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Avocado Ice Cream with Strawberry Fans, Balsamic Glaze and Black Pepper

Preparation Time: 45 minutes Cooking Time: 0 minutes Yield: Lots!

cn rh Avocado Ice CreamAvocado pears have always had a special place in my culinary heart, because my late mum loved them with an abiding passion. When we lived in Durban, they were of course freely available, as they grow there virtually like a weed. A short distance from our home in Westville, which was perched on the edge of a wooded valley, was a grove of avocado pear trees that were originally planted by an Indian farmer who was moved off his land during the apartheid years when the Group Areas Act was enforced. Although his farming dreams were shattered, his avocado pear trees prospered, and perhaps still stand in silent tribute to his efforts of all those years ago.  Whenever Mum wanted some avocado pears, I was dispatched to go on a picking expedition. Upon my return, with the treasure trove of plump, ripe avos, she would slice one in half, remove the pip, and eat it straight out of the skin, seasoned with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar.

An invitation to create recipes for the Afrikado Blogger Challenge, an initiative by major avocado producer ZZ2 to encourage innovation in the use of avocados in the kitchen, prodded me into coming up with something really different. I’d done the usual before: guacamole, salads and even cold avocado soup (another of Mum’s favourites), so I decided to make ice cream for the first time.

I have no ice cream machine, and quite frankly, it’s not necessary if you devote a little time and elbow grease to the undertaking. The main thing to do, is to break down the ice crystals that form when you freeze the ice cream, and you do that by whipping it briskly and fairly frequently as it sets.

It is neither sweet nor savoury: it just tastes of avocado pear, which the salt and pepper help to emphasise, so it lends itself to a variety of uses. I’ve made a dessert this time around, but it could easily be plated with a savoury item to make a starter.

Ingredients, selection and preparation

5 ripe medium sized fully ripe avocado pears

250 ml double cream: you can use ordinary cream, but it lacks texture somewhat

5 tbsp honey

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 ml black pepper: very finely ground

2 ml salt

250g fresh strawberries

Balsamic glaze: you can make your own, but it is easier to buy it.

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Boil a kettle of water, and pour over the avocado pears in a large bowl, leaving to stand for a minute. Drain and plunge into cold water. This will ensure that the avo flesh does not discolour for up to six hours, a tip I gleaned from Erica Platter’s cookbook, “East Coast Tables” while doing my research.

Halve and scoop out all the avodaco flesh. Remove any discoloured spots, and place in a, large freezer proof mixing bowl. Mash until completely smooth.

Add the honey, cream, lemon juice, pepper and salt.

Whip briskly until homogenised and completely smooth.

Cover the surface of the mixture with a sheet of cling film, and place in v the deep freeze until it starts to set, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the freezer and whip briskly to break up the ice crystals. Cover and return to the deep freeze.

Repeat this process every half hour or so, until it thickness to the point where it is set.

Remove from the deep freeze and allow it to soften slightly before serving.

Serve two scoops of ice cream with a trio of strawberry fans garnished with balsamic glaze, and sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Avocado, prawn and shaddock salad

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes Yield: 4

Avo Prawn and Shaddock Salad

 You’re probably wondering what a shaddock is, and well you might. A visit to Danie Truter’s farm Daniels Hoogte on top of Aurora Mountain a few weeks back, introduced me to this interesting fruit. Known by some as pamplemousse (French for grapefruit), it is an enormous citrus fruit with a really thick pith.

It tastes something like a cross between an orange, a lemon and a grapefruit, and is much lie a white grapefruit in colour. We brought one home with us (you may well have seen it in last week’s recipe photo, behind the wine glass), and pondered how to put it to good use.

It came up for discussion at a night out at the Lanzerac Hotel two weekends back, with Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris, who suggested some sort of a salad with prawns, and eventually Mrs M and I ended up with this delightful starter salad, and although it is winter, the current balmy weather makes it quite acceptable.

If you can’t get hold of a shaddock, a large grapefruit, either white or ruby will do just as well.

But it is the avocado pear that really finishes the salad off beautifully, with its velvety texture, and unctuous voluptuousness.

The wine match was also a no-brainer. A visit to the stylish Mulderbosch Tasting Room for a lunch of pizza (excellent thin crust, lovely toppings, well worth a visit if you’ve not been there) and their delightful Rosè, resulted in us laying in a small stock of wine, one of which is the lovely tropical style Suvignon Blanc.

Ingredients, selection and preparation

1 avocado pear: peeled and cubed, but at the very last minute to prevent it from going brown.

1 cup (250 ml) shaddock segments: cut the segments out of the fruit with a sharp paring knife, excluding the skin that surrounds the segments.

200g prawns: deveined, shelled and beheaded.

Canola oil: for frying.

1 red chilli: deseeded and finely sliced.

½ small red onion: peeled and finely sliced.

A few mints leaves: very finely sliced.

½ tsp cumin seeds: toasted in a dry pan until the aromas are released.

4 lettuce leaves: ideally from a medium sized lettuce, which will give you a nice cup shape to contain each salad portion.

(Dressing)

1/3 cup (85ml) shaddock juice: squeezed from what you have left over, after you’ve cut out the shaddock segments.

1 clove garlic: crushed.

½ tsp sugar

½ tsp of fish sauce

½ tsp sesame oil

Method

Heat a small wok until it begins to smoke. Add a tbsp. or two of canola oil, swill it around the wok, and flash fry the prawns until they colour and become opaque, in small batches. Set aside to cool.

Combine the salad ingredients and divide between the four salad leaf cups. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bottle and shake well to emulsify, until the sugar has dissolved.

