Mango Meringue Pie (or, the alternative birthday cake)

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I turned 25 on Wednesday. While I’m not much one for going off the rails or getting wild, I did spend a whole day baking stuff, which could certainly be viewed as a sign of a quarter life crisis. I made a polenta cake, party rings, an elaborate bread (watch this space), brownies and a pizza cake. And, of course, this: the Mango Meringue Pie. It was the sweetest, the sickliest and the very best.

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I really love mango. I put that shit in salads and in stir fry and generally in my face at any opportunity. Recently, when I was at a music festival, I nipped out of the festival grounds to a local village and bought a wee pot of mango. Amidst the heavy, hearty festival food it was heaven. I sat and ate it in the door of my tent, and some high guy came, sat with me, and just started eating the mango. When he took the last bit I was more quietly filled with violent rage than ever before in my life. So, yeah. Mango – I love it. When I randomly saw something on pinterest about mango curd I knew exactly what I needed to do. This recipe for mango curd is the product of about an hour of internet research of different curds and weights and such.

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My love of the sweet, stickiness of mango is rivalled only by my love of the kitchen blowtorch. Those of you who know me in real life may feel a real sense of fear descend upon you when you learn I own a blowtorch, but own a blowtorch I do, and I wield it with glee. I’ve made meringue a few times and creme bruleed a rice pudding into submission, though I do mostly use it to melt mozzarella onto bruschetta (or cheese onto anything). But the discovery of mango curd meant it was time to venture back to meringue. Also because blowtorch. This meringue recipe is this one. The pastry – just to make sure I properly attribute – is from James Morton’s brilliant bible of a cookbook How Baking Works, but with a zesty twist. 

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Meringue pie looks impressive – a perfect pile up of pastry, curd and meringue – and so it seemed ideal that I would make this for my birthday – a proper decadent, ostentatious show off of a thing to celebrate my quarter century of existence (which has been the exact opposite of decadent and ostentatious, given that I made my own cakes and watched GBBO).

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Mango Meringue Pie
Ostentatious, ridiculous, amazing.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 min
For the mango curd
  1. 2 big mangoes
  2. 160g unsalted butter
  3. Juice of 1 lime
  4. 160g caster sugar
  5. 4 eggs, lightly beaten
For the pastry
  1. 125g unsalted butter
  2. 75g icing sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. A dash of vanilla extract
  5. 250g plain flour
  6. Zest of 1 lime
For the iltalian meringue
  1. 4 egg whites
  2. 140ml water
  3. 250g caster sugar
Instructions
  1. Start by dealing with your mangoes - peel them, and cut out the stones, then roughly chop the flesh. You should have about 2 cups of mango flesh. Puree it in a blender or food processor until smooth (mine was a bit lumpy, and still fine, because my blender is terrible).
  2. Make the mango curd. Boil a bit of water in a pan, then place a heatproof bowl over it to make a ban marie (don't let the bowl touch the water). Leave the pan over a low-medium heat. Put the butter in the pan and melt.
  3. When it has just melted but is not yet *hot*, add in the lime juice, caster sugar, eggs and mango pulp. Cook, continually stirring, for 8 - 10 minutes, until thick. It should coat the back of a spoon. When it's thickened up, cover it with cling film (to stop a skin forming), then put it in the fridge.
  4. Pastry time! Weigh out the butter and icing sugar and beat them together until they form a smooth, pale paste. Chuck in the egg and vanilla and beat in. Mix in the flour and lime zest (don't overdo it!), then form into a dough, using your hands if necessary. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. When your pastry has chilled, roll it out to be about the thickness of a £1 coin. Grease a 23cm tart tin, then place the pastry into the tin, with a cm or so of dough hanging over the rim. You can use a small piece of dough to press it into the corner. Prick the pastry all over with a fork. I made this on a VERY hot day - if you are doing similar, place the tin in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  6. Place some baking paper over your pastry, then fill with rice or baking beans. Put in the oven and bake for 15 mins, then remove paper and baking beans and bake for 15 mins more, or until golden brown. While it's still hot, trim off the excess pastry. Set aside to cool.
  7. When your pastry has cooled, pour in the mango curd and spread evenly. Return to the fridge.
  8. Make the meringue. In a stand mixer (a hand one is fine if that's what you have, but be careful), put the egg whites in the bowl and mix on high heat until it forms stiff peaks.
  9. While the meringue whips up, heat the water and sugar until just starting to boil. Once the meringue has reached soft peak stage, pour in the sugar syrup slowly while the mixer is still running. Leave to mix, until the bowl is cool and the meringue is glossy.
  10. Remove pie from fridge, pour on meringue. Drag a fork through it until it cover the pie and looks vaguely attractive.
  11. Fire up your blowtorch and torch the meringue until it browns a little. It will look lovely.
Adapted from Really Nice Recipes / How Baking Works
Adapted from Really Nice Recipes / How Baking Works
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Thai Chicken and Red Pepper Curry (or, a fail safe option)

