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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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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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Gricklegrass Lentil Pie

Gricklegrass Organic farm nostalgia, Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand late 1990's

Here is a little bit of background on the name Gricklegrass lentil pie. When It was 1998 I was 18, a student studying professional photography, living in a small rural North Canterbury town Oxford, New Zealand. Not far from our family home on Woodside Road was a commune called GRICKLEGRASS organic farm. I decided one day for an assignment I would visit and ask if I could photograph some of the people living there. Gricklegrass consisted of a lovely character, rambling home from the late 1800’s which was in a state of disrepair set on over 20 acres of farmland that ran down to the Coopers Creek riverbed. At this time there were a number of eclectic residents, a few young families, alternative, idealistic young organic farmers and always some transient eccentrics like Graham who lived on his bus. My first visit to the intriguing Gricklegrass I met the dreadlocked 23-year-old Andrew MacDonald who was digging some holes out by the front door. This meeting was perhaps one of the most profound moments which changed the course of both of our lives. Andrew and I entered an extremely special season of close friendship and companionship.  I often would be invited to shared pot luck meals. I remember these always to be fun and the Gricklegrass table was always overladen of lovingly made whole food salads, curries and sourdough breads. Lentil pie reminds me of these feasts. I had a nostalgic hankering for a Wholemeal Lentil pie. This is the recipe I came up with.

Andrew and I at Gricklegrass - 1998/99

GRICKLEGRASS Lentil pie before the lid goes onChamp Mash Top (I have upgraded the pie to my 2011 budget and added some leftover Taleggio cheese)

Champ Mash Top (I have upgraded the pie to my 2011 budget and added some leftover Taleggio cheese)Gricklegrass Inspired Hearty Wholemeal Lentil Pie

RECIPE : GRICKLEGRASS WHOLEMEAL LENTIL PIE

Ingredients

  • Homemade is best Wholemeal Shortcrust pastry for base
  • 200 grams  Wholemeal pastry (I used freshly organic stoneground flour)
  • 100 grams chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • cold iced water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 cup of lentils (I used blonde lentils, but brown or puy would still work)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar to taste
  • Agria mashing potatoes for the top and I used leftover cheese Taleggio from my fridge to melt over the top.

Method

  1. In a large pot bring well salted water to the boil and boil potatoes in well salted water till  tender. Then put through a potato mouli or mash the old-fashioned way with milk, butter, salt till creamy. 
    • To make the pastry, work the flour into the butter with your fingers in a big bowl until they resemble breadcrumbs and add the water until it comes together into a smooth ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  2. In a large frying pan heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes taking care not to burn it. Add the carrots and continue to fry for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and cook until it smells aromatic. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then turn down to the lowest heat and simmer for a 1 hour. Season and adjust if needed, I would add the rice wine vinegar now if it needs a lift. Then set aside and cool. The mixture should be moist but not swimming in liquid, if it is simmer it longer.
  3. Once mixture has cooled a bit and not piping hot. Roll out the pastry to fit a pie dish or deep loose bottom flan tin. (Bake blind – Google this technique for a good description. This stops the pastry from going soggy on the bottom)
  4. Fill pastry case with filling and top with the mash. Optional sprinkle with any melting cheese.

Delicious served with cauliflower and eggplant salad (previous post) or a big green salad. A side relish or chutney is a perfect accompaniment.

The finished pie ready to be served

I also went on to produce a series of portraits of the residents of Gricklegrass farm for my Professional Photography studies. These are some of the photos (originals were all handprints and taken with a 6×6 format  vintage Rolliflex camera, 2.8mm Zeiss lens)

Graham on his bus - Gricklegrass Organic farm, Oxford, North Canterbury 1999 NZ Andrew in his carpentry workshop from Gricklegrass Organic Farm 1999. Fast forward to 2011 Andrew is an Anglican Minister, married with three children.Jude at Gricklergrass Organic FarmGus and his dog Morphine - Gricklegrass organic farm 1999

 

Steve from Gricklegrass organic farmAndrew 1999

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Andrew at GricklegrassJude

 

Steve the Musician from Gricklegrass in his Hut

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gus and his dog Morphine - Gricklegrass organic farm 1999Andrew 1999A family living at Gricklegrass - Kane and Sharon

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can see part of Gricklegrass home in the background.

 
 
 

Graeme cooking food in his bus. I ended up giving my diesel Lancer car to Graeme and the last I heard he moved to the West Coast

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE END

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A Cauliflower & Eggplant Marriage

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. Pre heat oven to  200 deg
  2. Boil salted water blanch cauliflower and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
  3. Chop eggplant into small to medium cubes, drizzle with oil and season with sea salt
  4. Roast in the pre heated oven for about 20-25 min until cooked through and soft.
  5. Heat a small frypan and melt the butter and oil, add the garlic and then the spices. Then add in the cauliflower to coat.
  6. Tip this into a salad bowl add the cooked eggplant, season and add chopped fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  7. This is excellent on its own as a light salad or great as a side dish.

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A bit of this, a bit of that

Improvisational Salad

Prosciutto, Pan fried Haloumi, mizuna lettuce, red and yellow baby roast beetroot with Pedro Ximenez sweet sherry sauce sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice, cracked pepper and sea salt of course…There was some extra virgin oil too. This salad was one of the best things I tasted in 2010! believe it or not. The flavours were intriguing yet not so in a weird way but they really seemed to work it was extremely moorish. You should give it a try.  

