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    Monday, August 20, 2007

    There are Changes Afoot.

    Renovating The House.
    I have had a strange week. I haven’t been cooking First I got a 24 hour virus.
    Lack of appetite... nausea...tired
    Dale had baked beans on toast while I languished in bed. The painter's sheets were off the furniture so there was a slight amount of normality. We could watch TV in the lounge again.
    We are fare-welling Dougie "The Uber Painter" (he has completed an awesome job for us)
    and welcoming the flooring people.
    The next job on the agenda…new flooring.
    Thursday dawned and the wooden flooring man came.
    We had empty the dining room.
    The exciting bit -The Piano.
    With difficulty 3 of us got it up into the lounge area.
    And he started.

    Then the Video technician arrived the Plasma TV is going on the wall

    It’s looking good.

    Of course it needed overnight settling-in time.
    We ate out.

    Friday morning The Carpet
    Now move everything back down including The Piano.
    This time we enlisted the help of 3 burly men!!!

    Surprisingly enough there was a problem. The manufacturers sent the wrong carpet
    So our carpet layer could only work on the stairs.
    Luckily there was a farewell lunch for Per (one of our presenters at Juice TV who is off to live in the UK with his lovely wife) at Portofino “The Clubhouse”.
    This is our local and we love it there.
    Alex once again put on superb food.
    I have to say their grilled squid is pretty hard to beat.
    A feast of squid, and pizzas was ahead of us.
    Washed down with some excellent wines.
    Gino’s pizza has a wonderful spicy chorizo on top.
    Crisp bottom melting cheese, I think artichokes and that superb chorizo.
    Sad to see Per go, he has been a great presenter, but we wish them both well for their future life in the UK.
    Back at work...A little Sing Star and some extra wine A fun day.
    This is the state of the kitchen so on Saturday I went shopping for ready prepared food at my local Supermarket for lunch and dinner.
    The food wasn’t that bad.
    I had Green Chicken Curry a little mild for me but quite tasty,.
    Dale liked his Roast Vegetable Curry

    Katie offered her kitchen for Sunday Dinner. Any excuse to see the little girls.

    This new baby Cleo is such a good girl. So far, doing everything right. Her big sister Mia is coping reasonably well with the interloper.
    It was good to be cooking again. I cooked Hapuka(Grouper) accompanied by Risotto flavoured with a Cauliflower and Parsnip puree.
    Very good. Didn’t take any photos but I did make the following soup a couple of weeks ago and it is excellent.

    So while on the subject of Cauliflower try this.

    Roast Chicken and Cauliflower Soup
    I really love velvety soup and this soup is so delicious, not overpowered by any of the flavours a beautiful blend.
    Just to puree the vegetable is not really enough for that extra gorgeous smoothness,
    there needs to be a roux.

    You will see that I have boosted the chicken flavour with some chicken stock powder.
    The addition of the braised leeks at the end add a nice dimension to the texture, little speckles of green.
    So I seasoned and roasted 2 large chicken thighs on the bone sitting on a large onion with some thyme and rosemary to make stock.
    Should take about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile I braised 2 leeks my word they do look pretty
    Just slice thinly and sauté gently in 2 tablespoons butter,
    Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Add a little water and cover and cook gently about 5 minutes just till tender.

    Put aside
    When the chicken thighs have roasted

    Take 1 cauliflower and break into florets
    Throw into a large pot
    Add all the contents of the roasting pan and cover with water.
    Bring to boil and simmer till cauliflower is tender
    Strain cauliflower and reserve stock

    Remove chicken and herb sprigs (the chicken could make some nice sandwiches for lunch the next day minced with a little mayonnaise and grated cucumber)
    Place cauliflower in blender
    With a little of the stock, puree till smooth.
    Add half of the leeks and puree again

    In your pot add 2 tablespoons butter and melt
    Add 2 tablespoons flour stir well and

    cook for a few minutes to get rid of the “flour” taste

    Add 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and

    2 teaspoons chicken stock powder.
    Plus a good grind of freshly ground black pepper
    Mix in the rest of the stock
    Bring back to the boil stirring to stop any lumps forming.

    Add more water if it is too thick
    Add the cauliflower and leek puree.

