By Kim Dannies
Chekhov famously said “Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s the day-to-day living that wears you out.” As we wearily round up on the nastiest winter in recent memory, I’ve got rum on my mind. I suggest we crack open a bottle, fire up the grill and force spring to show us some love. The sap is flowing, so adding a bit of maple to the mix is magical. Start by whipping up a Maple Mojito for sipping, and then a savory Mojito Marinade for pouring over chicken, mingling the delightful flavors of rum, maple, lime, mint and garlic. A quick Mango and Avocado Salad and rice on the side clinches the effort. Sure, we’ve still got Tax Day ahead, but any well-fed body can easily face that crisis.
Maple Mojito Cocktail
In a saucepan, combine 1 cup pure maple syrup with a fistful of fresh mint leaves. Simmer syrup for 3 minutes; remove from heat. Let syrup steep for 3 days, or use it right away. In a cocktail shaker, muddle 5 fresh mint leaves, 2 shots fresh lime juice and 1 shot mint maple syrup. Add ice and 2 shots of rum. Shake well. Pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Add a splash of club soda, fresh lime slice and mint sprig.
Maple Mojito Chicken
In a prep bowl, combine 2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil; ½ cup coconut milk; 3 tablespoons rum; 1 tablespoon maple syrup; 5 garlic cloves, crushed; 1 cup fresh mint leaves; zest and juice of 2 limes; pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Blend well. Cut 1-2 pounds of chicken breast meat into thick strips. Add chicken to marinade and coat well. Marinate for at least and hour, and up to 8 hours. Thread on to skewers; grill.
Avocado and Mango Salad
Using a vegetable peeler, peel a zucchini and a yellow squash length-wise into thin ribbons. Mound on a serving platter. Finely slice ½ small red onion and 3 scallions. Peel and cube 1-2 ripe mangos and avocados. Add ingredients to a prep bowl and gently toss with 2 parts avocado oil and 1 part sherry vinegar. Mound on top of squash; salt and pepper to taste.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.