Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Butternut Squash Chutney and the 2015 Kitchen Music

This simple recipe is based loosely on a chutney from a restaurant somewhere in France (I can't quite remember where) and was intended to liven up simple game dishes. I think it would do very nicely on turkey sandwiches or alongside a leftovers curry around this time of year.

If you're short of time, chop everything in a food processor - it won't make a big difference to the finished chutney. Vary the amount of chilli flakes and sugar according to how hot or sweet you like your chutney. This amount will make around 5 small jars.
BNS Chutney
750 g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into small dice
Juice of 5 or 6 clementines (or 2 oranges)
175 ml white wine (or cider) vinegar
100 ml sherry vinegar
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 eating apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 tbsp honey
4 - 6 tbsp light brown soft sugar
½ - 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a large, non-reactive saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring every now and then, until the cooking apple has collapsed and the squash is tender. If the mixture seems to be drying out too much, then add a little water.

I prefer this chutney not too chunky so I take the mixture off the heat and attack it with a potato masher until I get the kind of texture that appeals but that's optional. Once the mixture has cooled a little, put it into sterilised jars, seal and label. This chutney is ready to eat pretty much immediately although letting it mature for a few days would be no bad thing. I can't guarantee how long it will keep - I tend to make small amounts rather than keep chutneys for too long.



But enough of these quasi-Christmas recipes, it's the moment that nobody's been waiting for as I indulge myself with some of this year's favourite music in my kitchen. There's far too much good stuff to choose from this year but I've tried to go for the less well-known and, because it's very nearly Christmas, the more cheerful and uplifting. In fact, if you're not cheered up by the Hafdis Huld clip, then you have a heart of steel. But first...

While you're on your way to Birkenhead, if you wander off the M53, you might well find yourself in Hooton. Hooton Tennis Club make it sound like the place to go for endless, lazy sunshine (well, they do for me). Their album ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’ was released in August and is available for download from Bandcamp here at a very reasonable price.



And now a short detour to Ireland for Owensie’s ‘Dramamine’, which is the only song (and album) named after a travel sickness remedy that I can recall. You can download the album for even less money from Bandcamp here.




It's my short-lived tradition to feature something in a language other than English and this year we find ourselves in Argentina in the company of Blito y los Intermitentes, who thankfully don't seem to take themselves too seriously. Their album ‘Nada’ can be downloaded from Bandcamp here (surprise, surprise) and could not be any cheaper.




And so finally something else that's not in English. One of the delights of last Christmas for me was Hafdis Huld singing Christmas songs live on the internet from her pink house in Iceland. This year she made an album of Icelandic children's songs that isn't edgy, indie or trendy but I don't think there can be many better ways of getting into a happy, Christmassy mood. This song is called ‘Ein ég sit og sauma’ which I'm led to believe means ‘I sit on my own and sow’.




P.S. It may be better known but if you still feel like being cheered up and haven't seen it yet then try the very fine Bhi Bhiman video for ‘Moving To Brussels’  featuring the formidable Keegan-Michael Key. It helps if you've seen the film ‘Whiplash’.


And I'd feel guilty if I didn't mention the excellent work this year from Hardworker, Josh Savage, Goodly Thousands, Olivia Quillio, Joan Shelley and Neøv.


Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Turkey with Beer and Juniper

Just over the channel in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais there's a village called Licques which is noted for its fine poultry. But of all the fine poultry produced in the area turkeys are the most celebrated, especially during ‘La Fête de La Dinde’, which is held every December. There are prizes for the best birds, a local Christmas market and enough food and drink to keep out the cold. Everyone has a fine time, except possibly the turkeys. The festival is said to have sprung from the time when the local farmers herded turkeys through the village to their inevitable pre-Christmas fate. As a result there's still a parade through the village with a marching band and the poor old turkeys. (I'm told that this year's festival will be held from 12th to the 14th December and some mechanical turkeys are promised).

Paraded or not in my opinion a turkey is for lunch and not just Christmas. (I know quite a number of people who refuse to eat turkey at any other time than the day itself and that seems a shame to me). But I thought I'd get this recipe in early before everyone starts roasting birds the size of planetoids. This recipe is based on a dish from the Licques area. It's very much a winter dish and typically for the area uses beer rather than wine, root vegetables and a dash or two of the local genièvre.
Turkey with Beer and Juniper
The crucial thing about this simple dish, apart from good beer and fine turkey, is very gentle cooking. In French recipes you might well come across the word ‘mijoter’, which is usually translated as simmering or slow cooking. When it comes to this kind of very gentle simmering there's an even better word with a descriptive sound - ‘blobloter’. This means the kind of gentle simmering where the surface of the liquid just trembles with merely an occasional bubble rising to the surface. At least, that's what I was given to understand. Allowing for my lack of language ability and general gullibility it may turn out to mean something very rude.

This recipe needs to be started the day before serving. It should serve 4 or maybe 3 if you need hearty winter portions to keep out the cold.

450 g turkey breast, cut into chunks
75 g smoked bacon pieces or pancetta
1 tbsp light soft brown sugar
Chicken stock - probably 200 - 300 ml should be enough
4 tbsp crème fraîche

Marinade:
     2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks or rounds
     1 leek, white part only, sliced
     2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
     6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
     3 tbsp genièvre (or gin)
     A generous few turns of freshly ground black pepper
     250 ml bière blonde (or use a good, flavourful lager but avoid a strong, dark beer) 
     ½ tsp dried thyme


Put the turkey chunks into a non-reactive bowl. Combine all the marinade ingredients and mix with the turkey. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 5 or 6 hours but preferably overnight.

Drain and reserve the marinade. In a large pan fry the bacon or pancetta until the fat begins to run. Add the drained turkey and vegetables and stir them around just long enough to get a small amount of colour. Sprinkle the brown sugar into the pan and pour in the reserved marinade. Top up with just enough chicken stock to cover the turkey. Put a lid on the pan and allow the mixture to simmer very gently for 1½ - 2 hours or until everything is nice and tender.

