Archives for category: New Zealand

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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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

Nearly every NZ’er has an Edmonds Cookbook. It’s the classic ‘going flatting’ gift that your mother or aunt or nana gives you. (Flatting is what my American readers would call getting an apartment I guess).

I grew up baking from this book. It contains all the Kiwiana classics such as Chocolate Afghans, Scones, Pavlova, Sponge Cake etc. I just stick to the baking from it though as the old versions also include some classic examples of cuisine such as Aspic Salad and Mock Chicken. (The book has had 57 reprints so the more modern ones don’t have all the same old recipes.)

The copy of the book that I use is extremely well used. I think it is the only thing I was given when my much loved (but tyrannical to everyone else) Great-Grandmother died. She was in her 80’s and named Beebee as she believed she was too fabulous to be named grandma when my mother was born in the 1950’s. I believe this book is from the same era, but it arrived without a cover so I don’t know its publication date.

She loved to bake and taught me to make perfect pikelets, fabulous scones…and today’s recipe…banana cake.

Now I realise this is pretty standard fare for us Kiwi’s, but for those who don’t live in NZ, this turns out  a perfect airy banana cake every time.

The recipe calls for it to be baked in two flat ‘sandwich tins’ (and traditionally it was sandwiched together with whipped cream but I always make it in a ring tin. I prefer to ice it with a tart lemon icing, but some people prefer chocolate icing.

However, I baked them yesterday as cup cakes for a very sad reason. A wee 1 year old boy from our small local community, was run over in his driveway and died last weekend. His Mum was one of the stall holders at our local Indie Craft Market, so the market organisers ran a cake stall to raise funds for his family. I thought cupcakes was the best option as they could be sold individually. So these were:

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing & Love.

cakes

Ingredients and Method:

I’m going to cheat here and post a picture of the well-loved recipe here. Please don’t judge me, I have had this book since I was 10 and I guess it’s at least 60 years old. I’ll add notes on any small changes I make under the accompanying photographs.

It’s easiest to use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar. I use Tiffany. She has been with me since I left home at 16. Since I already had the Edmonds book, my Mum gave me an electric mixer instead.  I still can’t believe she’s still going. (Tiffany, not my mum.) She’s my longest serving female cooking companion. And a cheap one at around $20 for the original investment!

Trusty Tiffany

Trusty Tiffany

I’m sure you know to use over ripe bananas to get the best texture and flavour. And I’m sure I don’t even need to say Free-range eggs do I now? You can make a respectable version using No-Egg (Organ is my brand of choice), and / or a margarine / olive oil type margarine. But butter is best if you aren’t vegan or dairy free.

Good NZ butter, free-range eggs & over ripe bananas

Good NZ butter, free-range eggs & over ripe bananas

I use Tiffany to beat in the eggs and banana and then set her aside to put her beaters up for a well earned rest.

A tip in relation to the milk (and yes soy milk works fine), when you measure the 2 tablespoons, add a little extra as you’ll lose some as it heats. Pictured below.

Adding about one extra teaspoons worth of milk

Adding about one extra teaspoons worth of milk

When you stir the baking soda into the milk, ensure it’s really well mixed into the milk, then gently fold it into the batter. Some people’s banana cake tastes baking soda-y and I guess they don’t mix it in well enough. But that said, don’t over mix or it will lose some of its lightness.

Folding. Gently.

Folding. Gently.

My lazy version of mixing the flour and baking powder together is to roughly stir the powder into the flour whilst it’s in the measuring cup, then sift straight into the bowl. Too much of  a hoha (annoyance) to mix into another bowl then sift into the mixing bowl.

My favourite sieve, only holds one cup but it's so cute :-)

My favourite sieve, only holds one cup  at a time but it’s so cute 🙂

Mix the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon. Make sure it’s 100% combined, but do the minimum you need to so it stays light.

Mixing gently...

Mixing gently…

Then either put in teaspoon lots into greased patty pan type ‘tins’, or put into a greased (and I usually put a wax paper ring in the bottom to avoid tears later), or follow the recipe and put it into two sandwich tins. This makes one 20cm ring tin, or 24 baby muffin / cup cakes plus some extra that I made into two small cakes for Joyous and I. Don’t overfill the holes! Just one teaspoon in each.

Batter up

Batter up

Bake as per instructions. You can tell this is an old recipe book as NZ hasn’t used Fahrenheit since the 70’s, so for you metric people – that’s about 180 C. A skewer in the top centre of the cake will tell you when it’s cooked. I prefer ever so slightly undercooked and just leave it in the pan for a around 10 minutes covered with a clean tea towel. It’s a fine line, gooey in the middle is BAD. Over cooked is blah. This cake should be moist and light.

Icing:

I used a basic icing of approx 2 C icing sugar (powdered sugar for the US readers), a good squeeze of a large juicy lemon and about 1 desert spoon of soft butter. It’s really a matter of mixing it till it looks right, and adding the lemon to taste. I like mine tart (so actually added 2 good squeezes of lemon juice.)

Sift the icing sugar first, not essential but makes sure there are no lumpy bits. Really I just wanted to use another photo of my sieve.

So pretty

Sifting prettily

Combine all ingredients and mix with a fork till stiff enough to hold together, but runny enough to spread easily.

A fork in unmixed icing

A fork in unmixed icing

A fork in mixed icing

A fork in mixed icing

I find it easiest to spoon the icing onto the cupcakes, then use a knife frequently dipped into a glass of warm water to smooth out the icing. Then I used my micro-plane to add zest to the top of the iced cupcakes and added organic edible cornflowers from our garden for colour.

And….voila!

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Ready to enjoy

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.

My love, on the occasion of her 34th birthday. At Rarawa in the Far North. Reading and drinking our special St Lucian style cocoa tea. The way any good birthday begins.

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I’m downloading photos and will do a ‘birthday road trip & camping dinner’ post once I get sorted.