Tag Archives: mango

Crab Stacks with Ginger Lime Dressing

If the end of January is approaching then I know I can expect a variety of things:  emails from sites I subscribe to sharing the perfect Super Bowl snacks, bloggers swapping their tried and true party dish faves, and people talking about whether they’re planning on a game day get together or not.  None of it has been discussed in our house yet, because we’ve been busy, busy, busy with life enjoying a long weekend making like tourists in West Hollywood, soaking up the last bits of our youngest’s company before he returns to San Francisco for the spring semester, celebrating family birthdays and anniversaries, and in the past couple of days, nursing one of our cats back to health after a run in with a neighbor’s kitty.  Goodness!  And it’s not over yet.  Any time now, my husband will ask about what’s on our  Super Bowl agenda.  It always seems to be a last minute sort of thing most years, and that’s just fine with me because it doesn’t take too much thought to decide which snacks football fans will expect to have at their fingertips whether they’re for our small family, or a larger group.

I doubt there has ever been a time we haven’t had fresh salsa or pico de gallo with guacamole and tortilla chips.  A pot of chili with all the fixin’s and a salad for halftime eats are also the norm even though the chili recipe varies from one year to the next.  But I’m also known for sneaking in something that may raise eyebrows, causing certain guests to cast one another a nervous glance before pointing and asking, “What is that?” then politely suppressing the urge to continue with, “Do I have to eat it?”  as they reel their fingers back in.  Actually, they now ask, “How do I eat it?” because it seems my food often has rules that accompany it — or must seem like it does.   Is it supposed to be dipped, or layered?  Which of the ingredients on the plate create the best bite?  Is it finger food, or do I need a plate and fork?  To their credit, they seem much more enthusiastic than they did years ago, so I know my risks to encourage people to try something new haven’t failed, and that makes me happy.

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Maple Mousse in a Phyllo Nest with Strawberry and Mango Sauce and a Maple Balsamic Reduction

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After all the years I’ve spent experimenting with recipes I feel I’ve got a decent grasp of which flavors work together, but tend to be a traditionalist — especially in the savory department.  Cilantro goes with onion, tomatoes, spicy peppers, and citrus.  Basil goes with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil.  Bell peppers go with celery and onions.  Once in a while, I’ll play around with one of the combinations, but not often.

I scan the ingredient list of an accomplished chef’s recipe and think, really? wondering where their inspiration comes from.  I dissect it with my own familiarity of and opinion about each flavor in an attempt to understand how one works with the other, but know that my simple lack of experience is my biggest obstacle.  It’s a slow process, but it works if I’m in the mood to tackle one of the often complicated recipes.   Again — not very often.  And even when I do, the experience is rarely if ever repeated, so my ability to grow knowledge beyond my traditional ingredient choices peters out.  Well, except for that dense, rich, dark chocolate tart I’ve made a few times with cayenne and chipotles in adobo.  But still.

A good example of my semi lack of awareness would be with maple syrup.  It makes me think of breakfast:  bacon or ham, eggs, hash browns.  I think of Fall for some reason because I think of apples.  Apples + maple syrup + walnuts = great with a German pancake.  Chalk this up to someone who grew up about as far as one can get from maple trees and their accompanying “sugaring-off” season which occurs as winter’s cold temperatures wane into spring.  Sasha Chapman’s article “The Sweet Life:  Maple Syrup Season in Quebec” published this past March in Saveur magazine provided an excellent foundation to restructure my thinking about maple flavored anything — authentically, of course.  I was drawn into Chapman’s nostalgic description of how Canadians gather in the “sugar shack” and work within the family to make syrup, waiting for that first taste of the season.

Why use maple syrup as an example to explain my not so edge-cutting ingredient combining ability?  Because it’s what the Daring Bakers were challenged with this month.  Color me surprised.  The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I had to do a bit of reading to get my head out of my maple syrup rut and consider what flavors might work with a mousse.

It’s spring…

There are berries everywhere…

…and mangoes.

Resisting the addition of a chiffonade of basil, a piquant maple balsamic vinegar reduction was added, and voila.

