Tag Archives: avocado

Happy National Sandwich Day

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BLT with Avocado from Liza’s Kitchen in Panama City Beach, FL

Every food has its day and November 3rd has been designated ( not sure by whom originally) as National Sandwich Day.

What’s your favorite?

From hero to gyros, sandwiches are easy to eat and even easier to love. History or legends that became history tell us that John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich in jolly old England ‘invented’ what became know as the sandwich in the 1700’s. The story goes that he was an avid gambler and rather than leaving the hot pursuit of winning cards to take a meal, he ordered meat between two slices of bread so he could use one hand to keep the cards going  and one hand to fend of hunger.

The most popular sandwich in the US, according to a number of polls, is the …drum roll……. turkey sandwich, followed by ham and chicken.  But, sandwich lovers and sandwich crafters know no bounds of creativity.

Here are a few ideas to add style and good nutrition to the great sandwich.

Add blueberries to a grilled cheese sandwich. Why not? the sweet pop of the blueberries warmed on the griddle and matched with a melty gouda or white cheddar is delicious.

We all know the BLT, bacon, lettuce and tomato. But why not make a BLAT and add slices of ripe avocado to the stack. Avocados add a luscious creaminess and healthy fats to the mix.

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Pile your sandwich high with salads inside. The Chopped Chicken Sandwich with Crunchy Pecan and Apple Slaw is great way to enjoy veggies and fruit right between the bread.  Recipe is from my Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon.

 

 

Perhaps the Earl of Sandwich would have been even luckier at the tables with this healthy improvement over simply meat and bread.

 

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Marvelous Mexico City Cuisine

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The vibrant art, historic monuments and architectural treasures of Mexico City continue to lure visitors in search of inspiring cultural experiences.

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Sampling the country’s culinary treasures is a portal to the past as well.

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Mexico’s cuisine is influenced by centuries of food customs from the indigenous Mayan to Spanish conquerors.

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Today chefs leading the lively food scene in Mexico City add contemporary flair to taste traditions.

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Recently opened Fonda Mayora is set in a park filled residential neighborhood of Mexico City.

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Chef Gerardo Vazquez Lugo and his team of young chefs serve smoked oysters, roast pork stuffed with chorizo and pineapple ……

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…and grilled whole fish presented with black beans, tender blue corn tortillas and a fresh selection of green and red salsas.

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For the adventurous, there’s a sauce spiced with tiny ants. It’s the one on the left in the middle. The little dots are ants. Dig in!

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“Mexican food is a way to get right to the spirit of the country,” said Paco de Santiago with Eat Mexico culinary tours. It’s a taste discovery that defies the stereotypes. “There’s a myth that Mexican food means hard taco shells, sour cream and all spicy food,” said Eat Mexico tour guide Anais Martinez.


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One of the most sought after reservations in Mexico City is at intimate Pujol where internationally renowned chef Enrique Olvera celebrates Mexican ingredients using ancient and modern techniques.

Courses included octopus with ink tostado, smoked baby corn with coffee and chile mayonnaise, a lamb taco with avocado leaf adobo and avocado puree and a suckling pig taco with smoked tortilla, chickpea puree, coriander and red jalapeno. One of the showstopper dishes was a circle of richly bright ‘new’ mole sauce surrounded by a dark and intense ‘mother’ mole sauce made 990 days ago.

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“Mole sauces are made with over forty ingredients including tomatoes, onions, nuts and seeds and not always chocolate as many people think,” said Santiago.
Mexico City Markets

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One of the best ways to leap into local cuisine is to visit a city food market such as the Mercado San Juan where Mexican avocados and limes are piled high, moles come in an assortment of flavors, tortillas are hand made and just caught Pacific coast seafood glistens on mountains of crushed ice.

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Chefs from the St. Regis Mexico City hotel lead guests on market tours including a lesson in choosing the freshest fish and a sampling of Mexican cheeses.

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“This one is like a Spanish manchego,” said executive chef Sylvain Desbois, who leads the hotel’s elegant La Table Krug eleven course Krug Champagne tasting menu.

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The dessert courses (yes there’s more than one dessert) include a salute to Mexican chocolate as warm chocolate sauce is poured over and into a sponge cake shaped like a cacao pod.

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Need more chocolate?

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The Mucho Chocolate Museum of Mexico City is a chocolate lovers dream come true with rooms filled with delicious displays about chocolate history, chocolate agriculture and chocolate cuisine over the centuries.

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Don’t miss spending a few moments of bliss in the little room with walls covered in fragrant deep dark chocolate.

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I think I’ve found my new home in Mexico City! Truly a magical culinary destination.

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A Tale of Two Avocados

My copy of My Key West Kitchen…mermaid optional.

