Archives for posts with tag: avocado

Summer’s bounty is in full swing and I’m taking full advantage of it.  I think August is the best time at the farmers’ markets.  You find all sorts of gorgeousness there.  But this August it’s Ramadan and the fasts are longggg and you don’t feel like making anything elaborate because of your lack of energy.  I’m trying my best to keep as many as I can, but to be honest it’s hard.  I know complaining is very shallow, but I love my food.

This year we’ve only had one proper Pakistani fast-breaking meal and that was at my in-laws’ house.  Maybe these last two weeks we’ll make a more a bigger effort.  After all, who doesn’t love opening their fast with pakoras, chaat, samosas, and other fried goodness.  I hope to make some Ramadan speciality for my next post.  This one could be seen as a pseudo-pakora.  Not really, but at least I tried.  Potato pancakes are definitely a favorite with me.  You can be a purist and keep them basic or the sky is the limit with options you can add to them.

Since corn season is in full swing, I decided to add corn to them.  When the sweet corn slightly roasts while frying in the potato cake, it’s a beautiful thing.  I also took inspiration from an older post of mine where I made cornmeal cakes and added jalapeño and queso fresco into these potato pancakes.  They’re a perfect appetizer or fast-breaking snack.  Add some mashed avocado on top and you’ll be a very happy person.

Potato Pancakes with Corn, Jalapenos, and Queso Fresco

Ingredients

neutral-flavored vegetable oil of your choice, for frying

2 cups shredded potatoes, I used Yukon Gold (squeeze excess water from them using a kitchen towel)

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 jalapeño pepper, minced finely, seeds and ribs removed if you like

1/2 cup shredded queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese, you can add as much or as little as you like

1 egg

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup chopped chives

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

zest of 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

optional: smashed avocado mixed with some lime juice and salt, for garnish

Method

Combine the potatoes with the corn, jalapeño, herbs, cheese, and lime zest.  Mix in the flour and crack in the egg and combine.  Season with salt and black pepper.

Heat a large frying pan with oil on medium heat and add about a 1/4 cup of the potato mixture and form into a free-form patty and put it into the pan.  Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown on each side.  When cooked, drain excess oil on a paper towel.  Serve warm with smashed avocado, and  garnish with jalapeño rounds, cilantro, and chives, optional.

*Be careful when frying the potato cakes, the corn might pop slightly.  You may have to reduce the heat slightly.

I’m an odd one who likes to have a sandwich for breakfast.  I’ll pass up eggs, cereal, french toast, pancakes, waffles for a sandwich.  Though I like all of those things, I prefer this sandwich.  When I visit my parents, I’m always sure to get some jalapeño chicken sausage and make a sandwich out of it for breakfast.  Unfortunately, I can’t find any pork-free chicken sausage here, though I’m sure they exist, so I opt for this vegetarian version.

With or without chicken sausage I am a lover of cheese, bread with almost any other combination.  I like to add basil, chives, and/or cilantro as well.  My sister and I came up with this (genius ;)) combination for breakfast.  We’re big on sandwiches and are known to turn meals into a sandwich.  All you really need is bread.

Spicy chilies and flavors are also a favorite of mine.  Hence, the radishes and jalapeños .  I think everything melds so nicely here: spicy, creamy, and fresh.  The textures all work, too.  Not too shabby if I say so myself.  I have created the perfect form of food in a sandwich.  Yes, I’m being totally sarcastic and I’m sure someone reading this will turn their nose up at this and think, “what is she going on about???”  Regardless, this is my favorite breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner for when I’m not in the mood for something that takes effort to make and after eating this sandwich I’m truly satisfied.

My Favorite Sandwich

There are absolutely no directions on how to make this sandwich.  I’ll give you some rough ideas and you go ahead and make your perfect sandwich.

Ingredients

nice hearty bread (I used honey, nut, flax)

radishes

avocados

good quality tomatoes, like heirloom

cucumbers

jalapeño peppers (fresh or pickled)

cheese of your choice (I used a semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese.)

lime juice

herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dried herbs de Provence

sea salt

extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Toast bread drizzle on olive oil and dress with toppings of your choice.  I make them open-faced.   Easy!

You would think this fennel salad is perfect for a ladies’ luncheon or perhaps for a crowd that is not into heavy or decadent foods.  But no, I made it for a “boy’s night.”  My husband was quite excited to invite his boys over for as he put it, “burgers.”  I’m sure in his mind, burgers meant, burgers, fries, nachos, wings and all that sort of food.  Don’t get me wrong I love it all but, all that fried food together is overkill.

