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Thursday, January 27, 2011
MANGOES, FINALLY I GET MANGOES (From the July, 2010 issue of Dominical Days)
This mango season that has all changed. Maybe it was that I became more committed to working with local ingredients and knew that they were an essential part of a tropical kitchen repertoire. Maybe it was the smell of them in my car on a warm day as their honeyed juices warmed, and maybe it was licking my fingers after cutting them for my “Salsa de la Jungla” and discovering that each mango had a slightly different yet equally powerfully seductive flavor.
This is the year that I discovered a “signature” sauce based on mangoes. This is the year I made mango vinegar, numerous mango salsas, mango-mustard glaze and mango-coco ice cream. I found that the mango could stand up to the acid of mandarina, the bite of ginger, the heat of habaneros and the sinus opening blast of hot mustard.
I have paired mango this year with chicken, fish and pork. Each of those meats picks something up from the inherent mango sweetness and if they are cooked on the grill, they give something back with the flavor of smoke and charcoal. A crusty pork loin or crisp skinned chicken thigh brushed with a mango glaze and then pulled from the grill is barbecued poetry.
The season is almost over but there are still sticky sweet mangoes at the Feria. Buy and use them now or puree the flesh and use it later. But however you use them, don’t forget to lick your fingers.
MANGOES AND WHAT TO DO
So now, with any luck, I’ve made you want to run out and grab a few mangoes, and in an “end of the season” burst of creativity, have your way with them. I buy them with three criteria in mind; feel, smell and color. I want my mango to have some give to it when I squeeze it, but not just in one soft place. I want the smell to be aromatic and sweet. And I want the color to be a lovely hue of red running into gold over the entire fruit.
Cut off enough of either end so that it will stand up on its own.Using a paring knife, from top to bottom take the skin off in longnarrow strips. When the peel is gone, stand the mango up again and look at it from the top. It should be ovate, rather than round. The longest sides of the oval are where the greatest amount of the flesh is. Using the blade of the knife, find the seed and slide the knife downward, staying as close to the seed as possible. The flesh should come away in a long even piece. Continue around the mango, working the knife down the pit. You will have two larger pieces of mango and several other long narrow pieces. You are ready to cook.
MANGO MUSTARD GLAZE
Flesh of One Ripe Mango
Juice of 2 Mandarinas
½ Cup Orange Juice
½ Cup Tapa Dulce, or Brown Sugar
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 TBS Dijon Mustard
In a stainless or non-corrosive pot, put all the ingredients except the mustard. Bring up the heat to a low boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring to break up the pieces. Remove from heat and stir in the mustard. Use as a glaze for pork, chicken or fish. Use it now, or chill and reserve.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
SUMMER NEW AND SUMMER OLD
“Summer’s here and the time is right for…” buying your produce at the grocery store? I hope not!
I am seeing a lot of old friends but also new faces when I make my stop at the local grocery stores in Uvita for my ration of club soda. But sadly, I am noticing a lot of grocery carts filled with equally sad produce taken from the shelves of these grocery stores (which shall remain nameless).
I would like to remind everyone, full timers and summer residents alike, that we have access to locally (!) grown organic produce at two Ferias here on the coast so that you don’t have to buy wilted goods trucked in from somewhere far away.
There is a farmer’s market at Citrus restaurant in Ojochal on Tuesday mornings and another in Uvita at the Rincon on Saturday mornings. Additionally there is the massive Feria in San Isidro on Thursdays and Fridays. Please join with me in supporting our local growers as well as treating yourself to fresher tastier veggies.
SUMMER NEW AND SUMMER OLD/SALAD DRESSING
A great way to utilize those organic lettuces you got at the Feria is with a big salad with a nice piece of organic fish or chicken on top. I like to serve mine with organic tomatoes, cucumber and delicious local hearts of palm. A piece of grilled fish on top is perfect. A squeeze of mandarina over the top is all you need for the perfect evening meal after a day at the beach.
This is a great basic salad dressing recipe that holds up in the fridge for days.
Food Processor or Blender
1 Whole Egg and 1 Egg Yolk;
1 TBS Dijon Mustard;
2 Oz. Good Red Wine Vinegar;
Juice of 2 Lemons;
6 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped;
Dash of Hot Sauce, Tabasco, or any other;
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
¾ Cup Good Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin)
¾ Cup Canola or Light Cooking Oil
Put the first six ingredients, plus a good pinch each of salt and pepper into the food processor, turn the motor on and blend them well. With the motor running, begin to add the oil, first in a very slow but steady stream, and then bit by bit, more rapidly. As the oil is absorbed into the egg/mustard mixture you will hear the sound of the motor change slightly as your dressing begins to emulsify. If the dressing is a bit thick, add a few teaspoons of water with the motor running.
I know there will be the standard yelp that the organic prices are higher, but remember, the product is pristinely fresh and its shelf life will be longer. The yield from locally grown products will be greater (you won’t be peeling those floppy leaves off the outside of your lettuce heads) and the difference in flavor is easily worth whatever extra colones you may part with. Treat yourself to buying and eating locally.
Wednesday May 13, 2009 La Cusinga and Me
La Cusinga Lodge is a coastal rainforest eco lodge dedicated to marine and terrestrial conservation and environmental education. Its location on the southern Pacific coast provides guests with sweeping ocean views and a relaxing beach vacation. In addition La Cusinga is part of a private nature reserve that supplies the visitor with an unparalleled look at Costa Rican wildlife and rainforest. The reserve consists primarily of 250 hectares of virgin rainforest that borders thousands of more acres of privately protected forest. On Costa Rica’s still wild south-western Pacific coast, La Cusinga Lodge borders Ballena Marine National Park which was developed to protect the humpback whales that frequent the coast. La Cusinga Lodge was established in order to share the unique site with Costa Ricans as well as international visitors. Besides getting exposure to rural Costa Rican culture and beautiful vistas, visitors have access to highly prolific areas of primary tropical rainforest and unspoiled coast, all conveniently accessible.