Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BB: Virgin Mango Banana Daquiris

This was a featured recipe of Barefoot Bloggers way back in August just as I was beginning with the group, and when I saw it, I knew that I would make it before mango season was over.

Mango Banana Daiquiris

Source: Ina Garten, Back to Basics on page 47
Chosen by Veronica of Supermarket Serenade
Serves 4


I didn't use any rum in our drinks.
I used some fresh mint from the garden as garnish


2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup* (I used 2-3 tablespoons of agave nectar)
1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay

Mango slices, for serving


Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.

*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.Type rest of the post here


Incredibly refreshing! Delicious mango flavor built upon the distinctive sweetness of banana. The big surprise was the subtle minty aroma and top note ... I would definitely keep the mint garnish when making it again, which, given the abundance of cheap mangos in season, I undoubtedly will. (I bet it would have been excellent with the rum!)


Saturday, September 19, 2009


I love finding fruits in the market that I have never tried before. This past week, I discovered these soft-spined beauties and bought a bag of 12 (only Q5 for the bag ... which is about $ .70 ... can't beat the price!)

I thought they might be Lychee Nuts, but the man who was selling them told me that they were called Rambutans ... and that he brought them in from Izabal ... the province that is just south of Petén. As soon as I returned home, I headed for the computer and google to find out about them.

Rambutan in Indonesian, Filipino and Malay literally means hairy caused by the 'hair' that covers this fruit, which I discovered is related to the lychee nut, as well as Longan and Mamoncillo. It is native to Indonesia and South East Asia. The outer skin is peeled exposing the fleshy fruit inside which is then eaten. It is sweet and sour to the taste.

We ate around the seed for the first one we tasted, then discovered that the seed has its own crunchy almondy taste/texture that really added to the flavor of the fruit itself. Later, I read that it is bitter and inedible (I'm glad I didn't read that first or I might have been influenced not to try eating them).


Thursday, September 10, 2009

CEiMB: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Right off the start I will admit that I didn't go into this recipe with an open mind. I've probably mentioned before that I am not really a fan of tomato sauce-y kind of dishes ... and with chicken, even less. I actually made up the chicken mixture a day earlier than we ate it, because I just didn't feel like serving it that night. However, I've never been disappointed with an "Ellie" recipe yet ... so I threw caution to the winds and we had them for lunch today.

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
2008, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

Serves: 6 servings, serving size: 1 sandwich


Ellie uses a rotisserie chicken, but they are quite a bit more expensive, so I baked my own chicken.

Since there would be only two of us eating, I halved the recipe, and I halved the chicken, saving the other half for a delicious Chicken / Broccoli Casserole from my youth (I found the recipe amongst Mom's recipe books when I was home) that I will definitely be making again next week and will take photos of then.

I didn't have any tomato sauce, so I finely diced one tomato instead.

You can't buy regular molasses here ... all that I have been able to find is sold by the barrel from huge tanker trucks as cattle feed enhancer. I used panela instead ... which is kinda like molasses taken one step further in the process and dried into a sticky cube.

I just left out the liquid smoke ... I didn't know what I could substitute, but it seemed like it would add another level of flavor.

I used my own home made hamburger / sandwich buns from a recipe that I stumbled across last week and loved and haven't posted yet ... its coming real soon.

I didn't bother buying lettuce because I have an incredible patch of a perennial, small leaved spinach that seems to grow faster the more I cut it. It is mild, even with its dark green color, so is excellent as a lettuce substitute.


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded into thin strips (about 4 to 4 1/2 cups)
6 whole-wheat hamburger rolls
6 large green lettuce leaves


Heat the oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, vinegar, molasses, pepper and liquid smoke and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped chicken, return to a simmer, and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Split rolls. Place a leaf of lettuce on each roll, then pile on 3/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the roll.


I was pleasantly surprised. At first, I thought the chicken was a bit too sweet, but the vinegar seemed to keep it in hand. There is no way I could have eked out three sandwiches from this half of the recipe ... I think my chicken may have been a bit smaller and for sure my home made buns were larger. However, one sandwich piled with almost half of the chicken mixture and served with cole slaw (a dill pickle would have been much better!) made an excellent lunch.


BB: Birthday Sheet Cake

The Barefoot Bloggers selection this month, chosen by Susy of Everyday Gourmet, is Birthday Sheet Cake. We don't eat a lot of dessert-type foods, and I'm not a cake fan at the best of times, but I decided to make it just for the fun of it, and tomorrow I will share some with the kids meeting in the afternoons for a class across the road at the Ix-canaan Library. Even sharing with the kids, it seemed like a lot of cake, (and a lot of chocolate) so I halved the recipe.

