Tag Archives: Appetizers

Crunchy California Avocado Fritters

Crunchy California Avocado Fritters

With Cinqo de Mayo around the corner, what better way to celebrate the flavors of Mexico than to try out new recipes featuring the avocado, now back in season, here in California.

This year, Americans will consume 81 million pounds of avocados on Cinco de Mayo alone! That’s more than 160 million avocados in one day. Get in on the fun by trying this recipe, created for the California Avocado Commission by celebrity chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, known as the “Too Hot Tamales,” and co-chef/owners of the popular Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica, Calif., Downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas. This dynamic duo were Food Network pioneers when their show “Too Hot Tamales” premiered in 1995. They’ve gone on to compete on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” and have now partnered with the California Avocado Commission to create innovative, fresh recipes featuring California avocados.

I love how this recipe is new and different and yet reminiscent of food I love. It reminds me of falafel of course, but there is also something very sushi maki about it too – like, if you were to take a california roll and fry it. Hey wait a minute. I think I’m onto something.

The recipe uses quinoa (pronounced “KEEN wah”), the high-protein, ancient Andean grain everyone is eating these days. It also calls for Cotija (pronounced “ko-TEE-hah”) cheese, a Mexican cheese with a grainy texture used as an accent by adding a tangy saltiness to dishes when grated on top. If your local grocer doesn’t sell Cotija cheese, order it on Amazon or substitute grated Parmesan.

Crunchy California Avocado Fritters
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup white or black quinoa, rinsed and well drained
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup grated cotija cheese
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 green onions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup canola or grape seed oil for frying
  • 1 ripe, fresh California avocado, seeded, peeled and cut in ½-3/4 inch dice
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Aji Amarillo Aioli (see make-ahead recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Place a small, dry saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Transfer to a large saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, flour, cheese and salt. Add onions, parsley, egg and yolk. Stir thoroughly with a spoon until the mixture has the consistency of soft dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, season avocado with salt and pepper to taste and toss gently to coat.
  5. Using hands, create round fritters about the size of a walnut shell with a piece of avocado in the center of each fritter.
  6. Working in batches, gently slide fritters into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning as necessary. Drain on paper towels and serve warm, topped with Aji Amarillo Aioli.
Notes
If cotija cheese is not available, parmesan cheese can be substituted Yields about 24 fritters

Aji Amarillo Aioli

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp aji amarillo chile paste
1 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

1.    Combine ingredients in small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Not sure where to get Aji Amarillo Chile Paste? It is available on Amazon:

Halloween Party Starter: Jack O’Lantern Puking Guacamole

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Halloween Party Dish

Halloween = parties for me, so I’m always on the lookout for inspiring buffet food. I can’t remember where I first saw the idea of having guacamole come out of pumpkin as if the Jack O’Lantern is throwing up, but I thought it was hilarious. If you know the source, please tell me and I will attribute it. **Update: I first read it in the book, Extreme Halloween: The Ultimate Guide to Making Halloween Scary Again by, Tom Nardone. Check out his website, ExtremePumpkins.com. **

The recipe for guacamole here is a little different than what you might usually see. Here, it is prepared the Guatemalan way (our Guatemalan friend showed me how to do it). She leaves the avocado in big chunks and chops the tomatoes in large cubes. This approach seemed particularly appropriate for the presentation and turned out to lend great flavor. Now when I make guacamole at home, I always do it this way. Luckily, the pumpkin vomiting guacamole doesn’t inspire any real vomit.

Guacamole the Guatemalan Way
 
With the avocado in big chunks, this guacamole really stands out and is perfect for the puking pumpkin rendition.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Guatemalan
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe but not mushy avocados, chopped in large cubes
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped in fairly large chunks
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 fresh green chile, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Bag of Multicolored Tortilla Chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, gently toss (so as not to mush the avocado), the avocado, tomato, red onion, green chile, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Leave the pit in until you are ready to transfer to the platter. Chill in the fridge until 15 minutes before guests arrive.
  2. For the presentation: Carve a small pumpkin to have a face that looks like it is puking. Haha. Place it on a large platter with a candle inside. Spoon the guacamole onto the platter in front of the jack o'lantern's face. Distribute multi-colored tortilla chips around the perimeter of the guacamole. Enjoy! Happy Halloween!

 

Cucumber and Avocado Ceviche

Avocado and Cucumber Ceviche

It’s day two of my blogging event: “How to host an elegant, flavorful, vegan, gluten-free dinner party” for which I feature recipes created by the lovely and talented Viviane Bauquet Farre of food and style. This recipe was the first course of the dining extravaganza that was my husband’s birthday dinner this past weekend. This kicked off a wonderful five course meal. For course number two, you will have to check back tomorrow.

Avocado and Cucumber Ceviche

Normally, when one thinks of ceviche, raw seafood that has been cured in a citrus marinade is what comes to mind. Well, this is a vegetarian version ceviche. It’s an incredibly light dish, perfect for spring and summer gatherings and it is incredibly easy to make. I prepped all of the vegetables ahead of time except for the avocado because I didn’t want it to turn brown. I waited until just before I assembled the dish to cut the avocado. Drizzling it with a lime-based marinade helps keep it from browning, but it’s important for the avocado to be fresh nonetheless.

The tabasco sauce in the marinade does give it a little kick. If your guests like spice, you can heat up it even more by adding another 1/4 tsp. For me, it was just perfect.

I remembered having traditional ceviche served in a martini glass at a restaurant in San Francisco and I wanted to recreate that effect here, but you could just as easily serve it in a shallow bowl or on a salad plate. Viviane’s presentation is quite different from mine, but truly beautiful. Here is a link to her post.

First Course of the Dinner


Cucumber and Avocado Ceviche

by Viviane Bauquet-Farre of food and style
(I have changed the recipe slightly by chopping the vegetables differently. See Viviane’s version here.
serves 6

For the dressing
1 small shallot – skinned and finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the ceviche
1/2 of a (seedless) English cucumber, peeled and diced
2 medium tomatoes – seeded and cut in 1/8″ cubes
1/2 ripe but not-too-soft avocado – pit removed, skinned and cut into small cubes
Cilantro sprigs as garnish

Method

1. To make the dressing, place all ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl and toss. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, beating continuously to create an emulsion. Set aside.

2. Toss a large spoonful of cucumber into a martini glass or shallow bowl. Place a spoonful of tomato cubes on top of the cucumber and a spoonful of avocado cubes on top of that. Drizzle with dressing and toss a bit to coat. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: This recipe can also be served as a side salad. Instead of serving it in individual small plates, serve it in a large platter.

Avocado and Cucumber Ceviche

Fig & Gorgonzola Crostini with a Honey Drizzle

Fig & Gorgonzola Crostini with Honey Drizzle

Fig & Gorgonzola Crostini with Honey Drizzle

In my most recent post, I wrote about hosting a dinner party on Sunday night and using an entire menu from the Williams-Sonoma Dinner Parties book. In this installment, I bring you Fig & Gorgonzola Crostini with a Honey Drizzle. I changed the recipe slightly, so the one you see here is my own, but I was inspired by the Gorgonzola Bruschetta with Figs recipe in the book.

This hors d’oeuvre was particularly convenient because I could toast the baguette slices ahead of time, chop the figs ahead of time and assemble the crostini before the guests arrived. I felt very little stress.

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Wishing I Had Mission Figs

This recipe looks so easy and I know that black figs are sweeter than green figs. Maybe I’ll try this one tonight anyway with my green figs. We’ll see.

For more fig recipe videos, visit StreamingGourmet.magnify.net.

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