It's peak mango season in South Florida, so when I got my first batch from a friend's yard, I went searching for something new to try.
I found the mango-chipotle chicken recipe included here from Jeffrey Saad, Food Network and Cooking Channel personality and author of "Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders" ($22, Ballantine Books). It's from a collection at bushbeans.com.
You'll have extra chipotle puree, but you can keep it stored in the refrigerator up to three weeks to add a quick blast to salsas, sauces and omelets.
This raw, cold broccoli soup is so creamy you'll swear it was made with heavy cream. In fact, the secret to the texture is half an avocado. Best of all, preparation takes just a couple of minutes. The recipe is from Chef Works, a purveyor of culinary apparel.
Take 1 bunch of broccoli (reserve some florets for garnish), half an avocado, the juice of 1 lemon, a small bunch of green onions (again, save a bit of the tops for garnish), a clove of garlic and 1 cup of water; puree in a blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Chill for several hours, and serve topped with a few finely chopped broccoli florets, some sprouts and chopped green onions. Makes 4 servings.
Tip: I used a ginger-infused vegetable broth instead of water (I love the bite of Swanson's Thai version) to kick up the flavor.
TRIED AND NEW
Whether you are packing munchies for a road trip or simply to take to work, here's a great new option from I Love Snacking: single-serve packs of bruschetta, tapenade, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and flavored olives that need no refrigeration. Everything in the line is gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, kosher and low in carbohydrates and sodium. I loved the lemon and rosemary olives and the roasted red pepper and artichoke bruschetta. The snacks range from $1 to $4. Find them at Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, BJ's, Fresh Market and Duane Reade. They also are available QVC.com and on select United, Delta and JetBlue flights.
I've tried a lot of gadgets for making cupcakes and muffins, but usually fall back on my circa-1930 ice cream scoop. But I've ushered in the 21st century with this silicone plunger from Tovolo ($8.95 at Sur la Table and other retailers). You simply scoop up batter, then place the curved end over your pan and press the plunger to dispense the perfect amount every time. The only downside: This is for standard-size muffins and cupcakes only.
READER RESPONSE: DATE NUT SQUARES
Kathy from North Carolina asked for help making a dessert her mother prepared about 30 years ago with date nut bars "and maybe Dream Whip or whipped cream or maybe cream cheese layered between the bars. We have misplaced the recipe, and family members are requesting it again. The recipe may have been on the box of the mix."
Judy Marcus sent the recipe that is included here. She likes to serve whipped cream on the side, but says it obviously could be sandwiched between cookies. This is a grand old-fashioned treat that works best served warm as bars, with a scoop of cold ice cream.
READER RESPONSE: CRACKER MEAL
In a previous column, a reader asked what to do since Nabisco no longer makes cracker meal. I gave a method for making your own from saltines, but here are other suggestions from readers:
"I, too, was devastated to find Nabisco no longer made it since it was the only bread coating my husband liked and I used it on everything," Linda Silk wrote. "I did, however, find McCormick makes a cracker meal that is very similar. Hope this helps."
I could not find McCormick cracker meal in my supermarket, but you can ask your market manager to stock it.
In South Florida, there are even more options: "Cracker meal is still ubiquitous and cheap, in Miami at least, in little bags in the aisle with the Cuban crackers," said Pam Chamberlain. "I use it for fried shrimp. Thanks for making my Thursday morning fun."
Pecan Date Squares
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whipped cream, creme anglaise or ice cream
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add dates and nuts. Beat eggs lightly together with brown sugar and vanilla until well mixed; combine with the dry ingredients. Bake in a buttered 9-inch square pan at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool, then cut in squares. Serve with whipped cream or other garnish. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 229 calories (41 percent from fat), 11 g fat (1.2 g saturated, 6 g monounsaturated), 43 mg cholesterol, 4 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 2.7 g fiber, 100 mg sodium.
Source: Reader recipe tested by Linda Cicero for Cook's Corner
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to make thin cutlets
1 lime, cut into wedges
Puree mango in blender or food processor; set aside. Puree entire contents of can of chipotle peppers until smooth; set aside. Mix 1 cup of mango puree, 4 tablespoons of chipotle puree, cumin and salt. Remove 1/2 cup of marinade and place in small bowl. Add salt as desired. Cover and refrigerate for later use. Place chicken in remaining marinade, turning to evenly coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight. When ready to grill, wipe off excess marinade. Set clean, well-oiled grill to medium-high heat. When grill is hot, using tongs, place chicken on grill. Cook 3 minutes or until golden grill marks appear. Using tongs, flip chicken and cook 2 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. Reduce grill temperature to medium heat. With basting brush, coat one side of chicken with reserved marinade and cook 30 seconds. Flip chicken using tongs. Coat second side of chicken with reserved marinade and cook 30 seconds. Remove chicken from grill and place on platter. Brush with remaining marinade. Squeeze half the limes over chicken and place remaining wedges on plate for garnish. Serves 4.
Per serving: 336 calories (21 percent from fat), 8 g fat (2 g saturated, 2.9 g monounsaturated), 138 mg cholesterol, 52 g protein, 13.4 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, 510 mg sodium.
Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from a recipe by chef Jeffrey Saad for Bush's Grillin' Beans
(Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.)