Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa with Avocado Mousse and Salmon Roe

Recipes are only foundations, so my suggestion to you is to make them your own! The "avocado mousse" and the "tomato salad" recipes are two variations of dishes that I had on a recent trip to Chile. My friend Liz Caskey (of Culinary and Wine Experiences, she also has several cook books) had a small cocktail party at her home in Chile for our group where she served her versions of these recipes. She is a talented cook herself and also organizes these fantastic culinary and wine tours in Chile and Argentina. My daughter, Leni, and I ate the most delicious regional and "food-forward" dishes, as well as drank some of the finest wines coming out of Chile today. So, I must give credit where credit is due -- I recommend her website to anyone interested in broadening their culinary horizons!

Leni and I loved Chile, the food, and the people so much that I decided to make these recipes "my own". So, today's recipe is for the avocado mousse appetizer, and you will see how by making even the smallest changes, I have made it my own. So feel free to make your own changes so you, too, can call it your own.

*Recipe serves 4-6 people

For tomatillo:
1lb fresh tomatillos
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1-2 fresh Serrano chiles
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste

Take the husk off of the tomatillo and rinse under cold water so they're not sticky; pat dry. Coarsely puree in a blender or a food processor the tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic, and water. Place in a skillet, bring up to boil, and reduce to simmer until mixture thickens -- this takes about 15 minutes to reduce. Cool mixture down completely before using, then add chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.

1 1/2 lbs fresh tomatoes, seeded and cored (just use flesh)
1 tsp fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Chop into small dice, approximately a quarter of an inch. Place in a bowl, add quarter of a cup of tomatillo salsa (or more depending on your preference), and stir gently until combined. You could add more chopped cilantro and salt to taste -- too much cilantro can be overpowering and too much salt will make vegetables release too much water, so careful on the salt because you are topping the dish with caviar.

Avocado mousse:
3 Haas avocados, ripe but not mushy
1/2 of a fresh lemon
3 tbsp heavy cream

1 jar salmon roe to top each dish (or enough for 1 tsp per serving)

Cut avocados in half, remove seed and scoop avocado into a bowl. Add a squeeze of half the lemon to help retain green color. Then add the heavy cream. Mash with a fork and then using an electric hand mixer or a Braun handheld food mixer (you can get these at any decent kitchen store) whip until very smooth, like a mousse with no lumps.

To assemble:
I like to use martini glasses for this dish so you can see every layer, or you can use clear shooter glasses if you want a smaller recipe (just make sure a spoon fits in them or use a demitasse spoon).  Place about a one-inch layer of tomato and tomatillo salsa on the bottom of glass, and smooth to fit bottom of glass. Then add a 1-inch layer of avocado mousse, and smooth around the glass to create a neat appearance and so that both layers can be seen (see photo for reference). Add one teaspoon of salmon roe. For a decadent appetizer, use any good caviar. Chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours (2 hours should be sufficient), then serve immediately. Enjoy!

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