Florida citrus and seafood star in chef Norman Van Aken’s new cookbook, “My Key West Kitchen.”  From key lime pie to conch salad, Van Aken and co-author Justin Van Aken tell the story of South Florida cuisine through recipes and remembrances. 
Justin and Norman Van Aken talking about great Key West food. 
In town for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival the father-son duo, shared their kitchen secrets during a seminar dubbed “Conch Culture.”  They describe Key West cuisine as a geographically unique blend of Caribbean, Cuban and Southern cooking with a dash of American hippie escapism. 
Pulling fish from the sea and plucking fruit from tropical trees cultivated in south Florida is only the start of the Van Akens’ grocery list. But it got me thinking about the Florida avocado.

Why Florida Avocados Deserve Attention, Too. 
The great majority of the time, when a recipe calls for avocado, it refers to the dark green pebbly skinned Hass avocado grown predominantly in California and Mexico. 
The flesh of the Hassavocado is rich and creamy tasting because of the high content of heart healthy monounsaturated fats.  Often misspelled Haas, the varietal was named after Rudolph Hass and it rhymes with “pass.”

 

Hass avocado on the left and Florida avocado on right with My Key West Kitchen  conch salad 
Avocados grown in Florida are literally a different breed. Twice as large as the palm sized Hass variety, the smooth green skinned Florida avocado is lower in total fat and calories.  An ounce of Florida avocado has about 33 calories, whereas the richer California variety packs about 50-calories per ounce.

Brooks Tropicals, a major grower in the Sunshine State, smartly brands its Florida avocados the “SlimCado” to call attention to the fact they have half the fat and third fewer calories than their California competitors.

Starring the Slimcado!
The season for Florida avocados kicks off in June (I just bought one at Publix in Atlanta) and Justin Van Aken says, “I find that when they’re good, they’re great — creamy and rich, yet as light and refreshing as any good tropical fruit should be.”
Some folks they don’t like the Florida avocado because it’s ‘too watery’ and ‘not as buttery’ as the Hass, but others prefer the slightly sweet taste and lighter texture.  

Nutritionally both varieties are rich in potassium, vitamin E and folate but California avocados are higher in heart healthy fats and Florida avocados are higher in vitamin C content. Van Aken suggests, “A little salt, and something acidic — especially lime or pineapple — to dress it, and you’re good to go. We make a salsa with them diced, along with mango, black beans, and queso fresco that is out-of-this-world!”

Conch Salad extreme close up from photo in My Key West Kitchen, avocado in there.
So, just as there are many different types of oranges -from California navel to Florida’s Valencia – variety is a good thing.

In My Key West Kitchen, recipes such as Crabmeat Stuffed in Avocado call for Florida avocados first with a ripe Hass avocado as ‘optional.’ 

What do you think of Florida vs. Hass avocado?  What’s your favorite way to eat avocado? 
(I like them all by themselves with a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt.) 

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About those recipes…..on Fox 5 Atlanta

The Lady of the Refrigerator…reveals……

Avocado Spring Rolls
Makes 8 rolls

3/4 cup finely shredded Napa cabbage (packaged angel hair works great too!)
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced ¼” thick lengthwise
1/4 cup citrus dipping sauce*

Optional:
4 ounces (1/4 pound) cooked chicken breast (Rotisserie chicken is perfect for this)

*Citrus dipping sauce:
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together

16 rice paper wrappers

Make the citrus dipping sauce and set aside for flavors to blend.
Remove skin from chicken breast and shred into small pieces. Combine the cabbage, basil, mint, cilantro and toss. Cut the red pepper, cucumber and avocado.

Fill a shallow pan with hot water. One at a time, dip the rice paper wrappers in the hot water until soft and pliable. Spread the hydrated rounds onto a clean, flat, dry surface. Arrange avocado and peppers in a single layer across the center of the rice paper round; spread 1/4 cup of the cabbage mixture on top then 1/2 oz. chicken. Drizzle with the dipping sauce. Fold the bottom end of the rice paper over the top of the mixture, fold the sides up and then roll into a tight cylinder, “burrito style”. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Cut diagonally and serve with the dipping sauce.

Watermelon and Mango Salsa
Serves 6

1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, core and ribs removed, finely diced
1/4 cup red onion, 1/4″ dice
2 cups watermelon, 1/4″ dice
1 ripe mango, peeled and 1/4″ diced
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, 1/4″ diced (1 small cucumber)
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, very thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk lime juice, brown sugar, salt, ginger and pepper until sugar dissolves. Dice the onion and soak in ice water to remove acid and crisp. While onion is soaking, cut watermelon, mango, cucumber, and mint and add to the bowl with the dressing. Drain the red onion and add to the fruit mixture; gently toss. Cover and chill. Season with salt to taste and serve cold.

This is great with a baked, whole grain tortilla chip or over grilled fish or chicken.

See these recipes on Fox 5 Good Day Atanta

http://tinyurl.com/2dn2spn

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