Thai Chicken and Red Pepper Curry

There is no real impetus for me writing up this recipe – no events in my life it reflects, no great trigger that made me make it. That’s why it’s great. When I don’t know what to make, this is what I cook because it is always delicious.

It’s filling, without being too heavy, has a nice depth of warming flavour, is great on its own or served with rice, and is incredibly difficult to fuck up. When I’m sad, or busy, or just not sure what I fancy, or have mates coming over, those are the things I want. I want a big pot of simple food, where I can stash the leftovers and gorge on them for the next few days. The veg can be swapped up, and you could eliminate the chicken and make it vegetarian if you wanted, too.

Thai Chicken and Red Pepper Curry

I should say that as I fall deeper into cooking and learning how to do it, I have acquired less common and more middle class ingredients (which, by the way, I have a really complex relationship with – but that’s a whole different post). In this, I have used palm sugar and dried kaffir lime leaves. While both are available in bigger branches of Sainsburys, they aren’t necessarily cheap or necessarily necessary, but they do add to depth of flavour. I am totally of the opinion that good food should be both nourishing and affordable, so you can forgo these for sure. If you’re going to make this often, both bits last in cupboards for basically all of time, so I say they are worth the investment for this sort of thing. 

Thai Chicken and Red Pepper Curry

One thing, though: fresh coriander is great. Fresh herbs can seem expensive because they come in big bunches so you might end up with a lot of food waste. But here they offer a really nice, warm and peppery spice that lifts the whole thing – so buy a bunch and find other ways to use it, if you can (I tend to get it from the Turkish supermarket round the corner where it’s 70p for big, big bunches). 

Also I use Sainsbo’s own brand Thai red curry paste and it’s great. I’ll try making my own at some point but that largely negates the joy of convenience and simplicity here. 

Thai Chicken and Red Pepper Curry

Thai Chicken and Red Pepper Curry
Serves 4
mmm curry
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. A bit of vegtable oil
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. Thumb sized bit of ginger, minced
  5. 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste*
  6. 2 red peppers, diced
  7. 600g chicken thighs, cut into bite size chunks
  8. 300 ml coconut milk (which is 1 tin)
  9. 2-3 dried kaffir lime leaves
  10. 1 tsp palm sugar
  11. A few fitsfuls of green beans, trimmed
  12. Fresh coriander by the bucketload
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan or pot over a medium heat (I used a cast iron casserole dish, because I use it for everything), then add the onion, garlic, peppers and ginger and cook for a a few minutes, until the onion starts to go clear and it smells great.
  2. 2. Add the curry paste, stir coat everything else, then cook for a few more minutes.
  3. 3. Add the chicken and cook - you might need to keep moving it about every now and then - until it is browned all over.
  4. 4. Chuck in the can of coconut milk, stir until it gets coloured, then add the palm sugar and lime leaves. Turn the heat down and leave for about 5 - 10 mins, stirring ocassionally, to thicken slightly.
  5. 5. Throw in the green beans and cook for 2 minutes, until they are bright green.
  6. 6. Serve, covered in fresh coriander, either with or without rice.
Notes
  1. *This makes a mildly spicy curry - use more or less according to your own tastes
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/