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    Monday, June 25, 2007

    It's Winter - Time for Comfort Food.

    Chef Michael Smith made this up-market version of Macaroni Cheese.
    He popped in some lobster…I used scallops…this gave you a cross between Mac Cheese and Lobster/Scallop Mornay
    I halved the mixture. So there was leftovers for lunch.
    I have sent this to Ruth for her Presto Pasta Nights
    Have a look at her site there are some great recipes

    Julie from Noshtalgia had this recipe for spicy sugar snap peas.
    What a lovely accompaniment for our cheesy creamy pasta dish
    Check it out. Just click on Nostalgia above.

    This serves 6 people

    1 box of penne pasta
    115 gms of butter
    garlic cloves, chopped
    ½ cup of flour
    ½ cup of white wine
    375 mls of evaporated milk
    4 cups of milk
    1 tablespoon of paprika
    2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
    ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    225 gms of cheddar cheese, grated
    225 gms of Monterrey jack cheese, grated I used GruyereSea
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 one-pound lobsters, cooked and shelled
    Or 500 gms scallops cut in half2 cups of breadcrumbs

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    Drop the pasta into boiling, salted water and cook until almost tender, about 12 minutes. Make sure the water tastes like a day at the beach, as the pasta will absorb it and become properly seasoned. The pasta should not be fully cooked; it should have just a touch of firmness when tasted.
    Drain well.

    Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat,
    add garlic and cook for several minutes until it softens.
    Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste forms.
    Continue cooking for a few more minutes, in effect toasting the mixture and adding flavour to it.
    Slowly stir in the wine and continue mixing until smooth and then
    Add both milks, mixing well again.
    Continue whisking until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
    Add paprika, Dijon, cayenne, salt, pepper and cheeses and stir until melted.
    (This is an excellent white sauce. Spicy and creamy.)

    Roughly chop lobster or scallop meat and add to the cheese mixture along with the pasta.
    Stir well to combine and check seasoning adjust if necessary.

    Pour into a 9-inch by 13-inch ovenproof casserole or similar dish.
    Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake until the mixture is heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown,
    About 30 minutes.
    Yield: 6 servings

    Keeping on the Comfort Food Theme.
    I love Egg and Chips – a real Heart Stopper in it’s original state but I have devised a healthy version.
    When we lived in the UK in the 60’s I loved going to the little "Hole in the Wall Caffe" under the railway bridge in Isleworth.
    Their Fried Egg and Chips reigned but laden full of fat.

    I hate missing out on treats…so try this "better for you" dish . These potatoes are wonderful with anything really. Give them a go. You can use leftover baked potatoes but if cooking from scratch just cook them in the microwave.

    1 med cooked potato per person (skin on)
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Olive Oil
    2 poached eggs each and
    A dollop of tomato sauce (optional)

    Heat oven to 200C
    Flatten potatoes with a masher,

    Drizzle with olive oil and season with S & P
    and sprinkle some fennels seeds
    Bake 30-40 minutes until golden and crispy.

    Serve with poached eggs and sauce if you wish.

    Guaranteed scrumptious.

    Now one more really tasty treat.

    Perfect for winter days. Our grandson Joseph came to stay and he loves pies

    So I made
    Home Made Pies.

    In fact Mince, Mushroom and Cheese Home Made Pies
    I cooked them in these Pyrex dishes which are an excellent size.

    I actually had left over Mince and leftover Mushrooms which I mixed together.

    So to make the very simple mince.

    1 tablespoons olive oil
    500 gms hamburger mince
    1 onion chopped
    1 stalk celery finely sliced
    1 carrot finely chopped
    2-3 sprigs fresh time
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    Splash white wine
    Beef stock
    Tomato Ketchup
    Cornflour mixed to a slurry with a little water

    Brown mince in a hot pan with a little oil, remove from pan.
    Add little more oil to pan and saute onions, celery and carrot till soft
    Return mince to pan season with S & P and stir well
    Add thyme sprigs and deglaze with wine, scraping all the tasty crunchy bits off the bottom.
    Add big dollop of your favourite ketchup and just cover with beef stock.
    Simmer about 15 minutes, thicken with cornflour slurry and cool.

    For the mushrooms

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 shallot finely chopped
    300 gms mushrooms (your choice)
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    Slosh of Dry Sherry or Marsala wine
    1 teaspoon flour
    Little stock or water

    In a pan saute shallots in oil till translucent
    Thickly slice mushrooms and add to pan
    Cook till they brown
    Season with S & P
    Add Sherry and deglaze pan, stir well
    Add flour cook 2-3 minutes
    Add enough stock/water just to make a thick sauce.

