I've always heard that it's wise to stop and check yourself in the mirror right before you walk out the door and remove one element of your outfit; the hat, the pin on your jacket, something. Since I am terrible at accessorizing – I never wear hats, belts or pins on my jackets or sweaters. Hell, I hardly even stray from solid colors – that concept seems to be non-issue with me in the fashion department.
The kitchen department, however, is another story entirely. I like to throw a lot of different elements into most of my dishes. Admittedly, they can get very busy. I think it's because A) I always try to move ingredients through my kitchen with regularity, hence adding that shisito pepper or a splash of orange thyme-infused vinegar before it goes bad, and B) I'm very curious about flavor and texture combinations and really like to experiment. And let's all admit it; neither of these are bad intentions or bad applications.
But when I think about the chefs and the foods that most inspire me, and when I think about a quote I have mentioned here countless times, about simplicity being the hallmark of genius, I wonder why I don't practice it more often in my kitchen.
I mean, must I add shiso butter to a grilled steak? Do I really need to add sherry to tuna casserole? Is it necessary to make my own almond meal to add to a classic pie crust in lieu of sticking to the straight-up all-purpose flour? The answer is, of course, no. I will say, though, that while I have experienced my share of flops with these twists, I have stumbled upon great success equally as often.
But at Summer's peak, when all of my very favorite produce has hit its stride and is as perfect as it could ever possibly be, why gild the lily? So lately, I have had a lot of tomato sandwiches for lunch. That means, soft white(ish) bread, good mayonnaise, salt, pepper (generous portions of all) and big, thick slices of tomato. That's it. No basil, no bacon, no lettuce, nothing to distract from the celebrity of that tomato.
And corn. During this time of year just cut it from the cob and eat it raw with a little salt and pepper. Maybe even toss a little fresh tomato in there, too. Keep it simple. Listen to the corn sing her (his?) solo. Less is more.
More or less.
Which brings me to the bowl full of fresh, ripe avocados on the kitchen counter staring me down a few days ago. I have really been wanting to make that whole egg-baked-in-the-hole-of-the-avocado-half thing I've been seeing all over Pinterest and whatnot. But then I stopped myself... 'Don't cook it, for crying out loud. Keep it simple.' And so I listened to me: I kept it simple and I kept it raw. I made a cold soup and I let the avocado sing. And her voice was smooth, soft, clear and bright. Kind of like Sade, actually.
For now I think I'm going to keep on keeping it simple in the kitchen, but try to incorporate hats into my wardrobe.
Chilled Avocado-Cucumber Soup with Buttermilk
Serves 2-4 (depending on whether it's served as entree size or appetizer size)
1 ripe avocado
½ cup buttermilk
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded, plus some julienned pieces for garnish
1 Tablespoon cilantro, plus some sprigs for garnish
1/4 of a shallot, diced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of half a lime
½ cup – ⅔ cup water
Sea salt & black pepper
Toasted pepitas for garnish
In a blender mix together the avocado, cucumber, buttermilk, cilantro, salt, shallot, cayenne pepper, lime juice, ½ cup water. Blend until completely smooth and then check for consistency. If you want a thinner soup add more water.
Pour the soup into two glasses or one bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
When the soup is ready to serve, dice the remaining avocado. Garnish the soup with avocado chunks, julienned cucumber, pepitas, cilantro, salt and pepper. Serve immediately while it is still cold.
One year ago: Heirloom Tomato & Fresh Basil Frittata
Three years ago: Grilled Salmon with Market Relish over Jasmine Rice