Thursday, 21 May 2015

Mind over Mandarin.

It’s about this time each year that many of us find ourselves elbow deep in mounds of mandarins. It’s hard not to love these petite little citrus – their easy-peel ring of moon shaped segments, bursting with sweet tangy juice that squirts in every direction and enough Vitamin C to sink a ship. However, if you have found yourself a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of your mandarin haul, here are a few ideas I have been whipping up recently to put your ‘mandys’ to good use.

No surprise that first and foremost on my mind was cake. Reverting to one of my all time favourites, the Orange Almond Cake. I came up with a plan for Mini Mandarin Ghana Cakes. These cakes are all about the dense fudgy texture and having the entire fruit in the mix (skin, pith and all) means they have just the right balance of sweet, fruity, nutty-ness.  Despite my attempt to grease them with coconut oil, the little buggers stuck like glue to the tray. I managed to save the ‘extra’ bits by using them as a sprinkle. Waste not, want not people.

The synergy between orange and chocolate, works just as well with mandarins. Melting Whittakers 72% Dark Ghana with a little coconut oil, I covered my sins with the devilish chocolate drizzle and sprinkled the crumb on top. Devoured as a brunch dessert with a dollop of honey yoghurt and a mandarin flower, all was well in the world. Delving back in the archives, I stumbled upon more of these mandarin flowers, that I had previously served with black sticky rice and coconut cream.

I even managed to match mandarins with one of my current kitchen obsessions – Tahini. Playing around with the recipe by wholefoods genius Sarah Britton, from her debut cookbook, My New RootsAnother of my culinary inspirations - Emma Galloway of My Darling Lemon Thyme, has showcased her recipe for Roasted Pumpkin on Black Rice with Tangerine Tahini Sauce on her blog here. Replacing tangerines with mandarins I whipped up this addictive concoction and served it alongside Roasted Brussel Sprouts in Avocado oil. Easy, nourishing and delicious.

As I delved further into the savoury side of things, I played around with a few takes on a Mandarin Asian Slaw. Nothing fancy, just your usual slaw suspects – red cabbage, carrot, spring onion and fresh herbs –both coriander and parsley. Shaking up a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, honey, mandarin juice, salt and pepper it brought new life to this vibrant salad. 

From here I mixed things up with whatever I had on hand - toasted sesame seeds, steamed broccoli, soba noodles, chopped spinach, chunks of baked salmon or a drizzle of tahini. The Fragrant Poached Chicken recipe from Kasey and Karena Bird's beautiful new cookbook - 'For the Love Of' goes so well with this slaw. Not only is that green spring onion sauce a revelation, their self-published book (!!!) is loaded with interesting inspiring recipes that make you want to lick the page and cook every night of the week. Do yourself a favour and go and purchase one now. 

Finally the perfect post dinner treat, to use up any of that leftover dark chocolate (if it has not yet disappeared). Simply melt the chocolate with a teaspoon of coconut oil in a small saucepan and then dip half of a single mandarin segment in the chocolate mix. Lay on greaseproof paper, sprinkle with sea salt and place in fridge til set.

Moral of the story don’t let a pile of mandarins get you down. Despite their annoying white pith, there are plenty of ways to get their juices flowing at every meal. And if in doubt, embrace their original state. Peel and consume one segment at a time. Mind over mandarin. 


Mandarin Ghana Cake
Recipe altered from Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake recipe here. I opted for mini cakes so used a muffin tray – but to avoid sticking be sure to use muffin liners or just stick with the cake tin!

6 medium mandarins – boiled and blitzed
150g coconut sugar (white sugar would be fine)
250g ground almonds
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder

150g dark chocolate – I used Whittakers 72% Dark Ghana
1 tsp coconut oil

Place mandarins in a pot, cover with water and boil, for about an hour or until soft. Leave to cool slightly. Drain and blitz in a food processor or blender until smooth.  
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a medium sized cake tin (approx. 22cm) or 12-hole muffin tray.
Transfer mandarins into a large bowl, add all other ingredients and mix to combine. Pour mixture into the tin.
Bake cake for 40 minutes or until a cake skewer comes out clean. (20 minutes for the mini cakes).
Remove from oven and leave to cool for five minutes in tin then transfer to a wire rack.
In a small saucepan, preferably over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and the coconut oil until smooth.
Drizzle over the cake and serve with a dollop of yoghurt and a fresh mandarin flower.