It’s starting to look like I moved to New Orleans as an excuse to deep fry my California vegetables, make melty cheese dip, live off Red Beans and Rice, and plate after plate of fresh beignets. That’s to say nothing of the sazeracs and oysters.
Truth is, I moved to New Orleans for the suffocating humidity alone.
Not true at all. No one has ever ever done that.
We’ve entered into the 12 most beautiful days of the year here in New Orleans. After living here for one year, I’m talking like I know…
These are the 12 days when it’s perfectly warm with pleasantly bearable humidity, long pink sunsets, and almost cool evenings. It’s the perfection before the wrath of summer. It’s… well, it’s what California is like ALL THE TIME.
Let’s not talk about it anymore… let’s just fry these avocados.
Can I tell you a secret about free avocados?
If you’re in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans or Brooklyn you can place an order with the awesome people of Good Eggs and receive a free bag of avocados! Seems like the very best idea.
Photographs by the lovely Gabrielle Geiselman with styling (aka throwing food around) by me. Gabrielle is my friend, neighbor, and fellow avocado fiend.
Ripe avocados are sliced in half.
Pit them too. Do you know the trick? Here’s the best way to pit an avocado. It involves a big knife and a bit of gumption.
Lime, to keep avocados bright green and extra tasty.
Here’s what we’ll need to coat and batter the sliced avocados.
Eggs beaten with a bit of water for glue. Flour, combined with chili, spice, and salt. Panko breadcrumbs for an extra crisp fried coating. I mean… if we’re going to fry things they need to be crispy crunchy.
I lightly coat the avocado slices in seasoned flour, moisten them with a bit of egg wash, and then go in for the panko coating.
Nothing too heavy, but every bit of the avocado should be covered in either flour or panko. Take it easy… just fries!
A little flour here. A little panko there.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a ton of oil to fry. I used about 1-inch of oil in a medium, heavy-bottom pan. A candy/fry thermometer is key. We need to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil so that the fries to cook to slowly or quickly.
Good and golden brown!
To finish the fries: fresh lime spritzes, Maldon sea salt is lovely, and an extra sprinkling of chili powder. If you have beer on hand, even better. If you feel compelled to make an easy melty queso dip…. I mean… YES!
- 2 medium ripe avocados
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- salt, lemon, cayenne pepper for sprinkling
- 3 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced milk green chiles, juice reserved
- Halve, peel and slice the avocados into long spears, it’s okay if they vary in size. Place the avocados on a platter and drizzle with lime juice.
- In a small bowl beat eggs and together water. Set aside.
- In a separate small bowl whisk flour and salt, chili powder, and cayenne.
- In a medium bowl, measure out panko crumbs, salt and pepper. Combine.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, you can set your breaded slices right on the sheet
- Dip the avocado slices lightly in the flour mixture, in the egg mixture, and finally panko crumbs.
- Clip a fry thermometer onto a medium heavy bottomed saucepan and heat oil to 375 degrees F. Using tongs, lower 6-8 avocado slices into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
- Bring the oil back up to 375 degrees before frying the next batch. Continue frying until all avocado slices are golden brown.
- Sprinkle all of the fried avocado with a dash of cayenne pepper and fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately with queso dip.
- To make the dip, place cheeses in a medium bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch, and toss to coat. Transfer cheese mixture to a medium saucepan over low heat and add milk.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth and melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir chiles with reserved juices until well combined. Serve warm with avocado fries.
Happy isn’t hard for me. I might even take happy for granted. I wake up in the morning and I’m genuinely stoked about the possibilities the day brings. I have thoughts that make me smile when I’m sitting alone in my car. I like rainbows and kittens, well… you get my point.
Today I shared a meal with a dear friend who isn’t so blessed in the happy department. She’s been struggling in recent months. She’s lost her happy. After dinner, as we sat lingering in conversation, she told me that she couldn’t think of one thing that made her happy anymore. I was totally floored. I didn’t know what to say to her. In vain I tried to name things and places that I knew she liked. None of it worked, she just shook her head no. It breaks my heart, but I know that I could recall fun things we’d done together until I was blue in the face. Her happiness needs to come from the inside.
It got me thinking about happy.
What makes you happy? What thoughts make you smile when no one else is around? What makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning? Share. I want to know.
On my list of the many things things that make me happy: Crispy Toasted Coconut Cookies.
If happy has been elusive lately, give these buttery and crispy cookies a spin. Who knows, they might just be the break in the clouds.
Crispy Toasted Coconut Cookies
adapted from Big Fat Cookies
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Spread the coconut on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes stirring once, until the coconut becomes evenly golden. Watch carefully, as the coconut can darken quickly toward the end of baking. Set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract and mix until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Use a large spoon to stir in the toasted coconut.
Divide the dough into two portions and pat into a flat rectangle. Cut two large sheets of wax paper, and roll out the portions of dough between the wax paper into a 7 x 12-inch rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top piece of wax paper. I used a round cookie cutter to make cookies, but you can also trim the edges of the rectangle and make rectangular cookies by cutting the dough into 9 rectangles.
Lift the cookies off the wax paper and transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet. If you have trouble lifting the dough, place it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden and then transfer to a baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges and bottoms are lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Enjoy! Find your happy!