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    Monday, October 17, 2016

    Asparagus and Tomato Salad - Spring on a Plate

    Two of my favourite vegetables and they pair so well. Dressed with a White Balsamic and Shallot Dressing, what could be better for lunch? Not a lot
    Don't worry about quantities, just use what you have
    Above I used 3 bunches Asparagus and 12 Cherry tomatoes
    and 3 tablespoons dressing

    First break the ends off the asparagus
    I actually lightly peeled the stalks but that is not necessary
    Blanch in boiling water well seasoned with salt and little sugar
    Bring back to boil and simmer until fork tender about 2 minutes

    Immediately drain and throw into a bowl of iced salted water, to stop them cooking and keep that beautiful green colour
    The water needs to be salted, so that you don't lose the flavour when cooling down 
    Move them around and when cool, drain again
    I cut each spear into 3 pieces, your choice again

    Meanwhile make your dressing, this will keep in a good airtight jar, in the pantry for ages
    I like using White Balsamic Vinegar in dressings, there is a lovely sweetness to it, which enhances the vegetables

    50 mls White balsamic Vinegar
    1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
    Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper
    1 medium banana Shallot, peeled and finely chopped
    100 mls good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Place the vinegar, mustard salt and pepper in a jar with a lid
    Shake well to emulsify
    Then add the Olive oil and shake again
    Taste and add more seasoning if you need it
    Cut the Cherry Tomatoes in half and place in a bowl with 3-4 tablespoons of dressing
    Leave to marinate for a while

    Add the asparagus and toss
    Best made at least an hour before eating,
    Keep at room temperature
    Tastes better in my opinion
    All packaged up ready for me to take to my lunch date

    If you query the use of sugar, while cooking the vegetables, it's something my Mother always did
    Particularly with green vegetables
    Also, I heard on the radio...from a famous Chef Based in Parnell, the same advice
    So it must be right

    Tuesday, October 04, 2016

    Using Leftover Roast Chicken - Chicken Pasta BakeWaste Not Want Not

    I'm not trying to preach here but I do hate wasting food. Virtually everything I bought to make the dinner last weekend has been either eaten up or used. want to have a look...just click here 
    So I made a Roast Chicken with  Provencal Flavours, accompanied by a Julia Child recipe for Provencal Potatoes.
    I did rather over cater on the chicken, so there were left overs, In the aforementioned post, I have written what I did with the mix pictured below
    So I gave it some thought and decided that it would make a great sauce for a Pasta Bake

    Another thing I hate to waste is the trimming after you have seeded tomatoes
    just a glimpse on the left
    This was required for the Potato Dish
    Putt all the trimmings into a sieve and squash them, you get some lovely tomato water.
    Good for Bloody Marys by the way, or as in this case, I added it to the Chicken mix
    Bit of extra flavour. The other addition was the leftover rocket.
    Add a little green to your dish...not only pretty but also tasty
    So in big pot of boiling, well salted water, add Pasta, I used a mix of shells and Fusilli
    Meanwhile in another large pan heat the chicken mix
    When the pasta is cooked (till al dente) remove from the pan, tip into the Chicken, keep some of the Pasta water and add to the mix if it is too think.
    Into casserole dish the pop the rocket on top
    Mix it together, it does look so so good
    Then top with some breadcrumbs and grated cheese
    Dinner sorted, there was enough to put in the freezer for a later date
    Talk about economical

    Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cake

    This is such a good cake, highly recommended by 11 people, at my dinner table last week
    I actually misread the recipe and instead of 1 cup of coconut milk, I used the whole can, 400 mls instead of 250 mls. Turns out that was a good thing. It was a very moist cake
    Just perfect in fact. So I have changed that on the recipe. Also I added some orange juice to the drizzle, for that extra orange flavour.
    This recipe came from the Epicurious Website
    An excellent dessert

    1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    3/4 cup sugar

    115 gms (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange zest
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 400 ml can unsweetened coconut milk
    170 gms bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao)
    1/2 cup coconut flakes

    Coconut Drizzle:
    3/4 cup powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Preheat oven to 170C
    Generously butter 23 cm/9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides;
    dust pan with flour, shaking out excess.
    I also like to line the bottom of he pan with baking paper
    Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and sea salt into medium bowl.
    Stir in unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside.
    Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until light and fluffy.
    Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
    Beat in vanilla.
    Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions,
    beating just until blended after each addition.
    Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces.
    Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan.

    Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with flaked coconut.
    Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into centre comes out clean,
    tenting with sheet of foil if coconut atop cake is browning too quickly, 60 to 70 minutes.
    Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.

