Beyond the “5 Mother Sauces”

While I’ve managed to learn to make passable Béchamel and Hollandaise sauces, the other 3 “essential ‘Mother Sauces’ that all serious cooks should master,” just haven’t been at all essential to meals I prepare. However, the 5 sauces Food & Wine Magazine featured in an April 2019 article are definitely featured much more prominently in my favorite home cooked meals!

  • Chimichurri – Comprised of herbs, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and garlic and/or minced shallot, Chimichurri is a quite versatile, and eminently adaptable sauce that’s great paired with grilled meat or vegetables, or used as a dressing tossed with greens or pasta salad.
  • Hollandaise – F & W’s Justin Chapple shared his secret to making the perfect hollandaise: A blender. Instead of using a double boiler to cook the yolks, Chapple purees the egg yolks in a blender and then streams in hot melted butter, thickening and cooking the hollandaise.  I love this sauce spooned over eggs benedict, steamed or grilled asparagus or as a compliment to a perfectly grilled piece of salmon or steak.
  • Pomodoro – Marinara’s thick, easy, cousin made by simmering crushed tomatoes with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and salt, until it’s thick and a deep rich red. As a sauce for pasta or chicken/veal/eggplant Parmesan, this sauce can easily have some pizzazz added to it by stirring in chopped capers and anchovies, or fresh basil and crushed red pepper.
  • Béchamel – This easy, roux based, sauce is the flavor stepping stone for layering in a lasagna, smearing on a croque madame, or adding cheese so it becomes a mornay sauce for macaroni and cheese.
  • Romesco – Pureed Spanish sauce, made with chilies, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, toasted nuts and olive oil that tastes good on anything from pasta to seafood, grilled vegetables, or even as a spread on a hearty sandwich. Just thinking about these bold, flavorful revisions to the traditional “Mother Sauces” gets my creative culinary juices flowing! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

UG! I Cut My Avocado Too Soon

I have a 20 year old, beautiful and quite prolific avocado tree in my backyard.  It has survived being broken in half by a dog tie-out (Courtesy of our beloved Husky Whitney), uprooted when the swimming pool was being dug, and being eaten by the tree boring termites that took out it’s neighboring peach and plum trees.  It easily gives me more than 100 large, meaty, delicious avocados that stay good for me to eat and share with friends and family twice a year.

bacon-wrapped-fries-17-140x140January has come, Christmas “Shoeboxes of Love” have been distributed and I still have about 3 dozen on the tree.  I’ve been patiently watching for them to be ready to pick so I can finally try the recipe I pinned months ago for Bacon Wrapped Avocado Slices.  With Super Bowl just a week and a half away, I thought it was a perfect time to give it a try, so I pulled 6 off the tree.

I sent 2 home with my girlfriend and left the other 4 on the counter to slowly ripen.  The great part about picking them fresh is that I often have a good 2 weeks to let them become perfectly soft and ready to eat, unlike those at the store that have to be used as soon as you get them home.

If you don’t have ready-ripe store bought avocados to satisfy your craving, or the patience to wait that long, the following methods are rumored to be effective for ripening rock-hard avocados:

  • Put it in a brown paper bag overnight with a ripe banana or apple, which releases the ripening gas, ethylene (this is what I do)
  • Put it in a jar of rice
  • Bury it in flour
  • Wrap it in a piece of newspaper

3 remained yesterday and 1 was just reaching it’s perfect degree of softness.  My mouth watered anticipating a trial run of crisp salty bacon wrapped around velvety Haas Avocado dipped in a perfectly spiced fiesta ranch dip.  Then I got a massive migraine!

Off to bed I went so my husband was on his own for dinner.  He offered me a grilled cheese sandwich (one of my favorite things) but I was just not hungry.  I smelled his dinner cooking and was glad that he was self sufficient (at least last night).

I woke up this morning feeling a whole lot better and ventured into the kitchen to clean up the mess I knew would await, only to discover that HE ATE MY RIPE AVOCADO!

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I cautiously felt the other two and, maybe it was my wishful thinking, but I determined that one of them was ready.  Into it I dove with my butcher’s knife only to hit rather firm flesh.  OH NO!  My avocado was ruined.

Instead of doing what I might have done in the past, i.e. throw the avocado out (GASP!), I went to my trusty friend, the internet in search of any way to save the prized green flesh!

A post on Hubpages.com may have just saved my cut too soon avocado after all!

If you have only opened, but not yet sliced the flesh and removed it from the shell, you can try to ripen the whole fruit:

  • Firmly fit the avocado halves back around the pit
  • Wrap the entire fruit with Saran Wrap, Masking Tape, Rubber Bands, Yarn, Twine, or anything that will hold the fruit firmly closed without allowing dust, bugs or moisture to get inside
  • Place fruit back on counter (do not refrigerate) and poke it gently every 12 hours until the flesh starts to give but doesn’t yet hold an indentation

An unripe, already sliced avocado can be prepared in ways that will cut the bitterness and hard texture so that it can still be enjoyed, albeit, not as much as if it were buttery and naturally softened, but nonetheless it can still be eaten.

  1. Make avocado patties by baking the cubed flesh 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees, until soft.  Mash and combine with panko, an egg and Cajun spice.  Spray a hot frying pan with olive or coconut oil spray and fry until brown on both sides.  Would be great with a fiesta ranch type dip.
  2. Make a creamy, cheesy hot avocado dip to serve with crusty bread or crackers.  Dice the avocado and place the cubes in a baking dish. Make a simple white sauce (béchamel), pour it over the avocado and sprinkle some grated cheese on top. Bake until golden and bubbly.
  3. Dip slices of the avocado in tempura batter and fry until crisp.

If you, like me, tend to share the foods you eat with your pets, you might have heard that avocados are poisonous to dogs and cats.  Avocado contains a molecule called persin that can cause illness or even death, but according to the Pet Poison Helpline, it is not poisonous for dogs or cats.  I’m really glad to know that because my dogs (1 Husky and 5 English Labs I’ve owned in the past 25 years) have always knocked the avocados (peaches, plums, citrus, tomatoes, berries and apricots) off the low branches or grabbed them off the ground and eaten them skin and all with no adverse reactions.  Thankfully I didn’t know that they were said to be harmful or I’d be worrying that they somehow harmed them.  Do be aware that the seeds do pose a choking risk and could cause a blockage in the digestive tract if swallowed whole, so it’s probably a good idea to keep the seeds away from them.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood