It’s all a matter of perspective: what we consider normal, weird, or just plain crazy. I grew up on a tropical island eating mangos, coconuts and avocados the way most Americans eat apples, bananas and strawberries. My fondest memories are of dashing to the school canteen during recess, and handing over my two pesos to the lady behind the fold-out table. She would cut up fresh avocados, scoop in ice, and add water and sugar (although, condensed milk is the way to go at home!). The blender whirred everything into a creamy concoction, which was then poured into cheap plastic cups–a cold, sweet treat to cool us off in the sweltering heat. And so I have always associated avocados with dessert. It was a bit jarring when I met someone years ago in New York who was taken aback by the thought of avocados in something sweet. For her, avocados were savory; something to be added to salads or mashed up into guacamole.
Chef Ivy Stark – Photo Courtesy of the California Avocado Commission
- Crab Molotes with California Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
- California Avocado Tacos – Baja Style
- California Avocado Honey Lime Ice Cream
We also found out that avocados go beyond sweet and savory…and can be used for delicious cocktails such as California Avocado Margaritas.
Dos Caminos – Photo Courtesy of the California Avocado Commission
I also learned a thing or two about avocados. It turns out that California Avocados are hand-grown by about 6,000 growers–planting, pruning, and picking each one by hand. And 90% of the U.S. avocados come from California. I also found out that Hass avocados (my favorite because of its creamy texture and nutty flavor) originated in Southern California. In 1926, a U.S. postal worker, Rudolph Hass, discovered that one of the trees he planted in his garden produced exceptional fruit. That tree has been grafted time over time…and so every Hass avocado we eat originated from that single tree. And here I thought “Hass” sounded like it was from Mexico.
Crab Molotes – Photo Courtesy of the California Avocado Commission
Chef Ivy also gave us tips on how to cut an avocado. I had always done it the way I was taught in culinary school: Place the knife on the top part of the avocado and turn the avocado (not the knife) to slice around the pit. Twist the two halves in opposite directions, which separates one of the halves from the pit. Hold the other half with a dish cloth and quickly whack at the pit with your knife, then pinch the pit off of the knife.
It worked well enough. But then Chef Ivy explained that if you are slicing up the avocado anyway, turn the avocado around the knife and repeat to create 4 or 8 slices. Every slice will then easily pull off of the pit, and you don’t risk accidentally whacking your hand with the knife. It was one of those “obvious, yet life changing” nuggets of information we get every so often. That’s how I’ve been doing it ever since. (Fellow food blogger Louise of LOU & ESI created a cute step-by-step illustration of How to Slice, Pit and Peel an Avocado.)
Baja Style Avocado Tacos – Photo Courtesy of the California Avocado Commission
All of the dishes that Chef Ivy created were delicious. My favorite were the tacos, in which the creamy avocados balanced out a spicy chipotle aioli. I loved it so much that it inspired me to create Chicken Soft Tacos with Mango Salsa and Chipotle Aioli for a cooking demo (I’ll share this recipe in my next post). I also plan on putting chipotle aioli on almost everything I eat going forward…it’s that good. I’d like to close this post by sharing the recipe for Chef Ivy’s California Avocado Honey Lime Ice Cream so that you can share my childhood perspective on how creamy, decadent and delicious avocados are in a cold, sweet treat.
Avocado Honey Lime Ice Cream – Photo Courtesy of the California Avocado Commission
Avocado Honey Lime Ice Cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup pure honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lime zest
3 ripe, fresh California avocados, peeled, seeded and pureed
Whisk together eggs, honey and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the half-and-half, buttermilk and lime zest to a full simmer. Once liquid begins to bubble, remove from the heat. Cover and let steep 2 hours.
Once cream mixture has cooled, strain into another medium saucepan. Over low heat, bring to a simmer again.
Temper the egg and honey mixture by adding the simmering cream to the mixture in a ladle a little bit at a time while whisking. Then, return the mixture to the saucepan. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat a spoon and the thermometer reads 170°F to 175°F, about 4 minutes (do not allow mixture to boil).
Strain mixture into a clean bowl and allow the steam to escape. Cover and chill mixture until cold (at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day).
Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add avocado purée halfway through freezing. Transfer to a bowl or tub and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days.