Our guest food blogger Jo Orr is tempting us with verdant spring peas and sunshine-tinged Alphonso mangoes this week, I for one LOVE Alphonso mangoes, whose season is brief, so get your skates on….
I brought back a heaving bagful of fresh peas from the farmers’ market and decided I wanted to make something that kept that wonderful pea-green colour and really emphasised the wonderful way that peas match so beautiful with cheeses, in this case a snowy-white ricotta and heaps of grated Parmesan. The torte puffs up all golden and green, the very colours of Spring itself and sits well on a plate beside some juicy roasted vine tomatoes and a few slices of salty, pan-fried Halloumi. It was all very more-ish and I ended up eating far too much.
Luckily, dessert was light and sumptuous as only a fool can be. When I was growing up it was always gooseberry fool which, admittedly, is the preeminent ‘fool’, the cream soothing the tart edges of the goosegogs so that the best flavour is drawn from each. However, it’s not yet time for gooseberries so I decided to use my daughter’s favourite fruit- Alphonso mangoes. They have a short season, form now til the end of June, but do try and get hold of some while you can, because pound for pound these are the sweetest, juiciest, most sunshine-like fruit on the market. Buy a few extra and within an hour or so your whole kitchen is filled with their gorgeous fragrance. Try to get hold of them from a Middle Eastern grocers if you can- you can normally bag a box of these yellow beauties for just a couple of quid; though, frankly, I’d pay considerably more!
Pea, Mint & Ricotta Torte
Ingredients: 1 kg peas, 50g butter, 100g grated Parmesan, 150g spring onions chopped, 2 tbsp mint, 4 tbsp basil, 200g ricotta, 2 tbsp double cream, 3 eggs, salt and pepper.
Method: Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a 23cm springform tin, then sprinkle with a good handful of grated Parmesan.
Melt the butter in a large pot and once foaming add the spring onions- sweat these for 4-5 mins til soft then add the peas, half the herbs and 120ml hot water. Season well with salt and pop a lid on and cook for 5-7 mins. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 mins then pop half the pea mixture into a food processor along with half the ricotta and the cream. Blend. Then add the rest of the ricotta and the eggs and blitz again.
Pour this into a large mixing bowl and stir through the remaining half of peas and the herbs as well as half the grated Parmesan. Add a good grinding of pepper and check the seasoning- may need a little more salt.
Pour into the tin and sprinkle with the other half of the Parmesan and a drizzle of oil.
Bake for 40mins or until puffed up and golden.
Let rest in the tin for 15 mins before turning out.
Serve alongside some roasted vine tomatoes, pan-fried halloumi slices and some chargrilled slices of ciabatta.
Alphonso Mango Fool
Ingredients: 2 mangos, juice of 1/2 lime, zest of 1 lime, 200 ml double cream, 1 tbsp caster, 25g butter, couple of slices of day-old rye bread, 1 tbsp dark brown sugar, 20g pistachio nuts chopped.
Method: Whizz up the bread until you have breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a pan and, once foaming, add the rye breadcrumbs and the sugar- stir well to coat thoroughly.
Peel the mangoes and slice off the flesh and pop into a bowl along with any juices.Keep one slice aside and cut this into 1cm cubes for topping the fool. Stir through the zest and lime juice. Then blitz in a mini-processor til puree consistency.
Whip the cream til reasonably stiff then stir through the caster. At this stage you can either stir the mango puree through the cream in order to make a traditional ‘fool’, or you can keep the layers separate- it’s up to you.
In a glass layer up the rye crumbs, the mango puree and top with the whipped cream.
Top with a sprinkle of chopped pistachios and a few mango chunks if you like.