Apr25

Salsa Verde

There are lots of versions of this versatile sauce – mine does include garlic, capers and anchovies, but doesn’t have vinegar or cornichons, which are too sharp for me. I like this version’s fresh, spiky, smoky taste. The quantities will fill one normal jam jar and the sauce keeps for about a week in the fridge.

  • Big bunch flat leaf parsley
  • Two big sprigs basil
  • Two big sprigs mint
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6-8 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 1 dsp capers, rinsed
  • 1 dsp lemon juice
  • About 150ml good quality olive oil

Cut off the woody stems and put the herbs, garlic, anchovies, capers, lemon and a little oil into a food processor. Blend for a couple of minutes and then add the rest of the oil very slowly until you have a thick, bright green sauce. Store in a sealed jar.

Apr25

How Green Is My Cooking?

Two weeks in India at this time of year, when the countryside is looking burnt and dried up, makes me crave green food that isn’t the ubiquitous (albeit delicious) spinach. I found myself constantly choosing the green pea and fresh methi (fenugreek) options on the menu to remind myself that it was spring in other parts of the world.
So now, back in London, I’ve been busy making salsa verde, pestos of various kinds and vibrant green soups. I’ll come round to wanting summery tomato colours in a week or so, but meanwhile it’s green all the way.

I adore salsa verde because it’s so versatile. You smear it on to fish, meat or chicken before or after you grill it; you can dollop it on to new potatoes; you can stir it through pasta, couscous or bulghur wheat, adding cooked prawns, roasted plum tomatoes or and green beans; you can spread it on to your sandwiches instead of butter or mayo; or you can, like me when I’ve just made a batch, eat it with a spoon. Heaven.

Apr21

Ways With Alphonso Mangoes

  • Peel, slice and eat on its own or with a good quality natural set yoghurt such as Onken. Greek yoghurt and cream are too heavy with this fruit – for my taste, at least.
  • Puree the flesh and make a mango fool with an equal quantity of crème fraiche (the low fat version is fine) and some lemon or lime juice. Serve with small gingery biscuits. In winter you can cheat and make this fool with the canned Alphonso pulp available in Asian grocers and big city supermarkets.
  • Chop the flesh and whiz in a blender with a banana or some strawberries and some apple juice for a gorgeously fragrant smoothie.
  • A bowl of sliced Alphonsoes topped with a scatter of blueberries and a good squeeze of lemon juice makes a princely dessert.
  • Blend with thick yoghurt and turn into ice cream – the flesh of the Alphonso is so sweet that there is no need for extra sugar.

TIP! You can make excellent salsas for fish and meat dishes with mangoes – simply cut into small cubes and combine with finely chopped red onion, chopped red chilli, and some chopped mint or fresh coriander. However, I think that the firmer, rather drier mangoes with pale yellow flesh from South America or the West Indies work rather better for this than the lush Alphonso.

Apr20

Mango Time!

Alphonso mangoes (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Alphonso mangoes (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

I’ve just come back from a trip to India where the hot weather is setting in with a vengeance. Although I honestly prefer the more temperate weather in London, the hot weather has its pluses, the chief one possibly being the Alphonso mango.

To its admirers the Alphonso is the undoubted king of all the mangoes, and at this time of year its heady, decadent fragrance fills the air around the fruit stalls of Mumbai. Its heavy, creamy apricot-coloured flesh is one of life’s greatest delights and, as all connoisseurs of Alphonsoes know, a ripe one is best eaten in the bath, even if it’s generally thought more polite to sit at a table and eat it in delicate slices.
At home we compromise and take a deep slice off each side and scoop the flesh into our mouths with a spoon; the remainder, the part that surrounds the stone, is another treat and can be the best bit. Remove the ribbon of skin from its edge and nibble into the luscious remains until you are down to the core. You will need a napkin, or you can jump into that waiting bath, of course.

On my return to the UK, I found to my delight that the Alphonso had arrived in London too, and our Asian groceries have boxes of them stacked high on the pavements. Check the contents before you buy; not every case of 12 contains 12 good quality fruits and they are too pricey to waste!

See some great ways with alphonso mangoes

Apr03

Welcome to Blog A Cook

This is where you’ll find out what’s stirring in my kitchen at the moment, what seasonal ingredients are getting the juices flowing and any random hints or tips that occur to me as I cook.

Please feel free to leave me comments.