Cuban Mango Avocado Salad

Mango Avocado Salad

Summer is a celebration of all that is tropical and good in this world. Mangoes, lychees, avocado, mamey, anones, and star fruit galore- this is what my summer is made of. Summer in South Florida is filled with ripe mangoes and everyone you know either has a mango tree or a friend or relative with a mango tree.

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The air around homes with mango trees is sweet with ripe and rotting fruit baking in the hot Florida sun as many don’t pick or enjoy the fresh mangoes fast enough and they fall to the ground fermenting. When I lived in Coral Gables I would walk my dog Chloe and mangoes would literally fall at my feet from neighboring trees. Coral Gables is a tropical paradise with limestone houses, shady banyan canopies and palm lined streets. In the summer the tree lines are often dotted with red ripe mangoes and bright lychees ready to fall at a moment’s notice. You might even catch a Macaw on the branches or a tall white Egret on your street corner. This recipe is the cousin of the classic Cuban avocado salad with the addition of fruit. Cuban mango avocado salad is a simple summer recipe that uses the freshest of seasonal ingredients and lets the ripe fruit shine.

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The scent of ripe mango will always remind me of South Florida summers and riding home with Publix bags filled with this tropical delicacy from family and friends fortunate enough to have a mango tree of their own! This summer Cuban mango and avocado salad is perfect for grills, picnics, large parties, and quick and easy meals.

Mango Avocado Salad

Cuban Mango Avocado Salad

  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 ripe mango diced
  • Pickled red onions
  • 4-6 small heirloom tomatoes quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pickling juices

Marinated Red Onions

  • 1 small red onion  sliced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 5-7 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Enough water to cover the red onion

Soak the sliced red onions in cold ice water. Soak for 20 minutes and then drain. The thin film on the red onion will naturally separate and becomes easy to peel right off like in the picture below. Next add the red wine vinegar, sugar, and juniper berries (optional), and make sure to top with water to cover. Let the red onions marinate for at least 30 minutes covered in the fridge.

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Dice the mango and quarter the tomatoes. Add diced avocado* and top the salad with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the marinated red onions to your taste. Drizzle the mango avocado salad with the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Gently mix and enjoy! Try this recipe with roasted chicken, anything off the grill, fresh fish, really anything you like and make sure to enjoy the summer produce while it lasts.

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**Note: I used Haas avocados in this recipe, but the crisper watery Florida avocado is my favorite here. Sadly I could not find them in New York, so the creamy Haas will have to suffice.

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Mom’s Baked Brie with Guava

Baked Brie with Guava from StellarAsh.com

If you open my mom’s fridge you will usually find puff pastry, a wheel of brie, and guava marmalade ready to go at a moment’s notice- I’m also betting that if you open the pantry you will find a box of Carr’s water crackers too. This is my mom’s recipe for baked brie with guava- a foolproof solution for unannounced guests, impromptu gatherings, and any occasion- special or otherwise. Baked brie with guava will always impress your guests, is crazy easy to make, requires basically no dishes (which I loathe), and makes you feel like you have it together (somewhat at least) when you find yourself entertaining guests either planned or spontaneously.

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Obviously in order for me to help you look cool you have to have the basic elements on hand pretty regularly- puff pastry and brie. Help me help you! You can exchange the guava for any marmalade of your liking- strawberry, apricot, peachjalapeno pepper, red onion jam– the list goes on. As you know I have a serious love for all things guava so this is always my numero uno selection for baked brie, but go ahead and choose anything you prefer. I brushed my baked brie with guava with a rosemary simple syrup right when it came out of the oven. The rosemary simple syrup gave the baked brie with guava a nice earthy and herbal small that went well aromatically with the sweet guava and rich brie.

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Feast on with family and friends, breathe a little when your guests arrive (or show up), and know that this easy and classic recipe for baked brie with guava will always make you look good and will always taste good too! Bon appetit!

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Baked Brie with Guava 

  • Medium to large brie wheel (defrost overnight in the fridge before use)
  • 2 tablespoons guava marmalade (conchita brand is my favorite)
  • Sheet of frozen puff pastry (or homemade if you’re awesome)
  • One egg
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • One sprig fresh rosemary

Serve with:

  • Water crackers
  • Toasts
  • Bread
  • Toasted almonds or walnuts
  • Apples
  • Pears

Preheat the oven to 350F. Use either frozen puff pastry or the pull-apart crescents that come in the pop can (which my mom uses and presses the perforations together). Place the brie in the center of the puff pastry and brush with your marmalade of choice. Do NOT trim the white casing off on the brie. This is totally edible and keeps the brie from melting all over the place. Fold over the edges of the puff pastry to completely cover and seal the brie and guava. If you leave bits peeking through it will melt through or the marmalade can kind of burn. Brush with egg wash before placing in the oven. Bake the brie and guava for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

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While my baked brie with guava was in the oven I made a quick rosemary simple syrup to brush on top. Place the 1/4 cup water and sugar in the microwave with the sprig of fresh rosemary and heat at 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until clear. Brush right when the baked brie with guava comes out of the oven. Let the brie settle for 5-10 minutes before cutting in. You can always par bake the brie if you are taking it to a get together or dinner party. The brie will solidify once it cools down. If you are taking this baked brie with guava to a dinner party just pop it in the oven again at your destination for 10-15 minutes on the warm setting and the brie will become melted inside again.

baked brie with guava from StellarAsh.comBaked Brie with Guava from StellarAsh.com

Serve with freshly sliced fruit, toasted almonds, melba toasts, water crackers, or other simple crackers of your choosing. This recipe is great year-round and will always be a delight.

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Guava Margaritas with a Smoky Salt Rim

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My guava love saga continues with tequila, grand marnier, and a smoky salted rim. The brief appearance of spring in New York City has lifted my spirits and instantaneously put a skip in my step. Spring is that magical time of year when the city comes back to life and the parks and rooftops are brimming with pale New Yorkers. As the bodegas fill up with tulips and daffodils, I feel inspired wear espadrilles and to sip spirits in the sun. Guava margaritas will have you celebrating spring and cure your winter blues in one smoky sip.

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Tequila reminds me of Miami and bright beach days with dirty coronas and late nights. In these guava margaritas, the sweetness of the guava is offset by the smoked paprika and the hot cayenne in the salted rim. I topped this spring cocktail with grapefruit soda, but prosecco or champagne would be killer. Apparently it is set to snow this Sunday, so I’ll enjoy this sunny spring preview with smoky guava margaritas and homemade Cuban food.

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Guava Margaritas with Smoked Salt Rim

Makes 2

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce grand marnier
  • 2 teaspoons guava marmelade or guava sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Top with grapefruit soda, prosecco, or champagne

Smoked Salt Rim

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the salt rim ingredients on a flat plate. Run a lime over the rim of the glass and salt the rim. In a shaker over ice add the tequila, grand marnier, guava marmelade, and lime juice. Shake well and pour over fresh ice in the salted highballs. Top with a floater of grapefruit soda (I used San Pellegrino Pommelo) but prosecco or champagne would work well. Garnish the guava margaritas with a lime wheel and cheers to spring!

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Note: Mezcal would be amazing in these guava margaritas, but I had silver tequila on hand. I bet this could also be batched as a signature cocktail for a spring or summer party using both grapefruit soda and prosecco to make plenty for a crowd.

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