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 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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

bits and pieces

The blog has been little are a few things we have been eating lately. It has been 'eat from the freezer and pantry stockpile' recently, it is quite fun having to be inventive. Tonight, a warm salad with ebly wheat, pumpkin and cauliflower roasted in moroccan spices, with toasted walnuts and lots of chopped herbs and baby salad greens...tossed in a dressing made of sliced red onion and garlic sauteed with more spices, mixed with dates and lots of natural yoghurt. We ate this with panfried groper and lemony hummus.

I have been making a bit of bread too...vegetable calzone last week for Sunday lunch. I use my favourite foccacia recipe for this, and filled it with a mixture of roasted pumpkin mixed with lots of silverbeet sauteed in garlicky oil, tomatoes that had been cooked down until thick and pulpy, and some crumbled feta.


2 tsp dried yeast
50ml warm water
3 tbsp flour

Mix the above 3 ingredients together and leave in a warm place to 'sponge', about ten minutes.

300g flour
200ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Place flour in a large bowl, add oil, salt, rosemary and the sponge mix from above. Knead until smooth, then leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Press dough onto a baking tray, dimpling the surface with fingers. Brush generously with olive oil so it pools in the dimples, and bake at 200c for about 15 minutes.

This is a versatile dough that also make a good pizza or calzone base. When I made it yesterday I added linseed, kibbled wheat and poppy seeds to it for a grainy change.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

energy cookies

Cookies this week for TWD...granola grabbers picked by Michelle of Bad Girl Baking. These are the sort of cookies (we try to justify to ourselves) that lean towards the healthy side of the treat spectrum because they contain a virtuous ingredient such as wheatgerm. Not so healthy I'm afraid but very yummy...and packed full of energy and at least a little fibre. Using granola instead of raw oats mean they are extra crunchy and have a fantastic texture. I used some homemade honey toasted muesli that had a mix of rolled oats, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds. The cookies were quite sweet, next time I would cut the sugar down slightly. Couldn't bring myself to use raisins so chunks of dark chocolate instead, although in hindsight the raisins may have been pretty good...

Monday, August 18, 2008

a wholesome dinner

Dinner in a hurry...panfried turbot (my new favourite fish!) on a 'superfood' salad of wholemeal couscous with grated beetroot and carrot, shredded red cabbage, steamed broccoli, crumbled feta and hazelnuts. Our fish was topped with lots and lots of sloppy homemade hummus...a bag of cooked chickpeas from the freezer, some tahini, lemon juice, natural yoghurt, garlic, olive oil and warm water blended until drizzle-able. Divine, I love dinners like this. Leftover salad and hummus for lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

blueberry ice cream

A belated TWD posting this has been an eventful week. This week was Blueberry sour cream ice cream chosen by Dolores at Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. The ice cream maker was put back into action. I lazily skimmed the recipe and misread it, throwing all the ingredients (blueberries, sugar, sour cream, cream and lemon zest) in the saucepan together. No worries though, this didn't seem to matter, as the mixture blended up and churned nicely to make a lovely creamy ice cream. This must be the easiest recipe in Dories book! The sour cream gave it a beautiful creaminess that non-custard based ice creams sometimes lack, tending sometimes to be a little grainy. Perfect spooned straight from the churn to top our hot apple and almond crumble for pudding tonight on this cold wet night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

a banana loaf

Another week, another TWD recipe...this time for Black and White banana loaf chosen by Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen . I followed the recipe for this almost to the t (couldn't resist adding a handful of chopped dark chocolate to the chocolate half of the batter!) I thought this loaf was....okay. The texture of my loaf was rather dense and it had quite a thick crust on it. Maybe my bananas weren't quite ripe enough. The marbling didn't turn out quite like Dorie's picture the meantime the loaf has been relegated to the freezer. I have bigger things planned for it in the form of a chocolate and banana pudding...cubed banana loaf soaked in chocolate custard and packed into ramekins with a filling of chocolate ganache tucked inside. Watch this space.

Monday, July 28, 2008

pear, almond and vanilla 'galette'

This weeks TWD recipe for a summer fruit galette was chosen by Michelle at Michelle in Colorado Springs.

I approached the recipe in somewhat topsy turvy manner... not being summer here in NZ we had 2 ripe pears in the fruit bowl this week, and pears and custard are so good together. Pears, custard and almonds are also good together, so I added a bit of a frangipane theme to things. To stretch my two pears a little further instead of making a galette I made a small tart shell which I blind baked.

Going the tart route I switched the cracker crumbs for (quite a few) toasted ground almonds and my custard became almost like a frangipane mixture. The pear and vanilla jam went on the top instead to glaze the sliced almonds.

