Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Awesome Avocados

Avocados are a delicious way to add color and texture to your recipes. While most people may use avocados only for guacamole or sliced on a sandwich, there are lots of other ways to incorporate them into your recipe rotation.

When selecting an avocado, the skin color alone will not be the only indication of ripeness. Select an avocado that is firm to the touch but gives to gentle pressure. Avoid selecting avocados that have dark blemishes over soft fruit. (Yes! Avocados are a fruit!) If there are not any ripe avocados on the shelves of your fruit market, simply select the ones you like and take them home to ripen. Avocados ripen nicely if placed in a brown paper bag, which has been closed tightly, and left for 2-3 days. To accelerate ripening, add a banana to the bag and close. The ethylene gas released by the banana will help the avocado to ripen faster.

One of my favorite ways to use avocados is to make an avocado and mango "salsa." It's really more like pico de gallo in texture, but it makes a delicious dip or garnish for grilled chicken and fish - or even flank steak. If you cannot find ripe mangoes, ripen them the same way you are ripening the avocados, in the brown paper bag.

Mango & Avocado Salsa

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
1 medium ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, use as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (or Matt's Mix)
Combine all of the ingredients together and allow to "marinate" for at least 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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