Posts Tagged rating

Magic with mangoes

mango2I’m so easily led. A friend asks if I have any good recipes for mango chutney (which I don’t), and I go haring off to Chinatown East to see what they’re charging for mangoes. And with a box of ripe, yellow mangoes going for a mere $6.99, I end up plotting my own mango chutney too. Friend plans to try the Major Grey style chutney from the Bernadin book, but I wanted something different.

Cue a blog called the daring gourmet (with a name like that how can you go wrong?), which added black nigella seeds to its jumble of spices, giving me the excuse to walk down to Little India as well. But following recipes has never been my strong point. With vague memories that adding oil can reduce the shelf life of a chutney, I decided not to fry the spices to start the process, and I also cut the sugar (those Chinatown mangoes were ripened to perfection), added an onion and sliced up lemon and more than doubled the ginger. I also forgot to add turmeric, which was a shame. But it was fun experimenting. Here’s the final recipe, with thanks to daring gourmet for the inspiration.

Mango chutney (makes 5-1/2 jars)
2 2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced (it was a very, very large clove)
2 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp crushed dried chiles
1/2 tsp salt (add more next time)
6 mangoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, finely chopped (could double)
1 organic lemon, quartered, seeded and thinly sliced (including the peel) (could double)
1-3/4 cups sugar (use 1 or 1-1/2 next time)
1 cup cider vinegar

mango1Put all the ingredients in a preserving pan and simmer gently until it’s nice and thick and chutney like, which took best part of an hour. Crush gently with a potato masher to remove some of the biggest chunks. Bottle in sterilized jars. Waterbath, if you are a fan of waterbathing.

Chutneys mellow over time, so today’s taste may not reflect the finished product. But I admit I’m impressed so far. The texture is good, the nigella adds crunch and taste and the lemon peel adds a nice sour tang to what is otherwise a pretty sweet chutney. It’s spicy, with a definite chile/ginger bite. Something to eat with homemade bread and a sharp, strong cheese.

Rating: 4-1/2 (out of 5)

Just a few days out of the jar, this one is rather spectacular, with the nigella seeds offering an onion zip, and the ginger/chile giving it a pleasant heat. The lemon was an inspired addition, and yet you can still taste the mango, which often isn’t the case when you combine delicate fruit with vinegar and lots of spices. A very, very pleasant chutney indeed.

Leave a Comment

Bits for burgers

I have almost all the trimmings to turn a burger into something well beyond the store bought stuff, thanks to bitingly spicy mustard greens in the garden, our first home-grown tomatos, and the latest of the bread and butter pickles as a substitute for the sliver of sourness that a commercial burger offers.

And now, thanks to the canning buddy’s niece’s insistence that we repeat a recipe I didn’t even like that much last year, we have the corn relish to slather on the top.

IMG_0321

We made that relish before the apricot jam last week, zipping the kernels off a dozen ears of corn and boiling them up with sugar, vinegar and spice, as well as some chopped up red peppers that we burned black on the stove, then peeled and chopped. I didn’t much like the taste that the basil offered last year, so we substituted dill, and we also cut the sugar and amped up the onion and the spice.

The recipe goes something like this.

Corn pepper relish (adapted, yet again) from The Complete Book of Pickling)
4 chopped, roasted red peppers, skin removed
1-1-2 cups sugar
2 tbsp salt (it was supposed to be kosher salt, but wasn’t)
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
3 cups cider vinegar
8 cups cooked corn kernels
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped dill

Roast the peppers by putting them directly on a gas burner and turning them round as they sizzle and char. Dunk in cold water, peel off most of the skin, and then chop them and set aside.

Put all the ingredients except the red pepper and dill in a pan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for 30 minutes or so until it thickens. Add the peppers and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in dill and ladle into clean, hot jars. Water bath for 15 minutes.

And to my surprise, it’s actually rather good. Last year I rated this a mere 2-1/2 out of five, because it was too sweet and because the basil went sort of brown and yucky on us. The dill adds a nice pickle tang, and the fact that it has less sugar makes it far more palatable to me. If there’s a next time I will add more turmeric, to add to the yellow hue.

Rating: 3-1/2 (out of 5). It’s far better than the gelatinous stuff you buy in the store, but I can’t see myself using it in the way I use pickles or chutneys. 

As for the mustard greens, I reckon this is the perfect thing to grow in a tiny square foot garden like ours. It grows fast, produces over several weeks, adds a serious bite to lunchtime sandwiches and you can’t buy it in the stores. We had five different types this year, one of which bolted already, and one of which didn’t seem to like its container in front of the sunroom door. But these frilly numbers, the most biting of the lot, are doing fine.

IMG_0324

Comments (2)

Quality counts

A while back, as I fretted that late frosts could have killed off all the Ontario apricots this year, I made some apricot raspberry jam from a clamshell pack of California apricots. It was early in the jam-making season, and at the time I thought it was pretty good.

