Lobster & Mango Salad with Thai Dressing

This salad is perfect for a New Year’s Eve buffet. I’ve been making it for about 20 years and it’s always a hit. One of my top ten cold recipes.  If preferred, use peeled prawns instead of lobster as I have in the photo. You will need a kilo of prawns to end up with half a kilo once they are peeled. Serve on individual plates as a starter or on one large platter as part of a buffet.

500g cooked lobster (crayfish) meat, or cooked shelled prawns
2 slightly underripe mangoes, skinned, sliced and cut into julienne sticks
1 med red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 bunch spring onions, white & some of the green, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked off (keep the stalks for the dressing)
A handful of basil leaves, picked off and torn in half if large
60g baby spinach
1 cup beansprouts
¾ cup lime juice
80g palm sugar or brown sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only
Stalks from 1 bunch of coriander
2 Tbs Fish sauce
¾ cup unsalted cashews
Extra Virgin olive oil

Make dressing: Heat lime juice in a small saucepan with palm sugar and stir to dissolve. Place in food processor with remaining ingredients. Process till fairly smooth, then tip into a jar with a lid. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Slice lobster meat into large chunky pieces. If using prawns just peel, devein and leave whole. Mix with a little of the dressing and the chilli and refrigerate till serving time. Toast cashews in a dry pan, over medium heat. Wash spinach, basil, beansprouts and coriander. Dry in a salad spinner then refrigerate in the spinner. Prepare mango and spring onions and refrigerate, separately. All ingredients can be prepared well ahead.

To serve, mix spinach, coriander leaves, basil leaves, beansprouts and spring onions with enough dressing to moisten. Divide between six individual plates or pile into one large serving dish. Arrange the lobster or prawns on top and garnish with the mango and cashews. Drizzle with extra dressing if liked. You may not need all the mango, depending on the size of the mangoes you use. Drizzle a little olive oil around the salad.

Serves 6 as a starter or light lunch, 4 as a main course or 10 to 12 as part of a buffet

Notes: if you don’t have lemongrass use a couple of strips of lemon or lime peel, removed with a potato peeler. If you don’t have unsalted cashews, salted ones will do. If you don’t have lime juice use lemon juice.

Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream Cake

The December/January edition of Delicious magazine had a photo on the front of a really quick and easy Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream Cake which was just perfect for a recent birthday party we hosted.

The recipe uses a bought pavlova so it’s only possible for readers who live in Australia, where you can buy a pavlova base in any supermarket. Readers elsewhere will have to make their own pavlova or modify the recipe and mix 500g of broken up store-bought meringues into the ice cream. The recipe also uses a four litre carton of store-bought ice cream. Easy peasy.

It was absolutely delicious, but a number of variations occurred to me, so I have listed them below. You will no doubt come up with a few of your own.

If you use homemade ice cream rather than store-bought you will need to take the cake out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving because homemade ice cream always freezes much harder than store-bought and the cake will be too difficult to slice.

1 x 500g store-bought pavlova base
4L vanilla ice cream
12 passionfruit
A few drops of yellow food colouring (optional)
1/3 cup whisky or water
½ cup sugar
300ml whipping cream
2 ripe but firm mangoes, thinly sliced

You will need a springform cake pan 25cm in diameter with a clip closure – i.e. the same diameter as the pavlova. Choose a flat serving plate which will fit in the freezer. Place the pavlova on the plate then undo the springform pan and take out the base, which you don’t need. Place the ring over the pavlova so it sits down on the plate, then close it.

Spoon the ice cream into a large mixing bowl and let it stand for a few minutes to soften slightly while you add the pulp of 8 of the passionfruit and, if liked, a few drops of yellow food colouring. Mix gently but thoroughly then spread on top of the pavlova, smoothing the top. Freeze overnight – no need to cover.

Place whisky or water, sugar and pulp from the remaining 4 passionfruit into a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, till sugar has dissolved then simmer for 6-8 minutes or until thickened, then cool. Can be made ahead and kept in a jug or jam jar.

