Monday, March 31, 2008

how does your garden grow...

With all the sunshine we have been getting my new garden is growing beautifully. Given the season I have planted lots of leafy greens - silver beet, spinach and swiss chard. Also some broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, carrots, spring onions and leeks.

I wanted some fancy raised beds but decided for now that the old gym vault we found at the back of the house would suffice...broken into three layers they make pretty good frames.

tart tartine

We had friends for lunch last week, so I had my first attempt at making Tart Tartine. I used the recipe from Baking - from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. The pastry was some butter puff I had in the freezer - from the 'Friday Shop' in Dunedin - cheating but beautifully made. I used baby new season Cox's Orange apples, their small size worked well for the tart. We ate it with homemade cinnamon ice cream that was freshly churned so perfectly creamy. Very nice.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

west coast wandering

Well we didn't find too much in the way of amazing food on our travels, however the whitebait sammies at the Karamea pub were hard to beat. Suitably heavy handed with the whitebait, they cook their fritters in a pan then finish them off in the deep fryer so the outside is lovely and crispy. We went back for lunch the next day.

We visited Westport on the weekend and a farmers markets of sorts was set up through the main street. One stall had beautiful organic vegetables including the cute little pumpkin above.
The buffalo restaurant disappointed, the water buffalo had not yet made the transition from paddock to plate so the menu consisted solely of miscellaneous deep fried items, which we gave a miss.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

easter baking

Time to do some baking for Easter - hot cross buns of course as the bought ones never compare to homemade. Also made a brownie recipe I have been wanting to try...part of the continuing search for the most perfect brownie recipe!
I tried a new recipe for hot cross buns, from the Foodlovers website, I usually make them a la Alison Holst. I didn't put any peel in as I hate the stuff, but added some grated orange zest. I baked them in a round cake tin for a change, which looked nice and kept the buns from forming too thick a crust while baking. For the crosses I made a frangipane mixture (added more flour than usual to stop it spreading too much) instead of that nasty flour and water paste that sticks to your teeth.

The Chocolate and macadamia nut brownies come from Belinda Jeffery's Mix and Bake. I love my brownies to be extremely gooey. These brownies are bordering on cakey with a moist centre, although I probably cooked them for 5 minutes too long for the way I like to eat them. I always find it a little frustrating with brownies that they never cook evenly - to get the middle a perfectly gooey consistency rather than raw, the outer pieces have to suffer for it and end up a bit dry. These brownies are a little sweet for my liking, maybe because there was no cocoa in the recipe? So I dusted them fairly liberally with dutch cocoa powder. Normally I am more of a purist with brownies, preferring them to be addition free, or at the most with a handful of raspberries to cut through the sweetness. But the macadamias worked well with this style of brownie. Not the perfect recipe though.

chocolate and macadamia brownies

180g dark chocolate - I used Cadbury Old Gold
250g butter
4 eggs
1 3/4c caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c flour
70g macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat until combined. Cool a little then ad he sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Stir in chocolate taking car not to overmix. Fold in nuts and chocolate. Pour into a 23cm square tin and bake at 180 for 40 minutes.

We are heading up the West Coast over Easter for a tiki tour, so hoping to eat some interesting food along the way, having dinner tonight at a restaurant that specialises in water buffalo (breeding and cooking it!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

summer vegetables

We had a nice dinner last night enjoying the last of cheap summer vegetables...made a panful of ratatouille and we ate it with corn on the cob and pan fried sole with lemon and parsley. A fish shop has just opened in Hokitika so loving being able to buy fresh fish at last. Still to try their fish and chips - you can choose your fillet from the fresh fish counter and they will crumb or batter it for you. Perhaps fish and chips on the beach before daylight savings ends...

Monday, March 17, 2008

farmers market baking and a very nice surprise!

I went over to Christchurch for the Canterbury Farmers Market last weekend to sell my puddings. On the menu was - rhubarb cobbler, apple tortes with cinnamon and almonds, sticky date puddings and chocolate espresso puddings. For the cobbler I tried a Nigella recipe from the Domestic Goddess - topping was flour, cream and sugar - wondered about the lack of baking powder but they worked okay anyhow, nice and crispy if rather flat. Next time I would add some baking powder though as I think cobblers look best a bit fatter.

The apple tortes were based on a recipe we used to make at home. A cakey style base topped with lots of sliced apples and sprinkled with a cinnamon/sugar/sliced almond mixture. Very good with some thick natural yoghurt...or vanilla bean ice cream.

I made brown sugar sticky buns as per usual, and for something different made a big batch of scones (the lemonade and cream sort). Using the leftover rhubarb I made a batch of rhubarb and raspberry compote. Also had a stash of passionfruit that Grandma had sent down from Tauranga, so made some passionfruit and lemon curd. The scones went down very well topped with the homemade preserves and spoonfuls of soft cream.