    Mix cooled Mince and Mushrooms together.

    Line your pie dishes with Puff Pastry
    Fill with Meat mixture
    Cover with good handful of grated Gruyere cheese.
    Cover with pastry top.

    Bake in 195C oven about 30 minutes until golden brown.

    A little green salad is nice as an accompaniment but tomato ketchup is pretty good.

    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    Katie's Baby Shower and Afternoon Tea

    Our beautiful daughter Katie and her family are pregnant

    Of course the whole family is "involved" as with most pregnancies!!!
    I'm sure every Husband, Child and grandparent will be aware.

    Her dear friends Cara and Justine held a Baby Shower for her/them and I was the host.
    Justine came over early and dressed the room.
    So pretty

    Balloons tea lights and roses…everything in pink and blue It was afternoon tea with wine for the non pregnant and fruit punch for the Mothers-to-be.There were 5 of them.Here are 3 of them Don’t they look gorgeous.

    For your info Karen has since delivered a beautiful baby girl just 4 days after the party

    So Justine supplied her Date and Coconut Cake

    Lucy made her renowned Sandwiches, all “pregnancy safe”.
    Canned salmon and Gherkins
    Boiled smashed Egg and Avocado

    I made little Crescent Sausage Rolls

    The sausage meat was delicious
    I used bought flaky puff pastry.
    1 x square ready rolled sheet made 8 rolls

    For filling
    3 good quality pork sausages
    2 tablespoons apple sauce
    10 sage leaves chopped
    1 shallot finely chopped
    Sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

    Mix all together quite strongly and leave at least an hour for the flavours to meld.

    To assemble
    Cut the sheet in quarters
    Each quarter in half diagonally
    Put point of triangle at top
    Place sausage meat as below
    Brush with egg wash to help seal.

    Then roll into little croissant shapes

    Brush with egg wash and bake at 195C about 18 minutes until golden brown

    And we had an oldie but a goodie

    Devils on Horseback

    Haven’t had these in years but they are yummy

    Packet of prunes
    1 packet streaky bacon cut in half horizontally
    Creamy blue cheese (I used Kikorangi) Cut into little cubes

    Just make a hole in the prune
    Place a little cube of blue cheese
    Wrap in a bacon slice

    Bake 180C about 10 minutes

    The saltiness of the bacon and cheese combined with the prunes.
    A real taste treat.

    To finish off the savoury nibbles
    Cara’s little Spinach and Feta Frittatas.
    12 eggs
    1 packet feta cheese
    1 packet baby spinach
    Handful self raising flour
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Wilt spinach in a little oil in a hot pan
    Beat eggs in large bowl
    Crumble cheese into eggs
    Chop spinach and add

    Lightly grease mini muffin tins
    Pour into muffin tins ¾ fill and bake 8 minutes in 190C oven
    I love the idea of these little frittatas (they were very moreish) and decided to do the

    Spanish tortilla version

    Heat oven 190C

    For 1 dozen mini frittatas
    1 shallot finely chopped
    1 med potato cut into tiny cubes
    4 tablespoons Olive oil
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Gently sauté cook shallots and potatoes in oil till tender
    Drain in a sieve and tip into beaten eggs
    Season with S & P
    Mix well
    Pour into muffin tins ¾ fill... and bake about 8 minutes

    Turn out onto plate
    Dale and I wolfed them down for our dinner.

    Now onto the cakes
    Ingrid made the most divine cup cakes
    And to top it all off Justine's Date and Coconut Cake
    2 cups fresh dates chopped (or 1 cup dates and a large apple peeled and chopped into chunks
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    2 cups boiling water

    170 gms of butter
    2 cups of sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla essence
    2 eggs
    3 cups flour
    2 heaped teaspoons baking powder

    First prepare dates
    Add dates into a bowl with baking soda and pour boiling water over and allow to soak
    while you prepare the remaining cake.

    Meanwhile cream, butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
    Add vanilla and then eggs one at a time beating well with each addition
    Sift dry ingredients and add to the butter mix.
    Add the dates and liquid. [don’t drain the dates, everything gets tipped in]
    Mix all together well

    Pour into a LARGE (27cms) tin that has been previously greased and lined.
    NB: spring tin is best.

