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Beautiful creative people

My Mum is one of these people, she has always expressed herself beautifully by being a very generous woman who has given  through cooking, baking, home making, collecting, sewing, crafting, mothering, being a faithful and loving wife, and more recently a successful creative business owner of Truly Scrumptious on Victoria St, Christchurch, NZ. (Which she lost during Feb 22nd 2011 Earthquake). I am so proud of my Mum, look what she achieved in her shop, her shop  is really an overflow of the creativity she expresses in her home.

Mum also had a cafe selling delicious chocolates, friands, muffins, dainty club sandwiches, scones, pretty iced cupcakes, coffee La Farre espresso and high teas served all with fine antique bone china.

These special little dense fruit cakes were available in different icing styles and Mum even had one called the “boyfriend cake’, It was iced with masculine style icing.  A perfect gift. Here is a pretty iced cake which sold for around $20.00 each.

Mum’s nickname is Fou, because she loves, laces, fou fou and anything that is insanely beautiful, feminine and pretty. She has had a few stares at the supermarket dressed in vintage 1950’s petticoats and that’s all on!. She alway says she would be much more comfortable living in the 18th century wearing Victorian clothes. She really is a soul borne in the wrong era, she would agree.

When at home Mum loves to entertain and she is fabulous at creating an atmosphere for elegant dinners and creating a lovely table setting. I love her dining table which is an antique french farm table with the original chairs.

Mothers influence daughters and even though I always joke I don’t like too much pink, lace and antiques (after being surrounded growing up with it) I really am my Mothers daughter and have been blessed to inherit her love of all things beautiful and carry on a legacy to the beautiful creative people.

Mum is also a fabulous cook and baker, this is her soft as angels wings Pavlova cream filled sponge cake.

Truly Scrumptious Shop is hugely missed by all my Mums loyal customers in Christchurch, it was seen as an escape from the ordinariness of life to a beautiful dream world of sensory experience. I know Mum will find another outlet for her creativity in the near future – it is natural as breathing.  Being beautiful, creative people you can not help but express yourself in whatever you do. I love my Mum.

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My new love affair, After the Red Verandah.

A quick update to my previous post, Where to eat out in Christchurch Post Earthquake 2. The beloved Under The Red Verandah Cafe, Christchurch, which was demolished post February 22nd quake is now under construction with a temporary cafe. This new Cafe as I mentioned is called After The Red Verandah. Which is so fitting, luckily they managed to save a part of the verandah which is being incorporated into the new building. Nearly all the same staff remain too, as they are like part of the furniture too!. In the meantime we can all enjoy some time out at After The Red Verandah. I almost lived there last week, so nice to have a humble home away from home to read the morning paper and drink delious espresso, with some very tempting, decadent treats…dark chocolate muffins, fat slices , fudgy chocolate cake, homemade flaky pastry chicken pies, salmon bagels. WE LOVE YOU AFTER THE RED VERANDAH. XX

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Cooking for my cousin Brad Pitt

Every other week my fav cousin comes over for dinner.  

Our conversation usually goes something like this….  

(Two wine glasses come out of the cupboard, wine bottle cracks open…wine pours into glass, cousin starts to help me prep dinner)  

Cousin: How are you Jen (thats Anniston by the way – my alter ego)  

Me: Great Brad! Whats the Goss? (Brad Pitt is his alter ego)  

Cousin: I had a pie for lunch yesterday, gourmet flaky pastry with organic chicken & a side salad and the best bit of (muck: means sweet, fattening cake/slice etc)  caramel slice from Undies (That is our favourite cafe ‘Undies’ short for www.utrv.co.nz/ )  

Me: Pies (Cousins other nickname when he’s having a fat day) I hope you went for a run!  

Cousin: I went to the gym first then ran scarborough then last night made the most delicious salmon pasta blah blah  

I have to say a lot of our conversation revolves around food, what we eat, where, when, and with whom and most importantly how good it was!. Love of food runs in our family, we are like a big mediterranean family. I have 23 cousins and 13 second cousins and that is just on my Mothers side.   

Dinner this week was some stunning fresh firm white tarikihi fish fillets  cooked lovely and crispy with an orange, parsley & pine nut salad. I served the fish upon wilted greens with fried chick peas.   

Utterly divine, fresh, light, and a little spicy, there was a storm outside. Hence the reason I had to make Brad aka pies aka cousin a Banana butterscotch self saucing pudding with vanilla icecream for desert. Now that was heaven.   

