Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mango Paradise

Picture yourself in a tropical paradise lounging in the sunshine beside crystal blue water. The light salt water breeze brushes gently through your hair, as you drink out of a coconut, your feet buried in the warm white sand. Peaceful and serene; there is not a sound but the waves drifting over the shore, and maybe some steel drums playing in the distance. Welcome to Marishky—your island escape.

Dinner is now being served, courtesy of chefs Marisa, Alisha, and Kym. Because it is mango season, we have a special menu in store for you that will feature the delicious tropic fruit as the theme ingredient. Your first course: Mango shrimp ceviche served over plantain and chorizo mofongo, with a mango ginger puree. Highlighting island flavors of seafood, lime, mango and plantains, the light starter simply speaks of a sunny beach; for even if you are not in a tropical paradise, you will certainly feel like it.

For this post, I worked  together with a team of other bloggers to design a unique “restaurant” and menu focusing on a chosen featured ingredient. And so Marishky, a mash up of efforts put in by myself and talented food bloggers Alisha of The Ardent Epicure and Kym of Free Spirit Eater, was born.

For our mango paradise-themed menu, each of us was responsible for a different course. As you can see, I made the appetizer. Mango itself has a very tropical essence, but I wanted my entire dish to evoke a sense of exotic lands and warm weather. Ceviche and mofongo are both Latin preparations that originate on islands—perfect!

Along with adding diced mangos to the citrus-marinated shrimp ceviche, I tossed it with a sweet and smooth mango ginger puree that I made from a cooked mixture of fresh mango, lime juice, grated ginger and sugar. I also served some of the puree on the side to eat with the mofongo. I learned how to make mofongo last year from a Dominican chef whose restaurant I was profiling; this was the perfect occasion to try it out for myself. Mofongo is a mash of fried green plantains, squished together into a delicious mess with garlic, butter and traditionally, pork cracklings; I added chopped cooked chorizo sausage to mine instead. The plantain chip on top is a just a fun garnish for a nice little crunch.

Check out Alisha's post for her delectable (vegetarian) entree:
Crispy Polenta and Black Bean Cakes with Herb Flower and Pineapple Mint Pesto and Coconut Crusted Mango Fries

Check out Kym's post for her lovely dessert:
Mango Chai & Pomegranate Chive Gelees w/ Honey Poached Radish on Raspberry Quinoa Cakes

Mango Shrimp Ceviche
Over Mofongo with Mango Ginger Puree

Mango Ginger Puree
Yield: 1 cup
- 2 mangoes, diced
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup lime juice (2 limes)
1) Add the mango, sugar, ginger and salt to a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mango begins to break down, about 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and cook stirring occasionally, until it is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
2) Puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Set aside ½ of the puree for the ceviche and reserve the rest for serving.

Mango Shrimp Ceviche
Yield: 6-8 appetizer servings
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 pound small shrimp (or medium, chopped), cleaned
- ½ medium onion, diced
- ½ cup peeled, diced cucumber
- ½ cup peeled, diced jicama
- 1 mango, diced
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- ½ cup mango ginger puree
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1) Bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Add the shrimp, cover and let the water return to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl; cool completely. Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ cup lime juice; cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
2) Add the diced onion, cucumber, jicama and mango to the bowl with the shrimp. In a small bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, olive oil, and ketchup; pour over the shrimp. Add the mango ginger puree; toss to coat. Add the cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Yield: 5 appetizer servings
- 4 ounces chorizo sausage, casings removed, finely diced
- 2 unripe plantains (green or just yellow), sliced into rounds
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
1) Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until slightly crispy, about 3 minutes.
2) Heat the vegetable oil in a deep skillet, deep-fryer or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the plantains in the oil until soft; remove and drain on a paper towel.
3) Mash the plantains while still warm. Add the softened butter, garlic, salt and pepper, and continue to mash until smooth.

