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    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Lemon Coconut Tea Cake

    When I saw this cake being made on Food TV it reminded me of
    a Pineapple Teacake recipe I made many years ago.
    It is so simple anyone can do it.
    You don’t even have to use your electric beater just a wooden spoon.
    Simply it’s just a baked batter cake with a coconut icing topping.
    Only about 5 minutes prep.
    Give it a go.

    First heat your oven 170◦ and grease and line the bottom of a 23 cm cake pan.

    All these ingredients into a large bowl

    1 ½ cups flour sifted with
    1 ½ tsp baking powder
    Pinch salt
    1 cup castor sugar
    ½ cup coconut
    Zest 1 lemon
    2 large eggs
    1 cup milk
    125 gms unsalted butter melted

    Mix really well with your wooden spoon making sure it is well incorporated.

    Into the greased pan, give a quick drop on the bench, and into the oven for 35- 40 minutes.
    Test with skewer if it comes out clean its done.

    Cool in pan 5 mins and turn onto rack and let it cool completely.

    To ice
    1 ½ cup icing sugar
    1 cup coconut
    1 tsp lemon zest
    ½ cup lemon juice

    Mix and spread over the cake.
    Best when really fresh.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Braised Beef with Orange and Ginger - Winter is here

    Chef Michael Smith, (who originally had a show on the early days of The Living Channel with a show called “The Inn Chef”) is currently on “Food TV” with “Chef At Home”.
    He is basically using things from his fridge and pantry…albeit 10 times better stocked than the average person…anyway he has made some brilliant dishes and this one really had me licking my chops!

    He used the basics of Asian cooking which are sweet, sour, salty, aromatic and in the case of Thai and Szechuan cuisine…hot…

    There is no chili in this recipe but you could add a little sambal olek if you want the extra kick.

    i.e. Remember if you increase the quantities, don’t double the spices,
    it can be a disaster if you over-spice…
    I know I did it years ago and made the most dreadful chili…
    had to throw it all out, so have a taste before you put it in the oven,
    and add a little more if it needs it.

    With the advent of colder weather I am really looking forward to this kind of slow cooked comfort food. Expect more of these recipes in the near future

    So for 4 people take
    900 gms of topside or blade steak; look for marbling in the meat for extra flavour.
    Sea salt and freshly ground black Pepper
    1 tbs vegetable oil…I use rice bran oil

    Look at this lovely piece of Topside Steak

    Another tbs vegetable oil
    2 onions chopped
    2.5 piece of ginger finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic finely chopped
    1 heaped tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
    2 large orange juiced
    Beef stock about 300 mls
    4 tbs marmalade
    4 tbs soy sauce

    To serve
    Cooked basmati rice or any long grain rice
    Pkt baby spinach from the supermarket

    Don’t chop the meat leave it in big pieces it will all fall to pieces when cooked
    First dry the meat with a paper towel so that it browns nicely
    Season both sides with S & P, and brown in oil in hot pan. Remove and set aside.

    Add onions and ginger stir well and cook slowly till tender, add garlic, then Chinese 5
    spice powder
    , mix around well, then deglaze with the orange juice, soy sauce and marmalade. Return meat to pan (don’t waste any juices on the plate put them in too)…
    Now add enough beef stock to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer cover tightly with a lid or foil…and then into a 145◦ oven.
    Below just waiting to come to the simmer, about the go for the nice long slow cook

    Cook slowly for about 2-3 hours till the meat is falling apart.

    Of course you can do this earlier and reheat when needed.

    To serve put couple of big spoonfuls of hot rice, a handful of baby spinach, (the heat from the rice and stew will wilt the spinach)… 
    then a good serving of the stew.

    This is so delicious, you can taste the spices...and the orange juice and marmalade add an extra touch.
    So So Simple

    I over catered, so with the leftovers, I made pies and
    Cooked up some yummy mashed potatoes
    Put the remainder of the stew into a foil container
    Topped with mashed potatoes and into the freezer it has gone

    Dinner for two on the next chilly night

    A Pretty in Pink Birthday Cake.

    The Barefoot Contessa inspired me with this recipe. She made 3 cakes, each one smaller than the other and then tiered them up to make a pink tower. I thought this looked amazing.
    She had the little girls at the party she was holding decorate it themselves with pink and mauve candy it looked amazing.
    One of our staff had a 21st so this was a good opportunity to try this out for a big girl.