Well I opened a jar this week, and admit to deep disappointment. It’s not that it’s bad, but apricot jam is usually one of my favorites, and this one doesn’t cut it. The set and the texture are good, and it’s pleasantly chunky, which is always a good thing. But the taste just isn’t quite there. It’s not as wishy washy as the apricots that it came from in the first place, but if I closed my eyes I am not even sure I would be able to guess what fruit it is, and I can’t taste the raspberry taste at all. The color has morphed from the red and orange that it started as to a dark, rusty orange. No, there’s nothing absolutely wrong with it, but it’s just not that good.

Rating: 2-1/2 (out of 5). Texture good, set good. Taste lacks the wow factor that apricots ought to have.

Luckily there were only 3 jars of it to start with, and I suspect I might even have given one away.

Lesson: good quality fruit makes good quality jam. It’s as simple as that.

Leave a Comment

Drop dead delicious

Mini update.

That raspberry strawberry jam is drop dead delicious, with the glorious summery taste of raspberry coupled with slightly chewy chunks of strawberry. And because half the fruit is strawberry, it’s less pitty than the (also delicious) raspberry jam. Texture is perfect, both spreadable and usable in yogurt or on vanilla ice cream. No pectin, no add-ons, just fruit and sugar. Yummmmm.

Rating 5 (out of 5)
Absolutely nothing to detract from this.

Comments (2)

Meyer lemon … marmalade

I don’t get this one at all, but one day after the making, that Meyer lemon syrup had turned to an almost perfect marmalade, with a serious bite and deliciously chewy chunks of peel. Time for a few recent ratings from some of the more recent jars we opened.

Lemon meyer marmalade: 4-1/2 (out of five)
It loses half a point for panicking me for a day of the making-it process

Lime pickle: 4 (out of 5)
Nice bite, lovely taste, if a little spicy for me. But I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for. Mind you, the recipe did say wait at least a week, so maybe I should wait a little longer

Grapefruit marmalade: 3 (out of 5)
Nice, but nothing special. I’m trying it with home made rice pudding today, which might work better than the marmalada peanut butter sandwich I had yesterday. Mind you, this is last year’s grapefruit marmalade. Do these things age? Will the one we made on Saturday taste better once we get around to eating it?

Apple date chutney: 4 (out of 5)
Nice, solid, tasty, spicy chutney. Very smooth, which is a little disconcerting, and I will add a notch more spice next time.

Comments (1)

Almonds on steroids

I just want to put on record that the apricot jam from the summer really is rather yummy. As it matured in the cupboard, the flavor from apricot kernels spread stunningly through the whole jam, giving everything an intense almond taste. Apricot kernels are like almonds on steroids, I think. More taste than an almond, and a little less crunch. I have few spoonfuls of the final jar left to enjoy – maybe enough for the rest of this week. But that’s going to be it until next summer. So sad.

Rating: 4-1/2 (out of 5). I’m docking the half point because it set just a little bit too much and hence sank to the bottom of my lunchtime yogurt and needed major stirring to mix it through. I should probably chop the apricot a little smaller next time too — quarter fruit not half fruit.

Leave a Comment

Chutney with a kick

For three years in a row we’ve made a curried apple date chutney from one of my favorite recipe books and it seems to vary each year depending on the apples, the vinegar and maybe the mood of the chefs. One year we used empire apples, which didn’t break down properly, and one year we used curry powder instead of curry paste and I complained that the finished product was a notch too bland and a notch and a half too sweet.

This year I dared buy the “hot” curry paste from the market, and used a very generous three tablespoons when canning buddy wasn’t looking. We cut the sugar a little, cut the Macintosh apples up nice and small and used a mix of cider vinegar and white vinegar because it’s all I had in the house.

And this is a chutney to die for. The dates and most of the apples melt away into a dark amber paste, with hunks of buttery soft white apple to add to the color and the texture. Even fresh from the pan it was glorious, with a beautiful lingering afterburn. I had the stuff that wouldn’t fit in our 14 jars it in a lunchtime sandwich, with brown rice bread and 7-year old cheddar, and it was so good that I had a second sandwich almost immediately after. And there are seven jars apiece to look forward to.

Serious yummm.

Chutneys always taste better after a while, but the provisional rating has to be high. 4-1/2 (out of 5) perhaps.

Recipe to follow, when I get the recipe book back from canning buddy.

From there we moved on to a pear-apple-ginger preserve from the same book, because it’s the pear-apple season, and it’s never the wrong season for ginger. We upped the ginger (of course) and added a teaspoon of five-spice because that’s my spice of the moment after the stunning successes of a few plum jams.

The results are good, but not as good as the chutney. The pears were not quite ripe, and the apples didn’t melt away to anything particular at all, leaving a well-set jam that’s actually a little lumpier than I would have liked, with a linger of crunch from a fruit that might be either apple or pear. It’s super-sweet as well, but works like a charm on plain, unsweetened yogurt.

Provisional rating. Probably a 3 (out of 5)

But this one has potential. I want to try it again, with a handful of cranberries for a sourish bite.

Comments (2)

Older Posts »