Friday 22 February 2013

To cook and dance, for love

These last few weeks have been a bit too busy in our household but despite that I am a very happy camper. This month produced a significant birthday for me. I wanted to celebrate this milestone with my friends and family so we arranged a party at our home. However, to add to all of the excitement, in early January a wedding proposal came from my beloved chap which I happily accepted.
While all were assembled at said party it was announced by our able MC that we secretly tied the knot on my birthday a few days before and we were now officially husband and wife. So in a nutshell I am very happy.
my wedding bouquet
People talk about this feeling as 'when the stars and moon are in alignment', there I am.
Back to the party. There were three (not negotiable) pillars to my party arrangements, great food, excellent wine and there must be dancing! ( I love to dance and decided one of my 2013 New Year resolutions was to dance more, to heck with the way I might look - think Kath Day-Night....).
However, to another love - creating in the kitchen. The menu was decided and the week well planned to ensure all was ready for the day. The suspense of keeping such a wonderful moment secret was not easy, however all the cooking and baking leading up to the party kept my mind and hands busy! During the week we also had house and dinner guests to feed (which included a vegetarian). Although some of the party 'starters' were catered for by Gipp Street Deli which were just fabulous - thanks to Sam and his talented team...
Caramelised onion tarts
my selection of tried and true recipes over the week did not let me down,
1960's party non-alcoholic punch
Devils on Horseback
Orange Hummus with bread
Carrot and Harissa dip
Potato and Fennel Tart
Peter's Five Egg Fruit Cake - Alison Holst (made as a birthday cake - ended up our wedding cake)
Drunken Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Mudcake Cake (Jo Seager's)   - omg - it took 2 days to make, but the end result....!
The Preservatory Apricot Slice
Bulgar Wheat and Courgette Salad
Roasted Potato Salad
Johnson's Coleslaw
Smoked salmon on wholemeal blinis (Ruth Pretty's recipe) 
and my lovely 'new' sister in law made us a Lemon cake (must get that recipe Elaine - lots of compliments), Vietnamese Salad and Quinoa Moroccan Salad.
At the party we complemented the salads with a huge ham on the bone and fillet steak from our local butcher (ably dressed and cooked by my wonderful friend and assistant Deb), deliciously cooked chickens from the caravan at Moore Wilson's and armfuls of wonderful fresh bread and huge rounds of cheese from Gambonis. There were so many kind helpers on the day, the cake was expertly decorated, table set and final touches made which greatly assisted in ensuring everything ran smoothly.
So over the week we hosted two dinner parties and a celebration party catering for 45 people. Very little was left over which just astounded me, I thought we may have over catered! We also ran out of the punch - everyone loved it! (Note to self - next time more food, more punch!) The good news was everyone had a great time and there is some wine and bubbles left to enjoy over the next few months. Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate.
A magic week  full of family, friends, food, wine, love, great weather and of course dancing. I am truly blessed......

cake topped off with a great retro cake decoration

Thursday 7 February 2013

The humble cabbage made a bit special

When I was younger you couldn't pay me to eat cabbage, I found it very bland and boring. I have grown to appreciate a little cabbage in my stir fries (adds a bit crunch to the dish) and in coleslaw but have never really been a fan of the humble cabbage so seldom buy or cook it . That is until I discovered Johnsons Coleslaw. I am not sure of the significance of the name, certainly not named after me - but this is a winner!
I came across the recipe last year in an article in the NZ House and Garden. It is so easy, goes with all sorts of dishes and perfect to serve for a crowd at a party (I happen to be having one this weekend). It will keep for about 3 days in the fridge, lovely in a sandwich along with whatever salad items you have on hand, great with chunks of ham or chicken. For lunch I smeared some homemade hummus on a wholemeal wrap, added a big chunk of cheese, slices of beetroot and a big scoop of the coleslaw - absolutely delicious.
You may have to hunt a bit for the celery seeds as not all supermarkets sell them. I managed to find them in a local food speciality store. Also, I have made the recipe using 1/2 of cabbage, still tasted great. I was in a bit of a hurry so used the slicing accessory in my kitchen whizz to prepare the onion and cabbage but a purist would carefully slice the vegetables......Here it is and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Johnsons Coleslaw 
1/4- 1/2 large cabbage
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of white wine vinegar (I used cider vinegar - it was just as nice)
just a little over 1/4 cup neutral oil (like rice bran or sunflower/salad/cooking oil)
Good 1/2 tsp celery seeds
Combine cabbage and onion in a bowl -sprinkle sugar over. (I combined it in the pot with the rest of the ingredients and it was ok as well)
Heat together vinegar, oil and celery seeds, seasoned well with salt and pepper until boiling.
Pour over cabbage and onion while still hot then cover salad and refrigerate for a few hours or r overnight.
Toss together and shake/pour off excess liquid before serving.