Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Died And Went To Avocado Heaven - Guacamole for the Dentally-Challenged and JAPS Salad

Kids, take care of your teeth.  Seriously. Or else you will end up dentally-challenged, like me.

But first - yesterday, Thursday that is, was a really terrible day to be Barack Obama.  It was a great day to be Vladimir Putin, however.  I don't like the feeling of being transported back to the days of my childhood when Richard Nixon was Vice-President and Nikita Khrushchev was banging his shoe on the podium at the United Nations. The point is that the United States has been kicked in the nuts, yet again, by Russia and its new best friend, Iran.  We have been made to appear weak and foolish, and we are clearly no longer the leader of the free world. Hell, I'm not sure there is a free world anymore; we are being held in thrall by Muslim terrorists and the strengthening remnants of the Cold War. We have led the Europeans, whose countries already simmer with unresolved anti-semitism, to abandon Israel.  If you haven't seen Netanyahu scolding the assembly at the United Nations, you should look for it online. I thought his head was going to explode from sheer fear for his country and fury at the major powers who are allowing this to happen.

And then there was another school shooting in Oregon. Nobody expects something like that to happen in the Pacific Northwest, but it did and many young people were killed or critically injured. The President took the opportunity to vent his spleen about gun control. While I am no fan of Barack Obama, I honestly understand where he was coming from and I will admit that a good deal of what he said made sense.  I support the Second Amendment, but it may be time to consider carefully crafted limitations regarding what kind of weaponry citizens can purchase and use.

I would also like to know what kind of craziness has infected us.  What degree of internal rage - and I know something about internal rage - causes someone to grab a gun and start shooting into a place where people congregate? Is there a mental illness that begats violent behavior? Is it the same sort of illness that causes domestic violence?  

Finally, let us not forget the hurricane, named Joaquin, heading towards the east coast. Three states, including New Jersey where I have family, and North Carolina where I have family and friends, have declared a state of emergency.

So that was all yesterday, and if I was Barack Obama, I'd be fucking depressed. And embarrassed. And ashamed. There's your legacy, Mr. President.

Last Friday, my friend Terry gifted me with five (5!!) fresh-off-the-tree-in-her-backyard avocados.  They still needed some ripening time, so I left them in a place of honor on my counter and started checking out recipes.  Did I mention that Terry's husband Dan started the avocado tree from the pit from a Florida avocado? How cool is that?

I am here to tell you that those were the best damn avocados I have ever eaten.  Better than Hass, better than the huge Florida avocados you can buy in the supermarket.  I wanted to use and enjoy each and every one, and I think with these two recipes I hit the mark. First is the recipe that the avocado was born to make: guacamole. I love it, and I make it often, following Alton Brown's recipe. This time, however, I was missing half the ingredients and wasn't up to making a trip to Publix, and I really didn't feel like chopping vegetables.  So here is my version of a super-easy guacamole that has the added advantage of being easy-to-eat for us dentally-challenged types.

Guacamole for the Dentally-Challenged (no chunks or hard bits)

2-3 ripe medium Florida avocados
lemon or lime juice
chunky salsa
kosher salt
cayenne pepper
ground cumin

The most important factor in creating a delicious guacamole is the avocado.  It has to be ripe enough to bring out the unique, buttery flavor, but not so overripe the flesh starts to turn brown inside.  The texture should be creamy and soft enough to mash with a dinner fork.  So you really need to take the time to let the avocados ripen on your kitchen counter, even if it takes two weeks, which is about how long my avocados were off the tree.

Scoop out the avocado flesh into a medium bowl. I cut the avocado in the shell, so when I scoop it immediately breaks up into pieces. Drizzle some lemon juice over the avocado pieces, then use a fork to mash them to whatever texture you prefer.

JAPS Salad (Jalapeno, Avocado, Palm and Shrimp)

1/2 of a 24 oz. jar hearts of palm, drained and rinsed, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
jicama, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch strips
jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup cooked salad shrimp, patted dry
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
honey, to taste
avocados, diced

In a medium bowl, combine the hearts of palm, onion, bell pepper, jicama, jalapeño, and shrimp. In a glass measuring cup combine the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt and cumin.  Whisk together with a fork.  Taste and add a small amount of honey to taste. Combine the dressing with the salad, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Add the avocado just before serving.

Let me critique this salad: I got this recipe from this site. I was really excited for the chance to use jicama, and to make good use of my wonderful avocados.  I don't know much about picking jicama, and this one wasn't as sweet as I had hoped.  There is a reason jicama is described as a cross between a potato and an apple; unfortunately I picked a so-so jicama.  The original recipe did not include honey in the dressing, but us Russian Jews love the sweet and sour, and so I made that adjustment.  Cory had the salad with his dinner, and liked it quite a bit, in part because he loves hearts of palm. He wasn't all that enthusiastic about the jicama.  The shrimp was my addition; clearly you can leave it out.

Happy avocado day!

No comments:

Post a Comment