Tag Archives: cilantro

Mango Salsa

I don’t think I ever had a mango until about five years ago.  And if you would have asked me then I would have said something to the effect of, “Mangoes are a love it or hate it kind of food.”  Wegmans says on their signs that mangoes taste like a cross between a peach and a pineapple.  I remember thinking, “Yep.  That pretty much says it all.”

I wasn’t a fan.

But over the years I kept coming across recipes calling for mangoes.  They’re actually the most popular fruit in the world.  Did you know that?  Not here in the U.S., certainly.  But there are a whole lotta people around the globe that love these peculiar, sweet, large-pitted fruits.

I first fell in love with them when I had some Mango Sticky Rice at a block party downtown a few years ago.  A very simple Thai dish of sweetened coconutty rice with slices of mango served on top – it’s one of my favorite side dishes to bring to a party for it’s ease of prep and “wow” factor.

I had actually planned on doing a whole bunch of recipes with mango since I bought a crate of beautiful Champagne Mangoes at Sam’s Club last week.  Also known as Atualfo Mangoes, they are smaller and have a softer, less fibrous texture than the regular ones.

(I just wiktionaried the plural of “mango”.  Apparently both “mangos” and “mangoes” are correct but I have always intuitively spelled it the British English way.  I was so tickled by this mundane bit of info I had to share :p)

So anyway, here is my new favorite thing to do with them.  Great for parties, healthy, easy to prepare, and impressive to folks used to eating boring old tomato salsa out of a jar.

Here are the elements – 3 ripe Champagne Mangoes (or 2 of the bigger ones), pitted and chopped (we’re just going to pretend that my mangoes are not on the verge of going bad…), some finely chopped red onion (about 1/3 cup – not a whole onion), a handful of fresh cilantro, half of a jalapeno pepper (or a whole one if you like things really hot), seeded and finely minced, 1 Tbsp lime juice (or the juice of one fresh lime), and a good size pinch of salt.

Here is a video showing one method for cutting a mango.  Also – remember to handle jalapenos with great care.  Wear gloves if you have them.  Just a little bit of juice in the eye will burn for hours.

Chop and mix it all up and you have a fresh, wonderfully flavorful salsa.  It’s sweet, spicy, refreshing, and goes magnificently with salty tortilla chips.  It may just make a mango convert out of you.

Enjoy!

Mango Salsa

3 ripe Champagne Mangoes (or 2 regular ones), pitted, skinned, and chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeno, membranes and seeds removed, finely minced

a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp lime juice (or the juice of 1 fresh lime if you have it on hand)

a pinch of salt

Instructions:

Mix and serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.

Makes about 2 cups of salsa

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Okay, I know I said I was going to be posting Thanksgiving recipes this week.  I will.  I’m getting there.  But I couldn’t wait another day to share this with you.  I’m so proud of this soup I could take a picture of it.  Oh wait.  I already did that.

This is Chicken Tortilla Soup and if you are lucky enough to live near a Max & Erma’s restaurant you know the addictive lure of this soup.  It’s spicy and hearty, cheesy and creamy.  And it’s topped with fried tortilla strips and shredded cheddar.

The tortilla in this picture?  Yeah, it’s actually a wheat tortilla.  Not gonna lie.  I made this bowl for me.  If I were making this for my husband I would have simply subbed in a fried corn tortilla.  Or, as I’ve done every time I’m in a rush… tortilla chips.  It’s totally NOT the same but my husband doesn’t care.  He just wants it under his mouth as soon as possible.

Years ago, in the days when it took me ten times longer to cook everything because I had to re-read the recipe over and over again, I found a copycat for this soup online.  When we went gluten free 3 years ago I looked at that recipe in my binder sadly thinking I would never make it again.  The basis for the soup – 2 cans EACH Cream of Chicken, Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom, and Cheddar Cheese Soup.

Excuse me while I go vomit.

Looking back I can’t even believe we ate that.  Every one of those canned soups has wheat as one of the main ingredients.  But we don’t need no stinkin’ wheat to make soup!  And we don’t need 8 cans of over-processed, over-salted, gelatinous yuck to start it either.  We’re gonna start this the way we start all our soups.  With some oil in a pot, some chopped onion, and some garlic.