    Coconut Drizzle

    Whisk powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk,
    orange juice and vanilla in small bowl to blend well, adding more coconut milk by
    1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.

    Carefully run small knife around sides of cake to loosen.
    Invert cake onto platter, then carefully invert again onto another platter,
    coconut side up.
    Using small spoon, drizzle powdered sugar mixture decoratively over cake.
    Cool cake completely on platter.

    Serve with Whipped Cream or Ice Cream

    Monday, October 03, 2016

    Food From Provence - Chicken , Potatoes, Tomatoes, Garlic - Perfect for a Family Dinner

    When we get together for Family Dinner its a great opportunity to find something different to cook.
    I took my inspiration this time from the NY Times Cook Column, which is emailed to me almost everyday.

    The aromas coming out of my kitchen, while the food was cooking. Divine. Garlic, onions, Herbes de Provence, Roast Chicken. Close your eyes and imagine this
    Such a lucky Family, I reckon
    Quite a lot of prep is required, but the up side is once it's all prepared just some last minute heating, plenty of time to sit and drink some wine with you guests

    So The Menu read
    Cauliflower and Cashew Soup
    French Provencal Chicken
    French Provencal Potatoes ( courtesy Julia Child) 
    Accompanied by
    Charred Broccoli and Rocket Salad
    and to Follow The Best Ever Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cake 

    For this post I will just address the Main Course.
    First Course and "Pudding" later

    The chicken dish required Skin on, Bone in, Chicken Thighs, but when you are cooling for a crowd
    That takes up a lot of space in the oven.
    So I decided to bone the thighs myself. Much neater
    Took a while but I am very pleased with my labour,
    Tidy little thighs with a bag of bones for roasting, to make stock
    So the bonus, some rendered chicken fat and some very tasty stock, for a later date
    French Provencal Chicken
    This amount will feed four people
    I was feeding 11, so hence the quantities you see in the photos
    Adapt as you see fit
    The recipe called for Vermouth but I don't normally have that on hand so I used a dry white wine

        •    8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
        •    2 teaspoons kosher salt
        •    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
        •    ½ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour
        •    3 tablespoons olive oil
        •    2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
        •    1 lemon, quartered
        •    8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
        •    4 to 6 medium-size shallots, peeled and halved
        •    ⅓ cup dry white wine
        •    4 sprigs of thyme, for serving

    Heat oven to 400 degrees.
    Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
    Put the flour in a shallow pan, and lightly dredge the
    chicken in it, shaking the pieces to remove excess flour.
    Swirl the oil in a hot large roasting pan, and place the
    floured chicken in it.
    Turn the chicken over to oil all sides
    Season the chicken with the Herbes de Provence.
    Arrange the lemon, garlic cloves and shallots around
    the chicken, then add the vermouth to the pan.
    Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes,
    then baste it with the pan juices.
    Continue roasting for another 25 to 30 minutes,
    or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat
    cooked through.
    Transfer to a warm Platter and serve
    Now for the French Provencal Potatoes, 
    just like Potato Gratin, but using soft fragrant onions and tomatoes sauteed in olive oil for the liquid instead of milk and cream
    I didn't use the  anchovies, as our grandson is allergic to fish
    So I just smashed the garlic with the Herbes de Provence and olive oil
    Add this paste to the onion and tomato
    I have left the anchovies in the recipe as Next time, I will add them

        •    2 to 3 onions, thinly sliced (2 heaping cups)
        •    ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
        •     Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
        •    1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into strips about 3/8-inch wide
        •    1 2-ounce can anchovies packed in olive oil, drained (reserve anchovies and oil separately)
        •    2 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
        •    2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
        •     About 2 pounds thin-skinned, waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold, sliced 1/8-inch thick 

              (6 to 7 cups)
        •    ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyère

    Heat oven to 400 degrees and place a rack at the middle level.
    In a large saucepan, combine onions and 2 tablespoons olive oil
    and stir to coat over low heat.
    Sprinkle lightly with salt.
    At a gentle simmer, cook uncovered until onions
    are softened and lightly golden, 10 to 15 minutes,
    stirring often. Do not brown; lower the heat if necessary.
    When done, fold in tomatoes just until heated through.
    Set aside.