Uncover the pan, lift out the vegetables and turkey with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Turn up the heat and reduce the cooking liquid by about half. If you prefer the sauce to have more of a coating consistency, then you could use a little cornflour to thicken the cooking liquid a touch more. Whisk in the crème fraîche and pour the sauce over the turkey and vegetables immediately before serving.

I'd be very happy serving this with plain rice but potatoes are probably more traditional.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Pepper and Chilli Jam

Last year I grew a Scotch Bonnet chilli plant. It was hot, of course. This year I thought I should grow one that was a little less hot. I chose a plant called Paper Lantern because it looked pretty on the label. I hadn't quite grasped the fact that it's also very hot. In fact, hotter than the Scotch Bonnet. So I had a lot of hot chillies to use up.
Paper Lantern Chillies
To turn the heat down a notch or two, I combined the chillies with plain old peppers (sweet or bell peppers that is) and made this Pepper and Chilli Jam, which will spread nicely on such things as burgers and sausages but will also stir easily into casseroles and stir fries without causing you to reach for too much iced water.

Not that there's anything wrong with a hot sauce in my view. I used up the rest of the chillies by making some of my usual Tomato and Chilli Jam, some hot Chilli Ketchup (a similar sort of recipe but a thinner result) and some Caribbean Pepper Sauce. I used the recipe you can find here for the latter. It's a nice variation on the classic pepper sauce with a good hit of lime and plenty of heat.
Chilli Sauces and Jams
There's not much in the way of pectin in a pepper, so this won't set like a classic fruit jam without a little help. If you want a reasonably firm set then use jam sugar but if you'd prefer a softer set then add just a little pectin (see the recipe below). If you don't add any pectin then the result will probably be more like a ketchup, but that's no bad thing if that's what you fancy.  This will make around 3 small jars.

6 red, yellow or orange peppers (sweet or bell peppers)
2 decent sized shallots
3 hot chillies (more if they’re a milder variety)
1 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
170 ml water
210 ml white wine vinegar
360 g jam sugar (or 360 g granulated sugar plus 1 or 2 tsp pectin for a soft set)

Core and deseed the peppers. Slice the flesh into quarters and grill them until the skins have blackened and the flesh has softened. Either seal them in a plastic bag or place in a bowl and cover them. Either way, leave them until they're cool enough to handle and then peel off and discard the blackened skin.

Peel and roughly chop the shallots. Deseed the chillies and chop the flesh roughly. Wizz the flesh of the peppers, the chillies, shallots, soy sauce and fish sauce in a blender or small processor until you get a fine purée. Put the purée in a non-reactive pan with the water and vinegar. Add the sugar and pectin if you're using it and place the pan on a medium heat. Stir regularly until the sugar has dissolved and then bring the pan to the boil. Boil the mixture with plenty of stirring until you get the degree of set you want. This is likely to take very roughly 8 - 10 minutes but it's best to do a classic wrinkle test to check the consistency. Chill a few saucers in the freezer, take one out and put a small dollop of the jam on it, wait a moment or two and push the jam with your finger. If it clearly wrinkles when you push it, then it will have a classic jam set consistency. If it offers some resistance without wrinkling, then it's at a soft set consistency. If it offers little or no resistance, then it's more of a sauce and you might want to boil it a little longer and repeat the test.

Allow the jam to cool a little and pour into sterilised jars. I keep the quantities quite low and so the jam doesn't stay around for long, but I've no reason to believe that it won't keep well. I tend to store it in the fridge partly to ensure that there's no danger of it spoiling but partly because I simply prefer to serve it cold.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Yoghurt Lamb and Redcurrant Mayo

This recipe is in two parts, both of them resurrected from the 1980s. The yoghurt coated lamb is based on the dishes that I ate in the Indian restaurants of south London in that strangely beguiling decade. It was made with larger cuts of lamb back then (leg usually) and used to cost a fair bit. Since I didn't have much money, it wasn't long before I tried making my own version. I think I first used a recipe from the Curry Club but I've played around with it over the years since.

I find that this is a good way to use those small (and hopefully cheap) cuts of lamb from the supermarket. Quite often the smaller cuts can be a little dry once cooked but the yoghurt and spice mix will seal in the juices and keep the lamb full of flavour as well as moist. Of course, you can serve this lamb hot alongside vegetable or lentil curries but I've always enjoyed eating the leftovers so much that I thought I'd make some specifically as a cold dish instead.

The redcurrant “mayo” is a real joy - sharp, creamy and a ridiculous colour (very 1980s actually). It's easy, if a little messy, to make and can be used alongside many cold dishes but is especially good with richer meats such as lamb or duck. The extra bit of good news is that it can be made with (defrosted) frozen redcurrants when the fresh berries aren't around.
Yoghurt Lamb and Redcurrant Mayo
This will serve 2 but is at its very best when combined with other dishes in a mezze style meal for a larger group.

Yoghurt Coated Lamb

Small piece of rolled boneless lamb shoulder (around 400 - 500 g)
125 ml yoghurt - a thicker Greek style is best and 0% fat will be fine although it might be a little less easy to handle
2 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp coconut powder
1 shallot or small onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ chilli, deseeded (add more if you like or replace with some dried chilli flakes if you don’t have fresh)
Seeds from 1 black cardamom pod (green will be fine too but the smokiness of black does add extra depth of flavour)
2 tsp dried mint (you can use fresh instead but the dried seems to give a more rounded flavour)
A generous pinch of freshly-ground black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or use another plain oil)

Put the shallot (or onion), garlic, fennel, chilli, cardamom, mint, pepper and oil in a blender or processor and whiz until smooth (or reasonably smooth). Stir this mixture into the yoghurt together with the ground almonds and coconut powder. Place the lamb in a small bowl and coat it thoroughly all over with the yoghurt mixture. Cover and place in the fridge overnight or, at least, for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 140ºC. Place the lamb on a small oven tray without disturbing the yoghurt coating if at all possible (it's best to line the tray with foil - ideally non-stick - if you want to avoid some challenging washing up). Roast for 2 - 2½ hours until the lamb is very tender. Pull the lamb apart, discarding any large pieces of fat and put the lamb, together with as much of the yoghurt coating as you like into a bowl. Either serve at once while the lamb is still hot (or, at least, warm) or allow to cool, cover and place in the fridge until needed. Take out in advance and allow to come close to room temperature before serving.

