Saturday, April 30, 2011

super posh porridge

When your enterprise is called 'Posh Porridge' it does seem the proper thing to acknowledge the royal nuptials on one's porridge menu. Therefore 'Royal' Posh Porridge was on offer at the market today. Hot, slow-cooked oats topped with Eton Mess of sorts - crumbled meringue, a mixed berry compote, whipped cream and a drizzle of creme anglaise, topped with a gold leaf-speckled meringue and finished off with a homemade souvenir spoon...hmmm gilding the lily for breakfast perhaps? At any rate the 'Royal' was today's top seller so alas I was flat out and had no chance to take a glamour shot of the final product. However, in my humble opinion the whole definitely equated to more than the sum of its parts above!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A few of our favourite things...

Libby: When I stayed with my friend Rebecca in France last year she cooked delicious osso bucco in a beautiful heavy cast iron Staub pan. I wanted on but there was no way I could bring one home with me (I estimate they weigh upwards of 5kg). I looked into buying one once home and found they were in the region of $500-600 NZD! So I checked out the Peter's of Kensington website - a fantastic kitchen/homeware store in Sydney with super-discounted prices - and found this lovely green cocette for under $200 NZD. I ordered it, had it sent to a friend in Sydney and collected it when there last week. The green was much cheaper than any other colour but I love it - I think of it as "feijoa" green!

Becs: I love these packs of Mainland sliced swiss cheese. I know it's not quite gruyere but it has a similar sweet nutty taste and melts beautifully. Perfect in a simple grilled cheese sandwich, one of my favourite lazy meals. I have been craving French onion soup since our dinner at Plum Kitchen last week, so made some to eat over the Easter weekend (which has been unseasonably hot here in Christchurch so not ideal for such comfort food, but it was enjoyed none the less!)

Miriam: It's been a mostly cold and wet Easter weekend at my parents place in Rotorua. The indoor weather meant had time to re-discover the website TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) markets itself as Ideas worth spreading: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. I've enjoyed many talks over the past few days on a variety of topics and there's many more I still want to watch. If you have a spare 21 minutes I'd recommend JK Rowling's speech at Harvard graduation ceremony on 'The fringe benefits of failure'. It's a nice way to put life in perspective.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A visit to the West Coast...

Daisy and I paid a visit to Hokitika last week, to commemorate the opening of the school's new Food Technology room, a project Mike had been passionate about, and catch up with friends. The weather was beautiful, Daisy and Heidi loved roaming around the beach after a lunch of fish and chips from the little shop near the wharf.

I also took the opportunity to stock up on some of my favourite West Coast provisions - including a date loaf from Blanchy's bakery in Greymouth, purveyors of old school baking at its best. This delicious family-sized loaf will set you back a grand total of $6.50...

Blanchy's loaf is perfect spread with the beautiful export-quality Westgold butter. Made in the milk factory in Hokitika from West Coast milk, it is a treat. The farm shop near the BP station sells it from a fridge, I don't think you can buy it anywhere else in NZ as it gets shipped overseas. I have a few blocks tucked away in the fridge for 'special occasions' deemed worthy of warranting its use!

Finally, the cupboard has been replenished with our favourite tomato sauce from Woodstock Kitchen. Mike and I used to go through bucketloads of this, buying it from the local Four Square. This time the dairy was out of stock, but I managed to locate the producer, and we paid a visit to the commercial kitchen tucked under her house. (Spick and span and a great set-up, I confess to some kitchen envy!) The old fashioned tomato sauce is my go-to condiment, I have tried unsuccessfully to recreate it at home, so half a dozen bottles happily found their way into my suitcase. So far you can just buy it in Hoki, but if you are curious to try it email Anna on and she can arrange to send some.

We trained home, something I have wanted to do for ages, we never got around to it while living on the Coast. The serene scene below belies the determination on Daisy's behalf to avoid sitting down at all costs in favour of alternately standing precariously on edge of seat and attempting to climb on table. It was a long five hour ride!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Indian Spiced Cauliflower

This spiced cauliflower salad is another excellent recipe from the Ripe cookbook. We made it recently to bulk out the vege component of an Indian feast that Sarah and I prepared...but it would be equally at home as a side dish at a BBQ or simply as a bowlful eaten for lunch. Even Dad, who is not fond of brassica, claimed to enjoy it. It was delicious the next day too, once it had warmed up enough to lose the flavour-numbing chill fridges inflict on salads.