    Bake in oven at 180 c for 50mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

    COCONUT TOPPING 170 gms of butter
    1 ½ cups brown sugar1
    ½ cup coconut [shredded and desiccated together work best]
    8 tablespoons of cream

    Place all in a pot and bring gently to the boil. stir constantly.
    Pour this on top of the cake that has just come out of the oven [leave in its tin]
    Put the whole tin with the topping under a hot grill and grill for around 8 minutes or until it starts to crackle and brown.
    Let it cool well before removing from the tin.
    Serve with whipped cream (just to cut down the richness)


    There was a sweep
    Date of Birth
    What sex?

    Will keep you posted

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Cup Cakes Light and Delightful.

    Ina Garten once again came up with this little winner.
    I copied it down from TV. As the cake she demonstrated was a large cake, (nothing is small or low cal in her kitchen)...I halved the mixture and cooked the cake in a 20 cm tin.

    See it looks OK but I wasn’t thrilled with the tasted alright but was very heavy.
    I went to the website …Turns out I had misjudged how many eggs she used which could allow for the denseness of my cake.
    And another hint make sure your butter is really soft and really cream it well.
    And beat in each egg well.
    Don’t overwork when the dry ingredients are added.

    SO I tried it again and this time made cupcakes.
    Once again I halved the recipe. It made 15 cup cakes.
    They have turned out just as planned.

    This is the full recipe

    18 tablespoons (290gms) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    3 cups sugar
    6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
    225 gms (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
    1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 lemon, zested 
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup cornstarch
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Preheat the oven to 170C Fan bake.
    Prepare muffin tins, grease and flour each one
    Now to make the cake,

    Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time,
    then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest,
    scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well.
    Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda.
    With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth.
    Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed.

    Fill tins to ¾ and bake in oven
    Bake 18-20 minutes.
    Test with a skewer until it comes out clean.
    Cool to room Temperature.

    I iced these with some icing sugar, a knob of butter, a little hot water to mix and then stir through some mashed raspberries.
    Light and delightful.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Banana Cake for the Birthday Boy

    It was Glen’s birthday and my turn make his cake…
    Glen has a dairy allergy and this cake is great…no dairy at all.
    I have actually posted this cake before but I have made a couple of changes and I think they are worth noting.

    First I did make it in a round tin this time
    And I used Lindt Intense Orange Chocolate
    Don’t you love the candle. It’s all we had on hand

    Oven temperature: 160C
    Cooking time: 45 minutes - 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean
    Grease and flour a 23 cm tin
    3 Brown Banana's
    1 cup Raw Sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil (grape seed oil or rice bran)
    4 Eggs
    ¼ cup cocoa powder (lump free)
    2 ½ cups Self Raising Flour
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1 x cake Lindt Intense Orange Chocolate chipped
    Reserve 2 tablespoons of chips for icing.
    Chop them even more finely

    In a large bowl mash banana's.
    Add sugar and oil and mix to combine (try a masher).
    Add all eggs and combine.
    Add lump free cocoa to egg mix and combine.
    In another bowl add sifted self raising flour and baking soda
    Add chipped Chocolate to the flour mix and fluff with a fork.

    Now add flour and choclate to banana mix and fold together without over mixing
    Pour into a prepared cake tin
    Bake at 160C for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean.
    When cold turn out and ice.

    Simple Chocolate Icing
    1 cup icing sugar sifted
    1 tablespoons cocoa sifted
    1 teaspoon rice bran oil
    Hot water to mix

    In a bowl place icing sugar and cocoa
    Add chocolate chips and mix
    Add oil and then hot water till you get the consistency you need to cover cake
    Cut 3 banana slices dip them in lemon juice for decoration.

    Soup and Scone Lunch.

    It is a rotten day here today and the forecast is for a raging storm.

    This is when I am really pleased that I know longer have to go into work 5 days a week.
    It is very cosy here in my office.
    My Mother wasn’t Jewish she was born in Wales but she made excellent Chicken Soup.
    Today is the perfect day for Grandma’s Chicken Soup.

    I really love the scone recipe that originated from Jo Seagar.
    I have made several adaptations and another one has emerged today.
    I formed the dough into a cake. It looks great…very nice presentation.

    Pesto Scone Cake

    This would feed 4 people

    2 cups self raising flour
    ½ teaspoon salt
    120 gms sour cream
    75 gms store bought pesto
    Soda water

    Heat oven to 205C
    Sift flour and salt into big bowl
    In a measuring jug place sour cream and pesto
    Top up to 350 mls with soda water.
    Add wet ingredients to flour
    Mix with a knife to make a soft dough.

