Cooks Corner

Mango-chipotle chicken is a smoky-sweet way to use fresh Florida mangoes

It’s peak mango season in South Florida, so when I got my first batch from a friend’s yard, I went searching for something new to try.

I found the mango-chipotle chicken recipe included here from Jeffrey Saad, Food Network and Cooking Channel personality and author of Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders ($22, Ballantine Books). It’s from a collection at

You’ll have extra chipotle purée, but you can keep it stored in the refrigerator up to three weeks to add a quick blast to salsas, sauces and omelets.

Quick Take

This raw, cold broccoli soup is so creamy you’ll swear it was made with heavy cream. In fact, the secret to the texture is half an avocado. Best of all, preparation takes just a couple of minutes. The recipe is from Chef Works, a purveyor of culinary apparel.

Take 1 bunch of broccoli (reserve some florets for garnish), half an avocado, the juice of 1 lemon, a small bunch of green onions (again, save a bit of the tops for garnish), a clove of garlic and 1 cup of water; purée in a blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Chill for several hours, and serve topped with a few finely chopped broccoli florets, some sprouts and chopped green onions. Makes 4 servings.

Tip: I used a ginger-infused vegetable broth instead of water (I love the bite of Swanson’s Thai version) to kick up the flavor.

Tried and New

Whether you are packing munchies for a road trip or simply to take to work, here’s a great new option from I Love Snacking: single-serve packs of bruschetta, tapenade, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and flavored olives that need no refrigeration. Everything in the line is gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, kosher and low in carbohydrates and sodium. I loved the lemon and rosemary olives and the roasted red pepper and artichoke bruschetta. The snacks range from $1 to $4. Find them at Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, BJ’s, Fresh Market and Duane Reade. They also are available and on select United, Delta and JetBlue flights.

I’ve tried a lot of gadgets for making cupcakes and muffins, but usually fall back on my circa-1930 ice cream scoop. But I’ve ushered in the 21st Century with this silicone plunger from Tovolo ($8.95 at Sur la Table and other retailers). You simply scoop up batter then place the curved end over your pan and press the plunger to dispense the perfect amount every time. The only downside: This is for standard-size muffins and cupcakes only.

Reader Response: Date Nut Squares

Kathy from North Carolina asked for help making a dessert her mother prepared about 30 years ago with date nut bars “and maybe Dream Whip or whipped cream or maybe cream cheese layered between the bars. We have misplaced the recipe, and family members are requesting it again. The recipe may have been on the box of the mix.”

Judy Marcus sent the recipe that is included here. She likes to serve whipped cream on the side, but says it obviously could be sandwiched between cookies. This is a grand old-fashioned treat that works best served warm as bars, with a scoop of cold ice cream.

Reader Response: Cracker Meal

In a previous column, a reader asked what to do since Nabisco no longer makes cracker meal. I gave a method for making your own from saltines, but here are other suggestions from readers:

“I, too, was devastated to find Nabisco no longer made it since it was the only bread coating my husband liked and I used it on everything,” Linda Silk wrote. “I did, however, find McCormick makes a cracker meal that is very similar. Hope this helps.”

I could not find McCormick cracker meal in my supermarket, but you can ask your market manager to stock it.

In South Florida, there are even more options: “Cracker meal is still ubiquitous and cheap, in Miami at least, in little bags in the aisle with the Cuban crackers,” said Pam Chamberlain. “I use it for fried shrimp. Thanks for making my Thursday morning fun.”

Jose Garcia adds: “Cracker meal is commonly used in a lot of Hispanic (specifically Cuban) recipes. It is widely available in Miami-Dade County (Publix, Winn-Dixie and all Latin markets). Two common brands are Goya and Rika, but there are others as well. They come in small, 6-ounce plastic bags and are found in the bread section of the store. They are usually situated close to the Cuban crackers. I hope this is helpful.”

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.