Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: travel

Chilled Mango Cucumber Gazpacho

Posted on

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of escaping with my husband to the most charming little place in the Catskills. We’d gone to celebrate the first wedding anniversary of my husband’s beautiful sister at the location she and her husband eloped to last August. Dear old friends, family, and new friends gathered at The Roxbury Motel for a truly blissful weekend.

Grounds of The Roxbury Motel in Roxbury, NY

This place is a polished gem with so many facets that you can’t help but gasp as you view each new angle. It’s hard to put into words and pictures don’t do it justice. It’s just magical. Every space on the property has been tended to with the same special care a momma gives her baby. You can feel the love in every unique little detail. During our time there, we encountered a family with two small children, a group of four women celebrating a bachelorette weekend, a couple on a romantic getaway, and a pair of outdoor sports enthusiasts. Oddly, The Roxbury Motel provides the perfect accommodations for each of these occasions. It’s definitely a special place.

The ‘Maria’s Curtains’ room in The Roxbury Motel

My husband and I stayed in the room which is called ‘Maria’s Curtains’…as in the Maria from The Sound of Music and the curtains she used to create play clothes for the von Trapp children. Our room was swimming in the curtain’s pattern, from the bedding to the hand stenciling which crossed from the walls to the ceiling, to the custom tiling around the massive soaking tub. The lamps were made of brown paper packages tied up with strings. And two fantastically tiny, bright copper kettles sat on a small corner table. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t spend half of the weekend singing My Favorite Things in my ridiculously out-of-tune voice.

We stayed up too late laughing with friends, old and new. We had massages. We soaked in the spa’s hot tub. We drank champagne. And we dined at an amazing little restaurant, called the Peekamoose. The Peekamoose prides itself on its use of locally grown, seasonal ingredients with a menu which changes based on the day’s freshest available foods. Their execution is flawless in every way. I enjoyed a peppery arugula salad tossed in a light vinaigrette with fresh peaches, chevre, and toasted pine nuts, followed by tender goat cheese gnocchi and then the most decadent slow-cooked braised short ribs in a truffled bordelaise sauce. It was an amazing meal.

Exterior of the Peekamoose Restaurant in Big Indian, NY

My husband enjoyed the same selections, with the exception of the first course. For his first course, he selected the chilled watermelon gazpacho. (I stole a taste, of course.) And when we arrived back home to find a box full of the most beautiful, perfectly ripe mangos on my doorstep (courtesy of the National Mango Board), I was instantly inspired. Mango gazpacho.

Traditionally, gazpacho is a chilled tomato-based soup accented with cucumbers, onion, and peppers. But, inspired by the sweet and savory watermelon gazpacho at Peekamoose and the box full of gorgeous mangos on my doorstep, I came up with this refreshing (and quite mangolicious) variation.

Somebody couldn’t stay away from the mangos…

Mangos are just so perfectly versatile. They’re sweet, smooth, and bursting with fiber and vitamin C. Everyone in our family loves their flavor and I always feel good about feeding my family fresh, nutritious foods. When selecting mangos, focus more on the feel of the fruit, than the color. A ripe mango will feel slightly soft, like a peach. If your mangos are not quite ripe, store them on your countertop for a few days. Placing them in a brown paper bag can help speed the ripening process. Once they are ripe, you can store them in the fridge for up to five days. For a photo guide on how to cut mangos, check out my mango guide HERE or stop by www.mango.org for more tips and delicious mango recipes.

Apparently, I was taking too long to cut the mangos.

This smooth, chilled soup makes a refreshing first course during a summer meal or an eager partner to a nice fresh salad. Sweet mango provides the main flavor base, combined with a bit of creamy Greek yogurt and vegetable broth. Fresh cucumber, added to both the soup and the garnish lends a cool, crisp flavor. We tend to like things spicy around here, but you can easily adjust the spiciness to your family’s liking by increasing or decreasing the cayenne and jalapeño pepper in the recipe.

Chilled Mango Cucumber Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large mangos, skin and pit removed, cut into chunks*
  • 1 (6-ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3″ segment seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (plus more if desired)

For the garnish

  • 6″ segment of seedless cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • Basil oil, optional

*Click HERE for a photo guide on how to cut a mango.

Directions

Place the mango chunks in a blender. Blend until smooth. (You should have about 3 1/2 cups of mango puree.) Add the cucumber, vegetable broth, lemon juice, and yogurt. Blend until smooth. Add salt and cayenne pepper, as desired. Refrigerate until chilled.

For the garnish, combine the cucumber, jalapeño pepper, and shallot with the lime juice. Refrigerate until serving.

For the optional basil oil, blend about 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves with abut 1/4 cup of olive oil, then strain through a fine sieve or a piece of cheesecloth to remove large chunks of basil.

