Category Archives: potatoes

For the love of dill

A week ago I was craving the herb dill. My modest herb garden at home supplies me with my usual kitchen staples; flat leaf parsley, coriander, thyme, mint, sage and rosemary. However dill is one thing I do not currently grow. I managed to buy some from my farmers market and made some lovely meals infused with the fresh uplifting aniseed taste, fennel fragrance of this under used herb. Its appearance is wiry thread like leaves which look so pretty sprinkled or stirred through a dish. I have been cooking up  a storm from cook book writer Diana Henry. This idea came from her book effortless cooking http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Cook-Simple-Diana-Henry/9781845335748 I have cooked about 15 recipes from this book in 3 weeks, I highly recommend it for a good variety of everyday recipes that are simple yet full of flavour.

Baked beets, Jersey bennys with onions, sour cream, dill & salmon

There are still bags of beetroot for sale at the farmers markets and it makes me feel virtuous to feed freshly roasted beetroot to my family especially as I am sure I am doing something special for my husbands poor liver after too much winter wine drinking. I had to share this recipe as it was very easy to put together and can be easily assembled and eaten at room temperature.

To make the beetroot you will need: 750 grams raw beetroot (try to get small ones if possible), 4 tbsp olive oil, sea salt and pepper, 2 red onions, 150 ml sour cream, 1 tbsp chopped dill.

1: Wrap the unpeeled beetroot in a foil parcel, drizzle with half the olive oil, season and put in a roasting tin. Cook in an oven preheated to 180 degrees until tender. (How long this takes depends on the size of your beetroot) – it could take as long as 1-2 hours. Put the onion wedges in a small roasting tin, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, season and roast in the same oven for 20-30 minutes. The onions should be tender and slightly singed at the tips.

2:When the beetroot is tender, peel each one (or leave the skin on as I have in the picture above) and quart or half depending on their size. Season the beetroot and put on a serving dish with the onions. Daub the sour cream over the vegetables and sprinkle with the dill. Serve hot or at room temperature.

3: I boiled new small waxy potatoes for 15-20 minutes until tender and added a little butter to warm through them. To serve I placed the potatoes in wide shallow pasta bowls, spooned the beetroot & onions on top and placed some chunks of smoked salmon on top. Very Scandinavian!.

With a little fresh dill leftover I made a spring green risotto the next night with courgettes, asparagus and dill. This was lovely for a change to my usual risotto.

Spring green dill risotto

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Greek Style Pork

This summer in Christchurch I have been enjoying an abundance of the most juicy, flavoursome tomatoes. My local Mt Pleasant farmers market has been offering vine tomatoes,  big meaty heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. My husband has been requesting that I make this dish quite a few times over Summer. It is based on a very rustic Greek Cypriots casserole. I love the simplicity of it; big chunks of pork shoulder, new potatoes, tomatoes, onions and a few spices cooked slowly in the oven in my round earthenware dish. It is utterly divine served with rocket and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. This is rustic and simple food exactly how I like it.

Recipe – Hirino spithkasimo/Greek Style Pork

1 kg shoulder of  free farmed pork, cut into fist size pieces

  • 1 kg waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 onions, peeled and sliced lengthways
  • 1 crushed garlic clove (optional)
  • 5 tomatoes, (more if in season) sliced lengthways

Method

1. Fry the onions gently in olive oil until translucent and softened quite a bit. Be careful not to brown or burn at all. Once done set aside for a minute.  Put the pork and potatoes in a large earthenware dish.
2. Pour a good drizzle of oil in the dish and mix around well. Add the spices and mix again.
3. Lay the onions and tomatoes over the top pour over a little more oil and season.
4. Cover with foil and cook in a hot oven (200C) for around 1 hour, then lower the heat to 180C and remove the foil and cook for another hour till browned. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
5. Serve straight from the earthenware dish with rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

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Food diary

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.

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/

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.