The yoghurt dressing is great, and would work well as a condiment for loads of things - tossed through a roasted vege salad, spooned over grilled meats and tucked into a pita with salad... I added the chickpeas to the cauli to roast them, thinking they may be more flavoursome this way, but it made their texture a little dry. Next time I think I would add some toasted almonds to this to add another texture, or those roasted chickpeas you can buy might work well. We also flagged the baby spinach as we didn't have any, but this would make it more of a salad. We ate the cauliflower with a cashew nut chicken curry, dahl and our favourite Roti from the freezer at the asian supermarket.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower

1 c chickpeas
1/4 c vege oil
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 large cauli, cut into 3cm florets
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 c fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lime
s and p
1 c yoghurt dressing

Preheat oven to 180c. Heat oil in a frying pan over a high heat, add onions and salt and cook until transparent. Add the dry spices to the onion and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Place cauli florets into a roasting tray, add the onion and spice mixture and toss to coat. Bake 20-30 minutes or until cauli is tender to bite. remove from oven and cool. In a large bowl place the cauli, sweet chilli sauce, lemon and lime juice, coriander, spinach and chickpeas. Toss gently and season with s and p. Drizzle with yoghurt to serve. (Or toss it all together in the roasting pan to save dishes as we did...)

Yoghurt dressing

1 1/2 c plain unsweetened yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1/2 c fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
s and p

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

a few of our favourite things

Miriam: On Saturday night, Becs and I went to a supper club, hosted by Kristina from plum kitchen. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept (as I was until recently) it's like an underground restaurant, held in someones home (click here for an explanation). Eight of us - including some fellow food bloggers - were served a decadent four course meal; french onion soup with cheesy toasts, stuffed pork belly with potato & celeriac gratin, braised peas & lettuce and sprouts with hazelnuts, pavlova with salted caramel sauce & fresh raspberries and an impressive cheese board. The meal had a bit of a festive feel to it, and we went home feeling replete and very satisfed with our first supperclub experience. Thanks Plum Kitchen!

Becs: Not the best photo, but the lone custard donut sitting on the top tray in this cabinet at Eiffel en Eden (and later devoured three ways with great coffee from Ripe) was amazing. I am going through a donut phase at the moment, after loving the one served up at Nikau recently. Apparently donuts are up and coming in the world of baked goods; keen to have a play around myself I have recently added this great little book on the subject to my collection.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday baking - chocolate hazelnut cake

Ray McVinnie has a weekly recipe feature in the Sunday magazine that comes with the Sunday Star Times. I always read his recipes, but (perhaps because his food is particularly un-photogenic) they never really appeal. A few weeks ago he had a cake feature which looked interesting, So I made this chocolate hazelnut cake. I agree with Ray that the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts go well together, but sadly, my results with this cake were disappointing. There's no raising agent in the cake, so it's very dense. Perhaps I overcooked it, but my version was very dry, and certainly needed a high ratios of cream to cake. I foolishly cooled my cake on a wire rack, which left indented lines on the top. Ray recommended serving the cake warm, which did help improve it, but not enough for my liking. Not that I'll be making it again, but it could be improved with a coffee syrup poured over it, or it would make a good base for a trifle or fudge cake. Here's the recipe... Chocolate Hazelnut Cake 6 eggs 250g caster sugar 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 50ml extra virgin olive oil 200g finely chopped New Zealand hazelnuts 150g chopped dark chocolate 175g flour whipped cream, for serving. Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter and line a 24cm cake tin with baking paper. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale, creamy and thick. Stir in the oil, then hazelnuts, chocolate and flour. Pour into tin and cook for 30minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.

Monday, April 11, 2011

a few of our favourite things

Becs: These packing cells from Kathmandu are incredibly handy. They were a gift from Libby last Christmas, who used them on her trip to Europe last year. They are just brilliant, especially as Daisy and I share a suitcase. Three different sized bags come in each pack, so they are ideal for keeping Daisy's various belongings in order and avoiding suitcase jumble. We are heading over to the Coast for a few days, so had best get back to packing...
Libby: I've been using these Mutti cherry tomatoes in place in chopped tomatoes in some recipes - so much cuter. The juice is nice and thick and the tomatoes are lovely and sweet so need little interference to form a quick sauce for pasta: soften a little red onion and garlic, add a can of these, simmer, season and stir through hot spaghetti with some fresh herbs and parmesan.

