Mangoes, ricotta and toast – a simple pleasure

I was born in the country that gave common mangoes their scientific name – Mangifera indica. Come the Indian summer (April-June), dad would ride off on his LML Vespa to the local mango market and come back with bags and bags of golden, juicy, sweet deliciousness. He would bring us many varieties and always experimenting with new ones. Of them all, my favourite was “Banginapalle” (pronounced: Bung-in-a-pulse-lee) – thin skinned, juicy and sweet as nectar.

My years in New Zealand exposed me to nothing but disappointment in the form of green, peppery tasting (and smelling) Peruvian mangoes. However, when I moved to the more tropically inclined Australia, my longing for real mangoes was finally satisfied. I discovered the local varietal “Kensington Pride” which reminded me of my childhood favourite and boy did I gorge myself on them. Sticky mango fingers with pulp stains on one’s tee-shirt and chin may not be a very attractive look but the happiness on such a person’s face is priceless !

On our Christmas vacation in Australia, we once again got to indulge our mango cravings and I chose to do it in a simple yet highly satisfying way. The pepper on honey trick is one I learnt from a French colleague of mine. I thought it was weird until I tried it.

Finally, this recipe captures the very first images of food that I took with my DSLR. I will be eternally proud of them.

Do give this recipe a go – especially if you have fresh mangoes and fresh ricotta available. It is definitely healthier than an English breakfast!

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The Green Refractory’s Breakfast Stack recreated

If you are ever in Melbourne (why wouldn’t you be in the most liveable city in the world), you have to find a place for brunch (breakfast + lunch) on a Saturday morning. Of the places that I have been to, the place that is at the top of my list is the Green Refractory in Brunswick. The locals call it Cafe Green. It is quintessential Brunswick – hip and hippie, organic, caters for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other diets and makes incredible coffee and chai lattes – especially the soy kind.  So I’d highly highly recommend venturing out to find this place if you like brunches.

Amongst the things I have eaten at the Green Refractory, their breakfast stack is my favourite. Layers of home-made potato cake, tomato chutney, grilled halloumi, spinach, bacon (ask for without if you are a vegetarian), grilled tomatoes and poached egg. In the part of England that we currently reside in, finding brunch is a fantasy leave alone finding good brunch. Deep fried hash browns and baked beans served at 11am really does not equal brunch *sigh*.

So, on weekends that I am motivated enough,  I try and bring back the things we miss about Melbourne – brunch being one of them. This particular weekend, we had our lovely neighbours  over. I made this and my healthy Cranachan to share.

The Green Refractory's breakfast stack in my kitchen...

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A healthy Cranachan

It wasn’t until January this year that I heard about Burns’ night and of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Burns). For those of you who are blinking now like I did when I first heard of it, here’s a little spiel about Robbie Burns. He is Scotland’s most famous poet know for several popular songs including “Auld Lang Syne” which is often sung at midnight on New Year’s Day. He was also known for his many love affairs some of which he captured in his poetry. Robbie Burns is the most popular of poets who wrote in the Scots’ language.  As it seems to happen with a lot of famous people, Robbie passed away at the not-so-old age of 37 after several months of deteriorating health and mental state. It was a few years after his death that some of his friends got together and started celebrating his life and work in what is today called “Burns’ night’.

In several places around the UK, Burns’ night dinners are organised with great enthusiasm. They feature a Scottish menu of Haggis (the vegetarian version is also available), broth, a dessert known as Cranachan and tastings of Scotch whiskey. The Haggis is often ushered in by Scottish men in clan kilts with the song “Ode to the Haggis” being played on bagpipes. This song too as one of Robbie Burns’ pieces. After stuffing yourself full of food and drink, you are challenged to take part in Céilidh (pronounced : Kay-lee) dancing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A9ilidh)  which I highly recommend.

Overall Burns’ night’s dinners are a lot of fun and hope this recipe will give you a tiny feel for it. The original Cranachan is made of thick double cream but I used Greek Yoghurt instead.

Cranachan for one....

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