Cooks Corner

Smash it up: Top toast with more than avocado

Avocado smash
Avocado smash

Do you smash?

I’ve become a great fan of the trending smash on toast, a great relief for tired breakfasts and brown bags. Though avocado butters have been around for a long time (we had a recipe in Cook’s Corner in 1991) and the smash started trending at edgy restaurants a couple of years ago, I knew the avocado smash had reached new audiences when I saw it on a breakfast chain restaurant’s menu this month.

What’s not to love? Instead of butter and jam on toast or a cream cheese bagel, try the slather of avocado — mashed but chunky, flavored with lime juice and perhaps a bit of chile and garlic or flavored olive oil on a crusty toast — and you’ll be hooked. Avocados provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease, and are a great source of potassium, which lowers blood pressure, lutein, for eye health, plus lots of fiber.

I spotted the avocado toast on the cover of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine in all its scrumptious glory, and got permission to share a couple of the editors’ creative variations on the theme with my readers. Let me know if you’ve got a smash inspiration.

Q. Thank you for the minestrone soup recipe published in my local newspaper [The Medina (Ohio) Gazette]. Do you have anything resembling Panera’s Moroccan soup recipe, no longer on the menu?

Jean

A. Alas, I was unable to get Panera to share the recipe, though a spokesperson offered me one for beef stew. It was pretty basic, so I passed (those interested can find it and other recipes at panera.com). But I think you’ll find my Moroccan-inspired bean soup comes pretty close.

Q. After a long time away from the concept, my daughter is trying to observe Lent again with meatless Fridays for her young family. There was a meatless recipe she remembers I made when she was a teen, which I clipped from your column, for a tofu with peanut sauce from The Unicorn. I can’t find my copy and I can’t find it online. Can you help?

Sandra B., South Miami

A. When we published this recipe 15 years ago, most cooks were not familiar with miso or tamari — or tofu, for that matter. I was happy to pull this out of our files to try once again. The cooking method produces a tofu with a bit of a crunch, while the marinade gives it some nicely balanced, sweet-savory flavor.

Tried and New

Getting enough protein when you’re an athlete or on a low-cholesterol or vegetarian diet can be a quandary, which is why Hobe Sound chef Scot Elmore and PGA tour golfer Freddie Jacobsen teamed up to market salad dressings that don’t just make greens taste better but add a boost of protein. Tru Table dressings have 9 to 10 grams of protein per serving, more than you’d get in an egg.

My favorite is the Key Lime Caesar with Asiago cheese, but I tried the four flavors with other tasters who rated them all highly. The most versatile is the Asian Sweet Chili and Tamari, perfect for making plain vegetables intriguing. There’s also an Orange Citrus and Black Chia Seed and an Orange Blossom Honey & Balsamic. You can find the dressings (about $7) at Whole Foods in South Florida and the Northeast and Texas or online at trutable.com.

Caveat: The dressings are made with whey protein so are not suitable for vegan or dairy-free diets.

For the first time in 116 years, Walkers Shortbread has adapted the traditional Scottish Highlands recipe to offer a gluten-free variation. The cookies have the same butter and sugar as the traditional shortbreads, but the wheat flour is replaced with a blend of rice flour, maize flour and potato starch. My tasters found the cookies just as buttery and flavorful.

Perhaps because I’m more attuned I could detect a little more graininess, but a friend who suffers from celiac disease pronounced them the best gluten-free treat she’s had in years. The gluten-free, like the originals, are made without any artificial flavors or colorings. The cookies are in limited distribution at groceries as the product line rolls out, but are available online at http://us.walkersshortbread.com/ ($4.99 for 4.9 ounces).

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

Spiced Chickpea Smash

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 small garlic clove, grated

Pinch cayenne

4 slices toast

Cilantro leaves for garnish

In a microwavable bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic and cayenne. Heat on high 1 minute. Smash; season. Mound on toast. Top with cilantro leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Beet & Feta Smash

1 (6-ounce) package pre-cooked beets

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

3 ounces crumbled feta

4 slices toast

Orange zest

In a bowl, smash beets, olive oil, orange juice and rice wine vinegar; season. Mix in feta. Mound on toast; top with orange zest. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Moroccan Bean and Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ribs celery, chopped, including leaves

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons, or to taste, garam masala (curry powder may be substituted)

1/2 teaspoon, or to taste, crushed red pepper

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over

8 baby carrots

1 Russet or sweet potato, or a turnip, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil, then add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté until the onions are lightly browned and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the ginger, cumin, garam masala and cayenne pepper on top and sauté 1 minute longer. Add the chickpeas, cannellini, tomatoes and lentils and stir well. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil before reducing heat to a bare simmer. Cook 1 hour. Remove 2 cups of the soup and mash well. Return to pot, add carrots and potatoes and stir well. Cook 30 minutes longer, adding more water if needed. Makes 8 servings.

Source: Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner.

The Unicorn’s Griddled Tofu with Peanut-Miso Sauce

8 ounces firm tofu, cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 cup tamari

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons barley miso

1/2 cup tamari

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Water (to thin to desired consistency)

1 egg white

About 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1 tablespoon canola oil

Combine sesame oil, tamari, apple juice, ginger and garlic and pour over tofu slices in a nonmetal container. Marinate at least 2 hours, and overnight if possible.

To make sauce, combine peanut butter, miso, tamari, garlic, ginger, lime juice and cayenne pepper in a blender. Add just enough water to thin to desired consistency, about that of a light sauce. Set aside. Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.

To cook tofu, mix 1/2 cup of the peanut-miso sauce with the egg white, whisking thoroughly. Dip the marinated tofu slices in this mixture, then press into bread crumbs. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Place the tofu slices in carefully and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once (about 5 minutes total). Remove from pan and keep warm.

Serve griddled tofu over sautéed vegetables, with extra peanut sauce on the side. Serves 4.

Source: Cook’s Corner archives.

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