Beyond Guacamole

Beyond Guacamole

California-AvocadoWhen you see an avocado, what do you think of?

I know.

Let’s think beyond guacamole.

I see avocados as an integral part of California cuisine, and falling in love with avocados is one of the many fringe benefits of my relocating to California. I eat them nearly every day. In sandwiches, as a garnish, in salads and salsas, and even in drinks. Oh, and of course, in guacamole. They’re just so good, and so good for you.

Now that we are at the peak of the California avocado season, which runs from March through September, the avocados available in your local market right now are most likely from California, which produces roughly 90% of the country’s avocado crop.

And did you know that every single avocado is hand-grown, which means a California farmer lovingly nurtured and hand picked that slice of creamy green goodness on your plate?

I was invited by the California Avocado Commission to attend a special dinner at the Michelin-starred One Market Restaurant, where Chef/Partner Mark Dommen created an exquisite menu celebrating the California avocado. The five-course menu actually turned into seven, with each showcasing the avocado’s versatility and Chef Dommen’s ingenuity.

The dinner truly was inspiring, and has opened up a world of ideas for me when it comes to enjoying avocados, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

California Avocado at One Market

The showcase began with a Tempura of California Avocado, charmingly served in a miniature pool of soy dipping sauce. The crisp tempura perfectly enveloped the creamy avocado within, and it was such a delightful way to begin the meal. This little tempura surprise led the way for the first course, a Chilled California Avocado & Pea Soup with Smoked Sable Fish and Shiso. The soup was clean and fresh, a nice blend of avocado and pea flavors, which went quite well with the saltiness of the smoked fish and beads of caviar. Paired with a J Vineyards & Winery Brut “Cuvee 20,” it really felt celebratory, and our intimate room of foodies began murmuring sounds of excitement over the refreshing course.

The second course turned out to be one of my favorites of the evening, as it combined quintessential California ingredients in one dish. Dungeness Crab & California Avocado Salad with Lemongrass Sorbet tantalized not only my taste buds, but my brain, as well. I realized that this beautifully rolled salad cleverly echoed the flavors of a California roll. The presentation was absolutely stunning, and it was beautifully paired with a smooth 2007 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay.

California Avocados at One Market

An Alaskan Halibut “Sous Vide” with California Avocado “hollandaise,” Asparagus & Quail Egg followed. The “hollandaise” is in quotes because it is not a traditional Hollandaise sauce by any means. Chef Dommen substituted the egg yolk and butter of a conventional Hollandaise, with the good fats of the avocado, and cunningly used an “iSi” Whip Cream Canister. I would describe the “hollandaise” as more foam like in character rather than a sauce. Everyone was fascinated by this method, and Chef Dommen generously provided his recipe, which I have included below. The halibut was superb, perhaps the best I have ever eaten. Tender and smooth, the flakes of halibut were so moist and perfectly prepared. I was also delighted at the pairing with a 2007 Mac Murray Ranch Pinot Noir. I would never have thought to put the two together, given the lightness of the halibut and “hollandaise,” but it amazingly held its own and went very nicely with the full bodied Pinot Noir. One Market’s sommelier did a wonderful job, indeed.

The fourth course was a show stopper. A Wood Grilled New York Steak with California Avocado “chimichurri,” and Fresh Corn Polenta was comfort food on a plate. The take on the avocado chimichurri was a light and zesty micro salsa, and the creamy bed of polenta brought back memories of childhood creamed corn. Beautiful savory flavors in this course were paired with a saucy and spicy 2007 Skylark Grenache from Mendocino. I just loved how all the wines were from Northern California!

Dessert was a Meyer Lemon-Olive Oil Cake, served with California Avocado Ice Cream, Strawberries and Almonds. The ice cream was understated – I know if I had made it, I would have been tempted to make it much sweeter, but it made sense with the olive oil cake. I adored the dessert wine, a 2006 Calera Mt. Harlan Dessert Viognier; it really balanced the subtly flavored dessert.

As a final surprise, California Avocado and White Chocolate Truffles were served. I loved the combination of the avocado with the white chocolate – it was a duo that really made sense! As we enjoyed these little nuggets along with our coffees, Chef Dommen stepped out of the kitchen and into our dining room, and it was a treat to learn more about his menu, the inspiration, and methods of preparation. It really opened my mind to thinking out of the box when it comes to avocados, and to respect this fruit even more for its versatility in the kitchen.