    In a small food processor or a mortar, add the anchovies
    anywhere from 6 to 12 fillets, depending on their
    size and your taste.
    Add garlic, herbs and a dozen grinds of pepper.
    Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (or use the oil from the
    anchovy can, if you like).
    Crush or pulse together into a chunky paste,
    thinning with oil as needed to make a loose, fluid mixture.
    Add to the onion tomato mixture

    In a medium-size baking dish, spread a quarter of the
    onion-tomato mixture.
    On top, arrange half the potato slices,
    Add half the remaining onion-tomato mixture.
    Build one more layer with remaining potato slices,
    then onion-tomato mixture.
    Sprinkle cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil.
    If the dish is very full, place on a baking sheet.
    Transfer to oven and bake, uncovered, until the potatoes
    are tender and have absorbed all of the juices in the
    bottom of the dish, 40 to 50 minutes.
    Test by tasting a bit of potato; it should be soft all the
    way through, with no raw taste.
    If the top is browning too fast, cover very loosely with
    a sheet of foil.
    If the top is not brown enough when the potatoes
    are cooked, broil briefly until deliciously glazed.
    Serve gratin hot or warm.
    Can be cooled and reheated later the same day,
    but do not refrigerate.
     So you do need something green with this meal 
    How about this Charred Broccoli and Rocket Salad 
    Just a slightly different touch to the Broccoli
    A quick char on a grill for that extra flavour

    Serve 6

    2 heads of broccoli, florets separated, stems peeled and reserved
    Kosher salt
    3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 oil-packed anchovy fillet
    1 garlic clove
    ⅔ cup mayonnaise
    ¼ cup buttermilk
    1 cup tarragon leaves
    ¼ cup chopped chives
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

    Finishing touches

    3 cups mature arugula, tough stems removed, leaves torn

    Make the Dressing first  
    Purée anchovy, garlic, mayonnaise, buttermilk, chervil, tarragon, chives, lemon juice, and mustard in a blender until smooth; season dressing with salt.
    This can be made ahead and will keep for up to 2 days
    Cover and chill
    Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green and crisp-tender, 
    about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water. Let cool, then drain. Pat broccoli dry; place in a large bowl.
    Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Drizzle broccoli with oil and toss to coat; season with salt. Grill broccoli, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, 5–7 minutes.
    Return to bowl and let cool, tossing occasionally.
    Add Rocket to Broccoli and toss to combine.
    Drizzle salad with ¾ cup dressing and toss to coat; season with more salt if needed.
    Arrange salad on a platter
    The actual recipe, suggested sprinkling smoked cheddar over the top
    That didn't work with my Provencal flavours, but I knew it could work another time
    So keep this in mind for another occasion

    On the Waste Not, Want Not part of this post
    First the bits of potato, which didn't look attractive enough for the Gratin
    Don't waste please
    I cooked them in some boiling salted water, drained and mashed with some olive oil
    into the fridge
    There was some also leftover chicken
     So last night, I made a  roux with some of the chicken fat and used the stock underneath to make a very chickeny sauce
     Added the chicken cut into chunks and some frozen corn and more Herbes de Provence
    Add 2-3 tablespoons of the leftover Salad dressing, that tarragon flavour... perfect to add to the chicken
    Here you go
    I used some of this chicken mixture
    Topped with the mashed potato
    Voila, Dinner for one
    And the good news is there is a whole pile of chicken mixture to go into the freezer to be used at a later date.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    Brown Sugar Mixed Berry Cobbler

     I found this recipe off the Epicurious Website. It is from an issue of Gourmet 2010 by Andrea Albin

    Thought this would a perfect dessert for the Grandchildren
    AND I was right… they loved it
    As it is winter here, I used frozen berries, in fact I love Frozen berries
    especially for baking

    When I was young, I really loved it when my Mother made a hot dessert
    Steamed puddings, Fruit pies, Lemon Delicious Pudding
    Cobbler is not really a New Zealand Tradition, but I'm always trying something new
    After all it is just scones /dumplings on top of cooked fruit! 
    Easy Peasy
    This recipe feeds 6-8, I halved it for the 4 of us. It was enough

            3/4 cup packed brown sugar
            2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
            1 kg of frozen mixed berries
            2 cups all-purpose flour
            2 teaspoons baking powder
            Rounded 1/2 teaspoon salt
            1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
            3/4 cup whole milk
            1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    plus 1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar

    Preheat oven to 200C with rack in middle.
    Stir together brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl.
    Add berries and toss to coat. 
    Transfer mixture to a shallow 3-quart baking dish and bake until mixture is hot, about 12 minutes        Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
    Add butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender
    until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. 
    Add milk and stir until dough just comes together.
    Remove baking dish from oven and drop mounds of dough onto hot berries.
    Stir together the topping... the brown sugar and the granulated sugar and sprinkle over dough.
    Bake cobbler until topping is golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
    Cool to warm, about 30 minutes.
    Some cream or ice ream
    and an excellent dessert is on the table

