If I were tempted to leave California permanently, two words could stop me at the border: strawberries and avocados. Of course, these fruits are available elsewhere, if you're willing to choose between them and, say, your rent.
Most anywhere else, pureeing strawberries for soup or serving avocados in a style associated with leftover chicken would be decadence comparable to pouring Dom Perignon over cornflakes. But here avocados and strawberries are relatively inexpensive.
With avocados, the question of affordability generally refers only to calories: thanks to a 20% fat content (roughly 20 times higher than other fruits and vegetables) there are nearly 400 calories in one (16-ounce) avocado. If it weren't for the B vitamins in them, you almost might as well eat ice cream for dinner. The high fat content is what I had in mind when I created a recipe with no added butter or oil.
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Place sliced berries in bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons honey. Stir and set aside 1 hour.
Drain berries, pouring juice into food processor bowl or blender. Add half of berries and process until smooth. Pour puree into saucepan and heat just to boiling.
Dissolve cornstarch in orange juice and stir slowly into hot puree. Cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly before adding remaining strawberries and additional honey, if desired. Chill in refrigerator. Stir in yogurt before serving. Makes 4 servings.
AVOCADOS A LA KING
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 ripe avocados
4 hard-cooked eggs, optional
4 whole-wheat English muffins, split and toasted, or 2 cups cooked brown rice
Let yogurt sit until it warms to room temperature. Whisk until thin and smooth. Add cilantro and curry powder. Whisk again until well blended.
Slice and peel avocados, then cut into bite-size chunks. Stir into yogurt mixture. Chop eggs and stir into mixture.
Serve over toasted English muffins or brown rice. Makes 4 servings.
Corrected Pate Recipe
The recipe that appeared in this column April 16 contained a typographical error in the amount of half and half used in the spinach layer of the pate. The amount should be one-half cup, not two cups. The corrected recipe follows.
Butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
7 eggs, lightly beaten
Half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh button mushrooms
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1 (1-pound) can carrots, drained
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Toast or crackers
Butter 9x5-inch loaf pan. Saute green onions in 2 tablespoons butter until translucent. Add spinach and continue to saute 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
In medium bowl, combine 3 eggs, 1/2 cup half and half, 1/4 cup bread crumbs and cheese. Season to taste with salt. Add spinach and stir until well combined. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth surface.
Trim mushrooms and wipe clean. Reserve 6 perfect mushrooms, then toss with lemon juice and set aside. Chop remaining mushrooms.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in saucepan and saute reserved whole mushrooms 5 minutes, turning often. Lift out and arrange in row over spinach.
Saute chopped mushrooms and onion in same saucepan until onion is translucent. Stir in Sherry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add 2 eggs and 1/4 cup bread crumbs and spoon over spinach layer.
Puree carrots until smooth. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour, 1/4 cup half and half, ginger and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to boil. Remove from heat and beat in remaining 2 eggs and carrot puree. Spoon over mushroom layer.
Cover pan with wax paper, then foil. Set in larger pan. Pour boiling water into outer pan to depth of 2 inches.
Bake at 350 degrees until pate feels firm to touch, about 2 hours. Transfer to wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.
Run thin knife around pate and turn out onto plate. Invert pate onto another plate so it comes out right side up. Serve with toast or crackers.
Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.