26 February 2010

Recipe from Sue Drummond top 10 Master Chef NZ

Hello Christine...... this makes 1 loaf....
made this type of bread in the Master Chef house.. well received...

Focaccia Bread.....schiacciata (with grapes..)
450 gm White flour,
1 teaspoon salt
2 and half tsp yeast.
400ml warm water.
2 teaspoons sugar,or (1 each honey and sugar),
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix yeast,sugar,and warm water together, with 1 tablespoon olive oil.Sit for a short time till a little frothy, place Flour and salt together and add liquid... makes sticky dough.

Flour surface generously and knead dough. When dough comes away from surface, after kneading and adding a little more flour if too sticky.. set aside dough to rise, or in a microwave vessel and being covered,sap dough on low for 1 minute and rest for 10minutes, do this 3 times..

Shape dough and place on a well oiled tray or baking dish. Oven to 220 deg.

Should be oblong and about inch in height.Set aside for about 20min.

Topping ; Red, seedless grapes,press deep into dough.
Fresh rosemary, separate leaves sprinkled on top.
Walnut pieces, butter (10 gms)and oil (2 tablespoons) mix, in which walnuts are cooked a little before putting on top and pressing into dough (they can burn ,so pressing down into dough and then filling the holes with the butter, oil mix may help.

Bake about 20-25 min,until crisp and golden.
Other toppings for Focaccia, olives, basil leaves,rock salt, maybe sundried tomato would be nice.......

Sausage Attempt number One

5 out of 10... so no supporting photos! But the second attempt will be better. My first recipe (invented ... maybe that's the problem?) used pork rump, fresh peaches, mango chutney, fresh sage, onions, garlic and plenty of salt. Some of the skins split - and there was too much fat in the pan so I need to reduce the proportion - and perhaps cook them at a lower heat. Also I like a very pronounced flavour and these were disappointingly mild. So, more of everything!

25 February 2010

Andy Spears leaves Master Chef

I promised my sister I'd write a small cameo one each of the contestants as they leave - just from my perspective.
Andrew works as a sports journalist in Auckland. When I first met him at the Auckland Master Chef auditions I immediately thought of my daughter in Wellington (sorry dear...) as he's just the kind of gorgeous young man I'd pick for her. Good looking, thoroughly 'nice'...Unfortunately for her, his girlfriend is also a dream. Not to me of course... but obviously to him. Anyway Andy is a very friendly kind of guy, genuine and SNAG-ish... (sensitive new age guy) without being girlie.
He's funny, a great cook, and a good guy to have an all-night drinking session with... he has his own very special way of pouring a drink....
Anyway he got on really well with everyone in the house and I thought he'd go pretty far with the competition. But then he probably thought the same about me!

23 February 2010

Concert-going food

My dear friend Adie always surprises me with her wonderful food.
The Villa Maria Concert was another occasion to wangle her secrets from her... she brought fennel-flavoured slaw, roast pork fillet, gherkins and goat's feta-stuffed tomatoes.
My contribution was home smoked mussels (recipe below), along with Moroccan Lamb Pies and Chocolate Brownie.

Moroccan Lamb Pies
500gm boned lamb leg, diced (Often $13.99 per kg at Lim's Garden Centre in Glen Innes Auckland)
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion sliced
2 cloves garlic grouind to a paste
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
2 tsp turmeric (I used fresh - found at Farro for $9.99 per kg.)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp diced fresh root ginger
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp lemon peel finely diced
3 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
3 tbsp pitted and sliced Kalamata Olives
750gm short crust pastry

To make the filling: Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium heat and fry all the spices and onions until soft. Add the lamb pieces, turning to coat, and add the beef stock. Simmer gently while covered for 20 minutes. Add the lemon peel and cook a further 20 minutes uncovered to reduce the gravy. Stir in the olives and the coriander, then cool it all.
To make the pies: roll the pastry out and line each tart hole, add the meat filling and then wet the edges of a slightly smaller 'lid' piece of pastry. Crimp the edges, brush the tops with egg wash.
Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from the tins.
Makes 8

#9 Favourite thing...

