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Our glut crop at the moment is mangoes. Mangoes have a good year every second year, and a great year every forth or sixth. We had mango salsa with our poached eggs for breakfast and mango icecream after dinner last night. I’ve made  mango pickle and mango chutney, a year’s supply and some to give away.  Every visitor leaves with a bag of them, and still they come. So tonight, for Brett and Johanna’s anniversary party, it has to be a mango plate.

I thought about mango cake – I have a good recipe for a mango upside down cake I should post – but my favourite dish to take to a party is always little tarts.  They make such easily transportable finger food, so easy, and they look so party-food. I’ve made mango cheesecake before, mixing the mango pulp through the cheesecake mix, but it wasn’t a keeper for me.  This one though is. Simple shortcrust pastry, lightly blind baked, then half filled with a slightly lemony cheesecake mix, topped with mango jelly.

The Recipe:

The Pastry:

In the food processor, put

  • 3 cups of plain flour (I use wholemeal because that’s what I have, but for party food, I sift the bran out, so it is more like unbleached flour).
  • 6 big dessertspoons of cold butter
  • 1 dessertspoon sugar

Don’t overprocess it – little flakes of butter are fine.  The key to making good pastry is not overworking it.

Then add cool water, little bit by little, till the dough holds together in a ball.

Roll the pastry out on a floured benchtop till it is ½cm or so thick, then cut rounds with a small bowl.

Lightly grease muffin or tartlet tins with butter and line them with the pastry.  It will flute a little since the pastry is flat and the muffin tins cups, but that gives a nice shape to the finished tarts.

Bake the pastry cases for around 10 minutes till they are firm but not yet colouring.

The Cheesecake Filling

Blend together

  • 1 tub (250 grams) cream cheese
  • The same tub three-quarters full (around 200 grams) of plain yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 dessertspoons sugar
  • a teaspoon lemon rind
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • a little vanilla essence 

Pour the cheesecake mix into the pastry cases. It should two-thirds fill them all. Bake for another fifteen minutes or so till they are set and the pastry is lightly golden.

Cool before pouring in the mango jelly.

Mango Jelly

You need enough gelatine to set 1 litre of water, so that is two sachets, or 6 teaspoons of powdered gelatine or 12 sheets of leaf gelatine.  Follow the instructions on your gelatine.

The mango pulp though doesn’t set as readily as water, so you need 500 ml of mango pulp.

Dissolve the gelatine in 250 ml of boiling water, then mix the gelatine water into the mango pulp to give you 750 ml altogether.

Pour over the cooled cheesecakes to fill the tart cases.

If you can find enough room in the fridge, they set quicker, especially given mango season is summer! In my fridge they take about an hour and a half to set.



Back in midwinter, I posted a picture of my new, very beautiful fruit bowl – a Yule gift – filled with winter fruit – oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, grapefruit.  
Yule bowlThen in Spring I posted a picture of it filled with spring fruit – pawpaws and strawberries in my part of the world.


And now it is full of mangoes and grapes. The first of the mangoes is j-u-st getting ripe. I admit we’ve cut a few a bit too early, impatience winning out. And still, really not quite there.  Another week or so and it will be properly mango season. I have some jars of green mangoes salted on the bench and tomorrow I’ll make green mango pickle with them, and in a few weeks when the stringier, later mangoes get ripe I’ll make some mango and tomato chutney. But most will be mango smoothies and mangoes in salads and mango oatcakes for breakfast and lots just eaten as they are.

The grapes too are just coming on, maybe enough for a small batch of mosto cotto this year, but most will just be eaten as they are.  Always something to fill the bowl.


mango and ginger not-jamI don’t make jam. If I did, I’d just have to eat it and I really don’t need that much sugar.  Besides, I am very very lucky in that I live in a place where there is some fruit in season pretty well any time of the year, and making not-jam is so much easier.  Mulberry not jam, followed by strawberry, then peach and nectarine and plum, then mango, then guava and fig and passionfruit, then feijoa and persimmon then  tangelo and mandarin. The sugar in jam is mainly to preserve it.  If you are eating it fresh, there’s no need.

Not-jam is just fruit roughly chopped and cooked down a little to intensify the flavours and make it spreadable.  The cooking destroys a bit of the Vitamin C but it’s still way better than commercial jams.  With ripe fruit, you really don’t need the sugar in jam for the flavour – it’s just for the preserving – the real fruit flavours come through much better unmasked. Fruit comes in it’s own biodegradable packaging, and if you grow your own or buy local and in season, there’s none of the money and environmental cost of carting bottles and cans of things half way round the world then through the chain that gets them to supermarket shelves then home to your fridge.

