Tag Archives: eating

apple butter french crepes at bedtime

These were meant to be for afternoon tea, by the time I made the crepe batter, laboriously stood over the hot stove and made each individual crepe, was distracted with household routine, came back to prep and cook the apples, and then lovingly put this simple little dish together, serving time was bed time. I love naughtiness and anyone watching their waistline would have headed straight to bed without these. I smeared the dish in 60 grams of butter, enclosed each rolled crepe with soft cooked apple, sprinkled plenty of caster sugar over the top and dotted with cold cut butter. This was then baked in a hot oven until the crepes went a bit crispy on the edges and the sugar and butter melted into delicious goodness. Luckily my always hungry brother-in-law was around to help eat these all up. I served mine with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Oh la la.

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Grateful for Spring

It makes me feel so productive to bake and cook, these are some of the things I have been enjoying …. Blueberry and chocolate bit muffins.

Lentil salad, new season sautéed courgettes, blanched green beans, sweet red onion and feta cheese. Gently tossed in a simple squeeze of lemon juice & my best New Zealand extra virgin olive oil. Season, season, season.  The perfect accompaniment to a greek oregano & lemon roast chicken.

Early season tiny broad beans, podded , dressed raw with lemon juice, sea salt and a tickle of olive oil. After a half hour of therapeutic broad bean podding, I decided to put this Haloumi salad together. Not strictly traditional, I have no idea if they eat broad beans in Greece. It was delicious, after some quick googling for further inspiration and desire to keep it as simple as possible; I decided on a tahini, honey,  lemon juice & olive oil dressing. The greek haloumi was wonderful fried nice and crispy golden, the trick is too eat the haloumi hot immediately.

 A highlight of a recent trip to Wellington, New Zealand was a visit to a Cuisine magazine recommended restaurant http://www.capitolrestaurant.co.nz/ . When I saw the Creamy pumpkin, sage, parmesan and pine nut risotto on the menu I was excited, when it came to the table it was a decadent wet style risotto, which I love. Pure comfort food. I have been dreaming of this risotto ever since, so was even more excited when I came across a recipe for it in an Old Australians Womans Weekly magazine. This version as per my photo below had half a cup of mascarpone and parmesan cheese through it. Definitely not for lettuce leaf eaters!, which I am certainly am not. The recipe was divine.

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Right time, right place – out of the rubbble of Christchurch

In my opinion if not one of the most exciting and progressive things that has happened to Christchurch since the February earthquake has been
the opening of the Cassels & Sons Brewery & Cafe at the Tannery Woolston http://casselsbrewery.co.nz


This new start venture reads like one of those classic kiwi business ventures, father and sons home brew beer over a unique wood fire in the back
yard and over a beer decide let’s start a boutique brewery. After a few setbacks and two major earthquakes which nearly decimate there business with vision they decide to push forward and rapidly expand the brewery into a prime restaurant, cafe, bar & entertainment music venue.

With the choice of the crème  de la crème of the Christchurch hospitality staff out of work they recruit them all, Barista Tonto from ex Vivace Cafe fame, chefs, bakers, front of house  staff.

We are now utterly spoilt for a premium destination for most importantly  boutique beers, wood fired pizzas, rustic food, sumptuous cabinet food that  would not be out of place in any international city. I adore this place, it  opens seriously early in time for all day breakfasts (try the chilli baked beans on hot buttered toast), serves up lunch, affordable cabinet food by a  clever mother and son kitchen team. The salads are vibrant and piled high on  platters, think Otto Lenghi style http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/.

 The Dinner menu is thoughtfully written, wood fired pizzas inspired by local place  names, how tempting does Horotane Pear, Blue Cheese, Thyme & Smokey Bacon  wood fired pizza sound?. Check out the website for a line up of entertainment in the form of live music acts, this is bound to fill the void  for  entertainment deprived locals that the loss of CBD has left. This is what a  true local food & drink place should be like; children are welcome with  highchairs and a big old cane basket full of wooden toys and books. I get the innate sense that this is just the beginning for the Cassels and this Brewery/Bar/Cafe/Restaurant/Entertainment venue is filling the gap perfectly and will be here for a long time to come….in fact it feels as if it has always been.

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Change of season

I guess I have been suffering from food boredom. My jaded palate has not
been craving anything at all. The thought of cooking has been giving me food
fatigue. I guess the most enthusiastic chefs or foodies all go through these
seasons. I put this down to too much cooking, I have overdone it and have been
falling back on my favourite tried and true recipes. Burrittos, Roast chicken, rissotto,
simple spaghetti cabarnora made with fresh eggs, bacon and parmesan cheese and lot of fish dishes!. Sorry no photos, the meals have not even warranted a photo. When my husband says at the end of the meal ‘that was a bit simple’ I know he has been far too spolit with decadence night after night. With my spring fitness motivation I also decided It was time to make some salads for dinner.