Miriam: I love Victorinox knives, they're sharp, cut well and at less than $10 they're cheap as chips. They're available at lots of knife and kitchen shops, or you can get them online though Table Pride, which often has the best prices on kitchenware.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

thursday baking - hot cross buns

These hot cross buns are based on an award-winning recipe from the Ten o'clock Cookie Bakery in Masterston. I spent the weeks between Waitangi Day and Easter 2009 perfecting these buns. I would make them at least twice a week and take them into work for morning tea. I got really obsessive about making them even-sized so would weigh the total amount of dough then divide it by 12 and weigh out the dough for each bun, making them exactly the same size!

Anyway, I made so many of these that I had to take a break last Easter and didn't make a single batch. This Easter I decided to give them another go. Unfortunately I hadn't taken notes about the tweaks I made when perfecting them two Easters ago so felt like I was back to square one.

They turned out well in the end though not as perfect as I had remembered. The buns pictured below is batch number two. To my annoyance, by accident I used self-raising flour for batch one so made a second lot of dough. The self-raising flour ones were OK, just a little heavier.

If you don't feel like making these buns yourself and live in the lower North Island you can buy the actual Ten o'clock Cookie Bakery hot cross buns. Moore Wilson in Wellington sell them in the weeks leading up to Easter.

200g raisins or sultanas
100g currants

Cover with boiling water and leave for an hour until plump.

50g flour
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water

Combine in a small bowl leave for 10 minutes to go foamy.

500g flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup warm water
60g butter, cubed
zest of one lemon or orange

Combine flour, salt, spices and 10g of the butter. Mix well and add the warm water (you can use the water from the soaked fruit). Knead for about five minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Add extra flour if needed.

Gradually add the remaining butter bit by bit, kneading it into the dough. At this stage I sometimes add a third of the drained dried fruit.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes then mix in the dried fruit and citrus zest. Add extra flour as necessary - you want the dough to be smooth and satin-y.

Cover with a teatowel and leave to rise for an hour or so.

Shape into 12 buns (weigh them if you want to be exact!) and leave to rise on a tray or in a shallow tin - overnight is good.

In the morning, make a paste with 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1tbsp oil and enough water to make a smooth paste (about 2-3 tbsp).

Using a piping bag, pipe cosses onto the buns then put them into the over for 20-25 mins at 190 degrees Celsius. While they are baking, prepare a glaze with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of boiling water and stir until smooth - add a little orange zest or vanilla paste if you wish. When the buns are baked, place them onto a cooling rack and brush over the glaze.

Enjoy hot from the oven with real butter!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A few of our favourite things...

Becs: A few of my favourite things feature in the picture above - homemade oat crackers and quince paste, crisp new seasons apples and Mainland Vintage Cheddar. This cheese has been matured for a couple of years and has the delicious sharp tang and crumbly texture to prove it. It gives the pricey posh waxed cheddars in the specialty cheese bar a run for their money; this one is found with the block cheese and goes for about $10 for half a kilo, a bargain for the quality I reckon.

Daisy enjoyed a trip out to the Dunsandel Store for lunch today, where she found an enormous apple under the tree outside and proceeded to alternately nibble it and chase it around the floor of the cafe... and we all love her cool pants that arrived in the post from Aunty Libby last week, found at a pop-up shop in Wellington. Libby: More often than not, I use plain old Maggi powdered stock for cooking but when a recipe calls "best-quality" stock I like to use these fresh stocks from Foundation Foods. At $3.60 for a 500ml pouch, it's reasonably-priced given it's of homemade quality. Foundation Foods are a Christchurch-based company and their website doesn't seem to be working so I hope they're OK post-earthquake. Moore Wilson's chiller seemed to be well-stocked(!) with Foundation Food products on the weekend so that's a good sign. Call 0508 STOCKS to find a stockist near you.

Miriam: This weekend marks the end of daylight savings. This lovely tree (it's not a liquid amber, but I think it's something similar) in our garden is a constant reminder of the change of season, as each day the leaves turn slightly more yellow. The shorter and colder days can be slightly depressing. So in an exercise in positive psychology, I've made a list of all my favourite things about the colder months. Here's what I've come up with to date; please feel free to add to the list:

  • crumbles, sticky date and self saucing puddings

  • mulled wine

  • cosy fires

  • boots & scarves

  • the crisp morning air & lovely golden late afternoon sunlight

  • crunchy autumn leaves

  • fejoas & passionfruit

  • posh porridge!
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