    On a floured board pat into a circle
    Score the top into 8 pieces

    Bake about 20 minutes in the hot oven

    Serve with your favourite soup

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    The Foodies Blogroll

    Today I have joined the Foodies Blogroll… (Have a look on my sidebar to have a gander)A very interesting connection to the world of Food Bloggers. Jenn The Leftover Queen has started this Blogroll and also she has initiated a forum
    A great way to discuss this passion so many of us have.
    With all of these amazing sites on the ‘Net” I am beginning to worry that I may never leave the computer.
    I guess my masseuse would be happy she will be the only person I would be visiting in order to get rid of all the knots in my neck and shoulders.

    Anyway contrary to the above information I do get out and today was lunch for our staff .
    I was really pleased with the Green Prawn Curry I made last weekend have a look here it certainly appealed to Pete and Elphie

    I have obviously been influenced by all of the TV shows I’ve seen and set up an impressive mise en place
    So prep time was substantial, but cooking time a zip.
    The Curry and Pilau was accompanied by a Vietnamese dressed coleslaw.
    Nice blend of flavours

    I thought they would like a little dessert and whipped up these delicious little apple pies.

    Keeping in with the Asian flavours I cooked the apple with a little cardamom and ground coriander.
    A little orange zest and orange juice
    Of course about a tablespoon of sugar. A really nice taste sensation.
    So little apple pies cooked in mini muffin tins

    Dust with some icing sugar
    And Voila!!!! Handheld dessert!

    Sautéed Chicken Livers

    I love chicken livers and really don’t get to cook them very often cause guess what.
    My husband who dislikes chicken!!!will he eat chicken livers…I don’t think so
    In fact liver in general does not ever pass his lips.
    Kylie Kwong a fabulous Australian restaurateur made these Sauteed Chicken Livers and I had to make them.
    So what better than inviting Friends who love Liver.
    Ngaire, Annette and Elsje came for lunch.
    Beautiful tender chicken livers topped with a pretty Watercress and Radish Salad
    Arfi from Homemades is running a Cook and Eat Meat Event.
    I thought this was an excellent entry...what better way to increse your iron content.

    I decided to splash out and purchase some special butter as suggested by Kylie. She said French butter...that's not on our supermarket shelf but they have Danish and it really is lovely

    So for 4 people

    500 g organic chicken livers
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 golden shallots, peeled and crushed
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    2 tablespoons white sugar
    1 tablespoon water
    90 g French/Danish butter
    1/2 cup brandy
    1/2 cup sherry vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt, extra
    pinch cracked white pepper
    toasted sourdough bread, to serve

    Watercress and Radish Salad
    11/3 cups watercress sprigs
    1/3 cup finely sliced red radishes
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    Trim and wash chicken livers,
    pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.
    Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan,
    add shallots and salt and stir over high heat for 1 minute.
    Add sugar and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, or until shallots are lightly browned.
    Reduce heat, add water and simmer for 1 minute to caramelize shallots further.

    Remove shallots from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
    Add half the butter to pan and simmer until melted and bubbling, then
    add half the chicken livers.
    Fry over high heat very briefly on both sides,
    so they are lightly browned but still pink in the middle
    (it is better to undercook the livers at this point).

    Remove from pan and cover with foil.
    Repeat with the other half of the butter and chicken livers.

    Add brandy and vinegar to the pan juices and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half.
    Return chicken livers to the pan, along with the extra salt
    and the caramelised shallots, and stir over high heat for 30 seconds,
    or until just heated through.

    Finally, combine salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently.
    To serve, arrange the sautéed livers on a platter and top with the salad.
    Sprinkle with pepper, and

    Serve with toasted sourdough bread.
    It was highly successful they loved them.
    Next time another favourite of my husband (NOT)

    Will keep you posted.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Leek Delight Soup

    I really love leeks. There is not a lot to compare to leeks just finely sliced, sautéed in some butter, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper , add just a little liquid to barely cover and let them simmer and absorb the liquid…so sweet, tasty and pretty too.

    A great accompaniment for loads of dishes.

    TodayI have decided to clean out the fridge and make a soup with leeks, courgettes, parsnip, potato finished off with watercress and a little cream.

