April 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm , by Hilary Merzbacher
Chef and blogger Gaby Dalkin knows her way around an avocado. So much so, that she just released a comprehensive cookbook dedicated 100% to the versatile, creamy-fleshed fruit. We gave her a call to chat about blogging, her recent wedding and (of course!) all things avocado.
Tell us what inspired you to write a book devoted to avocados. Within the food blogging world I’m known as the avocado queen. Everyone refers to me when they’re talking about guacamole or avocados and I’m 100% obsessed. So when I was approached for ideas for my first cookbook I just jokingly said “avocados!” and everybody loved the idea. I didn’t think that anybody would take it seriously but now, here we are.
Did you happen keep track of how many avocados you used during your recipe development? I used over 400 avocados. The produce guys at my local grocery store and I totally became best friends.
In addition to being a cookbook writer and recipe developer, you’ve written the food blog whatsgabycooking.com for years now. What inspires the recipes you post? I like to cook with the mentality of eating healthy most of the time, then having the occasional really incredible dessert. I just made this amazing brownie-ice-cream-cheesecake that’s going up on my blog next week. I like to have a balance of everything. I know that my readers come to my website for avocado recipes and desserts most heavily, but I also post a lot of main courses—basically what my husband and I are eating. A lot of my readers are around my age and are cooking for their families too. I want to give them simple and delicious recipes they can take into their kitchen.
The avocados available in grocery stores are often a bit under-ripe. What are your tips and tricks for storing and ripening them at home? If avocados are too ripe in the store, you sometimes get them home and they’re brown inside, mushy and just not perfect. I buy slightly harder avocados that aren’t quite ready to be cut into yet—I’ll stick them in a brown paper bag with a banana and the natural gas that the banana gives off ripens the avocado faster.
I know you were recently married. Congrats! Can I ask if there was a guacamole bar at your wedding? There was absolutely a guacamole bar at my wedding! It was a late night snack to feed people halfway through the reception and I was too busy dancing to have any—I was so bummed! But it was totally gone by the end of the night, so I think that’s a good sign!
What inspired you to try making avocado chocolate chip cookies and the other sweet recipes in your dessert chapter? Avocado is a really easy substitute for butter. My husband is in great shape but has really high cholesterol—I wanted to find a way to cut cholesterol in baked goods and allow him to still eat a cookie at the end of the day.
It’s probably like picking a favorite child, but can you tell us your favorite recipe from your new book? A top three is okay too! I’ll tell you that I’m obsessed with the goat cheese guacamole—it’s my favorite guacamole. Also, the salmon with the pepper avocado relish is one of my favorite main courses. The avocado stuffed potato skins (recipe below) are probably one of my go-to appetizers for any kind of party or event I’m throwing.
Avocado-stuffed Potato Skins
Even though this recipe says it serves 8 to 10, be prepared to eat the entire thing by yourself. These little bites of potato filled with cheese, salty pancetta, and smashed avocado will totally rock your world. Serve them for a game day or a fun backyard bash and they will disappear off the table faster than you’ll believe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes (including cooling time)
Serves: 8 to 10
12 baby yellow potatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
11⁄2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 Hass avocados
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Drizzle the whole potatoes with the olive oil, making sure they are all evenly coated, and lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove the potatoes from oven and let them rest until they are cool enough to handle.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise so that you have 24 pieces. Carefully scoop out the middle portion of each halved potato so the remaining portion looks like a little potato cup. Set aside the scooped-out potato flesh for another use.
Put the cut potatoes back onto the baking sheet, cut side up.
Add the pancetta to a small skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pancetta start to crisp while occasionally stirring. Once the pancetta is golden brown, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain the excess fat.
Toss together the pancetta, cheese, and red onion in a small bowl. Evenly distribute the mixture in the potato skins on the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet back in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until the cheese has just melted.
While the cheese is melting, cut each avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin, and cut the avocado into a small dice. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, chives, salt, and pepper and mash together with a fork.
Once the cheese has melted in the potato skins, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let the potatoes cool slightly, and then top with the guacamole mixture.
For more avocado-filled recipes, purchase a copy of Gaby’s book, Absolutely Avocados (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), available now on Amazon.com.
January 29, 2013 at 9:05 am , by Amanda Wolfe
You won’t even miss the alcohol in these totally tasty mocktail recipes. (But of course you can sneak in the hard stuff if you want.) Give them a try for your big game day bash!