Mango and ginger not-jam is one of my favourites.  We are getting near the end of the mango season now and I really wanted to share this before they all run out. It’s just a mango, chopped, add a tiny knob of butter, a little ginger (actually, I like quite a bit of ginger) and just a tiny splash of water to start it off.  Cook for less than 5 minutes, then spread on toast.  You can add as much or as little ginger as you like, and you can crush it in with a garlic crusher, or just add a few big slices then fish them out before spreading.

It lasts for a few days in the fridge, but its so easy to just make when you want it, why would you waste fridge space?



mango and tomato chutney

This year’s Hot Mango and Tomato Chutney is in the jars.  I make some version of this every year around this time, when mangoes, tomatoes and chilies are all available in glut proportions. It’s never quite the same.  A jar of home-made chutney on the shelf is one of those kitchen magician pantry items – it allows you to magic a meal out of a fridge that is nearly bare. It transforms a very plain dhall or vegetable slice or lentil patties into a dinner guests worthy meal. I really like pantry items like that. They allow you to use up the last of things in the fridge and save you from “having” to go shopping when you have better things to do.

There’s some basic chutney concepts to follow, but from then on, it’s infinitely variable.

The Base Recipe:

Sterilize some jars by boiling for 20 minutes or pressure cooking for 10.

Place in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil:

4 medium under-ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced
6 under-ripe tomatoes, sliced
teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chopped onions
1 cup currants
4 red chillies, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander or culantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups malt vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
salt to taste

Simmer gently for 10 minutes and adjust the salt to taste. Then simmer very gently, stirring, until mangoes are soft and mixture is jam-like. Bottle in the hot sterilized jars.

The recipe is very variable:

You can use just about any sweet fruit in place of the mangoes, (though I do think mangoes make the absolute best chutney).  This time I added a few tamarillos just because I had them, but apples, pears, peaches, plums and apricots also all make good chutney. You can use over or under ripe fruit – under gives you a better tart edge, over gives you a jammier chutney.  I like under better.

You can use just about any vegetable as well as or in place of the tomatoes, but if you use a non-acid vegetable, you should increase the amount of vinegar.  I added half a tromboncino and half a small pumpkin to this one.

You can increase or decrease the amount of chili. This time I left out the cayenne but  doubled the chili for a hot-sweet chutney.

You can use sultanas or any other dried fruit in place of the currants, or leave them out altogether (though I do think the little pops of sweetness add to it).

You can increase or decrease the ginger and garlic and onion (though I do think the essence of a good chutney is that sweet-hot-acid balance, so you need some onion and ginger at least).

You can vary the spices. This time I added a couple of teaspoons of nigella seeds to bring up the peppery taste.

You can vary the herbs .  This time I used lime basil in place of coriander, but I’ve also used Vietnamese mint, Thai basil and mint.

You can decrease the amount of salt.  Salt is not the major preserving agent in chutney, so it is just for the taste really, but it’s all about balance so a bit of salt is good.

But there are bits you can’t change:

The vinegar is important.  Chutney needs to be acid enough to preserve safely (and “safely” means safe from the risk of botulism, so it’s a big safely).  So you need two cups of vinegar if you use tomatoes, more if you use a non-acid vegetable.

The sugar is important. You can decrease it a little bit if your fruit is ripe and has its own sugar and you have included a sweet dried fruit like currants, but the sugar is needed both to help it thicken and set, and to preserve it against mould.  The sugar works with the pectin in the fruit to give chutney that jammy consistency, so if you use a sugar substitute, your chutney might be runny.  It also helps with the preserving – not as vital as the vinegar but useful to extend the shelf life.  You only eat a very small amount of chutney as a condiment, so unless you are really religiously avoiding sugar, add the sugar. If you are avoiding sugar altogether, make just enough to use fresh.

The cooking time is important.  You need to cook it until it is thick and jammy, (both for a good chutney texture but also to preserve it safely) and then bottle it straight away in hot sterilized jars. (Be very careful – hot chutney or jam makes the worst kind of burn).

