Creamy Pain Perdu with strawberries

Just when everyone is trying to eat themselves slim and stick to their New Years resolutions, I am doing neither. Instead I am enjoying today’s freshly picked organic strawberries with eggy French toast or sometimes known as gypsy bread. Though looking at this gorgeous plate of food I am not sure this conjures up gypsy food?. So french it is, Pain Perdu, usually made from yesterday’s bread. I took Diana Henry (celebrated food writer) lead and made my pain Perdu with brioche.

Recipe Pain Perdu
Ingredients and instructions:
2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons caster sugar, 150 mls cream. Beat this together in a shallow bowl or dish.

8 slices of brioche, cut in half. Lay them in the eggy mixture for 5 minutes. Melt a knob of butter in. Frying pan and fry the brioche until they Are golden. Set aside to drain on paper towels. Serve with whipped cream, icing sugar and sliced strawberries.

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January 10, 2014 · 12:12 PM

Baked vegetable rissoto

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There are times that I struggle to get the oomph for 16.9 minutes at the stove, wooden spoon in hand, stirring and stirring my risotto to creaminess. So I don’t, I relax, pour a glass of wine, put the risotto inside a hot oven to bake and step away from the oven and forget about it for 20 minutes. You can virtually change this risotto up with whatever ingredients you have at hand according to the seasons. I have been thoroughly enjoying the new season broad beans with just about everything and they go beautifully with this risotto. I love how they enliven it up from tasting too stodgy, and the fresh herbs, cheese and lemon juice makes this really fresh tasting.

Tomato and pumpkin risotto with fresh broad beans

Ingredients
200grams arborio rice
Stick of finely diced celery
One small onion diced
Two garlic clove chopped to a paste
One carrot finely chopped
25 grams butter
4x tablespoons of olive oil
Half a cup of white wine
400 gram tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
500 mls of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of pumpkin diced to 1.5 cms big
Bag of fresh broad beans
Parmesan cheese
Fresh flat leaf parsley
Lemons
A cast iron with a lid is ideal to cook this in.

1. Preheat your oven to 200 deg. On top of your stove Heat oil and butter over gentle heat and cool celery, onion, garlic and carrot for 7-10 minutes until they have softened but not browned. Add the pumpkin.

2. Add the rice and increase the heat a little so it toasts for about 30 seconds or so. Then add the wine, wait for it to evaporate.

3. Add the tomatoes, stock and butter. Bring to the boil then clamp on a lid and place in your hot oven for approx 20 – 25 minutes. Start checking it at 20 minutes to make sure it does not dry out and that it is cooked enough.
Once cooked remove from oven and stir through Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs. Then check for seasoning. Place the lid back on for it to sit for a minute.

4. Put the kettle on. Get your broad beans podded. Place a pot on the stove with hot boiling salted water. Drop the broad beans into the boiling water to cook until they go bright green or 2-4 minutes depending if they are very small or very big.

5. Remove and drain and refresh in ice cold water. Dress with best olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt.

6. To serve, spoon risotto into bowl and spoon broad beans over the top of the risotto and eat immediately. I recommend lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

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December 18, 2013 · 5:56 PM

The fragrance of home

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I bought this beautiful mimosa and mandarin soy fragrant candle today. It got me thinking about the little things that make my home special; fragrance, food, wine friends and music. I know I gain a renewed sense of wellbeing when I throw open the windows and let fresh air in. Clean laundered crisp, cotton white sheets blown through with the wind and sunshine. Fresh from the oven baking, cooling on the bench until its time for friendship & afternoon tea. Slow, slow cooking on the stove with the assuring smell of comfort that dinner is under control. Light, open the curtains, I am blessed my little kitchen is positioned to soak up the last of the days rays. Views, if you aren’t ready to invest in art - buy flowers. Vitality in a jug, what a visual feast and pleasure they are, the star of the show in even the dullest of space.  And if you missed the florist, cheat like me and spray some lavender water or diluted essential oils around. It instantly erases yesterday and create a clean and fresh smelling room.  Music, sing, dance, tv -no way, no ads, no radio, yes to jazz, world music, nostalgic old school music – I love this. I love creating an atmosphere of relaxation and pleasure. Good food, call up some friends, what its Monday? excellent. Have a dinner party, don’t save anything for a special occasion, open that special bottle of wine today, celebrate, what’s the occasion?. Its Monday, Monday is the occasion, Dress up! dress for life. Put on some bright lipstick, a sequins dress and heels. The silver, the crystal, the fine china (who has fine china these days?). Open all the windows, air the house, light a candle, arrange some flowers, prepare something delicious to eat, open the wine, invite some friends, dress up – be special. Turn the tv off, play the guitar/ukulele/piano/bongo drum. Ok you don’t know how, invite someone who does? I am sure my friend Jill will come and play the ukulele for you. Breathe in the good fragrance of home…a holiday…exotic destination?. No. home is wonderful. Play, eat, drink, dance, sing until you fall into those fresh sheets. Home is very satisfying.