Recipes

I am thrilled to be able to share some of Chef Dommen’s avocado recipes with you. The first, as I mentioned, is for the California Avocado “hollandaise.” I would love to try this, but unfortunately, like many home cooks, I do not have an iSi whipped cream canister. The second recipe is for a Dungeness Crab and California Avocado Salad with Lemongrass Sorbet – one that is very similar to one that I described from this evening. Thank you to Chef Dommen and to the California Avocado Commission for an evening of inspired tastes, and for generously providing the recipes. Enjoy!

California Avocado “hollandaise” Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Chef/Partner Mark Dommen, One Market Restaurant

Makes: 1 pint

Ingredients:

  • 2 each Shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups White wine
  • ½ cup Champagne vinegar
  • 3 each California avocados
  • ¼ cup Grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup DaVero meyer lemon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • ¼ cup Water

Special Equipment:

  • “iSi” Whip Cream Canister
  • CO2

Method:

  1. Put the first three ingredients into a saucepan on medium-high heat and reduce to down to ½ a cup. Set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Place the rest of the ingredients into a blender along with the white wine shallot reduction and puree until smooth. Check the seasoning, you may need to add more salt and Tabasco depending on the size of the avocados.
  3. Place the mixture into an “iSi” whip cream canister and apply two charges of CO2. Allow to rest for 30 minutes and then turn the canister over and carefully press the button allowing the hollandaise to emerge.

Dungeness Crab and California Avocado Salad with Lemongrass Sorbet

Recipe created by Chef/Partner Mark Dommen, One Market Restaurant, for the California Avocado Commission

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 2 hours 45 minutes (time may vary depending on machine used to make sorbet)
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe Fresh California Avocados
  • 5 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 9 Tbsp lemon-scented extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt, to tate
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cleaned Dungeness crab meat, without shells
  • 8 crab legs or pincher pieces
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 medium jicama
  • 1 large French breakfast radish or any other radish
  • Micro cilantro or cilantro sprigs to garnish
  • 4 scoops Lemongrass Sorbet (see make-ahead recipe below)

Instructions

  1. Cut the avocados in half. For each half, remove the seed, if necessary, and use a large serving spoon to scoop out hte avocado in one large piece. Carefully dice the avocado halves into 1/4-inch cubes and place the cubes into a mixing bowl. Add half of the lemon juice and half of the lemon oil. Mix carefully, keeping the avocado cubes intact. Season the avocado mix with salt and fresh pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  2. Pick through the Dungeness crab meat and remove any small shells. In a bowl, combine the crab meat with the remaining lemon juice and lemon oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds and dice in 1/4-inch cubes. Place the cucumber cubes into a bowl and season with salt and allow to sit. Set aside.
  4. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Peel and dice the jicama in 1/4-inch cubes. Place the diced jicama into the boiling water and immediately drain and place in ice water.
  5. Drain the liquid from the salted cucumbers and combine the cucumers with the jicama. Season mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Lightly dress the mixture wiht fresh lemon juice and lemon olive oil. Set aside.
  6. To plate, place and equal amount of avocado mixture onto four plates. Divide the Dunegnesss crab mixture into four equal servings and place one serving of crab mnixture over the avocado. Top each serving with two pieces of crab leg or pinchre meat.
  7. Cut the radish into thin julienne pieces and top the crab leg meat wiht the radish. Garnish the crab and radish with the micro cilantro.
  8. Next to each salad, place a spoonful of jicama and cucumber salad. Flatten slightly, and top each with a scoop of Lemongrass Sorbet.

Lemongrass Sorbet

Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 stalks of lemongrass, cleaned and smashed
  • 2 Tbsp ginger
  • 1/2 Tpsp jalapeno pepper
  • 3 lemons, zested
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp glucose
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice

Instructions

  1. Place the lemongrass, ginger, jalapeno pepper, lemon zest and salt into a pan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, then set aside and steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain and add the sugar and glucose while the liquid is hot so that it dissolves completely. Add the lemon juice and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Freeze in pacojet beakers and spin in a pacojet. If a pacojet is not available, use a conventional ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Comments

  1. Kathy Diaz (foundbaking)

    Avocado hollandaise, avocado chimichurri, avocado ice cream (which we know is always good), and avocado truffles!?!!??!!! Oh my, what a fabulous dinner. It’s true that avocado to some means guac automatically. And it’s also true that avocado can go miles and miles beyond guacamole. Thanks for sharing this superb dinner experience.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Kathy! So many applications, such versatility! I really enjoyed this dinner – the experience was very inspiring!