    I think this could be a St Patricks Day soup such a pretty green colour

    Lunch for 2 - first course for 4

    2 tablespoons butter
    1 leek finely sliced
    3 med courgettes grated
    1 x parsnip grated
    1 small potato grated
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Chicken stock

    Bunch watercress

    50-100 mls cream

    Gently sauté all the vege in the butter be careful not to brown.
    Add enough chicken stock to about 5 cms above the vege.
    Bring to simmer
    Simmer about 10 minutes

    Place the watercress in your blender
    Add hot soup

    Back into pot and swirl through cream
    Served with fresh bread of your choice or
    how about the beautiful Zucchini and Feta muffins
    in my previous post

    Morning Tea Muffins

    Anali from Anali’sFirstAmendment got excited about zucchini muffins and consequently got me excited. Read about it here
    I was thinking about them overnight but I had to change her recipe as I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand. No going to the shops early in the morning for me
    Here is my recipe and I have to say I am really thrilled with it.
    I have just eaten 2 of them warm from the oven…how greedy is that?
    Breakfast and morning tea combined.

    Makes 12 regular size

    1/3 cup sugar
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 ½ cups plain flour

    1 cup grated zucchini
    1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled

    2 eggs
    ¾ cup milk
    ½ cup rice bran oil

    Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl
    Add zucchini and feta cheese and mix around to coat them
    Meanwhile beat all wet ingredients
    Add to dry.

    Just stir to mix
    Pour into greased muffin tins
    Bake at 175C for about 30 minutes

    Look at the crumb doesn’t that look good

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Asparagus Tomato Casserole

    With Winter finally here…one’s thoughts drift into warming comfort food.

    I am really getting interested in some of my very old cookbooks including ones put together by various Women’s Institutions to raise money for charity.

    My original “bible” was called The Triple Tested Cookbook putout by the Lower Hutt Plunket Society. The object of this exercise was that each recipe be tested by 3 different people.
    If they can do it you can. And almost everyone was a winner.
    While in Omaha I stopped at a local grower and was very excited about picking up
    some fresh produce. It is the end of the tomato season but they did have some heritage tomatoes and chilies.

    They looked fantastic but really when it came to eating-a big disappointment-
    Had to be cooked.
    So I thought of a favourite little dish I used to make for “Ladies Lunches” 30 years ago.
    Quaintly called “Asparagus Tomato Casserole”
    It’s buttery tomato flavour is really excellent
    Of course I had to interfere and make some additions.
    Bringing this into the 21st century. This is so easy

    So for 2 people

    3 eggs hardboiled and quartered
    50 gms feta cheese
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 medium tomatoes chopped
    1 x green chili finely chopped
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons flour
    ½ cup milk
    1 cup fresh Breadcrumbs
    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 bunch cooked asparagus (or 1x 400 gm tinned asparagus) chopped into 5 cm pieces

    Melt butter in a heavy pan
    Add chopped tomatoes and chili
    Season with S & P
    Add flour and cook slowly
    Add milk gradually and cook stirring constantly until thickened

    In a gratin dish lay out asparagus
    Sprinkle over feta cheese
    Place eggs on top

    Cover with tomato mixture
    In a pan toss breadcrumbs with olive oil
    And scatter on top

    Bake in 175C oven until thoroughly heated and bubbly.

    We always go back for seconds.

    New Zealand Play the French - Let's Eat Indian

    The All Blacks are playing the French.
    Pete and Elphie were coming over to watch the rugby.
    Food on your lap was the order of the day. What better than Curry?

    On Food TV Cyrus Todiwala one of Britain's most successful Indian chefs, demonstrated this delicious curry.
    "I Curried favour" with our guests!!! and it worked
    The flavour and texture of this dish with the ground nuts in the sauce is just divine.

    Green Curry with Cumin Pilau

    Once again you can make the sauce for the curry earlier in the day and add the prawns just before serving.
    The Pilau is very simple just a wonderful flavour with the cumin and onion

    First the Curry
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    5cm piece cassia bark broken in half
    4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
    4 cloves
    1 onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    4cm piece ginger, finely grated
    2 green chilies, seeded, finely chopped
    ½ tsp turmeric
    1 tablespoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    150 mls water
    500 mls coconut milk
    50 gms cashew nuts, roughly chopped

    110 gms ground almonds
    5-6 fresh curry leaves
    500 gms tiger prawns, shells removed
    2 tablespoons roughly chopped coriander leaves

    Heat a heavy-bottomed casserole, and add oil.
    When hot add the cardamom, cloves and cassia bark.
    Cook for one minute on medium heat.
    Add the sliced onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent.
    Make sure the onion does not brown.
    Add the garlic, ginger and green chilies, and cook for 4-5 minutes.
    Mix the turmeric, ground cumin and ground coriander with the water to make a paste.
    Add to pot.
    Place the coconut milk, ground almonds and cashew nuts into a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste.
    Add a little water if required to give it a single cream consistency.
    As soon as the liquid has reduced down in the pot, add the coconut milk mixture and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes.
    Add the curry leaves, and bring to the boil, stirring slowly.
    Add salt, to taste, and simmer for 1-2 minutes, then add the prawns.
    Continue to cook for a further 1-2 minutes, before removing the saucepan from the heat.
    Sit for 5-6 minutes, while the latent heat of the curry cooks the prawns.

