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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Savor last mangoes of summer



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Savor last mangoes of summer photo
Savor last mangoes of summer
Savor last mangoes of summer photo
Savor last mangoes of summer
Savor last mangoes of summer photo
Savor last mangoes of summer

By J. Gwendolynne Berry

Freshly picked Haden and Hatcher mangos are sold at Hatcher Mango Hill. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach)

Like the afternoon sun, a beautiful orb of golden hue hangs plump and ripe by a thin strand. It is the exotic sweetness that tempers summer's hottest days.

I think of it fondly as the last fruits are plucked from farms around the Sunshine State. How I will miss the endless variety of shakes and salads. How perfectly it balanced my freshest catch. Oh, mango of my heart, as these heady days shorten and cool, I create one last meal in your honor, a sweet farewell until we meet again next year!

Only the best will do for this dedication, so I head to Hatcher's Mango Hill in Lantana to snatch up a few of Marilynn Hatcher's last fruits. The Hatcher mango was created by Marilynn's father-in-law, John Hatcher in the 1940s and is famous statewide for its large size, the small, flat pit and an abundance of soft, aromatic fruit. The small family-run farm just west of Interstate 95 on Hypoluxo Road is a true Old Florida gem.

I've made my pilgrimage just in time, as harsh summer winds have reduced the Hatcher crop. The mangoes are usually available until Labor Day, but this year's crop will finish by the end of the month. What's left has already been allotted to customers on a waiting list. (Those not on the list can register online for next year's crop.)

While at the Hatcher Farm, I come across a copy of Marilynn's own mango recipe book, Hatcher's Mango Thrills (available on the website for $26.50, plus shipping). Who better to guide these last sweet bites than the great lady herself?

Armed with the book and a few bags of ripe fruit, I head to the kitchen to create my mango feast . I decide on a menu of fresh seafood, salads and grilled delights : grilled curried shrimp with mango salsa; a crab, mango and avocado salad; "Mango Madness" grilled burgers; and, to wrap it all up, a mango meringue bread pudding. A meal to honor a heavenly fruit.

(J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)

Crab, Mango and Avocado Salad

Serves: 6

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

1/4 cup lime juice

3/4 cup olive oil

Black pepper, to taste

Mix lime juice, olive oil and black pepper. Chill.

FOR THE SALAD:

1 large mango, peeled and cubed into medium chunks, chilled

1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed into medium chunks, chilled

6 servings of lettuce

1 pound lump crab meat, chilled

Combine the mango and avocado in one bowl. Pour on enough of the vinaigrette to coat and mix together. Add the rest of the vinaigrette to the lettuce to coat lightly. Toss.

Arrange the lettuce on plates, mounding the avocado and mango combination on top. Shred the crab meat to sprinkle over the avocado and mango.

Serve cold.

(J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)

Mango Meringue Bread Pudding

3 cups 1/2-inch cubes French bread

2 cups mangoes, sliced

3 eggs, separated

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon Key lime peel, grated

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup Hatcher mango juice

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

Place bread cubes in greased oblong baking dish, 10 by 6 by 1 1/2 inches, or square baking dish, 8 by 8 by 2 inches. Spread mangoes on top. Beat egg yolks slightly; stir in brown sugar, lime peel, cinnamon, salt, syrup and juice. Slowly stir in coconut milk. Pour over bread cubes and mangoes. Bake uncovered in 350º oven until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Spread over pudding. Bake until delicate golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Recipes from Hatcher Farm’s Mango Thrills recipe book.

Mangoes at the farm:

Hathcher Mango Hill is at 1908 Hypoluxo Road, Lantana. To sign up for next year's fruit, call (561) 588-6098 or visit hatchermangohill.com.

Erikson Farm is at 13646 U.S. 441 in Canal Point; (561) 924-7714; ericksonfarm.com. The farm expects another few weeks of this seasons mangoes.

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