Mango Salsa


Watching the Super Bowl also means eating chips and dip. But it’s winter and fresh salsa in the winter is usually pretty disappointing. But when the new grocery store in town had mangos on sale for 19 cents each, I jumped at the chance to have just a little taste of summer. C made up this amazingly refreshing mango salsa. As we were eating it, we decided it would also be delicious on fish tacos, salmon, pork and of course tortilla chips. It was super easy to make.

Print Recipe
Mango Salsa
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Dice all ingredients into roughly the same size. This part is important because if the mango chunks are too big, they'll fall off the chip. Or worse, break the chip.
  2. Add ingredients to a bowl.
  3. Mix with a spoon.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the mango pit into the bowl.
  5. Feel free to use the side of a metal spoon to scrape off the fruit attached to the pit.
  6. Squeeze the lime juice.
  7. Mix again.
  8. Add salt and pepper, tasting in between.
  9. Garnish with cilantro.
  10. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later.

My opinion:
As noted above, usually fresh salsas made in the winter lack flavor, maybe it’s because we let the mangos get really ripe, but this was full of flavor and very tasty. Don’t be afraid to try it on something other than tortilla chips!

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Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo

Indian at home.
Indian at home.

Sadly, our town is lacking in good Indian cuisine. Which means, this fall J and I have decided to figure out how to make it at home. We’ll tackle naan soon, especially since we discovered how easy the main dishes can be. We tried Chicken Vindaloo from our new favorite site rasamalaysia.com. The directions were easy to follow, easier than finding all the ingredients! With a few modifications, we had a meal that rivaled any local Indian restaurant.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and skin removed (We used about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that’s what we had on hand)
1 onion, chopped (we used a large yellow onion)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp each Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil (we used olive)

Spice Blend:
1/2 cup vinegar (white)
4-5 dried red Chile peppers (we used dried, whole red chilis)
4 cloves (we used ground)
8 garlic cloves, skin removed (we used minced about 2 tablespoons)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
Add vinegar and soak all the ingredients needed for the spice blend for 15-20 minutes. Then blend these into a fine paste using a blender. (we used the food processor and with the added vinegar, this turned very runny. Next time, we’ll remove the spices from the vinegar and then re-add it at the end). Add the spice mixture paste to the chicken and toss well to evenly coat all the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate for 4 to 6 hours. In a large wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring often. Add the chopped onions, tomato paste, salt and pepper to the chicken. Give everything a good stir. Finally add 1/2 cup of water (we omitted this step since it was already pretty runny), cover the lid of the skillet and lower the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or till well done and the oil start to ooze from the curry. If you prefer little thinner gravy add water as need and let it simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes before serving. Like the original author, we prefer the gravy to be thick and sticking to the meat pieces. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

My Opinion:
The sauce was a little runny for our tastes and it wasn’t quite as spicy as we like our vindaloo. Next time, we’ll use the spice blend as a run without the vinegar and add it at the end.

Egyptian Lahma Bil Basal and Homemade Pita Bread

It’s been raining here for a few days. When it rains, we often make dishes that require long simmer times. J was feeling adventurous and decided to try an Egyptian peasant dish he found on Food.com. I wanted to try my hand at homemade pita bread. Surprisingly, the bread turned out well. As usual, J’s dish was fantastic. It was an amazing meal.

Lahma Bil Basal ingredients:
1 lb stewing beef
4 yellow onions (sliced super thin, we used the food processor)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (yes, chicken. I promise this works)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (do NOT use olive oil for this)
water
salt & pepper (we used a couple of turns of each)

Lahma Bil Basal directions:
Put the meat in saucepan over medium heat with butter and oil. Cook until lightly browned. Add all sliced onions, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper, bay leaf and stir around cooking on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add water, about 1-1/2 cups, turn to low, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. (We cooked for about three total hours.)

Lahma Bil Basal
Check during cooking, add more water if too dry. Don’t be afraid to let a few bits brown, those add extra depth to the flavor. But the onions should give enough liquid with initial water you added. For the last half hour remove the lid and allow the dish to thicken. When finished you should have super tender beef with a thick oniony sauce. The onions cook down to create a thick rich sauce. Serve with rice, pita bread or your favorite pasta.

