Sunday, August 3, 2014

Culinary traditions

What could I do on my 40th birthday, to challenge my comfort zone and yet still preserve some of that tradition, which is in keeping with my character? Make Choko Chutney of course! I know- I should be inviting everyone around for a huge party, to receive the obligatory jokes about growing old, being over the hill and how my physique will go down the hill with me. But (believe it or not) that's not how I like to celebrate...*wink*

I had some chokos that were starting to sprout and it seemed such a waste not to use any. Plus Choko Chutney reminded me of my teenage years, when mum would make a special batch after harvesting the vine. I would eat Chutney on toast, meat sandwiches and even in the curries mum would make for dinner. If I was going to relive any part of my youth at 40, I wanted it to be through the divine experience and satisfaction of food.

So it was I followed an old recipe, threw in a few flavouring modifications of my own, and ended up with 4.5 litres (4.7 quarts) of Chutney - nicely canned and labeled in the pantry. It was a little frustrating to make, as I didn't have proper canning equipment, but it was also deeply satisfying after it was done. Especially when it came to the tasting! On my gluten free toast now, it still reminds me of my teenage years - memories of hot toast in the cold mornings, before walking to school.

With years of experience behind me as a baker though, I decided to use the Chutney in making a peasant loaf. So new memories to make for a new era. This loaf was not a gluten free recipe, I was a little naughty by tasting it - but it was a real hit at morning tea, I hear, at one of David's Doctor Who Club meetings.

It uses a standard bread recipe (I used sourdough) for one large loaf, but the dough is cut in half, to make two peasant loaves. I'll let the pictures do the explaining though...

Roll halved dough into a 30cm long rectangle, smear chutney & sprinkle cheese

Roll into a sausage lengthwise, then place on greased tray ~ seam down

Use sharp scissors to cut into dough on an angle ~ avoid cutting bottom seam

Push slices to alternative sides then prove 30-60 minutes depending on temperature
~ Do the same for second loaf ~

Sprinkle with cheese before baking in preheated oven
I would have liked mine to prove longer, but was on a deadline

bake for 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees C

Freshly baked and placed in a basket, on top of a clean towel 
and 2 layers of butchers paper ~ wrap paper over to keep warm

This basket was a birthday present from my family, I made the gingham cloth
It made transporting the freshly baked peasant loaves to the meeting, easy

If you're interested in the Chutney recipe, you can find the one I used here: and my modifications are:

1/3 cup salt (reduced from 1 cup)
1 tab mustard seed
2 tabs mixed spice (or all spice)
6 tabs cornflour

I also opted to use the sultanas, as it does add some more sweetness. I cut the salt back to a half-cup, and covered the veg with water instead, to soak overnight. You will need at least a 6 litre pot for cooking. I didn't have one, so used my slow cooker instead. Took me a little longer to boil, but it was all I could find to fit it all.

If you want chunky style, chop your chokos small, as they won't disintegrate after cooking. Choko is special like that, as it will continue to hold its form. The recipe linked to, suggests using a potato masher if you want a smoother chutney, but I used my metal stick blender instead. Made short work of the chokos. I would recommend a smooth chutney, as its easier to spread on bread. I also found the chunks didn't really carry the flavours as well.

If you think it tastes too vinegary, then wait a week before eating. I've already opened my second jar though. I love it a lot. So does David. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to get my daughter to try it. Alas. Peter also squished up his nose too, so I only give him the slightest smear when he shares my morning toast. He loved it in the curry I made the other night though!

The Choko Chutney experience, was really about me getting to relive part of my youth. That time in my life when I didn't know I was going to become a mum of two and find my sweetheart. Back then, it was about finishing school and not freezing my kneecaps off, on the way to it. The Choko vine my mum used to harvest every year, would shade my quail run, where I was successfully raising several batches of young - or the parents were. Now my personal Choko vine shades the chicken coop.

Some things just don't change, no matter how old you get...


  1. That looks so delish! I'm definitely going to have a go at it. Haven't any choko chutney as yet but will try something else.

  2. I assume the chutney recipe could be substituted with other veg, instead of the Choko. I saw another recipe using cauliflower, corn, carrots, capsicum and beans. You could use 3kg of whatever veg to substitute for the Choko.

    As for the peasant loaves though, you can use anything savoury that will spread. At a bakery I worked for, we made sweet-chili peasant loaves, with sweet chili spread (of course) strips of capsicum and cheese. That one is the absolute bomb! But I have a reaction to the deadly nightshade family, so "chili" is out for me.

    You can also make them sweet, using a brown sugar, butter and cinnamon spread, with sultanas and flaked almonds or pecans. A lovely icing glaze drizzled over the top, is the bomb too. ;)

  3. I am most envious of your sprouting chokos. I searched all around Bacchus Marsh where I deemed them a most likely purchase from the fruit n veg shops and found none! I have plans for 3 of them but heck, I'd settle for 1. Doubt I'll find one now though sadly. :(
    I grew up with a choko vine, climbing the reo mesh trellis 3-4 metres up to pick them and sell them around the neighbourhood. I also love eating them steamed with a little salt but chutney sounds good too! Love your bread recipe and even though I'm GF I think a cinnamon scroll a la peasant loaf style might be ont he cards for dessert. A few tummy cramps is so worth it on the rare occasion. ;)

  4. Thanks for stopping in and sharing your love of chokos. They're an understated vegetable, and yet many an adult today, probably didn't escape their childhood without seeing at least one vine in their lives.

    Because I don't want to see it go to waste, and I'm a big fan of propagation, I can post you my very last choko if you want. You can email me at cdriley at bigpond dot com (leave out the spaces) to give me your postal address in Victoria.

    I got a few tummy cramps from my peasant loaf recently too, but I figure, once in a blue moon is acceptable. Just can't eat it all the time. The sourdough gives me less of a reaction too.

  5. thanks for sharing your recipes Chris, love the peasant loaf. i have some tomato jam in the freezer i made over summer that i think would go great with the loaf. i dont have any chokos tho, so will save your recipe for next year.
    I hope you had an awesome birthday, turning 40 is not so bad and the whole party thing is over rated anyway and your birthday night should be spent with the one you love for a bit of fun ;o)

    1. The tomato jam should work well and add however much cheese you want. Some people like it really cheesy, I like a little less on mine. I made a second round of peasant loaves recently, and sprinkled some dried onion and dried garlic on it too. Tasted very nice!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes. :)

  6. Not sure what happened to the post I just wrote. Happy belated birthday. We love choke but too expensive in the U.S. to make a chutney. The bread looks marvelous.

    1. Belated counts - I'll accept your birthday wishes (thank you) and agree that sometimes posts get eaten by the bloggie man. ;)

      I wonder if chokos could be grown like potatoes in the US? Save some fruit stored over winter in a dark area, and plant them again in spring once they start sprouting. Choko vines are very vigorous growers and produce many fruit, so you're bound to get a least one successful crop before winter comes round again.

      I can't seem to grow traditional potatoes here though, but no problems with the chokos. ;)

    2. We're having potato issues as well for some reason. Garry is the potato grower so I have no clue what is going on. I will look into growing choko. I think that I confused them with jicama which need a lot more heat than we get here. They are worth a little investigating as they are delicious.

  7. Great post Chris. The bread photo looks like it belongs in a cookbook! There is much to be said for that "soul" food of our youth. It's lovely that you can still carry on the tradition with such enjoyment. And before I forget, Happy Birthday!

  8. Thanks, and thanks *blush*. I think we tend to forget the things which delighted us in our youth, but as we age more, we remember them again. :)


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