I had been looking forward to trying Dorie's recipe for good for everything pie dough, so was annoyed at myself for undercooking the base of this - the sides however lived up to expectation and were lovely and crisp. This was delicious. Next time I will try making it as a galette pairing the custard with its other good friend - rhubarb.

cute carrots, chicken, cider

I have not been very disciplined with thinning out my carrot patch. The idea of of pulling half of them out felt a bit wasteful, albeit in order to give the others room to grow. I finally tackled it last weekend, the result being a nice wee bunch of baby carrots for the pot. They are so cute it seemed a bit of a shame to eat them. Some were so cute ie.tiny that we actually couldn't eat them.

The little carrots were added to our Sunday night dinner...chicken braised in cider with bacon and apples. Based on a Judith Cullen recipe this was pretty good. We soaked up the braising juice with the leftover sourdough but I think it woud be vey good with very crunchy little roasted potatoes.

chicken braised in cider with spring vegetables - for 2
4 chicken thighs, halved (boneless)
4 baby onions or shallots, halved with root intact
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 c cider
1 c chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 rashers bacon
1 apple, peeled and wedged
1 c baby peas
1 handful baby carrots, blanched
Brown the seasoned chicken in a pan with some oil, then remove. Add the onions and garlic and cook to soften, allowing the onions to caramelise a little. I poured bit of cider over them each time they looked like they may burn and let it reduce down. Add the bacon and apples to the pan and continue cooking to caramelise the apples. Add the rest of the cider and the stock along with the bay leaf. Cover and simmer gently for twenty minutes. Add the peas and carrots and simmer another ten minutes until tender and they will have soaked up the flavoursome braising liquid.

West Coast Sourdough

Here is my weekend attempt at making sourdough bread. Created from a 'mature' West Coast bug this bread was delicious, despite my misgivings when the dough stuck to the teatowel when I tried to remove it from the proving bowl, deflating considerably....the long proving time added to the flavour I think. I used a blend of stoneground organic white, wholemeal and rye flours which gave it a lovely nutty flavour. I am going to try and make this once a week and next time will try adding a few grains to it.
It is a bit of a labour of love but the flavour and texture is well worth it!
600g strong flour
50g stoneground wholemeal flour
50g rye flour
260g starter (beg, brorrow or steal this bit...)
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 tsp salt
500ml cold water
pinch dried yeast
Combine all together in a large bowl, it will be quite wet. Knead (hand or mixer) until it forms an elastic dough, do not add extra flour unless absolutely necessary. Place the dough in an oiled bowl (well oiled as will stick!) and leave a few hours to double in size. Fold it back on itself a few times then cover an leave another hour. Gently tip onto a floured bench and cover, leave 20 minutes, shape into 2 tight rounds. Place each of these into a proving basket (I use a teatowel liberally covered with flour which I centre the dough on, then place this into a stainless steel bowl, wrapping the edges of the teatowel over the top of it - you must use a LOT of flour!) Leave another hour then place in the fridge to prove slowly overnight.
The next morning bring out and leave at room temperature for a couple of hours before baking on a preheated pizza stone in a 250c oven for fifteen minutes then turn it down to 220c for another ten minutes or until well cooked and hollow sounding when tapped. A roasting tray of water in the base of the oven helps a thick chewy crust form.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

pear, date and ginger cobbler

TWD this week = Cherry and rhubarb cobbler, chosen by Amanda from Like sprinkles on a cupcake. Owning neither cherries nor rhubarb at this point in time I substituted pears with a handful of dates for good measure, seeing as they go so perfectly with ginger. Not being a cobbler lover I was surprised to quite enjoy this.

After the last cobbler attempt was so bland I decided to add a topping of brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger to the top of the cobbler so it had a nice crunchy sugary crust, and upped the ginger in the dough. This called for a generous pour of yoghurt, hence the pool of it in the pic below...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

classic culinary literature

My lucky find in a charity book sale today, an Alison Holst treasure circa 1967 for the bargain price of $2. Love it.
My vintage cookbook collection is growing slowly but surely...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

