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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Avocados and Avocado Gelato

Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Today lets' talk about the avocado. Because we all have them, they are cheap around here and all anyone does is make guacamole. I have a recipe for avocado gelato, so there! But first, what are the benefits of avocados? Here are some odd facts:
  • European sailors en route to the New World used mushed avocados in place of butter.
  • There are more than 80 varieties of avocados. The most common is the year-round Hass avocado, whose original mother tree still stands in California.
  • The avocado is also known as an alligator pear, because of its shape, green skin, and rough texture of the Haas variety. (The Florida avocado has a shiny, smooth surface.)
  • The two main U.S. producers of the fruit are California and Florida. The Golden State far outranks the Sunshine State, however, with more than 6,000 groves accounting for about 90% of avocado crops.
  • Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.
So the obvious choice for the avocado is salad. Or in salad dressing, puree 1/2 an avocado in your ranch dressing, dips or guacamole. But they can be so much more! Think avocado wontons, avocado can be a bowl for a scoop of crabmeat salad, or smoked salmon mousse, or ...

Avocado Gelato

This recipe calls for a crushed vitamin C tablet, which is the trick to retaining the bright green color of the avocados without affecting their flavor. Brilliant!

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 (4- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 firm-ripe California avocados (1 to 1 1/4 lb total)
1 (500-mg) vitamin C tablet, crushed to a powder

Bring 1 3/4 cups milk, 1/2 cup sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl until smooth, then whisk into simmering milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and boil 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a metal bowl, then set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and cool completely, stirring frequently. Discard zest. Quarter, pit, and peel avocados, then purée with vitamin C and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add milk mixture and blend well. Freeze avocado mixture in ice cream maker. Transfer to an air-tight container and freeze until hardened, about 1 hour. Ice cream can be made 1 week ahead.