[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this third entry, I'm focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]
Summer is definitely the season of romance. I mean, all those couples strolling along the Harbourfront, hand in hand. . . starry nights and waves crashing against the sand at the Beaches. . . candlelit dinners on the back patio under the moonlight, just you and your sweetheart. . . and the black flies. . . and the mosquitoes. . . and the spiders. . . Hmm. Well, all those couples strolling along the Harbourfront, hand in hand . . .
Doesn’t everyone love a little romance once in a while? I used to think that romance meant roses and chocolate, but nowadays I know better. Now I realize it’s just chocolate.
In my previous lifetime (long before the HH), my Starter Husband was a natural when it came to romance; he was one of those guys who’d secretly light candles and strew rose petals around the bathtub (which was filled, naturally, with Chanel Number 5 Bubble Bath) while I was out shopping because he saw it in a movie somewhere. Or I’d open a Christmas present to find a pair of handcrafted tiger’s eye earrings he’d bought, because I’d admired them while strolling through an outdoor bazaar the previous July. Yes, he was a “romantic,” in the classic sense (still didn’t save the marriage, though).
Most of us are familiar with the studies about husbands who “help out” more in the domestic areas of the home (washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning floors, etc.): they’re also more likely to get lucky in the other areas (read: bedroom) of the home. In those cases, romance is something else entirely: it’s the ability to tune in to the ongoing, mundane demands or stresses facing your loved one and to help alleviate some of the pressure by reducing the workload. I mean, we all know there’s nothing quite so sexy as a guy with his hands in a sink of soapy dishes, right?
The HH is definitley not romantic in the classic sense–I think he’s bought flowers for me twice in the eleven years we’ve been together, and those only under duress–but he sure does shine in the “sharing housework” department. (I know, I’ve mentioned his lack of cooking prowess before, and it’s true, he loathes cooking; but he does make a great kitchen hand, and if I had to count up household chores, I’m certain he takes care of more of them than I do).
The HH’s style leans more toward Harry’s in When Harry Met Sally–the guy you love to talk to, the one whose silly jokes make you laugh despite yourself, the one who’s steady and good natured and helpful, even if he does miss a few cues when it comes to your desire for sentiment or being sappy.
And what prompts me to feel romantic toward my guy? Well, seeing him on his back on the floor (really, get your minds out of the gutter, people!), rolling around with The Girls and a pull toy (well, actually, I guess that last sentence out of context could be interpreted “that way,” couldn’t it? Lord knows what search terms will lead people to this post, now I’ve written that). Though he’d probably never admit it out loud, the HH is head-over-tail in love with our dogs. And recognizing that devotion always sparks my own romantic inclinations towards him. (“We’re pretty cool with it, too, Mum.”)
Although it’s true I’ve bought Christmas gifts the HH had admired months before, in general I tend toward more quotidien romantic expressions such as leaving notes in lunch bags, offering to do dishes when it’s his turn, or baking things for him that I know he loves.
Which brings me–finally–to today’s recipe. (I know, you were wondering how I’d work it in, weren’t you?)
One of the HH’s favorite flavors is coconut. Alongside a good hunk of Decadent Chocolate Pâté, coconut cream pie is his all-time favorite dessert. For his birthday each year, I let the HH choose any dessert on the planet and I will make it for him; among the Toffee Hazelnut Pound Cake, the Opera Cake, the Layered Mocha Mousse Cake and all the others over the past eleven years, the only repeat so far has been coconut cake. What could be better (or more romantic), then, than a baked good that’s both healthy and coconut-based?
As I mentioned in the first post of this Lucky Comestible series, avocados can be used as egg substitutes in baking. When I first learned of this option, I experimented with a huge variety of recipes, from cookies to cakes to muffins. In general, the avocado isn’t detectable if the other flavors in a recipe are fairly assertive to begin with (as in the aforementioned chocolate pâté), but in lighter bases (such as vanilla), you may sense a hint of the buttery green purée. In addition, the avocado will impart a touch of color to the final product (though strangely, it bakes up more yellow than green).
The result of my kitchen playtime was these muffins, a great combination of coconut and lemon. They’re extremely moist, both tart and sweet, and have become one of the HH’s favorites. When you mix up the batter, however, don’t be alarmed by the brilliant Day-Glo green color–the magical alchemy that is baking will transform it into a deep, rich, lemony yellow that is a perfect visual representation of the intense lemony flavor.
Next time you want to express your love toward the object of your affection, trying baking these. . . and then, who knows what type of romance might ensue?
I’m also submitting this recipe to A Fruit A Month, the event started by Maheswari of Beyond the Usual and this month hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes. This month’s focus is coconut. The roundup will be posted after June 30th, so head over to take a look after that!
Tropical Lemon-Coconut Muffins
Moist and filling, these are the perfect breakfast or snack. And because the avocado already contributes monounsaturated fats, these don’t require any added oil!
1/2 cup (125 ml.) avocado purée (may be previously frozen)
1/2 cup (125 ml.) agave nectar
juice of one lemon plus enough water (if necessary) to equal 1/4 cup (60 ml.) liquid
2 tsp. (10 ml.) fresh lemon zest (about one lemon)
3/4 cup (100 g.) whole barley flour
1/2 cup (65 g.) whole oat flour
1 tsp. (5 ml.) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) sea salt
1 cup (80 g.) shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C.). Line a 6-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, combine the avocado, agave nectar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix until smooth and evenly blended.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the coconut.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir quickly to blend (it will begin to fizz and bubble right away; this is as it should be; do not overmix, as this will result in flat muffins). Use an ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup (80 ml.) measuring cup to fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full (these don’t rise very much when baking, so the height of the muffins when raw is what they’ll look like when baked as well).
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Makes 6 large muffins. These freeze beautifully.
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[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]
Other posts in this series: