Sunday, September 25, 2011
Miriam: When living in Scotland several years ago, I discovered the delights of Tunnock's Tea Cakes. They're a bit like mellowpuffs, but soooo much better as the marshmallow resembles raw meringue mixture. I have seen these occasionally in New Zealand, and the other day couldn't go past buying some when I spotted them in New World. They are good as they ever were, and the packet of six didn't last long at all!
Becs: I go through a fair bit of vanilla, as I make up 2L of custard each week for Posh Porridge. Lately I have been buying my vanilla off Trademe - for around $13 incl postage you get 10 lovely fat vanilla beans. I have bought Tahitian beans from Willyow and Tongan from Kaukovi and enjoyed both their products. A couple of months ago I decided to start brewing up my own vanilla extract which is now ready to use. It's very easy to make, into a large glass bottle I placed 12 vanilla beans (split in half lengthways) and poured in 3 cups of vodka (use a decent high-proof one, I used Stil). After sitting in a dark cupboard for 8 weeks my vanilla is now a beautiful amber colour and smells divine. Apparently you can keep topping up the bottle with vodka for a while as the beans have so much flavour; I made nearly a litre so it should keep me going for a while...
Libby: Little & Friday has already featured among our favourite things but I feel every visit is worth a mention. I spent the weekend in Auckland with Miriam and Little & Friday was on my priority list. This time we visited the Little & Friday within Martha's Fabrics in Newmarket and it's every bit as lovely as the original on the North Shore. The cakes and tarts are freshly made and beautifully, simply presented. This gorgeous pear tart tasted just as delicious as it looked.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
I know the title is tragic but this is my go-to muesli recipe, thank you Dame Alison. In the eighties when the microwave was all set to take over from the conventional oven, Alison Holst was at the forefront of microwave cuisine. Our family embraced Alison's microwave muesli and microwave brownie recipes - she was so ahead of her time, in the eighties hardly anyone in NZ had heard of a brownie, nowadays we'd probably prefer it wasn't microwaved...
I started making this muesli when I was nine or ten and it made page 5 in my handwritten recipe book (oh and check out that handwriting, I marvel at it now and if you saw my current illegible script you would too...) While these days I think most of us accept the limitations of the microwave (melting butter, reheating leftovers yes but scrambled egg, roast chicken, brownies no) it still does a great job of a quick batch of muesli. If the oven is on for something else or I am making a big batch I will bake it, but otherwise it is remarkable what the microwave can achieve in around 10 minutes.
I make it in a large pyrex casserole, and melt the wet ingredients in this first before adding the dry, so it is a one-bowl job. This batch was for the market so is just oats and seeds, but I would normally add nuts to it too. It's amazing how crunchy it gets, it crisps up on cooling, much like a biscuit does.
Alison Holst's Muesli (microwave)
1/4 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c plain oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 c rolled oats (I use a mix of jumbo and regular)
1/2 c oat bran (sub for extra oats if none in your pantry)
1/2 c wheatgerm (ditto)
1/2 c nuts
1/2 c dried fruit
Mix the first 6 ingredients in your large microwave proof dish and cook for a minute or two until melted and bubbly. Add the dry ingredients (excluding the fruit) and mix thoroughly to coat evenly. Cook for 3 minutes, then in blasts of 2 minutes, stirring well after each to avoid burning in hot spots where the honey mix has settled. I find it takes about 10 minutes or so, as my pyrex is large so the mix is quite shallow in it. Mix in fruit after it has cooked.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Becs and Mike used to live is Hokitika on the West Coast. Before they moved we thought there was nowhere worse in the world to live than Hokitika. However Becs managed to embrace The Coast and the culinary delights on offer. One such delight was whitebait. Here's a photo of Mike whipping up a batch of whitebait fritters.
I decided to make whitebait fritters when I had some friends round for dinner on Saturday night. Unlike when Becs could buy fresh whitebait at the Hokitika dairy, I went to four different shops before finding some in the frozen section at New World. I tried to turn a blind eye to the fact that my whitebait came from Indonesia and made them as described by Becs here on her old blog West Coast Kitchen.
