Tony is all about food. His ongoing food events and special projects have been featured in the press. To learn more, you can view his gallery, read his blog, or simply contact him directly.

Archive for the ‘avocado’ Tag

Inspiration, planted on my deck

As a blogger, I spend a substantial amount of time perusing other people’s blogs.  Being that I blog about food, I confess that I frequent the token food porn sites on occasion (read: tastespotting).  Who can resist?! Perfect scoops of ice cream,  decadent cakes, oh my!  This weekend, however, I did – I resisted.  I stepped away from my computer and celebrated the 4th of July with the rest of America.  

Italy planted on my deck
basil plant

Once the 4th was over, I decided to continue enjoying the rest of my patriotic weekend outdoors.  In fact, just the other day Peter, at Kalofagas, posted an entry that showcased his garden and the stunning array of herbs that he has at his disposal.  Not only him, but Todd and Diane (aka White on Rice Couple) also have an outrageous garden that I swear has more fruits and veggies than my local farmer’s market. Drawing inspiration from two of my favorite bloggers, I decided that this weekend I would start my very own garden. And without even signing on to my computer, I set out to buy my new plants.

the newest member of the family: upright rosemary
upright rosemary

OK, so I don’t have a full garden just yet, but I did start my mini-paradise with some sweet basil and upright rosemary.  I’m not sure if using chemical plant food is absolutely necessary (or actually good for the plants), but the staff member at Home Depot convinced me that the plants wouldn’t survive without it. So if anyone has any opinions about this stuff, I’d love to know. 

freshly plucked
basil leaves

The fragrance that was coming from the herbs was intoxicating.  Immediately after I finished my little project, my stomach was craving for some attention of its own.  Since this was the 4th of July weekend, I had extra hot dogs sitting in my fridge that were screaming my name.  And yes, I do eat hot dogs!  Or at least doctored-up hot dogs…

mise en place
mise en place

I gently plucked a few leaves off my new basil plant and went straight to the kitchen. I chopped up some onions, tomatoes, a clove of garlic and a spotty avocado I had laying on the counter. Everything came together with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil a tiny bit of lemon juice.  Some grated mozzarella completed the production and made for some killer dogs!

basil avocado relish on hot dogs
mise en place

Basil Avocado Relish

(yields approx. 1 1/2 cups)


  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 hass avocado
  • 6-7 leaves of basil, rough chop
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Toss all the ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Enjoy all summer long over hot dogs, in sandwiches or even as a dip for chips.


It’s no guac, but who cares?

Living in the godforsaken Ithaca tundra, I realized that despite how bad the weather is, there are always things to look forward to. In the spring, for instance, it’s regaining the sensation in my fingertips and the opening day at the farmer’s market. Last Saturday, the latter of the two was realized. The weather is still too cold for my liking; but a 40-degree high is certainly appreciated after such a brutal winter.
Luckily, the rest of America is right on schedule with the commencement of spring and so I was excited to find ripe avocados calling my name at the store last week. After poking all of them to pick the ripest out of the bunch (don’t judge, I know you do it too) I bought 4; I used the first one to shoot the Avocado Milkshake Video, and the rest to experiment on an Avocado Pesto I dreamt up recently. Believe me, just like the milkshake, it’s a lot tastier than it sounds.

mise en place

The ingredients are similar to a regular pesto, but with minor alterations. The bulk of the greenness now comes from the avocado while the basil is merely a supporting actor in the whole production (I didn’t have the heart to exclude it). Then I decided to add lemon juice for zing and milk for a creamy touch.
No, the sauce will not curdle because the natural fats in the avocado help keep everything together (clever, huh?).

the spoon test

After processing everything together you’ll have a super thick sauce. No panicking is necessary as you’re only a couple steps away from pesto heaven at this point. The sauce will later be brought to consistency with pasta water, so just remember to reserve a cup before draining it.

vibrant green color

One of my favorite components of this dish is the vibrant forest-green color that the spinach takes on after sautéing. Of course, I keep it Italian by throwing in some toasted pine nuts. And if you don’t dig spinach, you can substitute arugula for a more peppery flavor that works out just fine (especially if you’re a big fan of arugula, as I am).

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of the cooking water and toss the pasta with the sautéed spinach and sauce. You’ll notice that the sauce is still very thick and this is completely normal. Incorporate the pasta water a little at a time until you reach the perfect consistency you’re looking for.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Avocado Pesto Pasta

(yields approx. 4-6 servings)


  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1 hass avocado
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 10-12 leaves of basil
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
  • 2 tbsp. + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 oz. pine nuts, toasted (approx ½ cup)
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. In a large pot, cook pasta to specifications as directed on the package and set aside a cup of the cooking water.
  2. Blend the avocado, milk, basil, Parmigiano, 2 tbsp. olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and ¼ of the pine nuts until smooth to make the sauce.
  3. Using the remaining olive oil, sauté the spinach and the pine nuts just until the spinach wilts and turns a vibrant green.
  4. Toss the cooked pasta, sauce and sautéed spinach together and add a little of the cooking water at a time until you reach the consistency you like.
  5. Serve with some extra Parmigiano shredded on top


Avocado Milkshakes

Earlier this week HoneyB, from The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch, presented me with my first blog award! Now it has fallen upon me to pass the torch along to some of my favorite food bloggers.

use real butter – This colorful blog showcases gorgeous step-by-step photos that always entice me to make the featured recipes. Jen has perfected the highly sought-after art of making cooking appear effortless and displays her talent in each entry.

Food Beam – “Lovin’ the beam” was the subject of the first e-mail I sent to Fanny of Foodbeam. This classy and fun chronicle on French cuisine offers a fresh perspective on classic dishes with the perfect, sassy food commentary on the side!

Orangette – A highly addictive food blog that “reads like fiction.” Each entry offers an escape out of the ordinary and into the world of magical foodism. Her artful pictures will draw you in and her witty banter will keep you reading all night!

Mad Baker – This was the very first blog I came across after joining the mystical world of food blogging. Karen showcases her creations as pieces of art in each of her entries that she is Mad About!

La Tartine Gourmand – A meticulous depiction of fabulous food! Bèa has a masterful eye for design and a fine-tuned palate to match. Her entries are highly entertaining and always a joy to read.

The avocado milkshakes featured in the video are a breeze to make at home and always bring intrigue into the kitchen. Also, the recipe I’ve included is extremely flexible and you can pretty much adjust the quantity of any of the ingredients to fit your tastes.

Avocado Milkshakes

(yields approx. 4 servings)


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Putting them all together

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust for sweetness and texture by adding more sugar or milk.
  3. Serve chilled.