Archives for the month of: April, 2013

Yeehaa, the New Zealand government just conscience voted 77 vs 44 in favour of Marriage Equality. This was the third and final reading so we’ll be able to marry legally by August.

We led the world in giving women the vote, so the majority of NZers are very happy to be catching up on with human rights on this as well.

Proud and relieved to live in Aotearoa (NZ) right now.

Now I can legally and officially make my wife my wife!

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My love and I went to the local farmers market this morning and purchased some fantastic locally grown, spray free / organic fruit & vegetables and free range eggs. On the way home we called in to some friends who gave us a giant cray. So we’ve pre cooked that and are ready to make either a gumbo (my pick), or crayfish mornay. Joyous’ brother made bread today, so that’s Sunday lunch sorted.

The market haul included:
Free range eggs (& a freakishly giant hen egg that lovely Judy popped in for free), kumara (sweet potatoes), peruperu Maori potatoes, coriander (cilantro), limes, pears, avocados, pumpkin (a Provence variety…I’m thinking risotto), kale & chillies. Plus a few roses from the people that we got our wedding ones from.

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Excitingly for me, we also visited the local Opportunity Shop (charity shop), where I bought this awesome vintage Swiss biscuit maker (forcer). It’s appropriately made in the town of Lessobo hehe.

I saw it there on Easter weekend but didn’t know what it was. Then perusing my trusty 50’s Edmonds cookbook last week, I saw one pictured. To my surprise it was still at the shop today.

The wife sweetly said I could buy it, (being well familiar with my love of vintage kitchenalia) and I got it for about $5, thinking it was likely to be missing lots of parts. (The ‘about’ $5 is because I picked up a few other bits and pieces as well!) But when I looked it up online I was stoked to see it’s only missing one small piping attachment for making teeny lines. So yay! An early birthday present for me.

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You can use them for making biscuits (cookies), piping icing and making cute meringues. Oh and piping mashed potato, but I don’t see myself doing that.

Tomorrow I’m thinking of making prettily piped Melting Moments, with a zesty lime filling. Yum yum.

Ohh and finally, the friends who gave us the crayfish let me take some cuttings of their gorgeous hibiscus. I’ve potted them up and put them in our glass house. Hope they grow as the flowers are stunning!

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(Hand included for scale.)

Here’s some pictures of the stalls we shopped at today in the farmers market & a couple we like to shop at, plus our fav local coffee haunt that’s conveniently located near the market. (I’ll make them into a proper slideshow tomorrow as I can’t do that from my phone.)

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Last night’s dinner was perfect for the sudden autumn chill we’ve been experiencing. It has come as a shock after the longest and best summer I can remember since childhood.

With all this lovely weather, the wife and her bro have been out fishing quite a bit with my Dad and our god-daughter, so we’ve got plenty of fish in the fridge and freezer. Last night my darling decided it was time to cook up a giant batch of chowder. This has become one of my favourite warming soups as she flavours it so brilliantly with our home grown herbs & a good helping of spice and chilli. Not to be outdone, I thought a side of Polenta chips (fries) would go well. Although, to be honest, they are another of Joyous’ recipes.

Now before you freak out at the length of the recipe and amount of ingredients, a few words of advice…

Essentially you only need fresh & smoked fish, potatoes and hopefully some fresh herbs, lemon juice & something creamy. The rest of the ingredients are just made up of what you have on hand. The mild chilli flavours are not essential, so any wusses can leave them out if need be. It’s not supposed to be hot, just tasty.

Basically all you do is throw it together into a pot and simmer it, except the fish and the delicate vegies, which you add right at the end so they don’t disintegrate.

So here we (jointly) present:

Snapper and Smoked Kahawai Chowder with Parmesan Polenta Chips

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Chowder Recipe:

Serves 6-8 (or 2 people for a week!)

