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
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.
There is an abundance of overladen lemon trees on the hill at the moment, with a lot of people out of their homes due to the earthquake. I have been lucky enough to receive a few bags of these juicy, unwaxed lemons. I recently bought myself a tart tin, so was really excited to make some sweet short crust pastry and have a go at making a Lemon Tart.
I have been really enjoying cooking from an old Rachel Allen cook book Food for Living http://www.rachelallen.co.uk/book4.html
I have made the Fillet steak with mushroom brandy sauce and a tomato fondue twice now. My guests have all said it was better than a restaurant. Here is a hungry man-sized serving!.
My husband then found one of those marinara frozen seafood mixes at the supermarket that I would usually turn my nose up at. It was hugely economical $6.90 for the tray of mixed sea foods. I then made a basic chowder soup base and created a really tasty home-made seafood chowder for a lazy sunday night dinner.
I need to also rave about a cook book I have been enjoying Yottam Ottolenghi from London.
I made two amazing dishes. This mango coleslaw with an asian lemongrass and sugared hazelnuts. It had the whole sweet & sour flavours going on. I served it with a very moist perfectly roast free range chicken. I wanted the coleslaw to be the star so also made a big rice cinnamon, turmeric pilaf to feed the crowd who came to dinner to enjoy this special meal. Being a food blogger I am learning how sometimes photos really do not do the meals complete justice.
Filed under cooking, earthquake, fish, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup, travel
I managed to escape from the aftermath of Christchurch third major shakes June 13th 5.7 and 6.3 Magnitude earthquakes for the heady, cosmopolitan pleasure of an undamaged city – Auckland, New Zealand. Thank goodness for a breather from the constant aftershocks I have been experiencing. Armed with a current Entertainment dining discount book I used it as my guide to search out a cafe which I could experience a stand out great breakfast. Most breakfast brunch menus bore me to tears, most cafes stick to the same formula, eggs Benedict, big breakfast, french toast, predictable, safe, yawn, yawn. So I was excited when I turned up to Urban Cafe on Carlton Gore Rd, Newmarket, Auckland at 9am this morning. Firstly it was very busy with plenty of good Auckland people watching – corporate types and fashionistas sipping lattes, deep in conversation on a superb sun spilled patio. I love it when I see plenty of fresh baking – caramel, cinnamon, raison brioche, perfect bakewell slice, red velvet cupcakes. My early morning sweet tooth was bound to be satisfied. I started off with a round of coffees for my group and yes my sweet tooth insisted on a sneaky cinnamon brioche shared with our coffees while we pondered and tried to decide what to order from a very good menu. Baghdad eggs with spiced lentils and a tomato kasundi served with more than enough turkish bread beckoned me. The dish was served piping hot in a small cast iron pan with three soft poached eggs set amongst brown lentils, not unlike a frittata. Garnished with a generous handful of fresh coriander which infused the dish. Bagdad eggs were Perfect. I can not wait to try making this dish at home.
- Food 9/10
- Coffee 10/10
- Atmosphere 8/10
- Toddler/child friendly 8/5
Filed under babies, cafes, cake, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, organic, photography, recipes, travel
What will I make for dinner? This is forever the question and my problem is I always have a long list of recipes and dishes I am longing to try out. As I am a self-confessed cook book addict my home has a big stash of cookbooks which ensures I never get bored or lack inspiration to put on my apron!. I read and evaluate each recipe to make sure it meets the must cook criteria.
- Comfort factor – After a busy day it seems dinner is quite often the only meal that you can really relax and enjoy without having to inhale your food before we hurry on again. Its a pleasure to take time out and truly enjoy a nourishing meal that restores you physically and mentally brings comfort and calm.
- Easily accessible ingredients – There is no point trying to make mousakka in the middle of winter when eggplants are $8.00 each (unless you have an absolute craving for mousakka then permitted!). Buy in season and locally sustainable food as a rule.
- Looks Delicious – Who doesn’t eat with their eyes!. Oozing melted cheese, bubbling over the side lasagne, a perfectly moist and tender roasted chicken. It makes you hungry looking at it.
- Get out of your comfort zone – It motivates me to try out new recipes that are a bit of a challenge or use unusual ingredients that I have not tasted or familiar with. If you are cooking a recipe you have made every Monday night for the last ten years….please STOP!. Try something new your taste buds will love you for it.
These are some of my recent cosy family meals we have been enjoying.
Meatloaf – Doesnt this just remind you of the 1980’s?. My Mum use to make this for us all the time. My husband jokes I have a love for mince. When I met him I prided myself on the fact I only had ever eaten fillet steak and I certainly did not eat mince (nose in the air). Well I have changed, mince is just so versatile, Pork mince, beef mince, venison mince, lamb mince, chicken mince. I love what I can make with Mince!. I usually make meatloaf out of pork and beef mince. It is so simple to put this together and it tastes divine. Truly!. Sometimes I make the meatloaf in a tin – self saucing meatloaf, by pouring over a container of tomatoe puree and a few dashes of Worcester sauce or red wine or whatever takes my fancy. The recipe below is utterly divine and a little more sophisticated baked free form on a tray, the bonus here is the vegetables benefit form all the delicious juices to create a complete meal.
