Summer is mango season in Miami. Right now, trees all over the city are dripping with ripening fruit. In celebration of the coming months, I created this simple mango salad with mozzarella and mint. It features mango in all its glory, along with soft buffalo mozzarella, fresh mint and tangy pickled onions. A drizzle of good olive oil, 18 year balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh pepper are the only seasoning needed. This is the type of recipe that focuses on the quality of the ingredients instead of a lot of fuss—my favorite kind!
Mangos start ripening as early as April in Miami, depending on the species. There are hundreds of species and the different varieties continue producing until January. Peak season is during the summer months.
In July, we visit the Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Garden. This botanical garden holds the largest mango festival in the world, featuring hundreds of mango species. You can taste different mango varieties, eat mango -filled goodies and purchase fresh fruit and trees at the festival. It’s definitely a must-see for any foodie family.
Many Miami homeowners have mango trees in their backyard. We planted a dwarf mango two years ago, and this is the first year it fruited. We only harvested three little mangoes, but they were our mangoes. If you don’t have your own mango tree, this is the time of year when you wish you were friends with the grumpy neighbor who’s massive old mango tree is loaded with fruit.
The older trees bear so much fruit, many people hire pickers to come harvest the fruit from their yards; others just let it rot on the ground. If you drive through some of the old neighborhoods, you will see boxes of fruit for the taking, along with a tip jar.
Mangoes can be found cheaply throughout the city right now. You can sometimes find them in the grocery store for as little as $.25. They aren’t in as good condition as they would be straight off the tree, but for that price, I’ll take a few bruises. If you want really good prices and quality, visit the Spanish grocery stores. They get their fruit from small local producers and it is often in better condition than the fruit in the big stores.
I hope you get to try some good mangoes this year. Be sure to come by the Mango festival if you are visiting Miami in July. It’s hot, but there is plenty of good eating!
Yield: 2-4 servings
To prepare the mango, carefully remove the skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cutting lengthwise in the direction of the seed, slice two slices from the mango. Lay the slices cut-side down and cut into thin slices.
Arrange salad greens on plates. Layer a slice of mozzarella, three slices of mango, another slice of mozzarella and three more slices of mango. Add onion and mint leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Finding ways to make fresh, healthy food at home is one of my passions, and pickled onions are a staple we keep on hand at all times. My husband is a big onion fan and I’m a big pickle fan—so a batch of these spicy pickled onions goes quickly in our home. It only takes 5 minutes to make a batch of these colorful sweet/tart/spicy treats, so there’s no excuse not to try them—unless of course, you don’t like onions. If you are reading this, my guess is you do!
Spicy pickled onions make everything taste amazing. They add that extra bit of love to every meal. I use them on sandwiches, salads, tacos, and serve them alongside hamburgers and wraps. I’ve even put them in cocktails! It’s one of those homemade specialties that impresses every time, so don’t get caught without a jar in your fridge (how embarrassing!).
Pickled onions are probably the easiest of pickles to make. If you haven’t pickled before, this is the place to get started. I tend to make them as I’m cutting onions for other recipes, one jar at a time.
We love all things spicy, so if you like something with a little kick, these are for you. They are sharp and sweet with a refreshing kick from the peppers. They taste a little like another favorite of mine, the spicy bread and butter pickle.
My old screw-top Mason jars, while effective, were becoming unpleasant to work with. The aluminum caps were difficult to pop off and the screw-on lids were starting to show a little rust. The Weck jars were the perfect solution. They are wide on top, making it easy to fish out whatever treat is inside, plus they look pretty in my refrigerator.
Use any old jar with a lid, or make these in a glass container or bowl with some plastic wrap on top. There’s no need to fuss because these are easy, remember? I don’t want a silly little jar keeping you from making these spicy pickled onions.
Use can use any type of onion too. Sweet Vidalia onions work very well, or you can use plain white onions. Red onions are my preference because they look so nice. The red turns to a bright pink after sitting in the brine for a day or two. These keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until sugar dissolves.
Place onion slices, cinnamon stick, cloves, pepper (or chili), garlic cloves and mustard seeds in glass jar or container. Pour vinegar mixture over the top and cover.
Refrigerate. They can be used after 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
I’ve shared a lot of recipes so far on Love and Duck Fat, but I can’t believe it’s taken me THIS LONG to share this one. You see, my orzo salad recipe is legendary (in my small circle of friends and family). It has actually made an appearance once on my blog before in photos, but I never got around to posting the recipe. You can see it here at my son’s first birthday party.
Orzo salad is one of the recipes I make over and over. I serve it at parties, I pack it up for lunch, we eat it for dinner, late night snacks and even the occasional breakfast–and we never tire of it.
The inspiration for my orzo salad recipe first came from Whole Food’s orzo salad; which is good. When I lived in Boston, I regularly picked up a pint of it on my way to work. I decided to improve on their recipe, which is why this salad is so much better. I make sure that every bite has something fresh and yummy in it. The mix of tastes and textures make this orzo salad so much fun to eat. There’s feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, baby spinach, artichokes, black olives, roasted peppers, balsamic vinegar and lots of good olive oil. I mix in fresh herbs like rosemary and mint and they really amp up the flavor.
Most of these ingredients are something I keep on hand in my pantry and refrigerator at all times, so it’s easy to make this salad whenever I want. It’s also easy to customize, adding or subtracting whatever you have on hand or desire.
Once made, this orzo salad keeps well too. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and still be as good as when you first made it. Bring it to a pot luck or serve it at a barbecue this summer and see it disappear. Every time I make it, I get asked for the recipe, which is why I’m so happy to finally share it here with everyone on Love and Duck Fat.