   

Bon appetit Bonnie x  

Crispy skinned Fish with orange, parsley & pinenut saladBanana Butterscotch self saucing pudding

 

Recipe from Dish magazine issue 29 April-May 2010
Crispy skinned Fish with Orange, Parsley and Pine nut salad
 
750 grams firm white fish fillets, skin on if possible
1/2 cup flour
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
knob of butter
 
Fish: Cut each fillet of fish in half on the diagonal.
Season the flour well with salt and pepper and place in a shallow dish. Toss the fish in the flour shaking of the excess.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a saute pan. The butter helps the fish to brown nicely and the oil prevents the butter from burning. Place the fish skin side down, and cook until crisp. Turn over and briefly cook the flesh side. Drain on paper towels.
 
Salad
1 orange
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley (it was raining so I did not bother going out to the garden, so optional was great without it)

Banana Butterscotch self saucing pudding

 

Peel the orange with a knife to remove all the white pith. Cut the flesh into small pieces and combine with the remaining ingredients.
 
To Serve: Place the fish, skin side up over the wilted greens (recipe below) and then top with the orange salad.
 
Wilted Greens Recipe
4 large stalks silverbeet
8 medium stalks of cavalo nero (get from your farmers market)
1 bag of spinach
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 x 400gm tin cooked chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp chilli flakes and half a lemon
Wash all the greens well in cold water. Cut out the tough centre stalks from the silverbeet and cavalo nero. Cook the silverbeet and cavalo nero in a saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender. Ad the spinach and turn to wilt. Drain and refresh in cold water. Tip into a clean tea towel and pat dry to remove excess water.
 
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, add the chickpeas and cook until the skins are crisp. Add the garlic and chilli and the greens and cook, turning with tongs until heated through. Season and squeeze over the lemon. Now its ready to serve.
                                                                                                             
 
 

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Fish Dish

        

Fish Pie with light greens

 

I have been craving seafood. I went to Manchester Street seafood for the first time ever this week and was in seafood heaven!. All Seafood desires can be fulfilled, the selection was vast. There was filleted fish and whole fish for the more adventurous cooks.  I was lucky to buy fresh Tuna steaks for $32 kg and shiny salmon fillets (already pre boned) for $32.95kg they must have the best seafood selection in Christchurch, New Zealand.         

It bought me back to the time of growing up in Auckland with sweet memories of actually eating fresh pan fried snapper that Dad just line caught of our little boat from the Hauraki Gulf Harbour. Fish this fresh literally breaks up in the pan and melts in your mouth. I have forever been disappointed with most fish eaten since we moved to the South Island. There was also the time when I was ten and we went and stayed in a batch in Mangawhai Heads North of Auckland and we caught mud crabs and collected little pipis. We were walking along the beach and a John Dory jumped straight out of the ocean onto the sand in front of us, that was a tasty supper. I also have always been first to put my hand up to share the crayfish with my Dad, we would break the legs off and suck the soft juicy flesh out, so delicious and kiwi I think. We after all live on an island in the pacific ocean it makes sense that we enjoy some seafood from time to time.       

I went to the Lyttelton farmers market and bought this really “fresh off the boat” break in the pan, melt in your mouth tarakihi a few weekends ago. I then bought some locally grown last of the season green and yellow  baby courgettes, non spray cherry tomatoes and small potatoes. I then made this DISH magazine recipe from Issue 26 Oct-Nov 2009.       

RECIPE       

4 X 200 GRAM Freshest FISH FILLETS you can buy       

Marinade for fish       

2 tsp ground cumin       

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika       

 (buy this from Mediterranean Warehouse, Tuam st, Christchurch, it is $12 a tin and last ages)       

1/4 tsp chilli powder       

2 cloves garlic       

finely grated zest of 1 lemon       

2 tablespoons of chopped coriander       

Market Fish

 

 To Finish:    

 3 Zucchini, sliced on the diagonal    

2 tablespoons currants or I used sultanas    

juice of one lemon    

2 medium vine tomatoes    

2 spring onions, thinly sliced    

2 tablespoons of mint or flat leaf parsley&nbsp    

Marinade: Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Tip into a shallow dish, add the fish and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately. The fish can be marinated several hours ahead. Heat a saute pan with a little olive oil. season the fish and cook on all sides until just cooked through. Reserve the remaining marinade. Transfer to a warm plate and cover loosely. Do not wash the saute pan you want to keep all those wonderful flavours. Add a little more of the olive oil and scrape int he remaining marinade. Add the zucchini and currants and cook for 3-4 mins until the zucchini has started to soften and golden. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes, and spring onions and cook for 2 mins. Season and stir in the fresh herbs. To serve: I served over little potatoes with the zucchini mixture and fish on top.    

