Avocado Cream Cheese Dip

>> April 14, 2012

The taste of avocado takes me back to my childhood. My mom used to make avocado ice candies, which is just basically like popsicle minus the stick. It is stuffed inside a long plastic bag and then frozen. It used to be the only recipe of avocado I know until I started to become familiar with cooking and other food preparations. Now I added 3 more in my recipe list - avocado smoothie, guacamole, and this avocado cream cheese dip that I recently discovered (no kidding).

I was thinking of a good garnish for my tomato tartare and thought that avocado's good match. And so I browsed for avocado flavoured sauces and dips and this recipe from Honey Never Spoils caught my attention. It's fairly easy to prepare, plus I have ingredients right in my fridge, so I don't have to worry about going back to the grocery.

I am happy to say, that although it miserably failed to match the taste of my tomato tartare, the taste by itself is divine! I immediately loved it. I can picture it perfectly matching the taste of my vegetarian burger to substitute guacamole. It can also be used as a dip for toasted bread sticks, or even nachos/chips. This is my new favorite!

I tweaked the recipe a little bit according to my consistency and texture liking.

- 1 small ripe avocado
- 50g softened cream cheese
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small onion, sliced in 4 parts
- 1/8 cup of water
- 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or tabasco hot sauce)
- salt and pepper to taste
(Skip the water if you want a paste-like consistency, and add more cream cheese)

1. Slice the avocado from top. As soon as you feel the seed, slice around it. Then give it a twist to separate. Now you can easily pull out the huge seed.

2. Scoop out the avocado flesh and dunk it in your food processor.

3. Add the onion, softened cream cheese, lemon juice and water in the food processor and blend away. Add more water if it's too thick for you.

4. Add the sriracha sauce and blend again. Feel free to add more sriracha if you prefer more spicy.

5. Once well blended and creamy, transfer it to a bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.

I used only 50g of cream cheese because I love that delicate avocado flavor and I don't want to overpower it. I added water because I don't like it too thick and paste like since I intend to also use it as a creamy spread. But if you wish to make it thicker like a normal cheese based dips, by all means, add more cheese and skip the water. Just make sure you won't overpower the avocado taste.


Homestyle Tomato Tartare

>> April 13, 2012

Since I know that I will never have the guts to eat beef tartare (I'm not a fan of raw meat), I thought of making tomato tartare that I once saw on TV. It's refreshing for first course. It does look special too for something that's quite simple to prepare. In this recipe, I only made a small portion since I'm the only one to eat. Double the recipe to serve 2.

- 3 big, ripe, juicy, fleshy tomatoes, peeled and deseeded
- 1 tbsp. of minced chives
- 1 small minced scallion (or a small red onion)
- 1 tsp. finely chopped tarragon
- 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- a small can with both ends removed for molding

Peeling fresh tomatoes:

a. Remove the stalk.
b. slice a cross on top.
c. Blanch in boiling water for 30-40 seconds (be careful! Do not overcook) until it blisters.
d. Shock it in ice water.
e. Peel away!

1. Slice the tomatoes in 4 parts and remove the seeds. Finely chop the tomatoes. Let it sit in a colander or strainer for about an hour to drain out the excess water.

2. Transfer the tomatoes in a mixing bowl and toss in the rest of the ingredients.

3. Add salt and pepper according to you liking. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

4. Place the mold on top of your serving plate and stuff it with the tomato mixture. Pack it tightly. Then remove the mold.

I didn't realize that molding is challenging. I suppose my tomatoes weren't drained enough that the excess water kept it loose. It kept on collapsing. I even tried to use an ice cream scoop because I thought i could never keep it together using my can mold. Eventually, the tomatoes drained more water and there, I got to keep it together :).

Taragon and chives. Be careful in the amount of taragon, the taste is easily over powering.

My attempt to plate the dish. I'm not too happy with it :P

I think I got carried away once I started eating. I get this icky feeling every time I take a bite, thinking it was meat but then realizing it's just tomatoes :P. I'm so weird.

I served it with toasted bread sticks, but it's best served with slices of baguette.The greenish thing there is avocado cream cheese which I still yet to share.

Smakelijk eeten!


A Road Trip On Black Saturday

>> April 9, 2012

My friends and I hit the road down south to continue our sort of yearly tradition to do "Way Of The Cross" every Lent. It's just a tradition that we invented for ourselves, where we go to a special Catholic church every year, and recite a booklet of prayers for each 13 stations of the cross. It's also sort of another excuse to be able to catch up and see each other at least once a year.

Usually, Way Of The Cross and Visita Iglesia* are done on Maundy Thursday. Lent is a national holiday in the Philippines, but since my friends and I are all employed by american companies, we didn't get these days off and have to do it on Black Saturday.

I won't bore you to death with religion but here's some photos of interest.

This is the front of Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery, a historical landmark in the Philippines. The cemetery lies beneath the church inside this gate.
It was said to be built by Franciscan monks in 1845. It served as a hide out and a meeting place for Filipino revolutionaries  against Spain in 1896.
Unfortunately, the cemetery was closed when we visited. So all we could do is to take photos from the outside,  not minding the scorching heat of the sun :).
We went to the beautiful church of Pagsanjan to fulfill our mission.
Covering religious statues and the cross with purple cloth on holy week is a Catholic tradition , which is said to help people concentrate and reflect more on the sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus.

We concluded our trip with a nice hearty lunch at Calle Arco in Pagsanjan. Calle Arco is just a big house transformed in to a  restaurant. The house is very traditional of provincial sort. It's an instant Filipino appeal. It makes you feel you are in your grandma's house.


Bubble Blahs

I work and live at night time. I am a person deprived of natural light. I rarely cook in the morning as I'm almost always asleep, else busy with house chores. As much as I love natural light in my photography, I'm afraid I don't usually have that luxury, unless I sacrifice my sleep, or make an effort to stay up longer during the day to do a cooking + photo session. So I depend on my flash, and sometimes, available light from my fluorescent bulbs. Although, in my opinion, nothing beats the natural light, I am, so far, satisfied with my shots using my flash that I learned to love.

I always look forward to the weekends for some sunlight.

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