Friday 27 December 2013

Post Christmas

The day turned out to be perfect in the end. In fact, the nicest day in a while in Welly. The sun shone while a breeze gently washed our garden setting. The 'inside' Christmas table lay idle. Instead we made our way down to the deck in our garden and wiled away 5 hours of eating, drinking and enjoying (an often) lively conversation and each others company.
It was a seafood themed lunch and as part of the menu I made individual smoked salmon terrines. They were a triumph and definitely a dish to make again. I didn't pour the chilli sauce over the terrine, but served it to one side. (The recipe can be found here

The baked salmon was also fabulous! I took the 'salmon by its fins' and baked it to perfection in our kettle BBQ. The salmon stuffing ended up as a mixture from Jamie Oliver and a 'tried and true' recipe from my friend Deb. The lemon, herbs and thinly sliced fennel made a delicious side dish for the salmon, along with Oamaru Jersey Benny potatoes and fresh French beans.
Our guests made the desserts, a gorgeous berry terrine (by Delia Smith
It was a joy to photograph and eat - served with runny cream and yoghurt!

along with a wonderful nutty Christmas pudding, generously drizzled with runny cream.
This post is purposely full of adjectives. While we missed having our families with us, we all agreed it really was, 'one out of the box'. One of those magic summer days we will always remember!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Chicken and leek terrine

Over the festive season I want to continue my theme of having a go at trying completely new things (refer to my chocolate roulade).  At the moment there is so much magnificent produce around, it is not difficult to find inspiration.
I have a foodie friend (and her American guest) coming to lunch at the end of the week and I was looking to make something that I can prepare beforehand. Something light but tasty, using a recipe I've not tried before. Looking for ideas, I spotted this terrine by Gordon Ramsay. It had all the right elements I wanted and thought it was definitely worth a try.
Many terrine recipes use pork but this one is made with chicken.  A small down side was the price of the four leeks, they seemed ridiculously expensive! But the combination of leeks and mushrooms in the terrine is really lovely so its worth that extra little cost.
I enjoyed making it. It was so satisfying and simple and the result was just delicious. For my 'try out' I halved the recipe and used a small loaf tin. It still made a decent sized terrine ( using the full 300ml of stock). Along with a nice piece of crusty bread, it was a real treat for two for dinner then lunch over quite a few days!
For my friend's lunch I plan to use the full recipe and my larger terrine dish.
Served with a small salad, hopefully using one of my (current) little lettuces growing in my garden, it will make the perfect main for our luncheon.
Now for the dessert ideas ......

Prosciutto wrapped chicken and leek terrine - Gordon Ramsay

4 leeks, sliced
4tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
400g mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 whole garlic cloves
few thyme sprigs
4 gelatine leaves ( I used 3 tsp gelatine powder but you may need more for the full recipe)
300ml strong chicken stock ( cook the chicken covered with water, with a carrot, a celery stick, a spring onion and a sprig of thyme, when cooked remove chicken and reduce stock to about 300ml)
10 slices prosciutto
800g cooked skinless chicken (I used thigh meat)
2 handfuls of a mix of flat-leafed parsley, chervil and tarragon leaves, chopped
It is best to have all the ingredients ready at once in order to assemble your terrine. 
Gently cook the leeks for 15mins in 2tbsp oil until soft. Cool
In remaining oil cook mushrooms with garlic and thyme for 2 mins. Cool
Soak the gelatine in cold water, then heat the stock, dissolve the gelatine in stock, season and set aside.
Line a terrine dish in cling film. Line with slices of prosciutto so they overlap to cover the base and sides, and overhang the edges.
Wet the bottom of the dish with a drizzle of stock. Arrange a single layer of chicken so that it is even, then pour over a little of the stock.
Scatter over a layer of mushrooms (discarding the thyme and garlic). Season with salt and pepper, then moisten again with a little more stock.
Add more chicken followed by a layer of leeks, then a layer of chicken, then the herbs. Drizzle stock between every layer and season as you go.
Repeat until all the ingredients are used up or the terrine is full. Finish with a final scattering of herbs and a ladle full of stock. Tap the dish a few times to ensure the stock gets into the gaps.
Fold the prosciutto over to encase the terrine.
Fold the cling film over and press down gently. Sit the terrine in a dish to catch any juices. Lay a tray on top and weigh it down with a can (I used a full sealed litre of milk) and chill overnight.
20 minutes before serving remove the weight and tray. Put the terrine in the freezer to firm. Just before serving, lift it out of the dish/tin.
Wrap it tightly in more cling film.
Carefully slice the terrine still wrapped in cling film, remove film as you serve on plate. ( I didn't worry about the last 2 steps, just used an electric knife to slice the terrine straight out of the tin). 