    Add reserved leeks
    Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

    Who could believe my little lemon tree could produce so much beautiful fruit.
    I have pruned it is a sparse, look how pretty it is now with the daffodils and freesias

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    A Tasting -Bob Dylan and Champagne and Oyster Soup

    Last Saturday we went to see Bob Dylan. It was a pleasant night and we live not more than a 10 minute walk from the Arena..
    We booked in at the Daikoku Teppanyai Restaurant, just down the road from the Arena.
    I love this kind of dining.
    We were first introduced to the Benihana Restaurants experience on a trip to Honolulu in 1980.
    We were immediate fans and over the following years we ate at as many Benihana’s as possible. New York, San Francisco, London, Anaheim, New Orleans and L.A.
    In fact the L.A. branch is close to the airport and we have gone there often whilst on a stopover.
    Benihana was the first time we had experienced the “Let’s look after Birthday Boys and Girls”. My husband was desperate to be honoured and told a little white lie about his birthday.
    Birthday Cake, singing and I think if I remember correctly another shot of Sake for our Unbirthday Boy. It just goes to show you are never too old to want to be King for a day…

    I loved the food, the sauces, the Japanese Onion Soup and the continuous stream of tasty morsels being cooked before your very eyes. The clever little Chefs show great knife-skills, perform juggling acts with bowls, salt and pepper shakers all to the delight of the diners.
    Back to Daikoku, it is an imitation, not as good but we still enjoy the experience.
    Of course they don’t encourage people hanging about so we called into a Pub en route to the concert for an extra glass of wine.

    It was fun to see Bob Dylan. He looked like a mad Amish Preacher and certainly was exceptionally energetic. His Band was excellent. I had a problem hearing the lyrics which is a pity when his lyrics really are the reason for Bob Dylan!!!
    But we did have a great night and I’m glad we went.
    We walked home…Excellent outing.
    But to start the day off I made this soup for lunch.

    Champagne and Oyster Soup

    Well blow me down I had to open the bottle of Methode Champagnoise
    And I as I was writing this I sipped away. And very nice it was too.
    I saw Joanne Weir on Food TV the night before making this soup.
    I love oysters and they had a special at the fish market.
    Frozen Bluff Oysters @ $6.90 per dozen. I don’t normally buy frozen oysters but they absolutely perfect for soup or chowder.
    Especially at that price.
    Also frozen oysters yields more liquor.
    Bluff oysters are considered to be if not the best in the world amongst the best.

    I had to make a couple of changes to the basic recipe due to not looking at my list whilst at the supermarket.
    I forgot to buy fish stock.
    So I have substituted chicken stock and it really is very good.
    Plus she used clam juice. I don’t think we can buy that in New Zealand.
    I also popped in a bay leaf pretty essential in any white soups I think.

    So here’s my take on
    Champagne and Oyster Soup

    2 doz oysters and their liquor

    50g butter
    1 bulb of fennel diced
    1 large onion diced
    3 stalks celery diced
    Sea salt and ground white pepper
    1 large potato peeled and diced
    Try and make all the vege the same size.
    250mls chicken/fish stock
    Champagne about 150mls

    Saute fennel, onions and celery in melted butter till tender

    Add potatoes, toss around to coat with butterey vege
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Add stock, and champagne
    It froths up beautifully

    Add enough water to cover vege plus about 2.5 cms above that

    Bring to boil and simmer till potatoes tender.

    Remove half of the soup and puree
    Return to pan
    Add oysters and their liquor
    Then add a slosh of cream
    Then just warm the oysters through and serve with some
    fresh French bread and butter. Garnish with some of the fennel fronds.

    A piece of Catherine’s slice (see previous post) and the rest of the champagne.
    What a perfect lunch.
    Dougie our painter joined us for lunch I think he was impressed.

    Just a little asideThe lovely little bowl holding the oysters was given to me many years ago by John Parker a New Zealand Potter of some note. It looks metallic but is in fact pottery. I love it…it looks great with whipped cream

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Chocolate Truffle Slice

    My friend Catherine (pictured here plonked in the middle of members of my family)

    is an amazing baker. I frequently have to ask advice because basically I am fairly new to baking.
    I used to bake for the kids when they were little but then the only person eating it was me… so I bought packets of biscuits which they loved. Especially Mallow puffs... Chocolate covered marshmallow on a shortbread cookie.
    The best part for them was to crack the biscuit on their heads, and then pick off the broken pieces of chocolate...then eat those little pieces slowly AND then devour the rest.Not my cup of tea but there you go.

