Smoothie, Lassi, Whatever

Forty years ago, one of our great treats was my Dad's homemade milk shake. Milk, ice-cream if we had it, and a splash out of one of those sticky bottles of brightly coloured syrup. Especially once we got a blender, and you could make it go all bubbly without having to whisk it by hand.

Thirty years ago, we had a popular hangover drink of natural yoghourt mixed with grapefruit juice, with a dash of Tabasco for the hardier souls. Then as we started hanging out at the corner caff end of the Indian restaurant market, we discovered lassi – diluted yoghourt drink, sometimes salt, sometimes sweet with palm sugar and fruit juices and purees. Mango, lime, orange. In time, lassi got more well known, and it's on most restaurant menus now. You can get it ready-mixed in some supermarkets, even. And the smoothie has reared its head, full of your five-a-day and active superfoods and general gubbins. Sugar, mostly. Some of them are just thick fruit juices, but some have the dairy component as well.

I made a Thing at home the other day – a ripe banana, some organic greek thick yoghourt, some oldish blueberries and some mango chunks out of the freezer. Whizz whizz, two half pint glasses full, really rich and heavy, bursting with fruity oopmh, cold from the mango. It would have made a quick meal, and was much much more than a drink.

You can go all the way from thin drink (juice, or squash at a pinch, cheap thin yoghourt, lots of ice and some lime and salt to sharpen it up) to something more like a fool, with purees and yoghourt and soft ice-cream. Waitrose has a recipe card for a mango lassi fool, which is mango puree mixed with yoghourt and whipped cream, lime juice, honey and cardamom, and decorated with strips of dried mango. Last time we were in Amsterdam I had a saffron yoghourt, a cross between a drink and a dessert, sweet and thick and darkly yellow.

I've never been sure about spices in Drink Things, they tend to turn gritty or taste raw. They certainly have their place in Indian spiced tea, where they've had a chance to infuse. Maybe I need to look at making home-made yoghourt again, adding cardamom pods and cinnamon and cloves and fennel to the warm milk at the start.

In the early days, we had to chop fresh mangoes or buy mango nectar, which was oversweet and overpriced. But Waitrose now kindly provide me with fresh peeled cubed mango, or the same thing frozen, which is cheaper. And if you look among the tinned fruit, there are plastic pots with tropical fruit mixes in juice, including one with mango slices. There are frozen blueberries, raspberries, papaya, all sorts. And you could freeze your own fruits from the pick-your-own for the winter, and reduce those icky food miles.

Summer will bring strawberries, and beneath the mango lassi fool card, I found one for stawberries baked in foil parcels on the barbie, with Pimms and sugar, served with clotted cream. Now, that would make a WARM smoothie to ease the chills on a late summer night …

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Spicy Crusted Lamb Shoulder

I have a kilo of lamb shouder, the blade half with the bone in. I'm marinating it and plan to cook it without added liquid, in foil, very long and very slow until it falls apart. The marinade at the moment consists of:

  • a small tub of organic greek yoghourt
  • grated peel of one unwaxed lemon
  • 2 teaspoons pureed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chiplotle chilli powder

Roasted together:

  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons whole brown small mustard seed

The lamb should be sweet itself, no need to add honey or anything like that. The yoghourt and the lemon will tenderise it even more. There's a bit of heat from the chilli and the mustard (although mustard does fade on cooking). Some genial warmth and more scent from the coriander and cumin. A little sharpness and aniseed from the fennel,.

I'm tempted to add some more mid-tone warmth, ginger for example. I shall think on that. I could just introduce that in a ginger and cinnamon biriani to go with it.

THE NEXT DAY: the yoghourt was so good and thick that it has made a crust on the meat, so I have put it as is into a low oven, Gas 2.5. It's had about an hour so far and I can smell the coriander.

IN THE END: about 5 hours in the oven. The crust was dark brown, spicy and crunchy, the meat underneath was rich, moist, tender, fell off the bone, and was gently scented. We've scoffed the lot, with a wet rice with orange, ginger and warm spices. (Recipe coming in a bit.)

The key is the quality of the yoghourt, the thick Greek stuff holds together as a paste, the ordinary thinner stuff would be a marinading liquid and would cook away.

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Chilled Summer Soup

It says summer, but this might make a good lunch for a stuffy overheated office in winter. Another Waitrose card, serves 6, 224 cals per.

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 250 gms courgettes, sliced
  • 250 gms peas
  • 750 mls hot stock, chicken or veggie
  • 20 gm pack fresh mint
  • 500g tub greek yoghourt

Melt the butter and add garlic, onion and rosemary. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stir in courgettes. Cook for 5 more minutes, until courgette is starting to soften but not colour.

Add peas, and stock. Boil and simmer for 10 minutes until courgette is tender. Cool, and discard rosemary.

Blend soup with mint and yoghourt. Season to taste and chill.

(They suggest Fudges Mature Cheddar and Black Pepper flatbreads to serve, but if you needed something else almost any crispbread or toasted pitta bread would be fine. You could cut the calories with a low-fat yoghourt, but I suspect the richness of the yoghourt is crucial to the taste and texture of the soup.)

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Mango & Lime Yoghourt Cake

Again from delicious, June 2005. Keeps in a cake tin for 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. 10 slices at 314 cals per slice, but this is a treat so who cares. You can ring the changes with any kind of ready-to-eat dried sweet fruit like pineapple or apricots, and you could use lemon instead of lime.

 

  • 125 ml sunflower oil plus extra for greasing
  • 125 gms ready-to-eat dried mango
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 125 gms natural yoghourt (doesn't specify fat content)
  • 175 gms golden caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 175 gms plain flour, sifted
  • 1.5 tsps baking powder
  • 100 gms icing sugar
  • 25 gms toasted coconut (flaked or dessicated)

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, grease and line a 900 gm loaf tin.

Snip the mango into pieces.

Mix half the lime zest, the yoghourt, sugar, oil, eggs, flour, baking powder and not quite all the mango – beat with a wooden spoon until just smooth.

Pour into the tin and bake 50 minutes or until the skewer is clean.

Turn out to cool on a rack.

Mix icing sugar with enough lime juice to make a thick but slightly runny icing. Drizzle over cake and top with the coconut, remaining lime zest and mango.

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Crispy Pea and Parsley Gyozo with Stem Ginger and Lemongrass Dip

This looks good. I like parsley, but John doesn't, so a whole article on great recipes featuring parsley in fresh magazine June 2005 was a natural bit of food porn for me. You could use coriander, I suppose. No nutritional info given, but fried, so probably Not Good. Makes 12 gyozo.

 

Dip

  • 300 gms greek yoghourt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass
  • 2 knobs stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  • 1 crushed clove garlic

Mix all together and put in a pretty bowl.

Gyozo

  • 300 gms peas, lightly cooked
  • small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and black pepper
  • 12 gyozo wrappers
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • oil for frying
  • Maldon salt and chilli flakes to garnish

Lightly mash the peas or pulse in the processor, to a slightly coarse paste. Add the parsley and season. Put a teaspoon of filling in a wrapper, and brush the border with egg yolk. Fold to make a semicircular pasty and pinch edges to seal. Crimp the edges with a fork to make pretty and provide extra seal. Fry in hot oil, a few at a time, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and chilli flakes to serve.

If you can get Japanese mayo, that could probably sub for the yoghourt – although it's also quite sweet so maybe you could reduce the stem ginger, or you could use sushi ginger instead. Fat-free yoghourt and fresh ginger would take the calorie count way down.

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