Pita Bread ingredients:
This is originally from this website and was super easy. (Note: your yeast packet might have slightly different directions. Follow those directions first.)
1 1/4 cup warm water (not boiling or hot, apparently it kills the yeast. Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil

Pita Bread directions:
Add the warm water and yeast together. If your packet calls for adding sugar, add the sugar at the same time.
Homemade Pita Bread

After about 10 minutes when the yeast water is frothy, add the salt, oil and flour. Mix well.
Homemade Pita Bread

Turn the dough onto the counter and knead well to bring it all together. Feel free to add more flour as necessary. Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten into a six-inch circle with a rolling-pin.
Homemade Pita Bread
Flour a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place each rolled out circle on the floured surface and let rise for at least a half an hour. Heat your oven to 500 degrees. Peel the dough off the foil and put onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 4-8 minutes, (we cooked each side for 5 minutes) flipping halfway through. Stack on top of each other and cover loosely with dish towel to let steam escape.
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My opinion:
This was the perfect dish to have with a nice glass of syrah. The meat is fall apart tender and the gravy is melt in your mouth delicious. I thought it was best with the pita bread.

Carnegie Deli Matzo Ball Soup (and chicken stock!) Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

My mom makes the best matzo ball soup. Ever. Part of the reason it’s probably the best is because she only makes it once a year at Passover. I think the recipe is a combination of one from Cooking Light and several family recipes from friends. It’s amazing. Since the first Passover J attended, he’s tried to recreate my mom’s recipe. We use the same ingredients and follow her directions, but it never turns out the same. After our trip to New York this summer, J decided to find the Carnegie Deli recipe. He finally succeeded with a few modifications of this recipe.

Stock Ingredients:
1 pound chicken necks, backs, and wings (we just used wings since that’s what we had in the freezer)
1/2 ounce chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste

For matzo balls :
8 large eggs
1 cup liquid shortening or olive oil plus more for rolling matzo balls ( I think my mom uses vegetable oil)
about 1 cup water
4 cups matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Optional: top with fresh dill.

Directions:
Make stock : Combine first four ingredients with 6 cups water. Add Maggi seasoning (we found it in the Asian isle, it’s made by Nestle) and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for at least an 1 hour.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, water, matzo meal, Maggi, salt, and pepper until just incorporated. Oil hands, then, working as gently as possible, form round balls about the size of a golf ball (but try to keep them loose or the middles won’t cook). Boil matzo balls in stock until cooked through and soft, at least 45 minutes. Divide matzo balls evenly between four bowls, allotting two matzo balls and two cups stock per serving. Sprinkle with fresh dill and enjoy.

My opinion:
It’s really close. The only part that wasn’t was J rolled the matzo balls too tight, so the middles didn’t cook quite through.

Nordstrom Tomato Soup

Nordstrom's Tomato Basil Soup

We don’t live anywhere near a Nordstrom’s or the next best place for tomato soup, La Madeline.  So we had to find a way to make it ourselves. Luckily, J found this recipe on Food.com. With a few tweaks, we could be back in San Antonio at La Madeline enjoying this soup by their fire.

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (84 ounces total) (diced will work too if you have a hard time finding whole, just make sure they aren’t seasoned!)
1 quart chicken stock (it’s better with stock but broth will work in a pinch)
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrot and onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes, then add basil and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes (including juices!) and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

IMG_4467

Allow the soup to cool somewhat, then purée until smooth in a food processor (Trust me, it’s much easier than in the blender).

IMG_4470

We skip this step because we don’t mind a few chunks, but if a smoother texture is what’ you’re after, strain the purée before returning to the pot.

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Add cream little by little over low heat, stirring gently. Do not boil it! Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.

My opinion:
This makes more than we could ever eat, but it freezes beautifully and reheats wonderfully over the stove or in the crock pot. We’ve made this four or five times and it never disappoints. With a side of grilled cheese this is the perfect comfort food.