all things avocado (with a shot of tequila)

mexican fiesta
By now, it should come as no surprise that we really, really like to throw parties. So when an invite for a blogger Dip & Sip challenge and  scan of the calendar announced the impending approach of National Guacamole Day, we set about planning an avocado themed bash to coincide with summer’s last hurrah. guacamole-sip-dip-piedra-azul-landj-partyA generously provided (and potentially trouble making, in the best sense) bottle of Piedra Azul Tequila and copy of Chef Gaby Dalkin‘s latest cookbook, Absolutely Avocados would serve as the inspiration for an afuera fiesta. mexican party inviteFeaturing a menu highlighting the versatile “alligator pear” and designed for assembling ahead then portaging to a picnic area, we couldn’t wait to break bread / tear tortillas with a few friends, a view of the Manhattan skyline serving as backdrop.

 

Cue record scratch.

 

Despite throwing major mal de ojo at the NOAA radar all day, the risk of rain sent us scambling for plan B. A somewhat cramped but otherwise cozy nook in Margie’s Brooklyn apartment would be the new locale, with a smooth nip of that favorite Mexican import helping to keep things cool while prepping, then warm things up in a welcome drink sipped while Elvis’ Fun in Acapulco spun on the turntable.
piedra azul mango
recipes after the jump

Actually, we’re saving the cocktail how-to for Saturday – pace yourself! Guacamole Day (and Mexican Independence) is officially on the 16th, so you have plenty of time to gather ingredients, procure your own bottle of Los Altos highlands agave, and round up some partakers. If anything like ours, it won’t be too hard to entice friends – mostly Texans in New York, in our case – to sip & dip.

gaby-guacAppetizer 1: Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion Guacamole
Having lived in Central Texas, we both are quite familiar and somewhat enamored with guacamole. Straight up smashed with a hint of lime and cilantro or full blown with chiles, onions and tomatoes, this dish (which dates back to the Aztecs, by the way!) is excellent for showcasing the unique texture of the climacteric fruit. Here, in a version from Absolutely Avocados: 80 Amazing Avocado Recipes for Every Meal of the Day by Gaby Dalkin, we blended 3/4 of the ingredients until smooth, then topped with some chunkier bits, along with the addition of some chopped jalapeño.
Appetizer 2: Twist on Avocado Kopanisti: Taramosalata
A wildcard with a weird name, Gaby’s recipe for “Avocado Kopanisti,” mixing the flavors of Greek and Mexican cuisines, sparked an idea based on a concoction introduced by an old friend:
greek mexican appetizer
Taramosalata. Instead of the whipped feta and red peppers in kopanisti, we were reminded of when our Greek pal, Alex, first moved to Queens, she took Margie to a restaurant with the roe spiked offering of taramosalata. Its briny punch seemed a perfect counterpoint to a peppery slice of radish and buttery bite of avocado.
• radish slice (about 1/8″ thick)
• piece of avocado
• blob of taramoslata (we used a plastic baggie with the end cut off to make a nice clean squirt)
• sprinkle fresh ground pepper to taste or light dusting of freshly ground pepper
From Margie ~ I have continuously been looking for excuses to bring out taramasalata ever since that meal! If you can’t locate it at an International Mart, it’s pretty simple to make from scratch.

 

Appetizer 3: Mushroom Pate
Okay – we’re coming clean here. No avocados were harmed in the making of this hors d’oeuvre, but it would be delicious served with slices. Again, avocados provide a wonderful contrast in texture. This mushroom pate is a conglomeration of reading various recipes on the web and adding a few things on our own.  We actually thought we’d lost the original, until found buried in the pocket of Margie’s massive recipe book. That impressive thing deserves a post of it’s own someday, but back to the recipe. While researching the pate to jog memory we came across Martha‘s take, which we hadn’t see before. It actually looks quite good, richer and fattier than the version below. But, we thought maybe the Vegs in attendance deserved a little decadence for missing out on the real thing. A tip – Margie liked that one of the things she thought to add here was sherry vinegar, for subtle sweetness. Martha added actual Sherry. Way to one up, Martha!
mushroom pate

