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    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Party Party Party

    It is 1 hour 35 minutes after Boxing Day and the aftermath of a party is a little sad sometimes but I really love it…I am usually alone playing my favourite music as loud as the neighbours will allow.
    One of the saddest things is my typing... Of course you won’t see this because I will spell check...
    Any way let’s not digress...

    Tonight we entertained some of our oldest and dearest friends…we have known each another!!! For over 30 years some over 40 years…
    Isn’t that great
    We had a lovely night…I was very pleased with the food some of which is already on the log but here is the menu….Oops my iPod has stopped I shall have to go and change the genre

    I’m back

    Right here we go
    Spinach Artichoke and bacon dip
    Spicy rosemary cashew nuts
    Lovely oil and dukka
    Hummus (Bought) drizzled with Colonna lemon infused oil and freshly ground black pepper
    Polenta fries with aioli

    The Ultimate Chin Dripping Burgers (rump steak freshly minced from the butcher )
    I was lucky enough to have our Chef friend Brent to man the BBQ so they were just right.

    Potatoes (new baby) smashed with Catherine’s mint jelly and olive oil (little sea salt)
    Pesto pea salad

    Salmon stuffed with Salsa verde and roasted on a bed on tomatoes and capers

    Jeannie’s (pictured arms akimbo) Famous Pavlova

    The Infamous Pineapple sprinkled with mint sugar and decorated with Chocolate Mint leaves
    I’m sorry I know its been mentioned several times on the blog…but it is divine and it is summer and everyone loves it

    The little Lemon Curd Tarts

    Coffee and Turkish delight

    A group of Happy Campers I Think!!!

    Now the recipes

    Bob Blumer The Surreal Gourmet gave me this idea for Polenta Fries
    I have adapted his recipe by adding some of the Rosemary Polenta ingredients.

    Handful dried shitake mushrooms
    50 gms butter
    ¼ cup olive oil
    1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
    2 cloves garlic peeled & crushed
    1 tsp chili flakes
    Sea salt and freshly ground black freshly ground black freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup Parmesan cheese

    1 cup polenta
    3 cups boiling water

    Vege oil for frying
    Aioli for serving

    Re-hydrate the mushrooms in boiling water should take about 30 mins
    Drain and reserve the water
    Finely chop the mushrooms

    Meanwhile put the butter and oil into a pot and heat till foamy
    Add thyme, garlic, chili flakes
    Season with salt & freshly ground black pepper
    Add the mushroom liquor and bring to the boil
    Sprinkle the polenta over the top and whisk till it starts to thicken
    Change to a wooden spoon and back on a low heat
    Cook 2-3 minutes stirring all the time.

    Beat parmesan cheese
    Add mushrooms and test seasoning

    Pour into a 30cm x 20cm swiss roll tin and leave to set covered in the fridge.
    You can make this ahead

    When you are ready tip out form the tin and cut into large French fry sticks

    Fry in vege oil

    Serve with an aioli you start from scratch but the easy option is to
    Crush 4-5 cloves garlic and add to a cup of the best mayonnaise.

    Small hint you can fry earlier in the day
    Drain and then a quick zap in a very hot oven 5-8 minutes
    And Away you go

    Here's a magnificent Salmon Dish
    Gino de Campo did a variation of this on Saturday Kitchen on Food TV but that’s another blog!!!
    Chef Neil cooked this for us on Xmas Day
    We were both inspired by Rick Stein with this particular recipe
    On a buffet 1.5 Kg Salmon feeds 18 people

    1.5 Kg side of salmon
    Chili flakes

    6 large tomatoes
    Sea salt freshly ground black pepper
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Balsamic vinegar
    2 cloves garlic chopped
    Capers 3-4 tablespoons
    Thyme leaves
    A little water

    Salsa Verde
    Into the food processor with a handful of each
    4 cloves garlic
    Capers 2 tablespoons
    4-5 anchovies

    Remove pin bones from the salmon
    Cut in half
    Season one half with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Cover with Salsa verde
    Place other half on top

    Meanwhile line a roasting pan with the tomatoes
    Sprinkle sea salt, thyme, balsamic, olive oil, garlic and capers

    Sit the salmon on top
    Brush with oil and sprinkle chili flakes on top and around the tomatoes as and added extra.

