Wednesday, November 3, 2010
So these particular friends of mine are both very experienced travelers and extremely accomplished cooks and for a long time owned a restaurant that all the locals went to. We went not just for the food, but the great ambiance the place had. You could sit on the porch and have fresh cheese and fruit trays and your favorite glass of wine or beer. For us girls, it was a place you could go to by yourself and they always made you feel at home. Now that I hopefully have explained the warmth of this place sufficiently, let me also share there were some pretty wild late evenings. After the restaurant closed, after the other customers had left and it was just us, a bunch of really close friends getting a little crazy (air guitars) and having fun(I can sing just like Cher). Friends that were a fantastic collage of personalities and varied interest and views.
So back to the friends and the airport pickup. My goal with my cooking is to make my friends and family feel special and loved. The effort I go to is purely out of love for them and the love of cooking. This morning it was breakfast and fresh coffee. Breakfast was slices of sourdough bread dipped in an egg wash seasoned with s & p, cumin, a tiny bit of garlic(it is breakfast after all) and fresh cilantro. The bread is then laid in the bottom of a casserole dish, covered in fresh slices of avocado, shredded Monterrey jack cheese and topped again with the egg washed bread baked until it is lightly brown and crisp on top. It is served with a fresh tomato jam to the side and a balsamic reduction drizzled over the top. It is a feast for the eyes and deliciously rich. I must be a little sadistic cooking for people that can create circles around me in the kitchen, but I love it! I am not afraid and I am not intimidated, I probably should be. They loved it and I was happy with how it turned out and happy they are home again safely!
This afternoon I am going to a wedding cake cook off competition with my husband. I am really impressed with the whole baking thing. I am a lousy baker with the exception of two cakes I can bake and not screw them up. Twenty years with the same recipe helps too. My brain is just not wired right for baking. Baking is such a science to me. That whole exact measuring thing just cramps my style. Now I do have all the right gadgets, the Kitchen Aide Mixer and the prettiest heavy stainless steel measuring cups and spoons from William-Sonoma you've ever held in your hands, but it still doesn't help. I can ruin even a boxed Duncan Hines cake and my icing looks like a 5 year old did it. The baking is left for the gifted people like my sister. I know I make her crazy with the light on in the oven. I just want to watch the disaster as it occurs and seriously, does that little tiny light really change the temperature?? She seems to think so, just one more reason why I guess her baking is always perfect. Oh well, baking keeps me humble. So this afternoon, I will witness with utter amazement, the flutter of the really anal people, do what they do best. Maybe even I can learn something. Let's hope.
Avocado Cristo with Cherry Tomato Jam and Balsamic Reduction
Adapted from Follow That Food
8 eggs, lightly beaten
4 ounces milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper
1 loaf sourdough bread cut in 1/2-inch slices
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
6 ounces Monterrey Jack
Plum Tomato Jam
1 pound cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces sugar
6 ounces aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium size bowl combine the eggs, milk, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper, and lightly beat. Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture covering both sides. In a baking dish lightly coated with olive oil, place a layer of bread slices on the bottom. Arrange a layer of avocado slices in a fan design on top of the bread. Cover with a layer of Monterrey Jack. Place another layer of the dipped bread slices over the cheese and avocados. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until bread is nicely browned.
To make the tomato jam, saute the tomatoes and sugar in a pan until liquid reduces and becomes thick.
In a medium size pot, reduce the vinegar until slightly thickened.
To serve, remove the avocado cristo from baking dish and cut into wedges. Arrange wedges on each plate with the plum tomato jam and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction. Garnish plate with lime juice, chopped cilantro, and a slice of avocado. Print this Recipe