How to cut a mango

How To Cut A Mango – Two Simple Methods

The mango is such a delicious fruit. They’re great in a fruit salad or meringue, and I love mango chutney or mango raita as part of an Indian meal. However, unless you know the secret of how to cut a mango, they can be rather daunting to tackle. Mangoes have a large stone, shaped like a giant almond. It can make peeling and cutting them rather tricky. Here are two great methods for taking the pain out of cutting a mango.

How to cut a mango: step 1 – remove the cheeks from the stone

First remove most of the fruit’s flesh in two thick slices either side of the stone. You can tell which way you need to cut by looking at the shape of the fruit, so you cut parallel to the stone at its narrowest diameter. This leaves you with some flesh still attached to the stone. There’s no easy way of removing this, so just use a small knife to cut away any flesh as best you can, and then slice off the skin. These pieces won’t be pretty, and most of the fruit is in the cheeks you’ve just separated from the stone, but waste not want not! Now you can deal with the main part of the mango flesh.

How to cut a mango: step 2 – choose cubes or slices

There are two methods of dealing with the mango cheeks. They both have their advantages, depending on what you’re using the mango for, its ripeness and your own personal preference. So I’m giving you them both.

Method 1 – cubes

Cubed mango cheek
Cutting a mango by scoring and cubing

Using a small knife, score deep into the mango flesh along its length to create strips. Then score across the mango at right angles to create cubes. Make these as big or small as you want them, but make sure you don’t cut through the skin. Next turn the mango inside out – at this point it looks something like a bright yellow porcupine! Now you can easily cut each of the cubes away from the skin using a small sharp knife. Repeat with the other cheek. This method is great for any recipes needing mango cubes, but no good if you need slices.

Method 2 – quarter, peel and slice

Mango cheek cut into four pieces
The two mango cheeks halved lengthways

Take one cheek and cut it along its length. Using a small, sharp knife cut carefully just inside the skin of the mango quarter to separate the flesh from the skin. Repeat with the other cheek. You can now cut your mango quarters as required. This method is fine for cubes, but even better for recipes needing mango slices.

Slicing under the skin of a mango
Slicing between the skin and flesh of the halved mango cheek

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Palmzester citrus zester

The Chef’n Palm citrus zester – a nifty little kitchen gadget!

The world is full of small kitchen gadgets, ranging from must-have’s to laughably pointless. While I love browsing through them in kitchen shops, I don’t often buy them. For me, a little gadget has to justify its cupboard space. This is probably more of a factor than cost, although if I bought everything that caught my eye I’d struggle to pay the mortgage! So where does a citrus zester fit in? Is it a future kitchen star or will I find it in a year or two gathering dust at the back of a drawer?

Chef’n Palm citrus zester – a gadget Christmas gift!

Let me start by saying that my Chef’n Palm citrus zester was a stocking filler gift at Christmas. I probably wouldn’t have thought to buy it myself. Up to now, I have been happily using a fine Microplane grater to zest lemons, limes and oranges: it’s effective, easy to use and clean, and pretty versatile. So, how does my new citrus zester compare?

Effectiveness

The Chef'n Palm zested this orange very efficiently
The Chef’n Palm zested this orange very efficiently

The Chef’n Palm citrus zester is designed to zest citrus fruits and collect the zest in its in-built compartment to reduce the mess from stray bits of zest. It is extremely effective at zesting limes, lemons and oranges. The grating surface is very sharp, and removes a perfect depth of zest while leaving the bitter pith behind.

I have personally never found zesting citrus fruits terribly messy using a normal grater. I just do it over a dish or directly over the food I am adding the zest to. However, the Chef’n Palm collects all zest very nicely, and is quite a neat way of storing the zest in advance. Citrus zest tends to cling to things, so you need to tap or brush the zest off the metal grater surface as well as from the container.

Ease of Use

The Chef’n Palm sits comfortably in your hand, with a little indentation on the side where your thumb sits. The grating action feels a little awkward: the zester fits snugly into the palm, so you have to move your hand in the specific direction of the blade for the zester to work. This involves moving out and away from your body in a “thumb to little finger” direction. It feels weird because when I’m zesting using a Microplane I am grating towards my body. However, it just takes a bit of getting used to, and then it’s fine!

The collecting compartment is transparent, so you can easily judge how much zest you’ve got without needing to open it up. When you are finished, the cap on the compartment flips off pretty easily. You do have watch out here, or some zest can spill out as you open the compartment. The “makes zest with less mess” selling point only works if you’re careful at this point!

Ease of Cleaning

This is a fantastic little gadget for cleaning! There are only two, non-moving parts which are easy to rinse. All edges and corners are smooth and rounded, and corners are easy to reach into, so the zest does not get stuck in awkward nooks and crannies. You need to take a bit of care rinsing the metal grating surface as zest can stick a little – but this is the nature of all graters. I don’t have a dishwasher, but it is apparently dishwasher safe too.

Versatility

The Chef’n Palm is only advertised as a citrus zester. I have found that it also works well to grate nutmeg and garlic. However, I would be concerned about these strong, non-citrus flavours tainting the plastic compartment. I don’t always want my lemon zest tasting faintly of garlic! (To avoid this, I only tested the blade on the garlic and nutmeg. I left the storage compartment open – a slightly awkward process!) For this reason, I only plan to use mine to test citrus fruits.

Chef'n Palm citrus zester with the zest of one orange
The Chef’n Palm holds the zest of a large orange with plenty of room to spare

The Chef’n Palm is great for zesting in advance and containing it. However, if you wanted a light sprinkling of zest over a dish, you’d be better off grating directly over your food. You also wouldn’t want to use it for grating large quantities (e.g. cheese), as its storage compartment is not huge – but then that’s not what it’s designed for. It is certainly big enough to contain ample quantities of citrus zest unless you’re cooking on an industrial scale!

