29 January 2010

Episode One MasterChef NZ next week

Can't wait....

Another new eating experience

Hmmm... Plantain eh... bought these when I was shopping with my sister-in-law Cheryl recently because I never have tried cooking them. I read somewhere that you can stuff them with a spice mix and bake ... Sounds great! Reporting back soon.

Playing with your food... Parental supervision recommended

Chocolate Fish challenge...
I did once hold the record for this in Rotorua.

Take a bag of small (this part is important!) chocolate fish. Take a deep breath (so is this...) and place as many of the fish in your mouth at once as possible. You'll need to top and tail them, get them tidily wedged inside your cheeks and mash them together quite firmly. The challenge is not over until you've swallowed them all but that's the really hard part. Do not laugh at this point.

No pictures of this sorry....

And my record (11) was beaten almost the next day.

Paua for Dinner

We had a surprise visit last night from my Uncle and Aunt, long time no see. Which reminds me - Lou always talks about being on the seafood diet - what he really means is that any food he sees, he eats... He and Robyn have travelled a lot around the world and within New Zealand and he had an interesting food story last night from the Chatham Islands - reminded by the eating of these gorgeous paua fritters generously supplied by the incorrigible Steve (hails from Croatia) and his lovely better half Raewyn.
Here's Lou enjoying the food 

and my better half (actually three quarters..) Stew

Minced paua, a little flour and minced onion, and 3 eggs. Fried very quickly and eaten even quicker.
Don't put other stuff in there, or they become something else.

So the Chatham Island story - apparently there are so many wild pigs over there that when Lou visited people for a meal they first went to shoot the pig for dinner... in little under an hour they had their weaner. And as the story goes the locals are inclined to castrate the boars, give them ear tags and release them as and when they have the time just to keep the population under control. 

28 January 2010

#8 Favourite

My old Edmonds book - I use it every time I bake, and often refer to it for the meat cooking guide.

And the cookbook my grandmother gave me when I turned 50 and asked if everyone would give me a copy of their favourite book...

It has all her hand-written recipes tucked into its pages. Fab!

This is Nana at my daughter's wedding last year. She'll be 96 this year. I want her outfit...

Price Sensitive

Most of us do check prices and I think this one is quite outstanding. However I also look for NZ made, and both these are "packed in NZ from imported ingredients".

Pack on the left: 89 cents at Pak 'n Save
Pack on the right - smaller weight - $1.89 at the same store.
Neither was on special.
The other thing about this is that I really like to have my herbs and spices displayed tidily on a rack, and the boxes and jars are better for that. But I could refill them from the pouch.

Baking for my fan club of One

Everyone needs a fan club and mine is the adorable Margaret. Here she is with her equally gorgeous husband.... a quote from her latest email to me..."You keep impressing me – You're amazing!"

And the point is we have a weekend with Margaret and friends this weekend so I baked ...

Sticky Fig Slice
2 cups brown sugar and 2 eggs mixed together. Add 1cup chopped dates or figs, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp vanilla essence, 1 cup flour, grated rind of a lemon.
Press into a swiss roll tin lined with baking paper and bake 20 minutes at 180C, leave in tin for 5 minutes before cutting into triangles.
I have to have chocolate I'm sorry, so there it is drizzled across the top. Make a runny icing with a knob of butter, a few choc chips, icing sugar and hot water to mix.

Chocolate Chunk Oat Cookies
which are from my most favourite ever recipe for Choc Chippies from the glorious Jo Seagar. Never did find anything to improve upon this - it's the condensed milk and oats combination.
250g soft butter blended wtih 1/2 cup white sugar
Add 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Mix all and add a minimum of 250gm chunky chocolate pieces or buttons
Bake 170C for 20 minutes.


Curried Pickled Onions

One of my favourite pickles is made with this recipe.

I remember my mum telling me about a regular annual weekend get-together she used to have where she'd invite a couple of girlfriends over. When they arrived they would find she had her sack of pickling onions and their labour was called upon for the peeling. This went on for not too many years, when finally they turned the tables by bringing their own sackfuls.....
The outcome really is worth the peeling factor.
Onion Peeling Tip:
peel them under cold water. Fill the sink, or use a bucket. No more tears, no silly looking goggles, all good.

Curried Pickled Onions
Peel 2kg of pickling onions, cover with salt and water for 24 hours.
Boil 1.1 litres brown vinegar with 500g brown sugar.

Stir in the following mix, after making it into a paste with a  little cold vinegar:
18gm ground cloves
18gm all spice
3 big tbsp flour
1 dessertspoon curry powder
3 tsp turmeric

Boil until it all thickens.

