Something fruity, Something sweet

Mango & passion fruit desserts

IMG_3802We’ve still got lots of lovely mangos here so today I made individual tifle-style desserts with mango and passion fruit.

I started my making some custard and the when it was cooked added small pieces of chopped mango to it and covered it with cling film (to stop it forming a skin) and allowed it to cool down but not set. Next I cut a round of butter cake / vanilla sponge to fit in the bottom of a glass. I then mixed some of my mango and passion fruit compote with some spiced rum (Cointreau would work well too) and spooned this over the cake. Then I spooned over a layer of cooled custard and then put the desserts in the fridge to cool completely. To serve, on top of the custard, I put some fresh mango pieces and some passion fruit pulp and a large spoonful of slightly sweetend whipped cream and garnished the desserts with some fresh mint leaves.


Salads, Something fruity

Impromptu avocado & mango salad


I wanted a salad to serve with dinner tonight but didn’t have any ‘usual’ salad ingredients, so I made this avocado and mango salad with what I had, and it turned out rather well! It was made from sliced mangos and advocados and an finely sliced red onion and a dressing made with a crushed garlic clove, some salt, some dill, lime juice and chilli infused olive oil. I then tossed the salad in the dressing and covered it and put it in the fridge to cool. I garnished it with some mint leaves and crushed black pepper. If you wanted to turn this into a meal in itself then I think some feta cheese would go nicely with this combination.

Thai Food, Veggie mains

Green curry fettuccini


As I’ve mentioned before Thai curry sauces go well together and are popular in Thailand. You can use whatever curry you prefer, here is a green curry with eryngii / king oyster mushrooms and green beans. It’s super easy and very quick to make. They make a greasy sauce for pasta without using lots of cream. This makes 4 servings

Start by heating a pan of slated water to cook your pasta. In a griddle pan grill about 300-400g of mushrooms (you could add some grilled courgette too if you like). In a frying pan fry a chopped onion in some vegetable oil the add a couple of gloves of crushed garlic, fry them for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Put your pasta on to cook, I used fettuccini, you probably need about 300g. Then add a heaped tablespoon of curry paste to the vegetables and a good splash of light soy sauce and continue frying until all the veg are coated in the curry sauce then add 150-200ml of coconut milk and a few torn kaffir lime leaves and simmer few a few minutes to thicken and reduce the sauce by about half. IMG_3715About 2-3 minutes before the pasta is done add some 200-250g green beans (or asparagus) to the boiling water. When the pasta is done drain it with the beans and add it to the curry sauce and stir well so that the pasta gets coated in the curry sauce. I served this with an avocado and mango salad.

Edible gifts, Preserves, Something fruity

Mango & passion fruit conserve


I don’t like overly sweet sugary set jams so I make fruit conserve which is more runny and fruity.

For this batch I used about 2.5kg of ripe mango chunks (from about 3kg of mangos) and about 500g of sugar and the pulp of about a dozen passion fruit and the zest and juice of a couple of limes. Which I put in a large saucepan and heated up. I also put the lime seeds in a piece of muslin that I tied up and boiled with the fruit as these have pectin in them which will help set the conserve, but you don’t need to do this. I suspect the passion fruit seeds may do the trick anyway. Bring the fruit mix to the boil then simmer for over an hour until it starts to thicken and the mango is cooked and starts to break down. I like it when these are still some mango pieces in the conserve. As it thickens you need to stir it more regularly so it doesn’t catch and burn.

While it’s cooking sterilize some jars in boiling water (about 5 or 6 jam jars should be enough). I then put them in a warm oven to dry out. Once the jam has thickened you can ladle it into the jars and seal them. If you plan to keep it for a long time it’s a good idea to put a disk of baking parchment on top of the conserve before putting the lid on the jar as this will stop any air getting to the conserve and it will keep longer. I also make this with pineapple and passion fruit using the flesh of 3 or 4 pineapples I don’t add lime to the pineapple version as they already have a sourness of their own. Homemade conserve makes a great gift.

Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet

Rustic peach & passion tart


The beautiful peaches are still available in our local weekly market so I decided to make a peach tart. I’ve had problems making fruit tarts before, as too much liquid has come out of the fruit as it cooked making the tart soggy, and no one wants a soggy tart! This time I got some tips from a video by Melissa Clark on the New York Times food website and her advice is to toss the fruit in some cornflour (along with sugar) before cooking and cook at a high heat so that the corn flour thickens the juices of the fruit. I basically followed her advice and recipe to make this beautiful summer tart.

So what do you need?

