Recipe - Orange, Rosemary, Chili

How about orange, rosemary, chili?

What a killer combo with a great smoky bourbon, a candies orange peel and a touch of bitters.

Yesterday I made a Meyer lemon, vanilla bean syrup and drizzled it over those awesome season’s first Southern California strawberries with a heaping spoon of Greek yoghurt. The flavor was incredible.

A great kid friendly combo might be orange, lemon, lime, vanilla bean. How wicked would this be with soda water as a healthy soft drink? Or better still with a mountain of fruit on waffles or pancakes.

I am thinking of some fun things we can do while we wait for spring. In Mexico mangoes are in season and if you can manage to get near an Indian grocery store you might find Ataulfo mangoes. These are the super sweet smaller mangoes. Often a box of 18 can cost around $15. I love ripe mangoes, the flavor is reminiscent of citrus, coconut and lime all in one. Devine stuff.

Let’s make Mango Chili Jam. Great on grilled meats, poultry, fish and tofu that we are now starting to slap on the Q. I love the combination with soft, spreadable, tangy goat cheese smeared on a bagel or oozy bleu on great crackers. Now let’s cook.

Peel and remove as much flesh as possible from the mangoes. Measure out as you go 2/3 fruit to 1/3 sugar. Add the zest and juice of a lime, 1 finely chopped red finger chili or a good teaspoon of dried and finely chopped garlic clove. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer until thickened. This mixture may need the addition of water if your mango is either harder or is too soft but needs a little loosening up. Keep in mind as this cools it will thicken slightly. Now taste the mixture when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Is it spicy enough for you? Can you taste the lime? Pour the mango mixture into sterilized jars and process according to the canning instructions.

Try Sweet Mango Jam by eliminating the chili and garlic. Try it in your morning oatmeal, swirl on top of a banana bread. Another thing I do with the Spicy Mango Jam is to mix it with a hit of fish sauce, soy, rice wine vinegar and good olive oil for a really interesting salad dressing. Dress up tuna cubes, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and avocado. Serve with crispy won ton chips or taro root that you get in the grocery store for an elegant Hor’s D’ouvre or starter salad at your next dinner party. Endive leaves also work well.

Here in Southern California there are artichokes of all different sizes. Luckily in Toronto we can get these as well. If you have never tried an artichoke, do. They are very delicate in flavor and fun to eat, especially the large ones.

Trim all the lower leaves off, cut the top of the artichoke ¼ of the way down with a serrated knife. Scoop out the hairy inside leaves and core. Be careful as the leaves have prickly bits. Trim the base but if there is a stem just leave it intact and peel it as it becomes tender and delicious. Does this sound next to impossible? Then, Google or U Tube it. Don’t give up. Now, we dip. We pull off the leaves, dip in yummy sauces and scrape the individual leaves against our teeth pulling the flesh into our mouths mingling with sauce discarding the tough part of the leaf.

Here are some delectable dips that are easy to make a quite versatile.
Make a homemade mayonnaise, so simple in a food processor and not much more work with a fork and bowl.

Crack an egg and place the yolk into a bowl. Add to this a bit of sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, a tablespoon of either white wine vinegar or the juice of a lemon. Turn on the processor or stir this mixture well. Slowly, slowly, slowly add very good quality olive oil until the mixture starts to thicken or in chef terms, emulsify. Now is the fun part, add freshly chopped tarragon or basil, garlic, sriracha, grainy mustard, orange zest and or curry. The combinations are up to you. Be brave, have fun. This sauce is great on grilled steaks, burgers or mixed into tuna salad.

Eat well right now. It is tough because we are in between seasons but we will move forward but for now have fun with wonderful eats from other parts of the world we are so very lucky to experience.