Redcurrant Mayo


This will probably make a little more than you need for 2 people but I've found that smaller amounts are difficult to handle.

100 g redcurrants, frozen and defrosted if fresh aren't available
2 - 4 tsp agave nectar, or just use icing sugar if you don't have any
2 - 4 tbsp sunflower oil, or another lightly-flavoured oil

Place the redcurrants, the nectar (or sugar) and a little salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and whiz until reasonably smooth. With the motor still running, slowly pour in enough oil to obtain a mayo consistency and until the mixture takes on a slightly disturbing pink colour. Serve at once or store in the fridge until needed - this won't be as stable as a classic mayonnaise so it's best to avoid storing for too long just in case. Take the mayo out of the fridge a short while before serving.
Haigha's Flying Hat Double 2

So why have I felt compelled to revisit the 1980s like this? I think I know who to blame for this fit of nostalgia. There's a reborn version of The Immaculate Fools with a new album and a tour of Spain. I'm certainly not selected or enchanted any longer but I honestly never thought I'd live to see a revived Fools and I can't deny that it's a very good thing.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Crème de Mûres Sauvages

I could have called this 'Bramble Liqueur' but it's a French recipe and 'Crème de Mûres Sauvages' sounded so much better. It goes to show that I can be just as pretentious as le prochain homme. Whatever you call it, this is the ideal solution for the time when you've come home from picking blackberries with an embarrassingly large amount of fruit and no idea what to do with it. It will be perfect for making reviving kirs or dolloping onto desserts in the dark, winter months to come.

This is a pretty simple and very classic French method for making crème de mûres and it turns out that the old ways are the best. I've tried more complex and modern recipes with less good results. The type of red wine you use isn't absolutely critical but there's not a lot of point in choosing a really expensive one. It's also best to avoid one that's particularly tannic. The type recommended to me was a light pinot noir and, if you can find a decent one at a reasonable price, then that's a pretty good recommendation. 
Crème de Mûres
This will make roughly 750 - 800 ml of liqueur.

500 g blackberries, washed and dried
500 ml red wine (such as a light pinot noir, see above)
175 ml vodka (or, if you happen to live in or visit France, Alcool pour Fruits)
400 g sugar

Put the blackberries in a non-reactive bowl and crush them lightly using a potato masher or anything heavy and hygienic that comes to hand. Pour the wine and the vodka (or alcool) over the berries. Either cover the bowl or, better still, transfer the contents to a preserving jar and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 days, shaking the jar (or stirring the bowl) every now and then.

Strain the mixture through muslin into a large, non-reactive saucepan. This will take a while, so allow a fair bit of time. (You could speed the process up a little by passing the mixture through a non-reactive sieve first before straining through the muslin.) Add the sugar and place the saucepan on a medium heat. Bring the mixture to the boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reached boiling point, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 - 10 minutes. At the end of this time the mixture should be a little syrupy but not too thick or gloopy. 

Allow to cool, pour into suitable bottles and seal. Unlike many fruit liqueurs, this doesn't need time to mature, although some traditionalists insist that it should be left for a day or two before drinking. It should keep well if stored away from too much light or heat but, personally, I think that even expensive, commercial products lose a little of their flavour and freshness if kept for too long. There's no reason to suppose that it won't last until next year's berries are ready for picking, though, even if that's profoundly unlikely in my house.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Chocolate “Mousse” and “Parfait” with Meringue Shards and No Shopping

This may not be the most serious dessert I've ever made but it's a fine store cupboard treat for chocolate lovers. It uses two types of chocolate (dark and white), egg whites, sugar and water - and that's it. I could tell you that this was a personal challenge to create a dessert from the ingredients lying around in the kitchen or I could admit that I was far too busy watching old Keith Floyd episodes to bother going to the shops.

The usual rule for chocolate desserts is ‘thou shalt never mix chocolate and water’ but this dessert depends upon the Hervé This method of doing exactly that to create a chocolate cream or mousse. I tried this technique for the first time a couple of years ago and I'm still deeply impressed by it. It's the intensity and purity of the flavour that I like so much. Let's face it, Mr This is a genius and should have several parks named after him.

I layered and arranged the chocolate elements with meringue shards, but you can forget the meringue and just place the two chocolate preparations in a suitable glass if you'd prefer a simpler life or if you have too much TV to watch. A few raspberries make a fine addition and luckily there were some in the garden.
Chocolate Mousse and Parfait with Meringue Shards
Mixing water and chocolate might seem slightly odd but don't be put off, it's very easy and surprisingly forgiving. Although you really do need an electric mixer. Don't think about whisking by hand unless you're extremely fit or just showing off in an unnecessary manner. This should be enough chocolate pleasure for 4 people - it's fairly rich, after all.

The Meringue Shards

You can use pretty much any French meringue recipe you like for the shards - this is just the combination that I used this time. It will probably produce more meringue than you need and you could halve the quantities. The truth is that I find it's a bit irritating trying to whisk less than 2 egg whites and, anyway, spare meringue is not a bad thing.

2 large egg whites
120 g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 120ºC. Whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Add the sugar a little at a time while continuing to whisk until the mixture is glossy and relatively firm, although still spreadable. Spread a thin layer of the meringue (no more than 5 mm thick, ideally) over a baking tray lined with non-stick baking parchment or, probably better still, a silicone baking sheet. (A palette knife is the best tool for this, if you have one, but any spatula will do.)

Place in the oven until dried and set. This will probably take around 50 - 60 minutes depending on thickness. Lift the meringue off the tray once cool - it will break into random shards no matter how careful you are. Store the shards in an airtight container until needed.