    So I have just been to visit Catherine and she gave me some pieces of this divine Chocolate Slice.
    So so rich. It would please Ina Garten and even Paul Deen, just laden full of calories.
    She got the recipe from a wonderful New Zealand Cook Book Writer
    Annabel Langbein click here for information about Annabel

    The book is called the “Best of Annabel Langbein” and this is a
    Chocolate Truffle Slice.
    Of course as is true of most recipes Annabel was inspired by a friend of hers Louise.
    So onto the recipe

    125 gms butter
    ¼ cup caster sugar
    2 tablespoons golden syrup
    2 tablespoons milk
    2 tablespoons drinking chocolate
    1 tablespoons cocoa
    1 pkt plain sweet biscuits
    1 ½ cups chocolate cake crumbs (quite acceptable to buy that cake from the supermarket)
    Nip whisky or rum
    60 gms cherries (Catherine used Craisins they’re pretty good)
    1/3 cup raisins

    250 gm dark chocolate

    Crush the biscuits between 2 pieces of plastic to a fine crumb
    Heat butter, sugar and syrup
    Add drinking chocolate, cocoa, ½ of the biscuit
    Add rest of ingredients and mix

    Press into a 20cm swiss roll tin

    Then melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water
    Spread over the slice to ice

    Allow to set
    Cut with a sharp hot knife.
    Store in fridge, in a sealed container.
    You’ll be lucky to have any left to share.

    This is the last you will hear about my little citrus the photo above are the last of my lemons.
    Pruned the trees today. Will feed them tomorrow and hopefully I will get fab fruit again next year.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    Cooking with Paula Deen

    I have been cooking with Paula Deen this morning.
    I was checking through an old tape to see what little food gems I had missed and came across this episode of Paula’s Home Cooking.

    I love this woman along with Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa
    I think the words fat or sugar free never pass their lips.
    I find watching Top Chefs working fascinating and have learnt lots of new skills but along with Delia and Nigella all these women are perfect for the home cook.

    Anyhow I had to make both of these recipes.
    I thought it was about time I made Dougie our painter who is doing a splendid job some morning tea.

    Paula made these zillion calories
    Sour Cream Muffins.
    How simple and quick are these.
    Makes 12

    Heat oven 175C

    2 cups Self raising flour
    240 mls sour cream
    225 gms melted butter

    Everything in the bowl mix well.
    Spoon into un-greased regular muffin tins

    Bake 30 minutes
    If you use mini muffin tins halve the cooking time.

    Turn out and enjoy

    Serve with jam you don’t need butter!!!

    Or you can serve them with this beautiful salad.

    So lunch is looming so I made this
    Shrimp and Rice Salad

    For 2 people
    100 gms prawns peeled and de-veined

    Emeril's Essence…Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
    You can find Emeril’s recipe on the Food Network Web Site
    Make this up and keep in a jar.
    Very useful.
    2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    2 tablespoons salt
    2 tablespoons garlic powder
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    1 tablespoon dried thyme

    Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

    1 cup long grain rice

    ½ red peppers chopped
    2 spring onions finely chopped
    6 chopped olives
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley


    Bring a pot of water to a boil
    Add 1 tablespoons Emeril’s Essence
    Now this may be a little hot for you…you can reduce the amount
    But persevere if you can
    Add the prawns and simmer 2-3 minutes
    Remove and then add rice and cook amount 10 minutes until tender
    And drain.

    To assemble
    Add into bowl the rice, prawns, red pepper, spring onions and olives and chopped parsley

    Mix with the Mayo test the seasoning and adjust if necessary and then chill in fridge

    It’s sitting in the fridge waiting for us. Can’t wait to try it.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    A Wonderful Stew and a New Gratin

    My office looks for all the world like a junk shop. All our lovely possessions have been relegated to one spot. Funny how this does not improve their appearance.

    The painter is coming today.
    Our house looks like the House Doctor has been in and has gone mad de-cluttering.
    We moved into this house 15 years ago this month and amazingly we have managed to last this long without redecorating.
    It has been driving us mad…looking very “Shabby Chic” I felt and that is a polite term I guess.
    So Dale has removed everything from the walls and all the photos and nice pieces we have collected over the years are thrown in the office.
    Boy it’s looking very empty.

    A bit sad I feel.
    So how do I fill in the time?
    I cooked.
    I have 4 Seville oranges left from my tiny harvest and this dish from Gary Rhodes is so so good. It’s a bit of prep but well worthy it.
    Don’t forget when it is the oven you just have to stir it every ½ hour
    By the way you could use navel oranges for this casserole. Be a little sweeter but sill pretty good.

