Tag Archives: poached

Mangoes Poached in Wine With Pink Peppercorns

11 Dec

with Pink PeppercornsYou know how a sense memory sometimes stays with you long after the remembrance of when or where it was, or even with whom you shared that memory? Or sometimes a sense memory – a smell, a taste, a touch, a sound becomes the touchstone of a time and place in your life. I have that with food. Foufou to me is Ghana – the slave forts, the colours of the women’s dresses, the covered markets – all can be conjoured simply by the taste of that dish. My late father is white toast, butter and sugar. South Africa is Appeltizer, thick brown bread, and snoek pate.

And sometimes, a taste memory just lingers because it was that good. Recently, I had dinner with a dear friend at the new Chinoz in Bangsar Shopping Centre (try their pumpkin and parmesan gnocchi if you go – truly sublime!). And I realised that it was at another restaurant by the Chinoz group, the late lamented Q*doz, where I had fresh mangoes poached in sweet wine with peppercorns. This was probably one of the most powerful taste memories I have ever had. I tucked it away, and carried it with me wherever I went.

Im not sure why it affected me so powerfully, but it was amazing. I usually order chocolate desserts wheresoever I go … Believe you me, I could make a life size model of myself with all the chocolate I have eaten at restaurants over the years! But this night, I was convinced to try the poached mangoes… and what a revelation! Warm, soft, perfumed, the mangoes were rich and gorgeous in their own juices and the sweet seductiveness of the wine. I adore mango, but thought I only liked it fresh until that night. Gently poached in wine, the essence of the fruit was stroked and encouraged to blossom. I wish I could describe the layers of taste. The acidic spark of the wine, the voluptuous sensuality of the mango, and suddenly, the fire of the peppercorns. It was a joyous dish which made my soul sing.

And, as I said, I have carried that memory with me through many other experiences and lives 🙂 And when I encountered the sweet smelling, ripe mangoes at O’Gourmet, I suddenly had the urge to recreate, if not the exact dish, the memory of those flavours. I found beautiful pink peppercorns from Kashmir, treasured like gold, and my absolute favourite Leatherwood honey from Tasmania. I had more than half a bottle of De Matino Sauvignon Blanc left after making my fig and mangosteen ripple, and thus this dish was born.

Its such a simple preparation, and I think one could really be flexible in terms of ingredients. Use a good wine, though, because that taste comes through very strongly. And if possible, try and use pink peppercorns. Their flavour – musky, sweet, faded fire – is unique and wonderful and it perfumes the flesh of the mango, and the deep complexity of the reduced wine in a subtle nuanced way that is a total joy. Black peppercorns tend to be a tad more forthright in my opinion, but they can be used (may be a little more judiciously) here too.

I served this with my goat’s milk cheese ice cream but almost all my tasters said that each dish on its own was so complex, they needed to be served individually. These mangoes, warm from the pan, would do very well with some first class vanilla ice cream. Or, just on their own, with the gorgeous shiny sauce drizzled over. Beautiful!

Serves 6 pax

  • 1 + 1 + 1 tbsp pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 + 1 1/2 + 1/2 cup crisp white wine (I used a De Martino Sauvignon Blanc) – 2 1/2 cups in total
  • 1 large mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1 – 2 tbsp honey

With peppercornsCrush 1 tablespoon of pink peppercorns, and leave the other two tablespoons whole.

In a large pan, over high heat, combine 1/2 cup of white wine and the crushed peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon of the whole. Allow to come to the boil and reduce until you have a very thick wine reduction and the peppercorns.

Lower the heat, pour in 1 1/2 cups of wine, and add the peeled and sliced mangoes to the pan. Simmer the mangoes at the lowest heat for about five minutes, and then drizzle over the honey and sprinkle over the final tablespoon of peppercorns.

Continue to poach, for a further 10 – 15 minutes, or until the wine has reduced a little, and the mangoes have become slightly translucent.

Using a spoon, flip the mangoes over gently, and poach for a further few minutes. Taste and adjust the sauce – you might want to add another tablespoon of honey.

Remove from heat, and pour over final 1/2 cup of white wine.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. The mangoes will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Port Wine Poached Figs Oven Roasted with Cashel Blue

25 Jul

Figs roasted in port wine with Cashel BlueAs I have written before, I am being inspired by things all around me. Recently, I read a post on Facebook about oven roasted figs with a gorgonzola sauce and thought, hmmmm, I want to do that! But of course, I wanted to work with what I had, and I wanted to make it perfect for my taste. This dish seems to be “high-falutin gourmet food” (as my friend Jobby said), but actually, its so easy to make, and so dramatic and beautiful to present. I adore figs – they have a luscious, sensual earthy appeal. They are perfect just as they are, but add port wine, a touch of spice, and some deep oven roasting and you get ambrosia. These can be served as starters or main courses, and one per person with a bitter green salad is perfection. Though the greedy ones in your family might demand more, so be prepared!

You could actually make these with dried figs, especially because of all the poaching in wine. But I prefer fresh figs… there is something so inspiring about these deep purple swollen fleshy fruits. And obviously, something downright sexy. I used to really dislike figs, but as I grew older, they somehow just grew on me. I am still not a fan of dried figs – the intensity of all that flesh and sugarsweet is just not for me. But fresh figs have a unique place amongst fruit, and they are surprisingly good for you too – a rich source of potassium, dietary fibre, and manganese. That, and they are yummmmmmy.

This recipe is really easy. You dont even need measurements, though if you are a stickler, I have given you some broad strokes. Work with what you have. Port wine for me, juice for you and red wine for someone else. Add or subtract things you like and dont like. Figs are precious. Make them as YOU want them, not someone else!

For 4 people you will need:

  • 4 – 8 figs
  • 4 cups (2+1+1) port wine (you could make this up in a variety of ways – port wine + red wine + a berry based fruit juice or use all of one or a mix)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice (or cinnamon or nutmeg)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp old balsamico vinegar
  • 1 tsp Cashel blue (or other blue cheese) per fig

In a large saucepan or frying pan, over medium-high heat, poach the figs in 2 cups of port wine and 1 cup of water for about 20 minutes. You want the figs to plump up and the port wine to reduce by at least half. If you are using dried figs, add about half an hour of poaching time, at a slightly lower heat. You can leave them largely unattended, though it is nice manners to go over a few times, and bathe them in juices 🙂 About 10 minutes in, sprinkle over the mixed spice.

When the figs look lovely and thick and plump, take them out, and transfer to a heatproof serving pan. Try and get the figs to fit just nicely in the pan – something too big will make the gorgeous juices dissipate and possibly burn. Leave to cool for a moment.

Meanwhile, pour another cup of port wine, or some juice, into the bubbling thickened juices from the poaching. Boil this down to a very thick jammy sauce. As it thickens, stir in the butter to give more body, and taste – you might want it a bit peppery or slightly more spicy. If so, adjust accordingly. Set aside to serve with the figs.

Using a kitchen scissors, cut the figs open from the top. I usually cut them with one “half” bigger than the other, and then split this “half” in two, so I have a three petaled fig. Open up the fig, and drizzle some very old very delicious balsamic vinegar in the centre. Pour the remaining port wine into the pan, and oven roast the figs for about 30 minutes, in a 180C preheated oven.

Take the figs out of the oven, and switch on the broiler. Stuff the figs with a teaspoon (or more if youre feeling wealthy!) of Cashel blue (or Stilton or other blue cheese), and broil for 5 minutes or so or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Serve with a walnut and rocket salad, with the port wine sauce on the side.

Divinity.