Chopped…or not!

20 Apr

Cooking soothes me. It helps me forget the day. I love getting lost in the process of making the food and sometimes pretending like I am either hosting a food show on TV or am a contestant on the Food Network TV Show “Chopped”. You must think I am crazy. Well, so do I!
Tonight I was cooking with ingredients that I hadn’t cooked with before. So I especially felt like I was on “Chopped”. A couple of times I even found myself nervously checking the time expecting someone to announce “Time’s up! Step away from your plates.”
It is not this way every evening though. Some days I cook exclusively with the blog in mind. I take lots of pictures, think about what I want to write and think about what my sons (someday) or someone else out there who may read the post think of the recipe and hence me. Yes, I need constant assurance.
Tonight the blog was the last thing on my mind. Hence I forgot to take step by step pictures. Have you seen a chef of “Chopped” take step-by-step pictures? I didn’t think so!

Chopped challenge ingredients.

My challenge to myself was to cook with mango and chestnuts. Yikes!! I accepted the challenge, so there was no going back. I tasted a chestnut, felt like I had a chance to win the challenge and dived right in. Both feet in and then some! I must say I am glad I accepted the challenge. The pasta dish I made turned out so delicious, it makes me wonder why I haven’t cooked with chestnuts and mango before. The light sweetness of the chestnut-mango sauce compliments the spices extremely well. It is a match made in heaven!

Angel hair pasta tossed in a chestnut-mango spicy sauce along with Crimini mushrooms cooked in wine and shrimp.

Pasta tossed in chestnut-mango sauce
*Serves 6-8 people
**For the sauce:
1 3 oz box vacuum packed chestnuts (cooked and peeled) (I purchased this from a local grocery store. It was in the refrigeration section) – chopped into bite size pieces
1 Ataulfo Mango – peel the skin and chop the flesh into bite size pieces
1.5 tbsp of freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 tbsp of the pulp of the blood orange
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup milk
Water as required to grind
**For the pasta
1 12 oz box of multi-grain Angel hair pasta (or any kind of pasta)
2 cups finely chopped celery
1.5 tsp chopped garlic
1 6 oz box of Crimini mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1/2-3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
20-25 cooked shrimp (you can use any meat. I had shrimp I had to use tonight before it went bad)

1. In a large saute pan, add the 2 tbsp of olive oil. When the oil is medium hot, saute the chestnuts and mango in the oil stirring constantly to prevent the mango from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the flame. Set aside.

Sauted chestnut and mango pieces

2. Add the blood orange rind and juice to the chestnut-mango-orange mixture and grind till smooth by adding the milk and water as necessary. The paste should be slight grainy and not too runny. Set aside.

Chestnut, mango and blood orange mixture

3. Prepare the pasta per the directions on the box.
4. In the same pan used to saute the chestnut and mango, add the remaining oil. When the oil is medium hot, add the celery and garlic.
5. Once the celery is cooked, add the mushrooms. If using raw meat (like chicken), add the meat at this point. And saute till the meat is fully cooked.
6. When the mushrooms (and meat) is cooked, add the chili powder, turmeric and cumin. Cook for 45-60 seconds. Mix well.
7. Add the wine. Let the wine reduce.
8. Add the chestnut-mango sauce made above.
9. Add 1/4 tsp salt. Mix well. Adjust according to taste.
10. Add the cooked and drained pasta. Toss well to coat the pasta.
11. Cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
12. Serve with some spicy Sriracha sauce.
13. Enjoy~!

Please let me what you think of the recipe if you do try it.

Till next time,

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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Dinner


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