Home-made chutney is one of those things that is so different to the bought kind that it makes a good gift. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to a whole range of recipes.  These are the ones I’ve linked back to the recipe with over the last couple of years of blogging, but it works with any kind of curry or vegetable patties or slices.



Indian green mango pickles

It’s going to be a good mango year.  We are already eating the first of the ripe ones, but we have five trees loaded, mostly still green.  The possums and parrots will get a lot of them, but there will still be more than we can eat.  The neighbours all have mangoes too, so there’s a limit to the number can be given away.

But just having a glut isn’t enough incentive for me to make preserves on its own.  It takes a bit of work, and energy, and salt/vinegar/sugar/oil to make preserves, none of which I really need more of!  This recipe is frugal on the work and energy, but really it’s not for the sake of keeping mangoes I make pickles.  It’s for the sake of a condiment, a little bit of flavour sparkle to go with curries or dhal, or on crackers with cheese. Just a little spoonful of a really good Indian pickle can make a very plain lentils and rice dish seem like a feast.

This is an Indian type, oil based pickle, with a fair amount of spiciness.

The Recipe:

One Day Before Bottling Day:

You need 12 cups of diced green mango, skin on. Choose mangoes that are full size but still hard. Mine at this stage yield a cup per mango.

Layer the diced mango in a large jar or bowl or crock with a scant teaspoon per mango of salt (ie, 12 scant teaspoons, or about 3 tablespoons of salt).

Leave the jar out in the sun for the day.

salted green mango On Bottling Day:

Put some jars and their lids on to boil for 10 minutes or pressure cook for 5 minutes to sterilize them. You can use any kind of jar with a lid that pops as you open it. Nearly any kind of jar with a metal lid from the supermarket these days is this kind. Salt and vinegar and oil do the preserving in pickles, so in the olden days they wouldn’t even have required an airtight seal, but since these jars are so easily available, you might as well make use of them.

Drain the diced mango well, then put it in a big pot with:

  • 2 cups of olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons of hot chili powder, or 3 dried hot chilis crushed (more if your chilis are milder).
  • 6 teaspoons of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of nigella or onion seeds
  • 4 teaspoons of fennel or fenugreek seeds (or half and half of each)
  • 4 teaspoons of grated fresh turmeric, or a couple of heaped teaspoons of powder
  • 4 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger, or a couple of heaped teaspoons of powder
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good grating of black pepper

Bring up to the boil then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Ladle the hot pickles into hot jars. (If the jars are not hot, they’ll crack). Make sure there is a centimetre or so of oil covering them, then wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth and screw on the lids.

As the jars cool, you will see and hear the lids pop in, creating a concave top and a seal.

Leave at least a week or so before eating.  They get better with time, and sealed jars last a long time in a cool dry spot. Once a jar is opened, it’s best stored in the fridge.



I have a few pet hates with food, and most of them have to do with kids lunchboxes. Poppers are one – overpackaged, overprocessed sugar and artificial flavourings with most of the good stuff you associate with the word “fruit” taken out. Muesli bars are another.

There’s plenty of research around to justify my rant. A Parents Jury study found “While we set out to congratulate a healthier snack bar alternative that lives up to its marketing claims, we simply couldn’t find one among the 21 products identified as a suitable option for children. Every product identified by parents was high in sugar, and over two thirds of the products contained moderate to high levels of fat.”

The much-marketed LCMs were amongst the worst – “This product should not be recommended as a regular lunch box food. It has very little dietary fibre and contains a harmful level of saturated fat. Worst of all, it has as much sugar as many types of confectionery, making it a disaster from both a dental and nutritional viewpoint.”

So this is the first in what I hope will be a series of postings taking on muesli bars. I have a group of  reviewers lined up. Their brief is to take my challenger to school each week and rate it in the comments, for how it tasted, how well it satisfied hungriness, and how it rated in trade value with their friends.

The rules are that the Challenger must be within the limits of the Witches Kitchen version of healthy and ethical, and also has to be quick and easy enough to make that it is actually a realistic option for busy parents (or kids themselves).

Challenger Number 1: Mango Lunch Box Cake

There are several bits of this recipe that don’t seem right and you’ll just have to trust me! It has no sugar, no butter or oil, only 5 ingredients (not counting water), and though it takes an hour to bake, it takes only 10 minutes to make. But it really is sweet enough for even the most sweet-toothed kid, it is moist, it lasts well, and mangoes are a super food, so it’s super healthy. With mangoes in season the way they are right now, it’s also very economical.

