Sunday, June 29, 2008

hot crumpets

A craving for something hot and comforting last weekend resulted in a batch of crumpets being whipped up. I have always wanted to try making crumpets, and reading the latest issue of Homegrown from the NZ Gardener magazine ('Live off your land for less') they featured a recipe from Bees Online. I don't have egg rings so used a couple of small tins with the ends removed using a can opener, which worked pefectly well, although they do need to be well greased to stop them batter from sticking. I ran a sharp knife around the edge before I turned them over to ease them out of the mould. These are delicious and perfect for afternoon tea when it is cold outside. These homemade crumpets are not as tunneled on top as 'bought ones' but they have a beautiful spongy texture.

1 1/2c hot water
1 c milk
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg

Mix hot water and milk in a bowl. Add yeast and sugar and stir to dissolve, leaving in warm place for about ten minutes. Combine the flour and salt and microwave on high in ten second bursts until warm (about 30 secs) Whisk four and egg into the yest mix to form a smooth batter. Cover bowl with a teatowel and leave until doubled in size, about 3 minutes. Heat a fry pan, greasing generously, add greased egg rings (or tuna cans with the top and bottom taken off) and spoon batter into the moulds. Cook gently until bubbles form on the surface. After 3 minutes or so turn over to brown the other side. Serve hot with butter and honey.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

cobbler vs crumble

TWD for this week was nice and easy (as much as I love the excuse to try the more elaborate recipes...quick and healthy-ish is good too!) as Beth of Our sweet life chose Mixed Berry Cobbler.

I have yet to fall in love with the cobbler. I love the idea of them - scones, jam and cream work so well and a cobbler is a bit like a pudding version of this. I guess I would just rather have my fruit topped with a crunchy crumble of oats and nuts, and cobblers can be a wee bit much on the doughy side for my liking.
I have never made a cobbler by rolling out the dough the way Dorie suggests, this makes a nice finish a little more like a pie crust, which was interesting to try for a change. The 'cobbled' rustic look is probably more up my alley though. Mine didn't rise particularly well, I did chill the cobbler dough while I made dinner so it went into the oven cold, which Dorie says is okay but I think must inhibit a bit of rising action?!
I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to Dorie's recipe and used granny smith apples and frozen boysenberries. It was a little tart, as the dough wasn't too sweet either. I probably should have added a little more sugar to my fruit, and cream or ice cream would have been a better friend to it than natural yoghurt which was what we had in the fridge last night.
However for all my complaints the leftover cobbler after being warmed ever so slightly and tossed about with a slosh of yoghurt and a squirt of apple syrup proved to be an serviceable after work pre gym pep up!
Postscript- I just read everyone elses pre-posting comments here and am glad I don't seem to be the only one disappointed with the results here - maybe I do like cobbler but just haven't found the perfect recipe yet!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

pumpkin and friends

Scones were on the agenda this afternoon to accompany general lazing on the couch and reading of the paper with the fire going in the background. This recipe for Pumpkin and date scones is adapted from Belinda Jeffrey's Mix and Bake book, I added orange and cinnamon to spice things up a bit. Nice and sticky and moist these are.
Pumpkin, date and orange scones with cinnamon sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tbp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
60g butter
1/2 c dates
juice of 2 oranges
1/2 c pumpkin
1/2 c milk
extra milk for brushing on top
2 tsp raw sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Squeeze orange juice over dates and heat until absorbed - I microwave for a minute. Combine dry ingredients and rub in butter (or blitz in food processor...) Add dates and coat with flour. Combine milk and pumpkin and add to the dry mixture. Mix gently and roll out thickly, cut into rounds. Brush tops of scones with a little milk, and sprinkle with the combined sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 200c.

slow dinner fast dinner

A month or so ago I went to a Judith Cullen cooking class down in Dunedin. The main dish made that night was this slow cooked lamb, served with a barley, lentil and chickpea pilaf, red cabbage and apple salad and a smoky mayonnaise. This is a lovely wintery dinner but not in that overly heavy wintery kind of way. There is a great combination of flavours and textures - the tender lamb, crunchy cabbage and the slightly chewy barley.

The lamb (boneless shoulder) is marinated overnight with olive oil, white wine, garlic, fresh thyme, chopped onion and carrot. I cooked it the next day in the slow cooker, but it can be done in the oven for a few hours instead. The lamb is shredded up while still warm, and served with the pilaf below, a salad of shredded red cabbage, julienned green apple and celery, chopped Italian parsley with toasted walnuts and a whisked dressing made using 1/4 cider vinegar, 1/4 c apple juice, 1/2 c oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice.

A smoky mayonnaise made with 2 egg yolks, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 clove crushed garlic and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (with 150ml of rice bran oil drizzled in) pulls all the different flavours together and is essential to make this meal work so well. This sauce is served separately but drizzled over everything at the table. Very good!!