To serve, whip cream until stiff and slice mango thinly. Remove ice cream cake from freezer. Briefly hold a tea towel wrung out in very hot water around the sides, run a thin knife around the outside of the cake, then release the clip and lift off the tin. Spread whipped cream over the top, cover with sliced mango and drizzle with passionfruit sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 16

Four Variations: 

  • Use chocolate ice cream, cover the whipped cream with strawberries, whole or sliced if large, then drizzle with chocolate ganache
  • Use plain vanilla ice cream or Quick Raspberry Ice Cream, cover the whipped cream with fresh raspberries, then drizzle with raspberry coulis
  • Dissolve 4 Tbs instant coffee in 2 Tbs hot water then mix thoroughly into the ice cream, mix about 200g broken up Halva into the whipped cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce
  • Use caramel or salted caramel ice cream, cover the whipped cream with sliced bananas and toasted macadamias or peanuts (optional), then drizzle with caramel sauce


Mango and Prawn Salad with Honey & Walnuts

This lovely summery salad was in a supermarket recipe hand out. I’ve made a few changes as I always do. Perfect for the warmer weather when mangoes are in season.

Mango and Prawn Salad with Honey & Walnuts

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
¼ cup vinegar
½ cup boiling water
About six cups mixed salad leaves
1 mango, peeled, stoned and thinly sliced
1 red capsicum (pepper) thinly sliced
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
300g cooked, peeled prawns (weight after peeling)
100g feta or fresh goat’s cheese, crumbled
½ cup walnuts or pecans
1 Tbs honey
¼ cup red wine or cider vinegar or lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs honey
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place onion in a small bowl. Add salt, sugar, vinegar and water. Mix well then leave to macerate for half an hour or more. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Place all ingredients for dressing in a jar with a lid and shake well.

Arrange salad leaves in a large shallow bowl or four individual serving plates. Use small leaves or break larger ones into bite sized pieces. Top with the mango, capsicum, tomatoes, prawns, feta or goat’s cheese and the drained onions. Place walnuts in a dry frying pan and stir over moderate heat until lightly toasted. Add honey, stir to coat, then arrange over the salad. If you do this ahead and let them get cold they will stick to the pan, so you will need to turn the heat back on briefly to loosen them. Drizzle salad with some of the dressing.

Serves 4

Variation: use peaches or nectarines instead of mangoes.

Smoked Salmon with Mango & Avocado

My Swiss friend Esther served this simple but delicious starter for a ladies lunch she hosted. You can use smoked salmon or smoked trout and the recipe is easy to halve for two people. Served with a rocket salad and some crusty bread it’s enough for a light lunch.

Smoked Salmon with Mango & Avocado2 ripe but firm avocados in 1cm dice
1 spring onion (white part and a bit of the green), finely chopped
2 tsp fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 1 lime or half a lemon
2 ripe but firm mangoes in 1cm dice
1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 slices smoked salmon or trout
To serve:
Lemon or lime wedges
Fresh chives
Extra Virgin olive oil

Arrange four stacking rings on serving plates. Mix avocado with spring onion, coriander and lime or lemon juice. Season to taste then divide among the stacking rings and press down firmly with a spoon. Mix mango with chilli, place on top of the avocado and press down. Top each serving with a slice of smoked salmon or trout. Remove stacking ring then garnish plates with a lemon or lime wedge, a couple of pieces of fresh chive and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4

Thai Green Mango Salad

My friend Jurate who lives in the Sydney suburb of Haberfield gave me 3 green mangoes. Actually the tree is in her neighbour’s garden, but he’s happy for her to take the fruit that hangs on her side of the fence.

We’ve been to Thailand so many times, I’ve lost count. When travelling back to Australia from Europe we find a few days of relaxation, massage, great food and swimming is the perfect way to break the journey and get over some of the jet lag.

I used the mangoes to make one of our favourite Thai dishes, Green Mango Salad and it was delicious.