…and all this other stuff (minus the pumpkin).  You’ll also need a whole rotisserie chicken – meat torn off and separated into dark and white, one carrot, two celery stalks, cornstarch, cayenne, salt, pepper, chicken broth, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of diced green chiles, shredded cheddar cheese, and Half and Half. (And fresh cilantro and tortillas for frying, not shown, oops.)

To start, dice one carrot, two stalks of celery, and a medium onion.  Mince four cloves of garlic.

Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over Medium-High heat and saute onions, carrots, and celery until soft, about six minutes depending how large your dice is.  Add in minced garlic and cook 60 seconds more.  No more – you don’t want to burn the garlic.  Burnt garlic will ruin a dish.

Add in 1/4 cup of cornstarch.  You can see how carefully I measured that.  It’s fine in this case, actually.  Soup is forgiving.  Mix to coat the vegetables and cook for a minute or so.  Season with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and some freshly ground black pepper.  Don’t skimp on the salt!!!

Now, for those cans.  Dump in the tomatoes, green chiles, four cups of chicken broth…and all your dark meat.  Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I probably had a child glued to my shin at this point.  Bring up to a simmer, cover it, turn the heat down, and walk away for the next 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, remove soup from the heat, grab your immersion blender and puree it all up nice and smooth.  Don’t have an immersion blender?  You can do the same thing in your food processor or blender in batches. (Small amounts at a time so hot soup doesn’t splatter out of the blender.  Been there.  Done that.  Wouldn’t want to make that mistake again.)

Lastly we’re going to add in our cheddar cheese, half and half, the chopped white meat, and a good handful of chopped cilantro.  Add the cheese in slowly so you don’t end up with one big gob of cheese in your soup.  Keep your soup on Med-Low just long enough to get it back up to temp.

This tortilla has already been fried.  Frying tortillas for garnish is both necessary and easy.  Just heat a shallow pool of oil in a pan over Medium-High heat until the oil shimmers (but not smokes).  Place your tortilla in the oil.  The oil should sizzle and bubble excitedly when you introduce the tortilla.  Fry it for a minute or two on each side, until the tortilla is crisp.  Just don’t walk away from it and it’s fairly foolproof.  Salt and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Obviously, if you’re cooking for more people than just yourself you can make as many tortillas as you want this way.

Then just slice them up into strips…

…and throw them and some more cheddar cheese on top of your hot soup.

Ahh, so yummy.  I love this soup.  I would proudly and happily serve this to my kids, my boss, my friend the dietician – anyone looking for a hot bowl of contentment.  Enjoy!

 

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 whole rotisserie chicken, meat removed, separated into dark and white, and chopped

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tsp salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 4oz can Diced Green Chiles

1 15oz can Diced Tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups (8oz) shredded cheddar

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

4 tortillas (corn or wheat)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large stockpot over Medium-High heat.  Add diced onion, carrot, and celery and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Add in garlic, saute 60 seconds more.

Add cornstarch to vegetables and toss to coat.  Cook for 1 minute more.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, green chiles, and the dark meat and bring to a simmer.

Cover and turn heat down to low.  Allow to simmer for 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree soup using an immersion blender (or in your food processor or blender in small batches).

Add cheddar cheese in slowly, stirring to combine well.  Add in half and half, all the white meat, and the cilantro.  Leave on Medium-Low heat just until soup gets hot again.

Garnish with tortilla strips and more shredded cheddar and cilantro if desired.

For Tortilla Strips:

Heat a shallow pool of oil in a pan over Medium-High heat until the oil shimmers (but not smokes).

Place one tortilla in the oil.  The oil should sizzle and bubble excitedly when the tortilla is introduced.  Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, until the tortilla is crisp.

Salt and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Slice into strips.

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Avocado Corn Salsa

I flip flopped over what to call this for a couple of days.  You know that sweet corn salsa they have at Chipotle?  Well, this isn’t that.  But it has many similar elements.  Guacamole?  Salad?  Is it one of those?