Tuesday 17 December 2013

My seaside themed Christmas

I have been having some fun over the past few days as I put my beach themed Christmas together. Although we can see a lot of the ocean from our house, we live on a hill some distance from an actual beach. Don't get me wrong, I love our view and never tire looking at it but it would be nice to own a place right by the sea.
I have always fancied myself having a beach house, a place to escape to over the summer, where I could invite all my family and friends to visit and where I could chill out while my man goes fishing every day to catch our dinner. Mmmmmm.....
I do have quite a few lovely memories of visiting such places. Not at the house right on the beach but a place close to the beach with the sound of the sea gently washing onto the shore (in Fiji). And one lovely holiday at a typical elderly Kiwi bach very close to a lake, in fact about 10 paces from the water's edge. I slept in what was the converted boat shed complete with big soft bed enveloped by a much needed mosquito net. A truly magic, quiet, relaxing holiday near Rotorua. In more recent years, a lovely weekend away to a beach house on the Kapiti Coast (mostly spent inside due to the inclement weather), idly away the time reading, playing board games sipping on some superb wines.
As of today I have not achieved the dream of actually owning a beach house but I can certainly keep on dreaming!
To help with my beach themed Christmas, I decided to make some decorations, to (hopefully) help create the right ambience for our Christmas day seafood lunch.
I searched the internet for ideas and made up a few myself. A trip down to the beach at Owhiro Bay later, you can see the results. A good friend of mine helped (in a huge way - thank you Julia!) by lending me her Christmas beach themed decorations. Have a look at what else they can offer at Christmas Treesy Peasy.
I should probably go and buy a proper 'live' Christmas tree, but my little retro (1970's) tree has so many memories for me I couldn't really leave it in its box!
Looking at the final result, my general feeling was that I needed my much more talented artistic daughter Becky to help me!
But every time I look at my efforts I have a little chuckle..... it's the small things that can make us happy....
Made by Becky
Made by Becky
Made by Becky
Have a merry Christmas everyone!


Wednesday 11 December 2013

The children's animal party

While recently in Christchurch I was enlisted to help with my grandson T's 5th birthday party. The party had an animal theme and it was so well done I felt compelled to write a blog about the experience. T's Mum (my daughter) does it all, she is so clever and I am very proud of her.
During the year, for each birthday (thank goodness they only have two children!) she spends hours planning the day for them. (Backed up on the day, by a very helpful and understanding hubby). I have told her she should go into the event planning business as she has built such a reputation for wonderful children's parties.
The invites, themed food, table decorations and themed surroundings (complete with a monkey on a swing), the dress up outfits and the small favour bags - all done with such amazing thought and detail and on a very tight budget!
From the paper 'animal nose' cups to the strawberry mice and alligators in a jelly swamp - she creates such a wonderful experience for the children (and adults!).
I especially loved making the snail scones. A simple scone dough rolled out, smeared with Marmite and grated cheese, rolled up, baked and when cooled - a couple of pretzels added for their antennae. Such fun and they were really tasty!
She also made the party activities - pin the tail on the giraffe, pass the parcel, and a Pinata in the shape of a Red Eyed Tree Frog!?? Oh boy did the little guests love giving that a whack, especially when it gave up the goodies inside!
Throughout the afternoon the weather threatened to spoil the day. And almost on cue (at the end) the heavens opened up and the festivities were topped off by a sudden down pour - we had to take refuge in the gazebos but it didn't seem to matter - it was all part of the jungle experience!
I am not sure who enjoyed the party more, the children or the adults. Roll on the next one!