Advertisements

Creole Fish Tacos

Someday we’ll try to explain to the kids how we used to be cool. How we used to live in NYC…well, technically just outside it. Ok. It was New Jersey, but is was just across the Hudson. Mommy went to culinary school downtown after teaching preschool in Queens and daddy played bass in a rock band. After work, we used to meet up with friends in some of the city’s coolest places, like a one-time speakeasy, said to have been a favorite spot for numerous authors, poets, and playwrights, such as E.E. Cummings, William Faulkner, and Eugene O’Neill.  And in the evenings we’d hang out in underground clubs, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes, as a fire-breathing (literally) band called Toilet Boys rocked the stage. For realz. And one time we even bumped into a young Katie Holmes (think Dawson’s Creek era) in a very un-Dawson’s Creek type bar.

We’ll reminisce about the time we took friends for drinks at the bar atop the World Trade Center. Or how we used to dine in restaurants where at least five different waiters catered to our every need as we enjoyed ten-course tasting menus (with wine-pairings, of course). Places where every member of the staff made a point to know you by name on your very first visit. Places where we could drop a mortgage payment on a meal, without concern for silly things like preschool tuition, college funds or diapers.

We’ll talk of the other adventures we had. Like the summer after college that we spent living in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, waiting tables and housekeeping at a local hotel, in between jaunts to Amsterdam, Italy, and Greece, back in the days where every country had their own currency. We’ll remember the afternoons we spent hiking up the Kramer mountain and drinking big mugs of flavorful German beer in the biergarten situated halfway up the mount, as we overlooked the entire town, deciding on names for our future pets.

The kids will take one look at my mom jeans and the lone gray hair (which probably won’t be so lone by then) growing in my sloppy ponytail and fully believe we’re lying to them. We will appear too old and way too uncool to have ever done such cool stuff. Our pre-digital photographs will all have faded. And our friends, the ones who could corroborate our stories, will appear as full-of-bologna as we do. It’ll become like those stories our grandparents used to tell about walking to school in tissue box shoes. The kids will assume we are exaggerating, though our memories are clear.

I’d like to say that we’re overdue for a another big adventure. That my heart longs, just a bit, to go back to each of those times in our lives. And it does. But I suppose that parenthood is the grandest adventure of them all. I mean, we made little humans…three of them! Little people with bits of each of us, perfectly blended into three unique individuals. Three perfect little people who will grow to create their own exciting memories. Life’s adventures don’t get more awesome than that.

Our lives now are consumed by toy trains and rubber snakes. Fancy meals are made at home or enjoyed as a family at the Spaghetti Warehouse. And the last time I bumped into a rockstar, it was my four-year-old singing Nowhere Man. But it’s ok. It’s perfect, actually. There will be plenty of time for new adventures once we’re done raising our pack of tiny humans.

Our bucket list of future adventures is long. But one of the adventures on the short (more easily attainable) list, is a trip to New Orleans. It may well be our next long-weekend adventure, once the baby is weened and old enough to leave for a few days. I’ve longed for New Orleans my entire life, for reasons other than my current desire to eat and drink my way through the city. The city calls to me. I’m anxious to meet her someday (ideally during Jazzfest)!

In the mean time, I like to create meals with the flavors I envision I will enjoy when I’m there. Like these Creole-style Fish Tacos, which feature big chunks of  cornmeal-crusted catfish set atop a crisp creole slaw and drizzled in a spicy chipotle remoulade.

P.S. These tasty tacos are not on our South Beach diet. They were made a few weeks ago, in between mountains of Christmas cookies. But I’m sure you could squeeze them into any balanced diet!

Chipotle Remoulade

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickle
  • 1 anchovy fillet (optional, can omit)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon or brown mustard
Directions

*Run your fingers along the anchovy, as you rinse it under running water to check for and remove any larger bones. If you choose to omit the anchovie, you may want to add a dash of salt to the sauce.

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Creole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon creole mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine the mayo, vinegar, worchestershire, mustard, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Toss with the cole slaw mix. Make several hours or a day ahead if possible. Refrigerate until use.

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish
Ingredients
  • 3 catfish fillets
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup creole/cajun seasoning*
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil

*If your creole seasoning is not well salted, add additional salt to the dry mixture.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cornmeal, flour, creole seasoning, and additional salt (optional) in a small baking dish or tray. Dip each catfish fillet into the beaten egg. Then press the catfish into the cornmeal mixture until well coated on all sides. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large oven-safe fry pan over medium/medium-high heat. Place the catfish fillets in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. Then, place the pan into the heated oven and cook for about 12 additional minutes, until cooked through.

To compose the tacos: Place 4-6 small flour tortillas in a 375 degrees oven for a few minutes, until warm and slightly toasted. Remove the tortillas from the oven and fold in half while warm. Cut the catfish fillets into large chunks. Fill each tortilla with a generous mound of the creole slaw and several chunks of the catfish. Generously drizzle with the chipotle remoulade.

Makes 4-6 tacos

Diet Day: 10   Weight Loss: -6.5 or so   Motivation: Happily staying the course

Secrets of An Avon Beauty Boss

Achieving Beautiful Dreams with Avon

The Gourmand Mom

Good food, seasoned with a dash of life

%d bloggers like this: