Tuesday, December 1, 2009

goodbye west coast kitchen x

It has been a while between postings. Most of this year has been consumed by life, or rather the task of growing a precious new one after finding out in February that my husband Mike and I were expecting a baby.

Inconceivably, my darling Mike died suddenly on September 20th, 2009 while running a half marathon. Five weeks later our beautiful daughter Daisy was born. I no longer live on the West Coast, so it's goodbye to West Coast Kitchen.

From time to time I will be posting on Lovely Wee Days, a commual blog where myself, my dear friend Miriam and my sister Libby will share products from our kitchens and gardens along with other little gems and no doubt snippets of lovely wee days spent with the beautiful Daisy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

hot buttered hot cross buns

Homemade hot cross buns were on the breakfast menu today. I try different recipes for these every year, and think I have struck upon the best one yet, thanks to Libby, who discovered them. They are based on the Ten o'clock Cookie Bakery Cafe's recipe for their award winning buns, and are delicious!

Often homemade hot cross buns have quite a dense texture and a dry crumb - these are light and moist, and packed with fruit. Enjoy warm, spread with soft butter.

hot cross buns

50g flour
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 c warm water

Combine together in a mug or small bowl and leave somewhere warm for ten minutes to sponge.

200g raisins or sultanas
100g currants

Cover with boiling water and leave to plump up - half an hour or so.

500g flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 c warm water
60g butter, cubed
zest of 1 lemon

Combine flour, salt and spices and 10g of the cubed butter. Mix well. Add the water (I used the soaking water from the dried fruit) and mix until a smooth dough forms - about five minutes. I do this in the kitchen aid with the dough hook.
Add the remaining 50g of butter, bit by bit, beating well into it is kneaded into the dough.
Leave dough to sit for ten minutes. Then mix in the drained dried fruit and lemon zest. Cover dough with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour or so.
Shape into 9 buns, place on a lined baking tray and leave to rise - overnight is good. To make crosses combine 1/4c flour, 2 tbsp water and 1 tbsp oil. Break off small balls, roll into long, thin pieces and lay across the tops of the buns. (You can pipe this but the dough is quite stiff)
Bake buns at 190c for 25 minutes. Transfer onto cooling rack and brush with a glaze made by heating 1/4c sugar and 1/4 c water.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

back at last

It has been a while, so here is a rundown on what has been happening in West Coast Kitchen (& garden) over the past couple of months...a rather eclectic array of photos follows. I shall endeavour to be more a more disciplined and dedicated blogger and provide regular updates in 2009!

no-knead sticky buns with honey and walnuts

First up - 'no knead' sticky buns, based on the brioche recipe from the book 'Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day'. I found the recipe for these sticky buns on this blog here. You make a no knead brioche dough (it has melted butter) and leave it in the fridge until ready to use. I made mine on Monday night and used it on Saturday morning. These are lovely and very easy to make, best eaten half an hour from the oven!

Takaka Spinach and Cashew Pinwheels - from the Takaka Wholemeal Cafe's cookbook. I use my 'all purpose' focaccia dough, the recipe is on the blog a few pages back...) and vary the filling depending on what I have to hand.

For the base recipe, you start by cooking a diced onion an a couple of cloves of garlic until soft, then add about a cup of cooked, chopped spinach. Cook until the excess water from the spinach reduces. Add a couple of tablespoons of pesto, herby vinaigrette and spread over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle with grated cheese and toasted, chopped cashew nuts, anything else you desire (this time I used chopped ham off the bone and some cooked portobello mushrooms) and roll up. Cut the log into 8 pieces and carefully transfer to the oven tray, dough side down, not filling. Brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for about 30 minutes at 190c - they will ooze so use a big tray. Eat warm.

Summer in the garden
Some brag shots of our homegrown produce - have had lots of courgettes and potatoes...

I dug up the garlic yesterday, impatient to make room for something else - perhaps slightly premature, some of the bulbs are still on the small side, but nice and mild.

Spuds - Mike has been in charge of these, and has grown jersey bennes, ilam hardies and moi moi.

Strawberry yield has so far been approximately 6!! Have to get to them before the rain or the birds do.

Still waiting for a red tomato...

Prized tomato plant #1 - planted this one directly into a bag of tomato food, seems to be doing the trick!

Prize tomato plant #2 - these are the ones I raised from seed, have no idea what variety they are, will be interesting to see...

Courgettes...I planted 2 of the goldrush plants so yellow courgettes have been a staple in our diet of late.

The lebanese cucumber plant - have 2 little ones fattening up and hopefully not too far away from the table.

The fig 'tree'. One precious little fig is slowly fattening up.

Runner beans, rosemary and pumpkins.

Baby sunflowers

Sweetpeas - the most successful crop...not edible but have been able to fill lots of jugs with the delightfully fragranced blooms. Best of all they keep growing back!!

Homemade sausages

Sausage making...one of our wedding gifts were the mincer and sausage making attachments for the kitchenaid. We have had several sausage making sessions so far - here are some pictures from the first. We made -

Pork, sage and apple
Pork, bacon and prune
Lamb, rosemary and garlic
Moroccan spiced lamb with dates and mint
Wild venison and porcini
Wild venision, orange and cranberry

Just like bought ones!!

Getting the right amount of fat has proved to be a little tricky - it can look like a lot when mincing it up, but it is amazing how much will cook out once the sausage is in the pan. The venison ones especially needed a bit of extra fat.

Here is a nice juicy pork sausage with our favourite sauce on the side... Rocket Fuel


We spent New Years at a lovely secluded beachfront cottage on the West Coast, at Gentle Annie near Mohikinui. Here is Mike whipping up a batch of whitebait fritters.

Our little cottage...
The view from upstairs...


Last but not least, Christmas puddings - last years 200+ production was scaled down to a dozen this year, so Xmas baking was an altogether more relaxed effort.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

spring pasta

A spring dinner for a wintery day...this wet, stormy afternoon I hauled out the pasta maker and made ravioli. With a filling of goats feta (from the goat farm at Kumara Junction with a newly opened farm shop selling goats cheese - great excitement on my behalf), asparagus and mint. The sauce was the asparagus tips sauteed in a little butter, a pour of cream, lemon zest and juice, more fresh mint and a handful of mizuna. Lovely.

homemade ravioli with goat's feta, mint and asparagus

300g flour
3 eggs
1 egg yolk

Blend all in the food processor until clumpy. Remove, ball up, wrap in gladwrap and leave sitting on the the bench for half an hour or so to relax.

For the filling combine equal quantities of goat's feta and cottage cheese, a bunch of chopped asparagus that has been sauteed in a little oil with a clove of garlic, a handful of chopped fresh mint, a handful of fresh breadcrumbs.

Roll out dough with pasta machine, distribute filling, cover with a second piece of dough and use a round cookie cutter to cut out the ravioli.

Poach in boiling water for 5 minutes and toss lightly with a cream sauce, and lemon, fresh mint and baby salad greens.

Also made this weekend - lemonade scones to have with blueberry jam and cream for afternoon tea, almond biscotti and a wholegrain sourdough loaf. A chicken was poached in the slow cooker for Vietnamese chicken salad tomorrow night, a chicken and mushroom pie for Tuesday, and stock for the freezer. And two Christmas puddings.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

west coast whitebait

It is very cool when you can pick up a fresh catch of whitebait at your local dairy, which is exactly what we did today, along with a bag of free range eggs. The best, best batter is simply a couple of eggs beaten, s and p, a pinch of mustard power and a scant teaspoon of flour.

The secret ingredient features below. Yes, Kremelta, the hard white fat otherwise used for chocolate crackles, is the perfect fat to fry whitebait fritters in. Flavourless, slow to burn and guaranteed to give you those nice crispy edges.

