Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mock Guacamole

Mock Guacamole
submitted by Janet Seal, location unknown
compiled by Linda Taylor

How fondly I remember my childhood in the sun-dappled fields south of San Luis Obispo, when we children would pluck artichokes fresh from the stalk, and Maria (our kindly maid) would make us her homemade hollandaise to dip the fresh-steamed leaves in.  When mother and father returned from solving their most recent murder mystery...

...oh wait, that was my pretend tv family, not my actual family.

My actual family, in the suburbs west of Columbus, Ohio, DID have hollandaise, but mock hollandaise - mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic powder, microwaved into a yellowish blob of goo with the viscosity of shaving cream.  Still, pretty close to the taste of actual hollandaise with less than half the effort of making it.

Which led me to believe, naturally, that any foodstuff with "mock" preceding it was supposed to approximate the taste of the food it was mocking. Spoiler alert in case you don't want to read to the end:  I was wrong.

A recent second-hand store find was the colorful binder pictured below, titled "Linda Taylor's Recipes" on the front, and full of hand-written and newspaper-clipped recipes lovingly pasted, scrapbook-style, onto pieces of notebook paper.
Mock Guacamole, found only six pages in, perhaps comes from the days before you could find six bushels of avocados languishing in your grocery's produce section, ready for purchase year-round.  It also seems to be a dietetic alternative to real avocados, before we knew that some sorts of fat were good for you (though, as it appears on the same page as bacon-wrapped scallops, I'm not sure that's what Linda Taylor had in mind).

At any rate, it's horrific.

Here's the recipe:

2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans cut asparagus, drained.
1 cup finely chopped tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add asparagus. Process until smooth; transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in tomato and remaining ingredients. Place mixture in a paper towel-lined wire-mesh strainer or colander, and let drain 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. Serve with baked tostito chips, instead of fried.

Don't get me wrong, I love asparagus. Fresh, preferably, but I'm not opposed to canned if it's all that's available.  But let me tell you something, there is NO WAY to process asparagus until "smooth". It's stringy and slimy and lumpy, and to make it smooth would defy the laws of physics.

Already suspicious by the texture of the pureed asparagus, and skeptical of the upcoming instruction to drain in a paper towel-lined colander, I threw caution to the wind and went ahead and used real full-fat mayonnaise. It didn't help.

What we thought: Husband wouldn't touch it, leaving me to taste-test it myself.

It's canned asparagus run through a food processor. That's exactly what it tastes like. Horrible. This is coming from someone who's eaten Banana Salmon Salad and Ring-Around-The-Tuna. Don't make this, even as a dare.
Our Rating: I don't know...what's the rating when Husband won't even try it?

(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Avocado Strawberry Ring

Avocado Strawberry Ring
"It's a delight to serve a light green and vivid red delicacy."
Joys of Jell-O, p. 41

Surely you'll have noticed by now that it's not a ring at all.  Which can be easily explained by my hurry in trying to get this ready to actually take to a neighborhood gathering. Aren't I the daring young thing?

Reading the recipe in print, it seemed like sort of an unusual combination to me, but an acquaintance I was talking about it with nonchalantly reported that she used to eat avocados and strawberries laced with balsamic vinegar quite frequently as a child.

As for me, I never even heard of avocados until about 1986, long past my childhood.  Maybe I was just sheltered, for I've come across more than a few mid-century recipes calling for them, and my crack Googling skills tell me that using them in sweet dishes isn't all that unusual at all.

The recipe:
1 package Jell-O Lemon or Lemon-Lime Gelatin (I used Lemon - do they even make Lemon-Lime anymore?)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 avocado, pared and mashed
1 pint fresh strawberries (or use 2 packages [10 oz. each] Birds Eye Strawberry Halves, thawed and drained)

Dissolve Jell-O gelatin and salt in boiling water. Add cold water and lemon juice. Chill until slightly thickened. Stir in mayonnaise and avocado, blending well. Pour into a 3- or 4-cup ring mold or individual ring molds. Chill until firm. Unmold and fill center of ring with berries. Makes about 2 1/2 cups gelatin, or 5 servings.

As mentioned above, I was in a hurry, so I did the first chilling in the freezer, which may have been a mistake as it got a little too firm before adding the mayo and avocado.  The finished product was a little lumpy as a result, not the shimmering sea-foam green delight promised by the Joys of Jell-O photo illustration. I only have one ring mold, and I'm not sure the recipe as printed would have made enough to adequately fill it, another reason I chose the loaf pan shape.  

I am also excessively proud of my decorative skills, which looked better in real life than the picture above would lead you to believe.

What we thought: I took this dish to game night at the neighbor's, not knowing that the hostess has a known distaste for avocado. Nonetheless, she gamely took a taste, and then she and her other guests set about guessing what was in it (Husband was on his way, but hadn't arrived yet).

Surprisingly (to me, at least) the avocado adds a creaminess to the sweetness of the lemon Jell-O /strawberry combination somewhat like a cheesecake base.

"Creamy, refreshing and cool" is what husband had to say when he arrived.

I am a convert. I'll probably try this again, or at least try combining avocado with a fruit salad.

Our Rating: Zero Screaming Husbands!
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)