    I only had 2/23 cms tins so I had to make some changes. 2 cakes instead.
    These quantities are enough for this.

    I also added the raspberries to make an adult cake.

    To make the cakes you will need

    280 gms softened butter
    3 cups castor sugar
    6 eggs room temperature
    1 cup sour cream
    1 ½ tbs vanilla extract
    Zest of 1 lemon
    3 cups plain flour
    1/3 cup cornflour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp plain salt

    Grease and flour 2 x 23 cm tin,
    Heat oven to 185◦ C

    Cream butter and sugar till fluffy and add eggs one at a time till all mixed in really well.
    Add sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest.

    Sift the flour, baking soda, cornflour and salt and when all the wet ingredients are fully combined slowly add the dry ingredients a bit at a time, at this stage do not over mix.

    Pour into the 2 tins.
    Check after 40 minutes with a skewer if it comes out sticky back in for another 5 minutes.

    Take out cool about 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out and cool completely on a rack.

    Meanwhile make the icing.
    It seems an enormous amount and there will be left overs but these are the proportions you need.

    340 gms unsalted butter room temperature
    750 gms icing sugar
    ½ cup milk
    1 tbs vanilla extract
    Hot pink food colour…about 10-14 drops

    Cream the butter and sugar add the milk and the food colouring till desired hot pink is reached.

    1 pkt frozen raspberries, reserve a handful for the deoration and puree the rest.
    Several mint leaves

    Slice each cake horizontally and place bottom of one cake on a flat round plate, sitting on top of a bowl for easy icing. You can turn it around while you are doing the sides.
    If you have a turntable all the better.

    Cover 1st layer with thinly spread raspberry puree, and then icing...continue to layer and rapsberry and ice the other 3 pieces, till you have got your tower.

    Then ice the outside of the cake as per the picture and decorate with the reserved raspberries and mint leaves.

    Isn't it gorgeous?

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    New England Clam Chowder NZ Style

    Alton Brown on the Food TV "Good Eats" programme, which is a mine of excellent information, made New England Clam Chowder, (made with milk, as against Manhattan Clam Chowder, which is made with tomatoes).

    For years I have made a Shrimp Chowder out of an old recipe book “The Triple Tested Cook Book”...which was the bible for a lot of people my age.
    So many 70's dinner parties were designed from this book.
    That chowder is good but this is more like the Chowder enjoyed in New England.
    We had a few samples while we were there and this matches up pretty well.
    In the photo you might like the kitschy touch of the real shells taken off a
    Cape Cod Beach!!! (but then again you may not!)

    Canned clams are available in New Zealand but you do have to hunt for them on the supermarket shelf…so persevere.
    I have adapted this soup by adding corn to it as I love the crunchiness of pieces
    of corn in every spoonful.
    This will feed 4 for lunch 6-8 for first course.

    3 rashers bacon Streaky is best
    1 tbs vege oil Rice Bran is really good
    2 med potatoes peeled and small dice
    2 med onions peeled and chopped
    2 cups lite milk
    ½ cup water
    1 cup frozen corn
    1 147gm tin clams Drained reserve the juice
    Sea salt and white pepper
    2-3 tbs chopped parsley
    Few dashes Tabasco (optional)

    In a med pan cook the bacon to render out the fat. Put a few drops of hot water into the pan this helps to get more fat out. Remove the bacon chop finally and put aside for garnish.

    Add the oil to the bacon fat and throw in your onions stir around…
    picking up all the residue so that you don’t get burnt bits in the finished product.
    Then the potatoes, stir again and add milk and 1/2 cup of water.
    Bring to a light boil and simmer till potatoes are tender. Add ½ of the corn and the clam juice simmer another 3-4 minutes.

    Now to get it creamy without adding more dairy just gently puree with your hand blender or use the potato masher…we do want some bits so don’t overdo it.
    This is the time to taste and add the pepper and salt if you need it.
    I think it does but it’s up to you.

    Throw in the remainder of the corn and the clams...just before serving add the parsley and Tabasco and garnish with chopped bacon.

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Mothers Day Treats

    Yesterday was Mothers Day and of course in our family lunch was to be held.
    Our son and daughter-in-law hosted us all…no restaurants for this family, everyone
    always wants to cook…in fact I couldn’t help myself and made the Chocolate Cake below.
    I saw the Divine Delia make it on Food TV and thought it sounded superb…and it was.

