Mango Custard

Gets nice and caramel-y on top...

Mangoes...I love them...just have a hard time finding a good one at times.   The first time I ate a mango, it was somewhat underripe, and actually cutting the mango up was a little bit frustrating, due to the monster pit waiting inside that lovely yellow flesh. But even under-ripe, the fruit was delicious, and that bit of piney undertone to the flavor was addicting.   Finally encountering a ripe mango, I was completely transported--I had no idea that fruit could send you to another dimension. Well, perhaps I exaggerate, but it was darn good. My problem over the years has been finding mangoes at that peak of perfection. I've discovered the color on the outside does not seem to be a good indicator, but the touch test is helpful--if the fruit yields to gentle pressure, you may be in for some good eating. If the fruit yields to the point of being able to touch the pit, it's been around a little too long. If it is rock hard, it may ripen for you, but may actually begin spoiling before it is ripe enough to enjoy.   If you are lucky enough to find good ripe mangoes, cutting them up is actually easy, if messy. Starting at the top of the fruit, with stem down, and with the narrow side facing you, bring the blade of your chef's knife down across the top and slice down through the fruit slightly off center; when you encounter some resistance, curve the knife out away from the pit a bit, and use the pit as a guide for your knife as you finish slicing through the bottom. … {Read on...}

What goes in a foodie’s vacation suitcase?

We are going on a long anticipated vacation in a couple days.  The place we're staying has a semi-equipped kitchen; dishes, flatware, assorted pans, working stove and fridge, etc...  When I say the kitchen is semi-equipped I mean it is not constantly inhabited by an obsessive-compulsive, gadget-loving foodie like myself.  I have found myself wondering how little clothing I can possibly pack for a family of seven in order to preserve room in the van for my knives, mandoline, whisk, large cutting board, dough bucket, organic ketchup, natural peanut butter, homemade pickles, homemade jam, spices, huge cooler filled with pantry staples such as pesto marinated bocconcini and fresh herbs, tomatoes and zucchini from our garden, etc...   Is there any possible way I can pack my stand mixer?  It is like another child to me.  One which I am very glad not to have birthed.   I am contemplating whether to pack butter in the cooler.  I mean really, what if butter's price is astronomic there?  How would I make cinnamon rolls?  Or toast?    **At this point I would very much like to be able to say 'just kidding!' except that would be lying and I've repeatedly mentioned that my moral compass is set to 'honest'.    I've settled on taking my knives and steel  *There is, in a kitchen, nothing worse than someone else's dull ginsu, the large cooler and whatever will fit in it  *I refuse to leave behind that fresh jar of lovely basil/garlicky  fresh goat milk mozzarella, a whisk  … {Read on...}

The telemarketer actually called me ‘honey’. Foodie needs to vent.

I received a call this morning from a telemarketer.  Interestingly, we're on the do-not-call registry, but evidently these folks have found a way around the law.  Would this have irritated anyone else or am I crazy?  And in case you're wondering why I didn't hang up immediately it's because I couldn't believe this guy said what he did.  Really.   I'll reproduce our conversation below.  My thoughts will be in italics. Picking up the phone...   Me:  Hello?   Telemarketer Neanderthal (henceforth TN, speaking in a very smarmy tone of voice):  Hi.  Can I speak to the man of the house?   Me:  He's not in.  I'm his wife.  May I help you?  Aw geez.  How long is this going to take?   TN:  No, I'm calling to speak to the man of the house about something that's really important but would probably bore you.   Me:  Wow.  Where'd they dig this guy up?  Why don't you try me?  I'm pretty smart.   TN:  Well, *honey*, it's about sealing your basement walls and I'm pretty sure I'd better speak to the man of the house.  I don't think you would understand.   Me:  Well, I think you might be underestimating me.  More importantly, the man of the house wouldn't really like to speak with someone who talks to his wife like that.  Now kindly note that we're on the do-not-call registry and take us off your list permanently.   Hanging up enthusiastically with steam shooting out of ears.      Am I nuts? … {Read on...}

Weird food loves and the foodies who love them… Share your secret food loves.

I was popping a tray of cheesy toast (that's simply bread toasted under the broiler, topped with cheese and then broiled again until the cheese is bubbly and brown in bits) under the broiler and was thinking how everyone has weird food loves that you wouldn’t serve to anyone but yourself and any family who shares your odd culinary bent. This also got me to thinking about the vast quantities of junk food I've consumed over the years.  I spent some time mulling it over and wondered if I could get other people to divulge their weird food loves.  Let's be honest.  We foodies might not really want to admit to liking some of these things for fear of being laughed at by the foodie community at large.  I, personally, have zero problem making a fool of myself as it is something I have put a great deal of effort into doing over the years.  So I'll kick it off...   I have a strange love for anything involving cheese or (gasp) cheese products; cheesy toast, soft OR hard pretzels with either real cheese or cheese whiz, refried bean and pasteurized cheese dip, toasted cheese rounds on top of my dinner salads, etc…  There were more times than I could count in high school and college that I made a meal out of salsa con queso and Snyder's Sourdough Pretzels.    Some of my other non-refined food loves?  Andy Capp's Hot Fries, deep fried mozzarella sticks, deep fried mushrooms, well- anything non-offal or reproductive organ that's deep fried, Funyons, Snickers bars, Dr. Pepper (Why, … {Read on...}

Dad’s Zucchini Burgers

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I am in the middle of a protracted battle for space with the gargantuan zucchini that keep miraculously popping up in my garden.  After last night's garden veggie (read: zucchini) and quinoa stew, I was feeling out of ideas.  Then I thought, "Why do I need to come up with ideas?  I can fall back on a favorite."  ...And so a batch of zucchini patties came about.   Zucchini patties (or burgers as my Dad calls them) were Dad's go-to dinner when he cooked for my sister and I who were both vegetarians in our teen years.  I have since once again become an omnivore.  I missed bacon.  And ham.  And beef.  And turkey.  Oh, you get the point.  The patties were dead cheap to make and they made two teenage girls and their little brother very happy.  I can see why he made them frequently.  Dad's zucchini patties were always perfect; crispy on the outside, moist but firm on the inside, with lots of salt and pepper.  Shortly after moving out and getting my first place I asked Dad how he made them.  He replied that he started with a grated zucchini and added stuff (egg, bread crumbs, onion, etc...) until it was 'right'.  Da-ad (read that like a whiny teenage girl).  Once again it fell to me- the obsessively measuring, quantity recording daughter- to write down the family recipe.    I haven't made these in front of Dad yet so I can't officially give his stamp of approval but they taste about right to me.   Dad's Zucchini Burgers   As indicated by the name, these patties … {Read on...}