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The-Heat-Is-On Tropical Fruit Compote

 

 

 

OMG OMG OMG! I’ve fallen in love… with a compote!

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No you are not imaging these words and I really am saying them. But I’ve just made the most amazing tropical fruit compote that’ll having you thinking that you’re sitting on a beach from the very first spoonful – and by beach I don’t mean Southend (although, of course, there’s nothing wrong with good old Southend!)

It was my second attempt at making this compote. The first attempt wasn’t too bad but I felt it was missing something. So I added more spices, some honey, and some booze – because let’s face it, everything tastes so much better with booze!

Initially I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure if all the flavours would work well together, even though I knew that many of the ingredients used to give flavour worked well individually with the pineapple, mango and passion fruit used in this recipe. Thankfully they did and I was thrilled with the result.

I loved the heat you got from the spices and the rum; the fresh zingyness of the lime; the sweet aroma of the vanilla, and the somewhat simultaneous sweetness and tanginess of the fruit. Delicious!

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But don’t just take my word for it – have a go at making it yourself!

Another thing I’ve discovered about fruit compotes – whether you use fresh or dried fruit – is that they are so versatile. You can serve them hot, warm or cold and they can be used  as a topping for porridge or toasted brioche as part of a yummy breakfast; they can be served as dessert with cream, mascarpone, ice-cream or custard. Compotes can also be used as a topping for cheesecake or a sponge pudding, or can be used as a filling for pancakes, crumbles, pies, cobblers or tarts.

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And if you’re feeding little people – and by little people I mean children not vertically challenged people like myself – you might want to leave out the rum.

Awesome!

THE HEAT IS ON TROPICAL FRUIT COMPOTE

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THE FOOD STUFF:

1 medium pineapple

2 large mangoes

5 passion fruit

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 vanilla pod

1 star anise

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

2 tablespoons runny honey

a couple of good glugs of Malibu

THE EQUIPMENT STUFF:

1 Sharp knife

1 chopping board

1 baking tray

A variety of spoons

GET BUSY:

  1. Turn oven on to
  2. Peel and core pineapple and cut into chunks.
  3. Peel mangoes and cut into large chunks.
  4. Cut each passion fruit in half and scoop out pulp.
  5. Place fruit in an oven proof dish.
  6. Cut vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out seeds.
  7. Add vanilla to the fruit.
  8. Add remaining ingredients.
  9. Combine well.
  10. Pop in the oven and cook for 25mins or until pineapple chunks have softened.
  11. Take out of oven – and enjoy any way you wish!

 

Nici Wickes’s Trinidadian Chicken Curry And Caribbean Black Cakes

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Travel and food are two things I love. And one of the things I love about travelling is sampling all the local delicacies. So it’s no wonder that I’m addicted to a TV cooking show that combines my two favourite things. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of cooking shows but World Kitchen hosted by Nici Wickes is refreshingly different. Not only does Nici whip up interesting and exciting dishes from around the world – and make it look so easy – but she takes viewers on a culinary adventure as she heads off around the world, visiting fantastic places and learning about the local cuisine. Nici then heads home where she recreates many of the dishes that she’s learned to make from the comfort of her own kitchen. Each episode usually sees her rustling up one main and one dessert from the country she’s just visited.

TV chef Nici Wickes

TV chef Nici Wickes

 

The New Zealand-born chef is an absolute joy to watch with her sunny personality, mile wide smile, abundant energy, and her enthusiasm for cooking just shines through. But Nici is not just a pretty face, and neither is she just another TV chef. As well as being a seasoned traveller, Nici is also a cookery writer,  business woman, actress, motivational speaker, owner of a cooking school, business coach and runs workshops in leadership! Wow – does this lady ever sleep???

Nici has a multitude of fantastic recipes but I chose to include the dishes she made after her visit to Trinidad. I love the awesome flavours of Caribbean cooking, and I was famished just watching Nici cook these! But for more amazing recipes check them out here.  And tune into World Kitchen if you can.

TRINIDADIAN CHICKEN CURRY

 

A delicious fusion of Indian and Caribbean flavours, this curry is perfect for those who prefer a milder, yet flavoursome, curry.

