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.