This doesn’t really fit neatly into any of those categories.  But whatever it is it’s GOOD.  We used it as a filling for burritos the other night and it was perfect.  With a little seasoned chicken or steak or pork and maybe some cheese.  Yum.  Is it dinner time yet???

Here’s what you need:  Two ripe avocados, four plum tomatoes, a handful of cilantro (less than the bunch shown here), a lime, about 1/2 cup of red onion (that little bit was all I had left or I would have used more), a box of frozen corn (thawed), a can of diced green chiles, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.  These are all ingredients I use frequently so it was easy to just throw this together with the tacos we were already having for dinner.  Well stocked pantry = Happiness.

Let’s start with our box of thawed corn and the can of chopped green chiles.  If I were feeling more ambitious I would grab a couple of Poblanos and put them on the grill to blacken and remove the skins.  Boil some fresh corn and chop them all up.  Oh wait.  I would do that if I were feeling more ambitious and it were JULY.  As it stands, fresh corn is gone and grilling in the mosquitoey dark is not fun.

Add in your chopped red onion.

Grab your microplane zester and zest a lime, being careful to take just the limey green zest and not the bitter, white pith underneath.  Oh, and also being careful not to zest your poor pinkie finger.  Ouch.

Look at all that green loveliness in there.  Once your lime is zested, cut it in half and squeeze all that wonderful juice into your bowl.  And for God’s sake, if you just zested your poor pinkie, do NOT use that same hand to squeeze acidic juice out of your lime.  Yaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuughhh!

Ahem…now…grab your salt and pepper and season to taste.  How much?  A pinch maybe?  I don’t usually measure salt and pepper.  Err on the side of too little and then taste.  I prefer Kosher Salt because it’s more difficult to accidentally over-salt your food.  And freshly ground pepper is great if you have a grinder.  If not, no big.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

And two tablespoons of good olive oil.

Chop up some fresh cilantro.  I never measure cilantro.  I find for most things, as much as I can tear off the bunch with one hand works just fine.

Chop up your tomatoes and add them as well.

And finally, let’s add in those beautiful avocados.  I love when I cut them open on their most perfect day.  Just ripe and soft but not turning brown inside yet.  It’s a short window.  That perfect day is approximately the day they turn black.  And maybe a day and a half after that at most.  It’s all downhill from there.  If you can, try to find the greenest Haas avocados in the produce section.  Often when you buy a black one it looks like it will be good,  but then you get it home and find it’s all brown and abused looking inside.  No thanks.

Anyway –  easiest way to remove the pit without sacrificing any of the precious green stuff is to (carefully) slam your chef’s knife into the pit, exert a little bit of pressure, and then rotate the pit out.  Then (again, carefully), bang the handle of your knife into the edge of the counter and the pit will release and fall wherever you have planned for it to go.  The garbage disposal is not the best place.  Word to the wise.

Use a spoon to separate your beautiful avocado halves from their skins.  Discard the skins.  Chop them up into bite size pieces and add them into your salsa.

Oh, and, I should probably mention now, just like guacamole, this is something you want to make shortly before you’re going to serve it.  The second you cut into an avocado, oxidation begins to turn it brown.  It’s not like it will be inedible but it will be unappetizing after a few hours time.  The lime juice helps slow that process, and certainly covering it well by pressing plastic wrap down directly onto the salsa will help – but avocado brownage is as inevitable as death and taxes…so…don’t put off until tomorrow what you can eat today.  All right, I’m done with cheap, throw away advice.  You’re on your own now.

And there we have it!  So colorful, so flavorful, and so amazingly good for you!  You could eat this with chips, in burritos, or with a spoon.  It’s just splendid.  All the flavors play off each other so nicely.  The creamy mild avocados, the sweet corn, tart lime, pungent red onions, firm, juicy tomatoes, bright fresh cilantro, the chiles adding just a touch of heat.  Mmm.  Simply awesome.  Go make some tonight!

Avocado Corn Salsa

1 box frozen corn

1 (4oz) can diced green chiles

4 plum tomatoes, diced

2 ripe avocados, diced

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, zested and juiced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sugar

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and serve promptly.

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