Avocados, Then and Now

I remember dining with fashionable Vogue magazine editors in New York City when I was a college student and feeling terribly intimidated by the menu. As a finalist in the Vogue Prix de Paris competition, I was flown to this sophisticated city, along with more worldly competitors, vying for the top spot: a year as a junior editor at Vogue and a trip to Paris.

Growing up in the small town of Hilo, Hawaii, before the advent of the Food Network, I was insulated from glamorous delicacies like escargots and caviar. Would I like them? Could I figure out how to eat them?

Struggling with the menu, I found one friendly item I could order with confidence and I picked it gratefully: avocado stuffed with seafood salad. Avocados, so common in Hawaii, were in those days, an exotic, rarified ingredient – before the widespread introduction of mangos, papayas, passion fruit and the host of exotic produce we take for granted today.

This long-forgotten avocado memory was triggered by an article in The Wall Street Journal last week on ubiquity of avocados today, due to a shift in consumer perceptions. “In consumers’ minds, the avocado has been transformed from exotic ‘fatty food’ to everyday source of ‘heart-healthy’ fats,” according to the story. I’ve experienced the evolution first-hand.

While we may all agree that avocados are a good food, we may be challenged about how to select them. When you make your shopping list using Special Fork on your smartphone, an embedded link provides selection and storage information for most produce on your shopping list so you can access to the information in the supermarket, as you shop. Here are the helpful tips you’ll find if you click on the link for avocados.

We love avocados at Special Fork and have many delicious recipes using them. Try a sampling from our cookbook database:

Here’s another simple recipe featuring avocados. This is a tart dish and I happen to like it that way. But you can add a cup of seeded diced ripe tomatoes to the mixture to soften the flavors or add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Or blend in a tablespoon of ketchup for a slightly sweeter balance.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Avocado and Shrimp Ceviche
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
3/4 to 1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound shrimp (30 to 40 shrimp per pound), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 avocado, cubed (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  1. In large glass or ceramic bowl combine lime and lemon juices, garlic, salt, jalapeno and a few grindings of pepper; set aside.
  2. Bring 4 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add shrimp and cook for about 1to 2 minutes, or until they turn pink and are firm to the touch. Drain and immediately plunge shrimp into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Drain shrimp; pat dry thoroughly and add to lime mixture; toss. Add onion, avocado and cilantro and toss gently. Season with additional salt, if needed. Refrigerate up to 1 hour to blend flavors. Spoon into 4 martini glasses or small bowls.

Makes 4 servings

Note: This is a tart dish. If you find it too tart, you can soften the tartness, by adding a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or a tablespoon of ketchup.

Tip: Buying peeled, deveined shrimp is a timesaver, but if you want to do it yourself, here’s a how-to video.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Posted: Sep 23rd by Sandy_Hu