To serve: Mold the mofongo in a small cup or ramekin and release onto a plate. Spoon the mango shrimp ceviche over the mofongo. Serve the remaining mango ginger puree on the side. Garnish with a plantain chip, if desired.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dining in New Orleans

I knew I loved New Orleans long before I ever got there. Before I ever strolled the colorful streets of the French Quarter, before I ever caught a set of Mardi Gras beads, and before I ever tasted a muffuletta sandwich, I had fallen in love with just the idea of it. Intrigued by the culture, spirit, and especially the food that the city is known for, New Orleans had long been on the top of my mental checklist of places to go.

Mardi Gras float and beads at Mardi Gras World, a mardi gras museum within one
of the warehouses where they make mardi gras floats.

I recently visited The Big Easy for the first time, and already I can’t wait to go back. It is everything you’ve heard about; from the mayhem of Bourbon Street to the cool, charming, jazz-filled streets that lay just beyond it, there is truly no place like it.

Bourbon Street
A quiet side street in the French Quarter

With an unwavering party spirit that’s always in full effect, New Orleans is a world full of character, deeply steeped in history and tradition. Beneath every iron laced balcony of the French Quarter and every bead-draped lamppost and stoplight, there is a story to be told. Near the famous Jackson Square, music echoes, psychics read tarot cards and street performers perform. If you’re lucky, you may even catch one of the many spontaneous parades that break out in celebration of marriages or debutantes.

Beads on a Royal Street streetlight, a wedding parade, & Jackson Square.

Nothing speaks louder of New Orleans culture than its spicy, Cajun and Creole-influenced cuisine, heavy in fresh-from-the bayou seafood. I used to imagine what it would be like to eat authentic dishes like crawfish etoufee and gumbo right in the unique city where they were born. Then, one day I blinked my eyes, and there I was with a warm beignet in my hand and powdered sugar all over my shirt. It was certainly a culinary daydream fulfilled.

You will notice there are a few must-tastes that I did not taste (i.e. catfish po’ boy). In four days, I may not have been able to eat everything, but I damn well tried. Here is my food-filled adventure in pictures. As they say in NOLA, laissez le bon temps roulette or let the good times roll…

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Homemade Flour Tortillas for Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

To celebrate, I wanted to share with you a recent video I made on how to make homemade flour tortillas. Towards the end of the video, I also demonstrate how to use the tortillas to make vegetable quesadillas.

Prepared from a short list of common ingredients (flour, shortening, salt and water), you won't believe how easy tortillas are to make from scratch—and they’re cheap, too! You don't need to use a tortilla press or any fancy equipment, just your hands, a rolling pin, and a cast iron skillet. If you want to reduce prep time even further, simply add all of the ingredients to a food processor and whirl away. After rolling the dough into flat discs, the best part is watching it squirm and bubble in the hot skillet as it dries out, instantly morphing, Hulk-style, into a bona fide tortilla.

There are so many uses for homemade flour tortillas. In addition to quesadillas, they are the base of many of our favorite handheld Mexican foods like burritos, tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas. Granted, flour tortillas are a little more Tex-Mex than Mexican. Corn tortillas are what you will commonly find in traditional dishes such as Mexico City street tacos, and are considered more authentic to Mexican cuisine. Corn tortillas are also a bit healthier, but it’s Cinco de Mayo and we’re celebrating.

If you come here often, you know that Mexican food is one of my favorites. Here are a few more recipes that are perfect for Cinco de Mayo:

Mexican Meatball Soup
Pico de Gallo & Guacamole
Margarita Sorbet
Tequila-Flamed Mangoes

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Cook’s Book is featured on the blog, Rhapsody à la crème. Visit to read the interview and to see some more fun pictures!

The author of the blog, Tricia, is one of my friends from high school. She’s a talented fashion illustrator who blogs about clothes, trends, the fashion world and other fashionable things like her cool designer internships, food, and me! Ok, whatever. But you have to admit, I can still vogue and work it with a spoonful of ice cream in my mouth lol.

That’s cotton candy ice cream, by the way, with rainbow sprinkles and as per Tricia’s request, a few gummy bears on top. Who am I to argue with gummy bears?

The photos were taken at Five Pennies Creamery in Rockville Centre, a cute old-fashioned ice cream parlor that makes a variety of delicious homemade frozen treats every day. Last summer, I wrote about my particular obsession with their peanut butter ice cream and how it inspired me to make my own.