There is something so comforting about eating a fish pie. Its simplicity, meal in one dish is a major appeal for a multi tasking Mummy. I love to poach monkfish fillets in the milk with some fresh herbs before making my white sauce. I then sometimes add steamed spinach to the bottom of the pie to bump up the vegie intake. You can also add prawns and smoked fish like ling or fresh salmon works well poached also. Fish and potatoes go so well together. Like all good relationships opposites attract and make a good balance. Fish from the under the sea and potatoes from under the earth.       

Simple Home Made Fish pie

 

8 min Oven grilled Salmon with Chunky guacamole

 

Thanks to Gordon Ramseys wife Tana I was able to make this delicious recipe of chunky guacamole which teamed perfectly with my grilled salmon fillet.       

For the guacamole you need two ripe avocados, stone removed and mashed, juice of 1 lime, 1 small red chilli deseeded and chopped finely, 2 tbsp sour cream and 2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander (optional)       

Fish cooked any way really is the dish!       

Bon Bon x

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Busy Mothers Day Dinner!

I have to confess I have been feeling very lazy the last week and have been exploring recipes using my slow cooker. I live in Christchurch and this week there has been a slight nip in the air, hence the stew. There a quite a few advantages for using a slow cooker. I can cut, chop and assemble the meal in the morning turn the button on low and  then do absolutely nothing to it (maybe a quick stir) let it do its thing for 8-9 hours. With a one year old it is fantastic I can sneak a bit of the meal at 5.30pm to feed to Lucia and then finish getting her ready for bed and then we have ours at 7pm. The smell when you arrive home is fabulous, slow cooked meat & veges cooked in red wine & fresh herbs, It is like having your absentee Grandma cook you a hot senior citizen casserole.  

My slow cooker on my kitchen bench

 

My husband went through a stage where every time I sent him to the supermarket to buy a few things sugar, milk etc he would come home with random impulse purchases. I am talking about household goods and appliances on sale at Woolworth’s supermarket!. They all had the same things in common, they were fairly cheap imports from China which were badly made. Firstly he came home with a microwave.  Shortly after owning it the light stopped working and the tray stopped spinning at that point I thought it was a health hazard and retired it to the shed in the garden .It has put me off microwaves forever. Next he came home with an electric guitar!, this I made him promptly return. Next time he came home with  the slow cooker and it only cost him about $40 yet I have had so much use from it over the last 4 years!.  So my point is these are not expensive and probably a worthwhile kitchen appliance to own, especially for lazy or “smart” cooks.
Recently I got up at 3am in the morning to put on some porridge for us, the cinnamon made it really sweet tasting without the need to add too much sugar. This is the most tasty, nutritious porridge ever. I found the recipe in a Annabel White recipe book for Healthy Eating. If you’re wondering why you would go to all this effort. well firstly it takes about 3 minutes to prep. Then when you wake up on that cold autumn morning and enter your kitchen to the smell of cinnamon and all you need to do it fill your bowl and add dollops of creamy yoghurt. You need to make sure it is the best yogurt in New Zealand  http://www.piakoyoghurt.co.nz/ You can buy this yogurt from Petrinis in Ferrymead or New World in Redcliffs. You could put your slow cooker on a timer to switch on. It takes about 3-4 hours on high. I believe every slow cooker is slightly different you will get a feel for how hot yours is the more you cook in it.
Slow cooker Cinnamon & fruit Porridge
1 Cup of rolled Oats
2 Cups Milk
1/4 cup dried fruit eg:sultanas, apricots
1 Teaspoon or cinnamon
1/4 Tsp salt
 
This week I have been really been enjoying Chicken or Turkey Stew. This is the recipe I have been using quite successfully. This meal is a bit like an old-fashioned classic kiwi dinner…. Meat and 3 vege!. I like serving it over steamed rice but you could have it over couscous or just on its own with some crusty buttered bread to mop up the juices.
 CHICKEN STEW SLOW COOKER RECIPE
3-4 Potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1-2 Kumara peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
850gm-1kg Chicken, Turkey Thighs (free range is the best, email me if you are unsure where to buy and I will advise)
Lamb and Pork work well too
1 onion peeled and finely chopped (for really “smart cooks” you can chop this finely in your food processor)
2-3 fresh cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced
2-3 tbsp fresh herbs rosemary,parsley or thyme
 (if you don’t have herbs growing in your garden, get some from the roadside)
salt and pepper to taste
410 g tin of Campbell’s condensed  cream of chicken soup
A slurp of red wine
1:Place first three ingredients in slow cooker first, then add onion and garlic.
2:place meat on top and the remaining ingredients.