    For the Cumin Pilau
    These proportions of rice to water are perfect for this method. Couldn’t be simpler

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    900ml water
    500g basmati rice, washed
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    To make the Pilau,
    Preheat the oven to 150C
    Heat an ovenproof saucepan until hot and add the oil, onions and cumin seed.
    Fry for 3-4 minutes until translucent and softened.
    Add the water and bring to a simmer.
    Add the rice and stir well to combine.
    Bring to a simmer and cover.
    Place saucepan in the oven for 15 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and fork through.
    Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper

    To serve, place Pilau Rice on plates and ladle curry on top.

    Garnish with chopped coriander leaves

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Lasagna and a new Baby

    We just had a wonderful couple of days at Omaha Beach.
    Just taking advantage of the first few days of winter sun.
    Reading papers and eating lunch outdoors…soup with some of the local Ciabatta and cheese.

    During the day Sheryl and Michael became Grandparents for the very first time and in the general excitement Sheryl wrote the name of the new baby girl on her blackboard.
    The proud Grandma in her kitchen

    One problem...she got the name wrong and after an afternoon of calling the wee soul Della we discovered her name is actually Stella.
    So welcome Stella Kaye.
    We all had a few drinks and I made a roast vege Lasagna, with Pesto oil Ricotta and Puttanesca sauce to celebrate.
    This was inspired by Emeril Lagasse and is delicious…a little rich so you don’t need huge helping.
    It makes a good accompaniment to a nice piece of grilled fish or some roast beef which is how we ate it.
    A lovely fresh salad alongside would be excellent.
    For the roast vegetables…as it is winter I changed the usual suspects (eggplant courgettes etc) to butternut, red onion, fennel, carrots and celery.
    And for the ricotta 50/50 basil and coriander.

    There are a few steps before assembling this dish but don’t forget you can make it earlier in the day, just pop it in the oven, leaving you free to enjoy your friends before dinner
    You need
    1 packet fresh lasagna pasta
    250 gms grated mozzarella

    The Roast Vege
    1 red freshly ground black pepper chunked
    ½ butternut peeled, deseeded and sliced
    2 red onions – peeled, cut into 8
    2 carrots – halved and sliced
    Fennel – sliced
    Celery – cut into chunks
    2 tablespoons Olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    First toss your vege in Olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Roast in 180C oven about 30 minutes
    While they are roasting in a pan make
    The Puttanesca Sauce:
    ¼ cup olive oil
    1 cup finely chopped onion
    6 cloves minced garlic
    3 x 400gm cans Roma plum tomatoes, broken into pieces, with juice
    1 cup tightly packed, pitted, chopped Kalamata olives
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    2 tablespoons drained capers
    2 tablespoons (about 8) minced anchovy fillets
    ½ teaspoon dried crushed basil
    ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

    In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
    Add the onion and sauté until soft and lightly caramelized,
    about 6 minutes.
    Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
    Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and
    simmer until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, about 40 minutes.
    Adjust seasoning to taste, cover and set aside.
    The Pesto Ricotta
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
    1 cup coriander leaves
    1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt

    900 gms ricotta
    1 teaspoon salt
    To make the Pesto oil
    In the bowl of a food processor or blender place the garlic, basil and
    Process on high while adding the olive oil in a steady stream.
    Continue to process until well blended,
    Season with salt to taste

    In a medium bowl mix the ricotta cheese with salt and half a cup of Pesto Oil
    and set aside until ready to assemble lasagna.
    Now to assemble
    Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish,
    then spoon 1/2 cup of Puttanesca Sauce onto the bottom of the dish.
    Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles.
    Top the lasagna with a layer of ricotta,
    then a layer of roast vegetables
    A layer of grated mozzarella, and a layer of puttanesca sauce.
    Repeat layering the lasagna, ricotta, vegetables, mozzarella and sauce in this manner until all ingredients have been used, ending with mozzarella on top.

    Heat the oven to 170CBake until the lasagna is bubbling and golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

    Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving, drizzled with some of the remaining pesto oil.