Anoint the salad portions with the dressing, and garnish with the sliced mint.

Wine match

The 2012 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc worked particularly well with this salad. A lovely pale straw, shot through with a green tinge, it is fresh and tropical on the nose, with citrus lime whiffs.

The palate is all about taught mouth-watering acidity, bright fresh fruit flavours, a mineral edge and persistence. A great drop.

Categories: Dining In, Food, Provenance, Wine

Avocado soup

Preparation Time: 60 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Yield: 4-6

AvocadoSoup01Wedding anniversaries being what they are in our household, the choice is often eat out, but considering the current state of the world’s financial systems, prudence dictated eat in last week, when our 32nd wedding anniversary rolled around, which was significant enough to warrant a three course dinner complete with bubbly.

The main course was crispy roast duck with watercress mash and warm beetroot salad, and the dessert was a devastating crème caramel.

After much thought, and considering the Afrikado Challenge, I realised that something which my dear old late mum used to make, would be ideal: cold avocado soup.

I have so many wonderful memoriess of the elegant dinner parties my mum used to host when the family lived in Durban. Anything from three to five courses, and anything from four to twelve guests, every single course prepared with meticulous attention to detail by mum, and a table setting that would have put the Royal Hotel to shame, complete with silver plate. One of the many dishes I remember enjoying was her cold avocado soup, and considering that summer has arrived, this is what we settled on.

According to mum, the original recipe comes from one of Lynn Bedford-Hall’s books, but I had to make a couple of changes, because the first version didn’t quite work out right.

Ingredient Selection and Preparation

2 medium or 3 small avocado pears: they must be blemish free and ripe. Leave them until the very last, because if you peel them too early, the pulp will start to oxidise. When you do peel them, check very carefully for any brown spots, and excise them carefully. Mash well with a metal fork.

3tsp lemon juice

25ml chopped parsley

2 spring onions: finely chopped.

30g butter

40g flour

400ml chicken stock: if you use stock powder, be sure to strain the stock before you use it.

400ml milk: heat it to just below boiling before you use it.

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to garnish

Avocado balls to garnish: I gouged them out of another avocado pear, using a melon scoop.

Method

Make your chicken stock and heat the milk.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour bit by bit, stirring in with a balloon whisk until all the flour is integrated into the butter.

Remove from the heat, and add the chicken stock followed by the milk, stirring all the time with a balloon whisk. Be sure that there are no lumps.

Return to the heat, and cook for about three minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thickened nicely. Stir constantly to prevent sticking.

Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat, and pour into a glass mixing jug large enough to accommodate the white sauce as well the avocado pulp. Place a sheet of cling wrap on top of, actually touching the surface of the white sauce, to prevent a skin from forming while it cools.

Set aside to cool to room temperature. This is very important, because if you add the avocado pear pulp to white hot sauce, it will oxidise and turn brown. I know this because this is precisely what happened with the first batch I made!

Once the white sauce has cooled completely, blanch the avocado pears in boiling water for a minute, then peel and mash them. Add to the white sauce, together with the 3tsp of lemon juice, the parsley and spring onion.

Puree the mixture in a blender jug, or with a stab blender.

Divide between four or six bowls, and garnish each with three or four avocado balls and a sprinkling of paprika.

Enjoy!

Categories: Dining In, Food, Provenance

Uncorked wine, liver and onions in the Franschhoek Valley

September 21, 2012 5 comments

Tucked away behind the zhoosh coffee shops and bistros on the Franschhoek main road at the intersection with Reservoir Street you’ll find Café de Arts, a delightful little eatery run by Chris Hoffman and Louise Rambert.

I had the good fortune to eat lunch (and dinner) there on the Saturday of Franschhoek Uncorked a couple of weeks ago, and was I impressed!

Chris Hoffman hard at work in his open plan kitchen at Cafe des Arts, turning out his signature dishes.

Originally the preserve of the legendary and much loved Topsi Venter, the restaurant was taken over by Chris and Louise a couple of years ago when Topsi retired. Chris, who was running Café de Arts in Kalk Bay at the time, actually trained as a chef at Topsi’s some 16 years ago, so in many ways he was coming home.

I love liver so when I saw lambs liver with chilli roast potatoes, balsamic onions and bacon (R78) on the menu my choice was simple, and what a great decision!The menu is eclectic in that it changes literally daily, depending upon what’s available fresh and local Louise tells me, and it’s short but despite its brevity, choosing a dish is tricky.

The lamb was melt in the mouth tender, the creamy sauce just richly right, with a tiny hint of chilli, and the crispy bacon slices the perfect topping. Read more…

Drizzle & Dip: Not just another cookbook

September 6, 2012 8 comments

First published in Bolander Lifestyle & Property, September 5, 2012

Preparation Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 35 minutes Yield: 16

The best way to review a recipe book, is to actually prepare some of the recipes in it, so when I attended the launch of Samantha Linsell’s first cookbook, published under the title of her delightful food blog, Drizzle and Dip, I resolved to do so.

A subsequent discuss ion with Samantha persuaded me to do one of her personal favourites, her paternal grandmother, Betty Linsell’s crunchy recipe.

I baked them on Sunday night, and they are heavenly, testimony to the effort that Samantha puts into her passion – the creating, testing and perfecting of recipes.

The book, available at all good book stores, is divided in three major sections: Morning, Noon and Night, with each section containing recipes that are well suited to the time of day, taking into account the amount of time available to the busy cook in the course of a day. The result is an intermingling of cooking and baking recipes which works well. Read more…

Categories: Book Review, Dining In, Food