It has been ages since I made a dish like this. In fact, I am pretty confident it has been, at least, 30 years.
That means these avocado bowls have been sitting in my cupboard, unused, for 30 years. I can hardly believe it. They were a Christmas gift from my sister, Juanita, when avocado entrées were all the rage. They were used regularly, at the time, but had long since been forgotten.
I can still remember my first avocado. I was in Jammu in India. I asked the lady who sold it to me whether it was ripe because I had no idea. She assured me it was. There and then, I bit into it like a piece of fruit and thought, “yuk”. Notwithstanding this inauspicious beginning, avocados soon became a firm favourite. I embraced the avocado entrée idea but never made a cooked one. Mine were always served raw. In fact, I have only ever cooked avocado once before and that was a dinner I made for Maus’ mum and dad at about the same time.
Maus had told me that her mum liked chicken breasts and avocados and I was out to impress her mum. It was the very first time Maus’ parents came to our house for dinner. I decided to cook chicken breasts and avocado slices in a cream sauce. (What was I thinking?). Anyway, I was very young and an inexperienced cook. I had no idea that cream will curdle if you boil it and, if this happens, how to remedy it. So we had chicken with over-cooked avocado in a curdled cream sauce. I don’t think I achieved my wish of impressing Maus’ mum with my cooking expertise. Ever since, I have not been a fan of cooked avocado.
Given the above, it is a wonder I even looked twice at this recipe from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. But look I did, several times and then I caved in. “It will be a blast”, I thought. It certainly was.
Our plates were clean when we finished so it could not have been too bad but I don’t think the avocado dishes will be used, again, any time soon. Maybe it is time for them to go to the Op Shop. [Or maybe not. I just did a quick search. There are very few for sale and those that are are described as ‘vintage’. Maybe they are collectors’ items 🙂 I still have the full set.]
The recipe is for 3 avocados but I only did one (which was enough for Maus and me), along with some potato and a salad.
- 3 large avocados
- lemon juice
- 300 mils thick béchamel sauce*
- 2 heaped tbs** of grated cheddar
- 1 heaped tbs** of grated parmesan
- 3 tbs** double cream (I just used ordinary cream)
- 175g cooked prawns, peeled and deveined
- salt & pepper
- breadcrumbs and melted butter
*Here is Jane Grigson’s béchamel sauce recipe.
**These are 15 mil tablespoons.
- Halve the avocados and remove the stones.
- Enlarge the cavity, leaving about ½ cm of flesh.
- Brush lemon juice over the avocado halves to prevent discolouration.
- Cube the removed avocado flesh. Sprinkle it with lemon juice.
- Heat the béchamel sauce – do not boil.
- Add the cheeses to about ⅔ of the sauce. Set the balance of the sauce aside.
- Mix the cream with the prawns then add the avocado cubes and season with the salt and pepper.
- Add the cheese sauce. If the mixture is too thick, add some of the reserved béchamel sauce.
- Put the avocado halves in a baking dish.
- Divide the prawn mixture between the cavities, piling it up.
- Scatter some breadcrumbs and pour about a tablespoon of melted butter over each of them.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 200°C.
This month, the Cookbook Guru is showcasing Vegetable Book, by Jane Grigson.