there’s a wide, shallow bowl on the counter, home to a succession of seasonal fruits that need to ripen. Figs whose skin will tear if one touches the other; apricots with rust-colored freckles and, in late summer, plums that will bruise and cry when piled in a container. Here I ripen avocados and legs and care for thick-bottomed pears until they reach their brief moment of perfection. In May and June, the shell is a safe haven for mangoes – small, smooth and heavy with juice, their skins as yellow as custard, their flesh as bright and cheerful as a bunch of marigolds. When they’re done, and against all the rules, I chill them in the fridge. A cold mango dripping with juice is an immeasurable early summer treat. Round or oval and as soft as a bruise, few fruits are so pleasant to the touch. They feel like a bar of soap that has become slippery with use, and the smell – sweet, honeyed, a little sticky – hangs in the warm summer air in the kitchen. A few come in fancy dress, decorated with tinsel in the color of Quality Street wrappers, which I leave in place. When the fruits are ripe, they can offer us a teasing nectar drop.
I eat them as they come, cut with a razor-sharp pocket knife, their flat stones stripped of their sweet flesh. I’ll also make a puree of them to stir into whipped cream or thick yogurt as an impromptu dessert, or cut them into matchsticks and mix with crunchy carrots and a hot dressing of lime juice, mint leaves, and hot, crunchy bits of dried chili.
Mango Carrot Salad with Chili Tomato Dressing
When serving the salad, don’t forget to drizzle a little lime and herb dressing over it. Serves 4
For the salad:
pepper 1, small yellow or orange
sugar snaps 50g
mango 1, medium
rice noodles 75g
Cherry tomatoes 12
For the dressing:
tomatoes 175g, red, medium
olive oil 50ml
lime juice 1½ tablespoons
garlic 1 small cloves
salt ½ teaspoon
red chili 1, small
dried oregano 1 teaspoon
sugar a sniff
crispy chili in oil 3 tsp (to taste), Lao Gan Ma brand
limes juice of 2
coriander leaves a handfull
mint leaves a handfull
Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes.
Make the salad: Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and wet core with a teaspoon and discard. Cut the pulp into short lengths and then into thick matches. Drop them into the ice water. Peel the carrots (peel if they are large), cut the carrots into thick slices and cut into equal sized matches and add to the cucumber. Halve the bell pepper, remove the seeds and core and cut the bell pepper into thin strips. Peel the radishes, cut them into thin slices and add them to the ice water along with the pepper. Now cut the sugar snap peas into thin strips and add to the water.
Boil the kettle. Peel the mango, cut the flesh from the pit and cut into thin strips. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Place the noodles in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and let stand for 10 minutes. (If your noodles come with other maker instructions, follow those.) Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to the mango.
Make the dressing: Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in the pitcher of an electric blender. Add the olive oil and lime juice. Peel the garlic and add to the blender, then add the salt, red pepper (seeded), dried oregano and sugar. Blend to a thick dressing.
Stir in the Lao Gan Ma and check the seasoning – you may want to increase the chili or add more salt or sugar to taste. The dressing should be on the spicy side as the heat will be softened by the mango and other vegetables. Drain the vegetables and shake dry, drain the noodles and add everything to the mango and tomatoes. Pour in the dressing and toss everything together gently. If you like cilantro, add the leaves to the salad and place on a serving platter. To finish: put the lime juice in a small bowl. Finely chop the coriander and mint and stir in a little crumbled sea salt. Spoon a little lime and herb juice over the top of each bowl.
Mango yogurt crazy
mangoes 3, ripe
limes 2 or 3
thick yogurt 250ml
Peel the mangoes with a small, sharp kitchen knife. Cut the flesh from the stone and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Finely grate one of the lemons. Roll the limes on the work surface and press down firmly with the palm of your hand – the limes will soften and you will be able to extract more juice. Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl (you will need at least 4 tbsp juice.) Add the grated lime zest to the mango and juice. Process into a smooth puree, but be careful not to overwork the mixture, which will make it sticky.
Place the yogurt in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth and thick, then add most of the puree and stir gently. The idea is to run mango strips through the yogurt, rather than mixing everything at once. Serve the mango yoghurt in glasses or small bowls with the rest of the puree and a little zest and underneath the sesame seeds.
sesame rum snaps
Makes about 12″
golden caster sugar 60g
golden syrup 60g
dark rum 1 tsp (or brandy)
ground ginger ½ teaspoon
sesame seeds 2 teaspoons
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter and sugar have melted and the mixture begins to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum, flour and ginger. Spread the sesame seeds on top. Place mounds of the mixture, about 2 heaped teaspoons, on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between them. They will spread in the oven. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, until rich golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove with a palette knife. Place on a wire rack to cool and let set. I like to give them a little more character by turning them while you put them on the rack. Serve with the fool.
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