Recently my taste buds were treated with the dishes shown below at a dinner given for a recently retired colleague (the pork recipe and mango fools recipe are said colleague's favorites). One change in the recipe was that the seeds in the jalapeño were removed. The mango puree for the pork chops was actually made as a chutney and it was wonderful. Before the chops made their appearance a lovely green salad was served. Accompanying the chops were fresh green beans and a tasty saffron rice pilaf. The wine pairing was a marvelous Grgich Hills chardonnay (of course, since this was a celebration, pre-dinner cocktails with hors d'oeuvres as well as post-dinner drinks were also involved...). Dessert was yummy Mango Fools with Chocolate-Anise Straws. All in all, a delightful culinary experience and a lovely send off for a colleague who spent 35 years in the academia trenches espousing the merits of all things literary.
For mango mojo
1 mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon chopped fresh jalapeño (including seeds)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
For anise-seed rub
1 tablespoon anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (3/4-inch-thick) loin pork chops, trimmed
Prepare grill (do not spread charcoal out to edges of grill).
Purée mango, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño, and salt in a blender, then stir in cilantro.
Finely grind anise seeds and peppercorns in an electric coffee/spice grinder with salt and sugar. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and stir in oil.
Brush both sides of pork with spice rub.
Grill pork on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals 2 minutes on each side. Move pork off to side of grill (not directly over coals; moderately low heat for gas grills) and cook pork, covered, turning once, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes more on each side.
Transfer to a platter and let stand, loosely covered, 5 minutes.
Serve pork with mojo.
Mango Fools with Chocolate-Anise Straws
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 large very ripe mangoes, flesh coarsely chopped (4 cups)
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste depending on sweetness of mangoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
Sprinkle gelatin over juice in a small heatproof cup and let stand 1 minute to soften. Purée mangoes with sugar in a blender until very smooth and force through a sieve into a large bowl.
Melt softened gelatin in cup in a pan of simmering water or in a microwave and stir into purée. Beat cream with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks and gently fold into purée.
Chill fool, covered, at least 8 hours.
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 1/2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Finely grind anise in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Finely chop chocolate with anise and sugar in a food processor.
Cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise to form 6 sheets. Cover with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap and then a dampened kitchen towel. Place 1 sheet of phyllo with long side nearest you on a work surface (keep remaining sheets covered) and lightly brush lower half of sheet with butter. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of chocolate mixture lengthwise across center of sheet. Fold phyllo sheet in half, enclosing chocolate, and brush lightly with butter. Starting with chocolate side, roll up pastry tightly to form a 12-inch straw. Transfer straw, seam side down, to a baking sheet, then make 5 more in same manner.
Bake straws in upper third of oven until golden, 12 to 14 minutes, and cool on a rack. Break in half to form 12 straws.