Christmas time - what it means to me

I have been trying to feel a little more 'Christmassy' and having just returned from a week in Christchurch - I think the feeling has finally kicked in.
In more recent years I have thought of the Christmas season as more of a time for sharing, a time to feel grateful and a time to reflect. This week was no different, as I had the opportunity to spend time with my southern family and friends. And, yes often this time was spent over fabulous food and a glass of wine or two.
One such friend gave me a beautiful Christmas note about our lasting friendship, a friendship that has not been dulled by distance or time. We met over thirty five years ago. Over that time we have each experienced times of great stress, sadness and change (some of it our own making!). And now, over lunch (with that behind us), updating each other and sharing news on how proud we are of our families, our past and current achievements (in work, study and the community) and our current contentment in our homes and life in general.
I think as you get older 'things' don't seem to mean so much to you. Don't get me wrong - I like nice baubles and receiving presents (and quaffing great wine) - but I would give them away in a blink of an eye if I had to chose between 'things' and my relationships with family and friends.
Actually I think I am becoming a bit of a bore with Christmas shopping. I don't really enjoy it as much as I used to. For me it just seems so jolly commercial and the malls so over whelming.
Recently my daughter came up with a new way for the grandchildren to receive a family gift in 2014. A special voucher for one on one 'date' with an Aunt or Uncle to do something fun and inexpensive like making a tree hut, spending time in the garden, or exploring the sea shore for treasures or making a dress up outfit for a special occasion. I really like that idea, it should be encouraged.
Where I can, I would much prefer to make my own gifts. Which is what I have done again this year... grapefruit marmalade, Christmas cakes, a Ginger Loaf and Christmas mince pies. (A thought -  next year I might even have a go at making my own Christmas mince).
My sewing machine has also been kept busy making little girls dresses, swimming bags and the latest grandchild received his special Nana Santa sack.
In the past I made mini Pecan pies and Christmas mince pies too, using short crust pastry. But last week I decided to bake them in my sponge kisses tin using puff pastry. A nice change and a huge hit. I just have to remember to grease the tins a bit more - the failed ones were 'dug out', quickly cooled and eaten by moi!
There is one little luxury I adore at Christmas. The season is short but they are sure to get me in a Christmassy mood. And they always remind me of my mother who also adored them. Cherries! They have to be those big fat dark, dark, juicy crimson ones. It just so happened we found them this week in a cherry orchard stall while travelling back from Christchurch. Only half of them made it home to Welly! Popped in the fridge, they are nicely chilled and the perfect snack to enjoy on a warm summers day. A kilogram just about does it for me until next year!
help yourself straight out of the tin
Marlborough cherries - yum!

Thursday 28 November 2013

Chocolate Roulade - a challenge

As promised here is an update on my post about Sponge (Swiss) Rolls. I don't recall ever attempting to make a sponge roll before, so failure last month (at the first attempt) was no real surprise to me.
However, I am extremely keen to master the perfect sponge roll. My goal is to make a Chocolate Roulade just like the one that appears on the front cover of the Cuisine November 2013 edition.  And..... and I want to win a case of Daniel Le Brun bubbles for the best entry in their Christmas recipe competition.
One month on I am still trying to get a Chocolate Roulade to roll without cracking and/or splitting. My husband thinks I am getting a little obsessive about it and he is over testing Chocolate Roulades! I followed the recipe carefully. So why is it so hard and why doesn't it look like the one on Cuisine cover? Hummmphh!
I went to my foodie friends and family bakers asking for their tips on 'how to get a sponge to actually roll' without splitting into three pieces.
This is the advice I garnered
Use a bigger/longer tin
Don't use a fan bake oven
Don't cook any longer than 10 mins at 180 degrees C
It should be cooked when you press your finger in the middle and it 'bounces back'
Let the roll cool slightly (what is slightly?), turn onto a damp tea towel, roll up
Turn it out onto a damp tea towel as soon as it is out of the oven, roll up asap
Cool slightly! Turn out onto a dry tea towel dusted with icing sugar - it will roll perfectly
Hubby's suggestion -Roll it long ways, the other way is across the grain - ummm I don't think it has a grain!
My idea - get a new shiny red Kitchen Aid - that will help - it didn't! But I am loving my new cake mixer just the same.
There is more to the perfect sponge roll than I realised!
I have taken all their expert advice on board - to no avail! My latest roll still cracked/split big time when I tried to roll it up. But I am not giving up! Further research on the web suggests to me I need to buy a different tin ( I was not aware tin size depended on how many eggs you used) and to use cornflour instead of flour (thinking about it, that's what my mother used for her sponges). Both tips are worth pursuing and I am going to have another crack at it (excuse the pun). Chocolate Roulade number four is coming up!
The good news is the end result still looks amazing, tastes wonderful and when the rolls are covered in chocolate you don't really notice the splits or,  that it is layers of slabs wrapped in cream.
I will nail the challenge as I love this recipe for its chocolaty richness and hazelnut flavours.
And it will have pride of place on my Christmas 2013 table.
Chocolate Roulade with Hazelnut Cream and Croquant - attempt # 3

Chocolate Roulade attempt # 2 - more like a slab!

