vary but the ones we ate reminded me of slight hints of melon.  You can sauté the unopened flower buds in butter or olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over them.  Enjoy!