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Archive for the tag “Lime”

Crab chilli is star fish

Sometimes you fall at the first hurdle. I certainly did when I started cooking Yotam Ottolenghi’s gluten free dish: rice noodles with lime and crab chilli oil.

Hot as the fiery furnace – but this is a furnace you want to keep dipping into.

I trekked to the supermarket to get coriander but didn’t check that I had gluten free rice noodles in stock. Doh! No matter. In truth, this dish is good for both gluten freers and gluten imbibers – just use the appropriate noodles. As Yotam says: the star of the show is the crab chilli oil. It’s blooming delicious.

If you’re a crab lover, it’s the supper of gods.

It feels a bit counterintuitive to hoy a pile of brown crab meat into hot garlic, ginger and chilli-infused oil (along with miso and tomato paste) and cook for 30 minutes. But there’s a wonderful alchemy here. A fishy, ozoney intensity that smacks of fish sauce but has a crab-induced sweet and savoury hum.

The chilli oil is hot as the fiery furnace – but this is a furnace you want to keep dipping into. A balancing citrus tang comes from the addition of a healthy slug of lime juice on the hot noodles.

If you’re a crab lover, it’s the supper of gods.

My take on Yotam Ottolenghi’s rice noodles with lime and crab chilli oil from Guardian Feast Issue No.191

Original recipe:

Yotam Ottolenghi – rice noodles with lime and crab chilli oil

Semifreddo. Chocolate. Raspberries. Two slices, please.

What fruity delight will tickle our fancy from the ‘summer fruits special’ Issue No.185 of Guardian Feast?

Well, it’s hot, we have a gallon of cream (this happens when The Husband is in charge of the weekly supermarket shop), a bar of Bourneville, a couple of punnets of almost pre-macerated raspberries, a slightly mangy lime and the tail end of a bottle of tequila.

Hello, Thomasina Miers’ semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries. I’d say this is the perfect pud to serve at a dinner party. It’s easily made in advance and it tastes so gooooooooooooooooood!

We used to have an ice cream maker. Goodness knows where it is. I’m put off ice cream making without the trusty whirring paddle because of all the freezing-beating-freezing-beating palaver. Fortunately Thomasina’s semifreddo requires no in-out-beat-it-all-about stuff: you make the custard and stick it in the freezer till it’s done. Then add the other bits. My kind of frozen cream. Just make sure you allow for the four hours freezing time (although, as Thomasina says, overnight is even better).

And then the raspberries:

Finally the chocolate:

This is a clever pud – no ingredient dominates but all enhance the overall flavour. I love the way the cool semifreddo takes charge and solidifies the melted chocolate as you drizzle it on. My lime zest went in the marinating raspberries. I’m guessing Thomasina sprinkled hers over the finished semifreddo. No matter, a sprig of basil delivered a splendidly festive effect!

I enjoyed the eating of it so much, I had two slices. If I made it again (and I can’t think of a reason not to!), I’d use a better quality dark chocolate. We happened to have the Bourneville in stock, but it’s a tad sweet against the overall creamy fruitiness.

My take on Thomasina Miers' 'semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries' from Guardian Feast. So good in the eating that I went back immediately for a second slice!
My take on Thomasina Miers’ semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries from Guardian Feast. So good in the eating that I went back immediately for a second slice!

Original recipe:

Thomasina Miers – semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries

Tart of Triumph

Since I started my epic challenge to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021 (find out more about that  here), I’ve had a lot of success with Tamal Ray’s The Sweet Spot recipes (including: lemon crumble cookies, chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans and Japanese cheesecake with cherries in syrup ). However, his mango meringue pie threatened to overcome my skill levels and make me redecorate our kitchen.

Never in the course of human pudding endeavours has one woman spent so much time wondering if she was doing it right. And this is a great thing about this project: I’m learning so much! And, as you’ll see from my triumphant end product, Tamal’s pie is so worth overcoming terror of processes, lack of knowledge and general apathy when faced by cooking setbacks.

A tin of mango pulp looking like something you might paint your walls with – trust me, I nearly did!

I don’t think my tinned mango pulp was the ‘kesar’ or ‘alphonso’ in the recipe but it seemed to work and tasted superb. For the mango filling, Tamal asks you to put the mango and lime juice into a saucepan and reduce them by 300g in weight – I’ve never had to do this before. I protected my scales from the hot pan with a cork mat and managed the reduction – although it took a little longer than 40 minutes. I think I was a bit cautious about the mix sticking to the bottom of the pan. It didn’t.

Mango reduction in construction

I’m getting a bit better at pastry (pricking, blind baking and all that) – but still not great at rolling out the pastry to the right size. As you’ll see from the pics below, my pastry shrunk too far in places.

The filling finally chilling, the pastry case baked, I set about making the meringue. I followed Tamal’s instructions and whisked the egg whites, taste of lime juice and salt to soft peaks bang on the moment the golden syrup, sugar and water hit 110C. Then, ass soon as the syrup reached the required 118C, I drizzled it gradually into the whites, whisking all the while. It looked like it would never go stiff and glossy. In fact it looked as deflated as I felt.