Thai Green Mango Salad

3 green mangoes, peeled and coarsely grated or cut into fine julienne
3 spring onions or 1 small red onion, finely sliced
½ cup fresh grated coconut or desiccated coconut
¼ cup Thai or ordinary basil, shredded
¼ cup coriander, coarsely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
2-3 Tbs palm sugar, crushed, or brown sugar
1 Tbs Thai sweet chilli sauce
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbs fish sauce
To garnish:
Roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
About 20 cooked prawns, peeled

Mix salad ingredients in a bowl. Mix dressing and taste – it should have a nice balance of sweet, salty, sour and hot. Mix dressing with salad, then serve garnished with the peanuts and prawns.

Serves 4

Note: green mangoes are usually available in Asian shops. If liked you can bulk up this salad by adding 2-3 cups of beansprouts.

Mango Cheesecake

I was looking for a dessert to serve on New Year’s Eve that could be made ahead, didn’t involve turning on the oven, used seasonal fruit, could be transported from Canberra to Sydney with ease and didn’t include raw eggs, making it suitable for a pregnant lady.

This recipe which meets all the criteria appeared in a recent advertisement for Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese.The only change I made was to increase the lemon rind from one teaspoon to one tablespoonful.

Mangoes are at their cheapest in Australia at this time of year. Choose ones which are not over-ripe as they’re easier to slice thinly and curve for the decoration. I made the cheesecake the day before and took it to Sydney in an Esky (Australian name for a cold box, for those who don’t know) on New Year’s Eve. All I had to do was arrange the mango slices on top and it was ready to serve.

The original recipe didn’t include passionfruit, but we ate the leftovers on New Year’s day with some pulp spooned over. It was a definite plus, enhancing the flavour of the mango and providing colour contrast.

Mango Cheesecake

200g fresh mango, puréed in food processor
¼ cup glucose syrup (also known as Corn Syrup)
1¼ cups sweet biscuit crumbs (e.g. Digestives, crushed in food processor)
75g butter, melted
500g cream cheese at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 Tbs grated lemon rind
2 tsp gelatine dissolved in
¼ cup boiling water, cooled
220g white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup cream, softly whipped
2 mangoes extra, thinly sliced
Pulp from 2 passionfruit (optional)
Thick cream to serve

Place mango purée in a saucepan with glucose syrup. Cook, stirring over a medium heat for 15 minutes or until thickened and reduced by half. Set aside to cool.

Combine biscuits and butter and press evenly over the base of a 20-22 cm springform pan. In food processor or by hand beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon rind until smooth. Mix in gelatine mixture and melted chocolate, then fold in the whipped cream. Pour filling over biscuit base. Spoon over mango mixture and swirl through the white mixture using the tip of a knife, smoothing the top. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Serve decorated with fresh mango slices and, if liked, some passionfruit pulp. Serve thick pouring cream separately.

Serves 12

Variations: use peaches, apricots or strawberries instead of the mangoes – pulp in the filling and sliced fruit to decorate. For a Ginger Mango Cheesecake use ginger nut biscuits for the crust and mix 2-3 Tbs finely chopped crystallised ginger into the filling.

Note: if preferred, omit the white chocolate and use one and a half cups of cream, whipped. When whipped the cream will more than double in volume.

Mangoes in Ginger Wine

If you want to be sure to get every bit of flesh off the stone the best place to eat a mango is in the bath.

My mother in law once attended an official lunch at Government House in Hong Kong. For dessert the waiter passed round a platter of whole fruit. She was tempted by the mangoes, but knew that this would not be a good idea. Eating a whole mango delicately with a knife and fork is not easy and you wouldn’t want it to shoot across the table and land on another guest’s lap. Experienced guests like my mother in law played it safe and took a banana or an apple. One lady, through lack of experience or perhaps without thinking, chose a mango. Everyone finished their fruit quite quickly then sat back to watch this poor woman struggle with her mango. It took forever, but to give her credit she persisted and finished the task. Perhaps a round of applause would have been a nice gesture.

Here in Australia the mango season is in full swing. I’m always tempted to buy a case of 12, but there are just the two of us and after a few days the mangoes have ripened to the point where the remaining few need to be used immediately. Mangoes in ginger wine is a delicious solution and will keep in the fridge for a day or two. I think this recipe will appeal to my friends at the Sarojin Resort in Thailand and I’m sure they could cut up the fruit more decoratively than I have. Perhaps the chef can give me a lesson next time I’m there.