For the pastry:

  • 2 cups/200 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Milk / cream as needed
  • 125 grams (cold) salted butter
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

For the filling:

  • 4-6 peaches sliced (about 500g of fruit)
  • ½ cup 100g grams sugar
  • 3 tsps corn flour
  • the pulp of 3 or 4 passion fruit (or the juice and grated rind of a lime / half a lemon)

So what do you do?

Start by making the pastry. Put the flour, sugar, lemon juice and butter in a food processor and mix until it forms breadcrumbs. I a small bowl beat the egg and put most of it in with the pastry (just reserve a little about a tablespoon to glaze the pastry later) and blend it should form a soft dough, if necessary add a couple of tablespoons of milk / cream. Form the pastry into a flat round shape and put in a plastic bag in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.

After about an hour, preheat your oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F. Take the pastry out of the fridge and on a floured surface roll it out into a round about 30 cm across. then put this on a greased non-stick backing sheet, on some baking parchment on  a baking sheet and put it in the fridge while you prepare the fruit. Slice the peaches and then toss them in the sugar and corn flour and then add the passion fruit pulp and mix it through the peaches. Take your pastry out of the fridge and pile the fruit up in the middle and then roughly fold the edges of the pastry up round the fruit, then add some milk to your remaining egg to make a glaze and brush this on the exposed pastry and then sprinkle some sugar over the pastry.


Put the tart in the oven and bake for about 45 mins. The pie filling needs to heat up and bubble in order for the corn flour to thicken the juices. Once it’s cooked allow to cool and serve with thickened cream, or crème fraiche, or vanilla ice cream.


Thai Food

Veggie jungle curry

jungle curryI made this while staying at our ‘shack’ in the mountains (near the jungle) last week my kitchen there is very basic and there aren’t any scales so no weights here, but this is a curry to make with what you have a bit like minestrone soup so mix and match and see what you get. It should be pretty spicy with clean flavours of spice and herbs and makes a great change from coconut milk based Thai curries.

I started by frying a block of firm tofu until golden, then I set it aside. I chopped an onion and a pepper and fried these and some mushrooms and added a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and some Chinese (small) celery and cooked these. Then I put the tofu back in the wok and added a couple of tbsp of red curry paste and some soy sauce a little dark and some light too and fried this until everything was coated in the chili paste.


Next I put this mix in a saucepan and added enough water to cover it and put in some chopped pumpkin and carrot pieces, a couple of bunches of fresh green peppercorns, some torn kaffir lime leaves and a handful of grated krachai “fingerroot” this really gives the curry it’s distinctive flavor if you can’t get this try some galangal instead. I brought it to the boil and then added some Thai aubergines the very small pea sized green ones and the golf ball sized light green ones (cut in half) and some cut green beans. I then added some Thai basil both types (sweet and holy) and some coriander and dill and simmered the curry till everything was cooked.

IMG_3360It’s actually best if the curry then sits for a few hours or overnight so the flavours develop. I served the curry with a Thai omellete and rice on the terrace of our shack.


Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet

Simple chocolate orange cake with passion fruit sauce

IMG_3568This is a very simple chocolate cake. It’s not the most luxurious chocolate cake you’ll ever eat but it’s quick and easy and great as a base cake serve with fruit sauces or ice cream. I made the cake with part sugar part marmalade so the cake itself has an orange flavor. If you prefer plain chocolate cake then omit the marmalade and add more sugar. I don’t like my cakes too sweet so don’t add too much sugar. If you like sweeter cakes then increase the sugar.

So what do you need?

  • 160g of sugar (or 80g sugar and 80g of marmalade)
  • 250g (2 cups) of plain (all purpose) flour
  • 100g coco powder
  • 3tsp of baking powder
  • 60ml of vegetable oil
  • a cup / small pot of sour cream / plain yoghurt
  • 160ml water
  • 2 large free-range eggs

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350F. Oil a baking tin, I use a long (29 x 10 cm) loaf tin or you can use a bunt tin. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth mixture. (If you want to do it in a bow I’d mix the wet ingredients together first then add the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into the tin and then cook for about 40 mins, until a skewer comes out clean. Check after 30 mins and if the top is cooking to quickly place a piece of foil over the cake to stop the top burning. Once it’s done leave in the tin for 5-10 mins then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool. If you want it to look pretty when you serve it dust with icing sugar before serving.


While the cake is cooking you can make the fruit sauce. I used passion fruit, you could use summer berries instead if you like, or make a marmalade sauce by heating up some marmalade with a mottle water to make a sauce you can pour.  I put the pulp of about a dozen juicy passion fruit in a small saucepan and added a little water about 1 or 2 tbsp and added 2 tbsp of sugar and heated it up and simmered for about 5 minutes and allow to cool. I then pour the sauce on the cake as I serve it you could add a dollop of whipped cream too for an extra treat.