The Dark Chocolate “Mousse”

150 g dark chocolate, around 70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
135 ml water

Take two bowls - one a little larger than the other - and put some ice into the larger bowl. Place the smaller bowl inside the larger on top of the ice. Put the water and chocolate into a pan, place on a low heat and stir now and then until the chocolate has melted.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the smaller bowl (keeping it on the ice) and use an electric mixer to whisk the chocolate as it cools.The mixture will thicken to a smooth, mousse-like consistency. At that point, stop whisking and keep the mousse cool until needed. If you fancy, you could add some orange extract or even substitute filtered orange juice for some of the water.

The White Chocolate “Parfait”

The above process is fine for dark chocolate but you're never going to make a successful emulsion in quite the same way with white chocolate. I've played around with a few ideas, though, and I'm happy to report that by adapting the technique you can make a very fine white chocolate parfait. (OK, it's not strictly speaking a parfait - that’s usually defined as an iced dessert using cream - but this does have a texture similar to a smooth parfait.) It's pretty much pure chocolate in a different form so the flavour is more intense than most mousses or ice creams. In other words, a small portion will give you plenty of flavour.

250 g white chocolate, broken into pieces
220 ml water

Prepare the bowls and melt the chocolate and water together as above. (Melting white chocolate can be a lengthy process but keep stirring and it will get there). Once melted, whisk as you did for the dark chocolate. The white chocolate will not behave in quite the same way. You need to whisk quite vigorously until the mixture is reasonably chilled, a little frothy and has thickened somewhat to resemble a pouring cream. If you whisk too much beyond this point, the mixture will start to separate and look horrible but if the dreaded separation happens then shrug your shoulders and put it back on the heat. With a bit of stirring it will come back together and you can simply try again.

As soon as you have your white chocolate cream, pour it into a suitable container and freeze until needed. The frozen white chocolate is creamy and smooth and doesn't need to go near an ice cream machine, but it's not going to behave like a classic ice cream or parfait. It will remain relatively unstable and will melt quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just make sure that you take it out of the freezer immediately before serving.

Layer or arrange the chocolate and the meringue in whatever way you fancy and serve immediately before your guests realise that you just couldn't be bothered to do any shopping for them.


It’s a while since I took part in the We Should Cocoa challenge hosted by Choclette at Tin and Thyme but this month the theme is anything goes as long as chocolate is the star of the show. The only thing to distract from chocolate here is water and very thin meringue so I think it fits the theme just fine.
We Should Cocoa

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Gooseberry and Fennel Sauce

A quick plea for the underused gooseberry before the season is gone for another year. At least, I think the poor old gooseberry is underused. They're lovely in puddings and ices and they make very fine jam but I look forward to gooseberry season so that I can use them in savoury dishes.

I've wittered on about gooseberry sauces before but this year I've tried combining them with fennel and a fine combination it turned out to be. This sauce is very easy to make and freezes well. It works beautifully with simply cooked white fish, such as bream, but will also sit very happily alongside chicken or richer meats like duck or pork. I use the classic, sharper gooseberries for this kind of sauce rather than the sweeter, modern dessert types.
Gooseberry and Fennel Sauce
This sauce is not short of flavour and so should make plenty for four people.  

1 small to medium bulb of fennel, chopped quite finely
400 g gooseberries
50 g dried apricots, soaked if they need it
½ tsp dark soy sauce
A generous pinch or two of pepper
A dash of water
1 - 2 (and possibly a few more) tsp sugar, if the sauce needs it

Put all the ingredients except the sugar into a non-reactive pan and place on a gentle heat. Cover and let it simmer until the fennel has softened, the gooseberries have collapsed and the apricots have swollen up and softened. Let the mixture cool a little then liquidise the whole lot. Add a little more water if the sauce seems too thick. Taste and add as much sugar as you think you need. Reheat to serve.
Gooseberry and Fennel Sauce

Monday, 22 June 2015

Marmalade Frozen Yoghurt

I first came across marmalade ice cream sometime in the 1980s when Sophie Grigson published the recipe in a London evening newspaper. At least, that's if my memory is to be trusted, which it's not for the most part. Essentially the recipe is a simple combination of double cream and marmalade and produces a rich, no churn ice cream beloved by just about anyone who tries it. Very similar recipes have appeared quite often over the years since then.

I thought I'd try making a lighter version of this little treat using zero fat yoghurt and I'm pleased to say that it works well. Let's not pretend that it's healthy, though: there's virtually a whole jar of marmalade in this recipe. Until recently I would usually strain low fat Greek style yoghurts when making frozen desserts but there are some in the shops now that are thick enough to make that unnecessary.

I've tried making this by simply putting the mixture in the freezer and also by using my very basic ice cream machine and, although it works well using the no churn method, it's a little smoother if you can face using a machine.

Sometime in the 1980s I went with a friend to a party somewhere in Fulham and having enjoyed a few refreshing, cold drinks, I spent a couple of hours passionately talking food to a woman that I was sure was Sophie G. I have a nasty feeling that I was explaining my theory about British regional food. I did that a lot back then. These days I can't quite remember what that theory was. My friend told me afterwards that it most definitely wasn't Sophie G and didn't even look vaguely like her. But, then again, around the same time this same friend mistook Tom Robinson for a waiter, so who knows? Sophie or not, I can only apologise 30 years too late to that poor, bored woman. I went home alone on the night bus.
Marmalade Frozen Yoghurt
300 g thick 0% fat yoghurt
350 g lemon and lime marmalade
3 tsp limoncello

If you want a very smooth frozen yoghurt then you could sieve out any peel from the marmalade, but I wouldn't usually bother. Whisk the marmalade lightly to loosen it and stir in the yoghurt and limoncello. Put the mixture in the fridge to chill thoroughly. Put into the ice cream machine and let it churn in the recommended way. Alternatively, just place in a suitable container in the freezer and let it get on with it. It won't be quite as smooth, but life's not always totally smooth either.

