choosing chutney

 

sean’s red capsicum chutney

There’s nothing quite like the acquisition of a new cookbook: the anticipation, the pleasure of purchasing, the rushing home with your new treasure tucked under your arm, the quick flick through to get yourself acquainted, the long slow perusal of every page. But most of all I enjoy the decision making that goes into deciding which recipe to first christen the book.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to treat myself to an early birthday pressie and picked up a copy of the latest object of my cookbook lust: Let it simmer by Sean Moran, the talented chef and owner of his self described ‘salty jewel’ of a  restaurant: Sean’s Panorama, located on Sydney’s iconic Bondi beach.

This gorgeous little book has more than your standard recipe fare: there’s the dance of the paella, a lovely story that we have all lived through called tins jars ‘n’ packets which describes Sean’s creation of a delicious ‘pasta-della-cupboard’ out of the leftover pasta and tins in his kitchen. He also details how to make home made soap from rendering fat and  he also describes in sensuous detail the best way to eat a tomato.

In the mood for a Sunday afternoon project, I settled on making a batch of ‘red pepper’ chutney as the first recipe tested. I was a little surprised that Sean had gone with the American nomenclature for what we Aussies call a capsicum but this chutney still tastes as delicious by any name… all good things…

sean’s red capsicum chutney
makes approx 4C

Adapted from Let it Simmer, this pretty chutney would work any where that calls for a smoky, spicy, sweetish companion. Sean recommends serving with goats cheese or the much tastier-than-they -sound lentil cakes detailed below.

7 large red peppers (capsicum)
6 red onions
1/3C olive oil
1t ground cumin
1/2t ground allspice
1 bay leaf
3 chillis
50mL balsamic vinegar
125mL white wine vinegar
100g sugar

Cook capsicum on a hot bbq or under a grill until all sides are well blackened. Place in a large bowl and cover with cling wrap and allow to cool.  Remove skins and seeds and roughly chop the flesh. Retaining all the sweet juice.

Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onion and garlic over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add remaining ingredients and let them simmer over a low heat for approx 2 1/2 hours, stirring periodically until chutney is reduced and thickened.

Transfer immediately to sterilised (fresh out of the dishwasher is fine) jars and seal while still hot.

lentil cakes
serves 4-6

These wholesome cakes, also adapted from Sean’s new book are surprisingly moreish. Serve hot with a green salad and chutney or cool wrapped in pita bread for a tasty lunch.

We also have Sean to thank for the brilliant idea of cooking the lentils in a small amount of water so that they retain their shape rather than ending up as lentil mush.

200g brown lentils
2T olive oil
125mL water
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs each mint and parsley, leaves picked and chopped
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1T ground cumin
1t chilli powder, optional
250g cottage cheese
2 handfuls fresh coarse breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/4C milk
3 handfuls fresh fine breadcrumbs
peanut oil for shallow frying
red capsicum chutney, to serve
green salad

Soak lentils in plenty of water for 1-2 hours. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and add garlic and onion. Cook over a low to medium heat until onion is soft. Add spices and bay leaf and drained lentils and 125mL water and bring to a simmer. Cook covered stirring occasionally for approx 20mins or until lentils are just tender.  Allow to cool.

Stir through herbs, lemon juice and zest, coarse breadcrumbs and cottage cheese and season to taste. Form into small cakes approx 5cm in diameter and place on a tray. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Lightly whisk egg and milk in a bowl and place fine breadcrumbs on a plate.  Carefully dip each cake in egg mixture and then roll in crumbs to cover, repeat.

Heat oil in a fry pan and shallow fry in batches on both sides until crispy and golden. Drain on paper towel and serve hot or warm with chutney & salad.

 

lentil cakes with red capsicum chutney

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