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in the kitchen with: sidedish (chilled avocado soup)

by Grace Bonney

today’s in the kitchen with is a special recipe that i was lucky enough to have land in my inbox this week. brooklyn based food photographer jessika creedon sent over these gorgeous photographs of a picnic she attended in prospect park and i was blown away by the special presentation of the food. rather than using plates or napkins, the hosts decided to use natural “containers” like lemons and avocados. top that off with jessika’s incredible photos and i was sold. so today the group behind the special picnic, sidedish, was kind enough to share one of their delicious picnic recipes with us- a summery chilled avocado soup. i could live off of avocados so this is one that’s definitely going into my regular repertoire. i just wanted to thank jessika (whose website can be viewed right here, and her flickr page right here) for sharing these photos, and to sidedish for sharing this incredible (and incredibly easy to make) recipe. CLICK HERE for the full recipe (and more photos from the picnic) or just click “read more” below.

about sidedish: sidedish is an ongoing experiment in staging uniquely engaging food experiences. at sidedish events, a rotating list of diners enjoys a full five course meal with an unrepeated, custom-made menu. sidedish dinners pivot around food, but go much farther, with each event exploring a particular theme. renee baumann and keren weiner, two alumni from the french culinary institute, are the heads and hands behind sidedish (with much organizational assistance from andrea montejo). photos and past menus from sidedish events can be seen at sidedish’s facebook page right here.

Chilled Avocado Soup in an Avocado Half (Photographed by Jessika Creedon)

Yield: 4 servings (as an appetizer)

2 ripe avocados
2/3c. water
The juice of 2-3 limes
1-2 cloves of garlic
a fistful of cilantro
1 tsp. salt

Prepare the avocados: Use the line where the avocado meat turns from light to dark green as a guide to help you scoop out a regular amount from each avocado half (you should be leaving 1/4″ of meat). If you have to prepare the avocados more than an hour ahead of time hold them in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar, and then drain before serving.

Blend your Soup: Place the avocado meat, water and cilantro in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add garlic, lime, cilantro and salt to taste (do not add all the garlic at once, some garlic is stronger and you want just enough to add an edge to this dish). Also check to make sure that your garlic is incorporating well, not stuck under the blade of your blender. Adjust the amount of water until your soup is just liquid enough to pour (it should still be quite thick). The proper amount of cilantro will make the pigment of the soup match the darker green meat left in the the avocado bowls. Chill for 20 minutes.

Serve: Pour soup into avocado halves. Garnish with sour cream, creme fraiche or buttermilk. Sprinkle with chili powder.

About This Dish: (from Renee Baumann, one of the Sidedish chefs)

Typically we plate every course on a white square plate, the proverbial blank canvas for a food presentation. For a picnic menu, though, we were without facilities to wash our plates and knew we needed a different strategy to achieve beautiful presentation. We settled on using only plant matter containers for our different courses, which also informed our menu selections (choosing to highlight ingredients that had a natural skin or shell that could be repurposed for serving). The plant matter containers were served to guests on wood pallets (the reclaimed sides from wine boxes). For the avocado soup, it took a bit of experimentation to make a working container out of the skin. When I tried pouring a soup just into the skin, I had a floppy, tough to handle mess. The winning solution was to leave some of the meat in the avocado to help stabilize the skin. As you eat the soup, you can scoop out a little bit of succulent avocado with each bite.


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