Ingredients:

4 Fillets of Dense White Fish – (we used snapper & monk fish is good too)

1/4 of a Smoked Fish – (we used Manuka Smoked Kahawai)

5-6 Potatoes – preferably firm fleshed eg Desiree (we usually use a mix of red potatoes and Kumara – sweet potato)

1 or 2 large cloves of Garlic (preferably smoked)

1-2 Spring Onions – to taste

Fresh Thyme – we used fresh organic Lemon Thyme (approx 1 Tbsp)

Fresh Coriander (approx 1/4 C)

Fresh Parsley (approx 1/4 C)

Chilli Pepper and/or 1 Tbsp Hot Chilli Sauce (approx) – to taste

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Vegie (or fish) Stock made up to approx 4 C of liquid

1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

1 tsp of Adobo Sazon or 1/4 tsp Turmeric

Generous slug of Bitters (you know, the stuff you use in a cocktail)

Salt to taste

Ground Black Pepper

25 grams of butter

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or more, adjust to taste)

Red Pepper / Capsicum

Kale or any other green vegetable

1 can of Sweet Corn Kernels

1/3 can of Evaporated Milk or a similar amount of fresh cream

We also added 1 tsp of smoked Jalapeno Peppers)

Method:

Chop the fish into pieces approximately 3cm square. Marinate, (while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or longer if you have the time), in crushed garlic, salt and a little of the lemon juice.

Dice potatoes into decent sized chunks, put in a large saucepan. If you are using kumara (sweet potatoes) as well, you will want to add them part way through cooking so they don’t turn to mush.

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Ready to add the liquid

Add the olive oil, roughly chopped herbs, more crushed garlic if you love it, fresh chilli (but ours wasn’t hot so we added extra chilli sauce later), butter, black pepper, salt, Adobo Sazon (or turmeric) and the smoked paprika. Put this on the heat and stir together, slightly caramelising the potatoes. When they look a little browned, mix up the stock and pour over. Bring to the boil then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked. (If you are adding sweet potatoes then put them in once the regular potatoes have just started to boil.)

When the regular potatoes are just about cooked through, stir in the evaporated milk, chilli sauce, bitters, lemon juice, kale stems and smoked fish. Check the taste, adjusting the amounts to get it just right for you. A minute or two later gently add the fresh fish pieces, the sweet corn, capsicum (diced into large pieces) and put the roughly cut kale leaves on top.

Turn the fish over to help it cook evenly if you need to, then once cooked stir the chowder together.

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Stirring it all together

It’s now ready to serve.

Polenta Chips Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 C Polenta / Fine Cormeal
1 C Milk
1 C Vegie Stock
Approx 1/4 C grated cheese (Parmesan is ideal)
1 tsp of Thyme (we use fresh organic Lemon Thyme)

Method:

Grate the parmesan and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Do this preparation first as once the polenta is setting you will want to be able to pour it in quickly.

Pour stock and milk into a pot, add the thyme leaves, bring nearly to the boil. When nice and hot, gradually pour the polenta into the liquid, whisking quickly as you pour. Keep whisking until it thickens. Do not stop or you will get lumps. This should only take a few minutes.

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Brisk whisk

Add the Parmesan in last. I swap to a spoon to stir it in so I don’t have Parmesan all congealed in my whisk.

Stir until it looks like it’s beginning to set. Usually about 5 mins from when you first added it. You should be able to scrape it to one side and have it not move around too much when you try and tip it back.

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Well thickened

Pour it into the dish and smooth it out flat. Put it in the fridge if you are in a hurry for it to set. It should take about 10 mins to be set enough to cut up.

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Ready to cool

Once set, cut it into slices and put it into the oven on approximately 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). They take about 20 mins to cook, they may need turning. It will all depend on your oven. Fan bake works well if you have that setting.

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Into the oven

These are also delicious with Joyous’s Mint Yoghurt Mayo, and little kids love them too! (If they manage to wrestle them off the adults.)

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Deliciousness

So there you have it, one of our staple winter meals.

PS: Yes our eyes were larger than our stomachs and no, we didn’t eat everything in the picture at the top!