Serves 4-6

GREEN SEASONING:

1 green capsicum, de-seeded and chopped roughly
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 bunch of fresh coriander (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
¼ – ½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt

 Curry

3  Chicken Breasts – skin on, cubed
1 cup green sauce (recipe below)
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1-2 teaspoons garam masala
½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 fresh mango, skinned and cut into 2cm cubes
Steamed rice and store bought roti

METHOD:

  1. Blend all ingredients for the green seasoning in a blender or food processor.
  2. In a bowl, marinate the chicken in the green seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy based saucepan.
  4. Add the onion and sauté until soft then add the spices (cumin, turmeric, garam masala) and fry for 2-3 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Add the chicken and green seasoning and stir until coated in the spice mix and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Finally add the coconut milk, mustard (if using), salt and pepper.
  7. Gently stir in the mango and heat through.
  8. Serve with rice and roti.

CARIBBEAN BLACK CAKES

 

This is one of my favourite cakes. One of the things  I like about this cake is that the dried fruits are blended so you get the flavour but not the appearance. This is great for me because although  I love  which I’m not that keen on! This cake is usually served during special occasions in the Caribbean. Good reason to make every day a special occasion!

Ingredients: 

 2 cups mix of raisins & currants
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup rum
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons aromatic bitters flavouring

Cake batter:

150g unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons lime or lemon zest

METHOD: 

Prepare the fruit: Place the raisins, currant and prunes in a large bowl, pour in rum, warm water and bitters.

  1. Leave for the fruit to soak up the liquor while you make the batter.
  2. Preheat oven to 150 C.
  3. Grease a 12 hole deep muffin tin.
  4. Make the cake batter: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate.
  6. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, mixed spice and nutmeg), golden syrup, vanilla essence and lime zest.
  7. Mix gradually into the creamed mixture to form a batter.
  8. Set aside.
  9. In a food processor, pour the soaked fruit and juices and blend until thick and still a bit chunky.
  10. Now add the fruit puree to the batter and fold in until well mixed.
  11. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  13. Serve warm with sour cream sweetened with brown sugar.

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Sweet Griddled Pineapple

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Pineapple is one of my favourite fruits, and it’s so versatile – it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes; makes an excellent mixer in cocktails and can be eaten both raw and cooked. This is a great dessert to serve as finale to a barbeque.

Prep: 5 minutes

Cooking: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 pineapple, quartered lengthways, leaving the skin on
  2. 4 tsp Fairtrade caster sugar
  3. 1 tsp Fairtrade ground cinnamon
  4. 1 lime, cut into wedges

METHOD:

  1. Preheat a griddle pan or barbecue to medium.
  2. Cook the pineapple quarters for 2-3 minutes on all sides until just softened and a little charred.
  3. Just before removing from the heat, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. To serve, cut away the fruit from the skin and cut up into slices.
  5. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

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The Perfect Easter Lunch: Jerk Lamb With Guava Sauce

 

Easter’s here! Amid all the chocolate we’ll be scoffing, we’ll most definitely be sitting down to a special Easter meal of roast lamb like millions of other families up and down the country.

But this year I fancied an Easter lunch with a bit a twist. Rather than the usual minted roast lamb, I thought about serving a roast lamb with a jerk seasoning and served with roasted sweet potatoes. I remember watching Jamaican chef Virginia Burke on a food programme where she cooked a delicious looking jerk lamb; a contemporary take on the classic jerk chicken. I remember Burke saying at the time: “We have the best food in the Caribbean but nobody knows about it.”

And she’s absolutely right! I have been a big fan of Jamaican food – in fact all Caribbean – for years and I’m really surprised that it’s not more well known because I’m sure it would really take off in a big way – in quite the same way that Indian or Thai food has.

If you’ve never tried Caribbean food, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Try Virginia Burke’s recipe for jerk lamb with a yummy guava sauce. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

JERKED LAMB WITH GUAVA SAUCE

Ingredients

For the jerk seasoning
•6 spring onions
•2 scotch bonnet peppers
•1 tsp ground allspice
•1 tbsp thyme, chopped
•2 tsp ground cinnamon
•1 tsp nutmeg, grated
•1 tsp brown sugar
•1.5 tsp salt
•1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•75 ml white malt vinegar, distilled
•1 tbsp oil

For the guava dipping sauce
•1 heads garlic
•1 tsp olive oil
•175 g guava jelly, or redcurrant jelly
•2 tbsp white wine vinegar
•1 tsp hot pepper sauce, (optional, for added heat)

For the lamb

•3 tbsp jerk seasoning
•2.5 kg leg of lamb, boned
•2 cloves garlic, crushed

To serve
•1 tsp parsley, fresh, chopped
•1 tsp coriander, fresh, chopped

Method

1. Place the ingredients for the jerk seasoning into a blender and whiz to a thick paste.

2. Rub the jerk seasoning and salt thoroughly into the lamb. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.

3. Set the oven to 180C/gas 4.

4. Rub the crushed garlic on the inside of the lamb leg. Roll up the leg and tie in three places to secure. Roast for 45 minutes for medium rare – add about 15 minutes cooking time for well-done lamb.

