Vegetarian Prairie Oysters?

2009.Apr.19 Sunday · 0 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“The word “avocado” comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl (“testicle”, a reference to the shape of the vegetable). Historically avocados had a long-standing stigma as a sexual stimulant and were not purchased or consumed by any person wishing to preserve a chaste image. Avocados were known by the Aztecs as “the fertility fruit”. In some countries of South America such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua name, palta. In other Spanish-speaking countries it is called aguacate, and in Portuguese it is abacate. The vegetable is sometimes called an “avocado pear and alligator pear (pear due to its shape, and alligator due to the rough green skin of some cultivars). The Nahuatl āhuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in āhuacamolli, meaning “avocado soup or sauce”, from which the Mexican Spanish word guacamole derives.

– from the Wikipedia entry for Avocados

Buenos Aires – I had no idea when I planned this menu and served it up to a group of ten women who booked us to celebrate one of their number’s birthday about this whole sexual stimulant thing. It might explain the direction the conversation turned over the course of the evening… or maybe that’s just what ten women on an evening out, in a private space, with no one listenting in but a couple of gay guys, do…?

Aguacate Rellena

Our Mexican week continued (Michoacán region this time), at their request, the only limitations being that the only meats they wanted (birthday girl’s choice) were beef or chicken, and one person needed vegetarian substitutes for whatever we cooked. So, we started off with aguacates rellenas, which, after trying them out, have now become something Henry and I will eat regularly – delicious! Fresh peas right out of the shell, corn right off the cob, and green beans sliced up into small lengths, all parboiled just enough to soften them, then shocked to set the color. Tossed with a dressing of fruit vinegar, olive oil, finely chopped rocoto peppers (not Mexican, but I like ’em), salt and pepper, spooned into an avocado half, then topped with a small dollop of just whipped mayo and a couple of slices of olives.

Sopa Tarasca tipo Conde

For me, that was the standout of the meal. The soup – also quite good – a base of tomatoes, garlic, onion, ancho chilies and oregano, all cooked until lightly browned, then added pre-soaked pinto beans and water, cooked until the beans were soft. Used the hand-blender to just coarsely puree the soup, leaving some nice texture to it (you could also just puree half of the soup in a regular blender and return it to the pot with the rest of the beans left whole). Put a slice of queso cremoso in the bottom of each bowl, ladled the soup over it, drizzled a little sour cream on the top, and cut up some corn tortillas into thin strips and fried them up in hot oil as a garnish.

I had fun with the crepes on the previous Mexican menu, this time I filled them with a mix of yellow summer squash, zucchini, and chillies. Made more of the same roasted tomato and peach sauce, and also oven roasted some baby bell peppers as a garnish. The main course, and interesting dish (lousy photos) – chicken that’s first simmered in water with onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, peppercorns and salt until just barely cooked through. Then, in a deep saute pan I fried up chorizo, onions and garlic until lightly browned, added raisins, slivered almonds, and jalapeños en escabeche (pickled chillies) along with some of the liquid they come preserved in. Cooked that all together for a few minutes, then added the chicken and vegetables (without the cooking liquid) into the pot, covered it, and braised it until the chicken was tender. Now, I forgot one last step, which was to fry up some breadcrumbs in butter and spoon those over the top when serving the dish, but I don’t think anyone missed them at that point…. For our vegetarian guest I made the same dish using oyster mushrooms, just leaving out the chorizo. Dessert was the chocolate and lemon tart that I’ve made several times before, at the request of the birthday girl.


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