Left over Chocolate Roulade for morning tea!

I love my new cake mixer

Sunday 24 November 2013

Farro and Pearl Barley continued...

If you are like me you will have childhood memories of the ubiquitous pearl barley. It was always the standard addition to our mothers homemade vegetable soup, often boiled so long it turned to mush. But (luckily for us) it is now appearing in so many different other ways. I really love the texture of this nutritious grain (note my risotto post using pearl barley). I looks like I'm in a bit of a grain phase at the moment! 
Last week I found myself with the remaining pieces of a 2kg pumpkin. I also had an ongoing problem with a large hoard of things in my pantry, space was limited, so the thinking cap went on. What to produce that would deal with the pumpkin and hopefully use up some of the items that keep tumbling out of my pantry. Low and behold this recipe appeared in our Sunday paper. It is totally delicious and should be very appealing to any lover of vegetables and if you make some adjustments prefect for my gluten free and vegan friends and of course leaving out the meat, to vegetarians!
The recipe is in the similar vein to the Farro recipe I posted last month. However, this one uses pearl barley which has the advantage of being easier to find and is a little less expensive than Farro. The whole meal would work out to be less than $10. The addition of smoked paprika sits nicely with the chorizo and gives the dish a different sort of flavour. Sorry I do not have a photo of the final dish but the recipe is detailed below.
Yesterday I cooked another dish along a similar vein - created by Ginny Grant in Cuisine -  but you add 2tbsp of pomegranate molasses and 1tbsp of olive oil to the cooked warm grain (for this I used a mixture of farro and pearl barley) and the pumpkin was roasted with 1tbsp of pomegranate molasses. Two roast onions are added and a little feta crumbled on top of the salad. I served it as a vegetarian main but for meat lovers it would be great as a side with BBQ lamb.
I finished the dish with a garnish of fresh pomegranate seeds, it looked lovely and tasted delicious. In fact the bowl was almost licked clean!,farro,roasted,pumpkin
So give these grains a try, they add a wonderful chewy texture to your salads and definitely make a change from rice and couscous salads for the summer BBQ's.
Warm pearl barley, roasted pumpkin and chorizo salad
Fiona Smith – SST November 2013
1/2 - 3/4 cup pearl barley
1 kg pumpkin, peeled and cubed 2cm (drizzle with honey for a sweeter flavour if desired)
1 tsp dried oregano or 1tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
Juice and finely grated zest from a lemon
2 tsp red or white wine vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ c pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
200g chorizo, slice 1cm (leave out if vegetarian dish preferred)
½ cup fresh coriander chopped
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Rinse pearl barley under cold water and drain. Cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
Toss the pumpkin with the oregano and oil and season with salt.
Spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook in oven for
20-25 minutes, turning once, until tender.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together paprika, lemon juice and zest,
vinegar and extra virgin olive oil then stir in warm barley and mix well.
Heat a fry pan over a medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook for a minute shaking
the pan, until they pop. Set aside.
Heat the pan or grill till hot, cook the chorizo for 2-3 minutes on each side until brown.
Add the pumpkin, chorizo and coriander to the pearl barley mix and toss all together.
Sprinkle with pumpkins seeds and serve.
Serves 4-6
Note – Gluten free option - substitute gluten free chorizo and quinoa for barley
Farro, pearl barley, roast pumpkin and onion salad with pomegranate

Thursday 14 November 2013

Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Risotto

Here is a simple little gem I made last week. On a night when I had no energy (and no real longing) to cook, I went searching for an inspiration in the fridge -  all I found  was a bunch of asparagus!
'I feel like something made with brown rice, said the man of the house'.
Ok, so that part was easy. One cup of rice and three cups of water into the rice cooker - switched on, done. Thinking what goes with asparagus I came up with peas and a freshly picked lemon. What transpired was a gorgeous, buttery, lemony, risotto that rocked our socks off.
It's often said, the simple meals can the ones we treasure the most and the ones we want to eat again.
Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Risotto
1 bunch of asparagus - steamed until just tender - smothered in butter - chopped in half
1 cup of frozen peas (cook in salted water steaming the asparagus)
1 large lemon - zest and juice
1 cup of brown rice cooked and kept warm in the rice cooker. 
Gently stir in the vegetables and lemon zest and juice.
Taste for seasoning then serve immediately.
Serves 2 greedy, hungry people!