a teacup of heaven

The TWD recipe this week is Chocolate Pudding, and was chosen by Melissa from Its Melissas Kitchen and I suggest you visit her blog immediately to obtain the recipe!!
This pudding is divine. The plain jane name comes nowhere near doing this pudding justice, and lacking a picture in the book this is one recipe I would never have been inspired to try without the prodding of TWD. It is like a dense chocolate mousse (I am not into 'fluffy' chocolate mousse) and has the perfect balance of chocolate/cream/sugar so that it is not cloying or overly rich. It has a superb smooth velvety texture and tastes like it should be a lot naughtier than it actually is.
I halved the recipe and still used a whole egg plus the extra yolk. No full fat milk so I figured a splash of cream and some skinny milk would suffice. Dark chocolate with 72% cocoa. I made two generous teacups of pudding, the first of which was devoured spoonful at a time while it was trying to set in the fridge. This is addictive! The second one had been left alone to chill for a couple of days and was even more delicious, the texture was much denser. I ate this one with a spoonful of sour cream which worked beautifully.
Love it and this one shall be reappearing on the menu again soon, just need to figure out a more enhancing name!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

spud scones

To have with our soup this evening - the most divine cheese and potato scones! Adapted from the recipe at Jafa Cafe in Auckland, these are a must try.

The scone dough is quite thin and more of a pastry/crust around the oozing filling, these scones would actually be equally good made calzone style and served in wedges. The filling could easily be adapted to suit what is lurking in the fridge needing to be used up.

I think the texture of the potato makes a difference - a rough mash rather than a smooth puree gives the filling its light texture. My filling was quite wet so oozed out a bit from the scone which made them even more delicious, providing a soft and gooey contrast with the crisp crust...

cheese and potato scones


300g potato, boiled, roughly mashed and cooled
1 spring onion, finely diced
1 handful rocket or baby spinach or chopped fresh herbs
1 handful grated Parmesan

1 handful chopped ham
1/2 c cheese, grated
s&p to taste
2 tbsp milk

Combine all ingredients. Add a little more milk if the spuds are dryish, you want the mixture to be a little wet (not sloppy though) so the filling has lovely creamy texture

1/2 c cheese (extra)

scone dough

200g flour
75g butter
1/2 tsp baking powder (correct, they are not meant to rise much!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp caster sugar
100ml milk

Rub butter into flour, add milk and gently combine to form a soft dough. Roll out into a large rectangle on a floured bench and cut in half. Beat 1 egg and add a little milk to make egg wash, brush one piece of the scone dough with this. Sprinkle 1/2 of the extra cheese over the same half of the dough. Spread over the filling mixture, then sprinkle with the last 1/2 of the cheese. Place the other piece of dough over the filling.

Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, can add extra cheese on top too if you like. Cut into 6 large squares and bake at 200c for 15 minutes, eat while warm!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

a warm winter salad

I pulled out a recipe a few weeks ago from the Sunday paper for a nice looking chicken salad...chicken that has been marinated and roasted in apple syrup and wholegrain mustard tossed with sliced crisp red apple, toasted walnuts, crumbled aged cheddar and rocket leaves with an apple vinaigrette. This salad was a very easy and tasty dinner. It made a nice change from the heavier wintery comfort food-style dinners that are so appealing when the weather first starts to cool but the novelty of which tends to wear thin after a while!

Warm chicken salad with apple, walnuts and cheddar (for 2)
4 chicken thighs
2 tbsp apple syrup
2 tbsp grainy mustard
Marinade chicken in syrup and mustard overnight. Roast chicken at 180c for 20 minutes or until cooked.
While still warm gently tear into pieces and toss with handfuls of rocket, a sliced apple (make sure it is nice and crisp!) toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds, and scatter with some crumbly aged cheddar. Make a vinaigrette with 1 tbsp each of apple syrup, cider vinegar and rice bran oil and gently toss through the salad ingredients.

blueberry pie raincheck

You may have noticed that Dorie hasn't featured yet this week with TWD....the recipe being for a lovely looking Blueberry Pie. Last week I seemed to have on hand all of the components (ie. an excess of ripe bananas, toffee sauce) for banoffee pie ...and with a banoffee pie fiend in the house it seemed appropriate. I will definitely try the blueberry pie next time I have some berries to hand. You can check out how the blueberry pies turned out here, it looks like a goodie. In the meantime here was our banoffee substitute. The topping is half cream, half sour cream and the bottom is a cookie crumb meringue cake with dark chocolate and toasted almonds.

Meringue cake with dark chocolate and almonds
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
250g sliced almonds, toasted and roughly crushed/processed
250g plain sweet cookie crumbs, crushed
100g dark chocolate, melted
Beat egg whites until stiff, gradually incorporate sugar as you would making meringue. Beat until the mixture is glossy. Gently fold in the crushed cookie crumbs and almonds. Pour in the melted chocolate and gently swirl into the mixture. Pour into a cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake at 170c for 30 minutes or so. This is also lovely topped with softly whipped cream and seasonal fruit and served in wedges like a pavlova.