Wandering through Costco last weekend, what did my wondering eyes behold, but a bevy of beautiful avocados that felt as though they might just ripen before they rotted. I snagged the bag of 5 great big beauties and immediately started thinking where I could follow them. Guacamole? Yeah, but good avocados in January in Montana deserve something more interesting. So I took them home, concealed them in a paper bag and left them alone to ripen just a touch more.
Meanwhile, it was time to make another batch of yogurt. The recipe follows. I have a lovely Yogourmet, courtesy of my kind sister. She knows how reluctant I am to take on new appliances, so now and then she makes just the right decision for me. I love it, and I certainly love her. It’s a single unit with a center bucket that sits encased in gentle heat. AND it makes 2 quarts at a time! I’ve also used it to make crème fraîche. If you don’t have a yogurt maker, or like my daughter quite literally have no room for so much as one more water glass, there is another way. For years and years I made yogurt a quart at a time, in a glass Mason jar wrapped in a heating pad set on low, and secured by rubber bands. I bought my daughter a heating pad. She has room for it, and it serves more than one function.
So yogurt lit the lightbulb of smoothies. I’m really tired of the typical banana-berry blends. Besides, in Montana in January, they’re expensive and tend to come from other continents. If I’m going to ride a bike to minimize the size of my carbon footprint, I’m not going to purchase produce from Peru. But avocados (yes, from Mexico) would lead me in a whole new direction.
Makes 1 quart
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 packet freeze-dried yogurt starter (culture), available in the refrigerated section of any natural foods store
1 cup heavy cream
1. In a stainless steel saucepan, heat milk and honey to just below boiling (185 on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from heat and allow to cool to about 90 degrees. It will feel warm to you finger, but not hot. If it’s too hot, you risk compromising the culture.
2. When cool, dip out a ladleful into a small mixing bowl. Whisk in one packet of the culture. Whisk that mixture into the milk. Whisk in the cream.
3. Pour into your yogurt maker or Mason jar. If using a yogurt maker, yogurt will be ready in 4-5 hours. If using the Mason jar and heating pad, it will take a bit longer, say a couple of hours more. Yogurt is done when it is evenly thick throughout.
4. Gently stir from top to bottom to re-distribute the cream, which tends to rise to the top. Refrigerate immediately.
TO SUPRȆME ANY FRUIT
To suprême any citrus fruit, all you need is a sharp knife. A dull one will just make a mess of things and discourage you. First, remove both ends of the peel right down to the flesh. Then stand the fruit on one end. Make a series of overlapping vertical cuts, following the curve of the fruit, from top to bottom. Cut right down to the level of the fruit. You want to remove ALL the white pith (it’s bitter).
Next, cup the fruit in one hand and hold your knife in the other. You’ll cut between the membrane and the fruit, towards the center, on both sides of each segment. Each one should slide right out. Last, transfer the fruit segments to a blender or food processor. Be sure to squeeze the membrane ball really well to extract all the luscious juice trapped in it.
I GOT LUCKY SMOOTHIE
The twittersphere was all a-twitter over the title. The double entendre honestly hadn’t occurred to me. I can be a little too focused sometimes. In January in Montana a bevy of perfect avocados is a pretty good definition of “getting lucky.” And I got very lucky this week. Besides, aren’t avocados something we’re all supposed to be eating more of? May you get as lucky as I did!
1 cara orange (or any orange), peeled, suprême
6 ounces Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of sea or kosher salt
Pinch of cumin
1. Place all ingredients in a blender or bowl of a food processor. Turn it on. Purée until completely smooth (obviously). Taste for seasoning. If you like yours a bit on the sweet side, add a drop of honey or agave nectar.
2. Pour into a glass. Mine was almost a custardy consistency, which I loved. It slowed me down, made me linger over each marvelous mouthful.
I’M STILL LUCKY SMOOTHIE
Serves 2, but make a big batch to serve in a pitcher with brunch
6 ounces V8
6 ounces Greek yogurt
Zest and juice of 1 great big lime
Generous handful of cilatro
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Sea or kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Cholula, or your favorite hot sauce
2 lime wedges
Salt – fine grind
- Place V8, yogurt, lime zest and juice, avocado, cilantro, coriander (you can use the stems – they’re very tender), and cumin in a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Purée until very smooth.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and as much Cholula as you want (or need).
- Rub the rims of two glasses with the lime wedges, then dip in salt. Carefully pour smoothie into the glasses. Hang a wedge of lime on each one, and serve with extra hot sauce.
THE LUCK CONTINUES SMOOTHIE
Day 3 of my quest to follow the blessings of abundant, ripe, affordable avocados in January in Montana into uncharted territory. For me, at least. Pink grapefruit establishes the base here, with notes of lime and a touch of salt. Cayenne blows a kiss to the honey. Finish with a sprig of mint.
1 pink grapefruit, peeled, suprême
6 ounces Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
Juice of 1/4 lime
Pinch kosher or sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Fresh mint sprig
1. Place all ingredients except the mint sprig in a blender or food processor. Purée until as smooth as possible. You’ll see tiny pink confetti. That’s fine.
2. Pour into a pretty glass and garnish with a spring of mint. Take a sip. It’s like a quick (very quick) trip to a warm climate.