Recently, Ardi and I decided to throw fiscal caution to the wind and spend three nights and two days in Disneyland. Not just a couple of days visiting the park. This was the total immersion tour with rooms at the Grand Californian and dinner at Disney’s finest restaurants.
The fact that Disneyland even has “finest restaurants” shows the evolution of theme parks and the public’s increasingly refined tastes.
Growing up in Dallas, we had Six Flags Over Texas, which was, in our opinion, the Ninth Wonder of the World, just behind the Gemini Twin Screen Drive-in Theater.
In those days, the only dining option at Six Flags was the world’s largest Kentucky Fried Chicken “restaurant.” There, your fried chicken was accompanied by mashed potatoes, cole slaw and a slice of white bread.
Flash forward to the amusement park of the 21st century and you’ll be served nut-crusted halibut with blood orange beurre blanc, blackened salmon over seafood risotto, prime rib and racks of lamb.
All was properly seasoned and cooked, artfully presented, and approaching criminally expensive.
Of course, it wasn’t like the food we had a few weeks earlier on our pilgrimage to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. But considering their unique circumstance of serving tens of thousands of people with their global likes and dislikes, they did a pretty fine job in The Magic Kingdom.
My only real gripe with Disney was the lack of effort to offer healthier options. With the exception of The Blue Bayou’s vegetarian dish of portabella mushrooms and Israeli coucous ($21), the menus at all the restaurants had you eating like there was no tomorrow.
To their credit, they did provide fresh fruit at a few stands throughout the park. An apple, two bananas and an orange cost $8.50, but the quality was exceptional. The orange was the size of your head, and the apple was so perfect in appearance you could see how Snow White fell for it.
So perhaps today’s recipe is a knee-jerk reaction to coming from the land of the Corn Dog Castle and deep-fried ham-and-cheese sandwiches. Although it is high in saturated fat from the coconut, this lime-and-avocado pie is full of beneficial fat from the avocado. It has no flour, refined sugar or cholesterol, and if you substituted agave nectar for the honey, it would satisfy vegans.
As with anything that involves avocados, discoloring is a concern. If you make the pie the day before serving, you will be fine. Anything after 24 hours should be frozen, then allowed to thaw a little before serving. Of course, you can make the pie and freeze it immediately to be brought out when needed.
Also, the recipe calls for large avocados. If you don’t have big ones, up the number to three medium or four small ones. And taste the mixture before pouring it into the crust. Some limes are sweeter than others. If it needs a little sweetening, add a little more Truvia.
Give it a try. It’s a rich and decadent dessert you don’t have “to die for.”
Fresh Lime and Avocado Pie
For the crust:
1 cup pecans
½ cup raisins
8 large dates, pitted
7- to 8-inch spring-form pan
For the filling:
2 cans Thai Kitchen unsweetened coconut milk*
2 large, ripe avocados
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Truvia sugar substitute
1 ½ tablespoons lime zest
Juice from 2 limes
Pinch of salt
A day or two before you make the pie, place the two cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator, right side up. This allows the cream to separate from the water and solidify, making it easier to access.
For the crust, place all of the crust ingredients in a food processor and grind to a course, crumbly dough. Press into the spring form, sculpting it a little way up the side.
For the filling, gently turn the cans of coconut milk upside-down, open the bottom of the can and pour off the water into a container to save for a later use. (We use it to make rice.) Using a rubber spatula, scrape the solid coconut cream into the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients for the filling and process to a smooth consistency. Taste for sweetness, then pour into the prepared crust. Refrigerate or freeze.
To unmold the pie, run a small paring knife around the outside, reaching all the way to the base before releasing the spring form. Remove the collar and cut the pie in half using a warm, dry knife. Carefully run the knife under the crust to release it from the bottom. Cut into desired size using a warm, dry knife.
* We have used a few brands of coconut milk when we make this, and have found Thai Kitchen to have the purest, firmest coconut cream — essential to the filling setting up properly. Most grocery stores carry it.
Brian Shaw is chef/owner at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City.