    So you first
    Heat you oven to 160C
    Then for 4 people
    250g blade steak per person
    2 tablespoons flour
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    Vegetable oil I use rice bran

    Big knob of butter
    2 large onions quartered
    2 large carrots quartered
    50 mls red wine vinegar
    1 bottle red wine
    2 teaspoons demerara sugar
    2 bay leaves
    Sprig of thyme
    Sprig of rosemary
    4 x Black peppercorns
    4 strip of Seville orange peel
    600 mls beef stock

    Juice of 2 Seville oranges

    Cut steak into 4 cm pieces
    Toss in seasoned flour
    Dump in a sieve to shake off excess flour
    Heat a pan over high heat
    Add oil and brown meat
    Remove and set aside

    Add a little stock and deglaze the pan
    Add to meat

    In another pan melt butter
    Add onions and carrots fry till golden brown
    Season with a little salt and freshly ground black freshly ground black pepper

    Remove and add red wine vinegar
    Reduce by half over high heat
    Add red wine, demerara sugar, herbs and peppercorns
    Reduce by 2/3 and add orange peel
    Put meat vege and stock into a casserole dish
    Add beef stock

    Into oven and cook stirring every half hour and skim off any fat.
    Cook till meat is tender should be 2 ½ - 3 hours

    Meanwhile juice the oranges and strain, boil till syrupy.

    When the casserole is cooked remove vege and beef
    Keep warm
    Strain liquid and put back into pan and reduce a little more.

    I think serve with mash and your favourite vege.
    Peas will be pretty good.

    But the real excitement of the day is the accompanying vege dish I made.
    I saw someone on Saturday Cooks make this Gratin.
    Well actually not this one which is what is exciting.
    Turns out I got it all wrong but what a find.

    It is Swede and Beetroot Gratin

    This is what I did
    Heat the oven to 180C

    The two of us ate this amount.
    Knob of butter
    1 large swede
    1 med beetroot
    1 clove garlic
    ½ cup milk
    ½ cup cream
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Parmesan cheese

    First thinly slice the swede and beetroot
    If you have a mandolin use that.
    Grease your dish with the butter
    Layer of swede
    Season and covered with grated parmesan cheese
    Then the beetroot

    More seasoning and cheese
    Final layer of swede
    Mix milk and cream
    Pour over the top and a final grating of parmesan.

    Whoops I forgot the garlic
    So I grated 1 clove of garlic and pressed down the vege so that the milk was well dispersed.

    Into the oven.
    After 10 minutes I found my pad with the notes from the show.
    Quelle domage!!!guess what?
    Not swede but kumara
    You also heat the milk infused with bay leaf and onion
    Breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter and parmesan
    Too late for the first two instructions but not too late for the breadcrumb topping

    So I whipped it out of the oven…melted some butter
    Mixed with Japanese Panko breadcrumbs (the best)
    Some extra grated parmesan and sprinkling of dried thyme.

    Sprinkled them all over the top
    Back into the oven 40 minutes
    Here it is
    Looks like Rhubarb Crumble

    What a wonderful meld of flavours and colours
    This would make a wonderful first course
    And definitely would accompany any red meat.

    So once again a new dish has been born,

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Chicken to Frittata to Banana Cake. mmm!!!!!!

    Sophia our nearly 10 year granddaughter rang to ask if she could interview me for her ‘Rich Task’ homework. “Is Life Easier for Children today than in The Olden Days”?
    This was related to chores. Now bring the rather spoilt youngest child of older parents (siblings in their 20’s when I was born)… chores were not heavy on the list of things I had to do on a day. I even got out of the dishes by slotting in piano practice at that time. But of course I did make my bed and of course there was no problem getting me to do anything regarding food. I had to slightly stretch the truth for the amount of work I did.
    Anyway she observed that really nothing much has changed in the chore line except for the equipment.
    When I was 10 we didn’t have a washing machine or dryer. No fridge or vacuum cleaner.
    I may not have done much but my Mother was pretty busy.
    Sophia’s next interview will be with her other Grandma Lucy who was brought up in the country. A different kettle of fish from my easy life.

    Sophia thought she could come over for lunch and we could conduct the interview whilst a delicious lunch was being prepared.It was a good idea. During the week I had seen on Huey’s Cooking Adventures an interesting banana cake. Highly recommended for a 10 year old to make.
    We loved it, ate it warm with a drizzle of caramel sauce.
    Heat oven to 170C
    Grease and flour a 23cm baking tin

    1 ¾ cups self raising flour sifted
    Pinch salt
    1 cup caster sugar
    ¼ cup brown sugar

    1 cup mashed bananas (3 large ripe bananas)

    ¾ cup sour cream
    3 eggs lightly beaten
    125 gms melted unsalted butter

    Mix the dry ingredients together

    In another bowl mix together the wet ingredients
    Whisk lightly to blend these

    Pour dry into wet ingredients and just mix till blended.
    It is quite a wet batter
    Pour into prepared tin

    Bake 30- 40 minutes till a skewer poked in comes out clean.