    The first course was a Grilled feta cheese with olives…
    what a fabulous texture the cheese develops it is like a custard.
    Just serve with some pita bread or crisps.

    Then we had yummy chili with rice and then the cake.

    Our 8 year granddaughter off her own bat wrote the menu on her blackboard.
    Even the children like to get in the act.

    So first the Grilled Feta Cheese.

    1 onion sliced
    1 red pepper seeded and finely sliced
    Big pinch of dried oregano
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    Extra virgin Olive oil

    1 block of feta cheese
    2 tbs runny honey
    Handful black olives

    Sauté the onions and red pepper in some olive oil in a medium hot pan till soft…sprinkle with oregano and salt & pepper
    Meanwhile heat the oven to 180◦
    Into a heatproof dish place the feta cheese, surround with the onions and pepper,and the olives…Drizzle the honey and then a little extra olive oil
    and bake for about 10 minutes.

    Serve with some pita bread or pita crisps…excellent first course or even just to have with drinks.

    Now the Prune Chocolate Cake.

    This is really easy. Now I think I have mentioned I am not really much of a baker but I have been having some success lately and I am inspired to try all sorts of cakes.
    I will post a couple more that I made this week for a staff member’s birthday and another just because I wanted to try it out.
    But that’s later.

    Take 1 packet of prunes
    ½ cup cognac or brandy

    Soak the prunes in the cognac at least 24 hours before making the cake.

    Then you will need

    6 eggs separated at room temperature
    140 gms golden castor sugar if you can’t get golden use the usual.
    56 gms good cocoa powder well sifted

    Big bar 70% cocoa solids chocolate…you can get this at any supermarket now
    1 packet Crème Fraiche

    Grease and flour 2 round sponge pans 20- 23 cms size

    First beat egg whites till soft peaks,
    Then beat egg yolks with sugar till you get a ribbon trail.
    Sift the cocoa into the beaten yolk mixture and mix in well.

    Add one spoon of egg white stir…then carefully fold in the remainder of the egg whites till blended. Don’t forget you are trying to keep all that air in the mix.

    Divide between the 2 pans and cook in 190◦ oven for 15 minutes.
    Cool in tin and then turn out onto rack.

    While the cake is cooking carefully melt chocolate over simmering water.

    Remove 12 prunes from marinade and dip each one in the chocolate and reserve.
    Into the blender add the rest of the prunes and ¾ of the packet of Crème fraiche.
    Whiz up and spread over 1 of cakes.
    Put the other cake on top.
    Add the remainder of the crème fraiche into the chocolate...mix well.

    Use this to ice the top of the cake and decorate with the chocolate covered prunes.
    Just like a clock face.

    So rich and delicious…but really simple. Doesn't it look great?
    A little whipped cream on the side to cut down the richness completes this decadence.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Yummy Mushroom Pasta

    This was from Australians, Ben & Curtis’s show on Food TV.
    The suggestion was to use a nice curly pasta to best soak up the sauce.
    A really tasty lunch, nice little rose or pinot noir!!!
    but also it is a great accompaniment, to grilled steak or chicken.
    A few chopped herbs and some parmesan shaving to make it pretty.

    200 gms curly pasta cooked to instructions on packet and drained

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    5 large Portobello mushrooms wiped clean
    2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
    ½ cup white wine
    Freshly ground black pepper
    ½ cup chicken stock
    Sea salt
    Punnet Ricotta cheese
    3-4 tbs mint chopped

    To garnish
    3-4 tbs parsley chopped
    1 chili finely chopped
    Parmesan cheese shaved (as much as you like)

    Take the stalks out of the Portobello mushrooms and chop them finely.
    Into a hot pan containing 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil quickly sauté them.
    Let the juices absorb, add the garlic and wine and reduce down again.
    This intensifies the flavour.
    Grind some black pepper over then add the chicken stock this time don’t reduce,
    just bring back to a simmer…we need a sauce now.
    Taste to see if you need to add any salt. If so…do!
    Dob 3-4 tbs of ricotta cheese and the mint mix well and you are ready to serve on your hot curly pasta.

    Garnish with the parsley, chopped chili and some shaving of parmesan cheese.
    All done in about 20 minutes max. Couldn't be simpler really

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Roasted Vegetable Nicoise Pasta

    Ruth at Once About a Feast is running Presto Pasta Night a weekly event. I thought this was perfect.