    • Liren

      Hi Cristina! Did you really? What a wonderful coincidence! I imagine that the avocado/banana ice cream is delicious (I’ll be heading to your blog to check it out). I had hoped to participate in Denise and Lazaro’s Challenge, but never got to do it – I can’t wait to see what everyone else has come up with. Good luck!

  2. Brian @ A Thought for Food

    I heart avocado and all the ways you can use it. These dishes sound incredible (kind of hungry right now). I particularly go for that olive oil/meyer lemon cake and avoc. ice cream.

    I posted a recipe a few months ago for an avocado/carrot cake cupcake with avocado icing. The icing was very green but the cake was deliciously moist. :-)

    Great post… great ingredient to focus on.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Avocado/Carrot Cake – sounds great! The fat content and moisture from the avocados and carrots must make it such a moist and delicious cake. I’ll have to check out your recipe!

    • Liren

      Absolutely – avocado drinks are SO good – we love it here at home, and it’s such a great way to get your nutrients!

  3. Stacey Viera

    Brilliant post. I think my heart stopped when I read about the Dungeness crab dish. My weakness!

    The avocado chimichurri is so inspiring – I might have to make that next time I make skirt steak.

    All of this information about California produce brings back fond memories of visits out West. Thank you for an excellent post!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Stacey, I remember how you missed Dungeness crab – I’m realizing that we’re closing in on the end of the crab season here…but you will be enjoying blue crab on the east coast all summer long!

    • Liren

      Hi Lisa! One Market is such a wonderful restaurant, and I also love how it’s across the street from the Ferry Building. So much good food in that mile radius!

  4. Cinda

    Avocadoes are such a compliment to all types of foods. I like this post it’s inspiring. …

    Reply
    • Liren

      Avocados certainly are such a wonderful complement to foods, but it’s also nice to know that it can be the star of so many dishes!

  5. Chef Dennis

    what an incredible tribute to the avocado! I had no idea there was a meyer lemon olive oil, that sounds amazing! I have always loved avocado’s on my salads and sandwiches, you have opened up a whole new world for me!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Chef! Yes, indeed, there is lemon olive oil! Thought of your comment today at my local farmer’s market, where there was a display of olive oils. Among them was a lemon olive oil!

  6. Mhe-Lhanee Benito

    great experience! I have noticed that the Western, Mexican, and Japanese uses avocado as ingredients in entrees, appetizers, and soups. We Pinoys usually use avocado as desserts. Like Avocado shakes, and cold dessert soup with powdered milk and chunks of ice.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Interesting observation! I never have tried the dessert soup with powdered milk and ice – do you have a recipe for that???

  7. Magic of Spice

    Wonderful post…love avocados and all of their magical and creative possibilities. Thank you for sharing these recipes, they sound delightful!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Yes, this experience made me realize that there are so many possibilities with avocados! Such a great fruit!

  8. denise @ quickies on the dinner table

    Liren – how fabulous!! This is really raising avocado to new heights!! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Now I know what to make if I really want to floor my guests….though they’ll have to settle for ordinary mere mortal hollandaise ;) Btw , I love that the “hollandaise” is egg free!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Denise! Yes, isn’t it nice that the “hollandaise” is egg free? Great for friends who can not eat eggs! That sauce is really one to impress!

  9. FrenchPressMemos

    These recipes are so amazingly beautiful. Avocado is amazing whether prepared intricately or just raw. My daughter (almost two) eats slices with just a little lime, salt, and a pinch of paprika. She loves it.

    Reply
    • Liren

      I love when little ones embrace good foods such as avocado. It was one of my daughter’s favorites when she was a little one – to me, when she would eat it, it was like a full meal in one fruit. I remember mashing it up for her as a baby!

  10. Stella

    Hey Liren, I’m in love with avocados. I’ve always loved them, and I’m lucky enough to have an avocado tree in my yard. It’s not a hass tree though, but they are good still…
    I love the idea of that hollandaise sauce. That type of sauce is so good anyway. Avocado must just add more healthful richness to the mix!