5. To make the dipping sauce, cut off the top of a whole head of garlic. Pour over the olive oil, wrap it in foil and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until soft.

6. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and crush them in a saucepan. Add the guava jelly and white wine vinegar. Stir until the guava jelly has dissolved, add the hot pepper sauce (if using) and bring to a simmer. Cook for five minutes.

7. Allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Just before serving, stir the parsley and coriander into the sauce. Slice the lamb and serve immediately with the warm sauce.

 

Cinnamon Island: A Taste Of The Exotic

 

Mr. D and I were very lucky to spend the weekend with Mr. D’s uncle who had flown over on business. Eager to show him some of this fantastic country, we took a trip to Dover – a place I hadn’t been to since childhood. As expected, it was a huge hit with Uncle P. but the problems began when we were looking for somewhere to have dinner before hitting the road. Maybe we were just unlucky but it seemed as though Dover is full of recently shut-down restaurants! Plenty of take-away places but nowhere for a proper sit-down meal.

And then we stumbled across Cinnamon Island, a restaurant which specialises in cuisine from the Indian subcontinent. The honest truth was that I was desperate for a tiramisu and a hot chocolate so Italian was my preferred choice that night but we weren’t having a great deal of luck with restaurants. In any case, Cinnamon island didn’t look too bad from the outside so we went in.

So glad we did…

LOCATION: Cinnamon Island is situated in the heart of Dover in a Grade II listed building, not far from the cliffs, pier, Dover Castle and Dover Museum.

INTERIOR: Spread over two floors, the first thing that hits you is the striking décor. Tastefully decorated in a hot, spicy combination of colours including red, mustard and gold, it sounds horribly clashing and could have been very overwhelming and in your face but it actually works. Far from feeling like you’re in an Indian restaurant, you feel as though you’re sat in someone’s home – a sentiment shared by both Mr. D and Uncle P which proves that the overall atmosphere is cosy, intimate and inviting. The two dining areas are not massive but unlike some places where they try to cram in as many tables as possible, they tables are adequately spaced out so diners don’t feel hemmed in.

 

SERVICE: From the moment we set foot in the house, I mean restaurant, we were greeted by friendly staff and made to feel very welcome. We were the first people there that evening so we were able to sit wherever we wished. We ordered poppadums and condiments, and staff were very helpful in explaining what each of the little dishes contained: sweet and spicy tamarind sauce; yogurt with mint; chopped salad; lime pickle; mango chutney and Cinnamon Island’s very own sweet red sauce whose ingredients are a closely guarded secret!

As the menu was quite extensive and the dishes all sounded quite delicious, we couldn’t make up our minds and really took our time deciding. If the waiting staff were annoyed by this, they didn’t show. We didn’t have to wait too long for our food which was a good job as we were famished! Any requests we had were catered for and we were looked after very well. After our meal, we were served with cut orange slices, little glasses of cream liqueurs and After Eight mints. A delightful and unique touch.

FOOD:

Starters

3 plain poppadums

3 spicy poppadoms

condiments

Mains:

Lamb balti with plain white rice (Mr. D.)

Tandoori salmon served on a bed of spiced potatoes with a side order of  mushroom and garlic rice (me)

Flambed salmon bhaja with lemon and ginger rice (Uncle P. )

Garlic and cheese naan bread

Cheese and coriander naan bread

Drinks:

Salty lassi (Uncle P.)

Sweet lassi (Mr. D.)

Mango lassi (me)

After mains:

Calypso coffee (me)

Regular coffee (Uncle P.)

I was torn between the salmon dish and the lamb biryani but eventually chose the tandoori salmon because it sounded unsual and I felt I was unlikely to sample that dish in most other Indian restaurants. Uncle P. chose the highly inventive salmon flambé and we couldn’t wait to check that out.