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Towering Coconut Mango Cake

6-Layer Coconut Mango Cake

It’s been a longer week than I care to think about with life’s semi-usual highs and lows and in this case, I’d say they were one in the same.  Dealing with bronchitis has kept me out of the kitchen and away from food, so I’ve gotten a break of sorts.  Some break.  But it has allowed me to stay put and finally move my blog to where you’re reading right now.  After much trial and error I was finally able to export the files at my old TypePad site, have them split, then imported here.

I’m nearly almost sort of maybe possibly feeling a bit techish over this.  But only a smidgen.

Each time I do something like this I learn so much:  more about technology, and far more about what my patience can tolerate.  Not once did I throw anything.

So I think cake is in order, don’t you?  A sky high cake layered with creamy tropical flavor and an incredibly moist crumb all slathered in whipped cream and sprinkled with coconut.   But before we get to the cake, can I ask a favor?  Please look to the right sidebar and sign up for a feed.  You can choose to receive my food talk either by reader or email which allows you to enjoy it when it suits you best.

Mmm…cake.  If you’ve been searching for a dessert recipe for a special occasion this Spring, this would be it.

This is a six-layer cake inspired by pastry chef Cynthia Wong’s beauty featured in Food & Wine’s “Last Bite.

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Trio of Tropical Sorbets

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My Cuisinart ice cream maker has gotten a fairly good workout since I purchased it last year.  I thankfully have two bowls, and keep them well-wrapped in the freezer in our garage for those times when I want to add that little extra effort when people come to dinner.  It’s that whole, "You made it yourself?" cry of disbelief that makes me smile while I watch them licking their bowls at the end of a nice evening. 

The funny thing is, I’ve never made anything but ice cream with my Cuisinart.  How perfect that Laura from Eat Drink Live, the hostess of HHDD #13 has challenged all of us to make sorbet.  Sure, I think I know what that is.  Or is it gelato I’m thinking of?  Regardless, it couldn’t possibly be that difficult, right?  Sheesh!

I’ll skip past the whole educational aspect of this post.  Not yours, of course.  Mine.  Do I really know what the difference between ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and gelato is?  Nope.  I know more than when I started this escapade, but if asked, I’m not sure what my response would be other than that ice cream has a much higher fat content than any of the others.  Sorbet is more fruity than sherbet.  Gelato?  I’ll save that one for another day.

In my quest to learn as much as I could before choosing the perfect sorbet to make,  I looked at many recipes found in cookbooks I own, magazines that feature sorbet recipes in the summertime, and on line, of course.  Oh…and the trusty little booklet I got when I purchased the Cuisinart.  Why not?

But what flavor might I choose?  I was distracted for a while by a champagne sorbet, but kept eyeing my fruit bowl that had a gorgeous mango sitting in it.  And bananas.  And a pineapple.

Did I make it easy and find a straight forward recipe to get this done.  Of course not.  I chose three.  Yes.  Call it over kill.  Call it having eyeballs that are completely and always too big for my own good.  Call it whatever you want.  I’m sure I’ll never change my ways because in the end, I always benefit from what I’ve tackled.  Yes, even with something as basic as a sorbet.  Besides, I have these very cute little aluminum molds I wanted to play with.  I imagined cute little stars of sorbet to celebrate the 4th of July.  Someone would surely deem me worthy of being Martha-ized, wouldn’t they?Img_2622

All I needed to do to pull this off was to freeze a bit of each sorbet in the star molds, encasing each in its own baggie  to keep it from  drying out.  Let’s see, how many  people were supposed to be attending that dinner party I’d volunteered my dessert for?  Hmmmm….well, maybe only a few stars just for decoration. 

Up first:  Fresh Mango Sorbet

Okay, so I forgot that Laura had already posted a completely lovely sorbet to announce the event.  How completely lame can I be?  Obviously, extremely.  But remember, I had mangos on the brain — er, ah, on my counter.  Plus the recipe in the Cuisinart booklet sounded perfect.  Well, except the corn syrup.