    Reply
    • Liren

      So, so lucky! I wish I had an avocado tree in my yard! To think of having my own supply!

  11. Jenn [Defunkt Gourmet]

    Hi Liren,
    you are so lucky to be living in California. And your avocadoes are so gorgeous!!! I have five in a fruit bowl on my kitchen table right now. I’m not sure what to do with them. I’m craving guacamole….but you’re right, there’s so much more to be done with them.
    btw your dinner looks and sounds so divine ;)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Jenn! I am grateful to live here, it’s true! I love the access to such a variety of excellent produce. I wonder what you will do with your bowl of avocados!? There’s so much potential there!

  12. citronetvanille

    What a beautiful post, Lucky you who had the chance to try out all those gorgeous recipes. Avocado is so rich and delicate and I might have to try those recipes, they’re just irresistible!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Silvia! I really was excited by this dinner, and was really impressed with the experience. I can’t wait to try the salad myself!

  13. Cheryl

    Hi Liren, What a beautiful post, and what a great treat for you to be a part of such a fun evening! I am sure I will be reading and re-reading a few times, there is so much great info to take in. I have the “iSi”, feel free to borrow it any time!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Cheryl, I should have known you would have an iSi!!! I will just have to take you up on your offer sometime :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the post – I had really hoped to convey how inspiring the dinner was!

  14. alisons

    you are so lucky!and your post it’s great!i love avocado,your recipes inspire me so much!thanks!and congrats for top 9!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thank you Alison! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – I was also very inspired by Chef Dommen’s recipes!

    • Liren

      Why thank you! I’m getting used to the new name (have slipped a few times here and there when talking about my blog, LOL). Aren’t these recipes great???

    • Liren

      Hi Therese! I have tried avocado ice cream and love it, but have not made it myself yet (though I do love to make ice cream). Thanks for Alton’s recipe! He usually never steers you wrong – I think it will be my next new flavor to try :)

    • Liren

      I know, chefs are such creative minds, aren’t they?

  15. Katie

    Hi Liren,
    What an amazing experience and I am seeeeriously jealous of your californian summer with all those avocados. The food looks absolutely amazing and so edible(unlike some of the weird things you get in michelin star restaurants) – do you have any idea how the truffles were made, they sound really interesting!!!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Katie, It really was such a fun experience and there are days I wish I could just be a fly on the wall in these fabulous restaurant kitchens (though flies are not generally welcome in kitchens, I’m afraid). Yes, everything was absolutely edible, very down to earth, and flavors that you could try to recreate in your own kitchen. As for the truffles, I’m not sure exactly, but I have a general idea…perhaps I’ll play around some and see if I can come up with a decent recreation. If I do, I’ll definitely let you know!

  16. Linn @ Swedish Home Cooking

    You’ve got some really great ideas what you can do with avocado! I’m in Guam for the moment and here they have avocados big as peppers. And they are growing everywhere. Yes, it’s a dreamworld!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Wonderful! Guam sounds wonderful – enjoy all the wonderful avocados there!

    • Liren

      Sometimes I have hold back because I could eat avocados all day, too. Hope you enjoy the recipes!

  17. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    How exciting that you were invited to One Market to partake in this special event and share Chef Mark’s avocado creations with us! I’m definitely trying the hollandaise – love that they are egg-free.

    Reply
    • Liren

      It was definitely a lovely event and I couldn’t wait to share it all! Let me know what you think of the “hollandaise!”

  18. Cristina

    Avocados were a staple in our kitchen when I was growing up. However, over the years it became so expensive at times that sometimes it becomes an indulgence to buy them. Right now they’re affordable and I find I’m planning lunch or dinner around them so they’re included.

    What a great experience that must have been and these recipes, like the California Avocado hollandaise Sauce look exciting to try (too bad you need that cannister). Great post, Liren!

    Reply
  19. Shree

    wow!!!! that looks AMAZING! Those photos are so good and the menu sounds phenomenal. I’m sad that I don’t have the foam cannister maker otherwise I would’ve made the intriguing avocado hollandaise sauce.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Isn’t that ‘hollandaise’ so fascinating? The menu was definitely phenomenal – I am hoping to make the crab/avocado salad this week!

  20. Shelby Lemmert

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    Reply
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