450 gm chopped up mango and juice. (This will be about 2 large mangoes or 3 smaller ones.)
500 g mixed dried fruit – the kind without cherries or peel.
½ cup water (or a little more if your mangoes are not as juicy)
1 ½ teaspoons bicarb
1 ½ cups wholemeal SR flour
2 eggs

Put the mango, fruit and water in a stainless steel or enamel pot, bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for two minutes. Allow to cool while you grease a 14cm x 23 cm loaf pan and line it with baking paper. Lightly beat two eggs and sift the bicarb and flour together. Mix with the mango and fruit, pour into the pan, and bake in a moderately slow oven (160C) for 45 minutes to an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.



The nice thing about bean gluts is that you can just let them fully mature and dry on the vine, then store them for using in dried bean recipes, like refried beans or nachos or baked beans or ful medames. But I don’t quite want to let these beans go yet! Once you stop picking them, they stop flowering and setting more beans. And I have another few weeks before the next planting starts bearing. So we’re eating lots of green beans!

This is one of my all-time favourite ways to eat them, and it has the advantage of using our other current glut – mangoes. We had it for dinner last night, and it was so good I had to immediately make it again for dinner tonight!

Make the dressing first then let it sit for just a few minutes while you assemble the rest. Mix equal amounts of lemon juice and olive oil (2 tablespoons or so of each) with a finely chopped chili, a clove of garlic crushed, a half a little finger sized piece of fresh ginger minced, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and a tablespoon of fish sauce. I often make lime or lemon cordial in winter when they are prolific, just to have on hand for recipes like this, and use a tablespoon or so (depending how strong it is) instead of the juice and sugar.

Slice and blanch 250 gm green beans and drain well. Mix with a sliced mango (or two small mangoes), a handful of mung bean sprouts, and a good amount (2 tablespoons or so) of chopped fresh mint. Toss through the dressing and serve.



The great mango glut is almost over – only a few more weeks – and the grapes will run out about the same time. Next will be kiwi fruit and figs and pomegranates – I went around squeezing them all this morning but they are not quite ready. But we don’t get this kind of mango season every year so I am making the most of it while I can!

This recipe has three superfoods – oats, eggs, and mangoes. Mangoes are really high in Vitamin C and beta carotene, and a decent source of several minerals. Eggs are protein, and also a good source of lots of vitamins including the hard to get B12, and they are rich in choline, which is important for memory. Oats are a low calorie, fairly low GI carbohydrate, with good amounts of B vitamins and several minerals, and they stop cholesterol from being oxidised and deposited in your arteries.

So all in all, it’s a great before school or work breakfast recipe. It is also really fast and easy for busy mornings, and can be eaten one-handed whilst searching for socks.

To make 6 oatcakes, beat two eggs and add half a cup of low fat milk, half a cup of rolled oats (not quick oats, just ordinary rolled oats, preferably organic), and a good tablespoonful of wholemeal SR flour.

Let it soak for a few minutes while you dice one large or two small-to-medium mangoes. You should end up with a mixture like the picture.  It doesn’t need any sugar, and I like it better without any spices, letting the mango have the floor.

Fry spoonfuls in a little butter in a heavy non-stick pan on a medium heat until they are set and golden both sides.



While mangoes are in season, I’ve started making a mango lhassi for breakfast – a blended yoghurt drink that is very popular in India. Mangoes and yoghurt are both super-foods.  It’s fast and easy enough for busy mornings and ticks all the Witches Kitchen boxes. You could just do a smoothie but yoghurt is a great source of good bacteria, and mango season is also the easiest season to make yoghurt using just the sun for heat – it’s so worth it – flavoured supermarket yoghurt is chocka with sugar and numbered additives, besides being overpackaged.

BBC ran an experiment about losing weight that showed that the same number of calories in a soup (or smoothie) keep you feeling full longer: How soup can help you lose weight. So a lhassi breakfast is even more healthy if you are looking at keeping the calories down.

The basic recipe is:

  • 1/2 cup low fat plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 very ripe mango peeled and seeded

You can also add ice cubes (or substitute skim milk powder and ice cubes for the milk) which gives it a nice texture, but don’t try this unless you have a fairly powerful blender!

From there you add things to taste. I like a drop or two of rosewater, a pinch each of cardamom and nutmeg, and a teaspoon of honey. But I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Lewie likes it with more honey and without the rosewater.


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