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October 12, 2013 · 7:31 PM

Be fit, Be healthy green spaghetti

A good balanced lunch always sets me up for the afternoon and helps avoid a four pm energy dip. I have recently discovered this lovely brand of Italian organic whole meal dried only takes 7 minutes to cook. It makes a good base to add pesto, seeds, nuts, cheeses, perhaps a poached egg for protein and vegetables too. Whatever is in your fridge. The whole meal pasta has a nutty flavour. I always feel good adding more fibre to my diet.

Ingredients serves 1 person

75grams spaghetti
75 grams Pumpkin chopped into 1cm cubes or smaller
35 grams feta cheese
X1 Tablespoon basil pesto
Large handful baby rocket chopped
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil

1:bring a pot of well salted water to the boil, cook pumpkin with pasta until al dente, drain (retain a few tablespoons of the water) and return to the pot with the few tablespoons of water.
2: add the rest of the ingredients and toss with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper.
3: serve. This would be good at room temperature also.

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July 30, 2013 · 12:31 PM

Seafood French bounty

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Fresh shellfish, salmon and fish from my local fish market is such a lovely treat.

I have been cooking from a new cookbook la cigale, which is a collection of French classic recipes from owner Elizabeth Lind who pioneered the French market and bistro in Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. The recipe for a French style seafood cream bound chowder caught my eye. It is French style with the mussels initially cooked in apple cider. This forms the basis for the stock which you add to the celery, shallot, carrot roux. My four hungry Man guests were silent as they started the meal. I accept this as a nod of approval when there is silence. Tonight I have the seven hour lamb leg due to be ready any minute, again from the same book. I have been re-enthused for some decadent French cooking. Pork terrine is next on my wish list.

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July 6, 2013 · 4:46 PM

All about a kiwi cook

Imageers

Five things Bonnie Brown loves

Eating gelato next to the ocean/kisses from her two pretty daughters/planning & dreaming about cooking  the next meal/chocolate desert & treats/real food that makes you feel virtuous

Want to know more…

I am a romantic gourmand and am pining to experience food in Europe. Until then I have my cook books and am a very enthusiastic cook and an even more enthusiastic eater. Cooking and sharing vibrant, fresh food makes me feel vital and happy.  I am inspired by the timeless dishes of Mediterranean Europe and their food simplicity. I adore the flavours and home style dishes of Greece and Islands, Italy and France. Eastern European and Italian peasant food is continuously a revelation in its basic simplicity and frugalness. North African and Middle Eastern food is fascinating and exciting to cook.

What I am cooking with at the moment, almost all is locally produced. Through taste experience I know that locally grown food that has not travelled by aeroplane or boat tastes so much more juicier, tastier and is always more satisfying.

Seasonal produce from my local Christchurch, New Zealand Farmers markets. We are heading into a bright and beautiful autumn. I am enjoying the new season squash and pumpkins, bio dynamically grown snow peas, leeks, fennel bulb, radish, French green beans, locally smoked chicken, olives, Italian quality De Cecco dried pasta, shiny green puy style  lentils, fresh herbs, ground spices, nuts,  free range chicken, New Zealand lamb, free range pork, dry cured bacon, smoked fish.  Farro, red rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, brown rice, oats, stone ground local fresh flours- oat, spelt/dinkel, spelt, rye, buckwheat, vanilla pods and essence, 72% dark chocolate, ground almonds, organic clotted cream, whole milk, Italian parmesan cheese, Clearwater full fat yoghurt http://www.clearwaterorganic.co.nz/ organic butter, coconut oil,  Also love artisan bread, agria and new potatoes, orange and red kumara, vine and cherry locally grown sweet tasting tomatoes, creamy organic avocado, onion, local plump juicy garlic, ginger, celery, cauliflower, baby spinach, rocket, soft lettuces, carrots,  pumpkin, courgettes,  portobello mushrooms, apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries, blueberries.