My food throw-overs get used quite a lot during summer... and I love theses ones with ants and flies sewn all over them...

Yes, okay I'm a nutter....

Over and Out

 My demise from Master Chef - final Interview with the d'lightful and talented Andrea Wong from So D'Lish. And may I mention the wonderful decor at Crave Cafe in Morningside... Just as well I'm not into stealing ideas! or orange UFO-like light shades...
I notice also (Mum and Ann, this is for you...) a couple of articles in New Idea and Woman's Day this week mention my name. There you go, family scrapbook for February now complete.

22 February 2010

A fab little book on smoking, and Smoked Mussels

"The Kiwi Smoker" by Carl Scott

I found this at The Warehouse, a gift for Stew for Valentine's Day.
What a find... please look out for it if you catch fish or hunt or gather in any way. Published by David Bateman.
Carl makes his own brand of food smoker called the Bushfire Smoker and has developed recipes to suit it and the smaller portable smokers that most people have. Look for my tutorial on stove-top indoor smoking - you won't believe how simple it is....

Off we went to hear Diana Krall at Villa Maria and so I experimented with Smoked Mussels to enjoy with a white wine.
I love them smoked in tins, but we have these wonderful, plentiful, fat mussels at a ridiculously cheap price in the supermarkets.

Here they are packed up for the picnic - super easy and very very good. (And that's also my excuse for not having them well-presented).
Steam them open as you normally would, remove from the shells and take out the beards, place back in the half shells and onto the smoking rack. Top with your own mixture; I used sweet chilli, brown sugar and dark soy sauce.
Smoke without too much heat for as little as 10 minutes....
they were lucky to make it as far as the concert...

Chocolate - tick. Bargain - tick. Bargain delectable chocolates - tick tick.

Happened into Farro yesterday and saw a box of chocolates in the specials bin - really gorgeous packaging. Never heard of this brand, and boxed chocs for $5 can't be bad... just 1 day over their best before date.
They're from Colestown - hand made NZ chocs...  have a look at the website, fantastic photography, beautiful product. And $5 for a box of 9 was easily yesterday's best buy . Sat down with a cuppa today thinking to try 1 ... or possibly 2.... Lime and Coconut mmm! Almond and Orange Nougat oh yes! Limoncello possibly a little too subtle... Coffee Ganache smooth and luscious .... and then there were 5.
Except I couldn't neglect my research role so next came Rum and Raisin a classic but a well-done one... and Passionfruit and Grand Marnier, easily the best so far...
Had to call a stop there for now... tummy complaining!

21 February 2010

Barbecued Prawns by Nigel - MasterChef contestant

I can give a handy tip for a no mess way to BBQ prawns. I used to manage the restaurant at Huka prawn Park, the only prawn farm in New Zealand, so I got to eat a lot of fresh prawns.

What we would do at home is mix up some garlic and chilli (usually just sweet chilli sauce), oil and salt and pepper.

Then criss-cross two pieces of tin foil, about 50cm long, then place 1/2 kg (about 18-20 from memory) of whole raw prawns along the foil in a single layer, leaving enough around the edges to fold into a tight parcel

Pour the chilli garlic mixture over the top. Obviously you could use any flavourings you like. Then fold into a tight flat rectangular parcel. Place on the BBQ, fold side down first, for 3 to 4 mins. Turn and cook for a further 2 to 3 mins.

The reason for fold side down first, means now it is fold side up and you can check your prawns, if not quite cooked, seal the parcel again until done.

- A very important point is that you should be careful not to over cook as they will be chewy.

- The reason for this method of cooking is that around 80% of the prawn flavour is in the shell, if heat is applied directly as in this method, that flavour is released into the meat, without making a mess over your BBQ.
You can now open your parcel and tip your prawns onto a platter, then pour the juices from the foil over the top.