Meatloaf with roasted vegetables
Meatloaf with roasted vegetables – Recipe loosely taken from Tessa Kiros Apples for Jam.
- 80g white bread crusts removed (about 4 slices)
- 125 ml Milk
- 2 large zucchini, trimmed
- 1 large potato or sweet potato, peeled
- 1 large red capsicum
- 500 grams lean mince (beef or pork or combination)
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 heaped tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 100 grams thinly sliced pancetta (or streaky bacon will work)
- 2 sage sprigs
- 2 small rosemary sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 125 ml white wine
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Soak the bread in the milk for about 15 minutes, squashing it up a bit with your hands so it collapses.
- Cut the red peppers, carrots, zucchini into strips and potato into chunks. You want all the vegetables to roast evenly so make sure they are not too small that they shrivel up in the heat. Now put these aside for now.
- My favourite bit…put the mince in a large bowl with the parsley, egg, chopped garlic, parmesan and squashed up bread, and season with a flat teaspoon of salt. mix together until smooth. Then form a large loaf like a giant egg.
- Drizzle half the olive oil into a large flameproof baking dish and put the meatloaf on top. cover with overlapping slices of pancetta, tucking them in at the bottom. Scatter the vegetables all around , drizzle with olive oil and toss with some salt. Tuck the herbs and garlic under the vegetables. Bake 1 1/4 hours and, turning the vegetables over half way through. Keep an eye on them they do not over cook. The vegetables should be golden and crusty and the bacon crispy also. Turn the oven off. Remove the vegetables and meatloaf to a platter, cover with foil and put back in the oven to keep warm. Put the baking dish on the stove top over high heat and sprinkle in the flour. Cook stirring constantly to scrape up all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the dish. Pour in the wine and stir until evaporated. Add 250 ml of hot water; season with salt and cook until the sauce becomes smooth and thickens a little. Serve with the meatloaf cut into thick slices and the vegetables.
Your man and your little ones will love this MEATloaf!. It is great sliced cold on sandwiches the next day also.
Filed under babies, cooking, earthquake, eggplant, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes
Gricklegrass Organic farm nostalgia, Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand late 1990's
Here is a little bit of background on the name Gricklegrass lentil pie. When It was 1998 I was 18, a student studying professional photography, living in a small rural North Canterbury town Oxford, New Zealand. Not far from our family home on Woodside Road was a commune called GRICKLEGRASS organic farm. I decided one day for an assignment I would visit and ask if I could photograph some of the people living there. Gricklegrass consisted of a lovely character, rambling home from the late 1800’s which was in a state of disrepair set on over 20 acres of farmland that ran down to the Coopers Creek riverbed. At this time there were a number of eclectic residents, a few young families, alternative, idealistic young organic farmers and always some transient eccentrics like Graham who lived on his bus. My first visit to the intriguing Gricklegrass I met the dreadlocked 23-year-old Andrew MacDonald who was digging some holes out by the front door. This meeting was perhaps one of the most profound moments which changed the course of both of our lives. Andrew and I entered an extremely special season of close friendship and companionship. I often would be invited to shared pot luck meals. I remember these always to be fun and the Gricklegrass table was always overladen of lovingly made whole food salads, curries and sourdough breads. Lentil pie reminds me of these feasts. I had a nostalgic hankering for a Wholemeal Lentil pie. This is the recipe I came up with.
Andrew and I at Gricklegrass - 1998/99
GRICKLEGRASS Lentil pie before the lid goes onChamp Mash Top (I have upgraded the pie to my 2011 budget and added some leftover Taleggio cheese)
Champ Mash Top (I have upgraded the pie to my 2011 budget and added some leftover Taleggio cheese)Gricklegrass Inspired Hearty Wholemeal Lentil Pie
RECIPE : GRICKLEGRASS WHOLEMEAL LENTIL PIE
- Homemade is best Wholemeal Shortcrust pastry for base
- 200 grams Wholemeal pastry (I used freshly organic stoneground flour)
- 100 grams chilled butter, cut into cubes
- cold iced water
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 cup of lentils (I used blonde lentils, but brown or puy would still work)
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar to taste
- Agria mashing potatoes for the top and I used leftover cheese Taleggio from my fridge to melt over the top.
- In a large pot bring well salted water to the boil and boil potatoes in well salted water till tender. Then put through a potato mouli or mash the old-fashioned way with milk, butter, salt till creamy.
In a large frying pan heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes taking care not to burn it. Add the carrots and continue to fry for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and cook until it smells aromatic. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then turn down to the lowest heat and simmer for a 1 hour. Season and adjust if needed, I would add the rice wine vinegar now if it needs a lift. Then set aside and cool. The mixture should be moist but not swimming in liquid, if it is simmer it longer.
Once mixture has cooled a bit and not piping hot. Roll out the pastry to fit a pie dish or deep loose bottom flan tin. (Bake blind – Google this technique for a good description. This stops the pastry from going soggy on the bottom)
Fill pastry case with filling and top with the mash. Optional sprinkle with any melting cheese.