Here in Aotearoa (New Zealand), it’s feijoa season. These little guava-ish delights are a staple autumnal crop and most kiwi backyard has a tree or two. They give abundant crops year after year and you can easily gather a supermarket bag full every day if you have a decent sized tree. I’ve heard that in the US, (California?), they are called Pineapple Guava’s. Anyone there know of them?

Here at our little organic rural utopia we have approximately 10-12 trees. So every year we have to scramble to come up with new ways to use them.

Last year Joyous & I made the following:
Feijoa Loaf
Feijoa & Date Ginger Loaf
Feijoa & Ginger Ice Cream
Feijoa & Date & Chilli Chutney
Indian Spice Feijoa Chutney
Preserved Feijoas & Apples
Feijoa Syrup
Dehydrated Feijoas

The following recipe is from a great local foodie site and I’ve just slightly adapted it to our tastes. The only time consuming thing is that you have to cool down the syrup after boiling before you add the egg. So you need to prepare it well before you want to cook it. I just realized today that if you are in a hurry, a good way to get round that would be to use something like Organ ‘No-Egg’ substitute. Or, you could try adding an egg sized amount of mashed banana instead of the egg. I just made the syrup yesterday then put it aside and finished it today.

Another option, if you can’t find feijoas is to use pears or kiwifruit instead.

Autumnal Feijoa Ginger Loaf

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Ingredients:

1 C Feijoa (peeled & diced)
1/3 C Sultanas
1/2 C Dates
50g Butter
150g Brown Sugar
250ml Boiling Water
1 inch knob of Fresh Ginger

2 C Flour (make the cups heaped as you want 270g)
1 Tbsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda

1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

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Method:

Peel and dice the feijoa (I left them in quite big chunks but dice them more finely if you prefer). Put them in a small pot with the chopped up dates, sultanas, butter and brown sugar. Zest in (or finely grate) a good amount of fresh ginger. Gently bring it to the boil then simmer on low for 5 mins.

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Then allow it cool right down.

Sift the flour, ground ginger, baking powder and soda together into a large mixing bowl. Stir well to mix in the soda & powder.

Add more zested ginger to the wet mixture if you want it to be quite spicy. Beat the egg and vanilla in a cup and add them to wet mixture as well, stir, then pour it into the dry ingredients.

Mix well to combine but do not over do it as you want it to be nice and light.

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Pour it into a loaf tin lined with baking paper, crumpling it up first makes it easier to get it sitting right in the tin (thanks for the hint ScarletRosita!).

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Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 180 celcius (350 Fahrenheit). If you have an unreliable oven like me and it cooks on the top first before the centre is done, cover it with foil after 15 mins. But leave the oven closed for the first 15 mins or it may not raise properly.

Test it with a skewer to see when it’s ready. Leave in the tin for at least 10mins to cool, covered with a clean tea towel.

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Serve just as it is, or hot with feijoa ice cream, or spread with some butter if you wish, although it’s very moist so you won’t need it.

Goes perfectly with a chaise lounge, your lover, a cup of Earl Grey tea, some autumn sunshine and a good book.

Yesterday I made my love one of her favourite sweet treats…a very old school Kiwi kids recipe. We call them Honey Rice Bubble Bickies. I wasn’t going to post it here as I figure the NZers amongst you are probably starting to get bored of me posting recipes that you already know. However I had the recipe requested by some US friends, so I will post it after all.

The wife and I have been having a hard week, and so to show her a little bit of love I decided to make her a batch as a surprise. The recipe only takes 3 mins of actual cooking, so it’s easy to prepare if she pops out for a wee while.

Yesterday afternoon she left me sitting on the couch in the sun reading blogs on my phone, and went off to do some writing, which I knew meant I had at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. When she returned from writing she found me in exactly the same position, in the sun, playing on my phone.

Little did she know that I’d been up, made a batch, done all the dishes, put them away again, aired the house (as the delicious honey caramel smell is obvious), put them in the tin I always use, cut love heart paper dividers, placed the full tin back up on the shelf, rechecked for any evidence, then planted self back on couch with one minute to spare before she arrived back.

