A Diva is a Female Version of a Hustler / Ottolenghi Avocado Butter

I am conflicted writing a cooking blog when what’s on my mind is how women are treated in the workplace, and writing from the kitchen seems regressive. But I suppose it’s something that brings me joy, and I find cathartic. Especially if you have Beyonce and Jay on blast.

“What’s the difference between them? What do they do?” “Are you guys sisters?” “Let me tell you how to do [my job]”.

These are a sampling of comments about me (and my boss, who happens to be female and blonde), both said to my face, and just out of earshot, from male colleagues. To the gentleman who asked if we were sisters – “are you brothers with all the other 30/40-something blue-jacket clad men in the room?” Ridiculous. No one would ask that. Ever.

What do we do? Well, we are here talking to you about a potential M&A deal – WTF team do you think we are on? I’ve known you for two years. It seems that explaining the difference between two women will be lost on you if you can’t think yourself out of the bag of “what do we do”.

Oh, you are a part of treasury, and you feel the need to educate me on the due diligence process. Yes, please, YOU tell me how to do my job. Get back in your swim lane, fucker.

Perhaps you are tired of reading the above, and I am too – but it’s part of my day to day job. And I get tired of it, and it gets me down. So this is where Ottolenghi and avocados come into play. They are my salvation, my chance to reflect, re-charge and grow stronger.

Yotam Ottolenghi is a genius. For those of you un-acquainted, he’s an Israeli-born chef who operates a few (four) amazing restaurants in the UK and a couple amazing cookbooks (Jerusalem, Plenty, Plenty More, others). His recipes can seem intimidating – a lot of herbs and spices that make you feel like you are buying all the herbs in the world when trying one of his recipes. But 1. it’s worth it, and 2. once you have them, you’re set.

Ottolenghi also publishes an article in The Guardian, which is how I found today’s delightful recipe.

Avocado butter on toast with tomato salsa

Mic drop.

Ha. So this was amazing, and has helped me find the energy to conquer the world again (Beyonce and Jay-Z had a part, too). This was super easy.

I had some changes, some which you may want to incorporate, or you can follow the recipe to a tee (try to be adventurous).

  • I couldn’t find dill at Whole Foods (can’t wait until I can Amazon Prime the shit out of my organic groceries) so I left if out.
  • I added salt (not too much, b/c later we top with delicious capers!), pepper and chili flakes to the avocado butter – you won’t be sorry.
  • Skipped the olive oil – there was plenty of fat from the butter and avocado
  • I forgot to top with cumin seeds (ok, was going to use cumin powder b/c I am a very busy lady and didn’t want to deal with toasting my own) and it was still delicious.
  • I rubbed BOTH sides of the toast with garlic. DUH.

As you can see – mine doesn’t look like the Internet’s, but I can’t be good at everything (the watch I’m wearing, I bought it).

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The butter needs to be very soft, so it blends properly with the avocado. Don’t melt it, though, because that will cause it to separate; instead, leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Serves two generously, or four as a snack.

2-3 very ripe avocados, flesh scooped out (you need about 250g in total)
80g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 2cm cubes
3 limes – finely grate the zest, then juice, to get 1½ tbsp of each
Salt and black pepper
10g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
10g dill, finely chopped
200g cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2 tsp capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
4 slices sourdough bread
½ small garlic clove, peeled
¼ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed

Put the avocado and butter in the small bowl of a food processor with half the lime zest, half the lime juice and half a teaspoon of salt (or use a stick blender). Blitz smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if need be, then transfer to a small bowl with two-thirds of the herbs. Fold in, then refrigerate for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes, capers, remaining lime zest and juice, oil and a good grind of pepper, and set aside until needed.

Grill or toast the bread, then rub one side of each piece with the cut side of the half garlic clove. Leave the toast to cool down a little, then spread each slice with the avocado butter and top with salsa. Sprinkle on the cumin and remaining herbs, add a final grind of pepper and a drizzle of oil, and serve.

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On to the next one, someone bring me back the money please.

 

 

Kitchen sink quinoa and roasted beet salad

Bethie had me over for dinner. It was delicious. We were aiming for light and healthy. We had homemade carrot/apple juice, quinoa salad and a roasted beet salad. Beth almost killed me by trying to feed me shrimps (she forgot!), but luckily I noticed right away and she most kindly got out a chicken breast for me. The shrimps and chicken were in a butter, lime, garlic and red curry marinade. Yum.

First – the juice. You need to buy a juicer, or this whole thing doesn’t work. You simply chop up fruit, and drop it in. While I can take the credit for the juicing (okay, you might call it the chopping and dropping), Beth was the creative genius behind the flavors. Two apples (Gala or something similar), two peeled carrots and about an inch of ginger. Delicious and so healthy. It’s really fun too. The clean up didn’t seem great, but Beth was saying the good thing about her juicer is all the parts come apart so you can get them all clean.

