Thursday, January 22, 2009

CSA week six - Broiled canistel with avocado mayonaise

If you've been searching for a palatable canistel dish don't get your hopes up too high here as this is more of a science experiment than an actual recipe. If you have been searching you've probably came across the serving suggestion of canistel with salt, pepper, lemon and mayonnaise. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds entirely appalling. And yet I didn't have any better ideas and it's not like it's going to waste a lot of other perfectly good ingredients so I thought I'd see what I could do with it.

Another experimental element today is pictures taken with the proper camera I've finally bought. I rather expect picture quality to get worse for a while until I figure out what I'm doing with the thing.

Let's start with the avocado mayo. There are a fair number of avocado mayonnaise recipes out there but they generally fall into two categories, either glorified avocado purees or standard mayonnaise with some avocado blended in. What I'm doing here instead is using the fat in the avocado to substitute for the vegetable oil in a standard mayonnaise recipe. I don't usually go to science blogs for my recipes, but that's where you'll find this one; it's from a blog called Adventures in Ethics and Science.

I whisked an egg with the juice of one lemon and some Dijon mustard to act as an emulsifier. Then I blended that with half of a Monroe avocado. The result was too thin and tasted mostly of mustard and lemon so I added another quarter avocado and gave it a full minute in the food processor. Now it's got the right creamy texture and is starting to take on that distinctive light tanginess of actual mayonnaise mixed with the avocado flavor. Not bad at all, but I'll have to make some tuna salad to make a really fair judgment. There's still a bit more mustard flavor than I'd like, though, so next time I'll have to use a chemical emulsifier instead.

Step two is the canistel. Beyond soups and pies the only cooking instructions I found for canistel were to "lightly bake". I have no idea what that means. I decided to broil it instead to a) see if it would melt, catch on fire, explode or what and b) see how it tastes with a bit of browning.

I cut my two canistels in half, pried out the seeds, scooped out the seed pods, sprinkled them with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzled with a little olive oil. Since I'm experimenting here I thought I'd try some additional flavors. The canistel soup recipe we got in the newsletter is flavored with Chipotle adobo sauce which I happen to have handy so I spread a little of that on one canistel half; The second I brushed with a jerk marinade; The third with a tamarind chili sauce; and the fourth I left plain as a control.

I neglected to time how long they spent under the broiler. I just waited until they started smelling cooked and the sauces had dried into glazes. They didn't brown as well as I had hoped but the bits that did got crispy and caramelized so they're going closer to the heating element if I do this again.

The broiled casinstel didn't do anything alarming to my disappointment. It firmed up and dried out to a texture somewhere between russet potato, winter squash and Play-Doh. It was better than that makes it sound and it sure beats the gritty pudding texture it has raw. On the other hand, it definitely needed the mayo to moisten. Interestingly, the peel, which you wouldn't want to eat raw, is of a piece with the flesh cooked so there was no point in not eating it whole. The flavor has become milder, losing the sickly sweetness and now isn't too far off from a yam. The avocado mayo is a nice accompaniment. Probably better than real mayo I think.

As for the sauces:
The adobo pairs nicely with the canistel and goes with the avocado mayo too.
The jerk not so much.
The tamarind chili sauce is pretty similar to the adobo and works well with the canistel but clashes a bit with the avocado mayo.
The plain needed something so I added some Pickapeppa sauce. The fruity tanginess marries with the canistel and isn't bad with the mayo, but it feels incomplete. I think it needs meat. But that's usually my reaction to Pickapeppa sauce. I think there's the start of a full dish there that I'll work on if I get more canistel.

So, overall I've had better dinners, but that could have gone a lot worse. If you're at a loss as to what to do with your canistels and/or avocados, it's worth a try.


Karen said...

Thanks for the very inventive science experiment, and the pictures look good too! Never thought of avocado mayo - good idea. But my real question: How soft were your canistels when you did this?

I've been planning on substituting mine for sweet potatoes in a usually wonderful SwP Pecan Pie recipe, but my canistels are gooey soft and KILLER sweet, so now I'm wondering if broiling them might bring them back toward the firmer/less sweet neighborhood of a baked/mashed sweet potato. Welcome your thought on that.

billjac said...

Oh, my canistels were very ripe and very gooey indeed when I started. Cooking made them set-up like a cheese cake and greatly cut their sweetness.

It's a gamble, but I would think just the baking process will likely make a canistel pie more palatable without any pre-cooking. To be honest, my canistels were over-cooked and needed the moistness of the mayonnaise to be edible; I wouldn't wish that on a pie.

One concern is if your pie recipe includes a layer of caramel on top that would seal in the moisture and keep the canistel filling from firming up. Then you'd want to get the canistels to a better texture first before baking.

LaDivaCucina said...

The new camera was a great investment the photos look great! Also, love the avacado mayo recipe....

PS: my canistel is STILL not ripe!

Karen said...

Thanks, I'll let you know if it works. Pie bottom layer is mashed SwP (or now will be canistel) plus brown sugar (! - might decrease that), butter, egg, cream, vanilla, spices. Topped with the usual pecan pie mix of corn syrup, eggs, more sugar, more butter, pecans. How bad can it be, with all that? A diet delight, as any traditional pie is. I'll have ice cream standing by, to save the day if necessary.

LaDivaCucina said...

I want some!

Karen said...

Pie wrap up - texture-wise, no problem, but it's sweeter than the SwP version. Got a "really good" from the 17 yr old boy and a "too sweet" from the 12 yr old girl, plus an "OK" from the dad who didn't care for the original either. To me -- it's really way too sweet, probably won't advise this substitution. We don't many of us have the metabolisms of 17 yr old boys.

kat said...

Wow, quite the experiment. I had to even go look canistel up

billjac said...

Karen, did you pre-cook the canistel? Your recipe has the top layer I was worried would keep the insulate the canistel from whatever chemical changes tempered its flavor and texture. Just reducing the brown sugar might do the trick too. OK, now I want to try it to see how those adjustments work out.

Hmm, now I'm also wondering how black sapote would do in approximating a chocolate cream pie...

Karen said...

I didn't pre-cook, but the pie bakes for an hour and 45 minutes and got thoroughly cooked through - no problem from the topping, I think. Interestingly, today the flavors are mellowed out and the sharp too-sweetness is gone. Today it's pretty darn good, better than the SwP version.

I'm thinking of next trying canistel in place of banana in some banana-chocolate chip coffee cake, since I think they're close to equally sweet and texturally similar. I've still got another whole canistel, plus 3 in the freezer from last year when I couldn't figure out what to do with them!

Re: the black sapote - I made a "chocolate" granita with the ones we got a few weeks ago, added a good bit of cocoa plus coconut milk, simple syrup and some honey, but after all that my neighbor kindly asked if the base was prunes. It may look chocolate, but the taste is very fruity!

billjac said...

Canistels mellow with age after cooking; that's really useful information!

As for the black sapote, I found that coconut milk and honey brought out the fruitier notes. If I really wanted to fool people into thinking it was chocolate I'd pair it with coffee or pastry and/or spices.

Also, I'd be a little cautious replacing banana with either of them. The textural similarity isn't quite exact. Bananas lack that underlayer of starchiness canistels and sapotes have. And canistels and sapotes lack the goopiness that let them substitute for eggs in holding quick breads together. It's a guess, since I haven't tried it, but I think your coffee cake is going to turn out extra crumbly.

nurul said...

Very interesting food blog. I'll be looking by regularly. First time I've seen canistels cooked. Maybe I'll try it...