I'm sure my fritters paled in comparison to the ones Becs and Mike used to make, but they were all gobbled up none the less. The men were particularly thrilled that they were permitted to eat them while drinking beer in front of the rugby. I think Mike would have approved.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Becs: It has been a week of top-notch, old-fashioned home baking for me. Daisy and I attended a new music group at a local church, where the lovely ladies of the parish baked up a storm for the morning tea that followed. We were waited on hand and foot - my cup of tea was accompanied by the most delicious scones I have ever eaten, citrus slice and hokey poky biscuits. Old-school baking at its best.
Miriam: I've never been one for crosswords (I think due to lack of success), but I have a new favourite game in the puzzle section of the Sunday Star-Times. My BF Mike and I have spent more time that I care to quantify trying to create as many words as we can with the given letters. I don't know how anyone could get more that 60+ words... I consider success as reaching the 'OK' category.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
After eating out for every meal for several weeks one starts to crave a home cooked meal (probably for me it's not just the taste, but also the process of cooking). We had a lovely couple of days at an eco lodge in Coroico in Bolivia. And with our own outdoor kitchen we were able to whip up a pasta dish with local market produce.
And perhaps one of my fondest food memories was from the supermarket in La Paz. I have always had a fondness for foreign supermarkets and we were lucky enough to visit this one on their 24th birthday. It was all go with party tables all over the shop (check out the swan sculpture near the back of the table) and entertainment with singers, dancers and a 7 person mariachi band. I don't quite know how they will top it for their 25th birthday!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
1 tsp custard powder mixed to a slurry with a little water
3 cups standard flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch salt
200g butter, diced or grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups custard (make custard following packet directions)
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Place blueberries in a saucepan, if frozen cook til defrosted, add custard powder and cook til thick. Make custard following packet directions and leave to cool.
Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough milk to form a soft, but not sticky, dough – use a palette knife to bring the mixture together. Roll dough into a large rectangle and cut in half. Brush both halves with the beaten egg.
Spread the custard over one half of the dough and dollop over the berry mix. Place the other half of the dough on top. Brush the top with beaten egg. Cut into 12 pieces, place on a lined baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes.
When cooled slightly but still warm, drizzle the scones with a thin icing - I spiked mine with a squeeze of lemon.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Becs: Is there a more perfectly fragrant flower than daphne? (Although freesias come a close second). My husband Mike loved it too, and used to pick sprigs of it to dot around the house, so now I love that it reminds me of him. I have both pink and white daphne plants, both in pots. They are easy enough to look after - keep them somewhere with a bit of shade - so if your home is daphneless I suggest a visit to the nursery.
Libby: Wellingtonians might have seen the Wellington book in local bookstores - it's a book of beautiful illustrations of all things Wellington by two very talented young artists. I bought a couple of prints from the website - this cute Mt Vic tunnel one and the other an "aerial view" of Wellington. I had them framed by Framing Online which is based in Kumeu. They offer such great service - really prompt and so accommodating of special requests. You just order the frame you want online, post off your prints and it arrives back (beautifully framed and carefully wrapped) a week later. Like a great big present to yourself!
Miriam: I'm really enjoying these blue peas from the Wright Sprouts. They're a good way to add a healthy crunch to salads, especially at this time of year when one starts to feel like salads but the fresh produce often isn't that good yet. They are also delicious when used as a base for pesto; you can find the recipe here.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
For more of our favourite things in Noosa check out Miriam's write-up from last year's visit. To update - Lamington design store is still full of lovely things, but sadly they currently don't offer their amazing gift-wrapped lamingtons as the bakery supplying them has changed hands, however they are on the lookout for a new supplier. Nutworks is still worth a visit - I bought 1kg of macadamia chips for $17 - perfect for porridge topping and baking. Claude's Food at the Eumundi Market still makes delicious rice pudding!
Monday, September 5, 2011
Libby: Aunty Von's lemon honey taste so close to homemade you could transfer it into a little dish and serve it up alongside freshly baked scones and pass it off as your own. The ingredients list is surprisingly brief for a commercial product: eggs, butter, sugar, lemon sugar and a little pectin. I love it on pikelets, scones and crumpets, folded through whipped cream and used to sandwich meringues (in which case I would make actual homemade lemon curd with the leftover egg yolks) or as I did on Sunday.... baked inside a crunchy lemon muffin.