Margaret Button | Kitchen Comfort: The slippery business of slicing mangoes

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After deciding to hold an extreme hot dog tasting contest at the Berkshire Eagle (see story on this page), Features Editor Lindsey Hollenbaugh and I divided up the recipes to prepare. We each took one that was hands-down-easy and one that required a bit more work. I ended up with the Hawaiian Salsa Dog and she had the Buffalo Dog. At the risk of ruining my reputation as a food columnist, I have to confess I had never before worked with either a mango or an avocado, each an ingredient in my dog recipes.

Long a veteran of just about every cooking show on cable, I was pretty sure I could handle preparing them. I started with the avocado. Rachel Ray and friends made it look fairly simple; I could do this! I ran a knife vertically around the outside of the fruit, cutting through the flesh down to the pit. So far, so good. I gripped a half in each hand and twisted them in the opposite direction. Viola! One half popped off the pit and into my hand. "You rock, girl," I muttered under my breath. I then took the blade of my chef's knife and struck the pit with it, a la Rachel. I pulled up on the knife and the pit popped out of the avocado. OK, this was too easy ... I took a serving spoon and ran it just under the skin and looked in amazement as a perfect half of an unpeeled avocado emerged, perfect for slicing thinly. Maggy Button, conqueror of avocados!

It was mango time. The TV chefs made dicing a mango seem pretty easy to do, first cutting the mango in half and then cutting the flesh, but not the peel, horizontally and vertically, turning it inside out and scraping the diced pieces off the skin. I took a shot on where the large, flat pit was and cut into the mango a half-inch off center. The knife slipped through easily and a third of the mango was free. I scored it to the peel and turned it inside out. Cutting the diced mango off also was pretty easy. And then it was time to cut off the other side. The mango slipped out of my hand and slid across the cutting board. I tried it again with the same results, narrowly missing my left hand index finger. I finally succeeded, and scored and scraped again. I decided to peel the second one before attempting to cut it off the pit. It slipped and slid worse than the first one, I ended up holding it with a paper towel and hacking the fruit off the pit. It wasn't pretty ...

I used a third mango I had bought to good use Monday night. I halved the recipe to accommodate my one lone mango. I'm thinking the frozen mango would not only be easier, but make the drink more frozen.



Mango margaritas


Servings: 6

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tsp chili lime salt to rim glass

4 cups cubed mango fresh or frozen

2/3 cup white tequila

1/2 cup simple syrup, at room temperature see below

1 orange juiced

2 limes juices

4 cups ice

Simple syrup

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Dip the rim of each glass in water or rub a lime wedge around the edge to moisten. Pour chili lime salt into a small plate and dip each glass to line rim; set aside.

Place all remaining ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth.

Divide margaritas between glasses and serve with extra lime wedges if you wish.


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