Cheesy Chutney Dip

mango chutneyChutney refers to a wide-ranging family of condiments from Indian and South Asian cuisine that is a mixture of spices, fruits and vegetables. There are many varieties of chutney. American and European-style chutneys are usually fruit, vinegar and sugar, cooked down to a reduction. Mango chutney and Major Grey’s chutney were developed for the European market.

While living in England, one of my favorite sandwiches for lunch was simply cheese and chutney, which you could buy in almost every market. Boots Dispensing Chemist made a particularly good one, as well as Marks & Spencer and good old British Rail. I wish chutney was more popular / mainstream in the United States.

Another one of my favorite things I make for lunch is cheese and chutney quesadillas. Two cultures colliding! A true fusion of favors or should I say flavours?

Anyway, here is a wonderful dip recipe.

Cheesy Chutney Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chutney
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Crackers, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients. Spread the mixture into a greased baking dish and top with the Cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

Chili and Tomato Relish


Perk up your sarnie!

Sainsbury’s  is my favorite UK super market.  This recipe was in the latest Sainsbury’s Magazine.

Perk up your sarnie with a spoonful of this spicy relish. It’s great served with barbecued meats and burgers, too.

Chili and Tomato Relish

1 lb ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped

2 red chilies, finely diced (keep the seeds)
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs tomato purée
8 oz sugar

Bubble the tomatoes, chilies, vinegar, lemon juice and tomato purée together in a medium-sized pan for 8-10 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough that when you run a spoon through it, a gap remains in the middle.

Add the sugar and some seasoning, stir until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly for 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. Pour into a sterilized jar, cover and leave to cool.

Fig Compote 2 Ways

Having a fig tree for many people can be a curse. They are prolifically messy. The birds peck at them and they go SPLAT! We have a very large fig tree in the backyard and every year, I am faced with the task of trying to figure out what the bloody hell to do with them! I love them raw with goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic glaze.

Over the past several years, I have blogged about figs.  Here are two other ways to use them – Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey & Vinegar and Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese & Peppered Honey .

The two compotes below are good on oatmeal, waffles, ice cream – what ever hits your fancy.

Glossy Fig Compote

½ lb fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs dark brown sugar
3 Tbs honey
Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your broiler. Add butter, brown sugar, and honey to a cast-iron pan or a medium broiler-proof sauté pan. Cook for about 1 minute over high heat, stirring frequently, until syrup begins to bubble. Add figs and stir to coat them with the syrup.

Place pan under broiler to caramelize figs. Protecting your hand with an oven mitt or towel, swirl the pan a few times over the next 5 minutes to prevent sugar and figs from burning. The figs are done when the syrup is thickened slightly and amber in color, and the edges of the figs are dark and glossy. Remove the pan from the broiler and serve figs while they’re still warm.

Zesty Fig Compote

4 cups fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
1 tsp jalepeno, seeded and diced (optional)
½ tsp orange zest
½ cup orange juice
3 Tbs honey

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes and remove from heat.  Let cool.  Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Serve over ice cream.

Strawberry Jam

Don’t get stuck in a jam, make jam!

Here I am jumping on the Carmageddon, media hyped up band wagon! I have a feeling it will be a non-event anyway. I always pretend that the 405 freeway does not exist, and never get on it! Just stay home and make some jam!

As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

Sterilizing Tips:
Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic, or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum seal when processed.

To sterilize jars, before filling with jams, pickles, or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Leave in a preheated 175 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Or, boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.

Use tongs when handling the hot sterilized jars, to move them from either boiling water or the oven. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.

After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.

Strawberry Jam

2 cups sugar
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1½ pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate. (I keep one in the freezer.) Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated. Use immediately, or follow proper canning guidelines.

Savory Fig Jam

Black Mission Figs in a Port Reduction

In a moment of insanity, I signed up to compete in a grilled cheese contest this coming Saturday.  I have made so many combinations, that I am actually a little sick of grilled cheese.  This is one of the ingredients I am using in my sandwich.  I first tried “store bought” fig jam, which was way too sweet, so I have doctored this recipe.  It isn’t very jam-like, but it works well.

This savory jam is a great addition to a cheese plate. The Dijon mustard adds an unexpected spice and flavor that pairs well with sharp cheddars.

Savory Fig Jam

3 Tbs minced shallot
2 (3-inch) fresh thyme sprigs plus ½ tsp minced fresh thyme
½ bay leaf
1½ Tbs unsalted butter
¼ lb dried Black Mission figs, finely chopped (¾ cup)
¾ cup Port
1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Cook shallot, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf in butter in a 1 to 1 ½ quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Add dried figs, Port, mustard, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until figs are soft, about 10 minutes. If there is still liquid in saucepan, remove lid and simmer, stirring, until most of liquid is evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes more. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs and transfer jam to a bowl.

Cool, then stir in minced thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Mango Chutney

Mango Madness

On Saturday, I was invited over to a friends house to make mango chutney. I must confess, that I have never made it before.  I learned many things, mainly about canning.  The only problem is that you are supposed to wait 2 months before eating it!!!

Mango Chutney

Makes about 4 cups

4 lb fresh mangos, ripe but not too soft, peeled
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp chile flakes
2 1/2 cups medium dice red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 cup small dice red bell pepper
8 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
4 oz cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs curry powder
Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper
1/2 cup golden raisins

Cut the mango flesh away from the pit. The pit is shaped similar to an obelisk, so you’ll end up with 2 large pieces and 2 smaller pieces from each mango. Roughly chop the flesh.

In a sauté pan heat the oil and add the chile flakes. Be careful not to burn the chile, just toast to flavor the oil. Add the onions and sweat until soft. Add the ginger and bell pepper and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Finally add the mango and cook for 1 more minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, and curry powder. Add this mixture to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer and reduce for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and add the raisins