Isn’t this sunflower just strikingly beautiful? My garden is not only delicious it is also therapeutic. Few material, temporal objects lift my spirits more than the petals of a crimson sunflower shimmering under the blazing sun. The dense, verdant wall of the Christmas lima bean plant happily houses little brown lizards that playfully race up and down the stems taunting would-be predators with myriad hiding places. The sunflower plant’s branches have bent and twisted to penetrate this wall to reach out to their namesake life force. Maybe I’m simple, but I can spend hours searching and finding nature’s miracles in my small backyard garden and every single day offers something new.
Philosophy aside, now for a hot and cold summer treat! I am intrigued by the marriage of chili peppers with unlikely companions – chocolate and chilis for example. In the cookbook Paletas, Fany Gerson has a recipe for pineapple popsicles with chili peppers. I tweaked the recipe by substituting mango for the pineapple and chipotle powder for the fresh jalapeno (I SWEAR I bought a jalapeno but when I scavenged through the refrigerator it was nowhere to be found). Maybe I have iron-clad taste buds because I kept adding more and more of the chipotle pepper to fire up the pops. I also used guadillo peppers and boy, am I glad I found these little treasures. They have a deep, earthy, flavor, sweet like a bell pepper but with a complex hint of fresh raspberries. My son said they smell like chocolate! Their heat blooms softly on the palate leaving an intriguing hint rather than a fiery blast. The parchment-like flecks of the ground chilis lend a toothsome texture to the silkiness of the mango. I remember vividly the first time I ate a fresh, ripe mango the perfumed nectar shocking my underdeveloped Midwestern palate, the layer of juicy flesh sticking stubbornly to the oversized pit….certainly one of the many culinary epiphanies punctuating my culinary journey. The addition of chili peppers blows the mind! Brace yourself and continue….
- 3 ripe mangoes
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1-2 tbsp dried guadillo chili peppers (use a heavy knife to chop the seeded pods into tiny flakes.)
- dried, ground chipotle chili pepper to taste
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature.
Dice the mango then puree it in the blender – I held back a small amount of diced mango to stir into the puree for texture. Pour in the cooled sugar syrup and combine. Add the guadillo and the chipotle pepper to taste and process briefly. Stir in the reserved, cubed mango if desired. Distribute among popsicle molds, (I put the cups in a small metal baking pan) place in the freezer and then wait impatiently.
I used cute little plastic shot glasses I found at a liquor store but any number of vessels can be used to make the popsicles. Dixie cups work great. Freeze the pops for an hour or so and when partially frozen insert the sticks. Wait for the hottest of summer days (any day this week or next will be fine) unmold a pop and confuse your taste buds with this hot/sweet/cold explosion of exotic flavor.