Birthday Sheet Cake
Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All Rights Reserved

Serves: 1 (12x18-inch) cake


I didn't have a single stick of unsalted butter in the refrigerator ... as a matter of fact I didn't have a single stick of butter at all. What I did have, was a bowl of butter mixed 50/50 with olive oil, which is what I use on bread and potatoes so we get the taste of butter with the health benefits of olive oil.

I had about half as much cream as I needed, so I completed filling the measure with home made yogurt.

I don't have either an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, so I did all the mixing by hand.

Instead of corn syrup in the frosting, I used some of my special doncella honey, figuring that the drop of lemony flavor would marry nicely with the bits of lemon zest in the cake itself

I don't own a 12" X 18" baking pan ... so I did some measuring and calculating, and discovered that two of my usual baking pans have the same basic "square footage" as half of the larger pan ... perfect.


For the cake:

18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:

24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time,

then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed.
Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula,
and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in the pan to room temperature.

For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted.

Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.

Spread the frosting evenly on the cake, and decorate.


The chocolate frosting was superb, and I thought as I was putting it together that it would make a great topping for ice cream. It was much better than the cake itself, which I found heavy and dry. I doubt that I would make it again ... especially since I seldom make cakes anyway.

*** UPDATE*** This cake is MUCH BETTER served cold ... right out of the refrigerator, with a big hot steamy mug of tea, coffee or chocolate. For some reason, the refrigerated cake doesn't seem so dry, especially when combined with the creamy chocolatey frosting. And the flavors meld as well.


Friday, September 4, 2009

CEiMB: Waldorf Chicken Wraps

This weeks Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe was chosen by Jessica at Johnstone's Vin Blanc. I realized as I read through the recipe that although I have heard often of Waldorf Salads, I have never actually made or eaten one! I'm not sure how that came to be ... I suppose it is not the kind of meal that I would order in a restaurant, and I seldom make meat based salads at home ... so it was a great opportunity to try something new.

Waldorf Chicken Wraps
2006, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

Serves: 5 servings


I used my own home made yogurt, which didn't need much draining.

I can't buy Dijon mustard here, so I substituted regular mustard.

I used dried thyme instead of fresh.

I forgot to order grapes to be brought into my local tienda when I ordered the wraps, so I substituted raisins at the last minute.

Walnuts are another food item that is difficult to find here, and outrageously expensive when you do find it .. so I substituted toasted peanuts.

Romaine lettuce is sometimes available in the market, but it wasn't this week. Besides, I have that tender small-leafed spinach growing in my garden, and some fresh basil left in the refrigerator to use ... so I chopped them and mixed them together.

I tried to get larger wraps, to no avail. I'm not a big fan of store-bought breads, but have never learned to make my own wraps, so I seldom eat them.


1 cup nonfat plain yogurt or 3/4 cups nonfat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced thyme
1 pound cooked, skinless chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup seedless grapes, sliced in 1/2
1/4 cup toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts
1 medium apple, cored and diced (about 3/4 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
5 large leaves Romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
5 whole-wheat wraps, about 8 inches in diameter


If using regular yogurt place the yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel. Put the strainer over a bowl and place in the refrigerator to drain and thicken for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the thickened or Greek-style yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and thyme until smooth. Fold in chicken, grapes, walnuts and apples. Season with pepper.

Place 1 lettuce leaf on a wrap.

Spoon about 3/4 cup of the chicken filling onto wrap ...

and roll wrap around filling.


The flavor of the salad itself was excellent, although it was different than the original recipe, mostly because of the basil, which I thought was an excellent addition. I served it with avocado slices on the side ... not only is avocado great with sandwiches of any type, but we are smack in the middle of avocado season, and I am taking full advantage of its delicious inexpensive availability

One of the things I have grown to love about Ellie's recipes is the layering of the flavors and textures ... it seems that new exciting bursts of taste explode in my mouth at each bite. The peanuts for walnuts substitution worked perfectly ... the crunchy flavor of peanuts leaping in between the sweet apple and peppery chicken added an ideal contrast. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the grapes more than the raisins, but the raisins certainly didn't detract. I would have enjoyed it served more as a salad, mostly because I find the store-bought wraps kinda doughy and flat tasting. Also, the small sized wrap was not large enough to pile on a good amount of filling and still wrap it closed to eat in your hands. In short, I would serve it again, and I would use the same combination of greens, but I would serve it as a salad instead of a wrap.


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