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Food a La Carte

"The Simply Marvelous Mango"

Mangoes

"The Simply Marvelous Mango For April"

Spring is finally here and with it brings all sorts of wonderful fresh vegetables to our grocery stores, and soon our Farmer's Markets will open with the freshest of the fresh! But for now, I am happy for the beginning of the best season of the year, in my humble opinion. I am so ready for sweet, fresh vegetables and all the delicious ways to cook them. Until then, we'll make do with the best we can find at the grocery store. This month, we will feature recipes using an ingredient you may not have cooked with before, the mango.

Our first recipe, Mango Chicken, prominently features the ever-delicious mango. Did you know that the mango is one of the most popular fruits in the world? I've always loved mangoes, but man has been eating mangoes for over 5,000 years! I had no idea they have been so popular for so long. And, did you know the cute paisley pattern is actually based on the shape of a mango?

Don't be intimidated by mangoes. They're simply too delicious to avoid because you don't know how to cut them up. Well, mangoes are very similar to avocados, with a big seed in the center. With a mango, the seed is just oblong, rather than round like an avocado's. You can cut two large slices off of a mango and then cut the rest off of the seed, peel and you're done! If you're not sure how to tell if a mango is ripe, mangos will be slightly soft, again similar to an avocado, when it's ripe. A ripe mango will usually be brightly colored with red and orange skin.

Mango Chicken is a quick and super-easy recipe for any weeknight; just prep the chicken, chop up some peppers and spring onions and you're ready to cook! As always, feel free to substitute ingredients and adjust the recipe to your family's taste. The recipe calls for red, yellow and green peppers, along with the mango, so this dinner will be beautiful and most definitely company-worthy. But, use whatever color peppers you have on hand and I guarantee it will taste delicious. No green onions on hand? Substitute whatever type of onion you like. And, the cashews add a wonderful texture and crunch to finish the dish...yum!

Our second recipe is for Toasted Coconut Mango Bars. These yummy dessert bars look like the familiar Lemon Bars we all know and love, but these bars have a delightful, tropical twist. The center is creamy and deliciously mango-flavored and the toasted coconut provides a great nutty crunch. And, these bars use canned mango so you can have fresh-baked Toasted Coconut Mango Bars anytime you choose!

This is a great recipe to take to any family get-together. They're quick and easy to make with ingredients you may well have on-hand already. Add some fresh powdered sugar just before serving and I guarantee you won't have any leftovers.

So if you haven't tried cooking with mango, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. We are so fortunate that mangos are available year-round and we should take advantage of that by using them more often in our daily cooking. Mangos are sweet and delicious...what's not to like?

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Mango Chicken

Mango Chicken

Prep. time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 10 minutes - Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (4 breasts)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 mangoes
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons curry paste
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
  • 1/4 cup cashews (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut chicken breasts into approximately 4 inch pieces.
  2. Seed, core and cut peppers into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Slice onions into 1 1/2-inch lengths.
  4. Peel and pit mangoes and cut into 2/3-inch pieces.
  5. Whisk together stock, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch and curry paste.
  6. Using a wok or skillet heat half of the oil over high heat; stir fry chicken for 4 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
  7. Transfer to plate.
  8. Add remaining oil to wok or skillet; stir-fry peppers for 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in ginger, cook for 30 seconds.
  10. Add stock mixture and chicken, cook stirring for 2 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is hot.
  11. Stir in onions and mango.
  12. Sprinkle with cashews (if using).

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Toasted Coconut Mango Bars

Coconut Mango Bars

Prep: 20 minutes; Cook time: 35 Minutes - Serves: 16

INGREDIENTS:

THE CRUST

  • Vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

THE FILLING

  • Two 15-ounce cans diced mango, syrup drained
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

THE TOPPING

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 1 cup toasted coconut

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and grease with vegetable oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, granulated sugar and salt. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula or spoon. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. For the filling: Blend the mango with 2 tablespoons water in a blender.
  4. Beat together the granulated sugar and eggs in a bowl until combined. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and mango puree. Stir in the flour.
  5. Pour the filling over the crust. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake until the filling is set, about 25 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate at least 1 hour before cutting the bars.
  6. For the topping: Dust the bars with powdered sugar, sprinkle with toasted coconut and enjoy!