    Into a 210C oven 25 minutes
    Remove a skewer should have no resistance.
    Then it’s done
    Let it get to room temperature for serving
    Doesn’t it look great?

    No pictures but a couple of "how to do"
    Spicy rosemary Cashew Nuts
    To roast the nuts once again thank you Barefoot Contessa

    200 gms cashews nuts Into 170° oven for about 10 minutes till crisp
    2-3 sprigs rosemary leaves off and finely chopped
    2 tbs brown sugar
    1 tbs salt
    ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tbs melted butter

    Mix all the flavouring together then toss the hot nuts in, they will absorb all those wonderful flavours. Leave aside to cool.
    Spinach, Artichoke and Bacon Dip

    Almost a meal in itself

    You need a Packet frozen spinach
    2 shallots finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic chopped
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    8 slices streaky bacon chopped, fried and drained on paper towels
    1 jar artichokes finely chopped
    Zest 1 lemon
    2 cups sour cream

    Blanch, cool and squeeze all water from spinach
    Chop and set aside.
    In olive oil gently sauté shallots and garlic

    Now place everything into a bowl mix let sit at least a couple of hours
    You can leave it overnight
    Dip in your favourite carbs or use batons of carrots or celery.

    The Ultimate Chin Dripping Burgers
    Inspired by Tyler Florence

    You need to get your butcher to mince the beef for you
    nice and fresh on the day you want to use it.
    I used rump steak don’t forget fat and all please.
    None of the ready prepared stuff

    You need
    115 gms rump mince per person
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    1 onion per person sliced
    Olive oil
    S & P

    2 slices tomato per person
    Olive oil
    S & P
    Fresh thyme leaves or chives chopped

    1 slice streaky bacon per person
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Thin slice of Swiss cheese per person

    1 hamburger bun per person


    Season and mix the mince meat really well with your hands
    Roll into a 115 gm balls and then slap it back and forth between your hands
    Flattening it
    This really amalgamates the beef and stops the burger from falling apart.
    Round up the shape...about 8 cms in diameter...Perfect little burgers.
    You can do this earlier and keep in fridge between waxed paper.

    Mix 3 tablespoons horseradish with 1 cup mayonnaise
    Add your onions to olive oil in pan
    Slowly (about 20-30 minutes) caramelise them

    Slice thick slices of tomato, drizzle and sprinkle with oil S & P & herbs

    Put the slices of bacon on a tray sprinkle over the rosemary and freshly ground black pepper. Into a hot oven till crispy.

    Cook the burgers on a greased medium to hot grill about 5 minutes
    Turn place cheese slice on top and cook another 5 minutes
    It should be just pink and really juicy.

    Now start to build

    Touch more mayo
    And ketchup if you must!!!

    This is guaranteed to be one your best burgers yet
    You will need paper towels to wipe your chin.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    The Ultimate BBQ Chicken

    Tyler Florence has a programme called The Ultimate and this is the recipe for his “Ultimate BBQ Chicken”
    And I can tell you it is “finger lickin” good
    and healthy enough to enter into Joanna of Joanna's Food event Heart of the Matter

    Have a look at her sites.

    There are a couple of important steps

    1 You must soak the chicken in brine at least
    2 hours in the fridge

    2. On the grill 5 minutes each side and then into a 200C oven

    3. The BBQ sauce which must be brushed on and cooked for the last 10 minutes of cooking

    It was the most moist BBQ Chicken I have ever eaten I am planning to do this at the staff Xmas party on Friday.
    I have made the BBQ sauce already.

    How easy is this?