Storage

The Chef’n Palm is a small gadget (7cm/3 inches long), so it won’t take up much space at all in your kitchen drawers. Its boxy shape means it won’t lie down flat, but will need a little corner somewhere.

Aesthetics

This is not the most important factor, but the Chef’n Palm citrus zester is quite aesthetically pleasing. It features, modern, fuss-free lines and comes in cheerful citrus colours. Mine is lemon yellow, but you can also get lime green.

Conclusion

Overall I think the Chef’n Palm citrus zester is quite a nifty little gadget. I only plan to zest citrus fruits with it, so I probably won’t use it as frequently as my trusty Microplane. However, it is very good at what it does, and the grating action is fine once you get used to it. It is low maintenance and easy to clean. I’m pretty sure it’s worth its small amount of drawer space. Time will tell…

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How to peel shallots quickly and easily

How to peel shallots quickly and easily – a no-fuss method

Shallots are a fantastic ingredient that make a great addition to so many recipes. You can chop them up finely in a sauce, or add them whole in bulk to all sorts of stews and casseroles where they will hold their shape quite nicely. The main problem I used to find with these little oniony delights, is that they’re an absolute pain to peel. The skins are so thin and fragile that they easily fragment and splinter. It can take a ridiculous amount of time to peel shallots in this way.

Peel all these shallots in under five minutes using the hot water method
Peel all these shallots in under five minutes using the hot water method

It’s not so bad if you only need one or two, but if you want to add a dozen to a casserole it’s another matter. In the past it’s even put me off using them altogether. I would throw in a chopped onion or two instead, just because they were easier to prepare.

If only I’d known how to peel shallots easily, because the answer is so simple once you know the secret. It turns an absolute pig of a job into a fuss-free bit of food preparation.

 

 

Just add hot water to peel shallots – a no-fuss method

Yes, it really is as simple as just adding water! Simply put your shallots in a bowl while you put the kettle on to boil. Cover them with piping hot water, and a few seconds later the shallots are ready to peel.

Plunge shallots in boiling water
Plunge shallots in boiling water

After they’ve been plunged in boiling water for just a few seconds, shallots slip easily from their skins. Just use a knife to top and tail the shallots, and the skin will peel off with little effort at all!

So next time you read a recipe that needs you to peel 15 shallots, don’t groan and turn the page – just remember to add hot water.

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KitchenBlurb blog

Welcome to the KitchenBlurb blog!

Hi there! Welcome to the KitchenBlurb blog. I’m Liz and I’m an enthusiastic amateur of all things cooking and kitchen-related. If you want to know a bit more about me check out my About page. This is just an initial blog post to get me going ,but here’s a flavour of what you can expect in KitchenBlurb posts to come:

Delicious Recipes

Over autumn and winter there’s been a lot of casseroles and comfort food in the KitchenBlurb kitchen recently, including:

  • Beef in red wine with stilton and parsley dumplings
  • Root vegetable and cider casserole with cheesy dumplings and roast parsnips
  • Comforting leek and potato soup
  • Courgette, pancetta and mozzarella pasta bake

Now the indulgence of Christmas and New Year are over, January is likely to look rather healthier – it’s the same every year! I’m busy setting up my recipe format for the blog at the moment, and will get some of these recipes up on the website soon. In the meantime I have been making sure I take pictures of the tasty treats I’ve been cooking, and making notes on where I change or adapt recipes for personal taste or because there’s something in them that doesn’t quite work, so I can bring you tried and tested recipes that you’ll want to make at home.

How To…

Handy hints and tips on how to do things easier, quicker and with less stress. From general points on how to read and adjust a recipe, so specific techniques such has how to quickly and easily peel shallots, I’ll be sharing what I know. I hope you find it useful. There will doubtless be a few cautionary tales on how not to do certain things: like every cook, I’ve had a few kitchen misadventures in my time – mixing up your gravy browning and soy sauce bottles, anyone?

Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances

I love well-designed, useful and/or gorgeous stuff for the kitchen – from tiny, hand-held time savers to the new oven I’ve just bought after some really geeky research. I’ll be telling my tales of the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright pointless.

Cook Books/Blogs/Chefs

Some cook books get put on the shelf and hardly ever used, others become trusted favourites. Everyone’s taste is different, but I’ll be spouting off on which books I love and which never see the light of day and why. Also, some great food websites and accounts that I go back to again and again.

KitchenBlurb Diary

I fear this may be my version of “Miscellaneous”, but it will be the place for any points of interest, places I’ve eaten, or quick posts on things I’ve made without posting up a full recipe. Also expect graphic images of the various accidental knife wounds, burns, scalds and grater injuries. These are things that happen when you’re a big clumsy, a bit careless and trying to do 10 things at once. I am frequently guilty of all of these.

Well, that’s the KitchenBlurb statement of intent. I also promise to do my best to stifle any pretentiousness and avoid being holier-than-thou – there’s nothing more boring than all that, and I reckon most of us are two parts food sinner to one part food saint. I will never describe anything as bliss (unless I’m being sarcastic).

I’d also like to apologise in advance for my lack of technical know-how. It’s my first blog, and I’m starting from scratch with WordPress so things will doubtless go wrong, get changed and be slightly all over the place for a time. I hope to be a fast learner and thank you kindly for your patience. Not that I expect anyone to actually be reading this!

Happy cooking, happy eating, and Happy New Year from KitchenBlurb!