This recipe will work with other types of marmalade, of course. For instance, you could use a thin-cut orange marmalade and substitute an orange liqueur for the limoncello.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Asparagus and Almond Milk Risotto

When it's in season I never really get bored with simply cooked asparagus but, just for a change, I do use it in some slightly more involved recipes. I've often made a simple asparagus risotto in the past but this year I've played around with different flavours that complement and enhance the asparagus.  Almond milk provides a good background flavour and gives the risotto a creamier texture.  It might sound odd but I think that a little ginger in the stock intensifies and highlights the taste of the asparagus.  Don’t overdo the ginger, though, or you won’t taste much else. The easiest way to create a little ginger juice is to squeeze about ½ - 1 inch of peeled fresh ginger in a garlic press; although you could use a commercial ginger extract instead.

I served this risotto with a little jamón ibérico (I do mean a little - I can't afford a lot) and a small, simple salad of red pepper. I love both of those flavours with asparagus but in a way they're just icing on the cake and the risotto will stand on its own slightly sloppy feet perfectly well.

I feel I should apologise for specifying yet again how to make a risotto. I do pretty much the same as everyone else so there's nothing stopping you using your own method or a risotto machine if you have one. The ratio of liquid to rice given here is only a guide. The exact amount of liquid needed will depend on the type of rice, how quickly you cook it and, of course, the texture you prefer in the finished dish.

Asparagus and Almond Milk Risotto

This will serve 2.

1 red pepper
About ½ onion, chopped quite finely
1 medium-sized carrot, cut into small dice
1 stick of celery, chopped quite finely
A small glass of white wine
120 g carnaroli (or other risotto) rice
300 ml vegetable stock
700 ml unsweetened almond milk
A small bundle of asparagus (6 - 8 spears, depending on their size)
About ½ tsp of ginger juice (see above)
A small handful of fennel fronds
White balsamic vinegar to dress the pepper
A few small slices of jamón ibérico, or another cured ham

Core and deseed the pepper, slice the flesh into quarters and grill them until the skins have blackened and the flesh has softened. Place in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl and keep the pepper sealed up until cool. Peel off and discard the blackened skin and slice the flesh into strips.

Fry the onion, carrot and celery very gently in a little oil until they soften. While that’s happening, mix the stock, almond milk and ginger juice, heat to simmering point and keep at a gentle simmer.

Pour the wine into the softened onion mixture, turn up the heat a little and, when the wine has has almost disappeared, add the rice and stir around. (It's more usual to add the wine after the rice but lately I've been following Simon Hopkinson's advice and not allowing the rice to absorb the flavour of the raw alcohol). Add a ladleful of the simmering stock and almond milk mixture to the rice and stir until the stock is pretty much absorbed. Repeat a ladleful at a time until the rice is fully cooked and the texture of the risotto is to your liking.

While that’s going on cook the asparagus (I usually steam it, but boil or grill if you prefer), then cut into bite-sized chunks. When the rice is ready, stir in the asparagus pieces and about half of the fennel fronds. Add some salt and pepper but don't overdo the salt if you’re serving with salty ham and use white pepper if you want to avoid seeing specks of pepper (personally, I don't really care about specks).

To serve, dress the red pepper with a little white balsamic and put a small pile on each plate. Surround with the jamón ibérico. Put a portion of the risotto alongside the pepper and ham and sprinkle on the remaining fennel fronds.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Gâteau Ardéchois or a Chestnut Cake from a Can

Several years ago I was called on to make some cakes as part of a birthday celebration. That's normally pretty straightforward but at the time I was down in the south-west of France, in the Gers, and I wasn't quite sure what the local French people would make of British cakes. After all, the mayor had been invited and you certainly don't want to upset him. We decided that small chestnut cakes covered in icing would be a bit different and a good alternative to some of the other delights on offer. They turned out OK but I did notice that some of the French guests seemed to look at them a little oddly. Maybe I'd overlooked the French tradition of chestnut cakes and gone a little bit too far from the norm. After that experience I started looking for a more traditional form of chestnut cake and since they've got an awful lot of chestnuts in the Ardèche, that seemed like a pretty good place to start.

To be honest, I'm not absolutely sure how close this cake might be to a genuine gâteau from the Ardèche. I can't remember exactly where I found the original recipe but I think it was from a chestnut purée company – probably off the back of a can. I've played around with the recipe so it's definitely no longer truly authentic. The result is moist and not overly sweet and I think it's particularly good as a dessert cake. The extra bits of  good news are that it's a really easy cake to put together and that there's not a lot of fat in chestnuts. Don't expect a crumbly, sponge-like texture, though.

Chestnut purée is available in different forms. The type I've used here is unsweetened and not flavoured. This type is fairly widely available in the UK but there are other purées which are sweetened and sometimes flavoured with vanilla. If you're using sweetened purée then lower the amount of caster sugar in the recipe by at least 25 g and if it's already flavoured you may not need the vanilla paste. The purée I've used is thicker than some of the French products and I've adapted the recipe to suit. If the purée you use is a little runny, then you may find the baking times increased. Finally, I've added a little Frangelico liqueur to the cake because I love the flavour but it’s certainly not traditional. You might well find that French bakers would add some rum, though.

I've been working on a new version of the original, small chestnut cakes as well but I'll tell you about that sometime in the future.
Gâteau Ardéchois or is it Chetnut Cake?
2 eggs
100 g caster sugar
25 g light brown soft sugar
120 g plain flour, sifted
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tbsp Frangelico (or maybe dark rum)
200 g unsweetened chestnut purée, at room temperature
100 g butter, thoroughly softened plus a bit for the cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and line a 20 cm cake tin.

Whisk the eggs with both types of sugar until the mixture is light in colour. Beat in the flour and baking powder.

Add the vanilla paste, Frangelico, chestnut purée and butter and beat these in until the mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth.