Thursday 24 October 2013

Sponge or Swiss roll - a bit of an experiment

Idling thumbing through an old magazine and spying a chocolate sponge roulade I got the inspiration to make an old fashioned Sponge or Swiss Roll. Do you remember those? A lovely yellow sponge with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream? I think housewives used to make them because they looked rather grand, especially when you wanted to make an impression.
My mother was great at making sponges, and we were particularly good at scoffing large portions of said sponges when we had half the chance.  More often than not we got the left overs from afternoon teas, consequently not much to share between four greedy children!!!
I really cannot remember ever making a Sponge or Swiss Roll.
I needed cheering up, over the last week or so the weather in Welly has been disgusting, think gale force winds, persistent torrential rain, a wrecked broccoli patch and you get the picture. Even our dog refused to go for a walk!!
We are also looking after our neighbour's chickens (again) - for two weeks - which is wonderful. We feed them twice a day (along with a few left over scraps now and then) and we I have a daily supply of beautiful organic eggs just begging to be used!
Last weekend I felt  it was time to make a Sponge Roll.
Out came my battered 1973 Edmonds Cookbook. In spite of religiously following instructions the result was a bit of a flop - for a couple of reasons. My equally battered 40 year old Amco sponge roll tin had a slight bend in it, not a problem when you are baking slices but clearly a problem for sponges as the bowed bit made the sponge run down one end - result - one thin end of the roll that looked like a burnt tongue. The other end looked good! But not quite good enough to post a photo!
Suffice to say the Amco tin has been sent to the tip.
On turning out the sponge onto a tea towel dusted with icing sugar and carefully rolling the sponge it cracked, right down the middle - apparently a common occurrence if you don't cool the roll to the exact temperature before rolling! Mmmmm.... The good news was, once  smothered with whipped cream and freshly sliced strawberries you would never have known about the disaster that lay beneath! The sponge itself was just the right taste and texture.
However, back to the drawing board for a perfect Sponge Roll.....
I received my Cuisine magazine this week, and I couldn't believe it - on the front page was a Chocolate Roulade. 'It's a sign I said to my hubby!' I am going to give this recipe a go - maybe the chocolate will help make it perfect. And I am especially keen as they are running a competition for subscribers to bake something from this edition and write to them about the results. The prize is a dozen Daniel le Brun bubbles. Very timely for Christmas celebrations.
Definitely worth another go at that Sponge Roll.
I have bought a new Sponge Roll tin, the lovely fresh eggs are ready and I just have to perfect the rolling bit.... watch this space

Sunday 6 October 2013

A salad using Farro

Always on the lookout for something a little different, I spotted this recipe for Cypriot Salad in the latest Cuisine magazine. It's a great wholesome recipe for a vegetarian main or for meat lovers, a lovely accompaniment for chicken or lamb.
I thought it would be the perfect dish for a recent celebration lunch and (if there were leftovers) a great dish to take to a couple of vegetarians in the family who have recently had a new baby. We all know what those first few weeks are like! And yes, they were most grateful for the leftovers, this dish in particular as it contained no dairy (apart from the garnish of a dollop of yoghurt), perfect for their Vegan guest staying over to help with said baby.
It contains Farro, a grain I had not used before. It comes from the wheat family, a nice change from bulgar wheat, easy to cook, very filling and tasty.
I had a bit of a challenge sourcing Farro but finally found a 500g bag at Moore Wilson's, a great shop in Wellington where almost anything can be found. I would recommend a visit, think a 'toy shop' for cooks and food lovers!
I love experimenting with new ingredients, sometimes they end up languishing in my pantry but more often than not they end up as a favourite. In this case one to be used for special occasions as Farro is imported and not cheap! To find it, you might have to shop around. A good organic shop or health store will have it but I find once something has caught on - more people bring it in and the price tends to come down a bit.
I always smile to myself and think of my mother when I cook new dishes, she was not a fancy cook and once considered Couscous (instead of spuds) a 'bit posh'. I suppose in her day feeding a hungry family of five, (without all the fancy gadgets and the variety of food we have now) it was always a mission to get a meal on the table, on time, within a weekly budget. The only thing considered exotic or fancy back in those days would have been a stir fry!
Cypriot salad can be prepared the night before, by cooking the Farro and lentils and roasting the pumpkin. You can then assemble everything and add the dressing closer to serving. I really like all the nuts and seeds in this salad too, they make a lovely crunchy addition to the Farro's chewy texture. And if you love Moroccan flavours, you will love this. I have included the link to the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!,cypriot,salad