I love to shop and it is a lovely pleasure to buy food for your family to cook. I usually shop at the Farmers market once a week for my fresh produce and sometimes supplement that with greens from Liberty organics. I purchase meats every day or every third day depending how organised I am or how much protein or meats we are eating. I do like to make a plan for the week as to what and how I will go about you my produce and leftovers. I buy these magnetic meal planners from Kikki K shop. I buy fish from the fish market fresh on the day I plan to use it. I try to avoid buying any seafood on a Sunday as it can be a bit old which is usually what happens if you purchase from the supermarket. I like to keep a really well stocked store cupboard with spices, canned beans, rice, pasta, nuts, oils, vinegars.

Best store cupboard meal, what would you make?

Risotto; rice, good stock, best cheese, seasonal vegetable…think smoked goats Gouda and green cauliflower with sourdough and thyme croutons.  I love its oozing, soothing ability to calm; each mouthful is like eating relaxation.

What don’t people know about you that you wish they did?

I wanted to be an actress when I was growing up. My Uncle Dave worked in television as a camera man and I would ring him after school and ask him if he could get me an agent. I would sign my autograph at the end of each school year and give it to my teacher and tell them to hold onto it as I would be famous one day and they could say they taught me.  Susan Boyle was only discovered at 47, so I guess I still have time…

How did you learn to cook?

I was influenced with good food through my family, my Mum and Aunties who are great bakers and cooks. In my twenties I took great pleasure learning all I could from hundreds of cookbooks loaned from the local library. I self taught with my willing husband who has been happy to eat and critique

As a self-taught cook, who would you say have been your biggest influences?

I had if you like an epiphany, I could loan these books from the library and be imparted cooking wisdom and knowledge from the most inspiring talented, creative cooks.  I especially love these food writers; Diana Henry, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson, Harry Eastwood, Nigel Slater, Rachel Allen, Tessa Kiros, Annabel Langbein, Bill Granger, Elizabeth David and Lindsey Bareham to name some of my favourites. I also soaked up each issue of my subscription to DISH magazine, a New Zealand food magazine. Online food blogs and BBC food TV website was a continual source of inspiration.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure when no-one else is around?

My favourite late night dessert indulgence is homemade hot chocolate fudge sauce, vanilla ice-cream and toasted nuts, especially during my two pregnancies.

Tell me three things on your must-cook-next-list

 

What was your worst cooking disaster?

Well it was the first time I made carrot cake. I got through making the cake perfectly, iced it with thick cream cheese icing and decorated it beautifully with walnuts. It was looking divine and I could not wait to try it. It was loaded into the back seat of my car to take to a friend’s house. We had arrived, as we were standing outside the car greeting our friends; when to shock horror (it was like in life in pictures slow motion) a friends dog jumped into the car, we yelped, the dog freaked and leaped into the back seat, paws straight into the cake and then sat on it!.

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Perfect scrambled eggs

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In times past I admit I could cook an impressive dinner main, however, I feared and was at a loss how to cook cafe style scrambled eggs. My home attempts at scrambling eggs looked like a curdled plate of milk with soggy toast. My scrambled egg confidence has now peaked and I almost resent having to pay for this simple meal from cafe. Especially when it is so darn easy and usually much nicer at home, creamed scrambled eggs poured hot from the pan onto your waiting toast.

For one person.
Ingredients
x2 free range eggs
1/4 cream
big pinch of salt
10 grams butter

Optional: bacon, roasted tomaotes.

1: Crack eggs into a bowl, add cream and salt. Beat lightly till just combined.
2: Cut toast and get toasting.
3: I like to use a small non stick wok or small frypan. I put the heat onto medium to high, add the butter, pour the eggs into the pan and using a spatula start to turn bits of egg from around the pan on top of each other. Wait a few seconds in between stirs. The idea is you want nice big bits of cooked egg and more runnier bits throughout. Try not to stir too much as you dont want it to separate out too much. This should take about 20 seconds or so. Turn the heat off before the eggs are all cooked as they will continue to cook in the heat. Pop your toast on the plate and slide the eggs on top of the toast. Do not worry about buttering the toast as the eggs are creamy enough with the cream and butter in the recipe.

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June 17, 2013 · 11:53 AM