Featured, Kitchen

Mangoes & Thanksgiving

November 10, 2018

Three mango-centric recipes that don’t mess with tradition

I love to cook, I assume that’s obvious.  I also like to go rogue in the kitchen when it comes to tradition. That, after all is how change is made, by pushing boundaries. I used to loathe cooking Thanksgiving food.  It didn’t matter where I was, or who I was with, the Thanksgiving table, in my mind, was filled with foods and flavors that I didn’t like; carbs, sugars and blandness. The added element of massive elbow grease needed for both the prep and cleanup for just one BIG, quick meal, seemed like a bunch of bullshit; especially as my Thanksgiving’s always seemed to have more football fans than helpful dishwashers; unless you count my loyal dog friends.

My rogue nature had me testing ultra-creative Thanksgiving menus and recipes for years, but the truth is they were never welcomed by my family or friends.  Despite my loyal fans liking my cooking, they had no tolerance for me fucking with Thanksgiving tradition. Eventually I discovered Thanksgiving was a much lonelier experience  when I went rogue with it and when nostalgia wasn’t served up at my table. I gave in, maybe I grew up, and started cooking more traditionally for this holiday. Not only was the holiday much more pleasurable for me, but my dishes and flavors exceled as they never before had. I was able to put very specific and thoughtful tweaks into classic dishes and turn them into something better, subtly and those subtleties didn’t go unnoticed, they were appreciated by my eaters. A -meet in the middle- kind of thing happened, and that’s where we all found the most joy.

Today, my always bountiful Thanksgiving table includes classics that carry a tinge of my personal essence- creativity. My Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples & Mint  for example, offers  eaters traditional brussels sprouts, but the  seemingly weird addition of fresh mint is where I go rogue, the result however is surprisingly rewarding. The mint gives the earthy brussels sprouts a bit of freshness and vibrancy, while the apples bring in a tart and sweet balance with their caramelization during roasting. The dish is comforting yet light, which I enjoy more than fat drenched brussels. Its traditional and provocative.

I was recently asked how I was going to use mangoes in my Thanksgiving this year. As a marketeer of mangoes, the question seemed normal enough, but my first thought was, what a crazy idea.  Nothing about mangoes to me screams Thanksgiving feast. Plus, lately I had seen a few mango recipes put out by other marketing agencies that were far reaching, dumb and a little reckless; in that it was obvious they were just trying to get mangoes on the Thanksgiving menu without much though or skill behind it. One of these ideas was literally roasted yams and mangoes together.  The actual recipe was multi stepped and somewhat complicated, especially for an end result that I cannot imagine any of us would want to actually serve to friends and family. The idea and the recipe itself were sloppy and marketing-centric, which isn’t useful to cookers, unless there is substance behind it.

If I had been them, I would have perhaps developed a recipe that glazed the yams with a mixture of brown sugar, spice and mango puree and then roasted them, maybe even with marshmallows. If I was going to be fancy Id make a mango merengue for the top of the roasted yams instead of marshmallow.  Personally, I hate sweet yams so this isn’t a recipe I am interested in, but I am interested in making sure that if and when people cook with mangoes, they learn to do it well and receive advice that actually works and recipes that actually taste good.

This is nature of the three recipes that I, thoughtfully, developed. They show the versatility of mangoes when cooked. The also teach mango users that  the bright tropical side of mangoes is only one flavor profile of this popular fruit.  These recipes showcase the warm nurturing flavors we can coax from a mango when cooking and pairing it correctly.

In the end, adding mangoes to my Thanksgiving wasn’t so crazy, it turned out to be a marketing opportunity and wonderful additive my Thanksgiving menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your table be traditional and tinged with creativity. Go a little rogue.   Most of all, may you be blessed with lots of clean up help!

Cranberry Blood Orange Mango Syrup 

 A drink was the obvious place to start. Making a base that can be used for kids and non drinkers as well as the drinking crew was important to me easing work for the busy holiday.  This pretty, fall elixir, handles all that and more. I started with the genius Crespo Organic Mango Pit Syrup, which we boast for sweetening everything- from teas to cakes to cocktails. We allow mangoes to help us use less sugar and we utilize the flesh from the pits that’s hard to remove with out using ones teeth and hands.

Seasonality is of utmost importance to me and cranberries are, in my opinion, underutilized and exceptional in beverages.  This time of year early blood oranges make way into the marketplace and they tame the bold,  tart nature of cranberries as well as act as a balancing agent with their warm, citrusy flavor. Lemons or limes are too tart for cranberries, which means more sugar would be needed. Of course, mangoes further lessen the sugar content, while adding a slightly warm and perfumed quality to the syrup.  The warm side of mangoes, to me, often feels sultry and that’s how this syrup feels to me, which is why my recommendation for drinkers is to pair it with bourbon.  Make DIY “healthy” soda for the kids by mixing the syrup with sparkling water. Warm fall bitters are the perfect addition for any drink regardless of booze.  Kids love to use bitters in sodas and anything that can get a kid to slightly expand their palette is a good thing. My current obsession is with Monarch Bitters brand, Aromatic Bitters.

Cranberry Blood Orange Mango Syrup
Makes 3 cups of syrup

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of mango pit syrup
1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
Zest of 3 blood oranges
Juice of 3 blood oranges

Directions

Place the mango pit syrup, the cranberries and the blood orange zest in medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes or until all cranberries have stopped popping. Reduce and simmer about 10 minutes longer. Strain the mixture, pushing on the solids to extract all juice, discard the solids. Cool. Mix together the cranberry nectar with the blood orange juice. Bottle and refrigerate.