And last but certainly not least at quarter to twelve I was presented with Mike on bended knee, a beautiful diamond ring and a glass of champagne. Needless to say not much pudding selling happened after this...

banoffee ice cream

Mum came over to Hokitika on Thursday and pudding was called for. With the fruit bowl being full of ripe bananas, banana ice cream seemed a good choice. I used a recipe from Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion - a simple cream rather than custard based ice cream mix. There was some toffee sauce in the fridge which was perfect with it...

simple banana ice cream

350g ripe bananas
juice of half a lemon
300 ml cream
100ml light sugar syrup (1 part sugar boiled with 2 parts water until dissolved)

Blend the banana and lemon juice in the food processer until smooth. Mix in the sugar syrup then the cream, pulsing to combine, and pour into an ice cream machine. Churn only until the mixture is creamy not frozen solid, as the cream can curdle using this recipe. Especially good drizzled with warmed toffee sauce and served with sliced fresh banana.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

a very delicious cheese and apple tart

another Belinda Jeffrey recipe adaptation...and yes that is the actual name of the recipe. My pastry shrunk a little so there wasn't quite enough filling to pastry for my liking, and a deeper tin is needed for the amount of liquid in the filling. I had no cheddar in the fridge so used cumin seed gouda instead which was a little mild, this tart needs a salty strong cheese to balance out the sweetness from the apples. We ate it with a salad of baby spinach, crisp gala apple and toasted pumpkin seeds.

a very delicious cheese and apple tart


1 1/2 c flour
125g butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c iced water

Combine flour, salt and butter in the food processor and combine until fine crumbs form. Add the water and pulse until a rough dough forms. Gently bring dough together with your hands, wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into disk and chill for half an hour. Roll out to fit a deep sided flan tin. Bake blind.

20g butter
4 apples, peeled and diced
4 spring onions, pale ends only, sliced
350g strong flavoured cheese, grated
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
4 eggs
250ml cream
S&P to taste

Melt butter in a frying pan, add onions and apples and cook until soft. Add curry powder and nutmeg. Cool. Beat eggs with cream. Place apple and onion mix and cheese into the cooked pastry case. Pour over eggs and cream and bake for 30 minutes or so at 170c.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

an old fashioned tea loaf

It is wet and windy today on the coast, perfect baking weather. This recipe is not fancy but delicious all the same, a homely tea loaf from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery. Crammed so full of grated pumpkin, raisins and nuts, this is one of those recipes that allows you to convince yourself it must be healthy! I soaked the raisins in hot water for half an hour to plump them up a little. It is very moist and ever so slightly squidgy from the pumpkin (maybe I undercooked it a little?) The seeds and nuts add great texture - next time I will scatter more on top as they make a beautiful crunchy topping. This loaf smells amazing as it cooks.

Spicy pumpkin, raisin and pecan tea bread

1 c spelt flour (or wholemeal)
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c raisins
1 1/2 c pumpkin, grated
1 c pecans, roasted and chopped
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/3 c oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c pumpkin seeds

Combine flour, sugar, soda and spices and mix well to remove lumps. Add raisins, pumpkin and pecans and coat evenly with the flour mixture. In another bowl combine the milk, oil and vanilla, whisking well.

Combine wet with dry mixes, and mix well. Pour batter into a loaf tin lined with baking paper, scatter with the pumpkin seeds and bake at 180c for 45 minutes or so.

last strawberries of summer

Whilst fossicking around for 'wild' cupcake ingredients I stumbled upon a local market garden that grows the most delicious strawberries. After some negotiation I was granted permission to purchase one such strawberry plant, to grace my cupcake stall at the Wildfoods Festival. Now taking pride of place on my desk, where it can bask in all day sunshine, the berries are day by day ripening to a rosy hue. A sweet treat for the last few weeks of summer...

WILD about cupcakes

Well last weekend Hokitika played host to the annual Wildfoods Festival. Being a newcomer to town I thought it a good opportunity to try selling some wares. Not wanting to tread the well trod carnivorous track I settled on cupcakes. With a few mildly wild additions of course...

Chocolate and Wild berry (blackberries painfully plucked from local bushes), Banana, Baileys and Bush honey, Wild Lavender and Lemon (culinary lavender courtesy of Delphi), Orange, Almond and Marigold, and little babycakes adorned with 'snails' and 'ladybugs' of the confectioners as opposed to garden variety. Oh and some Carrot and coconut for the most timid of punters. As predicted the tried and true chocolate and banana cupcakes were the hot favourites but there was a surprising amount of interest in the Lavender and Lemon.

We shared a stall with the 'Richard from Westport, Braveheart and Spiderboy' trio who were peddling champagne of the non alcoholic sort in rhubarb and elderflower flavours. Delightful, and a suitably ladylike accompaniment to a (mildly) wild cupcake.

Wild about cupcakes shut up shop at lunchtime, the cake stands thankfully bare before things took a turn for the wilder...