Place the mixture in the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for around 35  - 40 minutes or until a knife point comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for at least ten minutes before turning out. Serve sprinkled with a little icing sugar and hope that the mayor approves.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Porc aux Pruneaux

Sometimes it seems as if this blog should really be called ‘Some Old Bloke's Half-Remembered Meals’ and I'm sorry but here's another one. This particular nearly forgotten dish is based on something that I ate in Chinon many years ago. Chinon is a lovely little town with a fine castle, the river Vienne, some very pleasing wines and a number of good restaurants. Well, it did then and I feel sure it still does.

This dish is easy to put together, quite rich and definitely old school. It's based on a dish from Tours, which is not far from Chinon, but I'm pretty certain the version that I ate used a Chinon white wine. It can be quite hard to find white Chinon wine in other parts of France let alone outside of the country, so use another dry white wine instead – a Chenin Blanc would be ideal.

Traditionally, I'm sure it would be more normal to cut the pork into noisettes and fry them rather than roasting the fillet whole, but I prefer the roasting option – it’s easier and, I think, the texture is better. I used a homemade rosemary jelly this time and it works very well but I have a feeling that the original dish used a thyme-scented jelly. You could use redcurrant jelly instead.
Porc aux Pruneaux
This will serve 2.

6 large prunes, pitted (Agen prunes would be ideal)
200 ml dry white wine (see above)
1 pork fillet (tenderloin)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp rosemary, thyme or redcurrant jelly
100 ml crème fraîche
½ tsp Dijon mustard
A dash of lemon juice

Cut each prune into four pieces, place in a bowl and pour over the wine. Leave to macerate for an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the fillet, place in a small roasting tin and put in the oven. It’s very difficult to be precise about roasting times since sizes will vary a lot, but around 30 to 35 minutes should be about right for anything but the largest pieces. Check that the juices run clear.

As soon as the pork has gone into the oven, begin frying the shallot gently in a little olive oil. Once the shallot has softened (don’t rush it), drain the prunes and add the prune-soaking wine to the pan together with the rosemary, thyme or redcurrant jelly. Increase the heat, stir to dissolve the jelly and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce until the mixture starts to become syrupy. Take off the heat and strain the sauce – squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the shallot and then discard it.

When the pork is done, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest while you finish the sauce. Reheat the wine mixture and stir in the crème fraîche and Dijon mustard. Once the sauce is thoroughly mixed, add the prunes and allow them to heat through. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and add a dash of lemon juice.

Slice the pork fillet, place on warmed serving plates and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately. I like to serve this with simple green veg and some French bread for mopping up purposes.
Chinon

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Professor Denies Everything Or A Review of The Poi’s Son

It's not escaped my notice that lots of bloggers write restaurant reviews but, so far, I've been far too idle to follow suit. But when a new pop-up restaurant opened nearby I couldn't miss the opportunity to pass on the good news. The Poi's Son Of Avril is in the fine tradition of many modern restaurants: find an unexploited, cheap foodstuff and make it fashionably expensive in a room with ridiculous decoration. The speciality of the Poi's Son Of Avril is Hawaiian Poi and they boast not only a chef who is a master of this ancient culinary art but also quite a lot of dry rot.

I quickly perused the Blogger's Guide to Restaurant Reviewing and discovered that if you don't find yourself fascinating enough then you need to take an interesting companion with you. The Professor is usually interesting if not always entirely sober and he was more than happy to accompany me. At least he was after I threatened to tell his wife about the incident with the exotic dancer from Runcorn and a copy of the 1958 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. And so the Professor and I made our way to this exciting new eatery beautifully situated in a shed behind the local waste recycling facility.
Poi's Son Of Avril
At first we were refused entry on the grounds that we didn't meet the restaurant's strict fashion code. Since this is Surrey we were expected to carry bags costing the equivalent of a small house, drive an improbably large four-wheel drive (preferably while talking on the latest phone) or, at the very least, play football professionally. Fortunately an altercation was avoided when the Professor displayed a photograph of a large sum of money. 

We were shown to our table (well, oil drum, actually) by an agreeably surly waiter who denied he was a waiter at all and tweeted a scathing review of our dress sense on the way. The menus were decoratively printed in black ink on black paper, which luckily didn't matter since it was too dark to read. Our starters were delightful. A small pile of what appeared to be gravel in a cheeky oil-slick sauce was easy to throw away while the Professor happily declared that his dish of Something Found in a Ditch was exactly the sort of thing that nobody in their right mind would consider eating.
The Three Waiters
For the main course we demanded to meet the Poi Master. This request invoked something of a kerfuffle and hours passed while we admired the wheelie-bin-inspired décor and watched the other customers silently texting one another in accordance with the traditional Surrey custom. We were considering initiating an imbroglio when the Master finally appeared in his ceremonial costume of cheap suit, carrying the time-honoured pint of gin and tonic. Awed, we asked in trembling voices what sort of poi the Master would recommend. Pulling his ornate baseball cap solemnly over his eyes he spoke in a low, but commanding voice. “Well, mate, I reckon the steak and kidney poi is just about edible.” In the ensuing brouhaha the Professor sustained a minor injury to his reputation. Fortunately I left with my pride intact and someone else's umbrella.

In summary, an excellent evening was had by all and I can't recommend the place strongly enough. Except that, sadly, the shed was demolished this morning by a professional footballer in a gigantic four-wheel drive while attempting a particularly difficult parking manoeuvre. 
The Professor Cogitates
Disclaimer: I was given a number of fivers in a plain brown envelope if I promised not to mention the exotic dancer and the copy of Wisden but the opinions expressed here are all my own and are not only entirely insincere but also erroneous. No poi was harmed in the writing of this review.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Carrot Halwa For Al

I think of Al whenever I see carrot halwa on the menu of an Indian restaurant (and, believe me, that's quite often).