Pour a few ounces over ice and top with sparkling water. Or mix with your alcoholic spirit of choice. Bourbon is quite nice. A few drops of aromatic bitters is a nice touch.

Smoky & Spicy Mango Cranberry Sauce

 Cranberry sauce is an essential component of Thanksgiving and it’s the one dish that is easy to personalize and flavor uniquely, without losing the essence of the sauce and the overall cranberry flavor. Adding mango, chipotle and mezcal gives the sauce a little #HechoEnMExico feel that I love, yet the final sauce still tastes like a traditional cranberry sauce, slightly spicy with a slight perfumed, smoky finish.

The mangoes help add texture differentiation and cut down on the excessive sugar typically added to curtail the tart. Mangoes tropical feel and flavor is nowhere to be found in this recipe as the bold cranberries and other potent ingredients squelch it. This is not only worth slathering all over your turkey on Thanksgiving, but it’s the ingredient you never knew you needed for your days after turkey sandwiches. Plus its an easy make one pan dish!

*Extra bonus idea: make a glaze  for your turkey by combining mango puree, maple syrup, chipotle and  some of this cranberry sauce.

Smoky & Spicy Mango Cranberry Sauce
Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup fresh mango, cubed small
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 dried chipotle chili, chopped fine (seeds removed)
½ cup mezcal
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
Juice of 2 blood oranges
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine everything in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, allowing all the cranberries to pop, stirring often. Once the cranberries have, all, popped open, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Make sure to stir often throughout the entire process. Allow to cool and serve either at room temp or cold. I love it served cold-ish on hot turkey!

Pumpkin and Mango Spice Cake

I have never made a cake for Thanksgiving, but this one, like my apples and brussels sprouts recipe, will have a permanent seat at my Thanksgiving table forever. It’s that good, its incredibly easy, basically fool- proof and vividly stunning; all things you want in a Thanksgiving dessert.  Additionally, its super mango-centric without screaming tropical mango. This is a mango dressed up and ready for a traditional holiday.

All over the continent of Africa pumpkins and mangoes grow.  They are not traditionally used together but  often in modern African cuisine, in places like Liberia,  Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Senegal and Morocco,  these two ingredients have been meeting up more and more. In many parts of Africa mangoes are cooked and made into desserts, often flavored with warming spices like cloves and cinnamon.   I had some amazing pumpkin fritters with spiced mango curd while In South Africa and I have always loved the flavor combination. This cake seems like it was meant for my thanksgiving table. The cake is exotic with history of far off lands, but tastes like something you might find a traditional mid-west Thanksgiving.  Plus, the idea essentially was born form one of my favorite Brooklyn Chefs, Pierre Thiam.  I adapted my recipe from his Mango Pumpkin cake,  and of course he had me at, “ I pop the pumpkin-mango cake in the oven, so that guests are greeted with that scent of cinnamon and ginger, everything warm and fresh.”

I serve my cake with No-Churn Persimmon & Mango Ice Cream or Mango Whipped Cream.

Pumpkin and Mango Spice Cake
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
2 ¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground all spice
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
¾ cup olive oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped mangoes, cubed small, plus several spears of mangoes, peels off (1-2 ripe mangoes depending on size)

Directions

Heat the oven to 340F. Using the butter grease a 9-10 inch round cake dish. I use a tall ceramic pie dish.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and all spices. In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, eggs and vanilla until mix until smooth. Combine the flour into the pumpkin mixture and mix until all the flour is incorporated. Gently fold in ¾ cup of the chopped mango. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Arrange mango spears on top of the cake gently in a fan shape or design of your choice.

Bake for about 2 hours or until the thin tip of a knife interested into the center comes out clean. The cake may start to get too brown before the inside is cooked, if this happens simply place a little tin foil over the top of the cake to prevent it from burning.

Serve the cake with Mango Persimmon Ice Cream or Mango Whipped Cream

 Mango Persimmon Ice Cream

This no churn ice cream was born from the internet’s most beloved and viral no churn ice cream recipes – utilizing sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream as the silky base.   No-churn ice cream isn’t my favorite, but it has a place and time and it offers a great base for showcasing fresh seasonal fruit ice cream that you can make quickly and easily.  I found that roasting the mangoes and persimmons first, with fall spices, gave the ice cream a deeper richer flavor and  a fall-ish feel. I also think the general ratio of one can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk to 1 container of heavy cream (2 cups) yielded an ice cream that is way too sweet, so my version uses only half the can.  If your sweet tooth is highly advanced, use the entire can, this recipe is super forgiving in terms of creaminess outcome.

*Make sure you use ripe persimmons as the Hachiya varietal can taste bitter if not fully ripe.

Mango Persimmon Ice Cream
Makes about 1 Quart

Ingredients

½ cup fresh and ripe mango, cubed
¾ cup fresh and ripe Fuyu persimmon, cubed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon all spice
Pinch of salt
½ can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream, very cold

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the mango, persimmons and spice, plus the pinch of salt in shallow baking dish and roasted until the fruit begins to caramelize and brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Blend the cooled fruit into the condensed milk with the vanilla until its totally smooth. Separately, whip the whipping cream using an electric beater or emulsifier until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk persimmon mixture and stir until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a deep plastic or glass storage dish (no bigger than 4 X 8). Tightly cover the mixture with parchment paper right up onto the cream, so ice crystals don’t form on the top. Freeze for at least 8 hours before serving

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