Sunday 29 September 2013

Apricot and almond slice

This is one of those decadent slices that can be a little addictive. All the ingredients (on their own) are quite yummy as snacks but combined into a slice it is heaven in a slice tin!
The recipe comes from the Brown Sugar Café in Taihape and was requested by a Dominion Post reader in October 2012. (I can't remember the last time I passed through Taihape but clearly this cafe knows their stuff when it comes to baking).
I filed it away for future reference and looking for inspiration (and something to use a part opened tin of condensed milk) on a wet Saturday afternoon I decided it was time to try it. It's great. I like that it is simple to make. It's a lovely mix of sweet, chewy and crunchy and of course all those fruit and nuts must be good for you. Just forget about the butter and sugar!! 
The crushed malt biscuits gives the slice a nice flavour too. I remember as children (in Winter) we lined up in the kitchen, mouths opened wide, for our weekly dessertspoon of sweet sticky malt extract. My mother kept the tin high up in a kitchen cupboard, I wonder why?
I certainly did not give it to my children when they were little. But according to 'The Telegraph" in 2011, it was having a bit of resurgence. (Interestingly it is still made here in New Zealand under the brand name Maltexo). It comes from a by-product of the brewing process, contains a large amount of sugar and a bit of Vitamin A and riboflavin and is described as 'a tonic to boost general well being'. At one time it was very popular for parents to give to their post-war children. Being a baby boomer we just caught the edge of the wave for such treatments!
Anyway the hint of malt brought back some lovely childhood memories for me. It also reminds me of those sticky MacIntosh sweets - the dangerous ones that can remove your fillings/teeth in a flash - I no longer indulge in those either!
This slice will now be a regular in my 'baking for a special treat repertoire '.
Apricot and Almond Slice – Brown Sugar Café in Taihape  (as in Dominion Post October 2012)
Melt together
125g butter
¾ cup brown sugar
Mix in
½ packet crushed malt biscuits
½ packet crushed vanilla biscuits
Press into a lined slice tin
Base ready for pressing into tin
Place on base, in order:
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped apricots
½ cup coconut thread
½ cup sliced almonds (I used unsalted roasted)
Drizzle over 1 tin condensed milk
Bake at 30 minutes at 150°C
Final layering
Condensed milk drizzled on top
Cooked ready to cut

Monday 23 September 2013

Kedgeree - the quick one!

This is how you can use up some of those left overs in the fridge, and a recipe especially good if you are short on time!
I just happened to have some cooked brown rice, cooked left-over fish, lots of organic eggs, some fresh coriander and some tasty curry paste in the fridge. It all screamed a Kedgeree. It has been quite a few years since I last made one but I had a vague idea what ingredients to use and just went from there. I have to say it was extremely tasty and so easy to make, a child could do it.
I have since checked my books and while mine isn't exactly the same, it was pretty close. I used coriander instead of parsley and pan fried fish instead of smoked fish.
This is my 'thrown together' recipe, perfect for a quick lunch or light dinner.
Fish Kedgeree - depending on your appetite, this quantity will feed about 2-4 people
1 large onion - finely diced
1 large carrot  - finely diced
Some fish - preferably smoked but I used non-smoked - in any amount, to your taste
2 hard boiled eggs - chopped
1-2 cups cooked rice (I like brown but it will work well with white rice too)
Fresh coriander or parsley - about 1/4 cup finely chopped,
Curry Paste (I used about a heaped teaspoon of mild, but add to your taste) 
Heat a little oil or ghee in a pan,
fry an onion until soft, add a finely chopped carrot and cook until just done ( you want to leave a bit of firmness in the carrot).
Add curry paste and cook for a few minutes - stirring all the time.
Add rice and stir lightly until warmed through. Add the roughly chopped egg, gently stir through.
Stir in chopped coriander or parsley with a little garnish on top and serve.