- To make the pastry, work the flour into the butter with your fingers in a big bowl until they resemble breadcrumbs and add the water until it comes together into a smooth ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
Delicious served with cauliflower and eggplant salad (previous post) or a big green salad. A side relish or chutney is a perfect accompaniment.
- The finished pie ready to be served
I also went on to produce a series of portraits of the residents of Gricklegrass farm for my Professional Photography studies. These are some of the photos (originals were all handprints and taken with a 6×6 format vintage Rolliflex camera, 2.8mm Zeiss lens)
Graham on his bus - Gricklegrass Organic farm, Oxford, North Canterbury 1999 NZ Andrew in his carpentry workshop from Gricklegrass Organic Farm 1999. Fast forward to 2011 Andrew is an Anglican Minister, married with three children.Jude at Gricklergrass Organic FarmGus and his dog Morphine - Gricklegrass organic farm 1999
Steve from Gricklegrass organic farmAndrew 1999
Andrew at GricklegrassJude
Steve the Musician from Gricklegrass in his Hut
Gus and his dog Morphine - Gricklegrass organic farm 1999Andrew 1999A family living at Gricklegrass - Kane and Sharon
You can see part of Gricklegrass home in the background.
Graeme cooking food in his bus. I ended up giving my diesel Lancer car to Graeme and the last I heard he moved to the West Coast
I have a confession…If you were to take a look in my fridge vegetable drawer you may find a limp, sad old cauliflower turning grey and brown around the edges. I am terrible for meaning well and buying a cauli every now and then, when the time comes to using it I reach for the much more exciting cavalo nero, slim shiny green beans or spunky beetroot!. I was finally inspired out of my CAULIFLOWER APATHY by a delicious eggplant, cauliflower and coriander salad I ate at Christchurchs newly reopened VICS cafe on Victoria street. I raced home and started trawling the internet to find a similar recipe and came up with zero. I thought I did get an audition to Masterchef (which sadly I turned down) surely this can not be too hard to replicate, so here is the recipe I came up with. Any recipe testers out there please let me know how you like it. I teamed mine with a delicious Wholemeal Lentil pie, just like VICS cafe.
Cauliflower and Eggplant salad
- Fresh Cauliflower, Eggplant and Coriander Salad
RECIPE –Cauliflower and Eggplant Salad
- 1 cauliflower, broken into florets and blanched
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 tsp coriander ground seeds
- Handful fresh coriander
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil – However much is needed to get the job done
- 1 Lemon
- 1 knob of butter
- Pre heat oven to 200 deg
- Boil salted water blanch cauliflower and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
- Chop eggplant into small to medium cubes, drizzle with oil and season with sea salt
- Roast in the pre heated oven for about 20-25 min until cooked through and soft.
- Heat a small frypan and melt the butter and oil, add the garlic and then the spices. Then add in the cauliflower to coat.
- Tip this into a salad bowl add the cooked eggplant, season and add chopped fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- This is excellent on its own as a light salad or great as a side dish.
I have always been a fan of gnocchi. A tasty little dumpling made with potato and infamous for being stodgy and bland. Yet if you hand make gnocchi in the traditional italian way you will be amazed at the results. Which may I say are absolutely nothing like the frightening little balls of preservatives and stodge that they sell in the fresh pasta section and aisles of the commercial supermarket. The method is quite simple, so simple I attempted making these on a Monday night, it was quick and succesful. I am addicted to cans of italian Cherry tomatoes at the moment. They are so luxuriously delicious and really add the x factor to what ever I add them to. I used a can of these to make an excellent sauce to accompany my gnocchi .
Potato Gnocchi with Cherry tomatoe sauce
This recipe came from Tana Ramseys cookbook – Home made (I have made a few alterations to the original text)
- Floury Potatoes I used Agria, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces
- 200g flour plus extra for dusting
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
For the Tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- can of cherry tomatoes in juice
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 small handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
- salt & black pepper
Serves:4 – Prep time:15 minutes – Cooking Time:35 minutes plus 30 minutes chilling
- Steam the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, lightly flour a baking tray.
- Remove the potatoes from the steamer and place in a large mixing bowl. Tip in the flour, eggs and parmesan and mash together well using a hand-held mixer or I used my polish potato mouli (like a giant garlic press but presses potatoes into fluffy mash). Season this with salt. Tip: do not mash these in a food processor it will turn your potatoes to glue.
- Using well-flavoured hands, divide the mixture into flour equal portions. One at a time, using your floured hands, roll out each portion on a floured surface into a sausage shape measuring about 2.5cm/1 inch in diameter. Cut each sausage into slices about 1.5cm/5/8 inchs thick. Keep flouring your hands and the knife as you work. Push down each side of the gnocchi on the back of a grater or I used a fork to make an indentation.Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before cooking.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, just long enough to flavour the oil, take care not to burn the garlic. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard. Add the canned tomatoes and cook over a gentle heat until they begin to soften and split. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving you can add the basil or use the basil to garnish the top of the dish as I did.
- Cook the gnocchi in small batches, adding them to already well salted boiling water. As the gnocchi rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a warmed plate to drain. Divide between four bowls and serve with the tomato sauce.