Served between (what else but) the freshest white sandwich slice and finished with a good squeeze of lemon. The butter on the bread was a mistake, maybe it was the whitebait being of fresh rather than frozen origin but the flavour seemed more delicate and the butter was too strong. Forgiveable though, and a very nice Labour weekend treat.

spring dinners

We are enjoying the warmers days now that Spring (and the famous West Coast rain that tends to come with it) has arrived. Loving the asparagus...dinner tonight was a salad with roasted asparagus, tangelo, toasted hazelnuts and baby cos lettuce. To have with was a calzone of the tried and true team of smoked chicken, cranberry and brie.

I often use my favourite foccacia dough for pizza and calzone, which is...
2 tsp dried yeast
5o ml warm water
3 tbsp flour
Mix together and leave until it 'sponges' and grows...I have just discovered that on top of an espresso machine is ideal for this purpose!
Meanwhile in a bowl of a mixer place...
300g flour
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
Add the sponge once is it ready. Knead all with the dough hook or by hand until a smooth dough forms.

Another spring dinner - stuffed mushrooms with fresh herbs and bacon (from Murchison meats - just ranked best bacon in NZ and well deserved of the title, nice thick rashers they are, with a very real smoky taste unlike the injected flavoured stuff) The mushrooms were a concoction of sorts, I was trying to use up bits and pieces from our over stuffed freeze. Into the mix went some leftover cottage cheese and spinach cannelloni mix, cream cheese with fresh herbs, diced fried bacon and a few big handfuls of grainy breadcrumbs. Delicious, if not that good looking on the plate...

with it we ate a salad with (more) roasted asparagus, fresh mint and broad beans (courtesy of Watties, the ones in the garden so far have one fat pod that looks to have potential, others will be a fair way off I suspect) and a lemony dressing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

a weekend of baking/eating/drinking

It has been rather a marathon effort this weekend in terms of kitchen output...Saturday was the West Coast Wine Club's annual challenge. Before hopping in the van and heading up to Shantytown we had a champagne brunch here in Hokitika. Our contribution were little croque monsieur...and some doughnuts with vanilla custard. I was trying to recreate bomboloni last enjoyed in Melbourne...alas mine were more 'bready' than the crisp shelled ones at St Kilda. Quite delicious in their own right, please note the custard owes its saffron coloured hue to free range egg yolks as opposed to Edmonds custard powder(!) Miriam I very much lamented the lack of a Rachel Carley dusty pink cake plate to display these on, Tony Sly just did not do justice on this occasion.

... and some salt and pepper grissini we took along for something starchy once the wine tasting commenced.

It was an interesting evening. Some very nice wines were enjoyed, and I was most excited to see brandy snaps joining the lineup on the dessert buffet. It has been a while.
Today started off with some marshmallows being whipped up, inspired by some I bought recently made by Kapiti Candies that were so delicious I devoured the packet. The recipe was from Taste magazine. Very easy if a messy and sticky process. I think I skimped a little on the gelatine as they set but not super firm. Very sweet and rather freestyle in form but I suspect they will be perfect floating in a hot chocolate.

To use up the 3 egg whites from the vanilla custard for the doughnuts I made some 'Old fashioned Almond Bread' from the new Fleurs Place cookbook. Lovely name and a good recipe. Just beat 3 egg whites until stiff, add 90g castor sugar (I used the leftover vanilla sugar from rolling the doughnuts) and beat until a thick and glossy meringue like mix happens. Fold in 90g flour and 90g almonds (any kind, I used sliced). Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake at 180c for 30 minutes or until firm to touch. Cool, slice thinly and lay out on a baking tray and bake at 140c for 20 minutes or until pale golden and crisp.

Perfect to go in the cookie jar to be served with...
...a flat white from the newest addition to our kitchen, a rocket espresso machine. Still tinkering a bit to get the grind right, we are loving our new 'baby'. A big thank you to all the contributors, hopefully by the time any of you make it to Hokitika our barista skills will be finely tuned!

Lastly, some sourdough...my starter is threatening to explode from the preserving jar that contains it, think I will need to find some new homes to share it amongst. After much playing with different recipes and methods I think I have struck it. I added some kibbled wheat and mixed grains this time, looking forward to a piece toasted with honey for breakfast.