Lamb, Barley & spinach salad

We have been having an early spring with some lovely days in the 15-18 degrees. Let me tell you that is like a blessing after a few months of cold, wind, rain & snow. So all this food fatigue has been swept away by some warmer days. I have been working ALOT, and have now managed to get back into my training routine. I have an amazing trainer Jess Ford who runs weight resistance circuit style girls only group training 3 mornings a week in Sumner. So I have been getting up at 5:35am and have enjoyed getting my sluggish butt back into some vigorous training.  Post feb earthquake my favourite Bikram hot yoga was closed. I have since discovered www.hotflowyoga.co.nz and went along to a class today. I loved it the room was only heated to 36ºc and the class was a power vinyasa style yoga. In true yogi style I came home with the inspiration to make a simple red lentil, carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato soup. I used my freshly made chicken stock as a base, it makes such a huge difference to bought stock. The soup was thick and delicious and I felt as if I was nourishing my body just by eating it. The change of season is welcome with so much to look forward to…aparagus, strawberries, blueberries, stonefruit, tomatoes and a bounty of courgettes.

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So many recipes to cook and not enough time

So many recipes to try and so little time. This is my current cooking wish list which I will cook over the next month.

Baked okra – I spent some time in  Nepal and India where these are very popular stewed into a soft glutinous curry. I really enjoyed eating this little vegetable also known as ladies finger. I have seen piles of these lately at the Durham St North Indian supermarket and Funky pumpkin on Colombo St. My new Tessa Kiros cook book – Food from many Greek kitchens has alovely looking recipe for Baked Tomato and Okra. I plan to add some browned chicken pieces and make  a complete meal with plain steamed rice.

Fresh mussels in their shells – It seems ridiculous living on a small Island surrounded by the sea that I have never attempted to steam my own mussels. I adore shellfish. I am going to make a mussels in their shells with a tomato, garlic & saffron broth and plan to mop all the juices up with crusty warm bread. I have done my homework and it sounds like it will be quickie dinner – 5 minutes prep, 5 minutes steam and done.

Fresh squid – We have been having unsually warm weather this week 18-20 degrees and it is making me crave the ocean. If I can not swim in it I want to eat everything from the sea. I am sure you have had the overcooked rubbery squid experience like me and then tasted it when it has been perfectly tender cooked. Annabel Langbein tells me in her new cook book The free range cook, the trick is to cook it fast and furious!. They have whole wierd looking squid at Pak n Save for $9.99 a kilo. This is cheap food people!.

Poached fish with lemon oil – After so many heavy, rich winter çomfort meals I desire the clean, fresh taste of simple vegetable and fish dishes like this one. I can not wait to make this, a Tessa Kiros recipe again.

fisherman’s soup – If the steamed mussels and poached fish go well I may have to back up the whole seafood month with this combo dish. A modern bouillabaisse. I am sure you know the story, a famous mediterranean fishermans soup.

Rabbit stew – I have never eaten or cooked rabbit, the closest I have gotten too rabbit is running one over – it was terrible. I have seen a few recipes lately in my dish magazine for rabbit. Finally I have found a source to buy from  in Halswell to save me having to find one in the fields myself. I will let you know how I get on.

A Whole fish baked – All my favourite cooks tell me it is super easy to cook a whole fish. I have always been put off by the prospect of the bones!. Last time I ate fish cooked on the bone I was nine and managed to get a big bone caught in my throat!. I tried everything to dislodge it, dry bread, milk, water. Finally it dislodged on it own after many hours. apparently vinegar in water works as it is acidic and dissolves it.

Wild greens pie – I am so lucky I can buy the most glorious looking greens from my local farmers market. I love the idea of buckets of well-flavoured wilted greens  enclosed in home-made flaky pastry.

Leek and parmesan tart – My sweet husband bought me some a gift of spray free leeks yesterday so I must use them quickly and I though I would make this tart once again. Perfect for a light supper with a well dressed green salad.

Goat cheese and spinach souffles – I finally invested in a perfect set of Le Cruseut blue ramekins so I can practice my souffle and brulee making skills!.

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Cauliflower fritters

It has been hectic working two jobs and at the end of the day whirling together a luscious meal worthy of a career superstar, Mother & Wife. I have standards and even though I have been trying to simplify my mid-week evening cooking, I always end up picking recipes and ideas that take three hours!. Well this amazing little dish I made last night hit all the right taste buds. Again it was from my new Bill Granger cookbook (see my previous post).