So here’s my recipe for my go-to Sweets for my sweet, Sugar for my honey…

Honey Rice Bubble Bickies

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Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of honey
125g butter
125g brown sugar
4 Cups rice bubbles

 

Method:

Put honey, preferably Manuka, into a medium sized or smallish pot (you don’t want too much surface area). Add butter. I like salted butter for that slightly salt/sweet taste. Also add the brown sugar.

Melt gently over a low heat then bring to boil. Once boiling turn the heat down to simmer but high enough to keep the bubbles forming but not bursting. This bit is the important bit! As soon as the mixture begins to boil, press start on a timer set for 3 minutes. Boil it too high or any longer and it will make the biscuit too crunchy. Too short or not hot enough and the biscuit won’t set just right.

While it boils, quickly measure 4 Cups of rice bubbles into a bowl and get a spatula ready. Also get a flat dish, approximately 20cm across and line it with greaseproof paper. It might be a good idea to get this all ready before you start heating the mixture.

The second you hear the timer go, turn off heat and tip the hot mixture into the rice bubbles and stir it in immediately. Use the spatula to get the last of the honey goodness out of the pot, seriously, you don’t want to miss a smidgen of it!

Stir well then tip into the dish, press down firmly with the back of the spatula, then cut with a knife after about 5mins once it has set slightly. Don’t leave it too long.

Air out the house as the delicious smell will be a dead giveaway.

Then fill a tin and hide it in full view on the shelf so your sweetie doesn’t know anything different. That way you can bust it out to surprise them at an opportune moment.

Perfect with coffee or a spicy tea. Oh, and kids quite like it too!

 

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Hidden very carefully

 

Notes on storing: Keep it airtight and cool if you live somewhere hot, so the butter doesn’t go rancid. Put paper in between the layers to avoid it all sticking together.

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Love comes in layers

Last week was the local primary school’s annual fundraising carnival. As my god-daughter goes there I got involved and helped organise the silent auction. Which involved lots of cold calling local businesses to beg goods and services that we could auction off in an old-school version of TradeMe / eBay. Basically people write their name and bid on a piece of paper and the highest bid at the end of the auction wins. I’m happy to say we had the most successful one yet and the silent auction raised nearly double what it did last year. Which is a relief as it really was a labour of love…and about 3 weeks of full time labour at that!

However, that of course is unrelated to a cooking blog. So what did we cook?

Well for the bake sale, Nana Jenny made my mini banana muffins decorated with cornflowers. Whereas I contributed a super sized batch of Joyous’ Famous (round these parts) Mint Yoghurt Mayo.

The wifey originally whipped up this recipe for one of my birthday garden soirées, to dip little smoked fish fritters and vegie crudités in. It is so simple and delicious that it’s become a staple dip around here.

For the School Carnival we made it to go in the Lamb Baps, and it also went well with the incredible fresh Snapper burgers and on the prawn skewers. We are lucky that our school is located opposite one of NZ’s best fisheries so they donated loads of fresh fish to be auctioned and sold.

It’s a little similar to the mayo we used I the Smoked Fish Potato Salad, but with less ingredients so it’s quicker. Plus it has an altogether different taste. I’m including it here after one of the parents from the school requested the recipe.

Joyous’ Famous Mint Yoghurt Mayo

Pour into a mixing bowl about 1/2 C decent mayonnaise e.g. Best Foods or Heinz & add approximately 3/4 C of unsweetened yoghurt (thick & Greek is best).

Mix together with a few good squeezes of lemon or lime juice.

Add approximately 2 tablespoons of finely sliced fresh mint.

Plus a generous pinch or two of flaky sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Stir and add more lemon, salt or mint to taste. It should have a good tang from the yoghurt and citrus.

Chill and serve.

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Awesome recipe illustration courtesy of my gorgeous and talented 5 year old god-daughter. (Which was created for the small cost of $1.)