Tuesday, January 8, 2019

South of the Border, Southern Style Cooking

Today on Tonia's Kitchen, we're talking about Southern Latin-Style cooking...a different kind of fusion that combines the spice of South-of-the-Border dishes with the sauciness of American Southern cooking. And the chef who's doing the combining, stopped by to talk about some of her favorite.  Sandra Gutierrez told Tonia about her  Chilled Avocado-Buttermilk Soup with Crab Salad Nachos.  This is a classic soup with a twist: refreshing, smooth, and sinfully delicious. Every spoonful is like a collision of textures in which buttery liquid meets crunchy chips and tender seafood. Sherry imparts depth of flavor; cayenne lends subtle spiciness that lingers on the tongue. The lime juice seasons this soup lightly without overpowering the flavor of the avocados. Chileans serve palta reina, an avocado filled with creamy salad (most often chicken or seafood), as a first course, and Sandra says she couldn't resist transforming this combination of ingredients into an enticing soup that is as easy to make as it is impressive to serve. For a stunning presentation, serve this soup well chilled in glasses.

For the soup

2 Hass avocados
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup buttermilk
1//4 cup dry sherry
1//4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1//2 tablespoons lime juice, or to taste

For the crab salad

1 cup crabmeat (claw meat only), picked for shell fragments
1//4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced white onion
2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the nachos
8 corn tortillas, quartered
1//2 cup vegetable oil

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a blender. Add the chicken broth, buttermilk, sherry, onions, and garlic; blend until smooth. Transfer the avocado soup to a nonreactive bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and lime juice; cover well with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 6 hours).

Make the crab salad: in a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, mayonnaise, lime juice, onions, and parsley, being careful not to break up the crab meat; add the cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Chill the salad until ready to serve.

Fry the tortilla chips: Fit a baking sheet with a metal cooling rack. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 360˚. Working in batches, carefully add the tortilla pieces to the oil. Fry them, turning halfway through, until golden and crispy on both sides (2-3 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried chips to the prepared cooling rack; sprinkle with salt.

To plate: ladle the soup into chilled bowls. Top each tortilla chip with crab salad and float one in every soup bowl; serve the rest on a platter. Serve immediately.