    Sunday, September 11, 2016

    New Zealand School of Food and Wine - A W & F Celebration

    This weekend The NZ  School of Food and Wine, in Auckland,  which is run by Celia Hay,
    held an event in their premises, in Customs Street. My friend Lana enrolled us
    This Tapas and Spanish Wine Experience appealed to us
    So Off we trotted
    Girls On Tour
    These events are an experience for the Students, to cater for a large crowd.
    We were part of a group of volunteers, who were on hand to help prepare the Mis en Place
    for the 6 course dinner that evening.
    So hair up, Aprons on... we were ready
    It was  6 course dinner.
    In charge were visiting  Spanish Chef David Puig Zaragoza and the
    Head Chef at the School Chef Stefan Lötscher pictured below
    We were ushered into the Demonstration Kitchen where the students, were divided into groups   
    for each course
    Here is Chef David sorting out the groups
    We, the Volunteers, attached ourselves to a group, then knives out, we chopped and peeled
    They were prepping for the 6 course dinner, plus delicious little Iberico Ham Croquettes
    to have with drinks 
    Lana was involved in this course. After this mixture had cooled it was rolled into little balls
    Just the Classic Breading. Flour, Egg and Breadcrumbs
    Deep fried and served with drinks
    Here is the Menu
     Meanwhile, I joined the Group, who were in charge of the Salmon Ceviche with Salmon roe, Crispy Quinoa dressed with a Citrus Sesame Sauce Course
    Our two students, both at Stage Three
    Canada here on cucumber dicing
    and Craigen, who was in charge of painstakingly cutting Nori into strips
    I got the "chop up the Chilies" job
    100 gms of "beautifully chopped" chilies
    When Lana was finished with the appetiser, she joined and was on Cubing the Salmon
    We became very friendly with Paul and Tina Ivory, seen below
    Paul completed a 16 week course at the School, a couple of years ago. He was responsible for making the dressing, He brought his wife Tina for the School experience
    Tina was on the Churros, she snipped, while the Student piped.
    These were served in the Traditional way, with Warm Chocolate Sauce. Yum
     Meanwhile Moi on dish washing duty. Looking very professional methinks
    Around the kitchen everyone was very busy
    Some beautiful dough being kneaded for the fresh ciabatta bread,
    I just loved the look of the dough it was so full of bubbles. Of course they had a sour dough starter, which obviously helps the rise
    This accompanied The Slow Cooked Duck Egg With Chorizo and Potato Foam
    Divine. Plates scraped clean
     Chef David in action frying Croutons
    These Crouton became crunchy Breadcrumbs, topping the Slow Cooked Duck Egg
    There was a Gazpacho Course, the secret ingredient Cherry Puree
    Might have to do that this summer
    The Gazpacho was served with a Oyster au Naturel topped with tiny chopped vegetables
    It was divine.
     Some lucky people got to "French" the Lamb Racks. Long painstaking job
    Then they went onto the grill and were served
    Medium Rare Lamb, with Romesco Sauce, a Classic Spanish Sauce
    and Braised Baby Leeks
    Taste anyone?
    Of course you cant have a Spanish Meal without Paella
    Actually it presented more like a Risotto, seasoned with finely chopped Octopus and Squid
    Then, dressed with beautiful slices of Octopus, cooked in red Roasted Garlic Allioli

    So once we had finished the Prep, we, The Volunteers, were whisked away for a tasting of Spanish Wines. Supplied by Sophie Cotter, from St Vincent's Cave
    Love her Business Card

    This was a fabulous Presentation By Sophie with her sidekick, whose name unfortunately, I didn't record
    He had set a little map in front of us all.
    Each wine came from a different region and sitting on top of each region, sat a small vial, reflecting the main character of the wine
    For instance Peach, Lime, Rosemary, Date, Cocoa, Dark Berries and for the Dessert Wine Golden Raisins
    So Sophie set the mood.
    We closed our eyes and she described the region, pictures flashed into my mind, of tropical beautiful Spanish villages,, Vineyards, Towns...she then suggested we remove the cork and inhale the aroma, then tasted the wine
    We then were ushered into the restaurant where we had a cocktail and the Croquettes
    Then we sat down for the delicious dinner
    I would to thank Celia and all of her staff, for a wonderful experience 
    Plus a big shout out to Maximal Concepts. Their DNA Director, Shiz Scott came down for the weekend event bringing Chef David Puig Zaragoza, who wrote and supervised the wonderful menu
    An Excellent Occasion