Mango cobbler in Mexico

Mango season will come to an end any day now in our part of Mexico. When that happens, it will be a readjustment of reality for me. It is so easy to get used to having fresh, sweet mangoes whenever I want, everyday. Well, before the harvest ends, here is a very easy mango cobbler to make. Once you have sliced mangoes ready, the few ingredients for the cobbler batter are mixed up in minutes. Into the oven. Out of the oven. And on a dish in front of you, topped with a cool scoop of yogurt, maybe homemade yogurt. Its smooth and tart coolness contrasts nicely with the warm sweetness of mango cobbler.

Like many of my baking recipes, this one is made with whole wheat flour, a minimum of sugar, and organic ingredients when available. I used Tommy Atkins mangoes.

Mango Cobbler

  • 3 ripe mangoes, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz./56 grams) organic butter
  • 1 cup (4 oz./115 gram)  whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ( 1.8 oz./50 grams) organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
  • 1 cup (8 0z./240 ml.) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds plus 1 tablespoon organic sugar

Read recipe through completely. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. (180 C.) Prepare and measure/weigh all ingredients.

Melt butter in a 9″x 9″ (about 22 cm. square) baking pan. Swirl to coat sides of pan with melted butter. Arrange half of mango slices in bottom of pan.

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, cardamom and baking powder briefly with a fork. Add milk, and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

Spoon batter over mango slices. Arrange remaining slices on batter. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cake tests dry with a toothpick and is light brown. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm with plain yogurt.

Note:

This cobbler is extra fruity, because there are two layers of fruit, rather than the one layer found in most cobbler recipes.  Extra fruit means extra fructose, resulting in a cobbler still very sweet, even with a minimum of sugar in the recipe.

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Mango Lassi and Mango Fruit Flies in Mexico

Mango season continues in Mexico, as do the languid, humid days. Icy drinks help us forget the heat while we enjoy our bounty of mangoes on a tropical afternoon. Mango Lassi is a good way to enjoy these flavorful beauties and rehydrate at the same time. Lassis are cold fruit and yogurt drinks from India, reputed to aid digestion when taken with a spicy meal. They are so refreshing, so welcome on a hot afternoon, I don’t need the excuse of eating spicy food to enjoy one. Quick to whip up in the blender, they serve as one more way to enjoy the luscious, drippy, golden, succulant mangos that abound this time of year. Indulge me, please, and let me get away with an overuse of descriptive mango words. They really are that incredible.

Mango Lassi       serves 2

  • 1/2 cup (240 ml.) diced mango
  • 1/2 cup (240 ml.) plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ( 240 ml.) cold water
  • 1/2 cup (240 ml.) ice cubes
  • sugar or honey to taste, optional
  • pinch of ground cardamom, fennel or coriander
  • sliced or slivered almonds for garnish

Zizz all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into two ice cold glasses and garnish with sliced or slivered almonds. Listen to the sound of the greening bamboo leaves rustling in the moist breeze as you sip a mango lassi in Mexico. لسی

A large Kent mango, green on the outside when ripe

Are you squeamish, faint of heart and stomach, and generally a picky eater? If so, stop reading right now. If you choose to stay with me, don’t give me, “Oh, ewwww!” when you see me next. See those little tracks in the photo above, the tiny tunnels in cross section? They are most likely made by larvae of the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens, the scourge of citrus and mangoes in Mexico. Some mangoes are so infested, they are inedible. This mango, the same one I used for the lassi, was not banished to the compost pile. It is a simple matter to trim out buggy parts, if you feel you must.

Mangoes for export are sprayed, as are many grown for domestic use. Malathion and diazinon are two of the chemical sprays used to treat mango trees. According to one source, both of these pesticides “harm children and farmworkers, poison wildlife, and taint food and drinking water”. Nice.

I know it is virtually impossible these days to be chemical-free, despite our efforts. Sprayed mangoes, the perfect ones in the super markets, can be had. The local mangoes I buy from my neighbors have evidence of fruit flies, so I will assume they are not sprayed. I don’t have a problem with eating a few bugs now and then. Years of living in Mexico has inured me to many types of other life forms: leggy spiders, winged termite clouds, six-legged tiny beings I can’t even categorize.

Indigenous people of Mexico and other countries, to this day, rely on insects for additional protein in their diet. Who am I to question the wisdom of centuries? The alternative is to continue adding to my body’s chemical cocktail accumulation. Just in case you are wondering, I also researched the safety of eating fruit flies and larvae. They are safe to ingest. Meat is meat.

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Mango Ginger Clafoutis in Mexico

Mango Ginger Clafoutis is next on the list for July’s mango celebration. Clafoutis, sometimes spelled “clafouti” in English, is a French dessert —  part cake, part custard — traditionally made with cherries. The abundance of mangoes more than makes up for the lack of cherries in Mexico. We make do with what we have.

Once your ingredients are assembled, this is a snap to make in the food processor. It could also be mixed with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk. As this is a French recipe, I’ll use my favorite French phrase when in the kitchen, mis en place, the practice of having every ingredient weighed, measured, peeled, cut, before you begin to assemble, mix and cook. Greater kitchen organization means no incorrect measurements or forgotten ingredients, and less hassle for you.