    Huey on Food TV came up with this idea. I thought it was brilliant.
    Our staff had all been working very hard on some concerts we were
    filming...a healthy lunch was required...something other than the usual burgers.

    This dish is so good for a crowd. Simple and relatively quick.
    It got the thumbs up from all of them.
    By the way the photo from the trusty phone was taken just before I delivered the lunch.
    Don’t be alarmed this amount is not for 2 people…
    We are greedy but not that greedy.

    For the crowd I used canned tuna (in olive oil)
    but for 2 people buy a nice piece of fresh tuna.

    So for 2 people these amounts will suffice.

    100 gms penne cooked to manufacturers instructions

    200 gm piece of fresh tuna

    6 small potatoes par boiled 3-4 minutes
    12 green beans topped and tailed
    1 red onion peeled halved and thick sliced
    4 anchovies
    3-4 cloves of garlic in skin just bang with heavy knife
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
    White balsamic vinegar you can use white wine vinegar or lemon juice
    but I love this product for dressings
    8-10 cherry tomatoes halved

    6-8 black olives
    3 eggs
    hardboiled, shelled and halved
    Handful parsley chopped
    Parmesan cheese finely grated

    Heat your roasting pan on top of the stove and slosh in 2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
    Place tuna and turn over…isolate to one end of the pan.
    Add potatoes, beans, onion, anchovies, garlic,
    Season everything with sea salt & pepper, then toss the vege around till
    all covered in the oil.
    Let them get started for about a minute on the element,
    then transfer to a 200◦ oven.

    Roast 8-10 minutes.
    Remove tuna and throw in tomatoes.
    Break up the tuna into bite size pieces
    Back into the oven about 5 minutes.
    Remove and drizzle on some more oil
    and sprinkle over about 1 -2 tbs white balsamic vinegar

    Meanwhile cook the pasta.

    Grab a bowl and place the pasta, tuna and vege, gently toss (you don’t want to break up the tuna), and invert onto a serving plate.
    Garnish with the black olives, eggs, parsley and finish off with grated parmesan cheese.

    Puy Lentils

    Voila…the French Puy Lentils…so delicious and so good for you.
    Probably you wonder "Whatever will I do with them?"

    Well this recipe I saw on The Living Channel was my original inspiration to share these ideas. This is great as a side dish or even on its own with some crunchy bread.

    For 2 people and some for leftovers

    2 cups Puy lentils you may substitute green/brown lentils but get
    the puy if you can

    3-4 red peppers quartered and pith out
    1 tbs parsley chopped
    1 tbs dill finely chopped

    Salsa Verde
    1 green chilli chopped and de-seeded
    1 tbs grated ginger
    2 tbs dill
    3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
    Large handful Parsley roughly chopped
    8-10 leaves of mint
    The reserved roasted red pepper
    Juice ½ lemon
    1 good tsp Dijon mustard
    Sea salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Extra Virgin Olive oil approx 100 mls

    Take your Puy lentils (or green/brown lentils)…it is not necessary to soak the lentils but they do need careful washing. Bring to boil then simmer till tender about 20 mins don‘t over cook…keep testing…salt them after about 15 mins.
    (Puy lentils take less time that the brown/green variety)…

    Meanwhile take the red peppers, cut into quarters, take out pips and pith so that they are fairly flat. Push down onto grill pan and place under grill until skin blisters and blackens.
    Remove skin (an easy way to do this is to place them into plastic bag to cool. This is helpful in removing skin but not obligatory.)
    Chop into wide strips. Reserve a couple of slices aside for the salsa verde.

    Dress the cooked lentils with the salsa verde saving a tbs of the dressing to sprinkle on at the end.
    Make a criss cross pattern with the peppers and and sprinkle with some chopped parsley and dill. Then sprinkle over the remaining Salsa Verde

    To make the salsa…Into the food processor take the green chilli chopped and seeded (leave seed in if you can stand the heat.) grated ginger, the roast pepper you have saved, dill, garlic- parsley, mint leaves, lemon juice, dijon mustard,
    sea salt and ground black pepper, blitz and start adding the extra virgin olive oil to make dressing probably about 100 mls continue to blend until fairly smooth.

    As I mentioned at the beginning there will be left overs.
    Turn these into fritters as per the vege fritter recipe earlier in this site…replacing the vege
    with the lentils.
    This makes a tasty little lunch.
    Serve with your favourite relish.