Monday, July 25, 2011

Quick Mango Salsa

People, it is hot in New York City. Waiting for the train is a sweatier affair than usual, and it takes all of two seconds of outdoor time to rid your whole body of a day spent in air conditioning. On Friday, the heat index didn't dip below 100 degrees fahrenheit until after 10pm. 

The stifling heat in New York City is relevant because I was going to post a baking related recipe. But, quite frankly, I think it's unwise to heat up an oven right now. 

So instead, I give you the easiest mango salsa ever. No heat required. Barely any sweat required. Just chop some things up and put them in a bowl! Mix them together and you've got a fancy and gourmet-seeming garnish for just about anything. I like to serve it along side baked or sauteed white fish (like tilapia or halibut). It's good on blue corn chips, too. And, I won't lie, I've had multiple dinner guests finish it out of the bowl with a spoon. That is never a bad sign. Happy summer, and good luck surviving the heat wave!
1 mango, diced into 1/4" cubes
1/2 small red onion diced small
2 Tbs cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp chile powder
Juice of one small lime

Combine mango, red onion, cilantro and chile powder (to taste). Sprinkle lime juice over and combine well with hands or two spoons.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moroccan Couscous

Most college kids eat spaghettio's, mac and cheese and chinese take-out. While those were all star players in my college diet as well, boxed couscous was my go-to meal. Now, I've got nothing against the Near East Couscous that used to line my shelves in college--I ate it at least three times a week for dinner (paired with a vegetable when I was feeling responsible)--but boxed meals tend to be high in sodium. 

Once I discovered how super easy and delicious it is to make couscous from just the grain itself and some oil and spices well...there was no turning back. This recipe is a great introduction to the technique. Make it a few times and you should be able to improvise from there, by changing up the spices or what you mix into the cooked couscous. Enjoy!
Moroccan Couscous
Adapted by Alexandra Rogers, from Moroccan Couscous-stuffed Chicken Breasts by Alison Attenborough, published on Food & Wine

2 Tablespoons oil
1 dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2/3 cups plain couscous
1 cup vegetable stock
6-8 small dried apricots (use unsweetened, natural), cut into small, rough pieces
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1. Bring vegetable stock to a light boil in a small pot.
2. Heat oil over medium-high in a medium-sized pot. Add cinnamon, coriander and cumin and let cook for one minute. 
3. Remove the medium pot from heat and add couscous. Stir the couscous until thoroughly coated with the oil and spice mixture, then pour the boiling vegetable stock over the couscous, cover tightly and set aside for 5 minutes.
4. Prepare parsley, pine nuts and dried apricots. When the couscous has absorbed all the liquid, stir parsley, pine nuts and dried apricots in and serve. Serves 4.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blueberries with Cinnamon and Maple Whipped Cream

As the Fourth of July fast approaches, I keep flashing back to childhood memories of fruit-based desserts. When I was a kid, my aunts would bake up tarts and cakes using blueberries, strawberries and raspberries to celebrate Independence day. We'd eat these delicacies on paper plates with plastic forks, sitting flat on the driveway in summer dresses, waiting until the moment we could light off fireworks and play with sparklers. Because of that history, something about this light dish screams Independence day and hot July days to me. To my lovely and inspiring cousin Nilmini, happy happy birthday. And to everybody else in the U.S.A., Happy Independence Day! Enjoy the fireworks.
Blueberries with Cinnamon and Maple Whipped Cream
By Institute of Culinary Education, adapted by Alexandra Rogers

1 c. heavy whipping cream
5 Tbs maple syrup
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over

Wash 2 cups fresh blueberries and be sure to pick out any sour-looking, wrinkled or bright purple/pink blueberries.  Lay the blueberries on a single later on paper towel so they dry.

Divide the blueberries between 4 wine glasses, placing about 1/2 cup blueberries in each glass. (Other glass containers work for this as well--but only use a container that can hold at least 1 cup). 

In a medium bowl, beat heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form (see an example of soft peaks, here). Once soft peaks firm, add the maple syrup and beat until heavy whipping cream forms stiff peaks--or, basically, until it looks like real whipped cream. 

Top each serving of blueberries with a light dust of cinnamon, then 2 spoonfuls of Maple whipped cream. Add one more light dusting of cinnamon atop the maple whipped cream and serve, immediately. 

There will be extra maple whipped cream--I like to set it out in a bowl, alongside a jar of cinnamon, and let guests adjust for themselves. Serves about 4.
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