CACCAVELLA BELLA ~ Stuffed Pasta Divine


Spring is in the air....the air....the air.......Avocado laced, ridiculously rich, buttery, tarragonaceous bearnaise sauce; steamed, lemon-spritzed asparagus; handfuls of just-picked morels, those rare and elusive, nutty-sweet treasures that hide deep in the forest and exude earthy complexities .....all begging to sidle up to a perfectly BBQ'd, tender-juicy strip loin steak.  I love May!


It just all came together.  I couldn't figure out what to make to blog next, or even more pressing, I couldn't figure out what to make for dinner.  Then it happened.

My close friend Deb called to chat and didn't hesitate for even a second, when I said I was in a quandry on what to blog.  "Avocado bearnaise", she blurted, with feeling and a not-quite-silent 'mmmm'.  You'd like Deb, she's all heart and soul and fills any room she's in with easy, warm, soulful pleasure.  But more importantly, at this moment, she has really good suggestions too. 

Morels2About that same time Forest Grump walked in the door with an unusually mischievous grin, bursting with barely controlled excitement to show me what he found in the woods around our house. 


Right there on my kitchen counter, beside my beaming husband was a little heap of beautiful, mysterious morels.  You know, the very mushrooms that pop only in the spring, that hide so well, that the foraging of morels has become a world-wide obsession for those in the know of these highly prized, nutty-sweet, earthy treasures. 

That's how the best damn steak dinner we've had in a long time came to pass

We barbecued some tender striploins seasoned, Hawaiian-style, with just coarse sea salt and a scattering of dried red chile flakes and steamed some asparagus which I finished off with only a squeeze of fresh lemon.

I lightly tossed the beautiful morels in a bit of flour then gently sauteed them in sizzling butter, with a dusting of sea salt flakes and a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper.  That worked!

Avocado-bearnaise-2And then, taaa da da da!!! 

The cherry on top of this Spring feast was indubitably the Avocado Bearnaise. 

This sauce, this combination, is nothing short of seductive.  An edible ode to joy.  And eureka for me, and for you, it can be made ahead of time!  But, I had you at 'indubitably', didn't I?

Makes enough dollops for 4-6 servings.

1/2 cup vinegar
4 green onions, roughly cut into about 2 inch lengths
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
10 whole black peppercorns
4 egg yolks
1 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ripe medium-largish avocado, peeled, seeded, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine vinegar, green onions, tarragon and peppercorns in small pot or pan over high heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, gently boiling, uncovered until mixture is reduced by half.  Remove green onions and peppercorns from vinegar reduction.  Let cool.

Put yolks in stainless bowl over very gently simmering water. Whisk in 3-4 tablespoons of vinegar with the tarragon.  Slowly, gradually add the butter to the mixture whisking constantly until mixture is thick and creamy.  Remove from heat. 

Pour sauce into blender container with lemon juice, chopped avocado and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.  Buzz a few seconds until smooth and gorgeous.  Spoon into serving bowl or cover and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.  I think you'll agree with Deb....mmmmm.