An escape to rest is vital to not only one’s spirit, but for me it is a rich source of ideas. Changing my location and causing me to encounter the unexpected always make a potent formula.
While on holiday I engage in the typical activities: visiting some awe-inspiring ruins, lazily napping the afternoon away and taking long strolls on the beach just as the sun prepares to set. What is always on my list, regardless of where I might find myself, is a run through the local grocery store as well as a beeline to the farmer’s market. I find there is so much to learn in these common haunts – from fruits and vegetables that pique a curious eye to the international marketing of various products and personalities. I was amazed and appalled when in the Philippines, at prime eye-level, were boxes of Triscuit crackers plastered with Rachel Ray’s toothy smile. A tad jarring for me, crashing me back home, but it was also a clear sign we are a world market.
I am not totally troubled by this globalization, for within the attempted singularity, there are terrific differences and unique opportunities from which to always cull. I a firm believer that no matter how much we are the same we cannot neutralize everyone’s exceptional contribution.
In a recent escape from the north’s onslaught of cold, I traveled to Tulum, Mexico and looked forward to spending time in shorts and T-shirt, eating simply cooked fish and consuming copious qualities of warm, freshly made corn tortillas. I ended up using those tortillas to bring at least two avocadoes a day to my mouth. Luscious - and full of true flavor, they became my obsession for the week. Avocadoes as guacamole; a salad diced with orange and grapefruit segments, or halved and stuffed with baby shrimp excited every meal.
Now, home again in long pants and a sweater I am craving another day on the beach, which will have to wait awhile, but I can have an avocado tonight.
Minted Avocado Mousse - yields 8 to 10 servings
1-1/2 cups cream
6 mint stems
1 lime - juiced
3 large avocados - ripened
1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate - chopped up
1-teaspoon canola oil
In a 1-1/2 quart saucepan gently warm the cream, sugar and mint over a low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Let the cream mixture cool, and strain through a sieve, discarding the mint.
Place the limejuice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade or use a cake mixer with a whip attachment. Add the avocado and process till very smooth. With a whisk stir the cream into the avocado and blend till well incorporated. Dissolve the gelatin in a 1/4-cup of warm water stirring well to avoid it from lumping up. Add the gelatin to the avocado mixture, and incorporate thoroughly.
Using a paper towel moistened with some oil, lightly grease a Charlotte mold or a bundt pan dish, and pour in the mousse mixture. Tap the mold lightly on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles, and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. To un-mold the mousse place in a pan of warm water for no more than a minute or two. Wipe the mold dry. Place your serving dish on top of the mold, and turn the mold over. Tap on the mold to ensure the entire mousse releases at the same time. Once you have un-molded the mousse place it back in the refrigerator for a half hour to an hour to firm it back up.
To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate and remaining oil in a stainless steel bowl, and melt completely over a double boiler. Alternatively, the chocolate can be melted in the microwave oven; just use a non-metallic bowl and heat for approximately 1 minute. Make sure the oil and chocolate are well combined, and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
Drizzle the chocolate over the mousse. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.