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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State



Cocina: A Hands-on Guide to the Techniques of Southwestern Cooking
By Leland Atkinson



Doodling With Avocados
Recipe for Avocado Crema

Leland Atkinson, a former sidekick of Mark Miller, the dean of Southwestern chefs, offers step by step directions, illustrated with instructive photographs, for a number of tricks of the trade in the trendy regional cooking style. In his book, Cocina: A Hands-on Guide to the Techniques of Southwestern Cooking, he explains how to tie a tamale, stuff a chile, roast corn and construct a simple range-top smoker.

He also explains how you can make rice and beans look like costly haute cuisine by artfully squirting cross-hatches and squiggles of "streakers" onto the food and the serving plate. With a plastic squeeze bottle, you, too, can turn any dish into a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. But "don’t over-do it," he advises. "The charm of streakers is that they add snippets of flavor and a colorful little punch to the dishes."

The base for such concoctions in Mexico is crema -- unpasteurized cream allowed to sit at room temperature to thicken. Atkinson’s recipes tell how to fake it with sour cream and buttermilk.

This recipe for an avocado streaker is a good way to put an avocado that is not quite perfectly ripe to immediate use, Atkinson writes.


Avocado Crema

  1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
cup buttermilk
juice of 1 lime
cup sour cream
tsp salt
1. Put the avocado in a blender with the buttermilk and lime juice. Puree until quite smooth, adding some of the sour cream if necessary to create a smooth puree.

2. Scrape the avocado puree into a bowl, add the sour cream, and whisk well to blend. Stir in the salt.

3. Pour the crema through a paper cone or funnel into a squeeze bottle. If you are not using the crema right away, wrap the tip of the bottle with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

4. Let the crema sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before using, then place your finger over the tip, and give the bottle a quick shake.

Copyright 1997 Seasonal Chef