Our lassis were delicious but I was surprised at how pale my mango one was as when I have ordered it in other restaurants, it had always been a deep orangey-gold colour. It was however, still very tasty but I think I preferred Mr. D’s sweet lassi – something I have never tried before.

On the whole, the food was delicious. Mr. D. loved the lamb balti although it may have needed to be slightly milder for him (he’s still getting used to spicy food!) However,  Uncle P. and I were a little disappointed that our salmon was extremely dry due to it being overcooked. However the flavours were all there so we were still able to eat it – we just wished that it had been a little more moist. I also think that my tandoori salmon needed to come with a separate quantity of sauce as the salmon along with the potatoes needed it to break down the dry texture.

The naan breads were cooked to perfection and we loved our rice dishes which were full of flavour and tasted as delightful as they looked. Our only complaint there was that the quantities of rice were far too small – although the portions of the rest of the food were just right. The food was very neatly presented but I commented to Mr. D. that I didn’t think that Gordon Ramsay would have been too impressed with the abundance of cut vegetables used in the presentation of the dishes which could have come straight out of the 1980s ( we know from being avid Masterchef fans that Gordon is not a fan of such methods) but it added to the kitsch vibe that Cinnamon Island has going on and there was something strangely comforting in seeing that presented on a plate.

 

We had just enough room for dessert which is mine and Uncle P’s favourite course so we took a look at the dessert menu. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal of variety as far as desserts were concerned as the majority of the sweets on offer tended to be ice-cream or sorbets which we didn’t fancy. I understand that most people will be too full but dessert lovers like me would still want something to satisfy the cravings of their sweet-tooth. Exotic fruit salad (not your bog-standard apples, oranges and bananas) or bananas cooked in spiced coconut milk would have been light enough and delish enough to have gone down a treat. Cinnamon Island prides themselves on the fusion elements of their cuisine. Perhaps an eastern twist on a classic panna cotta containing cardamom and served with mango would have won me over… We may not have ordered dessert but  I absolutely loved my calypso coffee which contained just the right amount of rum.

Despite minor problems, we were not at all disappointed with the food. Many Indian restaurants we have frequented have served up food that was too salty; way too spicy to be palatable, and saturated in oil. I am thrilled to say this was not the case at Cinnamon Island. The food was delicately flavoured with just the right amount of spices, seasoning and herbs. Definitely one of the more healthier menus I’ve encountered in a restaurant.

PRICE:

Actually very reasonable and a lot lower than we expected. As we were happy with the food (for the most part!) and extremely happy with the service, we thought it was well worth the money.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE:

I don’t know how soon or how often we’ll go to Dover but if we do, we’ll most definitely be paying a visit to Cinnamon Island. We don’t have to think twice about that. Friendly staff; great food; and fantastic ambience… what’s not to like? From the moment we set foot in Cinnamon island we knew that we were in for a dining experience like no other – and we were right! Other diners who arrived after us seemed equally happy and judging by part of a conversation that I overheard, it appears that one set of diners were regulars. If Cinnamon Island was closer to London, we would be happy regulars too! However, I would advise the waiting staff to issue a word of warner to diners at the table to keep back a little – the flames just whooshed up in front of us and Mr. D and I very nearly went home without our eyebrows!

HIGH POINTS:

  • Helpful and friendly service with a smile!
  • Clean interior with elegant décor.
  • Enough space to move around without bumping into other diners.
  • Delicious well-spiced, well seasoned food with no ‘nasties’ (i.e.- huge amounts of fat, oil, salt etc.)
  • Good size portions.
  • Wonderful ambience.
  • Didn’t have to wait long for the food.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Good choice of drinks.
  • Liqueur coffee was to die for!
  • Unique special touches (i.e.- serving cut fruit and liqueurs at the end of the meal)

LOW POINTS:

  • Salmon was overcooked and dry.
  • Need more variety for the dessert menu.
  • We needed to be warned to lean back a little when salmon was being flambéed.
  • Would have liked the portions of rice to be a little bigger as it was extremely tasty.

Cinnamon Island Dover

1 Cambridge Terrace

Dover, Kent

CT16 1JT

Tel. 01304 241688 / 240185

Mobile: 07894 523142

Open everyday including bank holidays

Lunch 12 noon – 2.30pm

Evening 5PM – 11.30PM

 

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