Green butter

In Brazil, dessert is the traditional place for avocado, which is, after all, a fruit.

avocado 58 (photo credit: courtesy)
avocado 58
(photo credit: courtesy)
Avocado'sbuttery texture and mild flavor make it perfect as a spread. Most oftenI mash it and use it simply, for example in a sandwich that I call theBLA - bagel, lox and avocado. Like butter, avocado works well as afinishing enrichment for soups and sauces. Dianne Onstad, author of Whole Foods Companion,describes the avocado as "one of the world's most perfect foods" due toits easy digestibility and richness in mineral elements.
Whenmy husband, Yakir, and I visited the Produce Managers AssociationSummit in Anaheim, California, we were impressed by avocado's manyuses. There was a Mexican-inspired hot dog in a roll topped with chunkyavocado and tomato hot pepper salsa. We sampled avocado humous, but wefind that avocado matches better with white beans than with chickpeas.
There were even avocado popsicles of several kinds -avocado-guava, avocado-passion fruit and avocado-chocolate, and theywere good. They reminded us that avocado could be useful in desserts,given its beneficial properties.
It was my brother-in-law, Yahalom, who first told me aboutsweet avocado when describing the foods prepared by his Brazilianfriend in Israel. "He turns avocados into ice cream!" he exclaimed.
Indeed, according to Jessica B. Harris, author of Tasting Brazil,in that country dessert is the traditional place for avocado, which is,after all, a fruit. Her recipe for avocado ice cream is flavored withrum, vanilla and sugar; it has whipped egg whites and no dairy foods.
A New World fruit, avocado is native to Mexico and, wrote Jeannette Ferrary and Louise Fiszer in Sweet Onions and Sour Cherries, hasbeen cultivated for thousands of years and has long been considered anaphrodisiac. Onstad wrote that the word avocado is derived from anAztec word that means testicle tree. "The Aztecs explained that their ahuacatl wasgiven the name not only because the fruit resembled a testicle and grewin pairs, but because it greatly excited passion." She notes that thereare about 500 varieties grown in tropical climates. The most popular isthe Hass, a dark green to purple-black, rough-skinned avocado with ahigher oil content than most other varieties.
Ferrary and Fiszer consider avocados demanding."They will not abide refrigeration until they are completely ripe. Eventhen, their conditions are strict: not too cold nor for very long...Put into a plastic bag, they suddenly stop ripening altogether and,when released from this oxygenless environment, they simply rot... Oncethe peeled avocado enters the light of day, it begins to darken into anunappetizing dull gray." Their solution: Enjoy immediately.
They debunked an avocado misconception: "For years, we haveburied avocado pits in our guacamole (avocado puree), in the... hopefulbelief that the pit would magically keep everything bright and green...in fact, the pit does very little... much more effective isoxygen-impermeable plastic wrap pressed tightly against the avocadopuree's surface." That will keep the avocado for a day or two. If thereis a dark layer on top, you can simply remove it.
AVOCADO-TURKEY CHOWDER
Avocado is great as a parve enrichment for soups and sauces. Itis best added to the hot soup at the last minute and heated justbriefly, so it will not acquire a bitter taste.
This soup features flavors of the American Southwest, withavocado, corn, green onions and cayenne pepper complementing theturkey. Choose a brand of soy milk that is not sweet.
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup corn kernels - fresh, frozen or canned
1 1⁄2 cups shredded or diced cooked turkey or chicken
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1⁄4 cups soy milk or other nondairy milk, or
additional broth
2 ripe medium-sized avocados (total about 500 gr.), preferably Hass
1⁄4 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
1 Tbsp. minced green onion
cayenne to taste
1⁄2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
In a medium saucepan bring broth to a boil. Add fresh or frozencorn, cover and simmer over low heat for 2 to 4 minutes, or until justtender; heat canned corn only 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl with aslotted spoon, draining it thoroughly, and reserve broth separately.
In a heavy, medium saucepan heat oil, whisk in flour and cookover low heat, whisking, for 2 minutes, or until foaming but notbrowned. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the reserved broth. Bring to aboil, whisking. Add salt and pepper and simmer over low heat for 5minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in soy milk and bring to asimmer.
Halve avocados lengthwise; remove pits and scoop out pulp ofall but 1⁄4 avocado. Reserve remaining avocado quarter for garnish andcover it tightly with plastic wrap.
In a food processor or blender puree avocado pulp with thymeand green onion until nearly smooth. Gradually add remaining cup ofbroth while processing. Whisk avocado mixture into soup.
A short time before serving, cut reserved avocado into smalldice for garnish. Heat soup, whisking, just until hot. Season it totaste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir in any liquid that escapedfrom corn. Add turkey and corn and heat through, stirring often, for 2minutes. Add lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemonjuice if desired. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle soup with reservedavocado.
Makes 4 appetizer servings.
BROWN RICE PILAF WITH AVOCADO, ALMONDS AND ROASTED PEPPER
This colorful side dish is a fine partner for salmon steaks,chicken kebabs or grilled vegetables. You can cook the rice ahead andreheat it, but add the avocado dice to the hot rice a short time beforeserving.
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1⁄2 cup minced onion
1 cup brown rice
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large ripe avocado (about 250 gr. to 300 gr.), preferably Hass
11⁄2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1⁄2 tsp. dried
1 sweet red pepper, roasted and peeled (see note below),
or from a jar, diced
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
1⁄3 cup chopped toasted almonds
Melt butter in a heavy, medium saucepan. Add onion and cook overlow heat, stirring often, for 7 minutes, or until soft but not brown.Add rice and saute over medium heat, stirring, for 4 minutes. Pour 2cups hot water over rice and stir once. Add bay leaf, 1⁄2 teaspoon saltor to taste and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook riceover low heat, without stirring, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it istender and liquid is absorbed.
Discard bay leaf. Peel, pit and dice avocado.When rice is tender, add thyme, red pepper, oil and avocado and stirgently with a fork. Gently stir in about half the toasted almonds.Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve sprinkled with remaining almonds.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: To roast and peel a pepper: Broil pepper on rack of abroiler pan under a preheated broiler about 5 cm. from heat, turning itevery 5 minutes, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the skin is blisteredand charred. Enclose pepper in a bag and let it steam for 10 minutes,or until cool enough to handle. Peel pepper with the aid of a paringknife. Discard seeds and ribs. Pat pepper dry.
AVOCADO CREAM
From Tasting Brazil by Jessica B. Harris: Although servedin a stemmed glass, this is thick enough to be a dessert and not abeverage. Harris specifies lime juice; you can substitute lemon juice.She calls for half and half; you can use 1⁄2 cup milk and 1⁄2 cupwhipping cream.
2 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
1⁄3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup half and half
2 Tbsp. ruby port
5 sprigs fresh mint
Lemon slices for garnish
Place the avocados, lime juice, sugar, half and half, port and 1sprig of mint in a blender or food processor and blend until well mixedand pureed. Pour into chilled stemmed glasses and garnish with a lemonslice and sprig of fresh mint.
Makes 4 servings.
Faye Levy is the author of Fresh from France: Vegetable Creations and Faye Levy's International Vegetable Cookbook.