    Sauté in a hot pan;
    3 rashers bacon
    1 finely chopped onion in
    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 cups tomato ketchup
    2-3 sprigs of thyme leaves only
    Splash of red wine vinegar
    1 dessertspoon golden syrup (treacle if you have it)
    1 dessertspoon mustard powder
    1 dessertspoon ground cumin
    1 dessertspoon paprika

    Simmer 20 minutes
    Blend with a stick blender
    This will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

    Now the chicken
    I used thighs on the bone my favourite
    1 per person

    Make a brine of
    1 handful of salt
    1 handful sugar
    Few sprigs of thyme
    Enough water to cover your chicken

    Soak on the fridge for at least 2 hours can be longer
    Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
    Heat your oven to 200C

    Heat your grill pan till smoking it must be hot.
    Put skin side down
    Leave for at least 3 minutes then lift gently and turn 90 degrees
    After another 2 minutes turn and cook 5 minutes on the other side.

    Pop onto the oven another 10 minutes
    Remove brush with BBQ sauce generously
    Pop back in oven for another 10 minutes.
    This should be enough time to cook your nice fat thigh.

    Wow fantastic.

    Now of course I live with someone who hates chicken with the same passion
    that I have for loving it.

    So I bought a nice fat Ling steak.
    Ling is a deep sea fish...big fat steaks perfect for the BBQ or roasting
    Lightly oiled and seasoned
    Popped onto the grill
    3 minutes 1 side
    1 minute the other
    Brush with BBQ sauce and into the oven for another 5 minutes
    Remove from oven…rest of course

    And another;
    Wow fantastic this was so moist and delicious.

    How about a Beetroot and New Potato Hash

    December is the time for Jersey Benne potatoes the Queen of new potatoes.
    Of course steamed or boiled tossed in butter or olive oil seasoned well with
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    But this is an extra treat

    1 red onion finely chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 x small to medium beets
    Equal amount of Jersey Bennes

    Chopped parsley

    Roast beets…cool, peel and chop
    Steam or boil potatoes and dice
    Hot pan add oil and onions
    Cook 2 minutes

    Add potatoes sit for a couple of minutes to get colour
    Toss another couple of minutes
    Throw in beetroot…another 2 minutes to coat well with all and heat through.
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Garnish with chopped parsley

    Serve with your favourite protein and your favourite green.
    Was pretty good with the BBQ Chook and Fish

    Lemon Tarts and Coconut Cake

    Lana was the host for the Monthly Family Lunch.
    The second Sunday of Summer another lovely day.
    She served a wonderful retro meal
    Gazpacho - Shrimp Cocktail - Quiche

    Helen made a wonderful Coconut Cake for dessert.
    While in Rarotonga one of the restaurants served a Coconut Cake as a dessert.
    She was very impressed and has adapted a recipe from Nigella Lawson
    adding her own coconut frosting.

    It was delicious. Look pretty good to doesn't it.?

    This is how you make it
    225g unsalted butter, softened
    225g castor sugar
    12 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    4 large eggs
    200g self-raising flour
    25g cornflour
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    50g desiccated coconut, soaked in 150ml boiling water

    Prepare 2 x 21cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined
    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius

    Make the cake by putting all the ingredients in the food processor and blitzing until you have a soft batter.

    Pour into the prepared tins and cook for about 25 minutes or until ready; not so springy on top as a plain sponge, but still coming away from the edges; a cake tester, inserted should come out cleanish.

    Sandwich together with a little of the cream cheese frosting and then ice the top too.

    Malibu Cream Cheese Icing (Helen’s Adaptation)
    25g soft butter
    180g cream cheese
    375g icing
    25g desiccated coconut, toasted
    4 tablespoons Malibu liqueur

    3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, toasted (extra)

    Beat the butter until it’s really soft and creamy. Add the cream cheese, beat until smooth. Add the icing sugar, coconut and Malibu and beat until smooth.