Mango Ginger Clafoutis serves 9

1 oz. (29 grams) crystallized ginger, thinly sliced

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) melted organic butter
  • 1 1/2 lb. (675 grams) large mango cubes, about 2 large mangoes (how to cube mangoes)
  • 1 3/4 cups (6.3 oz./180 grams)  sifted whole wheat flour (save bran for whole wheat bread)
  • 6 tablespoon (2.8 oz./80 grams) organic sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, farm fresh if possible
  • 1 cup  (296 ml.) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting top of cake

Read recipe through completely. Assemble and measure or weigh all ingredients. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. F (180 C.). Generously butter bottom and sides of a  9″ baking dish.

Evenly space mango cubes on bottom of baking dish, leaving a 1″ space around the sides for a solid cake border. Distribute candied ginger slices around mango pieces.

Add flour, sugar and salt to the food processor work bowl and process for 5 seconds. Add eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla. Process for 10 seconds, or until completely blended. It may be necessary to scrape down the side of the work bowl and process a few seconds more. Pour batter over fruit, being careful not to displace mango pieces. It’s OK if the fruit is not completely covered with batter.

Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. When done, the top will be golden and puffy and a toothpick will test dry.

Upon removing from the oven, immediately invert onto a plate. Dust the clafoutis with confectioner’s sugar and serve while warm. In France, clafoutis is served hot straight from the oven, and it is best served either hot or warm; it becomes firm when cold. High in eggs, low in sugar, and containing whole wheat flour, a piece of Mango Ginger Clafoutis will make a great breakfast tomorrow with a cup of Mexican coffee.

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How to Slice and Dice a Mango

Today is too hot to do much of anything but think about eating mango ice cream.  It’s mid-July and we are in full-blown, all-out mango season on the west coast of Mexico. Tommy Atkins are everywhere, but we have also seen the sweet Ataulfos and giant Kents. Consuelo is who lives across from the kindergarten, is selling “Tommys”, four pesos for one kilo.

I bought ten kilos, which is a commitment.

Mangoes are picked green, just like bananas. They ripen within a week, becoming juicy, sweet and sticky. The food dryer, the freezer, the ice cream maker and me —  we will all be working over-time for the rest of the week as my ten kilos of Tommys become tender to the touch and fill the house with their perfume.

A few have already ripened, and I know that mango ice cream will be the first thing to make. That is, after we eat our fill of plain, sliced, unadorned mangoes.

Here’s how to slice and dice a mango if you don’t know how to tackle this gorgeous, tropical fruit.

Stand the mango on its fat end, and slice the two cheeks off, cutting as close to the slender seed as you can without cutting into it. In the upper right of this photo, you can see a cheek that was cut too close to the seed. No matter, just trim out the piece of seed.

Place the cheek on a cutting board or cradle in the palm of your hand, and, with a paring knife, score the flesh into whatever size pieces you wish, being careful not to cut through the skin. I scored into 1/2″ dice.

Still holding the cheek in the palm of your hand, take a soup spoon and run its edge between the flesh and the skin, releasing the pieces of mango. Do this over a bowl so that no juice is lost. The juice can be added to a smoothie, your morning glass of orange juice or a glass of iced green tea. This photo shows the fibrous nature of Tommy Atkins. Their flavor and sweetness more than make up for the fibers.

Run the paring knife around the edge of the mid-section to remove the peel, and slice off as much fruit as you can from the seed.

A bowl of diced mango, ready for topping cereal, ice cream, or a dish of yogurt.

The weather page reports that it is 86 degrees F., “feels like 97 F.” with the humidity factored in. Mango ice cream is beckoning.

A tray of mango slices heading to the food dryer.

Once dry, they will keep for months in the fridge, but most likely will be long gone by winter. A piece of dry mango is as sweet as candy. I wish you were here to share the mango bounty with us.

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Fruit Tacos for Gringos

When I’m hungry and I’m walking past a tortilleria — that’s what they call the place where corn tortillas are made in Mexico — I have to buy at least three pesos worth. Three pesos will buy eight tortillas these days, which is more than enough to make several fruit tacos and have a couple tortillas left-over for our dog Chucha. She will just about do anything to get a tortilla thrown in her direction.

A freshly cooked, steaming tortilla has so many different filling options — scrambled eggs with salsa, cheese and tomatoes, last night’s left-over coconut fried fish. Or fruit. For a quick snack, slice up any fruit, the more tropical and sweeter the better, place on a tortilla, and add any of the following: peanut butter, Walnutella, agave syrup, or dried organic coconut if you have some. You could probably think of more goodies to add. Roll it up. Yummy.

You will want to make two or three or five more, especially if a dear husband just happens to wander by to see what’s  happening in the kitchen, as mine did. He really liked the banana with homemade peanut butter and agave syrup. It is awesome to have our own home grown bananas.  I will never take them for granted.

It’s mango season and our neighbors Luis and Lupe just gave us a bag of mangoes from their ranchito outside of town. I highly recommend sliced mangoes with coconut. So does Russ. The mangoes are so sweet, but we added agave syrup anyway.

Mmm…mmm…mmm. I wish you were here. I’d make one with Walnutella for you.

I was almost laughed out of English class once by my students when I told them I made Black Bean Salsa. No self-respecting Mexican would ever use beans for salsa. Frijoles, ay caramba! I’m not going to tell them I’m putting fruit in corn tortillas. They would never understand.

Note:

My healthy ingredient choices: organic agave syrup, homegrown organic bananas, homemade peanut butter (without hydrogenated oils or sugar), organic coconut.

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