19 February 2010

Indian Pancakes - Cheela

So simple to make, and if you shy away from bread-making this is a really good version - excellent for mopping up all those gorgeous fragrant gravies.

Besan is chick pea flour, and readily available. I bought a bag at Nosh then found it at Lim's Gardens in Glen Innes for $2 or so.

250gm besan
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 finely choppied onion
2 diced tomatoes
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the yoghurt and enough cold water to make a slightly thick but flowing batter. Add the tomatoes, onion, chilli and coriander. Heat 4 tbsp oil in a non-stick frypan and spoon in enough mixture to make a 12cm pancake. Drizzle 1 tsp oil over the uncooked side.Turn to cook the other side. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Makes about 6-7.
We had this on our Plantain cooking day and the dishes looked (and tasted) pretty wonderful

Clockwise from top left: Kela Kofta in Tomato Cream gravy, Cheela, Fried Plantain slices, Fragrant Greens and Plantain with Toasted Almonds (the Greens recipe here soon).

Inside the MasterChef house

thought you'd like to see 'that' house... these photos are up on Trade Me at the moment, as the property is for sale.

A beautiful home. A wonderful kitchen to cook in. Really nice memories.
The spa pool is just beyond the fire pit in this final photo, and we had a fun night there one night.
There's also a very sheltered outdoor entertainment area with a fireplace outside the fishtank too, between the entry gallery and the swimming pool.
I loved the television viewing area which was super comfortable. In the top photo you can see the aerial walkway that goes to the self-contained apartment. And what about the views...! Sensational.

A comment from Rob Trathen MasterChef would-be

Rob has kindly agreed to recommend an eating experience in Auckland...
I would like to share my favourite market. It's Auckland Farmers Market at the Alexandra Park Trotting Grounds in Epsom held every Sunday from 9am to 1pm.

Don't have breakfast before you go because they have an amazing variety of food stalls. There are hand made traditional Bulgarian cheeses, crepes, macaroons, breads, empanadas and a lot more.

I get my weekly vegetables from here which are picked from the market gardeners that morning! The thing I like most is that you can get some more unusual vegetables like celeriac and baby fennel.

Check it out!
PLEASE NOTE After a comment from William I'll need to check somehow - he went along and found it non-existant. All I can find online says the same thing - "open every Sunday, located on Campbell Crescent inside the twin stables complex of the Alexandra Park Trotting Grounds in Epsom. Take the bus to Manukau Road and walk to Campbell Crescent. The bus takes roughly 25 minutes from central Auckland".

Tomorrow's Meals delivery

My mum reports that the first order of meals for Nana has arrived, and the presentation is really great. Also the small meals look to be the perfect size: Nana east like a bird unless someone else is cooking and then she eats us all under the table.
This is Nana on the right her with her sister Betty on Christmas Day 2009.

So I'm looking forward to having a look at the Tomorrow's Meals myself when I'm down in Rotorua next weekend. I'll be placing an order for some from Eat Unlimited in Wellington too - my daughter Laura lives there and works such long hours that she doesn't always eat very well.
Here's Laura in January - gosh, there's a bit of a right arm theme here isn't there?

18 February 2010

Back to reality

Funny how they call MasterChef reality TV - it's not at all like my real life! Anyway for the sake of my mother and my daughters and my hysterically wonderfully excitable and daftly supportive sister, here are the links to some of the final interviews.
Now let's take up where we left off! Toasted sandwich anyone!?
Any sign of Project Runway coming here!? Now that I could be really good at....

