For the last few days, you may have heard us talking about the big Avocado Takedown that took place yesterday at the Bootleg Theater. We have been knee deep in avocados over the last few days, and we can thank the folks at Avocados from Mexico and Matt Timms of the Chili Takedown for that. Matt’s name may be new to you, but he’s been taking the East coast and other cities by storm with his local cooking competitions that always find themselves centered around one special ingredient. Call it Iron Chef for the people, if you will. This was his first Takedown in Los Angeles, and he had the illustrious avocados of Mexico as the weapon of choice for all participants. About three weeks ago, we signed up for the event, and of course, we started racking our brains for a submission idea. Little did we know, this contest would take on a life of its own.
We pushed around a few ideas–fried avocado gelato, avocado cheesecake bars, avocado deviled eggs, avocado granola bars. Admittedly, most if not all of them, were pretty terrible. The only one that stuck was a savory avocado BLT sandwich cookie of some sort. We would use bacon, arugula and sun-dried tomatoes to satisfy the BLT components, respectively. The avocado would be blended into a creamy filling between the two layers. We had no idea how it would come together, but we would figure that out closer to the event date. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and it’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon. An email pops up with an offer for us to share our entry idea on KTLA with Matt Timms and another contestant. It was a great opportunity, but we didn’t even have a finished product. Nor had we tested our idea yet! Of course we said sure to being on KTLA, and we set about working on the recipe. Amir whipped up sun-dried tomato and bacon crackers, while I made sun-dried tomato and bacon whoopie pies, along with the avocado cream filling. I drove to Amir’s job one evening, and we sat in the company kitchen tasting the two versions of this cookie sandwich and offering bites to passersby. It was decided the softer whoopie pie was a much better choice, and we both went home to make more for the Thursday morning TV appearance.
Waking up at 5:00 am to be on TV is rough when you’ve stayed up late making whoopie pies. I arrived at the KTLA studio with a few goodies in tow as instructed by the PR and food styling team–completed dish and raw ingredients separated into small containers. As I walked through the parking lot, I saw tables set up, along with a few people arranging the set and preparing food. We were going to do the segment outside, so there was an area carpeted with grass where the cameras would catch us in action. I met Cindie Flannigan from the Food Fanatics who introduced me to her great assistant Tiffany. They were going to make our creations look nice for the camera. Amir arrived with the rest of our materials, and we set up our savory whoopie pies. Next to us, a new friend named Mike got his avocado ice cream scooped into tall glasses with clouds of pomegranate whipped cream on top. With the table set, and cues from the production team, we hopped into place alongside Matt and did the quick-as-a-flash segment.
We left that Thursday morning with a crate of 48 luxuriously green avocados provided by Avocados from Mexico. This is not a paid advertisement, trust us. It must be said that these are some of the best avocados out there. They were all perfectly green and ripe. No funky brown or black spots in any of them, and each one was ready for eating! No need to wait for them to ripen before using. They were also very creamy, which was great for our filling. The segment was only three days before the competition, so with dozens of avocados in hand, we decided to make a few changes to our final dish before Sunday. We would make them smaller, allowing people to eat them in one or two bites. We would also bump up the bacon flavor. We would need enough of these guys to feed at least 200 people, which mean a minimum of 400 mini whoopie pies. That’s a lot of whoopie pies! I woke up earlier than usual to start baking the whoopie pies. Amir was at home blending up tons of avocados. We met at the theater and started putting the sandwiches together.
Our whoopie pies did not take home any of the top prizes, but we did get a nod for honorable mention from the judges–The Guerilla Gourmet and Eric Boardman. Check out the full list of winners here, one of whom is our new friend Mike with his avocado ice cream. Even without a prize, we know folks enjoyed our whoopie pies either from the amount they piled on their plates, the number of times they returned to taste them again or perhaps even the expletives that came out of their mouths upon first bite. For that, we say thanks! The entire afternoon was about having a good time, and we did. We also crossed paths with Abby, Catalina, and Anna, while also putting a face to the Twitter names or email addresses of people we’ve been chatting with lately with Avocados from Mexico. We definitely have to give a big thank you to Matt Timms of course, Avocados from Mexico for sponsoring the event and Karen from CRT/tanaka for all of her help coordinating the afternoon and preliminary events leading up to it.
There were a few people at the event who were wondering how to make the savory whoopie pies at home. Well, as we usually do, we’ll share the recipe with you. Until the next Takedown!
Mini BLTA Whoopie Pies – 1 dozen large or 24 mini pies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces buttermilk
5 strips bacon, cooked and finely chopped
4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes*
1 cup arugula
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and continue mixing.
2. While the wet ingredients are going, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and pepper. Slowly shake the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
3. Fold in the bacon and sun-dried tomatoes and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until browned. Cool completely.
4. Once cooled, spread the filling on one cake, place a few arugula leaves on top, then top with another cake.
1 avocado, pitted and flesh removed
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 avocado, pitted and finely chopped
Put everything except the chopped avocado into a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape all of the filling into a bowl and stir in the remaining chopped avocado. Cover and chill until ready to use.
*You can use either the dry ones or tomatoes packed in oil. If they are packed in oil, drain them very well. You can set a few in a colander over a bowl, cover and sit in the fridge overnight. By the morning, most of the oil will have dropped into the bowl below. Then you can chop and use as desired.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.
Other recipes you may enjoy...
Bertolli Shows Us Los Angeles’ Italian Flair
Alexia Foods “Reinvent a Classic”: Trial 3
Blogging While Brown 2011
Q & A With Top Chef’s Tiffany Derry
Hands On Cooking With Dole Foods