IRVINE, Calif.–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–Nov. 10, 2003–Even those who don’t speak a word of Spanish know how to say “gracias” on Thanksgiving and can hum along to the tune of “Feliz Navidad” while stocking up on holiday eats at the grocery store.
During a time when food and celebrations go hand-in-hand, it is an ideal opportunity to add flavors that we grew up with to the holiday menu for a delicious twist on tradition. One of the most popular and versatile Latin ingredients is the smooth, creamy avocado.
“Avocados are festive. Not only are they a holiday green color, but they make dishes come alive and work well with foods you see during the holidays,” says Chef Rafael Palomino. “Avocados tone down the tartness of cranberries and they add a light and creamy texture to sauces. Most importantly, they leave a memorable impression with guests.”
Rafael Palomino is an author and acclaimed chef of the highly regarded Manhattan restaurant Sonora and new hot spot, Pacifico in Port Chester, New York. In his cooking, Palomino has taken Latin cuisine and added a dash of French and American influences to come up with a unique culinary style, “Bistro Latino.”
With images of his home in South America, Palomino recalls enjoying avocados year-round in soups, on the grill and even in desserts such as Avocado Key Lime Tart.
To help celebrate this year’s festivities, Chef Palomino has taken traditional holiday ingredients such as cranberries and turkey and added Latin cooking techniques and flavors.
— In AvoCranberry Chipotle Salsa, tart and buttery flavors are complemented with the smoky taste of chipotle paste. This makes for a colorful spicy dip that goes well with corn tortilla chips or as a topping on holiday meats.
— Avocado Turkey Tamales with Avocado Coulis are little gifts of savory turkey and creamy avocado, drizzled with a festive green sauce– an ideal dish for the holiday buffet.
Hass avocados are available year-round to make holiday cooking easy and meals elegant. When ripe, the avocado’s dark, pebbly skin yields to gentle pressure. Simply cut the avocado in half, scoop out the seed, and slip a spoon between the flesh of the fruit and the skin to prepare for use.
AvoCranberry Chipotle Salsa
This festive salsa makes a great addition to holiday party foods. The white balsamic vinegar adds a new dimension to the salsa, as well as a hint of fruity flavor.
Makes about 4 1/2 cups
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup dried cranberries
1 red onion, finely diced
6 plum tomatoes, seeded, finely diced
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (or 1/4 cup of lime juice)
2 teaspoons Chipotle Purée (see method below), or rocoto paste to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), chopped
In a large bowl, combine the avocados, cranberries, red onion, tomatoes, and tomato juice. Gently stir, with a wooden spoon or your hand, just until blended. Gently stir in the chipotle purée or rocoto paste, lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then stir in the cilantro and serve. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Return to room temperature and stir in the cilantro just before serving.
Empty a can of chipotles en adobo into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. One 13 1/2-ounce can of chipotles en adobo makes about 10 ounces chipotle purée.
Avocado Turkey Tamales with Avocado Coulis
Chef Palomino adds a twist to traditional tamales by filling them with turkey and avocados, instead of the standard pork or chicken. Just before serving, the tamales are drizzled with an Avocado Coulis, a French technique of making a creamy puree.
Makes 12 tamales
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup instant masa harina
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup lukewarm water
12 corn husks or 12 sheets of waxed paper measuring 9×4 inches
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds boneless turkey breast, poached and shredded; 2 ounces per tamale
3 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch dice; 1/4 avocado per tamale
One teaspoon each: Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Avocado Coulis (see recipe below)
Sift together the masa harina, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, add 3 spoonfuls of the masa harina mixture at a time to the vegetable oil, and beat with a wooden spoon until all the masa harina is thoroughly combined with the oil.
Slowly pour in the lukewarm water and bring the dough together with one hand. Knead lightly for 1 minute or until the dough is soft and smooth.
In a mixing bowl, toss shredded turkey with salt and pepper, then stir in avocado dices just until combined. Set aside.
To assemble the tamales: put about 1 tablespoon of dough in the center of a corn husk or sheet of paper and spread with the back of a spoon into a rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Place 1 tablespoon of the shredded turkey mixture in the center of the dough. Fold one side of the wrapper a little more than halfway across the filling and bring the opposite side over the first fold. Turn the ends up to cover the seam, overlapping them across the top. Tie with a piece of string. If using cornhusks, use a thin strip of husk to tie the tamales.
Lay the tamales in a large colander in as many layers as necessary and place the colander over a deep pan filled with hot water. Cover, reduce the heat and steam the tamales for 1 hour, adding more water to the pan if necessary.
When the tamales are done, remove them from the colander with tongs, arrange on a plate and serve at once. Open cornhusk to expose tamale and drizzle with about 1/4 cup of Avocado Coulis sauce. Tamales may be prepared in advance and reheated by steaming them again for 30 minutes.
Makes 2 cups
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 roasted jalapeños, seeded
1 clove roasted garlic
1 teaspoon lime juice
salt and white pepper
In a food processor combine avocado, chicken broth, jalapeño and garlic until pureed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and thin with a little water if coulis is too thick. Serve warm over tamale.
EDITOR NOTE: AvoCranberry Chipotle Salsa and Avocado Turkey Tamales images are available at http://www.hispanicprwire.com/index_in.php.