17 February 2010

Taking control of ...Plantain #2

Another delicious and super-easy recipe to turn Plantain into a more-ish and intriguing dish that goes beautifully with an Indian-themed meal or as a snack with a beer on a summer evening.
Fried Plantain (Kela) Slices
1 large Plantain
1/2 cup water
1/2 dsp turmeric
1 dsp red chilli powder
Salt - about 1 tsp
Heat the above in a large pan with the Plantain slices in a single layer. Cover the pan and simmer in this masala until the liquid is almost all gone. Never add more liquid.
Add 1/4 tbsp tamarind paste and tip the pan till all the Plantain slices have touched it. Be gentle with the slices.

Heat 1 cup oil in a large flat pan.
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida (if you don't have it, leave it out)
1 cup curry leaves
Garlic to taste
Cook for a while till the smell fills the kitchen. Add the Plantain slices; do not cover them now. Lower the heat to a steady simmer. Turn when brown, fry both sides. Whn crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle they're ready to serve.

Fearsome Food... Plantain

So - Episode 1 in my mission to confront the scariest ingredients.
What do you think when you see Plantain? My reaction was always one of avoidance, until I decided to look further and try some recipes.

Now I'm sold on Plantain - the green cooking banana. At present I can buy it for 99c per kg at Lim's Gardens in Glen Innes - but Nosh have it for $1.49 too.
Plantain looks a lot like banana, but it has 3 distinct stages in terms of cooking - when green or yellow it cooks just like kumara or potato and is best treated as a vegetable. Once black, treat it as you would a banana - best for sweeter dishes. Highly nutritious, good source of potassium and Vitamins A & C, high in dietary fibre and high in carbohydrates. Popular in Carribean and Indian cooking.

Here's the first recipe: please try it - it's fragrant and delicious, very easy and no tricky ingredients.

Plantain Kofta with Thick Tomato Cream Gravy
500gm (about 3) green Plantain
1/2 cup finely sliced onion
1 tbsp finely chopped root ginger
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
6 green chillies finely chopped
Boil the Plantain in plenty of water for about 30 minutes or until soft like cooked kumara. Cool, peel and chop. Add onion, root ginger, green coriander and chillies. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 15 small balls (koftas).  Shallow fry in a littel oil (handle gently) and place into an oven-proof dish.

For the sauce:
6 green cardamom pods, seeds removed
4 whole cloves
1 inch cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tbsp garlic paste
150 ml chopped tomatoes - or half a can
1 tsp red chilli powder
60ml cream
1 tsp honey
pinch of mace

Pour all but 3 tbsp oil out of the frypan. Crackle the whole spices then add the onion and garlic and cook slowly till transparent. Add tomato, red chilli and salt to taste. Cook until the oil surfaces. Add 2 cups water. Bring to the boil, then strain and puree. This is where my old mouli comes into its own - a wonderful old implement for smoothing vegetables and soups. Return the tomato gravy to the heat and bring to the boil. Add the cream, remove from the heat and add honey.

Carefully pour the gravy over the koftas and heat in the oven until just warmed through. The koftas are very fragile but it won't matter if they amalgamate through the gravy - the flavours are divine.

Serve with rice or Indian bread. I have a recipe for a wonderful Indian pancake which is filling, luscious and easy - look for that recipe here.

14 February 2010

A worthy Challenge......

There are so many wonderful and unknown ingredients out there... every day we see them at the supermarket, in magazines, in recipes, in passing. Not only are there the new - the bewildering, the wondrous - but there are in my mind some fearsome items as well.
I've decided to choose one a week, and learn what to do with it. But not just research it; I mean to cook something with it. Tame it! Take control of it! Much like learning a new word a day, this will be a really good means of extending my cooking vocabulary. Hope you'll join me! Maybe even suggest ingredients you're worried about.

Let's start a list:
Offal of all kinds: liver, kidneys, stomach and intestines, tongue, brains
Shrimps and Calamari

Right - that's a good start!
Meet you back here regularly and we'll knock them off.

