Friday, May 12, 2006

Splash of Salsa needed for Gloomy Friday

We have this thing here in SoCal called June Gloom. Does that sound depressing, or what?!

The warm spring / Summer air hits the still cool ocean and creates foggy, overcast gloom all along the coast of SoCal.

For a month or two. Every morning. Till at least noon, often all day.

You never see Gidget prancing around on the beach in the June gloom with Moondoggie. They always had sun!

It’s like a month of rain. Except that the grass still turns brown, because, of course, it doesn’t actually rain.

So we sit here, in the gloom, watching the hillsides turn brown and die.

It’s only May, but it seems to already be here.

So some color is needed. Something bright. Riotous. Lively. To break everyone out of the monotonous grey and back into nutty coherence.

My camera hasn’t always cooperated with this demand. Yesterday, the bright blue background for the pictures (not posted yet, if ever) came out a drab charcoal grey. The orange of the sweet potatoes came through, but not the contrasting blue background.

June gloom sweet potato soup. Since we already ate the food in the foreground, there is no chance to somehow alter the situation. It was too depressing to post today. Maybe tomorrow.

But I have had a bit of luck with color as well.

There is nothing like a salsa or chutney to add color and flavor to an otherwise sorry plate of meat.

It covers, hides, brightens. Like a Mardi Gras costume. Or one of those magical make-ups they advertise on TV. All the wrinkles are gone! The hue is glowing! The look is fresh and vibrant! That 50-ish chicken in curlers is now a 20-something hottie in a bikini (my perspective – change the gender to match your fantasy!)

It’s like the Botox of saggy food.

And the flavor can easily match the looks. Explosively vibrant mango sweetness against the sharp fresh chili pepper bite, for example.

Those two combined – eye appeal and explosive flavor – can really chase the gloom away. If only for a meal.

And for some reason, my camera was suitably impressed with the colors and agreed to capture the colors, if not with any particular degree of sharpness (notice how I am now talking to my camera, referring to it as if it were able to understand). (P.s. - don’t tell it I said this!).

Lime-marinated Chicken with Mango Salsa
Recipe by surfindaave

You can do this on the grill or under the broiler.

Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
1 cup cilantro (or parsley)
1 shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
salt, pepper
4 large chicken breasts

Mango red pepper salsa (recipe follows)
Cilantro or parsley, chopped fine, for garnish

Combine all ingredients well in a large plastic bag or large bowl. Add chicken breasts and stir well to coat. Place in refrigerator. Marinate, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours.

Grill over hot coals, or under broiler, on each side, until browned. Brush during cooking with extra marinade if desired.

Remove, and set aside under a foil tent for 10 minutes to relax.

Cut into slices against the grain, arrange on a warmed plate, and spoon salsa over top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley to garnish. Serve. Enjoy!

Mango – Red Pepper Salsa
Recipe by surfindaave

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, flesh removed and chopped into ½ to ¼ inch dice
1 large red pepper, seeded, chopped into fine dice
1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 tbsp lime juice
zest from 1 lime
¼ cup minced red onion
¼ cup minced fresh mint (we used some apple mint, or use cilantro or parsley)
olive oil

Combine all ingredients. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, to let flavors combine.

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