So following on from my last post about the sexy vegetables I bought home from the market which were just too good to eat which became ornamental art in my kitchen for 12 hours. Well I did get hungry and I ate them. The photo above is how I put them altogether. Now I ALWAYS use to freelance in the kitchen and create my own dishes since I was a teenager and into my early 20’s. However in my quest to further my kitchen cooking knowledge and skill I have purposely restrained myself to following recipes as I think it is so easy to fall into the trap of staying in your comfort zone and cooking from your own knowledge and what you are comfortable with and never really pushing out and finding new ways of doing things. It can be hard work following a recipe sometimes, I believe I have read it activates that part of your brain which helps with fighting off and slowing dementia (not that I should be worried about that at 30!). I guess I am putting myself through a self-taught home cooking school – like some very other well-known cooks who learnt in the same way. This is the beauty once you confidently know which flavours and ingredients can  balance and go together you can take off the training wheels (cookbooks) and the world of cooking is your oyster. Heres to freelance cooking!.

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Recipes for the young and the young at heart

Yum Cake Mum!

Are you like me and flip through glossy cookbooks, imaging yourself cooking and eating the perfect food on each page. I always have a long shopping list of recipes I can not wait to try out. I have been gaining a fervent desire to learn and have been disciplined in following recipes to see the intended result of the cookbook author (who is quite often very qualified). Wow – I am forever amazed at the RESULTS!. Beautiful, delicious food and I am developing new skills and knowledge along the way. Take one of my favourite food writers Tessa Kiros (there is a long list of favourites) however I do have a couple of her cook books. I have been reading and cooking from Apples for Jam this summer holiday. The title is so subtle and it only dawned on me after cooking some of the recipes that this is really a children’s cookbook full of wonderful lively italian family meals very suitable for my 21 month old Daughter Lucia Belle but still delicious for the family to eat. I love how Tessa writes the food memories of her husband’s family and his childhood memories of what would eat growing up in Italy. Today I finally got around to making the BERRY AND BUTTERMILK CAKE. It reminded me of a berry scone mixture. I was thrilled it looked just like Tessas picture in her book. My Lucia Belle squealed with delight when she saw the cake turned out of the tin and onto the cooling rack. We both cut it warm and enjoyed it for a late afternoon tea.

Berry & Buttermilk Cake

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Roasted Vegetable Goodness

I always am amazed how delicious and easy roasting food can be. I think I go through stages of labouring over my hot stove thinking I am being so clever, pan sauteing , braising, poaching, frying, however I am probably just making a lot of work for myself even if the result is sumptuous. I then stumble across some ingredients or a recipe which makes me throw all my chopped, prepped ingredients in a roasting tin, pop them in the hot oven and ahhhh relax until my trusty beeper tells me it is all ready to be simply served & enjoyed. 

The ingredients that caught my eye this week were a a couple of perfect  lean pork fillets from the Redcliffs Butchery (he knows his pork he is the guy on the pork advertisement on TV!),  winter pumpkin – this is the best $1-3 you can spend this winter, red onions, new season carrots, whole garlic cloves, braeburn apples all from my Local Lyttleton Farmers market. 

The inspiration came from my 2008 Issue 19 Aug-sep DISH magazine. 

Pork Fillet and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Baked apples….oh this is as good as it sounds actually it was better than my expectations. 

Pork Fillet and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Baked Apples

Prepped winter vegetables ready for the oven

 

Ingredients 

600 grams free-range pork fillets, 

2 table spoons olive oil 

2 cloves of garlic crushed 

2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary 

finely grated zest of 1 lemon organic/unwaxed 

sea salt and ground black pepper 

Salad – 1  pumpkin butternut or buttercup or I used a small gem squash I think it is called(Dish recommended parsnips), 2 red onions, peeled and quartered through the root, I also used some red pepper cut into thick strips, 3 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal, 8 whole cloves of garlic, skin on as they will pop out like juicy morsels once roasted, 2 handfuls of baby spinach. 

Home made apple sauce

 

Apple sauce – 4 braeburn apples, skin on, cut into wedges, knob of butter, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme. 

Dressing – 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard, 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Preheat your oven to 200c 

Pork: Trim the pork of any silverskin and tie with kitchen string, tucking the thin end under for even cooking. Combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary and lemon zest in a bowl and season. Rub over the Pork and set aside until ready to cook. 

Pork fillet trimmed and tucked ready for cooking

 

 Apple Sauce: melt the butter in a ovenproof saute pan (I love my www.lecreuset.co.uk) , add the apples and lemon juice until they just begin to colour. Stir in the honey, salt & thyme. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until just tender and caramelised. 

Salad: Combine the Pumpkin, red pepper, red onions, parsnips, yams  or whatever veggies you have chosen in a large roasting dish. Toss with a little olive oil and season. Roast for 40 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Leave until just warm. 

Dressing: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season. Add the spinach to the roasted veggies and toss with the dressing. 

To finish: Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and brown the pork on all sides. Roast for 12 minutes or until just cooked. 

To serve: Slice the pork on the diagonal and toss with the roasted vegetables. Serve with the apples. Serves 4-6 

Please leave a comment if you like the look of this and please let me know if you try this recipe and how you find it. Thanks for visiting, Bonnie

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