the home chef … on avocados

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By Harlene Deane
As a California native with a hass avocado tree in my backyard, it didn’t take long to learn when to pick and how to ripen and use these wonderful green, creamy gems. Now that they have dropped in price here in the Lowcountry, try these recipes.

Chilled Avocado Soup
• 3 ripe avocados, cut into chunks**
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Pour into serving bowls. Top with the Mango-and-Crab Garnish or just a dollop of sour cream and cilantro leaves. Serves 6.

Mango-and-Crab Garnish
• 1/2 pound lump crab
• 1/4 chopped white or vidalia onion
• 1/2 cup diced mango*
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon light olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Combine ingredients in a bowl; cover and chill. Makes 2 cups.
**Cut around the pit and twist halves until apart. Remove pit and with a soup spoon scoop out the flesh.
* Buy already peeled and sliced mangos in the produce section and just dice them.

California Avocado Pie
Crust:
• 5 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 1 tbsp granulated sugar
• pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350. Brush an 8-inch springform pan with some of the melted butter. Mix the remaining butter with graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in a bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
Filling:
• 2 medium hass avocados*
• 1 8-ounce pkg cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
• 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
• 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• pinch of salt
• Whipped cream or Cool Whip for garnish
Halve and pit the avocados, scoop out flesh and chop. Transfer to a bowl, add the cream cheese and beat with a mixer until smooth. Add condensed milk, lime and lemon juices, and salt and beat until fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. Pour filling into crust, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill at least four hours.
Serve: Remove the springform ring and slice. Garnish as desired and serve immediately. The top will start to brown as the pie sits.
*Hass avocados are the small ones. Don’t use Florida avocados that are larger with thinner skins and a light green color.