Barley, chickpea and lentil pilaf

1/4 c rice bran oil
2 red onions, chopped finely
300g pearl barley
1 litre vege or chicken stock
150g brown lentils, cooked
150g chickpeas, cooked
2 c diced butternut pumpkin, roasted
1/2 c parsley, chopped
1/4 c lemon juice

In a pan that can be used for baking heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic. Add the barley and coat with the oil. Pour in the hot stock, cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180c until the barley is tender. Remove from oven and sir through remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste.

A favourite super quick dinner at the moment is san choy bau, or a bastardised version of. Heat a little sesame oil in a heavy pan and add about 300g pork mince, a diced red or yellow capsicum, crushed ginger, a tablespoon each of soy sauce, fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce.

Continue to cook until the liquid evaporates and the pork is well cooked. Add a couple of tablespoons of oyster sauce, and any combination of the following that you like the sound of - mung bean sprouts, chopped water chestnuts, shredded red cabbage, roughly chopped coriander, crispy fried shallots, dry roasted chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, diced fresh pineapple......for more bulk toss through some vermicelli noodles.

Serve at the table with a plate of crisp iceberg lettuce leaves for rolling the pork up in. Very fresh.

jerusalem artichoke time!

I was lucky enough to find a jerusalem artichoke benefactor at work, the result of which being I have a decent stash of the things. First on the list was soup - made by sauteing an onion, adding half a kilo of peeled sliced artichokes, then a little of chicken stock and simmering until they are soft. I added a handful of chopped Italian parsley and toasted walnuts to serve. Lovely.

To go with the soup were good old Southland cheese rolls - soup is the best excuse to eat these! I made a load up few weeks ago and for them for a rainy day...recipe thanks Rach/Mrs will need 1 litre milk, 50 grams cornflour, 1 pkt onion soup mix, 400g tasty cheese (grated). Heat milk and onion soup, add cornflour which has been mixed to a smooth paste with a little milk. Stir constantly until thickens, add cheese and stir well. Leave until the next day before making rolls to allow it to set. Brush with melted butter and bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes or so, turning a few times until they are golden and the cheesy insides are bubbling...yum!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

eclairs for afternon tea

The naked eclairs fresh from the oven....

...and all dressed up ready for afternoon tea.

The TWD recipe this week - Peppermint cream puff ring - was selected by Caroline of A Consuming Passion. I love choux pastry in absolutely any form, sweet or savoury, and profiteroles with ice cream, chocolate sauce and toasted almonds are one of my favourite desserts - the perfect blend of crisp, soft, hot and cold - love it. I halved the recipe and made eclairs for ease of serving...although I have to say the ring is far more grand looking. We took them over to some friends for afternoon tea - the ulterior motive of which was to have a play on their Rocket espresso machine, in the hope that we will one day (soon?!) own one ourselves.

I found the pastry part of this one was straight forward. Normally I don't add sugar or milk to my choux, so I was interested in how fast these would brown up - they cooked beautifully.I instead had a bit of an issue with the peppermint part of this recipe...I infused the cream as Dorie says but our mint is not the healthiest looking plant at the moment, so the leaves were less than lush. In the end the cream didn't taste particularly minty, and in a moment of haste (we were due out the door as I was titivating the eclairs...) I added a splash of the Mrs Thomas's mint syrup I had in the fridge to intensify the 'mintiness'. Bad idea. This has a white vinegar base and while it is sweet and is fantastic over fruit and other desserts it did not work well with the cream. At all.

Luckily there was just enough cream was left in the bottom of the bottle that could be swiftly whipped and flung ino the elairs. Thus traditional chocolate elairs it was - simple but so good. I love the idea of the minted cream - and will try it again once that mint supply is back up and running...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

cheese and poppy seeds

At home we always have a jar of crackery type things to nibble on. Mostly I buy these from the local bakery, where they bake cracker bread out of the extra bread dough and top it with interesting bits and pieces, but I spotted a recipe in Alison Holst's Cake and Biscuit book for these crackers. She made them with Parmesan and sesame, but I only had a block of good stuff so used grated colby instead. These are very tasty. Next time I am going to try them with half polenta and half flour for a corn chip style cracker - like the Bluebird Tapas corn chips!
cheese and poppy seed crackers
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c grated cheese
3 tbsp poppy seeds
1/4 c warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp hot water, extra
Heat oven to 160 c. Measure the first flour ingredients into the food processor and combine well so the cheese blends into the flour. Add the sugar and salt to the first measure of water and mix to dissolve. Add the oil to this too. Add this liquid in a slow stream to the dry mix, processing it in short bursts, until a soft dough forms. On a floured surface roll the dough out very, very thinly (it is easiest to divide the dough into three balls and roll out each piece separately). Prick all over with a fork and cut into triangles. Place on a metal cake rack to bake, I used a roasting rack that I sat over a roasting dish. They can overlap a bit, and poke down betwen the wires of the rack to fit more in, this gives them their crumpled shape. Bake for 10-15 minutes until dry, crisp and pale golden - watch closely at the end as they go from golden to dark brown in a flash!

