Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mango Chili Lime Chutney

Mango Chutney is a sweet and spicy condiment great on a piece of fish or chicken or even crab cakes. You can use fresh mangoes when they are available or frozen.

You will need:

  • 3 cups mango cubed
  • 1/2 white onion -chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 chilies -medium heat
  • 2 Thai chilies- hot
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 inch tender centre piece of lemongrass
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 scallions/green onions- chopped fine
  • a handful of cilantro- chopped fine
  • 1 more lime juiced to top at the end

Step 1: put the onion, garlic, chilies, zest and juice of the lime, chopped lemongrass into the food processor. Process until fine.

Step 2: add the mixture, the mangoes, vinegar, honey, ginger, salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for 30-40 minutes until most of the water has evaporated and the mix is thickened.

Step 3: add the mixture back to the food processor and blend until smooth.

it can be stored in the fridge or frozen. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Caramel Apple Hand Pies

Many years ago we used to spend all our vacations in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida where my in-laws used to have a condo on the beautiful gulf. There was a restaurant called the Hungry Fisherman on Gulf Blvd that made the most wonderful apple pies served with this yummy syrup. The pie was hot and the syrup with nuts was poured on top. I am sure it was probably pancake syrup with nuts in it but, it was such a good combinations. You had to get there early and order your slice at the beginning of the meal or else you would miss out. This reminds me of that pie but, it is topped with a simple caramel for added decadence.

Apple Pie is always wonderful in any of it's forms but, an apple pie that you get to eat all yourself is even better! These are perfect because I can bake one or two and freeze the rest for later. If there is just a few in your house this is the perfect solution to a large pie. The crust is flaky and the apples are soft and full of cinnamon and the addition of caramel is just the perfect topping. 

You will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup & 3-4 tbsp ice water
  • egg to brush on top or a bit of milk 
  • sprinkle of course sugar for tops
  • 5 apples-granny smith and others (a mixture of tart and sweet is nice)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste (or liquid)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream 
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch of course sea salt

Step 1: chop cold butter into small cubes and stick in freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Step 2: add flour, vanilla sugar and salt to a food processor. Pulse 3 seconds to mix.

Step 3: add frozen butter and pulse 8 times.

Step 4: add apple cider vinegar to 1/4 cup of ice cold water and pulse another 6 times. If it does not look like it is starting to come together stop machine and try to squeeze i your fingers to see if it holds together. If not add 2 more tbsp of water and pulse again 3-4 times. If you need more water add 1 tbsp at a time and check after each mix. 

This is what my dough looks like when I turn it out from the machine. I know it is ready because when I squeeze it in my hands it is wet enough to hold together. 

Step 5: with a few kneads I can gather all the flour and form a smooth ball. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1 hour.

this is vanilla paste and it is a beautiful product well worth finding

Step 6: peel your apples and then on a mandolin thinly slice the apples. I like this method because i don't need to core them. I just slice on the mandolin and turn the apple when I reach the core. I continue until my apple is sliced completely and toss the core away. Add the vanilla paste (if you can find it or real liquid vanilla if you can't -never buy artificial!) sugars, lemon juice cinnamon and salt. Stir and leave for 10 minutes to allow the liquid to start coming out of the apples.

Step 7: start your caramel by adding sugar to a large saucepan (you will need the room) On a medium heat start to melt the sugar.

You can stir the sugar only at the beginning of the process.

Once it starts to melt you can stir and then leave it to come to a boil. You can occasionally swirl the pan to mix.

When it has reached the desired brown colour (don't burn it and never walk away from the pot) and it boils.....

Step 8: remove from heat and add the butter and whipping cream. Be very careful as it will bubble and come high up the inside of the pot. Stir and let come to a normal state. This is why you need a large pot.

Step 9: Pour into a measuring cup to cool. Add a sprinkle of course sea salt. 

Step 10: remove pie dough from the fridge and place onto a floured counter.

You can roll out the dough and cut circles or you can divide dough into 8 balls and roll them out to a mini pie. I think this was is easier and there is no re-rolling the dough etc..

Step 11: drain off the liquid from the apples and evenly divide the filling on to your pie crusts. I put  the filling to one side so I can fold over and pinch the other to close the pie. 

Step 12: I add a tsp of caramel to the filling. You will have lots left for drizzling on tops.

Step 13: with a bit of water run your finger around the edge of the crust and fold over. You can use a fork to press down and seal edges or just pinch and fold with your fingers. Cut a few slices on top for steam to escape. Brush with egg wash or milk and sprinkle a bit of course sugar on top if you want. I place the finished pies in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. This will get the butter back to a solid state again and then when it hits the hot oven will puff and get flaky.

You can freeze the remaining pies for a later date. I store in Ziploc bags.

or bake at 375 degrees F for 30- 40 minutes or until golden and flaky. I always bake on a piece of parchment paper for easy clean up. 

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream and a drizzle of your caramel sauce. You can buy a mustard or condiment bottle at the dollar store for easy drizzling or just use a fork. 


Monday, 29 October 2012

Ricotta Parmesano Gnocchi

I love gnocchi whether they are made the traditional way with potatoes or this way with ricotta  and Parmesan cheeses. These Gnocchi are soft and cheesy and I have pan fried them with some sage and thyme and served them with fresh Parmesan shavings. They are easy to make, quick to prepare and can be frozen for a later date.

You will need:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese- drained
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano
  • 10-15 scrapes of a freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • salt/pepper

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 fresh sage leave- chopped 
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme- removed from stems- chopped fine
  • more Parmesan to top

Start with a regular ricotta I usually buy the small container which is 1 cup.

Step 1: put ricotta in a sieve and let water drain into a bowl for at least 1 hour.


Step 2: add the freshly grated Parmesan and mix in. Depending on how dry your ricotta is you may need 1/4 -1/2 cup

Step 3: add some freshly grated nutmeg

Step 4: add one egg yolk- you are trying to keep the moisture content down but, the egg yolk helps to bind the gnocchi. 

Step 5: at this stage I remove the mix onto a counter and add 1/4 cup of flour and incorporate by gently kneading the four into the cheese mix. You can add up to the additional 1/4 cup if required. You are looking to add only as much as necessary to get the dough to the stage where it is no longer sticky to the touch. If you wish to test your gnocchi. You can roll out a small piece and test it by adding your test gnocchi to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. If they fall apart you know you need to add a bit more flour to the mix. If they don't you are good to go.

Step 6: cut dough in half and then into half again.

Step 7: on a floured counter roll each ball into a log and cut the gnocchi. Toss with some flour to make sure they do not stick.

Step 8: you can simply press a finger into each one to for a dent in the middle or gently roll on the back of a fork to create ridges. Place on a floured plate and freeze for 30 minutes before boiling.

Step 9: chop your fresh herbs

Step 10: put gnocchi in boiling salted water, once they float, cook one more minute. This takes approximately 2-3 minutes in total.

Step 11: in a pan add oil and butter and fry herbs while gnocchi are boiling. Gently remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon dire and directly into the pan to saute until the little pillows are lightly golden.

Serve hot with some additional Parmesan shavings and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

or mushrooms and onions.