Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chips and Dips are for Whimps! Avocado Spread with Rosemary Flavored Foccacia Toasts!

I love avocados in the summertime. I mean what's not to like about them. They are the basis for Guacamole which has got to be one of the best things ever. They are smooth and rich and buttery tasting, and have the most wonder ability to compliment a variety of starchy foods.

In this past month's issue of Food and Wine Magazine, one of the contributors talked about avocado toasts with sea salt and red pepper flakes. He explained that the simplicity of the grilled bread with the rich and picante flavor of the mashed ripe avocado was the highlight of his dinner party. Well he was right on. I tried this delectable recipe and I have to say it was good. However, you know I love to take something and make it my own so I decided to do just that. But lets not get ahead of ourselves here, this desire to do something different with it started with the Toast.

Now toasted bread is perhaps one the greatest things in the world as far as I am concerned! Toasted bread is crispy, crunchy, warm and can be savory or sweet, It can be topped with anything from butter and jam or vegetables to melted cheese. It is in short the most wonderful vehicle for savoring a variety of foods. But all toasts are not created equal. And when I thing of toast I want two things, excellent flavor and exciting mouth feel. I love good old plain bread toast for certain things. But for a toast or bread plate to really be special I think you need to move past the everyday bread into the realm of flavor and texture. And the one bread which I think has both these in spades in the Italian Bread called Foccacia!

So for those of you who do not know what Foccacia is let me explain. It is Italian in origin. It is a yeast bread which is baked into a flat load and is loaded with olive oil goodness. It is soft and sponge like yet firm and chewy. It is excellent plain but I have discovered it is even better toasted. Toasting the Foccacia gives it another layer of texture and brings out it's oily goodness even more.

Well using that as a starting point I thought, why stop at toasting the focaccia? Why not give it a grilled treatment, not unlike what grilled cheese bread goes through. Butter it and grill it crispy, crunchy and salty and serve it warm. Maybe with olives and olive oil. Yum. Well that's where my bread plate idea started. But where is ended was with the avocado toast idea.

So to make the avocado toasts normally you slather it on and serve it up. But I decided to make a play off the chips and dip idea and serve it already prepared like guacamole would be letting people put it on the bread themselves. And then substituting things like the sea salt and pepper flakes, lemon juice and good quality olive oil for the traditional Mexican flavorings Thus giving the spread an richness like green butter. Ah, and it was so good when I served it up!

So next time you are having people over make a little effort and try this instead of the old chips and dip. It will elevate your dinning experience a notch or two and make your guests so happy. So enjoy, Ya'll!

Avocado Spread on Foccacia Toasts
serves 4

4 small to medium ripe but not over ripe avocados
Maldon Sea Salt ( or other course flaky sea salt)
1 to 2  teaspoons red pepper flakes depending on your heat level ( plus more for garnish)
VERY good quality finishing olive oil about 1 1/2 tablespoons


mash the avocados in a bowl till very creamy add sea salt flakes to taste and red pepper flakes to taste.
Add the olive oil and stir together till creamy and combined
Place in a small dip or serving bowl and garnish with more salt and red pepper flakes, drizzle olive oil over the top till it rests in a small pool in the rim of the dish.
Serve with toasted bread

Forrest's Bread Plate

Foccacia Bread loaf
Good butter at room temp
olive oil
rosemary flavored oil
Maldon Sea Salt


Cut bread into rectangular pieces which are about 4 inches by 2 inches
Slather one side with butter
Place enough olive oil in a skillet till the bottom is lightly coated
Turn on heat to med high
When very hot place the bread butter side down in the pan and allow to cook till toasted and browned
Turn over and let grill till the other side is toasty
Drizzle the rosemary oil over the bread and sprinkle with the sea salt
Place on a plate and serve immediately or at room temp is fine but warm is better!

Enjoy ya'll

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