Tip for adding the paste to the boiling liquid:
Come along, we all know this: gradually add hot liquid to the paste to bring the temperature of it up before you tip it in. Whisk!
Dry onions well, place them in a crock or in jars, cover with the cooled sauce and keep 3 weeks before using. If you can. I'm usually into them after week 2....

Here they are in some lovely crocks I bought from the local Hospice shop for practically nothing...

A challenge to Ray, Simon or Ross (my new colleagues in cooking - you know who you are!...)
The first of you 3 to contact me can have a jar of these.....

26 January 2010

Working on a Glen Innes map of food outlets...

Glen Innes is a suburb in the Eastern part of Auckland, surrounded by much higher socio-economic areas. Most people wouldn't know it, but Glen Innes is full to the brim of the most wonderful food outlets.
I'll share them with you soon via a Foodies Trail map... keep an eye out.

Foraging again... in Rotorua

A visit to my sister's motel in Rotorua resulted in the acquisition of some fabulous free fruit
apples looking a bit scruffy, but in fact they were delicious when I cooked them with some passsionfruit pulp,
and the grapefruit (shown with a lemon to indicate size - they're HUGE)
are destined for a
Grapefruit Meringue Pie.

Base: You may well have a favourite, but I like the crushed biscuit version.
1 1/2 cups biscuit crumbs
5 oz (125 gm) melted butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
You know what to do with this... Refrigerate it till firm.

1/2 cup grapefruit juice or rind and juice
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
25g butter
3 tbsp cornflour
Combine all and cook while stirring over direct heat until thick and transparent. Add yolks of 2 eggs and stir over boiling water till thick.
Pour into the crust when cool.

Top with a meringue made with 2 egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar, beaten together, piled onto the grapefruit filling, and then lightly grilled to brown it.

Beats lemon varieties hands down!

Sorry - as is normal in our household, we fell upon the finished article and devoured it before a photo could be taken.

Favourite things #7

My mother is sensational!
She bought a Denby cutlery set on Trade Me and guess who's the most fortunate, excited, thankful recipient?

Yes - it's now mine! Can't wait to use it... fabulous!

Chinese Radish recipe

I bought one of these (the white vegetable at the top of the pic) at Otara Market a while back and did make a dish with it - one of my latest Indian feasts was highlighted by a gingered radish dish and it was pretty good!
Gingery Radish or Turnips
Heat 1 tbsp oil and add 1 tsp cumin seeds plus a pinch of asafoetida if you have it - a souring agent (don't over-do this one!). When the cumin crackles, add 1 tsp sesame seeds, 2 sliced green chillies, a crushed garlic clove and an inch of fresh ginger sliced finely. Stir in chunks of the radish. Cover and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of nutmeg and toss together for another few minutes.
Serve hot or cold.

Favourites Number 6

My old old scales - I still measure in imperial with these - but I can also convert pretty quickly.

Master Chef nearly here...

First series of NZ Master Chef due to air on Wednesday 3 February 2010 at 7.30pm.
Can't wait to see how it looks in comparison to the Aussie version....

Favourite Things #5

Just love my knife block.
My mother-in-law tells me it's a weapon advertisement for burglars.

20 January 2010

Cheese Making Courses 2010

I decided I'd like to make cheese. I'm a crafter from way back, so I like making things and I certainly like eating cheese - my mother sent me a link to Jo Seagar's website, where there is a weekend-long course in March 2010.
I also found a few offered in Auckland that are shorter and cheaper - but I do want to do something good so will do a little more research.
Katherine Mowbray is running classes on Saturdays right through 2010 in Epsom for $120
Jean Mansfield is offering Farmhouse Cheesemaking in Auckland, North Shore, Katikati and Masterton for $195 including lunch and a glass of wine
NZ Cheese School deliver courses to the food industry and also have 1-day course for the home cheese-maker for $195 at various locations around New Zealand.

Quinces for Free

Hey hey! Always a bonus - food for free on the roadside. Imagine that, wild food on suburban streets of Remuera.

Quinces - I imagine I'll need to wait until Autumn for these beauties to ripen but then I"ll be in!

Cake stands made here

I've been making these from recycled glassware that I buy at the local op shops. Don't pay more than 50cents - $4 per piece. Using 2-part Araldite (be tidy with it - it shows!) you can stick them together, leave overnight and hey presto... I find them intensely annoying to store as they don't stack, but these are for the High Tea I'm organising for however many hundred folk for the rowing club in February 2010. I also made some for my daughter's wedding last year and then gave them away to guests.