Chicken Stew

 

How easy is this! I hope you give it a try to let me know what you think.

And Chicken Stew another night with steamed spinach

 

Ok I admit this is not quite restaurant fare but real earnest home cooking and still it ticks all the boxes for good general nutrition. The veg, carb & meat box!. I also recommend a glass of red wine to enjoy with it!.
 
These are only two examples of things you can do with your slow cooker, it really is endless.
 
Maybe you should give yourself the night off cooking for Mothers Day and why don’t you pop your slow cooker on in the morning and enjoy this recipe!. 
 

Lucia & Mummy

It has been thirteen months and 6 days since I become a mother and it is the busiest yet rewarding job in the world!. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL THE HARD WORKING MUMS!
Bonnie Brown x
 
 
 

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Inspired Cooking…

I need to feel inspired to cook, I surround myself with lots of good sources to give me ideas.  I think I have read so many cookbooks that I can just look at a recipe and the ingredients and get an idea if I would like it and how it may turn out. This also makes very good practice when it comes to deciphering restaurant menus!.  Quite often Hubby will look across the table at what I ordered and go “ohhhhh”.

Here are my Top 4  favourite places I go when I have a jaded palate and need to create some fresh new food excitement in my kitchen.

1: DISH Magazine . OH my goodness! I LOVE THIS MAGAZINE!. The best New Zealand food magazine, I have heard people in France are now ordering this magazine online. I have improved my cooking knowledge, technique, skill by cooking and reading these magazines. It also helps the photography is so beautiful it has you salivating right to the kitchen. please go to the website and get a subscription quick. It will be a lifetime subscription I promise you will not be dissapointed. http://www.dish.co.nz/

2: The Library. I am not joking, the library is cool again. Every couple of weeks I loan a selection of cooking books and test and try them out. This is much better than buying an expensive cook book which you cook one recipe from which unfortunately burns in your oven and you never use the damn book again. Try before you buy. If you cook a number of recipes from the book you may want to consider investing in a copy. There have been a few books I have discovered this way I will list them at the end of my post.

3: Food TV, Sky. Ok I admit it I am a food Tv geek. This would only be a complete crime if I watched the cooking programmes and never cooked. It is amazing but you can actually learn quite a lot from cooking demonstrations. With the internet now if a particular recipe looks good I can google it and print it off and have it on the table for dinner. I found my Bill Granger  Tuna Rissotto recipe this way. I have now printed this recipe off and given so many copies away. My sister is so addicted to it every time I ask her, Jess whats for dinner it is this Rissotto. 

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/25/baked-tuna-risotto

See the website for the link to this easy recipe. If you have a young family to feed this is great you can assemble and put in the oven for 30min while you do something else. It is very good with tins of flavoured tomatoes eg: Watties indian/mexican/morrocan

I like to serve it with a fresh crunchy salad.

4: Online  You almost do not need to even own a cookbook these days the amount of information and recipes online is vast. Let me save you some time in cyber space and share what sites I find useful.

http://uktv.co.uk/food/homepage/sid/566 I use this website a lot. I find it very useful in its layout. You can search under a particular ingredient eg:chicken dishes or by your favourite type of food eg:Italian. I never seem to have a enough time to peruse this site.

http://www.101cookbooks.com/ I found this website while I was hunting for a red lentil soup recipe (picture top of post) . Heidi who writes 101 cookbooks is a San Francisco based photographer and cook book writer. She is interested in Whole & Natural vegetarian foods. She has an eye for a beautiful photo and if I ever have only one grain or vegetable  ingredient and am not sure what to cook I can search her site down the left hand side by that ingredient. I would reccomend her red Lentil soup too!.

If none of these work to inspire me I can always rely on my hunger to inspire me back to the kitchen.

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