I bought a huge 800gram organic Cauliflower from the Mt Pleasant Farmers Market for $2, broke it up into little florets and blanched it for one and a half minutes. It was then coated in this light tempura batter recipe from Bills new book and thrown into shallow hot olive oil so it went all light and crispy. It smelled amazing too. It reminded my of fish and chips, except this was like cauliflower and cauliflower. I made little mini soft lettuce leaf and Cauliflower tacos, with a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly chopped coriander. I ate so much of this last night I can now say you can get FULL eating Cauliflower. By the way the photo below was shared with two hungry men, just in case you thought I ate the 800 gram whole plate of cauli all by myself. I wanted to but had to share it. It was so so good. It would be perfect as a pre dinner snack with a cold beer on a hot summer evening. If you would like the recipe get the book or email me and I will post it online. 🙂

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Converted for Crepes

I am so excited by my latest purchase a crepe pan. I saw the crepe pan for sale at www.mercato.co.nz and have always been afraid of attempting making crepes, they fell into my too hard list. They seemed so delicate and not having the right equipment I have never tried. The crepes were a breeze to make in this pan. I made 10 lovely silky thin crepes, no disasters. I then followed Tessa Kiros recipe for Cannelloni made with soft home-made crepes, wrapped with a rich cinnamon infused meat sauce, rolled and covered with a bechamel sauce and sprinkled in freshly grated parmesan cheese then baked until bubbling and oozing. Every mouthful of this was so decadently tasty and felt perfectly balanced with a green salad.

cinnamon infused slow cooked meat sauce encased in my lovely crepes, awaiting the bechamel sauce and home-made tomato sauce.

The recipe calls for the tomato sauce to be pushed and scattered amongst the bechamel sauce.  It looks so pretty.

Recipe for Meat Canneloni 

Make sure you have a morning set aside, this can be prepared ahead and baked when ready. I made mine on a sunday afternoon.

  • The crepes:3 large eggs
    150g plain flour
    50g butter, melted plus extra butter for frying
    250ml full cream milk
    pinch of saltIn a medium bowl whisk the eggs, add the flour and salt and whisk in. While whisking add the melted butter. Slowly add the milk, whisking until you have a smooth crepe batter. Now put this aside to sit for about 20 minutes. When the batter has rested, heat a small non-stick frypan over medium to high heat and place a little butter in it. As soon as butter has melted, add half a large ladleful of batter to the pan and tilt the pan around until the batter covers the bottom of the frypan. Fry until the underneath is golden and then flip and cook the other side until golden too. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Continue this process until you have used all the batter. Put the crepes aside until you are ready to use them. If preparing the crepes in advance, allow to cool and cover with cling film and place in the fridge.The tomato sauce:

    1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly smashed
    2 tbsp olive oil
    400g tin of diced tomatoes
    4 basil leaves

    In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and garlic together until you start smelling the garlic odour. Then add the tin of tomatoes and salt to season. Bring to a simmer and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the diced tomatoes have broken down. When the sauce is nearly ready add the basil and 1/2 cup water. Optional puree sauce when finished – I didnt. This sauce can also be made in advance, and set aside, or once cooled place in the fridge.

    The meat sauce filling:

    3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 500grams minced beef
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cinnmon stick
  • 1 tablespoon worcester sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon quality smoked paprika (buy from speciality shop)
  • 185ml white wine
  • 400gram tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 handful chopped italian leaf parsley

For the mince sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions over medium heat for 8 minutes until the meat starts to brown, stirring often to prevent sticking and to brown all the mea. Add the wine and cook until it has all evaporated. Add the tomatoes , cook for a few minutes and then add 375ml (1 1/2 cups) of water. Season with salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes. Add the parsley for the last ten minutes.

The bechamel sauce:

60g butter
40g plain flour
550ml milk
freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Over a lowish heat, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and continue cooking and stirring for a couple minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Slowly add the milk a bit at a time, whisking and adding more milk until all the milk has all been added and the mix is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring this sauce to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes, while constantly stirring. When it is ready it will be thick and smooth.

Time to prepare the canneloni:

In addition to the above ingredients, you need 50g grated parmesan cheese.

First, heat up your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Prepare a 20cm x 30cm baking dish by greasing it. To construct the canneloni, place a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place a crepe on a flat work surface, and spoon about 2 heaped tablespoons of the meat sauce along one edge of the crepe and roll up. Place the filled crepe in the baking dish so it fits snugly. Continue this until you have either used all the crepes or have used up all the space in the baking dish.

Once all the crepes are lined up in the baking dish, spread the rest of the bechamel sauce over the top. Sprinkle on the tomato sauce and top with the grated parmesan.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the top is golden and oozing. Let it cool down so its not piping hot. Serve with a freshly dressesd green salad and crusty bread if desired.

enjoy!

Serves 4-6

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