Next – the salads. The roasted beet salad was the easiest. The beets were the pre-cooked ones in the plastic package – they’re actually quite nice! We cut up the beets and roasted them in the oven while we prepared everything else. Then they went in the salad bowl with some spinach, roasted walnuts (done quickly over the stove) and goats cheese crumbles. The dressing was rice vinegar and olive oil. I love goat cheese and beets. I also love Beth’s glass bowl and salad tongs.

The quinoa salad is next. I called it the kitchen sink quinoa salad because that’s how we put it together – digging through Beth’s fridge. Luckily she has lots of nice vegetables in her fridge – mine typically has a Brita water filter, beer and condiments. Lately I’ve been stocking those Kozy Shack tapioca puddings too. Tonight I’ve also got some strawberries and celery in there. So, even on a good night, mine is not as great as Beth’s.

Beth prepared the quinoa. I’ve actually never cooked it – it looks easy, but I’m fearful that it is similar to rice – something I’ve never been able to successfully make. Please don’t judge.  I’m told it’s because I peek at it too much, releasing the steam. I had the all important job of chopping the veggies from the fridge. We decided to put in the following: avocado, red onion and red bell pepper. Non fridge items included raisins, almonds and a bit of shredded coconut. I was surprised that Beth had coconut on had and asked what she used it in – to which she said “everything”! Eating at Beth’s seems like it’s more of a party than at mine! Routine use of coconut!?! Fun! We drizzled a bit of the rice vinaigrette from the other salad on this as well.

Beth’s shrimps were pre-cooked, so they just needed to be taken out of the fridge where they’d been marinating, and I cooked my chicken breast on one of those Le Creuset grill pans. I loved that thing! I am definitely getting one! The chicken cooked so well, and it had grill lines on it! The chicken had marinade on it (a bit of butter, smashed garlic, lime juice and red curry sauce), but we sprayed the pan w/a bit of olive oil Pam so it didn’t stick.

This dinner was fabulous – so light, healthy and full of flavor, and not much work at all. We had so many colors on our plates – purples, greens, reds greens, orange – (that’s the new rage – eat as many colors as possible) that it was a treat to look at as well as being quite healthy. I really liked the quinoa salad. I was nervous about the raisins and coconut being too sweet with the savory items, but they came together quite nicely. I’m going to cook some quinoa and let you know how easy it is. It too, is the new rage – apparently the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 as “The International Year of the Quinoa”. See – and here I am helping you get ahead of the curve! It’s quite healthy for you – it has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties, and has antioxidants and heart healthy fatty acids. Not to mention this was a much more balanced dinner than the one I had the other night that was comprised of one cantaloupe, and one Kozy Shack tapioca pudding. Lol.

Update: After publishing this post, I think my mother was quite distressed at my use of the word “shrimps”, which I do know is not actually a word. Please note I do know that “shrimp” is the singular and plural form of those little things that will kill me.

Corn and black bean summer salad

So you may have read one of my previous posts where we had a giant dinner at my dad’s house. Polly, my step-mom, made a lovely corn and black bean salad that inspired me today.

I love sweet corn – it reminds me of summer. Also, summer is when you get the best avocados and tomatoes – best to use them now. This is a great salad to serve at a barbecue (or family dinner!) and is fairly inexpensive to put together. It’s easy too, but the corn can get a bit crazy – it leaps off the cob all over the counter, and when you’re husking the corn, somehow the silk gets all over the kitchen. Yikes. Lucky Mike is in London, away from the corn party.

Ingredients:

4 ears fresh sweet corn

1 jalepeno, minced

Juice from 1 or 2 limes

1 avocado, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 can black beans – thoroughly rinsed

drizzle of olive oil

Husk the corn and cut the kernels off the cobs into a bowl. Trust me, cut into a bowl – otherwise it will look like a corn exploded off the cob onto your counter and floors (I swear I cleaned it straight up!). Even with the cob in the bowl, stray kernels will still try to run. Scoop them back up and put them in the bowl. Dice up the jalepeno. I usually cut them in half lengthwise, and then remove the seeds under running water. Careful not to touch your eyes or nose or any sort of membrane after… it will burn like no other!!! The longer you let the jalepenos sit with the corn, the more the jalepeno flavor absorbs into the corn. Yum. Add the avocado, tomatoes and beans. Put in the lime juice and drizzle a bit of olive oil (just a touch). Season with salt and pepper.

Yay! You’re done! I like the black beans because they add a bit of protein, and fill you up. The avocado is my favorite flavor, particularly with the jalepeno.

Another thing about corn – you can tell how fast your metabolism is running! Hahaha.