Refreshing Mango Mint Lassi

Did you know that mangoes are grown in Texas’ lower Rio Grande Valley?

The English word “mango” probably originated from Tamil mangai or Malayalam manga via Portuguese (also manga).  The word’s first recorded attestation in a European language was a text by Ludovico di Varthema in Italian in 1510, as manga; the first recorded occurrences in languages such as French and post-classical Latin appear to be translations from this Italian text.  The origin of the “-o” ending in English is unclear.

When mangoes were first imported to the American colonies in the 17th century, they had to be pickled due to lack of refrigeration.  Other fruits were also pickled and came to be called “mangoes” (especially bell peppers), and by the 18th century, the word “mango” became a verb meaning “to pickle”.  –Wikipedia

Refreshing Mango Mint Lassi

flesh of 1 large, fresh mango
1/3 cup farm-fresh milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons raw, organic palm sugar
pinch of sea salt
4 ice cubes

Toss it all in the blender and give it a few whirls..

The "hedgehog" style is a common way of eating mangoes (left). A cross section of a mango can be seen on the right, not quite fully halving the fruit as the large stone is not visible

Spatchcocked Game Hen with Grilled Peach-Piñon Mole

Game birds from nearby Dewberry Hills Farm are briefly brined, then split, skewered, seasoned and slow-roasted over a wood fire.  Served with a mole of grilled peaches, toasted pine nuts, rich stock and ancho chiles..

Spatchcocked Game Hen with Grilled Peach-Piñon Mole

For the Brine

1/3 cup kosher or coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
1 teaspoon cracked cumin seeds
1-2 small, dry bay leaves, cracked
3 quarts cold, filtered water

Combine all ingredients together in a container large enough to hold the birds and brine.  Stir to dissolve salt, then submerge birds in brine (1 quart per pound of food), cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes per pound (90 minutes for 3 pounds of food).  Remove from refrigerator, drain and transfer birds to an uncovered flat container and return to the refrigerator until the skin is completely dry, about 2 hours.

To Spatchcock and Grill the Birds

Spatchcock is an 18th-century phrase used to indicate a summary way of grilling a bird after splitting it open down the back and spreading the two halves out flat, the point of which is to reduce cooking time and to help ensure a moist, evenly-cooked result.

Use a heavy kitchen scissors to remove the backbone, then turn the bird over and crack open like a book.  Use a small knife to separate the diamond shaped keel (breast bone) from the muscle, then use your fingers to pull the bone free from the carcass.  Use pairs of skewers to pierce the skin side of the breast, tucking the ends under the wings to hold in place.  Lightly season inside and out with cracked pepper, coriander, garlic, etc.

Place the splayed birds skin side down on a hot, lightly oiled grill.  Cook without moving until the meat releases itself from the grate and the skin is well marked and has begun to crisp.  Move the birds to the slow side of the grill (skin side up), cover and roast until the juices run clear, about 30-40 minutes depending on temperature, etc.

For the Mole (adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless)

2-3 fresh peaches, split, pitted and grilled until slightly charred and caramelized
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup pork lard
6 dried ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 cups homemade chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon canela (Mexican cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch ground cloves
1/2 ounce Mexican bitter chocolate, chopped
1 fresh flour tortilla, darkly toasted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon palm sugar or piloncillo
sea salt to taste

Using a spoon, remove the juice and pulp of each grilled peach half, set aside in a medium bowl, and discard the skins.

Add the sesame seeds and set aside.  In a heavy skillet, heat the lard over medium heat.  Add the chilies and fry until lightened in color, about 30 seconds, turning constantly.

Remove the chilies while keeping pan hot.  Place the chilies in a chilled water bath, cover with a small plate to submerge, and set aside for 30 minutes.  Add the garlic to the hot pan and saute until golden brown and tender, about five minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to the peach mixture and maintain a hot pan.  Toast the pine nuts in the pan until golden brown, about two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pine nuts to the peach mixture.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.  Strain the chilies through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the water and chilies separately.

In a blender puree the chilies and half of the reserved liquid until smooth, about two minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the pulp.  In the same blender, puree the peach mixture, one cup of the chicken stock, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, chocolate, and tortilla until smooth, about two minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve (optional; I left mine a little more rustic) and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the chili pepper puree until dark and thick, about 10 minutes.  Add the peach mixture and simmer to form a thick paste, about seven minutes.  Add the remaining stock, partially cover, and simmer until the mix is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes.  Remove from the heat, season, and set aside keeping warm.

To Assemble

Allow the grilled game hens to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes until carving into half inch thick cross sections.  Lade mole onto serving plate, arranging slices of bird on top.  Garnish with additional sesame seeds and fresh parsley or cilantro and serve immediately.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thai Spiced Mango Tapioca Pudding

Fresh ginger, Thai basil, kaffir lime, lemongrass, fresh mango, tapioca, cream, coconut milk and cayenne..

Thai Spiced Mango Tapioca Pudding

Thai Spiced Mango Tapioca Pudding (adapted from a recipe by Elizabeth Falkner)

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2 tablespoon fresh galangal, peeled and sliced
4 Thai basil leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh cilantro
1-2 small kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemongrass, sliced
1 cup filtered water
1/2 cup fresh cream
1/4 cup organic palm sugar
1/3 cup Bot Bang (Thai pearl tapioca)
1/2 cup heavy coconut milk
1 small fresh mango, diced
cayenne pepper

Combine ginger, galangal, basil, cilantro, lime leaves and lemongrass in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3-4 times.  Transfer to a heavy saucepan and add 1 cup cold water.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes.  Strain liquid into another heavy saucepan, pressing on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to release as much liquid as possible.

Add cream and sugar to the decoction and bring to a boil.  Stir in tapioca, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often until reduced in volume by about a third, about 1/2 hour.

Stir in mango, cover and allow to cool 10 minutes.

To serve, spoon pudding into a glass or shallow plate and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.  Garnish with basil and crystallized ginger.