Don’t tell Tamal, but in a panic I put in some cornflour in the hopes this would remedy it. No luck. I did a quick internet search on Italian meringue and read something that said to whisk for ten minutes plus. By this time, I was overheated and so was my hand whisk. However: success! I had sprayed meringue over the recipe, across the work surface and up the walls. I didn’t care: my meringue was ‘stiff and glossy’.

The next challenge came with pouring the filling – which was a tad liquid – into the case – which was a tad challenged at the sides. I tucked some of the cooked offcuts into the worst gaps and tipped the orange mango nectar in. I ladled on the meringue and began to feel pretty good about myself. A quick blowtorching of the meringue and, hallelujah!

It is true that the filling was a bit runny when cut, so maybe I didn’t reduce quite enough after all but…

Dear reader, this pie is a beautiful thing. A fine centre piece for any celebration. Sweet, yes, but the touch of lime in filling and meringue is transformative. My Sri Lankan friend says that lime juice reveals the true flavour of mango. She is absolutely right.

My take on Tamal Ray’s mango meringue pie featured in Guardian Feast Issue No.173 (look closely and you’ll see my copy of Feast is spattered with meringue!

Original recipe:

Tamal Ray – mango meringue pie

No giveaways on my bargain hunt

I dream of securing a good buy: a brilliant outfit, a stunning piece of furniture, a vital pack of gardening equipment, at a giveaway price. The reality is that I am the woman who recently resorted to buying a pair of mid-life crisis shoes from Lime on Hide Hill. Not because I needed them, but because they were half price, ‘for one day only’ – and I was determined to score a price-drop success for once in my life. Yep, when it comes to bargains, I am a failure.

Who needs a pair of boots like this. Turns out I do - but only at half price!

A boot sale I can handle. But only at half price!

I go to the sales and end up with something from the ‘New Season’ rail. I sign up for notifications for the cheapest advance tickets from East Coast Mainline and, by the time I log on, they’ve all gone. I follow the links on the email offering me 50% off the 11-year-old’s favourite running shoes: her size is never in stock.

Like most women, I check out others’ clothes with a subtle glance. Sometimes I’m impressed enough to ask where they’ve been shopping for such a chic/quirky/stylish outfit. ‘What? This?’ comes the reply, ‘Oh, it’s charity shop.’ Which charity shop, where? Not the ones I go to. Even in the 70s when racks of 50p granddad shirts vied for your attention in Oxfam, I always ended up with the one with sweat stains under the arms.

One of my more ambitious attempts at being quirky.

One of my more ambitious attempts at being quirky.

People tell me I should go to car boot sales. I’ve been to one. I found the sheer amount of stuff – and bargain-hunters – overwhelming. And I can’t let The Husband out of sight at these events: he’s bound to take pity on yet another piece of Victoriana that needs a home. Also, boot sales don’t resolve the need to shop for food and domestic products.

A car boot sale is my idea of the end of the world.

And that’s a minefield in itself: you only have to skim the pages of consumer magazine, Which?, to realise that supermarkets are playing more tricks on us than an illusionist on amphetamines. Go shopping in a supermarket without a brilliant grasp of mental maths, or a calculator in hand, at your peril.

Whether it’s discounted items, multibuys, special offers, or BOGOFs (buy one get one free), there’s no such thing as a straightforward cost-cutting purchase. BOGOF almost invariably involves price inflation of the paid-for item to cover the cost of the ‘free’ one. Half-price items have usually had their prices bumped up for a fortnight before they are reduced – the ‘half price’ is simply the normal cost. Which? gives the example of blueberries in one high street supermarket: they “increased in price from £1.80 to £3.99 for 14 days before going on ‘offer’ for £1.99.”

We have been trained to trust that buying bigger quantities is most cost-effective. For example, ‘18 loo rolls for the price of 12.’  Got to be good, hasn’t it? But then it dawns: two bags of 12 loo rolls are cheaper than the 18-roll offer. Recently, in a local supermarket, I realised it cost less to buy two 500g bags of potatoes than the promoted 1kg bag. I noticed a man with a 1kg bag and, a bit nervously (I’ve been told to mind my own business in the past), I pointed out the saving. Turned out he’d only wanted a few potatoes – he was simply trying to save money by buying in bulk. I know it’s sad to stand and calculate how much each banana costs – but the smoke and mirrors of pricing an item by unit in one place and weight in another really rankles.

How much per sheet? How much per roll? How much per multi-pack? The supermarkets are going to shaft you one way or another.

So, caveat emptor, of course: buyer beware. But bamboozling with tricksy promotions and cavalier price-inflation isn’t fair or, I believe, morally justifiable. If you’re interested, Which?  has a sign-up campaign, ‘Price it Right’. And, if anyone catches me going for a ‘bargain’, drag me away from the till, please.

A version of  this article was first published in The Berwick Advertiser on Thursday 2nd May 2013

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