noodles from Tibet

There is a cafe in Greymouth called Franks, that opens for dinner twice a week. The food at Franks is unpretentious, fresh and simple with quite a homemade feel to it. Their chef is from Tibet which puts an interesting spin on the menu. We went on Friday and I ate the handmade Tibetan noodles with chicken. This was really delicious, the noodles were short and fat and a little bit doughy, but in a good way. The bread here is good too, they bake it themselves.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


No TWD for me this week...the recipe chosen by Marie from A Year at Oak Tree Cottage was La Palette's Strawberry Tart, a sweet pastry crust filled with strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. I am bowing out of this round by token of the 'but strawberries out of season in the Southern Hemisphere' excuse. Dorie suggested that other fruit could be used but a pear or apple tart just didn't feel quite right, so I am looking forward to trying this one next summer once berryfruit are back. Check out everyone else's strawberry tarts here.

Pudding tonight was made for nostalgic reasons rather than culinary merit...chocolate self saucing pudding, pictured above in all its glory (is there a less photogenic pudding?!) Tarted up with some vanilla bean ice cream, homemade even.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

dinner from the garden

My garden continues to grow, albeit very slowly since winter has started. Silverbeet and spinach seem to be in constant and generous supply however, so it is an ongoing challenge to come up with new ways to build it into dinner.

Last week = spaghetti with spinach and roasted red pepper - an adulterated version (I add chicken and lots of toasted pumpkin seeds) of the recipe available here at the Sanitarium website. This is a really nice recipe, it is quite a runny sauce though so sometimes I process another handful of toasted seeds with the spinach to add more texture to the sauce and it makes a consistency more like pesto.

Tonight = silverbeet and potato torte, a Stephanie Alexander recipe featured in her kitchen garden cook book, the recipe is here. (It is intended for use by children so the instructions are fairly long winded...) This torte uses an olive oil and cold water pastry, so is very healthy as far as pastry goes. It is a very short dough and crisps up well in the oven. Instead of mozzarella I used crumbled feta. We ate it with some tomato kasundi. It really needs a little something on the side.

I planted some garlic and shallots today, apparently they are supposed to go in on the shortest day of the year, which is not far away thank goodness. Some mesclun seeds were also scattered into a pot, which has been covered with a sheet of glass so it will hopefully warm up enough for them to sprout to life. Great excitement in the broccoli patch, a tiny flower has finally appeared on two of the plants.

cafe @ home

There is not much of a cafe scene in Hokitika...although the word on the street is that a deli is opening sometime soon. I really miss going out for cafe breakfasts (to places that offer more creative choices than the cliched bacon, banana and maple syrup etc!) but for now weekend breakfasts are best enjoyed at home. Just need that espresso machine to complete the beverage side of things...
Today for a treat a batch of crepes was whipped up, and enjoyed with a selection of accompaniments - the rest of the Moutere Gold passionfruit curd, the old faithful of lemon juice and sugar, maple syrup with cinnamon sugar, and my favourite - dark chocolate custard cream and sliced banana.

Delicious, and so much lighter than the thicker american style pancakes that can leave a lump in your stomach. Having said that our crepe feast managed to suffice for both breakfast and lunch.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

de/reconstructed brownie

Well as you can see things did not go to plan with TWD this week, and I ended up with a bit of a brownie disaster on my hands. I had a catering event on in the weekend and decided to make this weeks TWD pick of French Brownie for this - and took the liberty of making a double batch - having such faith in Dorie by this stage I thought I would be brave...

When making the mixture I was surprised at how pale it looked. I added a bit more chocolate than specified as I don't like the look (or taste) of pale brownies or chocolate cakes, they just seem a little sad and half hearted if you know what I mean.
Oh, and I left out the raisins. I like raisins and they have their place but raisins in brownie is just plain wrong!

I baked it for around the specified time but ended up with a brownie in two entirely separate pieces - the top crust which lifted off in one piece, and the dense, solid bottom bit. This was really strange, I know brownie should have a crust but this is usually papery rather than dry and thick and crunchy...and it tasted dry and thick and crunchy too.

There was nothing for it but to build it into something that looked a bit more presentable (read saleable) so the whole mixture - crumbly top, dense bottom and all went into the food processor. I added some crushed toasted almonds to bind the mix, as it was very moist. Then topped with some dark chocolate ganache, a handful of chopped dark chocolate, some toasted flaked almonds and a drizzle of more dark chocolate to finish!!!

And thus 'Chocolate and Almond Truffle Slice found itself on the menu instead. This was actually really delicious. It was a very good seller too, faring well against the competition (see below). I think the texture of this recipe lends itself more to a fudgy style slice rather than a brownie, as it was very dense. I am sorry to say this recipe will not be entering the brownie hall of fame, I look forward to trying some of the other brownie recipes though!