Thursday 19 September 2013

The best Chocolate Chip cookies

This month there seems to be a bit of a theme with my blogs - chocolate and cookies.
Chocolate -  since the Chocolate Festival I have slowly worked my way through all the lovely samples (and yes, unfortunately I had to share), i.e. bar one called Christmas, made by Shoc Chocolates. I'm saving that one for Christmas because.... well it is called Christmas. The small sample taste at their stall tasted like Plum pudding and Christmas cake so I'm really looking forward to devouring it at the appropriate time.
Cookies - actually we call them biscuits in New Zealand but in the United States (their) biscuits are more like our scones. Most people I know call a biscuit a biscuit and a scone a scone, but have I noted a cafe trend  of labeling biscuits cookies, perhaps it is for American visitors (so they don't think it is a scone???)
This week I've been having fun baking cookies, ok biscuits. This recipe is by far the best chocolate chip biscuit I have made and it comes from the iconic New Zealand 'Edmonds Cookery Book', the 1999 edition.
In a past blog I posted a Flat Biscuit recipe (which contained chocolate chips) but this recipe is by far superior and does not include eggs, handy if you have no eggs in the fridge at the time of baking or if there is an egg allergy that needs to be taken into consideration.
Yes, it involves creaming the butter, sugar and condensed milk but that's easy done with all the fancy appliances we have in our kitchen now. When I use to help my mother in the kitchen - my job was to use the hand held electric beater and stand while it mixed for about ten minutes! Great for young hands, not so great when you get older. Make sure you grease the tray otherwise you may have to chip them off (excuse the pun!).
Ready for the oven
Watch your oven temperature, I needed to turn my fan oven down a bit and the cooking time was more like 15 minutes. After all your hard work you don't want them to burn.
They keep nice and crisp in an airtight tin, great for school lunches and supper with a cup of tea!
They also freeze well. I doubled the recipe (made two full trays) and they were still perfect.
Cooling before moving to a rack
Chocolate Chip Biscuits (from Edmonds Cookery Book, 1999 Edition)
125 grams butter
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
Few drops of vanilla essence
1 ½ cups standard plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup chocolate chips
Cream butter, sugar, condensed milk and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Sift flour and baking powder together.
Mix sifted dry ingredients and chocolate chips into creamed mixture.
Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls.
Place on a greased oven tray and flatten with a floured fork.
Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes.
Makes about 25
Oops! couldn't resist a taste!


Saturday 7 September 2013

The NZ Chocolate Festival

As a chocolate lover I prepared myself well ahead of time. Light meals and no chocolate for three days beforehand, check. On the day - a brisk, early morning walk with our dog, check, no morning tea or lunch, check. Camera and invite in bag, check. A big deep breath, brace yourself, check.
I was met at the entrance of the Intercontinental Hotel by three friendly staff and with a happy contented smile my name was ticked off their list. The nice usher at the bottom of the stairs was greeted by my big grin and then I was there. I was in the The NZ Chocolate Festival.
Was it me or did I imagine that everyone around me appeared really, really happy that morning! Following the opening speeches and a 'cheers'! with little complimentary chocolate cups filled with ganache, I had a couple of hours of sheer delight visiting the various stalls, tasting (lots and lots), smelling and watching chocolate played with, drizzled, dipped and licked. One favourite was the Christmas chocolate by Schoc, think Christmas cake and pudding in a chocolate. It was a winner for me!
And this year I had a couple of surprising firsts - I dipped a marshmallow into a fountain of glistening chocolate and stuffed it into my mouth, it always seemed a messy thing to do but the verdict was yum! I tasted a fresh cacao bean and discovered pure chocolate can vary in taste depending on the region they came from. Interesting, I did not know that! I was also amazed how many people were making chocolate in the Wellington area, what a relief - we don't need to worry about a shortage of great chocolate anytime soon. And I must check out The Press Chocolate Makers - a chocolate factory that is opening early October, here in Wellington. I think it will be a definite highlight for any future southern visitors.
Here are some pics of my time at the festival. A bit of a disclaimer, while I gratefully accepted a goodie bag from the festival, I have only talked about and taken photos of items that personally appealed to my eye and taste. Suffice to say there are some extremely talented, hardworking, clever people out there who make great chocolate!
My grandies would love this
Clever and a bit different

Something else a bit different

By this time I had devoured three. Number four coming up!