    Use some of the icing to sandwich the cake together and the remaining icing for the top of the cake … sprinkle the top with the extra toasted desiccated coconut.
    Beautiful served with Honey Greek Yoghurt

    Now onto the divine Lemon Curd.
    Paula Deen from Food TV inspired me to make these lovely mini
    tarts which you fill with the following
    Lemon Curd

    1 cup sugar
    Zest and juice of 3 lemons
    4 whole eggs
    115 gms butter melted

    Place sugar, lemon juice & zest and eggs into food processor and whiz
    Slowly pour in melted butter and continue to pulse till well blended

    Put into double boiler and cook till it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
    Paula said 3 minutes but I thought more like 6-7
    Pour into container and cool in fridge.
    This will keep for over a week in the fridge.
    Now you need little shells to put it in.

    Heat your oven to 170C (fan bake)
    and make the following
    This pastry is dead easy.

    1 cup flour
    85 gms cream cheese
    115 gms cold butter chopped up

    Everything into the food processor
    Pulse till it forms a ball
    Push together
    Wrap in plastic wrap chill about an hour
    This makes about 24 mini tarts.

    Rip into small pieces and roll into little balls
    Put balls in mini muffin tins and press down with a shot glass
    dusted with flour to stop it sticking
    Using your finger press the side up to cover the little tins

    Bake at 170 fan bake oven for 20 minutes. Turn out onto rack like so and cool

    I filled 6 tarts for the children with Ganache for their dessert and put the remainder of the shells in a airtight container.

    Chocolate Ganache
    Simply put equal amounts of cold chocolate broken up with just boiling cream.
    Let sit for a couple of minutes and whisk to combine.
    Simple and rich as!!!

    Look at those little Chocolate Mint Leaves.
    (Courtesy of Paula Deen)
    This is gorgeous and very easy
    Simply melt some good chocolate in a double boiler
    Dip the fresh mint leaves in the chocolate using tweezers
    Place on waxed paper and place in fridge to harden
    You now have you own after dinner mints

    This morning I filled the rest of the little shells with the curd
    Took them into work...A huge hit with the staff

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Traffic Light Salsas

    First Sunday in Summer

    It’s a lovely day; our courtyard is bathed in sun.
    We are preparing it for Summer Proper ready to entertain...
    and it’s a bit of a mess. Can’t use the table as it is getting a nice new surface; so lunch had to be eaten inside.
    I made bread. I used the Chili and Cheese Bread recipe posted in February 2006.

    My friend Diana gave me a French Bread loaf tin.
    I decided to bake the bread in that.

    A hint from Alton Brown of Good Eats fame on Food TV was to brush the bread with a cornflour and water slurry to get a nice even browning.
    Good idea…See

    To accompany the bread I made 2 salsas.
    A great Christmas look.
    A Green one, red and you can also make an orange one.
    Very simple and very pretty what an asset for the buffet table.
    Here goes:

    Traffic Light Salsas
    10 cm piece cucumber peeled seeded and large dice
    ½ green freshly ground black pepper deseeded and large dice
    2 x spring onions chopped
    1 green chili chopped
    ½ avocado diced
    Coriander finely chopped and of Fresh mint finely chopped
    Juice 1 small lime
    Extra virgin olive oil drizzled over
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Mix everything together

    2 x tomatoes chopped
    ½ red pepper deseeded large dice
    1 x red chili chopped
    ½ red onion diced
    Juice ½ lemon
    Extra virgin olive oil drizzled over
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Mix everything together

    Orange (Not pictured I didn't have the ingredients on hand)
    1 mango diced
    ½ small papaya diced
    ½ orange pepper
    1 clove garlic finely chopped
    White balsamic vinegar
    Extra virgin olive oil drizzled over
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Mix everything together

    Made it the other day so here it is

    An excellent accompaniment for the fresh bread.

    BBQ Steak

    I grilled 2 beautiful steaks for dinner.
    Buy the New York cut of steak it is thicker
    Which makes better control over the “doneness”
    of the meat. About 2-3 cms thick should give best results.

