Monday 23 May 2016

Middle Eastern lunch

We hosted a lunch at our home a few weeks ago - with Middle Eastern dishes as a theme. I am a bit of a fan of this style of cooking. Unlike many of my friends I have never travelled to the Middle East but I just love the flavours and colours of their traditional food.One day I may get there.....
While cooking these delicious dishes I thought of the many women and children caught up in conflict in that part of the world. All they want is peace, food and shelter, to feel safe and loved. I am very lucky to have it all in my life........
In planning this banquet, the 'Eat your Books' app was again very useful. I found great recipes in Jerusalem, Made in Morocco and Turkey, all books I have used often.
The menu included Lamb Shawarma, Beef and Quince (I would have used Lamb Stuffed Quince but hollowing out all those quinces looked like hard work). I also made Chicken Pilaf, Saffron Rice with Barberries and herbs, Hummus of course, Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut salad, Carrots with mint and pomegranate, Orange Semolina cake, delicious Spice Cookies and of course my Quince paste with lovely cheeses from our local deli Gambonis. The Ottolenghi Spice Cookies were a star addition to the desserts. They were truly delicious and easy to make.
A good friend of mine said the only way to cook rice was the Middle Eastern traditional way of the cooking, by frying the rice first in a little butter, add the stock, boil for about 15 minutes or so and finish off with a placing a clean tea towel tightly wrapped around the lid and leaving the rice to steam cook, infusing the flavours.
I really enjoyed the day and all the preparation and practice with these dishes. In the end our lunch raised over $1,000 for Dyslexia services so I was pretty pleased about that.

Cauliflower salad with hazelnuts
Carrot salad

Saffron rice with barberries
Spice Cookies - so yummy!

Sunday 22 May 2016

Crab apple jelly

Over the last month or so I've been given large quantities of gathered fruit. It has been wonderful to receive, quinces, figs, feijoas, granny smith apples and on a chance conversation, a huge bag of freshly picked crab apples.
I was so pleased to receive the latter as I have never made crab apple jelly before and have longed to make some. In the past I have been put off making any sort of jelly as I had been told it could be a long tricky business waiting for the liquid to drip through a muslin, while hoping that the jelly did not became opaque in the process and of course finally set as it should.
My generous donor assured me that all you needed was a very large new Chux type cloth ( a trip to buy muslin was not required) and a really big pot (I used my preserving pan).
I used Mrs Google to find a local recipe and discovered this good one from Jonny Schwass, the well known chef from Canterbury. You can find it here on the RNZ website.

The recipe is so easy, but do allow a day to get it all done!! I was so thrilled with the result, the man of the house has eaten nearly a whole jar in less than a week! I will also look for recipes where my crab apple jelly can be used as a glaze etc.

It took a while to remove all the stalks!
Dripping nicely
The final result