Writing a book, I think, is quite a feat. Writing one and getting it published is even more impressive. And, considering both of those things, writing one and publishing it yourself seems practically superhuman. Self-publishing used to have a bad reputation but, these days, it is often both accepted for what it is (see tales of Amazon success here and here) and also seen as a very laudable route to finding a mainstream publisher.
So, in amongst the more ‘classic publishing’ cookbooks I have worked on this year, I was really proud to help someone self-publish their first. I was approached by a friend of a friend, Hilary Cacchio, to help her put together her book about sourdough and it is, if I say so myself, really lovely. Beautifully illustrated by animator Kate Charter, it is both a precise teach-yourself how to make bread book, but also a recipe book that will inspire you throughout the year.
Hilary is not just a bread-baker but also a private chef and teacher and her book is designed to showcase what you can do with the bread and the dough, apart from just making a loaf, and what other dishes to serve with it. On the way, she explodes quite a few myths: no, you don’t have to take a starter on holiday; yes, you can forget to feed it; no, there isn’t just one method. She then takes you through a year of baking with a starter, to show you how versatile it can be. So, in the spring, you might make avocado rarebit, to go with a malted wheat and rye loaf; in the summer a preserved lemon and fig focaccia goes beautifully with slow-pulled pork and, in the winter, chocolate-filled ‘wild’ doughnuts might be just enough to drag you from under the duvet.
When I worked on the book I was, still am, immensely impressed that, in a book of this size (only 65 recipes) I wanted to make nearly everything. It is testament to its value that the recipe that really stuck in my mind, from the day I finished work on it to the day that I got a copy of the book was something I have never really made before, and don’t often like: a mango chutney. Apparently, some of Hilary’s clients won’t let her come back without a jar. And I can see why; unlike many a mango chutney, this retains a freshness, which, with the kick of chilli and ginger, makes it gorgeous with cheese (Hilary recommends it with Wensleydale), as well as in a sandwich. Make it now, and it will keep till Christmas. Or make it now, and eat it in about a week. Either way, you’ll be delighted with the result.
Mango and chilli chutney (adapted from Sourdough Suppers: A Year in the Life of a Wild Yeast Culture
(NB the recipe in the book makes lots, so I have made a quarter of the amount which will be plenty for most households. If you want to make more, this keeps for months in the fridge.)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
sea salt, ½ tsp plus a pinch
ground turmeric, a pinch
sugar (caster or granulated), 60g
mango, 1 large (about 700g, which will make about 450g flesh)
fresh red chilli
fresh ginger, about 15g
rice vinegar, 90ml
1. Peel, stone and chop the mango flesh into small cubes.
2. Peel the garlic clove, and crush it with a pinch of salt, either in a pestle and mortar or with the blade of a knife, to reduce it to a puree.
3. Snip the chilli into small pieces (I use scissors) or, if you don’t want the seeds and their heat, chop it finely and de-seed.
4. Peel the ginger then grate it over a fine sieve (Hilary grates it into a piece of kitchen roll, then squeezes out the juice but I found that didn’t work well for a small amount.)
5. Put the mango, garlic, chilli, the ½ tsp salt, turmeric and rice vinegar into a stainless steel/non-stick pan (the wider the better, to make it cook faster).
6. Push the ginger flesh against the metal of the sieve over the pan, to squeeze out all of the juice. Don’t forget to run a spoon over the underside of the sieve to catch all of it.
7. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring every so often, and cook until the fruit is soft and just starting to break up (this took about 10 minutes).
8. Stir in the sugar and, once it has dissolved, bring the chutney back to a simmer and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Cool slightly then pour into a hot, sterilised jar and leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge. Keep for a week before using, if you can (though it is delicious straightaway, too).