Yes, I made burgers, but tried to elevate to something beyond a product a local place called, Bubba’s produces.  With a name like that, you can just imagine.  My husband is going to be all, “Why are you hatin’ on Bubba’s, their poutine is the best!”  Boys will be boys, period.  I also made an appetizer platter (it’s not me without an appetizer platter), grilled harissa chicken, dried fruit and nut couscous, chili lime corn on the cob, the fennel salad, and for dessert, brownie pudding with whipped vanilla bean mascarpone.  As you can probably tell, the menu was entirely catered for me.  I don’t always pick things that are my taste, but I like to mess with my husband.

Usually when we have people over it’s, “the boys.”  “The boys” are my friends too, but I do miss the girly bonding that every girl needs.  I can hold my own amongst “the boys” and sometimes it’s better to hang out with boys because there’s none of that girly cattiness involved.  Not that any of my girl friends are catty, they all are sweet and nowhere near catty.  I must admit, my husband’s close friends are very nice and I’m glad he has friends like them.  I might have painted the picture that they are the screaming hockey loving, beer chugging neanderthal guys, but they are not.  I like to be a little dramatic.  Girls will be girls. 😉

Regarding the salad, it is fresh and super simple.  Fennel and grapefruit are a very common pairing and I enjoy the flavors together.  Sorry, I didn’t go out of the box too much here.  But what works, works.  I added the avocado simply because I loveeeee avocados.  I don’t think I can be real friends with anyone who doesn’t.  Yes, I’m judgmental like that.  (Totally kidding)  I added toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch.  The vinaigrette was typical me, everything in the mini food processor and whirled into a dressing.  I used dijon, herbs, garlic, and a little shallot in the dressing.  It came out yummy. No one missed the wings and nachos. Most importantly, “the boys” enjoyed the entire night and so did I.

Shaved Fennel, Grapefruit, Avocado Salad with a Dijon Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6 as a side

adapted from here

Ingredients

1 large bulb of fennel, shaved as thinly as possible (if you have a mandoline, use it,) reserve the fronds for garnish and the dressing

1 avocado, sliced

1 grapefruit, cut into supremes, membranes reserved for dressing

a scattering of baby arugula, about 2 cups

2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds (toast on a dry frying pan on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes)

Maldon sea salt for sprinkling

black pepper, to taste

for the dressing:

1 small clove garlic

1/2 a small shallot

1/2 teaspoon country dijon, coarse ground

juice squeezed from the grapefruit membrane, if it is stingy, add a splash of orange juice

3-4 sprigs of chives

2 tablespoons fennel fronds

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil of good quality

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender or food processor and run until combined.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

In a bowl, toss the fennel with the dressing.  You may not need to use all of the dressing.  Arrange the fennel on a platter and top it with the avocado slices and grapefruit supremes.  Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds over the salad.  Add extra dressing, if necessary.  Place some fennel fronds in an attractive manner over the salad.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.  Sprinkle on some extra black pepper and some Maldon sea salt at the end.  This salad can be kept in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.  However, to keep the avocado from browning squeeze some lemon juice over them.

Let me first say that I love beets.  I do not know exactly when I started liking them but I can tell you it was not in childhood.  I think it was the time in undergrad when I started getting over my preconceived notions of how I thought some “different” things taste, i.e. BAD.  Boy, was I wrong not only about beets but a few other things that I love now.

Plus, it’s winter…Beet season!  I love their earthy taste and I adore them in a sweet and salty application.  As you have probably figured out, I am drawn to bright and rich colors like no other.  The deep blood red color is absolutely gorgeous (although it leaves a big mess everywhere. 😉 )  Usually, I like to pair beets with goat cheese and intended to do so, until I got a whiff of it which reminded me of the Berber family’s goat stable I visited in Morocco.  I know, I’m pathetic.  Mind you, before visiting this stable I would eat chevre on salads, sandwiches, or even on its own.  I hope I get over this very soon.  I want my love of goat cheese back!

Instead of chevre I paired the salad with Gorgonzola (no stable reminders there, though generally it is a far more stinky cheese…)  The Gorgonzola worked wonderfully, cutting the earthiness of the beets, creating perfect harmony.  I mentioned that I like beet salads to be sweet and salty.  That is why I prepared a shallot jam to go with the beets.  It would be delicious on its own with a soft room temperature cheese and crostini and maybe a drizzle of honey.  Yum!  Another sweet component were the  Anjou pears I lightly sauteed with kosher salt and dried cranberries.  I thought to myself, “forget about the salad, I’ll just get a spoon and eat these right now.”

