Tag Archives: dinner ideas

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

Joyful eating from 2012

When caught out hungry I can be a right grouch. My husband jokes we need to keep a mini snack box in the car just for me, his favourite line is ‘are you hungry again we just ate 3 hours ago’ I say ‘yes that was breakfast’. Call it low blood sugar levels but I really do need to eat quite regularly so am always planning out what I am going to eat next!.  Cooking is a passion, but more thrilling is the joy of eating what I cook. The icing on the cake is serving that food up to my hungry, appreciative guests. When greedy silence descends on the table you know you have nailed it.

My second daughter Evie Rosa was born on 19th September 2012. A second peaceful birth at home meant that I could get in the kitchen and cook some nourishing post birth meals. 2012 was a huge cooking year for me pregnant and with a new-born baby and I never got around to posting the photos and recipes I made. So here is a quick 2012 photo diary of some of the everyday meals that came out of my kitchen and were very joyfully received by my family and friends that never made it on to my blog.

Crumbed, golden and glorious! chicken, fish, haloumi cheese, there are so many options. I can never decide whats best fresh breadcrumbs, or ground macadamia, almond nuts, parmesan cheese, panko crumbs. Crumbed foods shallow fried in butter and olive oil, or the fat of your choice, find me someone who can resist this. Forever the reason my home has been affectionately nicknamed ‘fat camp’ from my friends and family.

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Cake and baking became my friends in 2012. As Nigella Lawson says if you can measure and follow a recipe then you can bake!. It’s not that hard I have firmly discovered. I thoroughly enjoyed baking some of Diana Henrys lovely recipes from her book http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Cook-Simple-Diana-Henry/9781845335748?redirected=true&gclid=CPK1y7n3_7QCFQRKpgodXVcAUA

This recipe came from this book. A very easy chocolate cake that takes minutes to mix the batter. The almonds look so stunning contrasting against the glossy chocolate icing.

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I am also in love with Nigellas new Nigellisima cook book. This is her italian apple pie cake I made. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Nigellissima-Nigella-Lawson/9780701187330

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I ate my fair share of rice and potatoes last year. Fish kedgeree stared a few times. certainly a dish which is more than its sum of parts. Breakfast, lunch or dinner – the perfect meal for anytime of the day. Nelson New Zealand Mapua smokehouse produces outstanding moist, sweet, oily smoked fish. It is swooningly delicious and never dry.

LATEST OCT 12 004I discovered Dulche De Leche. Why it has taken me this long to taste something this decadent from a jar. For once I praise industrial food. Thank you Argentina for Dulche De Leche. Right now you will fall into two camps.

1: you are nodding your head knowingly as you read this and have a secret stash of Dulche De Leche in your cupboard which you sneak spoonfuls straight from the jar when you need to mainline some pure sugar!. Oh its good.

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2: If you have no idea what I am going on about. Please go to a specialty food imports store or online and buy some asap. There are so many ways to have your dulche de leche – milk caramel sauce. I made a chilled vanilla rice pudding, I then mixed dulche de leche with some cream to thin it down and drizzled it all over the rice pudding. The only problem here is stopping at one bowl. We also enjoyed a banoffee style american pancake stash with bananas, softly whipped cream and dulche de leche drizzled. delicioso.

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With all this cake eating going on in 2012 I have been thinking my pantry needs a health overhaul and it is time to get my kitchen whizzing up split green pea soups, quinoa salads, farro oyster mushroom rissottos, buckwheat pancakes with blackberries and bowls of steel cut oats. I cant wait to get cooking.

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February 11, 2013 · 5:38 AM

The city girl moves to the country

I adored living here for 7 years, I have my parents to thank for providing this very special family home as it was in this nurtured environment I discovered my passion for food and cooking amongst other things. Terrace Cottage of Woodside Road is situated in the picturesque foothills of Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand on a quaint 3 acres. Originally the school masters house circa 1870’s, Terrace Cottage had an extensive renovation and addition in the 1980’s to a 300 sqm floor plan. We had a constant stream of friends and family as our guests visiting from around Auckland and overseas. There were gatherings and parties with delicious feasts prepared , this was a big, happy social home and never was there a shortage of great home cooked food and full baking tins.

  Being in my informative teenage year of 13 and moving from Auckland city (population 1,000,000) to rural Oxford (population 3,000) to say it was a shock was an understatement, I cried for a year. However what a great move my parents made. The only excuse for getting bored in Oxford was a lack of imagination. I creatively flourished, writing plays and short scripts, cooking, dancing, performing, acting, photography, art, exploring, river parties, bonfires,  friday youth group nights & river swimming with all my Oxford best friends.

You could easily spot the newly arrived townies, like me; walk up to electric fence hold on with both hands! argh. I learnt quickly.

There was a joke in Oxford that a few of my best girlfriends and I shared, let’s get t-shirts printed `I married someone who lived at the end of Tram RD” eg:Christchurch. We all joked (and secretly feared) we would end up marrying a farmer and never get out! eg:leave Oxford.

You can take the girl out of the city, but you cant take the city out of the girl!

Oxford, North Canterbury now can boast of its most famous resident,  New Zealand’s famous cook and food writer Jo Seager’s cook school, cafe and shop. http://joseagar.com

To find out more about Oxford   http://www.oxfordnewzealand.co.nz/

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Filed under cafes, cooking, food, home cooking, photography, recipes, travel

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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Filed under cooking, earthquake, fish, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup, travel

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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Filed under cafes, cake, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, photography, recipes, travel

Turkish Lamb Manti

I am sure I must have long forgotten ancestors from the old worlde of Eastern Europe in the Southern Caucasus  – Armenia, Turkey, Iran. I feel intuitively drawn to theses flavours, the textures and style of these similar cuisines.

This simple recipe of ground lamb, soft cheese, lemon zest, garlic, paprika, mint & spices combined to make a tasty filling encased in thin pastry to resemble a ravioli. Well loved and commonly known in this region as manti which is simply prepared by baking, frying or steaming.

When Mum and Dad have been travelling they always gets asked where they are from especially from turkish people. They even got invited to a turkish wedding recently. So with jewish roots maybe I really do have it in my blood, I certainly enjoy cooking this style of food.

Mum and Dad

Baked Turkish Lamb Manti with minted Yoghurt Sauce  – Recipe courtesy of DISH magazine Issue 31

Ingredients

  • 24 thin paper thin wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Filling

  • 200 grams of full fat lamb mince (if it is low-fat mince it will be too dry)
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese  (or substitute goats cheese or feta cheese)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Yoghurt sauce

  • 1 cup thick  plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon

Paprika butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • mint for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 180°C

Yoghurt Sauce: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season

Filling: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well and season.

To assemble; Lay out 6 wonton wrappers at a time and place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of each. Brush the edges with the egg wash and cover with another wrapper, pressing out any air and firmly sealing the edges. Trim the edges if necessary. Place on a lined baking tray. repeat with the remaining wontons and filling. Brush with olive oil and bake for 5-6 minutes until golden and crisp.

Transfer the manti to a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. The edges can slightly overlap. Pour the hot chicken stock around the manti and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Paprika butter; Heat the butter, garlic and paprika in a  small saucepan until sizzling.

To serve: Transfer the manti to shallow serving bowls and spoon over the chicken stock. There wont be a lot of stock.

Top with the yoghurt sauce then drizzle with the paprika butter. Garnish with mint and serve immediately with a green salad.

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Filed under cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, lamb, meat, pasta, photography, recipes, travel

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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