Once again, the Annual Avocado Festival has come and gone and in the last couple of days I have enjoyed sharing the recipes entered in the cooking contest.
It never ceases to amaze me the creativity and ingenuity that goes into the creation of recipes entered in a cooking contest. Some recipes can be quite elaborate and others can be quite simple; I remember the entry that won Best of Show last fall at the Puna Liliko'i Festival's Cooking Contest that had only 3 ingredients, but...oh, my that was the best use of those three ingredients we had ever tasted!
Below I list the categories for the Avocado Contest and the guidelines the judges used to determine the winners in each of the categories for the Avocado (and also for the Mango) Festivals' Cooking Contests. This year, for the first time, there was a Vegan Category and Guacamole was taken off as a category and added to the Appetizers.
Photo above: Gift Basket filled with delicious goodies donated by ChoiceMart and Kealakekua Ranch Center in Captain Cook - Each first place category winner received a $25 certificate and the Best of Show winner received the basket.
The Categories were:
Appetizers (includes Guacamole)
Entrées (includes Soups & Salads that can serve as main dish)
Vegan (includes Apps, Entrées & Desserts)
The participants in a cooking contest should take time to read the instructions and rules of the particular contest carefully. Not all cooking contests follow the same criteria, and each contest might place importance on something completely different, so reading and understanding the particular rules and instructions is a must.
Regardless of how delicious a recipe might be, judges must follow strict guidelines when awarding points, thus sometimes, even if a particular dish merits high points for taste and originality, if it didn't use the main ingredient to best advantage or if the presentation or appearance is not the best, the dish might not garner enough points to win.
Criteria by which entries are judged:
Best use of Avocado
Appearance / Presentation of Dish
Originality of Recipe
The recipe that won the first prize in Appetizers at the 8th Annual Big Island Avocado Festival Cooking Contest was also the Best of Show Winner, garnering 58 of the possible 60 total points.
Deceptively simple presentation, but high on best use of avocado, taste and originality of recipe.
Aloha ‘Aina Caprese
Cynthia McCagh of Kealakekua
Note: All Ingredients are 100% Organic, Plant-based (Vegan), & Gluten Free. Additionally, all ingredients (except chickpea miso and olive oil) are sourced locally from Kona.
1 large avocado (Sky Island Ranch, Kealakekua)
1 heirloom Purple Cherokee tomato, sliced thick (Ramblin’ Row’s Farm, Captain Cook)
2 Tablespoons Cultured Macadamia Nut Cheeze (Ohana Farm Orchards, Captain Cook), *Recipe Below
2-3 Tablespoons African Basil Infused Olive Oil (Sky Island Ranch, Kealakekua), *Recipe Below
1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian Sea Salt (North Kona)
Slice avocado whole in 4-6 slices, depending on size,(¼”-½” thick) carefully removing skin and seed, maintaining structural integrity.
To layer: Start with avocado, followed by MacNut Cheeze, then tomato, and one final layer of avocado, forming a tower.
Finish with a nice drizzle of basil oil and a sprinkle of Hawaiian sea salt. Enjoy immediately.
Yield: 1-2 servings
Cultured MacNut Cheeze:
1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked overnight
1 Tablespoon chickpea miso paste
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Sky Island Ranch, Kealakekua)
1/2 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 Tablespoon mixed herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley), minced (optional) (Sky Island Ranch, Kealakekua)
Let nuts soak overnight in filtered water. Rinse and drain well. (Doing this activates their living enzymes making them more easily digestible and offering a higher nutritional content.)
Process all ingredients (except herbs) in food processor until well combined, scraping down sides as needed. Mixture should be smooth and airy.
Place in jar, cover with cheese cloth, turn upside down, and let sit overnight to drain any excess liquids.
When cheeze has reached desired texture (2-3 days)* remove from jar and mix in herbs (if using), serve immediately. Cheeze will get more dry as it sits, but is fine (and delicious!) if eaten immediately.
*Cheeze will get more dry as it sits, but is fine (and delicious!) if eaten immediately.
African Basil Infused Olive Oil
1 cup Basil, whole leaf
8 oz fine olive oil
Clean and dry basil completely. *Any excess moisture content in herbs promotes un-beneficial bacterial growth.
Combine olive oil and herbs in a tight-fitting glass jar and let sit in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 2 weeks to a maximum of 6 weeks. *Using your nose to detect any signs of rancidity, helps to ensure optimal freshness.
Strain and discard herbs, and serve.
Avocado Lime Compound Butter
Renn Giblin of Captain Cook
1 cup ripe avocado (approximately 1 large)
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic clove, fresh, minced
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dill
Hawaiian sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Peel and pit avocado. Place all ingredients into a bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Place mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a log or chill in a container to make butter curls once chilled. Refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours.
Once chilled, slice it, make butter curls or balls or simply use a spreader and serve with sliced baguette or as a pat melting on grilled fish, chicken, beef or even a baked potato.
Refrigerate up to 2 weeks for use
Yield: about 1 cup
Once again, I apologize for the photos but the dappled sunlight dancing over our tables was not conducive to good photo-quality lighting, even using a flash.
The 8th Annual Big Island Avocado Festival was held in the ocean front lawn of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa in Keauhou this past Saturday, April 5th, 2014.
Hawaii Avocado and Mango Festivals are sponsored by Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers-West Hawai’i and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.
The Mango Festival will be held on Saturday, July 26th at the same Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa location.
8th Annual Avocado Festival – Cooking Contest Recipes I
8th Annual Avocado Festival – Cooking Contest Recipes II
8th Annual Avocado Festival – Cooking Contest Recipes III