Al did a lot of the cooking at iDEATH. His signature dish was ‘mess of carrots’. Al was definitely known for his carrots. When he and Pauline cooked together ‘they made a potato salad that somehow ended up having a lot of carrots in it.’ I think if Al made a dessert, then this would be the one. It would probably be sweetened with watermelon sugar.
In Watermelon Sugar
In the early 1970s when I first read Richard Brautigan’s ‘In Watermelon Sugar’ it seemed an extraordinary book and, as it happens, it still does today. The book was actually written in 1964 and published in 1968 and I can't imagine it being written in any other decade. The narrator (‘Just call me whatever is in your mind’) lives in a shack near iDEATH and tells us of his life in a place where many things are made of watermelon sugar and the sun shines a different colour every day. I'm wondering what the people who lived at iDEATH would make of iPhones and the iPlayer. I like to think that Mr Brautigan would be amused but sadly he left us in the 1980s. Still, he has his place in history. As he said ‘All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.’ I've certainly never forgotten Al and his carrots. 

There are many, many variations on carrot halwa and so I don't really worry that my version isn't particularly authentic. It's a little lighter than many - there's often a fair bit of ghee involved. I used some sultanas and dried sour mango in this halwa but other dried fruit such as papaya or pears will work well too. Many versions of halwa that I've eaten over the years have been sweeter than a picture of two fluffy kittens cuddling up to a puppy dog but I prefer to hold back a little on the sugar. I still think this version is pretty sweet, though, so you could reduce the sugar even more if you prefer. I find it's easiest to use a chef's pan with curved edges for this kind of dish to assist with the reduction of the milk but any suitably sized saucepan will do.
Carrot Halwa
This will serve 4 if you're reasonably delicate and restrained or 2 if you're really hungry after a hard day at the Watermelon Works.

250 g grated carrot
A small knob of butter
Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
400 ml full fat milk
1 tbsp sultanas
1 tbsp dried sour mango, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
75 g light brown soft sugar
To serve:
Crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt
A few roasted crushed nuts
A little finely grated lime zest

Crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar. Melt the butter over a medium heat and add the carrots and cardamom. Stir the carrots around for a minute or two then pour in the milk. Bring to the boil and turn down the heat until the the milk is simmering quite gently. Stir in the sultanas, the dried mango (or whatever dried fruit you're using) and the vanilla paste. Continue simmering, stirring regularly (that's important), until the milk has all but disappeared but the mixture is still moist. This process is likely to take around 40 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir in the sugar and continue cooking and stirring for another 3 or 4 minutes. Allow to cool and chill until needed.

More often than not, in the restaurants I've been hanging out in, this is served warm and with ice cream (usually vanilla). There's nothing wrong with that, but I think room temperature is best with a few roasted and crushed pistachios or cashews, some Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche and a little finely grated lime zest. It's a very adaptable dessert, though, and some people even prefer it ice cold.

Carrot halwa is probably even nicer if eaten by the light of a lantern that burns watermelontrout oil.
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I'm submitting this little piece to the latest Novel Food event hosted by Simona Carini at briciole. I always look forward to discovering what turns up at Novel Food so I'm very happy to be part of it.
Novel Food

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gâteau Battu

In Picardy, near the mouth of the Somme, lies the ancient region of Ponthieu (unless I've got my geography wrong again) where there lives a strange beast known as the Gâteau Battu. This translates as ‘beaten cake’, but imagine a tall, light, buttery, yeasty brioche and you'll be somewhere near it. I first tasted this gâteau over a decade ago and, although I loved it, I didn't think about trying to make it at home. Then a few years ago, I met Michel Savreux, chef and member of the Confrérie du Gâteau Battu. His enthusiasm for local food and the Gâteau Battu in particular inspired me to attempt to make my own version. (I was particularly impressed when I saw that on ceremonial occasions the Confrérie wear truly wonderful hats in the shape of a Gâteau Battu).

It turns out that making a Gâteau Battu on a small, domestic scale is not quite as easy as I thought it might be. It’s not that the basic recipe is a secret – the Confrérie publish a recipe on their web site – it’s just that scaling it down to a single gâteau and getting the flavour and texture the way I wanted it proved to be a bit of a challenge. I started with the official recipe and modified it in line with the recipes and techniques of the master baker Francis Fréville, who's been making these things far longer than I've been eating them. After a fair bit of faffing about I've managed to get a recipe that I'm happy with, although there's no real substitute for the true Gâteau Battu, prepared by a traditional baker. So, if you find yourself in Picardy, don't miss the opportunity of eating some of the real stuff.

Although traditionally this gâteau was eaten at Easter, it's very adaptable and can be served in a number of ways at any time of the year. If you want an authentic taste of Picardy, then try serving it as a dessert with a dollop of rhubarb compote or jam and perhaps some crème fraîche. Other fruit compotes will work very nicely with the gâteau if rhubarb isn't available. A small piece can also be enjoyed as an aperitif with a glass of champagne or, more authentically, cider. Of course, it goes well with tea or coffee at any time of the day and, personally, I love a slice as part of a lazy breakfast.

I used a brioche tin with a capacity of 1.25 litres for this Gâteau. This is not the correct shape - it should be deeper with straighter sides – but it will do for now. If you want to get the authentic shape and you happen to find yourself in Abbeville, then you can buy a genuine Gâteau Battu tin. (Be warned - they're not particularly cheap.)
Gateau Battu
A stand mixer isn't absolutely essential for this recipe, but you’ll need significant reserves of patience and energy if you don’t use one.

10 g fast action / easy blend yeast (the type that usually comes in small sachets)
130 g plain flour (not strong bread flour)
50 g caster sugar
A generous pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
125 g softened butter, plus a little more for the mould
1 egg white

Stir the yeast into 50ml of warm water and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Put the flour, sugar, salt, egg yolks and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, which should have started to react a little by now. Whisk at medium speed for 15 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every now and then.

At the end of this time, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks and add to the mixture. Continue whisking at medium speed for another 15 minutes. The dough will seem sticky and elastic at the end of this time and not much like a conventional dough. That's as it should be.

