Avocado on Grilled Bread

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In 2012, my husband and I were visiting my daughter in London and we went out for breakfast. This is what my daughter ordered.

I took a photo of it because that’s always what I’ve done, even before blogging. It was just so pretty: mashed avocado spread on grilled bread, topped with oven-roasted tomatoes and feta cheese. My introduction to avocado toast.

So although slow to embrace food trends, like zoodles and cauliflower rice, I decided to (FINALLY) make avocado toast. It’s not like I knew it wouldn’t be wonderful! Avocados are one of my favorite foods.

Too bad I’m not super artistic, or I could jump on another trend and create art from avocados…

Here’s how I made mine.

Avocado on Grilled Bread

4 tablespoons oil, I used walnut oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Few sprigs of thyme
6 slices good bread, like Ciabatta
2 ripe but not over-ripe avocados
Fresh tomato slices
Salt
Pepper
Goat cheese
Fresh thyme leaves, optional

Warm the olive oil in a butter warmer with the garlic and thyme. Do not let the garlic brown or burn.

Heat a large, flat skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the slices of bread with the garlic oil, and grill the bread face-down until browned. Place them on a serving plate and set aside.

Peel and de-pit the avocados. Scoop out the flesh and place in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Only prepare the avocado right before serving.

To prepare the “toasts,” spread some of the mashed avocado on the grilled breads and smooth the tops.

Add sliced tomatoes, followed by a generous amount of crumbled goat cheese.

Drizzle the remaining garlic and thyme oil over the avocado toasts and serve immediately.

These are not only for breakfast or a snack or lunch. I can see these served as an hors d’oeuvres with some champagne or rosé!

Alternatively, oven roast small tomatoes in a gratin pan.

Or, use sun-dried tomatoes. It’s all wonderful!

If more protein is desired, one can always add an egg, or some smoked salmon. But I like the simplicity of this preparation.

Do not use inferior bread for these toasts. Use a ciabatta, sourdough, or a hearty multigrain.

These avocado toasts were honestly outstanding. If you love avocado, tomatoes, and feta, then you’ll love these too. Of course, you’ve probably made them already because you’re not stubborn! But I have to say that the garlic and thyme-infused walnut oil was a fantastic addition.

Aillade Toulousaine

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A while back when I was making the beet ravioli out of the cookbook Mange Tout, by Bruno Loubet, I checked out the other recipes that I had bookmarked. And this recipe really popped out at me, even though it’s not a dish per se, but a sauce.

Actually, this sauce is not really a pesto or a gremolata, and Mr. Loubet suggests serving it with roasted lamb. He unfortunately doesn’t give any history on this sauce, although from the name you can guess garlic and perhaps Toulouse?!!

I was quite intrigued by the ingredients – essentially walnuts, garlic, and herbs.

It’s not the prettiest sauce, but that will be forgiven as soon as you taste it. I made it to top a filet of salmon, but I can see myself spreading this stuff on just about everything.
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One note: If you’re not fond of fresh garlic, cut the amount in half.

Aillade Toulousaine
from Mange Tout

100 grams walnuts
6 large garlic cloves
1/2 sage leaf
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons water
100 milliliters walnut oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt
Black pepper
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Begin by placing the walnuts, garlic, and half of sage leaf in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.
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I honestly didn’t taste the sage because of the strong garlic flavor of this sauce, so I’d recommend using a whole sage leaf. My sage was still alive and thriving outside, but I’m also wondering if the flavor was subdued slightly being that it’s January.
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Add the mustard and water, then drizzle in the walnut and vegetable oils while the machine is on.
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Once fully processed and saucy smooth, pulse in the parsley and chives.
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I didn’t season the sauce until I tasted it. It definitely needed salt. I passed on the pepper.

I pan-fried the salmon in butter, and seasoned it well with salt and pepper. Then I placed the salmon over a bed of lightly-dressed lettuces.
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Then came the sauce. It’s very fragrant of garlic and walnuts, and it just fabulous with the salmon. I can’t wait to have it with beef or lamb.
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Heck, I could have this on roast chicken as well.
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Whatever you serve this room-temperature sauce with, have extra on hand. You will need it!
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Pear Vinaigrette

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You may find this fact hard to believe, but I’ve never purchased a bottled salad dressing or vinaigrette! I honestly don’t understand why anyone would. Don’t take this the wrong way if you happen to like them, but to me, they’re a real waste of money. And that’s besides the fact that you are also investing in chemicals and preservatives, in most cases.

But for me, even without the financial aspect, what’s more important is making my own vinaigrettes depending on my mood, what kind of salad I want to make, and the season. I’ve actually taught vinaigrette making in classes before. They’re so easy to make, and they’re way healthier because you control the ingredients. There are an infinite number of creative ways to make vinaigrettes.

When I cooked for a family for so many years, I never made the same dressing twice. So trust me, there are potentially multitudes of vinaigrettes.

There are two basic components to a vinaigrette – the vinegar and the oil. Think about all of the vinegar choices these days! There’s apple cider, red wine, rice wine, white balsamic, and the list goes on. It’s also important to consider the color of the vinegar when you’re choosing one, as well as the flavor you want.

If you’re not too fond of vinegar, try using rice wine vinegar. It’s less strong than the others. And if you like a touch of sweetness, try white balsamic vinegar. It’s clear as well, so it mixes with anything. Balsamic vinegar is pretty powerful, so I usually don’t use it in vinaigrettes. I prefer it as is. Plus, the brown color can “ruin” a pretty salad if you’re not careful.

There are also fruit vinegars that can be purchased and used in vinaigrettes. I bought a raspberry one once and it was awful. And it even said “all natural” flavors on the label. A good reason to make your own fruit vinegars at home! (Which I never have but I know they’re very straight forward and easy!)

Then there are the oils – extra virgin olive oil, of course, but also hazelnut, avocado, walnut oil, and so forth. These don’t add huge amounts of flavors, but they’re all delicious. And it’s fun to mix and match them to the vinegars.
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Garlic is a common ingredient in my vinaigrettes that I make at home. Mostly because I love garic. But if you’re making a very subtly flavored vinaigrette you might have to back off from the garlic. It can overpower. The same goes for ginger and shallots. But they both work in a vinaigrette as well.

Now we come to the fun stuff. Think about these additions – frozen orange juice, sun dried tomatoes, beet juice, reduced leftover champagne, herbs, apple cider, mango, roasted red bell peppers, pesto, harissa, chimichuri sauce, avocado, strawberries, and on and on. All of these “accessory” ingredients can be added to a basic vinaigrette to create a really unique flavor. I’ve only listed a few.

Today, because it’s autumn and the pears are ripe and delicious, I’m making a pear vinaigrette. I wanted to make a composed salad of butter lettuce, some cabbage and carrots, a few mushrooms and hearts of palm slices, lentils, and some grilled chicken. The pairing with the pear vinaigrette sounded perfect to me.
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I chose to use apple cider vinegar and walnut oil, just for fun, along with a whole pear.

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So here’s what I did:

Pear Vinaigrette

1 whole pear, cored
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut oil

Place the pear, vinegar, garlic and salt in a blender jar.
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Blend until smooth. You have to make sure that the garlic is blended. It will look like this:
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Keep blending on low, and gradually pour all of the walnut oil into the pear-vinegar mixture. It will be nice and smooth like this:
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Serve immediately, and store any excess in a jar in the refrigerator.
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Although it may not last long because it’s fabulous!
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