4 ripe but firm mangoes, about 12 ounces each, peeled, pitted, and cubed
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. corn syrup
6 T fresh lemon or lime juice

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Combine the mango cubes, sugar, corn syrup and citrus juice in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse to chop, then process until thick and smooth, scraping jar or work bowl as needed with a spatula.  The mango puree may be made up to one day ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Turn the machine ON, pour mango puree into freezer b owl through ingredient spout and mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.

This recipe was extremely easy.  I used two very large mangos instead of four, and sliced off the pieces instead of cutting cubes, as the ripeness would have caused quite a mess.  Plus, I’ve tried that cubing business a few times with mangoes, and am quite lousy at it.  Avocados?  I’ve got that down.  Avocado sorbet?  Ugh!  Never mind…  The consistency of the mango sorbet was truly perfect.  The color intense, and the flavor excellent.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t too sweet.  It was perfect!

I scraped the sorbet from the freezer bowl into a container to pop into the freezer and retrieved the second freezer bowl for my next flavor.

Up second:  Banana Pineapple Tropical Sorbet

I was truly excited about this recipe.  I found it at cdkitchen.  The recipe calls for a rather elaborate treatment of the pineapple so the sorbet may be served in it, but the directions sent my brain into convulsions almost instantly.  You might want to take a peek, but proceed with caution. Img_2538

This recipe seemed more healthy than the last, lacking the corn syrup, and the addition of yogurt sounded very good.  With only 3 tablespoons of added sugar, this would be interesting compared to the mango sorbet.

1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
2 bananas, chopped
2 T sugar
1 c. plain nonfat yogurt
1 T honey

Puree pineapple flesh and juice (left over from chopping) in food processor, gradually adding the sugar, yogurt and honey.  Transfer to ice cream maker and process according to directions (about 25-30 min).  Scoop sorbet into container and place in freezer until ready to use.

Hmmm…this was not very sweet.  And the consistency after the mango sorbet was not as elegant.  The texture was grainy, almost reminding me of a snow cone — especially after being in the freezer for a while.  I was surprised to find that neither the pineapple or the banana flavor stood out.

Last, but not least:  Quick Coconut Sorbet

Since I was already headed down the tropical path, I decided that coconut would be a perfect way to finish off my trio of sorbets.  This recipe comes from the on-line version of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  I quickly understood why this sorbet was tagged "quick."

1 c. coconut cream, such as Coco Lopez
1 c. cold water
few drops of almond extract

Warm opened can of coconut cream in pan of hot water.  Pour into bowl and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in water.  Add extract.  Process in an ice cream maker the freeze until firm.

You do know that if you are a coconut lover, the flavor of this is divine simply because of the  coconut cream, right?  I had huge doubts that this very simple recipe would amount to much and was nearly correct.  Because I only had two freezer bowls for my Cuisinart (why would I EVER need three?) I had thrown the first one back in the freezer immediately believing that it would quickly freeze again and be ready for the last sorbet.  All seemed well.  I’m thinking that warming the coconut cream  (because if you don’t the fat separates from the liquid) is the real culprit.  Even with the addition of extremely cold water (I had ice floating for a while in mine) it wasn’t enough to offset the warmth.  Plus, the freezer bowl being used a second time in one day must have sealed the deal.  Mush.  To be fair, it did get slushy.  But I let it run, and then it just became liquid.  The thought did cross my mind to add rum, some pineapple, an umbrella and par-tay on with Pina Coladas and trashy romance novels in the sun.  Oooo-yah, bay-bee.

But no.  I went back to the non-machine method of making sorbet and froze the liquid in a long covered plastic container.  Occasionally I would open the container, and using a spoon, scrape up the mixture following the length of the container until all the sorbet had been "turned."  Although it took several hours, by the time we were ready for dessert — after fireworks — the coconut sorbet was a decent consistency.  Better than the Pineapple Banana, but nothing like the Mango, which was the best.