12 February 2010

A new Food business idea

My grandmother at 95 is beginning to face difficulties with her groceries. Having had a fall last year she can't walk the 2 km to the supermarket as she did, and she's losing faith in her driving ability so that will also not be an option soon. As a fiercely independent person who lives alone, the idea of taking a taxi will not appeal. And her frailty makes it hard to access groceries when the supermarkets are so big. Her other limitation is that she likes to write cheques and doesn't use a card, so she can only shop where the supermarket will approve her cheques.
Surely there's a business opportunity here.., and not just for my Nana but for all those of us who do not wish to personally shop for groceries, who want fresh items, not frozen, and for whom online shopping isn't viable? Nana doesn't use a computer so her online access is non-existent too. And if I suggested Salvation Army meals she'd laugh me out of the house.
I can find a few 'gourmet' ready-made meals and soups at the supermarket and courier them to her (we don't live in the same town)... and if I bake for her I'm pretty sure she'll eat that.
But I can imagine a nice little business that operates in the smaller towns and uses local people to gather orders from a network of customers, shops and delivers same day, carries the groceries to a chilly-bin type of drop-box at the door for the customer and - glory, imagine this! - can even get a meal ready if required.
So kind of "Hire-a-Hubby" but more "Hire-a-Foodie". Any takers?

I did find one business on the net called "Tomorrow's Meals" which offers a reasonably-priced frozen meal delivery service in the Bay of Plenty and Auckland, and has retailers who stock their meals throughout NZ.

A duck adventure...

first take your dead duck
I bought one from Lim Gardens in Glen Innes but alas, I did not expect to find this...
not as appealing as I'd imagined... but I pressed ahead and boned it as I would a chicken.,

Starting with a cut along the backbone

then peel the meat and skin down off the ribcage, separating the legs from the body as you go.

Once you have the main rib cage out (I left the wings and half the legs on) you can lay it flat and stuff with something flavoursome.
I used orange zest, homemade wholemeal bread crumbs, fresh sage, butter and onion with lots of salt and pepper. Pull it all up into a roll, tuck in the ends and tie securely with string. Score the skin, then sear as much of the prepared roll as possible in a very hot pan to render the fat from under the skin. Put a little water in the bottom of a pan, add the duck and cover. Braise for 2 hours. Remove the cover towards the end of cooking to brown the outside, then slice to serve.

Laura's Signature coffee

My eldest daughter Laura was here for a few days and what was nice was just ambling around for a few days with no pressures.
She works for Kaffee Eis in Wellington and Taupo, and I asked her for some details because it's a very successful chain of coffee and gelato stores. The biggest-selling flavour is chocolate - that means there are many people who agree with me!
Laura (the most eligible young woman in Wellington) entered the Mojo Coffee competition in 2009 and she's agreed to share her signature drink with you here:
Laura's Barista Baritone
4 shots espresso
1 orange
1/2 lime juiced
2 shots hazelnut syrup
sparkling water
mint leaves for garnish
Add the orange and lime juice to the espresso, the hazelnut syrup and a few cubes of ice in a shaker. Turn shaker end on end to combine. Serve in martini glasses, strained over fresh ice. Top up with sparkling water and add the mint leaves.

Avatar! and movie snacks...

I'm really annoyed about this experience...
It costs $60 for 3 movie tickets at Sylvia No Parking and when we turn up the sales assistant is actually leaning her chin on top of the till screen, bored out of her (tiny) mind and hardly able to rouse herself. We want to order icecream and popcorn - still trying to explain that aberration to myself - but it was a special occasion and something we don't do all that often.
So how was the food?
How low can you go.... while she made a fresh berry icecream 20 people joined the queue. 2 of us ordered ready-made choc-bombs and that is a very descriptive name. They are made by Rowena Foods PTY Ltd of Australia - and that explains a lot in itself. And I tell you this because I would hate to think any single further person buys another. The cones were so soft I could unfold mine while the icecream was still inside it. The ícecream would be better described as frozen milk powder. And each one cost $5.
I asked for a glass of water and was charged for a bottle of water at $5 instead - it was produced after the amount was rung onto the till. When I asked to return it for a credit she didn't understand what I was asking.
Ambience: cleaning cupboard at a Timaru youth hostel. (No offence Timaru...) The movie theatre seats were comfortable though
Price: totally insupportable
Service: Non-existent. Though when we queried why we had only 1 pair of 3D glasses when we ordered 2 online (by now the queue had swelled and still only 1 person on the counter) she let us have the extra pair to save herself any further hassle.
Return visit: so unlikely I think I've already forgotten what the inside of the place looked like
The movie is very entertaining though.