    A dry rub is a great marinade.
    On this occasion I used Cajun spices
    Just massaged it into the meat on both sides
    and let sit about ½ hour

    Get the grill really hot sprinkle it with some sea salt and olive oil

    Bang on the hot grill listen to the sizzle.
    Don’t move for about 1 minute turn 90 degrees
    to get the lovely criss cross pattern
    Cook for about 3 minutes
    Turn over and same on the other side.
    Remove from grill set aside and rest for 5 minutes

    This gave me med rare steaks.

    I slice them on the diagonal and served with potato salad and
    the remainder of the green salsa.

    It gave us a real taste of how summer is going to be.
    How exciting…

    Cooking with Mia

    Mia has come to view the Xmas Tree and cook Kiwi Crisps with her Grandma
    This recipe is a New Zealand Icon. Quite different from the American style Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are smaller and crisper.
    Pre heat the oven to 180C (If using fan bake 170C)
    115 gms butter softened
    ¼ cup sugar
    2 tablespoons condensed milk
    1 cup plain flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    Pinch salt
    ½ cup choc chips

    Cream butter, sugar and condensed milk
    Sift flour, baking powder and salt
    Toss choc chips in sifted dry ingredients
    Add to butter mix

    Mix well to combine
    Using a teaspoon take big spoonfuls and roll into balls.
    Place on oven tray
    Squash lightly with a fork dipped in flour (to stop sticking)

    Bake about 15 minutes till golden.
    Cool on a rack and enjoy.

    Here is Mia with her bag of Cookies

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Steamed Fish with Egg Fried Rice.

    Another fabulous fish dish

    I made the Egg Fried Rice for lunch and added some finely chopped vegetables
    This made an excellent lunch as you can see (pictured)

    ...but if serving with fish just make the Egg Fried Rice recipe below.
    It is generally recognised that Peanut Oil is the best for Chinese cooking because of its high smoking point but you may use any other vegetable oil.

    The Fish
    1 fillet fish per person

    Marinade...enough for 2 portions
    Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
    3 cm piece of ginger sliced finely into sticks
    2 spring onions chopped

    8 leaves basil finely sliced
    2 tablespoons peanut oil
    Few drops sesame oil

    Place fish on plate and sit in a steamer
    Sprinkle on the zest and ginger
    Plus spring onions
    Steam for about 5-6 minutes
    Remove from steamer carefully
    Place on plate and heat the peanut oil and sesame oil till quite hot and
    Drizzle over fish.

    Serve with the Egg Fried Rice.

    The Egg Fried Rice.
    For 2 people
    2 tablespoons peanut oil
    1 cup cooked chilled rice
    2 eggs
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    2 spring onions finely sliced

    Heat oil in wok till smoking
    Add rice stir till well coated with the oil.
    Meanwhile beat the eggs with sesame oil and S & P
    Add to rice and mix quickly and thoroughly
    Add spring onions toss well

    Out onto plate with the fish

    If you want to add vegetables (as per photo)
    Finely chop your favourite vege into small dice
    Quickly stir fry in peanut oil remove put aside
    Add to completed rice as per the picture above

    Try this as an accompaniment

    Marinated Grilled Summer Vege

    This marinade is excellent for courgette, any kind of summer squash.
    Of course you can do the favourites aubergine capsicum etc.

    Cook on BBQ or an inside grill to get the smoky flavour and good grill marks.

    2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    2-3 sprigs of thyme leaves chopped
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

    4 courgettes sliced into 1-2 cm slices cut diagonally
    This gives a bit more surface to grill.

    Marinate for 2 hours
    Straight onto hot grill
    Should take about 2-3 minutes each side.
    Pour excess marinade over as dressing
    The addition of a few fresh herbs chopped ontop wouldn't go amiss.
    This can be made earlier...served at room temperature
    or in the fridge as a snack.