Burnt-Sugar Mango Chutney & Goat Cheese Naanwich

I have a thing for flatbreads of any name and nationality – pita, roti, pizza, naan or chapati – you name it and I’ll happily eat it. Or make a sandwich out of it and then eat it.

Flatbreads are easy to make, but life gets busy. I grab them ready-made at my local international foods market or the grocery store. Naan are dependably available where I shop so I’ve been keeping them on hand lately.

You don’t have to use your own homemade mango chutney to make this simple sandwich; as our friend Ina Garten would say,”storebought is fine”…but once you see how little is involved in the recipe you might be tempted to make a batch.

The first time I made this chutney I was in a big, bad hurry and I didn’t read the recipe correctly. So I went on my merry way and caramelized the sugar before adding all the ingredients. It turned out to be one of those delicious mistakes.

I think of chutney as a gateway preserve for those with the itch to “put something up”, minus the need to fuss around with sterilizing jars, lids and giant pots full of boiling sugary fruit taking up every burner on the stove .

It keeps for forever in the fridge (Okay, maybe not forever. One year. A long time.) and it can be used in glazes, marinades, salad dressings or just as the delicious condiment it is.

Burnt-Sugar Mango Chutney & Goat Cheese Naanwich

When I first made this chutney, I was in a hurry and misread the instructions. Instead of boiling sugar and water together, I cooked the sugar alone until it caramelized and then added the rest of the ingredients. My goof turned out to be a delicious one - I loved the deep color and flavor of the chutney. So I pass my recipe foible onto you.


  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  5. 2 teaspoons nigella seeds (optional)
  6. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  7. 2 firm mangoes (about 2 pounds), peeled , pitted and chopped
  8. 3 crushed garlic cloves
  9. 1/3 cup peeled, grated fresh ginger
  10. 1/2 cup golden raisins
  11. 1/4 moist dates, pitted and chopped
  12. Fine sea salt, to taste


  1. Heat the sugar in a heavy, medium saucepan, whisking over medium heat until dissolved and beginning to turn the color of butterscotch. Add the water - it will sputter so stand back.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mango is very soft and the chutney has thickened, about 30 minutes. Taste and season little by little with up to 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste. The flavor should get brighter, not salty.Makes about 2 cups.
  3. To make the Naanwich, cut one naan bread in half. Spread one half with soft goat cheese, chopped cilantro, arugula or spinach and about 2 tablespoons mango chutney. Top with other half. Cook on an oiled, hot panini grill or heavy ridged grill pan until toasted.



Asparagus in Bed

Should you be so lucky to have the pleasure of actually eating asparagus in bed I might have to ask where you live – I’ll be stopping by for a few days of delicious rest.

I have to admit that I don’t eat in bed very often. I’m sure I could enjoy it,  but when the plate is empty I’d have to be the one cleaning the Parmesan crumbles from the sheets, which would put a damper on my few moments of pleasure.

Maybe I need to make some lifestyle changes. Because seriously, what could be more relaxed and sensual than nibbling tender spears of asparagus with your fingers, dipping into the creamy yolk of a softly poached egg and reclining comfortably; all at the same time?

The recipe is so named because of the way the tips of the asparagus spears peek out from beneath a “blanket” of egg and cheese. It appears in the cookbook Cucina Simpatica, inspired by Asparagi alla Bismark, a dish served at Bagutta, a very old restaurant in Milan.

The recipe in the cookbook calls for the asparagus to be quickly roasted at a high temperature – at the restaurant Al Forno where it’s made they cook in a super-hot wood burning oven – and topped with an egg fried in butter. When the soft yolk, butter and cheese commingle, they create their own sauce.

I made my version with blanched asparagus because it was morning, I was hungry, and I didn’t feel like waiting for the oven to get hot. I also poached my eggs rather than frying for the same lazy reason, but the thought of a buttery fired egg makes me go mmmmm inside. I might have to try that next time, just before I jump back into bed to eat.

Toasted Walnut Taralli

Last spring I attended the 32nd annual IACP conference that took place in Portland, Oregon – whew, was it really that long ago already?

I knew that my life has been busy, but it really hits home when I think of these taralli. During the conference, I came across a booth set up by the California Walnut Board, where Portland chef Greg Higgins was generously handing out tastes of these crunchy little snacks. He was also generous about sharing the recipe, but I haven’t gotten around to making them until now.

I saw their appeal right away – they were an updated version of a savory Southern Italian biscuit I grew up eating, only these were made with walnuts and had a definite West coast sophistication.

Greg had them arranged on a tray, adorned with a rosette of roasted garlic chevre and tiny little basil leaves; seeing them made me rethink what I always saw as a humble snack that you took home in an olive-oil stained brown paper bag straight from the corner bakery.

But instead of being piled casually on a plate at my grandma’s house, these taralli looked like they were ready for a cocktail party in San Francisco.

Greg’s original recipe, including the delicious Roasted Garlic Chevre spread is on the California Walnut website, but my tweaked version is below. I substituted some whole wheat flour for half the amount of all-purpose and added fennel seeds, which gives the taralli a flavor that reminds me of home.

Toasted Walnut Taralli

Yield: about 5 dozen


  1. 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  2. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 2 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
  4. 1 cup finely ground toasted walnuts* (grind in food processor)
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  6. 2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing on taralli


  1. Using the kneading attachment, stir together the yeast, flours, walnuts, salt and fennel seeds.
  2. Add 1 cup of the water and mix at medium-high speed until the dough starts to come together. Slowly add more water as necessary (turning down the mixer speed as you do so) until you have a smooth, moist dough. It shouldn't be too wet or sticky, so keep your eyes peeled. Depending on the humidity and your flour, you might need a bit less water.
  3. Put the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 3 or 4 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Punch the dough to deflate and turn it out onto a sparingly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
  5. Working with one piece at a time, cut each into balls about the size of a walnut. Roll and stretch each ball using your palms into ropes about 6 " long. Bring the ends of the rope together to make a ring, tucking one end inside the other and pinching together.
  6. Arrange the rings on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between. Brush the rings with oil and bake until golden and firm, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove to a rack and cool. The taralli will crisp up more as they cool. Store at room temperature in covered container.


You could mix this up in large bowl and knead by hand, but I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer.