”I want to make something with you Mummy!”, my daughter has been asking me this every day this week.
I knew that Lucia would naturally be interested in food and cooking as that is a big focus in the environment she is growing up in. She enjoys visiting the Farmers markets with me each weekend, the local butchers know her by name and she knows her fresh herbs in the garden. It delights me that I am creating this positive food culture at home where I hope that by the time she is a teenager and grows in to a young woman I would have helped impart a natural knowledge of what to eat and how to cook it. It is empowering to have the knowledge on one of the most fundamental basics which is to be able to look after your health and fuel your body for living. Knowing what is good to eat; preferably local seasonal produce; organically grown fruit and vegetables if possible. Free range eggs and meats, sustainable fresh fish, whole foods, or more simply foods that are in their natural state – certainly not in cleverly marketed boxes and packages with lists of numbers to explain what is really inside them. It depresses me to see queues of cars lined up outside the McDonald’s drive thru when I drive past, laziness and ignorance. By ensuring we eat home-made food, having control about what ingredients we use means Lucia is involved from very young, eating good food starting at home is my small way to counter the culture.
I grew up with a Mother who is a very good cook and baker, through Mums cooking I learnt to LOVE eating food. However she was very tidy and I do not have any memories of being involved with her cooking. Kids cooking is sometimes very messy I am the first to admit, I remember my Mum not being always keen on me cooking when I was younger for this very reason. I am overlooking the spilt flour over the floor and little dirty finger-marked cupboards and embracing a fun and positive cooking culture.
Some favourite foodies things Lucia and I have been doing together
- Cupcakes or muffins then ice and decorate them. Lucia had a ball making these chocolate and almond nut butter cupcakes yesterday. I think she was so busy decorating one marshmallow for the cupcake and one for her mouth that she hardly had room to eat an actual cupcake once baked.
2. Dumplings or pot stickers. I have been gritting my teeth and letting Lucia use a fairly blunt knife to chop herbs and vegetable. She has been doing very well. I was watching a documentary set in a remote South american village and I was cringing watching this toddler with a big knife chopping away. surprisingly he looked perfectly capable. Using small wonton pastry rounds I got Lucia to fill and squeeze the pastry over in half and then brush water with the pastry brush to seal the wontons. Filling, Squeezing and painting – a 3 year olds dream activity.
3. Farmers Market pretend play. Lucia has a new game, she sets up her market stall with the fruit bowl and we come to her market stall and pretend to buy fruit from her – She loves it. Lucia the market gardener.
Baking and roasting is so simple, this dish is super simple yet has the comforting flavours of a roast. I can throw this all together in 10-15 mintues, pop it in a pre heated 190º oven, put the timer on for 30-40 minutes and get on with playing games and watching my lovely daughter Lucia Belle Lucia wash up the dishes until dinner is ready.
Baked streaky bacon wrapped sausages, with apples & golden sweet potato
4-6 good quality pork sausages
6 slices streaky bacon
3 red apples
one red onion chopped into quarters
A few chopped peeled sweet shallots are nice too
Enough sweet golden potato (kumara)
x2 Whole garlic clove (optional)
2 bay leaves
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
cracked black pepper
Wrap bacon around the sausage
Place sausages and all ingredients in a large baking dish
season and pour olive oil over vegetables and sausages
Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minute
This is the perfect simple mid week meal. Minimal effort, which will evoke lots of mmm! at the table.
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
It is amazing how you can sometimes come full circle when it comes to food. I have been cooking all these lavish, rich meals, spoiling my man and myself I may add. Then I get the simple craving for a plain hamburger.
I think I am guilty of trying to over-complicate my cooking ALL the time with too many ingredients. So when I was making my home-made hamburger I kept it really basic and simple. Real beef mince seasoned with sea salt and black pepper and shaped into patties. Good melting cheddar cheese, watties tomato sauce, and here was my stand out ingredient – a generous dollop of mashed avocados, mixed salad greens and dill & saffron mayonnaise. The buns must be carefully grilled and hamburgers served immediately in front of the TV of course on a friday night!.
Not the prettiest burger I know, but the avocados and beef patties enveloped in melting cheese, good mayo and a softly toasted bun. The handful of salad greens gives a healthy fresh crunch. These are very good. It is hardly a recipe, so next time you make burgers hold back on adding ALL the ingredients. Pick out a few of your favourites and make them the star!.
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
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.