mushroom pate
Print
recipe type: appetizer
by:
serves: 1 cup
a hit with both vegetarians and meat eaters alike! Serve with toasted, buttered crostini, crackers, celery, radishes.... etc!
ingredients
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow sweet onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped wild mushrooms (I used Oyster gold b/c found them from the RI Mushroom Co. at the Aquidneck Growers market, but can use other oyster mushrooms or shitake, etc.)
  • 1 TB fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • ⅓ cup toasted almonds, chopped (I over toasted mine - they were very browned, but it was a happy accident as they had a deeper roasted flavor)
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp hot pepper finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mild pepper finely chopped
instructions
  1. Toast almonds for 10 mins +/- til nicely browned - stir often.
  2. Saute onion and garlic for 3 mins. at medium high in 1 TB of the olive oil
  3. Add mushrooms, and thyme and saute for 5 more mins. until liquids are evaporated.
  4. Stir constantly.
  5. Set aside and let cool.
  6. In a separate bowl combine the almonds, sherry vinegar, the remaining olive oil and the mushroom mixture using a hand blender or food processor to blend.
  7. Do not over blend - leave some texture!
  8. Stir in the fresh chopped peppers at the end.
  9. Garnish with a radish for color with a sprig of thyme (or not).

Dinner Side: Elote Salad
There’s pretty much nothing you can do to improve on the amazingness that is fresh corn. Jacque’s even been known to tear into a cob plucked right from the field. So maybe we were frenzied after 10 minutes lost in a maze, but still. Sweet, sweet sustenance. For our outdoor intimate gathering, however, we got all proper like and went for kernels in a bowl mixed with the seasonings of a signature Mexican street snack, elote (roasted corn).
elote corn salad
The combo of fluffy mayo with salty cotija cheese and smoky paprika simply screams of summer and maybe a dimly (fondly!) remembered Spring Break vacation years ago.

button linking to recipes

elote

Entree: Tacos (chicken & tofu)

chicken tacos with eloteReaders, you just got lucky. Very. Our favorite recipe for tacos (chicken or tofu – the marinade and topping is the same) is one that we almost hate to share.  It’s so good, but we also can’t take credit for it. Well, Margie gets a go-to-the-head-of-the-class for saving it, but alas, the preparation is left entirely unchanged with the exception of subbing tofu on this occasion and using green cabbage, sometimes with red (accepting a little bit of pink marinade).
chicken taco tofu tacoNote: you can cook on the grill by skewering (as we had hoped) or cooked in the oven as linked. The cabbage can be made up to one day in advance but bear in mind this will make a very flavorful, saturated condiment.  Mix with thinly sliced, fresh cabbage on the day of to add an extra crisp bite.

Dessert: Blueberry Watermelon Shortcake with Avocado Secret
Here’s the thing about avocados, besides being rich in potassium and possessing anti-inflammatory properties – hey, we want you to truly enjoy dessert! – their slightly nutty flavor and creamy (healthful) fat content makes for a suitable butter substitute. Even the first European sailors to reach Central America knew to use avocados in place of dairy. Smooth.

avocado dessert
We’ve tossed all of the makings for this treat into a salad (sans shortcake) before, so if you’re not feeling the after dinner thing, feel free to reinterpret as another side. Either way, it’s so easy, with no cooking required. And everyone loved it! The avocado whipped into the the cream sort of disappeared, just tasting rich. Next time we’ll add mint and/or grated ginger to the macerated fruit, to give it a little bite and sneak even more vitamins into the mix!

 

ingredients:
6 shortcake cups or angel food cake
3 cups cubed watermelon
3/4 cup blueberries (macerated with melon – a violent sounding name for something so sweet)
1/4 cup sugar
Avocado Cream (can make one day ahead)
topped with spicy pepitas!

 

put it together:
Mix fruits and let marinate – (can be overnight)
Using a pastry or plastic bag with a corner tip snipped off, squeeze avocado cream onto the shortcakes, creating a smooth bed for the macerated fruit
Top with spiced pepitas

 

Our excitement to catch up on summer sojourns, fueled by that (teased) batch of mango avocado Piedra Azul, kept the conversation and belly laughs going late into the night. Apropos, you’ll have to check back tomorrow morning in order to get the final details.
guacamole-day-piedra-azul-tequila-gaby-dalkin-party-larksandjapes
salud! to our taste testers!
About Larks & Japes

We host parties pairing culture with cocktails & canapés while collaborating with quality makers. goods • get togethers • getaways