Archives for category: Dinner

One reason I’ve been so slack at posting is that Joyous and I did one of our detoxes from May to July.

I figured that not so many people would like to see those recipes, but lately I have reconsidered and think that the really yummy ones might be good to blog.

Now the detox involves cutting out the following foods: gluten, sugar, dairy, eggs (although we allowed some this time after the first important fortnight), alcohol, caffeine, red meat. However, although that may seem really restrictive, there’s lots you can eat still. Plus with some inventiveness, and lots of herbs and spices, it can still taste great. (Honestly.)

Some examples of what we cooked:

– Quinoa with dry roasted pumpkin, pan fried fish (in olive oil) & salsa verde.

– Fresh snapper burgers in gluten free baps (highly recommend Phoenix breads), with rocket salad, hummus, jalapenos, gherkins & Japanese sesame dressing.

– Burritos in corn wraps with chilli beans & felafel or fish or chicken

– Fish gently cooked in crushed tomatoes, capers, kalamata olives, garlic, herbs and a generous splash of white wine (just cook off the alcohol & leave the flavor)

– Cold quinoa salad with smoked fish, rocket & hummus

– Prawn GF pasta with a GF roux sauce, capers, red peppers, broccoli and lemon thyme

– Chocolate crackles made with rice bubbles, kremelta (solidified coconut oil), dessicated coconut, stevia & raisins

– Chocolate self saucing pudding with almond meal, GF flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg & loads of cocoa

– Chai banana ice cream made from spices, banana & coconut cream

(Lots of fish recipes as I’m pescetarian and we live by the sea.)

So I’ll blog some of the recipes for you to have a look at. The wife and I don’t do tasteless, so be reassured they will be worth trying out even if you are not on a detox.

Finally, a bit more on why I haven’t been blogging very much:

In order to help raise the profile of this blog I started following some phenomenal blogs like For The Love Of The South and Smitten Kitchen. As I started looking at them from a blogger’s perspective rather than just a baker’s one I became rather disillusioned. You see, I can be a real perfectionist. If I can’t do something really really well, then I often choose to do something else altogether.

Those other blogs are beautifully photographed, with consistently awesome recipes and fancy cookware. Whereas mine felt like the school homework project of someone living in a shack. Actually we are living in a tiny shack, with bad lighting, part of my gran’s 1950’s kitchen bench, op shopped (charity shop) kitchenalia and an oven with one fully working gas burner, one burner that leaves black burn marks on my pans and no temperature gauge!

But I have decided to try and do something different for me. Instead of deciding it will never meet my standards of ‘good enough’ and therefore giving up, I’m going to try and keep going with it even though it might not be the absolute best. I figure the large majority of my readers over there are are just regular people too (hi Mum). So most people probably read it for the recipes, (or just because they are curious about what I’m blogging), and aren’t judging the pictures anyway – so I shouldn’t be so fussy right?

I’m going to just to try and get the recipes up here even if I just have one slightly mediocre picture to accompany them.

Oh and as for the op-shopped kitchenalia… well I think I might just make that a feature and see if I can provide some background notes on when and where my quirky bits and pieces came from.

What say you?

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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!

Early morning presents in bed (I was going to say ‘Surprises in bed’ but I knew your minds may wander off in another direction…). St Lucian cocoa tea and cereal accompany reading our books in the sunshine at our riverside campsite at Rarawa Beach. Followed by a long day driving to the most Northern point of NZ – Te Rerenga o Wairua. The first time Joyous had seen the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meeting. Eventually making it back to our campsite in time to ponder  the dinner question.

It had to be special. It ought to be memorable. It had to be attainable.

We possessed one gas burner. A tiny grill. A gas BBQ we couldn’t use due to a total fire ban. Fresh local produce. A bottle of dessert wine. Chocolate. Fresh Northland summer fruit.

Birthday dinner campsite style.

 

Sunset Birthday Dinner

A red sky

Falling light

Into rich night

You taste everything

As I do

Maori Potato Salad with Manuka Smoked Snapper and a Basil Caper Mayo

Ingredients:

New potatoes, Smoked fish, Mayonnaise, Sour Cream, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Capers, Sweet Basil, Sweet Peppers, Lime (or lemon) juice, corn on the cob.

Method:

Scrub the new potatoes. Preferably tiny Maori potatoes eg Peruperu, but Jersey Bennes would be good or any firm new potato.

Peruperu potatoes

Peruperu potatoes

Add water and a little salt and boil till tender (Peruperu are quite firm so perfect for this.)

Flake your smoked fish. If it’s super fresh you can use as is, but our manuka smoked snapper had been frozen then in the chilli bin (cooler) for a couple of days so we cooked it (once the one gas burner was available!) then left it to cool.

Manuka Smoked Snapper

Smoked Snapper

Mayo: I use half and half of the following – a decent mayonnaise (eg Best Foods or Heinz etc) & sour cream. So it was about 1.5 Tblsp of each.

Add some sea salt to taste (approx ½ tsp), a generous squeeze of lime (or lemon) juice, freshly ground black pepper, approx 1 large Tbsp of capers (roughly cut), around 6 medium sized sweet basil leaves sliced finely. Stir together and set aside. (By the way this is amazing  as a dip with raw carrot sticks, with roast potatoes etc.)

Basil caper mayo ingredients

Basil caper mayo ingredients

Finely dice a couple of small, or one medium sized capsicum (sweet pepper), no matter the colour.

Mayo & sweet peppers

Mayo & sweet peppers

Once the potatoes have boiled, drain them immediately then leave to cool down a little. (You want them just warm.)

Cooled & ready to assemble

Cooled & ready to assemble

While you wait, boil the fresh corn on the cob using the single gas burner!

To assemble the potato salad, add the ingredients into a large bowl in layers so that you won’t need to over mix it and risk making a big mushy mess.

Layering the salad

Layering the salad

Mix it gently

Mix it gently

Lay the table prettily whilst your love is busy inside pinning up the mosquito net. (I was pleased to have noticed that my Nana’s aunt’s hand embroidered table cloth was in one of the cupboards, and we’d used it at our wedding, so that was lovely.) Pour delicious NZ dessert wine into your best glassware. Light the candles and say ‘dadah’ when your love next steps out of the camper. (You can use one of the candles later to sing Happy Birthday and your love can make their birthday wish.)

Looking pretty

Looking pretty

Drain the corn and have butter and sea salt nearby for it to have a wee wallow in if desired.

Have some dark Ghana chocolate and delicious local sun ripened summer fruit ready to follow.

Now you are ready to…Make love with Smoked Snapper Peruperu Salad and Corn-on-the-cob! (Hehe, sounds knobbly.)

Blurry, but she's still gorgeous

Blurry, but she’s still gorgeous

Happy Camping 34th Birthday Joyous.