Monday, 23 November 2015

Making your own Mango chutney, a Christmas tradition in North Queensland



Bowen mangoes, and part of the latest batch of mango chutney. 

Mango chutney recipe


 There were always bottles of homemade mango chutney  in the house when I was growing up in Rockhampton, in Central Queensland,  as it was an annual tradition to make a batch before Christmas, for family and friends, just as the common mango trees were fruiting. The challenge was and still is, to pick the mangoes before they ripened on the trees. In those days most people had a mango tree growing in their back yard, or had friends who did. These days, mangoes can be bought pretty cheaply from the farmers markets, or from roadside stalls, on the Northern Bruce Highway. They will probably be seconds, or second grade fruit, which is fine, as the commercial supplies of mangoes are shipped to the southern markets and overseas as soon as they are picked.

Mango chutney has always been traditionally eaten with the Christmas ham, and used in some savoury dishes for an instant hit of flavour.  I still couldn't imagine not having a bottle of my homemade mango chutney in the refrigerator, and for me it is the compulsory addition to a good Indian curry, at any time of the year.

So this year, I have just made another batch of chutney, using a combining my Mum's recipe, and my friend Julia's Grandmothers recipe.They are very similar recipes, and the best I have found, but then maybe I am biased. It is a matter of choice as to whether or not you chop all the ingredients by hand or use the food processor. It doesn't make much difference to the end result, but using the food processor is certainly a great time saver.

In the North, it is all about mangoes at this time of year.

Ingredients:
  • 2 kg green mango flesh (Use any kind of very green mango but Common mangoes have always been the traditional mango to use because they are great for chutney making but not for eating, they have stringy flesh,  and can be obtained very cheaply in the North as the trees grow wild.) Peel them, slice them, and chop them, or pulse them in the food processor into small pieces, but not minced pieces.)
  • 2 kg sugar (use the cheapest white sugar you can find at the supermarket, it makes no difference)
  • 250g raisins, pulsed in the food processor, or chopped
  • 250g pitted dates, pulsed in the food processor, or chopped
  • 250g crystallised ginger, uncrystallised or naked, pulsed in the food processor, or chopped. Fresh can also be used if you have enough.
  • 90g salt (taste it toward the end of cooking and add more if necessary)
  • 900ml brown (malt) vinegar ( the cheapest brown vinegar will do)
  • 4-5 birds eye chillis, chop them and remove the seeds (use gloves to do this)
  • 125g garlic cloves (chopped or pulsed in the food processor)
  • This can make about 13 assorted sized jars.
TIP: It is good to use some small jars as well, to give away to friends at Christmas, and throughout the year.

Sterilise your jars and lids: 

Start to sterilise your jars and lids before the cooking begins, by either washing them in the dishwasher, and then drying them off in the oven at 120 degrees, or hand wash them in hot soapy water, rinse them, and then heat them in the oven at 120 degrees for 20 minutes. It is good to time the final process of heating the jars and lids in the oven, to ensure that the bottles are still hot when the chutney is cooked and ready for bottling. The hot chutney needs to be ladled into hot jars using a wide funnel if possible. Remember to sterilise your funnel and ladle as well.

Let's cook:

Place all of your ingredients into a large heavy base stock pot. This recipe uses a manageable quantity of mango. If you double the amount of ingredients, you run the risk of burning the chutney and having to use a huge pot.


Use a long wooden spoon for stirring with. Stir the mixture regularly to prevent the risk of burning on the base of the pot.

After about 45 minutes, the mixture will start to transform into a rich, caramel colour, and to thicken . Anytime after this you can start to test it to see if it is ready and is setting.








This is the same process as testing if jam is set. Test if it is ready, by putting a teaspoon full on a small saucer which you have already placed in the freezer for 10 minute. Place it back in the freezer for a few minutes. If you can run your finger through it when it is cold and it leaves a gap then it has gelled and is ready for bottling.

Bottle the chutney while still hot, and be careful. Using a large soup ladle, and a funnel makes the process a lot easier. 

Invert your full and lidded bottles for a few minutes, and then stand them up the right way to cool. You may hear some of the lids popping as they cool, which is a good sign that the chutney will keep in the pantry for a few years. The flavour and texture will develop beautifully during that time. An aged bottle of mango chutney is a precious commodity.










Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Fruity Noughat slice, an economical fruit and nut biscuit slice


Fruity Noughat Slice


At this time of year, during the lead up to Christmas when we are making our Fruit cakes, Plum puddings, and Mince pies, this slice is an economical way of using up the leftover packets of mixed dried fruit and nuts. It is also just a quick slice recipe to have in your repertoire in case visitors pop in. It takes no time at all to throw together, and the ingredients can be varied depending on what you have in  your pantry. My Mum's generation liked to ice everything, and I still like to as well, however this slice can stand alone without the icing. Another shortcut when in a hurry.

The recipe is based on an original of my Mum's, with the rolled oats and golden syrup or honey added, a take from our friend Paul's recipe. I have reduced the amount of sugar in the interest of self preservation, however if you omit the golden syrup, you could use 3/4 of a cup of sugar or leave it as it is. Mixed fruit is a sweetener in itself. 

Just follow this recipe and I promise it will be great. Another vintage style recipe that works beautifully.

Ingredients:

½ cup white or brown sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup or honey
1 cup SR flour
1 cup of mixed dried fruit and nuts. Various mixed dried fruits, chopped dates, sultanas, cherries and/or mixed nuts (pecans, walnuts) up to a cup.
125g butter, melted
1 beaten egg
1 cup coconut (dessicated or shredded)
1 cup rolled oats
1 lemon
Icing sugar

Mix together the sugar, coconut, flour, oats, fruit and nuts. Add beaten egg, golden syrup and melted butter.  Mix well.

Press into a greased lamington tin.

Bake in a moderate oven 25-30 minutes until set.

Allow to cool. Ice with lemon icing, however it is delicious enough to stand alone without icing.

Jump straight to the recipe here:



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Moroccan Orange Blossom and Cardamon Yoghurt Cake


Moroccan Orange Blossom and Cardamon Yoghurt Cake

This is a festive cake combining some favourite aromatic spices, with orange blossom water, and pomegranates. It tastes so amazingly good, that I am tempted to change years of tradition at Christmas, and replace my fruit cake with this light and exotic taste sensation. It even looks like a Christmas cake, with the visual appeal of the pomegranates  and the explosion of taste that they deliver. 

I am babysitting a friends little boy today so this is being written in a bit of a hurry, while he sleeps. Believe me though, this is a cake well worthy trying.

This recipe requires a 2L (25cm)  bundt cake pan and Serves 6.
No electric mixer is required for this recipe just a whisk, a mixing spoon and a large bowl.