4 large fresh mangoesMangoes in Ginger Wine
¾ cup Stone’s ginger wine
2 Tbs chopped glace ginger or ginger preserved in syrup

Peel and slice mangoes and place in a serving bowl. Heat ginger wine with ginger and pour over. Chill and serve very cold.

Serves 4-6

Mango Semi-freddo with Macadamia Praline

Catherine drove from Newcastle to Canberra, to stay with us for a few days.  On the way she bought a tray of mangoes from a vendor by the side of the road.  James and Karen hosted a family BBQ on Sunday evening and I volunteered to bring dessert.  Catherine suggested we make a mango semi-freddo with praline, so we had a look at a couple of recipes online and a few more in my large collection of cookbooks and devised this between us.  A triangular tin bought in Paris about 10 years ago in a kitchen shop called E. Dehillerin made a perfect mold.  I could spend hours in that shop.  The mold is also a good shape for pâté and terrines.

Mango Semi-freddo with Macadamia Praline

2 large mangoes, flesh pureed in a food processor
4 eggs, separated
400ml cream
⅓ to ½ cup plus 2 Tbs caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup caster sugar
80-100g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
⅓ cup caster sugar 

Make praline:  Place nuts in a small frying pan and stir for a minute or two over medium heat until lightly toasted. Tip out.  Add sugar to pan.  Heat and swirl until you have a nice caramel, then add nuts, mix through and tip out onto a piece of foil.  Leave to cool then break into pieces and blitz very briefly in food processor.  It should remain quite chunky.

Line a plastic or metal mold which holds 1.5 to 2L with plastic wrap, leaving excess hanging over.  Take out three large bowls.  Place egg yolks and sugar (⅓ to ½ cup according to taste) in one, cream in another and egg whites and a pinch of salt in the third.  With electric beaters, whip egg whites until soft peaks, then add remaining 2 Tbs sugar and whip till thick.  With the same beaters (no need to wash) whip egg yolks and sugar till pale and frothy and lastly the cream till thick.  Scrape cream and meringue into egg yolk mixture, add vanilla essence, then whip the whole lot together until well mixed.   Taste and if liked add a little more caster sugar.

Tip praline into mold to cover the bottom. Tip in about half the semi-freddo mixture, then drizzle with half the mango puree.  Use a knife to swirl the mango evenly through, then pour in remaining semi-freddo, drizzle with the rest of the mango puree and repeat the swirling.  If you have too much filling pour into small glasses and freeze individual ones.

Freeze for several hours or overnight.  Remove from freezer about 20 mins before serving.  Tip out onto a serving plate and cut into thick slices with a knife dipped in hot water.  You may need to hold a cloth rung out in hot water on the outside of the mold for a few seconds to loosen this dessert.

Serves 10-12

Note: this recipe contains raw eggs

Duck Breast with Soba Noodles & Mango

I’m always on the look out for quick week day dinners which can be on the table in less than half an hour. Delicious magazine, which I receive every month as a gift, always supplies a few winners.

This recipe for duck breasts from the November issue is easy to halve for two people – as I did – and features the winning combination of duck and mango, both favourites of mine.

Duck Breast with Soba Noodles and Mango

4 x 180g duck breast fillets, skin on salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbs hoisin sauce
270g pkt soba noodles
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 Tbs each sesame oil and brown sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 mango, sliced
2 cups watercress sprigs or rocket leaves
1 Tbs sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Turn oven to 180°C. Score skin on duck breasts in a diagonal pattern then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in a non-stick frying pan and cook over low heat for about 6 mins or until most of the fat has gone and skin is crisp. Brush both sides with the hoisin sauce then transfer to the oven (on a baking tin lined with foil to save washing up) and bake skin side up for 6-10 mins or until cooked but still pink in the middle. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 mins.

Meanwhile cook noodles according to packet instructions and drain. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and lime juice together. Mix half with the noodles. Thinly slice duck breasts and arrange in four bowls with the mango, noodles and watercress or rocket leaves. Drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Serves 4