 

 

 

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Dinner in Berlin

I have vicariously been living in a Berlin state of mind. It all started when I picked up Douglas Kennedy’s new book The Moment. Set during the late cold war era of the 1980’s when East Berlin was the GDR – German Democratic Republic and there was THE WALL running through the city separating communist east from the capitalist west. I have been caught up in this bittersweet love story which is full of nail-biting intrigue, Stasi (secret police) double-crossing spies and the conflict of the choices we make in one moment which change the course of our journey. This book is one of those stories that stays with you for days after you have finished the last page. I then happened to pick up a copy of the latest NZ CUISINE magazine to find this gorgeous recipe for true Berlin soul food. These pork meatballs caught my eye immediately,  especially as I have a weakness for meatballs. Originally these were a specialty of ancient Prussia (East Germany). My husband’s family also originally came from Prussia – The Hanns.

Königsberg Klopse – Meatballs with cream sauce

Königsberg Klopse – Königsberg Meatballs with Cream Sauce – this recipe was by Ray Vinnie from Cuisine magazine.

Ingredients – 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs (made by crumbling or processing), 1/4 cup warmed milk, 800grams pork or veal mince, 1 egg beaten, 2 rashers bacon, finely chopped, 1 onion, 2 litres vegetable stock (I used Rapunzel brand of German powdered organic vegetable stock), large pinch of ground allspice, 2 bay leaves, 4 tablespoons butter, 5 tablespoons flour, optional 4 tablespoons capers, 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped curly parsley, plus extra to serve, 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup cream, 2 egg yolks.

  • Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and mix well so the breadcrumbs absorb the milk. Add the mince, egg, bacon and half of the onion, finely chopped. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix well then, using wet hands, form into 24 golf sized balls. Set aside.
  • Put the other half of the uncut onion in a large, wide saucepan, along with the bay leaves and allspice. Bring to the boil. Add the meatballs and bring back to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon. Keep them warm. Strain the stock then measure out 4 cups and pour into a clean saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile in another saucepan, gently melt the butter over medium heat then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant but not browned. Whisk in the hot stock, making sure there are no lumps. bring to the boil, stirring then simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Stir the capers, parsley, mustard, lemon zest and juice into the stock mixture. Place the cream and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Take the sauce of the heat and whisk in the cream mixture. Gently mix in the warm meatballs. Taste then season and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately. I served with mashed potato.

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80’s Meatloaf revivalist!

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Good effort for a Monday

Potato gnocchi

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)

Ingredients –

  • 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

Directions

  1. Steam the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, lightly flour a baking tray.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

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What’s on the menu?

Are you like me, constantly planning what’s for dinner for the week ahead?. Some of my friends think I am MAD!. I love it!, searching for recipes, ideas, inspirations for wonderful meals. I usually start with a depleted fridge and cupboard, I then start to mentally collate lists and  ideas for meals, recipes which I have been sourcing  from online food websites, cook books, magazines which go on to become written menu ideas. Farmers Markets provide a huge influence when it comes to what is in season. Earthquakes and the imminent winter weather is motivating me to fill the store cupboards.

This week is shaping up to be a very delicious looking Autumn, end of April Menu.

  • Thursday Evening – Cinnamon Beef Stew with creamy mash, french green beans & shallots.
  • Friday Night THE ROYAL WEDDING – Fillet Steak Gratin with creme fraiche, chive sauce & rocket.
  • Desert Rhubarb crumble served with custard
  • Saturday Night – Pork with caramelised pear and parsnips
  • Sunday Night – Handmade by moi, Agria Potato Gnocchi with cherry tomato, basil sauce and parmesan
  • Monday Night – Home made Chicken Soup, stock and all.

Thats as far as I have planned right now. I like to keep my ingredients as fresh as possible and I find if I plan to far ahead I end up with some forgotten, limp vegetables at the back of the fridge that do not get used. I can’t wait to get cooking. Who would like to come to dinner?

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