If you do make this salad, I would love to hear how much you enjoyed it in the comment section below.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain pasta and add it to a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss. Allow to cool completely.
Using a small skillet toast the pine nuts over medium-high heat until they are slightly brown and fragrant.
Toss the orzo with the pine nuts, tomato, onion, herbs, artichokes, olives, feta cheese, cucumber and red pepper.
Add the spinach leaves and vinaigrette. Toss again. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
When I think of traditional Easter recipes; lamb always comes to mind. For some reason (most likely my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook), I envision a vintage 1950’s table setting with a perfectly roasted leg of lamb, a side of bright green mint jelly and a jiggling aspic. This Easter lamb shanks recipe is a great way to feature lamb without a lot of fuss.
A leg of lamb can be daunting…and expensive (and not very practical for a small family). Lamb shanks are a much more affordable option for Easter. Whether you have a large gathering this Easter or a small one, lamb shanks are easy to cook and come out of the oven fork-tender and delicious. I often see lamb shanks on sale at my local grocery store for a few dollars apiece, but I scored these for only a few cents more from a local organic & grass-fed farm co-op.
If you want a fancy presentation, you can spend some extra time frenching the lamb shanks. This involves removing the meat and fat from the bottom of the shank; exposing the bone so when the shanks are cooked, they look like a big drumstick. I don’t bother, though. They look just fine like they are.
This Easter lamb shanks recipe only takes about 15 minutes to prep. It cooks in the oven for several hours and creates its own flavorful sauce full of carrots, celery, onion and herbs. I like to serve it with saffron rice but it will work equally well with mashed or roasted potatoes.
I have to mention (with some disbelief) that this is my first lamb recipe on Love and Duck Fat. This blog will be a year old in 5 months, so it’s about time. I cook with lamb fairly regularly so expect to see a few more before the big anniversary.
Happy Easter! -Marni
Season lamb well with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet and add the olive oil. Sear lamb on medium-high heat until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the lamb from the skillet.Add the onions to the skillet. Cook and stir, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the lamb, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, broth and wine to the roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cover loosely with foil and cook at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. for 3 hours, turning the meat once. Check during cooking to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan to ensure the shanks are halfway submerged. Add more water if needed.
To serve, remove shanks from the sauce. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper if necessary. You can use the sauce as-is (chunky) or puree with added broth to make a smoother consistency.
I have decided that quiche is the perfect breakfast when you have family visiting. You can make it ahead of time, and whip it out for breakfast to impress even the pickiest of in-laws. Not that mine are picky. No. my in-laws are the best.
I always make two quiche. Why? Because there are two crusts in a pack of frozen pie crusts. Yes, I use frozen pie crusts. A homemade crust will always taste better, but a frozen one is good enough when you want something easy. I like to make a spinach quiche, usually with some bits of bacon or sausage and caramelized onion. I also like a delicious mushroom quiche. This one has Gruyere cheese, but you can use whatever cheese is your favorite.
Quiche is awesome because it’s easy to prepare. It looks beautiful. It travels well (I send a slice with my husband to work). It makes a great breakfast AND a great lunch. It’s versatile –throw in whatever ingredients you want. It’s also really, really delicious.
One thing I don’t advise: don’t freeze your quiche. I served a frozen quiche this Christmas and the bottom of the crust was soggy. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very good, either. I’m picky, though. My mom loved it.
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C
Heat 2 skillets on medium-high heat. You are going to prepare the onions in one, and the mushrooms in the other (to save time). You can also prepare them separately in the same skillet.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and the center no longer jiggles. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
This is a quick and delicious onion soup that doesn’t require any special ingredients. Use leftover chicken and you can have lunch or dinner made in about 20 minutes, without having to stand at the stove. The rich chicken broth and smooth, creamy cheddar is comfort food at its best, while the caramelized onions satisfy any French onion soup lover.
I whipped this up the first time for my husband while I was preparing to go on my first “girl’s night out” after having my now, 8-month-old baby boy. I didn’t realized how much a baby would change my life! Now that he’s crawling, my windows of “me time” have shrunk once again. Until lately, I was able to count on him taking a 2-3 hour morning nap, with another 1-2 hours in the afternoon. Now, I’m lucky if he sleeps 30 minutes. Instead of sleeping during the day, he has never-ending energy, wanting to crawl or climb on everything he can.
One meal that saves me time is a baked chicken. I try to cook one once a week. It’s easy to prepare, tastes incredible, and results in 10-12 meals for the three of us – plus leftovers for the dogs. The reason I get so much out of my baked chickens is because I save the bones and use them to make broth for soups. Add chopped chicken breast to the broth with whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand and you end up with a fresh, homemade soup that will wow anyone.
For this soup, the only fresh veggies I had left (time to shop!) were Vidalia onions. These onions have a high sugar content, making them the perfect choice for slow caramelizing. Any onion will do, though. Just chop them up and toss them in a pan with some olive oil. When they start to sizzle, turn the heat to low and let them slowly cook, turning them every now and then. You’ll see them shrink up and start to turn golden brown as the sugars and flavor are concentrated. When they are almost done, toss in your chopped garlic, keeping the heat low.
In a deep pot, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Stir the chicken broth into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a boil.
Now add your chopped chicken and caramelized onions to the broth. Cook for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
Add about ¼ cup of cream to the soup. You can substitute plain yogurt thinned with milk here if you wish. Finally, stir in the shredded cheese and parsley. Season with salt and fresh pepper.