Butter the tin thoroughly and add the dough - the tin should be roughly one third full. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave somewhere reasonably warm for around two hours. At the end of this time, the dough should have risen to near the top of the tin. The time taken could vary so check the dough every now and then.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Bake the gâteau for around 30 minutes or until the top has browned and a cake tester or skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean or with the tiniest crumb on it. The gâteau should have a dark crust, but if it's in danger of becoming too dark or looking burnt, then cover it loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Place the mould on a wire rack and let the gâteau cool thoroughly in the mould before removing.
Gateau Battu Tins

Friday, 23 January 2015

Bogus Café de Paris Sauce

A while ago I was asked what was the first ever recipe that I'd collected. I've been tearing recipes out from newspapers and magazines and jotting others down for a very long time but everything before about 1983 has been lost somewhere along the way. I did some digging and came up with this which is just possibly the earliest surviving recipe in my collection.

I can't remember where the recipe came from but I'm fairly sure it wasn't called “bogus” in the original. It is bogus, though, and has only a distant connection to the original Café de Paris recipe. This may be partly my fault because I think I played around with it a fair bit before I wrote it down but I believe that the real sauce served in the Café de Paris in Geneva is a creamy sauce that’s allegedly made using chicken livers. (Although maybe not - the actual recipe is still secret). To make things even more confusing, there are plenty of recipes for a Café de Paris butter around and that’s an entirely different beast.
Bogus Café de Paris Sauce
Sauces like this aren't very 2015 - not many people seem to make them these days. That's a shame because this is really useful, easy and versatile. This sauce was intended to accompany steaks and there's nothing wrong with that but it will also sit very well alongside pork and, my favourite, simply cooked lamb.

Making sauces might seem a bit of a faff but there's not much work involved, it can all be done in advance mostly using store cupboard ingredients and you'll get enough sauce from the amounts given here for around 6 servings. If you don't use it all at once, it will keep for several days in the fridge and freezes well.
Lamb with Bogus Café de Paris Sauce
If you don't have any tarragon vinegar then simply increase the amount of sherry vinegar, but I must admit that the hint of tarragon does add an extra something.

1 or 2 carrots (about 60 g), peeled or scraped
1 small bulb of fennel (about 120 g), any tough outer leaves and base removed
1 large or 2 small shallots (about 90 g), peeled
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
400 g tin of tomatoes
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100 ml marsala
300 ml chicken stock
Juice of ½ lemon

Put the carrots, fennel and shallots into a processor and reduce them to very small pieces. Place them in a large frying pan and fry gently with a little butter for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the crushed garlic and continue frying gently for a further 10 minutes.

Add the two vinegars to the pan followed by the tomatoes, stirring to ensure that the tomatoes are broken up. Add the sugar, tomato purée, mustard, marsala and stock. Season well. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Pour the contents of the pan through a fine sieve. Press down on the puréed veg to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Stir in the lemon juice. (Alternatively, you could just liquidise the whole sauce. It will be thicker and cloudier and personally I don't think the texture and flavour of the liquidised version is quite as good but at least you won't waste anything.)

There are a number of ways of finishing this sauce before serving. The simplest way is to reduce a little of the sauce to thicken it slightly and pour it around your chosen piece of meat. Whisking in a little butter at the last moment will give the sauce a gloss. Adding more mustard along with the butter will work well if you fancy a bit of heat. Or whisk in some crème fraîche for a slightly richer finish. You could also add fresh herbs: a generous sprinkling of parsley would be the obvious choice.

Serve with your choice of meat and imagine yourself in Geneva. Unless, of course, you are in Geneva, in which case I can't think what to suggest.

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Janis at Farmersgirl Kitchen has started a new blog event #RecipeClippings this month to encourage us to dig out recipes from our collections of cut out and copied recipes. I think this should fit in quite nicely even if I haven't the foggiest idea where I found it.



Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Vinegar Steak With Mango Sauce

Most years I try to grow at least one chilli plant during the summer and most of them suffer from neglect. Some do produce a decent crop, though, and last year it was the turn of a Scotch Bonnet plant. As the summer ended I carried it indoors and placed it on a windowsill, where it’s just about hanging on to life despite yet more neglect. Oddly the seriously hot little fruits made me nostalgic for the 1980s.
Scotch Bonnet
Back then I started to realise that Caribbean cooking could be exceptionally good as well as exceptionally hot. The big name in Caribbean (and African) cooking at that time, at least as far as I was concerned, was Rosamund Grant. As well as writing cookery books she ran the groundbreaking Bambaya restaurant in London at the time. The restaurant may have disappeared long ago but I still use some of her recipes from the 80s. Actually, this isn't one of them, but it's definitely inspired by her and uses a version of the traditional technique of creating a marinade based on vinegar. I serve this with the simplest possible mango sauce. (I'm not sure that RG would approve of such a basic sauce but it tastes good to me, especially when I'm short of time).

I put this concoction in a bun but serving it with rice or stir-fried veg would be good too. I know that it became trendy to use brioche buns for burgers a few years ago and, although I'll never be trendy, the sweetness of the brioche bun does work really well with this filling.
Vinegar Steak with Mango Sauce
This should serve at least 2 and is very easy to put together provided that you remember to start it the day before.

Vinegar Steak

250 g finely sliced steak (you can use the stuff sold for stir fries)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
75 ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 Scotch Bonnet chilli, very finely chopped (if that’s a bit scary use ½ a SB)
A generous few turns of black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce

Mix everything together in a non-reactive bowl, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for 12 - 24 hours.

Drain as thoroughly as is humanly possible then dry the steak on kitchen paper. (Don’t wipe away all the garlic and chilli if you can help it). Heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir fry the steak very briefly over a high heat until done to your liking.

Serve on a toasted brioche bun with a generous amount of the simple mango sauce.

Simple Mango Sauce

1 very ripe mango (small to medium ideally)
1 tbsp lime juice
a couple of turns of pepper
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
½ tbsp soy sauce
A little honey (optional)

Peel the mango and slice the flesh into a blender. Add all the rest of the ingredients and blitz until smooth. Taste and add a bit more lime if too sweet, a little honey if too sour and a some more chilli sauce if too mild. One mango should give you plenty for 2 people but it freezes well if there's any left over or if you have a lot of mangoes to use up.