About Mastering and Enjoying Home Cooking. Drink, Cook, and Live Well!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Jalapeno Green-Tomato-Mango Chutney

Chutney was an English equivalent of a Hindu word. The condiment was probably brought back
to England first by the East India Trading company maybe as early as the 17th century. For the
Hindu and Indians, chutneys are typically eaten on special occasions such as weddings or by the
well-to-do3. Chutney, in this book, refers to condiments either fresh or cooked that contain fruit.

My recipe was originally modeled after English Major Gray Chutney. I found that by making it
spicier, the resulting chutney became a lot more interesting. This recipe is largely based on taste
and, would seem, at the outset, to be very over spiced. In actuality, vinegar moderates everything
in time and the chutney is just right after 6 months. Once canned, it will last several years. When
canning anything, you must insure all equipment is sterile. A hot jar lift and a mason jar canning
funnel would be useful otherwise hold jars with oven mitts. 

Serve chutney with broiled or grilled fowl, steak, lamb, pork or roast. (It’s good on toast!)
Although preserved chutneys are available in India, nobody there has ever heard of Crosse and
Blackwell Major Grey’s Chutney.

All things chickeny and mutt'ny
Taste far better when served with chutney
This is the mystery eternal:
Why didn't Major Grey make Colonel?

Crosse and Blackwell was originally founded as West and Wyatt, the company was purchased in
1830 by Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell. Today the Crosse & Blackwell brand is part of
The J.M. Smucker Company family of products. “Since 1706, Crosse & Blackwell products have captured the exotic flavors, textures and aromas of the world’s most interesting cuisines. Many of our savory products feature historic flavors connected to the culinary traditions of Great Britain. Our chutneys are boldly flavored condiments combining choice herbs, spices, and luscious tropical fruits and vegetables. Originally derived from Indian cuisine, its name comes from the word
“chatnu,” meaning “to taste.”

2 cups bottled water to start (more if needed later)
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup of Apple cider vinegar
2 cups (or more) of sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
Kosher or sea salt to taste (no iodine salt)
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons prepared hot mustard
1 tablespoon ground cloves (quite a lot)
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground mace or ½ teaspoon nutmeg
A lot of fresh peeled ginger (1/3 pound) sliced thin on a mandolin.
10-15 red and green jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and sliced lengthwise then in half
10 – 15 large firm mangoes, peeled, coarsely chopped. (see note 2)
2 large white onions cut wedge-wise lengthwise not in slices
10-20 large green tomatoes1, sliced length wise (squeeze out extra seeds)
1 pound golden raisins
3 tablespoon lime juice (juice from two limes)

If you don’t have access to green tomatoes, you may use more mangos.
Bring water, lime juice, salt, spices, sugar, corn syrup and vinegar to a high boil. Adjust the salt,
sugar, vinegar and water to get correct sweet-sour. The salt level should be a bit more salty at
this point to compensate for the fact we have not added the solid ingredients. Add the solid
ingredients and heat ingredients to a boil and add more water if it’s needed. Cover and boil 5
minutes. Pull off heat. When the mixture is not so hot, ladle it onto sterile quart sized mason
jars, and tighten to seal. Place sealed jars in a pot of boiling water with the water level about half
way up the jar. Boil the jars for 20 minutes. Remove for heat and cool. Set aside in a dark
cupboard for at least 6 months to mature.

1. If you don’t have access to green tomatoes, you may use more mangos.
2. About Mangos: When ripe, mangoes are fully colored from green to yellow with a red
tinge, feel fairly firm but yield when pushed and have a fruity aroma. Do not use soft or
mushy fruit or ones that have bruises. Wash the fruit, cut off the stem about ¼ inch up so
a peeled fruit will stand upright on the cutting board. Cut off the cheeks of the fruit with a
large knife and use a smaller knife to trim around the woody core. Avoid slices too deep
that include cutting into the tough woody core. Coarsely chop the mango pieces. If you
wish to, you may use your hands to further remove some of what clings to the mango
cores over a bowl. Mango come into season around January and at peak season become
inexpensive and best flavored. (January through March)
3. Chutney is expensive at around 50~95 cents an ounce. So making your own chutney is a
real cost saver if mangoes are in season.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Manicotti (Italian stuffed pasta shells)

This is the Roman way of preparing this dish.

Chopped fresh wilted spinach, wrung dry in a towel
Parmesan cheese
1 Large whole egg, beaten
Garlic, minced very fine
Black Pepper and white pepper
Pinch of Salt
Ricotta cheese
Fresh basil leaves or dried if that’s all you have
Parmesan sauce or Alfredo sauce
Marinara sauce
Marjoram or oregano or both
Manicotti shells or tubes

The filling is all the ingredients save the sauces and a reserve perfect leaves of basil as garnish. I prepare individual dishes with oval chaffing dishes because they look pretty. 

Fill tubes gently with fingers or a piping bag. Put white sauce on the bottom in individual chaffing dishes, add the shells, and top with the red sauce. Prinkle with Parmesan. Place on a tray to catch spillage. Bake in a 400 oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. You may find you need to turn down the over the last 15 minutes.

Fresh sprigs of basil help the disk more fancy. 

Cleaning the sides of the chafing dishes help them look nicer.

Bon Appétit

1. ricotta has a mild flavor like a soft, malleable mozzarella with an even fresher milk taste, and a rich, luscious mouthfeel.
2. I would suggest tasting the filling before filling the pasta to sample the seasonings.
3. Using chopped frozen spinach is okay but wring dry to remove excess water after defrosted.
4. Wipe dishes before cooking so they look their best. Garnish with basil.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

What constitutes a great soup?


Some of the best things that come out of my kitchen are soups. I think the best example that comes to mind is a rich, highly reduced stock that is unsalted until its finished the cooking cycle. Good soup needs to reduce as much time as it needs. The white pork broth found in Tonkotsu Ramen stock takes boiling pork bones slowly for 14 hours. Chicken thighs take 4 hour on a reducing boil over low heat. More interesting soup use complimentary ingredients.

What to add to enhance the flavor:

Oyster sauce
Red or white wine
Herbs and spices
Bread, beans, vegetables*, corn, lentils, olive oil, meat, chicken, or shell fish, lobster, haddock, cod, herring, coconut milk

Some favorite vegetables include corn, pablano chilies, fresh tomatoes, fresh green beans, squash, potatoes, zucchini, and cilantro, or parsley.

For example, see tortilla soup recipe on this blog.

Strange Soup Modeled liberly from African Bitter Leaf Soup


1/3 Cups raw, ground pumpkin seeds
I large potato, cut into large lumps
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Concentrated tomato paste
1 lg. onion, cut into large slices
Red pepper
1 lb. chicken wings
1 cup kale or spinach
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/3 tsp turmeric
1/3 cup chopped parsley

Sauté chicken in olive oil until slightly browned*. Add 1 of chicken stock. Add potatoes, tomatoes, raw pumpkin seeds, garlic, onion, salt, turmeric, parsley, red pepper, and tomato paste. Cook 30 minutes. Add kale that has been chopped. When the kale is done, add two tablespoons of sherry. 
Simmer 10 min, soup is ready to serve.

* chicken and diced onion or leeks(white portion) can be cook together for more flavor.

In the picture above, the soup is serve with steamed bread made from pounded plantains. This picture does not show clearly, it’s made from chicken wings. Feel free to add chilies or even beef or shrimp. Marrow bones and added scallions might be nice.