Friday, January 11, 2008

Roque 'n Roll

There are some foods that as a child I convinced myself I did not like. Although they were few and far between, they were varied. They also all at some point became some of my favorite foods and ingredients--lentils, fried eggs, and avocado among them. Avocado was something I particularly hated, even though I never really gave it a chance. Not surprisingly, I eventually convinced myself that I hated guacamole. I don't know why I had these strong feelings, but fortunately they reversed completely. My winters are now filled with lentil soup, and my summers with bacon, lettuce and avocado sandwiches.

My mother also held a similar disdain for the avocado, but like me, has grown to love it. So it is that I found myself with several leftover avocados (we made salsa fresca and guac) after her departure. Not wanting them to go to waste, I continued my search for recipes that would make good use of the avocados and the rest of my holiday leftovers. It was just my luck that this weekend Nigella Lawson made what she called "Roqueamole" on her new show, Nigella Express. It's a creamy dip that combines avocados with Roquefort--a perfect use for several ingredients in my fridge. The recipe seemed simple enough, so I tried it out as a light and easy dinner on a busy night of running errands after work.

Sadly, I was not thrilled with her recipe. It was a bit simplistic, lacking in flavor, and the measurements were a bit off for my taste. I've often made dishes from her cookbooks and her television programs with great success. The recipes from this new show, however, I am finding fall a bit flat. As I understand it, these recipes are meant to be easy and quick, but flavorful. Unfortunately, they fall short in the flavor department and are lacking the complexity to make them truly tasty. I'd go deeper into my thoughts on how quick-cooking shows are the death of real cooking, but I left my soapbox at the office, so you've been spared.

Instead I'll tell you what I did to remedy the bland situation before me. The first thing was to change the ratio of blue cheese to avocado. How could you possibly mask the buttery sweetness of avocado with so much Roquefort and spring onions? The flavors were too overwhelming, losing what I think is a key flavor and texture. As a result, I added more avocado and eliminated the spring onions altogether. Something was still missing, so I added cilantro and lime juice, but wasn't quite happy yet. After digging through everything in my kitchen, I came upon a container of spicy olives that I though would pair well with the Roquefort element of the dip, without overshadowing the avocado. I'd finally achieved the well rounded flavor I'd been going for. Here's how to make it my way (And it doesn't have much in common with guacamole, so I won't be calling it Roqueamole):

Roquefort, Avocado and Olive Dip

2 avocados, inside scooped out and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Roquefort, crumbled
3 tsp cilantro, minced
1 lime
2 jalapeƱos, finely diced (I removed ribs and seeds from one)
1/2 cup green olives, finely diced (spicy olives if you have them)
1/8 tsp paprika (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except for the lime and paprika. Mash with a fork.

2. Add the lime juice half at a time--you may not need the whole thing. Taste for salt and season accordingly. Dust with paprika. Enjoy!


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