    So for the rest of our meal first we had Jamie’s Caesar Salad

    Sophia made the dressing.

    For the second course we made a
    Spanish Tortilla
    Sophia cracked the eggs and beat them.
    I sliced the potatoes and onions and cooked it.
    This is so easy.
    I like poaching the potatoes and onions in olive oil.
    This takes about 15-20 minutes and the flavour is superb

    So for 3 -4 people
    2 med potatoes peeled & sliced thinly
    1 onion peeled and sliced thinly
    1-2 cups olive oil (you don’t need extra virgin olive oil)

    8 eggs
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Beat the eggs with the seasoning
    Heat oven to 200C
    You need a pan that will go into the oven

    Heat the oil to medium heat
    Don’t let the oil get too hot we are poaching not frying.
    Add the potatoes and onions
    Make sure they are submerged

    Poach until tender about 15 minutes
    Drain and add to eggs.

    Put pan back onto stove and pump up the heat
    You don’t need to add any oil the pan is pretty well oiled.
    Add egg mixture

    Let bottom brown, lifting at the edges like cooking an omelet.

    As it starts to set place in oven
    Should take about 8-10 minutes.
    It will have puffed up and be a nice golden brown colour.

    Our family love to have Grandma’s Tomato sauce on the side
    Amazingly enough there was enough cake leftover for Sophia to take home unfortunately not for her brother Joseph "The Little Prince"...he is allergic to eggs and can't eat this cake but here he is having his eyes tested. Cute yes!

    and also a little package for the new baby Cleo’s family.
    Below Cleo and her big sister Mia...already the little one is adoring her big sister...I love this shot.

    Photos and Title courtesy of Sophia.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Mr Heinzie's Marmalade

    I am on a roll with the bread. I had run out of Italian 00 flour so I thought I would try plain bread flour.Also I remembered how nice the rye bread that I made inspired by Asha of Foodies Hope

    So I substituted 1 ½ cups of the plain flour with light rye flour.
    Well this was excellent.
    Our daughter Katie previously pregnant had not of course eaten any smoked salmon for 9 months.
    So I made a little rescue package for her.
    2 slices of fresh homemade rye bread, a little cream cheese and a little lemon wedge to squeeze over the salmon.
    She was thrilled.
    So now it is time to harvest my Seville Orange tree.
    This might not seem a lot to most people but this is a first for me.
    So from thisTo this

    I had a kilo of oranges from my Seville Orange Tree. The tree was given to us when we moved into this house 15 years ago by John Hughes Interior Designer Extraordinaire
    He has given us the most amazing design advice over the years.

    This is the first year that I got any fruit of note so it is Marmalade time.

    My friend Mr Heinz
    is a bit of a whiz with the preserves so I emailed for advice and this is what I got.

    Hi Ms Gilli

    Ms Mary tells me you need the Seville Orange Marmalade recipe. so here goes:
    Now I got some of the old cooking books

    Scrub the skin and place the fruit whole in the pan, just cover it with water

    Cook until fruit is soft, remove fruit and save the remaining water
    unless you have asbestos hands throw the fruit into sink of cold water

    Cut fruit in half, using kitchen tongs, pull out the pith and remove pips,
    Save pith-n-pips in a pot

    Toss remaining fruit halves into blender, pulse until skin is an acceptable size,
    scrape back into the pan

    When all the fruit is processed weigh the result,
    Very handy to know the weight of the pan before you start.
    But you know that…just checking.

    Start heating the Pulp and juice then stir in the same weight of white sugar

    Remember the pith-n-pips, good, now add about a cup of water
    (I used the liquor from boiling the fruit) and bring to boil.
    add juice of 2 lemons and boil rest of lemon with pith-n-pips,
    after about 1 minute of boiling strain off the liquid into the pan.

    Now boil until setting point. (it seemed to take about 1 hour)

    Immerse screw-top jars in sink of hot tap water (I heated them in the oven at 130C)

    Fill each jar to the brim and screw lid on firmly.

    Enjoy.........Mr Heinz

    I checked on a couple of very old cook books and this method is quicker and probably easier.

    Thank you Mr Heinz
    Breakfast Marmalade and Homemade Rye Bread

    Good work!!!