Salted Rim Limeade
½ cup sugar
2½ cups water
Zest from half an orange
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp kosher salt, plus additional for garnish
Crystal sugar, for garnish
In a small saucepan heat sugar, ½ cup water and orange zest, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool and strain sugar mixture to remove zest; mix with remaining water, lime juice and salt. Rim glasses with a mixture of kosher salt and crystal sugar. Serve limeade in rimmed glasses over ice. MAKES ABOUT 3½ CUPS
1 cup seltzer
2 tbsp simple syrup (sugar syrup)
2 tbsp Grenadine
½ tsp rum extract (optional)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup passion fruit juice (we used Ceres brand)
2 cups crushed ice
Maraschino cherries, orange and lime slices for garnish
In a pitcher mix selzer, simple syrup, grenadine, rum extract and juices. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with Maraschino cherries, orange and lime slices. SERVES 2
The Hail Mary
2½ cups (20 oz) tomato juice
1 tsp prepared horseradish
Dash Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp celery salt
1½ tsp Sriacha hot sauce
Bacon, Celery and Slim Jims for garnish
In a pitcher mix tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, salt, celery salt and Sriacha. Serve over ice, garnished with a stalk of celery and a strip of bacon, or a Slim Jim. MAKES ABOUT 2½ CUPS
1 cup crushed ice
8 mint leaves
3 tbsp simple syrup (sugar syrup)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ cup club soda
Mint for garnish
Combine the ice, mint leaves and simple syrup in a glass and use a wooden spoon handle to muddle. Add the lime juice and club soda and stir. Garnish with mint and serve. SERVES 1
¼ cup cranberry juice
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup mineral water
1 tablespoon lime juice
Lemon zest twist for garnish
In a cocktail shaker combine the juices and mineral water with ice. Mix, then strain into martini glasses. Serve each drink with a lemon twist. SERVES 2
Spring Cider Punch
2 cups apple juice
2 cups pear juice or nectar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups seltzer
Thin green apple slices
Thin lemon slices
In a punch powl, mix juices and selter. Add ice and apple and lemon slices for garnish. MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS
November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am , by Julie Bain
To kick off the holiday season, we asked Journal staffers to share what they love most about Thanksgiving, that wonderful holiday that’s all about good food, friends, family and feeling grateful (with a little football thrown in). We know you’ll relate to these!
• My girls love to bake (that’s Lily and Sophia in action, right). Since I learned all my baking skills from my mom, they always like to whip up a sweet treat with their “Mimi.” This year they’ll be making my mom’s famous “spice cake” (don’t call it fruitcake!), which I was honored to write about for our December issue. The recipe is on page 106 if you’d like to try it too.
Sue Erneta, fashion editor
• Now that my sister, my cousins and I are in our twenties and living across the country, Thanksgiving is one of the few days of the year that we’re all together again, and my life feels about as simple as it did back when I was a kid.
Lauren Piro, assistant editor
• I love that I don’t have to travel on Thanksgiving. Family and friends come to us. It’s a great excuse to stay at home, eat and drink, and sit on the couch. What could be better?
Jeffrey Saks, creative director
• One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories happened last year. My family and I were sitting at the dining table. My mother was in the kitchen, and I heard her in say in a calm voice, “Gab, can you come in here?” I walked in and there was the turkey on the kitchen floor with its juices and grease splattered everywhere. My mom gave me a look that conveyed, “Help but don’t say a word!” (I was called in instead of my sisters because one of them would have fallen to the floor the laughing and the other would’ve shrieked; I’m the least dramatic of the three.) We picked up the turkey, quietly holding in our laughter, and scrubbed the grease off the floor. My mom fixed it up, carved it and served it. It was delicious. We didn’t tell anyone until later. Please note: My mother keeps her floors so clean you can literally eat off them!
Gabrielle Porcaro, associate fashion editor Read more
July 18, 2012 at 9:36 am , by T.K. Brady
Our guide to the green stuff will help you understand what fruits, veggies and grains will not only provide a healthy (and delicious!) lunch, but will also fight diabetes, encourage heart-health, sharpen your senses and aid your digestive track. Who knew you could solve your health problems over lunch? Check out the salads here!
June 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm , by Paige Guthrie
Isn’t this the most scrumptious-looking thing you’ve ever seen? Maybe it’s just because I’m hungry but I’m picturing this delicious dish, freshly-picked flowers, and a table full of friends — the perfect summer brunch. It’s also perfect for entertaining because you just have to whip up one dish to serve everyone (and you can even do it the night before and just pop into the oven for brunch). Get the recipe!
June 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm , by Paige Guthrie
Bored with a basic burger? Tired of the same old kabobs?
Throw out those old recipe cards and break out the grill because our amazing food editors are here to revitalize your summer grilling routine. With four basic recipes and twelve yummy variations, you’re going to have no trouble answering the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question this summer. We can’t decide which recipes we like more (they’re all pretty tasty), but the grilled steak flatbread might be this weekend’s winner. Check out the recipes from our Beat BBQ Boredom Story now.
May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm , by Hilary Merzbacher
It should come as no surprise that the members of the LHJ Food Department are, well, food obsessed. Far beyond our love of cooking (and eating, of course!), we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of the food world. Today marks the 22nd annual James Beard Awards Gala, which is, in essence, the Oscars of the food industry — covering everything from restaurant design to food journalism to cookbooks, the James Beard Foundation honors the greatest culinary accomplishments of the past year.
As a sweet treat to honor the Foundation — which celebrates is 25th anniversary this year — we wanted to share a recipe from this year’s winner in the Dessert and Baking Cookbook category. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer is the ultimate guide to creating frozen treats at home. The author’s nine Columbus, Ohio-area scoop shops have become well known for churning out creative flavors like Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk and Chamomile Chardonnay, and since they’ve started shipping, have developed a national following. We can’t take our minds of her recipe for white Rum Praline Sauce (recipe below) and can’t wait to give it a try!
Along with applauding the winning book, we’d want to send our congrats to the other category nominees — Baking Style by Lisa Yockelson and Cooking with Chocolate, edited by Frédéric Bau. Both feature the kind of recipes (and photographs!) that make us want to abandon our diets all together.