Last week at this time I was complaining about the heat and humidity. Temperatures were up into the mid-90’s and then it rained. And rained. We received almost 4” of rain in about 2 ½ days. The hygrometer in the house indicated that the humidity inside was over 90%. Miserable wasn’t quite a strong enough description of those few days. I ran out of bread but, there being no way on earth I would have turned on the oven to bake (heck, I was boiling pasta in the microwave), I bought a loaf. Not too bad, but when the temperatures come down later this week, into the mid-70’s, I will be baking again. And that store-bought bread will fortify the ducks at the lake house.
And I must again sing the praises of air conditioning. After 23 years of sweltering in the upstairs bedroom, it was absolute heaven to close the doors, turn on the unit, and sleep without becoming drenched. Of course, we opted for an inexpensive unit and it is quite loud (Frigidaire model FAA087P7A, sold exclusively at Lowe’s). Fortunately, after a couple of nights of frequent waking, we have become accustomed to the noise and are now considering if we should return it and spend 50% more to get a quieter model. On one hand, it was only $135, we only use it when we absolutely have to, and it’s an incredibly heavy thing to lug around. On the other hand, it sounds like a vacuum cleaner! The “cheap hand” is winning out so far…
In my last post, I gave some recipes which I had tried on guests and were successful. I’ll continue in that manner.
Served along with the vegetable kebabs previously mentioned, I made grilled salmon with a mango salsa. There are a million recipes out there for mango salsa, but I have 2 favorites and one was very enthusiastically received by our guests (the other one is darn good, too, so I will post that as well). Both are great with grilled salmon, and the second, containing cucumber, is also excellent accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish.
This was one of the easiest main dishes I have made for guests ever. The salmon was just rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and grilled. The easy to make mango salsa, containing fresh pineapple and banana as well, gave it a delicious tropical flavor. Jack was surprised at the amount of fish I was cooking, and the amount of mango salsa in the bowl, but there was nothing was left. :)
Now, freshly squeezed lime juice and orange juice are essential in this. I have subbed the not-from-concentrate orange juice sold in bottles in the dairy section of the grocery store and it’s okay but juicing a fresh orange (and only half an orange, really, since the recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons of oj) makes a difference.
Tropical Mango Salsa
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
1 or 2 small hot chilies (jalapeno, habanero, Serrano, or Scotch Bonnet if you’re feeling really adventurous), seeded and minced
1 cup fresh diced pineapple (about ½” dice)
1 cup diced mango (about ½” dice)
1 large diced banana; peel, cut lengthwise into quarters (which is easier done if you cut the banana crosswise in half first), then slice these quarters into ½” pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl (this can be prepared ahead of time). Fold in the pineapple and mango. Gently fold in banana. Sprinkle with mint. Serve within an hour.
And here’s the other mango salsa recipe. You can sub small, hot chilies for the hot sauce. I like trying different flavors of hot sauce and, this time, used a ginger-peach hot sauce which added a great flavor. I’ve also used cantaloupe instead of the mango with excellent results
Mango Cucumber Salsa
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
½- ¾ teaspoon hot sauce
pinch kosher salt
1 ½ cup diced mango (about ½” dice)
¾ cup peeled, diced cucumber (about ¼” dice)
¾ cup diced red bell pepper (about ¼” dice)
¼ cup minced red onion
Mix first three ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix gently. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours (bring to room temp before using, and I would add the onion just prior to serving in this case).
Now, you may notice that there are no photos to go with these entertaining recipes. I have a difficult enough time trying to get everything on the table without having to take time to photograph. :) However, because I like to add photos in here (seems a little static otherwise) here is a pic of my husband’s recent handiwork in completing the patio at the lake house. He really put forth effort to have it ready for the first batch of guests, and it looks wonderful.