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We served them together, sampling each for its uniqueness, then ultimately stirred them together in our bowls to discover a truly delectable combination of flavors with a great smooth texture.  So much for elegance.Img_2620

There is absolutely no way that I would make all three of these recipes to get the flavor we ended up with, but clearly I’ve got to experiment a bit.  And there’s no hurry, because I mixed up the left overs and put them back in the freezer.  Left overs the guys are sure to lick the bowl over.Img_2619
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Refreshing Arugula & Mango Salad with Cumin Lime Dressing

It’s always nice to get away a bit and join the world out there, and this past weekend, we attended my niece’s graduation from college.  Even though it was a time to celebrate her and her accomplishments, we were able to get in a bit of time on our own and doing what we like best — relaxing, eating, a bit of breathing here, and a bit of shopping there.  With respect to the shopping, I treated myself to a little cookbook that I couldn’t pass up called, Retro Happy Hour by Linda Everett.  I’m a sucker for the ’50’s graphics and the recipes look perfect for those get togethers we happen into with friends on Fridays.  I’ll have to let you know what I find out when I dive into this one, but not yet!  It’s Monday, right?

One of the issues with any little soiree away from home is that I feel like I’ve ingested bricks when I return.  So salad is always in order.  And although any salad will do, I’ve been playing around with a different kind of salad lately — one with a southwest twist.  I can’t remember if it was in April or May’s O magazine, but there was a fairly simple piece on salads.  I liked the way a grid was used to show how different flavors, ingredients, and dressings could be mixed and matched to conjure up a particular twist for a Mediterranean, Southwest, or Middle Eastern type of salad.  I probably haven’t gotten that exactly correct, but hopefully, the idea carries.  That being said, I also figured you guys needed a break after that cake porn I posted before I left!  So I’m redeeming myself, okay?  Thanks for visiting while I was away…

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Arugula with Mango and Cumin Lime Dressing

Dressing

juice of 4 key limes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 roasted jalapeno, minced
1 tsp honey
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8-1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

  1. Roast jalapeno over the burner of a stove, under the broiler, or on a grill.  Let cool, and remove all blackened skin.  Slice off top to discard, and cut along length to open.  Retain seeds and membrane if more heat is desired.  Otherwise, remove all seeds and membranes before mincing.
  2. Into a small bowl large enough to insert a whisk, squeeze the limes, removing any seeds from juice.
  3. Mince and add garlic, then minced jalapeno.
  4. Add honey and stir to mix ingredients.
  5. With a whip, gradually add olive oil in a steady stream, creating an emulsion.
  6. Taste to adjust seasonings or acidity.

In this dressing, adjustments can be made for a variety of reasons — to make it sweeter, taste more like limes, spicer.  It’s really all up to your preference and depending on what will go into the salad.  Have fun experimenting.


Salad

3-4 c. arugula or any salad green mix that is stronger than lettuce
1/4 c. cilantro roughly chopped
1/4  red onion, sliced
1/2 mango, cubed
1/2 avocado, cubed
1/2-inch slice of jicama, cut into matchsticks
1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled
3 T. pinones (pine nuts), browned

  1. Rinse and dry arugula.  Place in a large, wide serving bowl or platter.
  2. In a cast iron skillet or heavy sauce pan, place the pinones heat over a med high flame until browned, shaking from time to time so they don’t burn.  Remove from pan to cool.
  3. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the arugula.
  4. Spread jicama matchsticks over greens
  5. Drop mango and avocado cubes evenly over top.
  6. Sprinkle red onion slices across.
  7. Add feta and finish with the toasted pinones.

Before serving, add desired amount of dressing, toss, and plate.  Goes very well with grilled chicken, fish, or beef.  Or, skip the protein and add a chunk of crusty grilled bread.  Funny, I can’t say I’m a big fan of mangoes, and I don’t often use jicama because it’s a bit tough to cut (call me lazy), but I do love an interesting mix of sweetness and tartness in my salad from time to time.  The peppery arugula which I have come to love alone or mixed with other greens, and the crunchiness of the pinones and jicama help to make this quite the enjoyable combo.    Looks gorgeous, tastes great.   Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

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