Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creamy Mango Soup

One of the most surprising things for me in New York City was how much fresh produce is around.  When I look at a map, I am always fascinated by the compactness of the Northeast and the density of the population.  Starting in DC, it seems like it’s nothing but metropolis after metropolis with open country a rarity.  Yet, you can’t walk six blocks in New York without running into a Fruit Cart overloaded with fresh fruit and vegetables.  The bodega on my corner?  Frequently has coconuts.  Coconuts!  Very odd.

That’s why, in the midst of this hot town, summer in the city (Lovin’ Spoonful!), I didn’t blink twice when Robbie asked me to make this mango soup he’d seen in our favorite market.  Luckily, he did not taste it so there were no expectations to meet.  He just saw the words creamy, mango and soup put together into a phrase that exemplifies his favorite thing ever – Creamy Mango Soup.
I just bopped over to the fruit stand and picked up a few mangos and went to work.  In thirty minutes we had a refreshing bowl of not-too-sweet mango goodness.  It would have taken only twenty minutes if one of my mangos hadn’t been of the more fibrous variety and required me to do some creative sieving through a sifter. 

I am not going to lie, I was hoping for more of an ice cream flavor (I don’t know why, there was neither cream, nor frozen liquid in the recipe) so the savoriness of it took me by surprise on first taste.  But the richness of the yogurt combined with the subtlety of the mango was satisfying. 

Creamy Mango Soup
Adapted from The Wimpy Vegetarian

3 ripe mangos (I found that if you have a mango where meat isn’t pulling as cleanly away from the skin as it should, put it down and go buy another one.  This means it will most likely have fibers that will mix into the soup and not dissolve appropriately creating a less-than-smooth soup.)
1 seven-ounce container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup light coconut milk
¼ cup low fat milk
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons honey

Peel and slice the mangos, putting the meat into a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and, using an immersion blender, blend until creamy.  A regular blender or food processor would also work.  Chill for at least an hour before serving, or, better yet, chill overnight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats

We are in our fourth heat wave of the summer according to New York City weathermen.  They define a heat wave as a sequence of days with highs over 90 degrees.  I define heat wave as any sequence of days where the high is over 82.  I have been in a perpetual heat wave since May.   I have been told that I need to ‘embrace summer’ and that I am ‘from the South where it is even hotter!’ which are valid arguments except I have never experienced as suffocating a heat as when you are waiting on the D train at Broadway/Lafayette subway station with no air circulation and the only breeze that could possibly exist comes when the train I do NOT need pulls in but is then stifled due to the heat that the multi-ton metal machine exudes in your face before pulling out.  Try to embrace that, I say.

Nevertheless, I am trucking away with our window air conditioning units (thank God for those) and seeking relief by plotting my walks to the subway via routes that include doormen-operated apartment buildings and clothing stores that keep their doors open.  This allows me to stand idly in front of them for three-minute stretches before moving to the next one and eventually heading down into the inferno of the subway platform. 
You can imagine how the last thing I want to do then is turn on an oven.   My daily pension for a baked treat is taking a severe beating.  However, I have found these little goodies satisfy me – they are just as basic and warm-fuzzy inducing as a cupcake and have a fancy twist thanks to the browned butter.  And they come from one of my favorite blogger's first cookbook!  

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats
Adapted (moderately) from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

1 stick butter
1 bag mini-marshmallows (10 ounce)
½ cup smooth, natural peanut butter (I used JIF naturals)
¼ teaspoon salt
6 cups of crispy rice cereal

Butter an 8 or 9-inch square pan.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter until browned over medium heat.  Butter will become foamy and frothy before you notice browned bits on the bottom.  As the browned bits form, stir in the marshmallows, peanut butter and salt.  Stir until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Turn off heat, remove pan from the heat and add rice cereal.  Stir fast so that the cereal is coated evenly.  Turn mixture into your buttered square pan and, using your fingers, press mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Let cool before slicing.