I also added avocado, a bit out of place but I love the pop of green and a raw component to the dish.  The dressing I made was simple and balanced out all the flavors.  I made an orange and stoneground dijon dressing, which was so simple to prepare and would go on practically any salad you choose.  I did not use too much because the salad did not need it.  Of course, I added some sort of nut for some crunch, in this case toasted walnuts.

Yummy Beet Salad

Serves 3

Ingredients

For the salad:

3 beets

3 shallots, sliced

1 pear, cubed (I used Anjou)

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 an avocado, cubed

1 handful crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or chevre)

1/4 toasted walnuts, in pieces

2 tablespoons brown sugar

salt to taste

red chili flakes to taste

black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of butter

olive oil

chives for garnish, optional

Method

Boil beats in water for about 40 minutes or until tender.  When cooked removed the skin and cut into half moon shapes.  (You can roast them if you like.)

Prepare the shallot jam by placing them in a pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt so they start sweating.  After about 10 minutes add the crushed red chili flakes and turn the heat to low and allow the shallots to caramelize.  After 15 minutes add the brown sugar and stir the shallots so that the sugar down not burn.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Take out of the pan and set aside.

In the same pan add the cubed pears with 1 tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt.  Cook them on medium low heat for about 10 minutes or until they start to caramelize.  At the 10 minute mark add the dried cranberries and allow them to reconstitute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Assemble the salad by laying the beats down first and topping with the shallot jam and the pears/dried cranberry mixture.  Top off with the gorgonzola, avocado, and walnuts.  Sprinkle with a little salt and fresh black pepper.

For the dressing:

1 garlic clove, minced finely

juice of 1 orange

1 tablespoon creme fraiche

1 teaspoon stoneground dijon mustard

salt

pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil into a bowl.  Next slowly whisk in the olive oil so that the dressing emulsifies.  Top the beets with a drizzling of the dressing.

*Vegan Option: Use olive oil instead of butter where butter is mentioned.  Omit the cheese (add extra dried fruits or nuts if you like) and use soy yogurt in place of the creme fraiche in the salad dressing.

Bread and a combination of cheese, meat, vegetables, and spreads is absolute bliss to me.  This sandwich is so quick, I think everything was done in 15 minutes from start to finish.  My husband is having exams these days so he’s home for dinner then back to the library.  I’m on a deadline!  Sandwiches fit in perfectly with these “deadlines.”  No, he’s not at all a tyrant who will scream if dinner is not on the table, but I would just like him to maximize his study time.

I coated the shrimp in cornstarch, chili flakes, and salt and lightly pan fried them so that they would slightly resemble the shrimp in po’ boys.  MMMMmmmmMMMMmmm po’ boys, how I love thee.  I guess this is my ultra quick version of a po’ boy minus the remoulade and the french bread.  But, hey I had some sort of inspiration to lead me to this sandwich.

If you recall I used harissa in a salad. I wanted to spruce up the regular mayo but didn’t have the time to chop up herbs and the like, so a squeeze of harissa into the mayo created a really nice spicy mayo that I would make again the same exact way even if I had the time to chop herbs.  My favorite sandwich combination is arugula, tomatoes, avocado, and red onion.  I forgot the red onion in this one, though I have no idea how I did. 🙂  This turned out to be a triple decker club, hope you enjoy it!

This recipe is one of those recipes that you wonder why I would even post it because it’s so easy.  I feel like that when I watch some cooking shows and they teach you something anyone can do without thinking.  But this was really yum, so I wanted to share it with you. 🙂

Shrimp, Avocado, Tomato, Arugula, Harissa Mayo Club

Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed

2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

handful of arugula

half an avocado, sliced

1 tomato, sliced

3 tablespoons of mayo mixed with 1 teaspoon of harissa paste

6 slices multigrain bread, or any bread of your choice (if you don’t want to add an extra slice of bread just use 2 slices)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

Toss the shrimp with cornstarch, chili flakes, and salt.  Pan fry in oil about 3 minutes per side or until cooked.  Toast the bread and spread the harissa mayo on the bread (both sides or one side).  Add the shrimp and arugula to one layer and then tomato and arugula on the next layer of the triple-decker.  Cut across diagonally and serve.