Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mango Fruit Salad

What do you give a neighbor who drops you to the airport, then picks up the newspaper and mail and also waters your plants? A gift from your travels right?? But then comes a record breaking snowstorm that prevents our return. This is where the Lienhards become paragons of virtue. They shovel two feet of snow off the driveway, clean snow off the cars and make a wide path to the house. Then comes the dire warning of flooding. Ominous predictions of a full moon, high tide and storm surge sound like a repeat of Superstorn Sandy. Rosa and Rolf are galvanized into action and clear the den of everything on the floor!  

How do you repay these selfless guestures? The best way I know is gifts from the kitchen!!! They love Indian food. Some chicken curry and rice will go a long way with the family. Sides are sweet potatoes and kale. A spicy channa goes well too. And dessert is their fruit salad. 

I can honestly say this recipe is not my concoction. It belongs to my friend Jennifer Louis. She generously shared her dessert some twenty years ago and now it is firmly entrenched in my repertoire. Summer adds a different dimension as seasonal fresh fruit play a big part. Winter versions have both fresh and canned fruit. No matter the season, the mainstay is a can of Alphonso mango pulp. The rich mango flavor is unmatched by any other mango. A dash of half and half, a few tablespoons of sugar and you have a a fruit salad fit for kings! Or good neighbors!

Recipe by Jennifer Louis
Serves 4-6

1 28oz can Alphonso Mango pulp
1/4 cup Half & Half OR 1/4 cup Cream and Milk
2 tablespoons Sugar
A Pinch of Kosher Salt
1 Banana
1 Apple
1 can Mandarin Oranges
1 can Peach Slices
1 can Litchis
1/2 cup Blueberries 

Pour mango pulp into a bowl.

Add half & half, sugar and salt to pulp and mix well.

Slice banana into mango.

Quarter apple. Remove core and cut into bite size pieces. Add to mango.

Open cans of mandarin oranges, peaches and litchis. Drain syrup well and add fruit to mango.

Scatter blueberries in. 

Give the mango and fruit a good stir to mix. 

Refrigerate until you serve.


I used Ratna Alphonso Mango pulp. If you cannot find Alphonso pulp, use the best mango pulp that is available.

Add any fruit of your choice. Most fruit work well in the mango sauce. A word of caution if you plan to use kiwi or pineapple. These fruit change the texture of the fruit salad if it sits overnight. 

Rosa picks us up at the airport at an unearthly hour in the morning. We come home to pristine sidewalks,  a huge bowl of fruit and flowers! Some of that fruit makes its way into her dessert.  The saying goes as one good deed deserves another. In this case, these good deeds deserve dinner and dessert!!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mongolian Chicken

This is not the eponymous chicken you see at Chinese buffets. Rather, the chicken comes together with a short marinade, a quick stir fry and an easy sauce. I have a drawerful of Chinese sauces that can be worked into the recipe. A ginger garlic hoisin marinade imbibes chicken with loads of flavor. Onions and green peppers add body to the dish. Dark and light soy sauces blended with shaoxing wine and cornstarch, make a thick shiny sauce.  It's a fast fifteen minutes from wok to chopsticks!

Serves 2-4 people

1 lb boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped Garlic
1 tablespoons grated Ginger
1 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil
4 Shallots or small Red Onions
1 Green Pepper
1 tablespoon light Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon dark Soy sauce
1/4 cup Shaoxing Wine or Sherry
3 teaspoons Cornstarch 
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 heaping tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds
2 chopped Scallions

Wash, dry and cut chicken into 1/2 inch rough strips.

Add hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Stir to mix and keep aside for 15 minutes or up to one hour if you have the time.

Chop onions and green pepper into thick slices. 

Stir dark and light soys, shaoxing wine and cornstarch together in a bowl.

Heat oil in nonstick wok till shimmering, add onions and peppers. Stir fry on high heat till wilted for 3-5 minutes. Remove to a plate. 

Return wok to flame and add chicken to hot pan. If you are not using a nonstick pan, add a teaspoon more of canola oil to pan. Stir chicken till almost cooked, 7-10 minutes. 

Drop onions and peppers into the wok.

Stir soy mixture well before adding to the wok. Move the chicken with a spoon as the sauce thickens.

Once the sauce thickens and becomes dark, scatter sesame seeds and chopped scallions over chicken and enjoy!

Fried rice and noodles make good accompaniments.

As the recipe says, all we need is fried rice and noodles. Thighs make meaty nuggets. The sauce is piquant. Chopsticks click and clack as the meal progresses, reminding me that chicken can really wok this away.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Bok Choy with Crisp Garlic

A new year starts afresh. And what's more refreshing than simplicity. Chinese vegetables are a snap to put together. Simple flavors marry with simple tastes. I have some pepper chicken and fried rice. It's brown and beige so bright green bok choy is eye pleasing and delicious. 

I use baby greens. Regular sized greens work as well. Sliced into quarters and blanched, they blend well with the umami taste of crisp sliced garlic and oyster sauce. So easy, so fast. 

Serves 4

6 baby Bok choys or 2 large Bok choys
4 Garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
2 tablespoons Oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon toasted Sesame Oil

Trim and cut each bok choy into quarters. 

Heat 2-3 cups of water. 

Blanch bok choy into boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain well and place in serving platter.

Heat canola oil in small pan. I use a small cast iron tempering pan. 

Cut garlic into paper thin slices.

Drop garlic into hot oil and fry till crisp and brown.

Take pan off the flame and add oyster sauce, sugar, water and sesame oil.

Pour sauce over bok choy and enjoy. 

Forkfuls of vibrant, crunchy greens complement rice and chicken. The vegetarian in me is satisfied with simple tastes. It's no salad but any green is a good way to start 2016.