NZ MasterChef coverage

Join the Facebook group to follow the series
Stuff gets in on the act
and read my worst and best here

11 February 2010

Sausage Maker

Bought a George Foreman on Trade Me yesterday, $91 for a machine that was bought for $225 new in  October 2009. And the aim is to make sausages so I need some ideas. I'm keen to see if I can make seafood work inside casings...
Thus now for sausage skins - apparently the place to go is Dunninghams at 655 Great South Road Penrose Auckland ph 09 525 8188 for natural or synthetic.

Master chef Episode 2

Christine and Kelly in MasterChef house

Christine, Kelly, Kirsty, Rob and Nigel

Had a bunch of friends over last night to watch - seems I hid for the first half of it, but there I was in all my glory for the second.
And on the TVNZ website there's video of the top 12...

08 February 2010

Cafe review - Greenfingers Cafe at Palmers Gardenworld Remuera

Laura and I went for a coffee together - we're all trying to save money on these luxuries so I don't do it often, and when I do I like to find a place I think is good value.
What I liked at Palmers was the ease of parking, the reasonable coffee (not out-standing but very drinkable) plus I was recognised as a MasterChef contestant by another customer so that strokes the ego sufficiently.
But the service at the counter was provided by a perfectly efficient though personality-free woman who obviously thinks that the mechanical "yes-no-swipe your card" approach is enough. Wrong. Please will these counter service staff make eye contact and break into even a token smile? Surely there's no harm done! No wastage of facial muscles? No loss of efficiency?
The coffee came quickly enough, no sugar offered though and in going to find it I discovered 3 of 3 sugar dispensers I looked at had old coffee/milk inside the pourers. Laura had a plum tart which she enjoyed, but she had to ask for yoghurt. This was served in a shell - nice touch. My custard square was a Denheath look-alike, good looking, though the pastry was pretty average. Never mind - a fairly standard level for a Remmers cafe.
Ambience:  quite passable.  Nice smiley customers, cute dogs and comfy chairs. A choice of seating inside or out.
Reading material: poor. I do not want to read local advertising brochures thanks. No matter, I scanned the day's headlines and talked to Laura.
Coffee 6/10
Food 6/10
Price was standard
Am I going there again: not very likely

06 February 2010

Where on earth is Rangiputa?

There's a place Stew and I went to stay with some gorgeous people by the name of Brett and Jules.
They have a beach place at Rangiputa which is on the Karikari peninsula about 4 hours north of Auckland. Or 6 if you go at Easter as we did.

It's located on the Rangaunu Harbour: so in effect, a beach that's westward facing on the East coast. Quite near Houhora on the way to Cape Reinga. We had a fabulous time and I particularly enjoyed the food - my favourite thing about food is the social times that go with it, and the unexpected dimension it adds to occasions. We fished (snapper snapper and more snapper) and had fish for breakfast and lunch, fish chowder, and fish cakes... and lots of people at the table for every meal.

I had an interesting evening at another resident's house where a birthday party was held, and the hostess was someone I'd met during my time on the Singapore Airlines account in the 1980's. I didn't realise this until the end of the evening, but her elegant party for her husband was wonderful. It was this evening and this location that provided me with the inspiration to make my fish cakes, which I serve with smoked capsicum and ginger salsa.