Breakfast again - leftovers

Seems we do this most days...
but some days I have to pinch myself and remember to be grateful for the bounty we have on our table.
Last night for dinner I invented a dish using fresh mussels of the fantastic kind - $3 per kilo: how wonderful is that? and some tarakihi that was on special at the supermarket. So for $8 we had
Herb, Mussel and Fish fritters
Small handfuls of fresh tarragon, coriander and parsley chopped up with 10 steamed mussels, then add 3 eggs, half cup of flour and 350gm cubed fish. Fried in rice bran oil... and while that was cooking I rustled up a Tomato, Chilli and Caper Sauce
half cup sun dried tomatoes
1 fresh tomato
plenty of lemon juice
garlic and fresh coriander
red chilli pulp - about 1 tsp
2 tbsp capers
Chop all that in the blender and while it's running, add a little aioli if you have it - just enough to make it run wthout over-pureeing. It's nice to have some texture.
Don't be too worried if you're missing things - just add and subtract to taste.

So that was a delicious dinner, and with leftover fritters and sauce we had the makings of a fine breakfast. But could we stop there? Oh no! Let's smoke a little more of that salmon...

Hot, flavoursome, flakes drifting apart, literally melt-in-the-mouth.

Indian Night - and a Watermelon Curry

In our house we've decided to make 2010 a year of dinner parties. Previous years we've been glad to take up invitations to dinner, but less enthusiastic about having people over. Too busy or something...

Two nights ago we had an impromptu Indian night which Gary from downstairs and I put together in my kitchen. He brought a few things from his pantry and we used mine as well.

The food was absolutely fantastic - just a shame we devoured it so quickly that there was no time to take any more photos. The menu as follows:

Lamb with cardamom
Beef rendang
Ginger fried Luffa
Spiced Lentils with fried garlic and onion garnish
Watermelon Curry
Steamed basmati rice

Divine! And here and now I'll treat you to the Watermelon Curry which was a bit of a gamble but well worth the $4 watermelon for experimental purposes.

Watermelon Curry
Cube 1/4 of a large watermelon and puree half of it. Add 1 1/2 tsp red chiilli powder, pinch turmeric, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1 clove crushed garlic and salt to taste.
Fry 1/4 tsp cumin seeds in 1 tbsp oil, then reduce heat and add 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice and he pureed watermelon.
Simmer 5 minutes until reduced by half. Add choped watermelon and turn gently 3-4 minutes until coated and heated through.

This is refreshing and interesting - do try it!

#4 Favourite

My sister found this bottle on Trade Me and now it holds rice bran oil on the bench.

More favourites #3

Love love love my old egg beater. I've had this since I was about 16. I so enjoy the hand-driven nature of it. And I can lick cream off it.... Electric beaters have their place, but so does this honey. I have a dishwasher ban on it.

16 January 2010

Just thinking...

Some people are overweight and some are underweight. I'm in the first group... but not by any medical scale (such as BMI): I judge this purely by what weight I feel comfortable being. And it's a very personal assessment that onlookers would probably not agree with.

I hate the "diet" word in the context of "weight loss" - I've tried all my life to avoid using it or giving credence to this meaning or to undertaking any dieting behaviour. I think that there's a lot of unhealthy attention being paid to this particular issue and we as sensible adults have to use our own intelligence rather than the media-driven cliches.

I'm sure we all know when we're uncomfortable with our weight, and I'm pretty sure most people, like me, would know the theories of losing weight - mainly to do with eating less and exercising more.

The difficulty is in having the fortitude and the knowledge to change the necessary behaviours to acheive weight loss. (I can't talk about weight gain here, because I have no knowledge of this issue).

At present I'm keen to reduce my weight by a few kilos, having lost some before Christmas with the incentive of wanting to row faster races. And then along comes Christmas.... but I've forgiven myself for that splurge and now's the time for a concerted effort again. 5 kg loss by end of February is my goal, to be acheived by reducing portion sizes, eating when hungry - not by the clock - and limiting the treats. Although I do love the treats... and for me they include cream, butter, icecream, chocolate, cheese. I'm not mentioning wine here... see, denial again!

Wish me luck. Actually, wish me focus. I know already that changing behaviour is a huge undertaking. But it's not to do with luck.

Otara Market food buzz

I love Otara markets - except for the lack of parking. Go with the intention of parking a street away and walk there - it's much quicker. Otara is such a great place for atmosphere, fruit and vegetables and flowers.
So having bought these delightful things.... names unknown until I google them.... I have the task of turning them into something edible tonight. And a pomegranate - I've never cooked with any of these, so here's hoping we like what develops!
Above pictured from top to bottom: Japanes Radish or Daikon, under that is angled luffa or ridged luffa - otherwise known as silk gourd or Chinese okra, then at the bottom is Mo Qua or Mo Gwa (Fuzzy Melon)
More news after dinner.
Otara Market every Saturday 7am-12pm behind the Otara Town Centre in Auckland.