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    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Masterchef and Cooking Classes No 3

    No please...I am not putting myself in Masterchef class at all…but the 2007 series of Masterchef Goes Large has just finished here in New Zealand
    Read about it here.
    This is a sensational programme and thanks to the wonders of My Sky Digital Television I have watched every episode for the last 8 weeks. When we were away in Sunshine Coast it was all recording for me I had 7 episodes to watch….gosh that and Project Runway have kept me very busy.
    Finales for both shows last Friday night.
    Anyway back to Masterchef this is when you realise how you are only an enthusiastic home cook. It’s a bit disheartening when you see what the contestants have to do I'm in awe. But they are turning from amateurs into professionals before your very eyes. So many skills for me to learn still.
    In the swing of things Katie my daughter and I are off to cake decorating classes. A new skill for me. I have never been very creative with cakes. Katie already has made stunning creations but it is going to be fun and I will show my efforts even if they are useless.

    Back to Day 3 Cooking lessons for Sophia.
    We were a bit behind on Friday. We also had been a bit ambitious with our choice of menu and the time available, but we carried on like the good soldiers we are.
    Of course the night before we had been at farewell drinks at The Crib (where our son Daniel plays on Thursday nights) for Shelton another of our presenters at Juice TV taking off for greener pastures in the UK. There is never any shortage of drinks and Dale & I had our fair share.
    It always seems that we can’t make it till the band comes on but Daniel and Johnny Love did an early set. The full band is called the Corporate Voice Experience. They are a wonderful covers band with excellent original material as well.

    So of course I wasn’t feeling too crisp but we got on with it.

    It was a kid friendly meal as we had invited Mia and Joseph for lunch
    Plus we also had Katie, and dear friends Barbara, Jane and Ben Christie
    First we prepared the fudge cake. It needed to set in the fridge
    This recipe I got off the Nestle Highlander Condensed Milk website

    2 tablespoons Nestles Baking Cocoa
    ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
    150 gms butter
    250 gms plain biscuits, crushed
    1 cup desiccated coconut
    ½ chocolate chips
    ½ cup raisins
    White chocolate chips

    Jelly snakes or alligators

    Combine cocoa, condensed milk and butter in pan
    Heat stirring constantly until mixture comes to the boils
    Remove from heat and leave till cool

    Combine biscuit crumbs, coconut, chocolate chips and raisins in large bowl
    Add cocoa mixture and mix well
    Press into a well greased tin and chill for at least 20- 30 minutes

    Ice with chocolate icing and decorate with white chocolate chips and jelly animals

    Hint The recipe called for only 100 gms of butter, the mixture was very tasty but too dry for my liking. So I have increased the butter to 150 gms
    The little kids loved the icing and the jellies but weren’t that wrapped in the cake…maybe a bit dry for them. The adults liked it.

    The toffee apples were a disaster.I have bought some more apples and I am going to try again. I have rung my friend Adrianne who is a wonderful baker and I have her recipe. If they are a success I will post
    So the menu
    Fried Chicken, Chip Butties and Salad

    The chicken was to be marinating in butter milk overnight so I prepared this on Thursday night.
    This dish is shallow fried then finished off in the oven. Very crunchy and tasty
    The kids really would prefer the chicken taken off the bone and looking like Chicken nuggets but there you go. They haven't discovered the joy of gnawing on a bone yet. It will come.
    Also if cooking for adults only, I would spice up the flour with some cayenne pepper maybe some cumin!!!

    Chicken Drumsticks 1-2 person
    Flour well seasoned with salt & freshly ground black freshly ground black pepper
    Rice Bran oil for frying

    Dredge the marinated chicken legs in flour

    Place about 3 cms oil in pan heat oil to 175C
    Carefully place drumsticks in oil and fry 2-3 minutes each side till golden
    Don’t overcrowd the pan cook in batches. Remembering to bring the oil up to temperature again before frying the next batch
    Place on a rack and into a 170C for about 30 minutes.

    Cool a little…good at room temperature

    The Chip Butties
    you can see them here

    Sophia made a salad which we served with Condensed Milk dressing
    The salad was like an American Chopped Salad.
    We cooked some asparagus.

    Sophia learnt about the snapping point.
    She added chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes and iceberg lettuce broken into small pieces.

    She also peeled the potatoes for the chips and buttered the bread.

    Now would you believe mad blogger that - I am…I forgot to take photos of the guests.
    But there are 2 little sad photos of what it looked like when they went home

    And Cooks treat...
    A glass of wine and a white bread sandwich made from fried chicken and mayo.

    Eaten in front of the TV Project Runway I believe.

    But the real bonus was the lovely gift from Sophia
    The divine flowers

    And inside the lovely card

    Isn’t that precious?

    Chicken Curry Soup after a night with “War of the Worlds.”

    I forgot to mention that last week we went to see Steely Dan at the Arena Stadium down the hill.
    One of the perks of owning Music Channels you get complimentary tickets to shows that we promote.
    My friend Julia (a celebrant of some note….she hatches, matches and dispatches and is inundated with requests for all of these functions)...well she hates Steely Dan and she calls them Steely Boring.
    So you can understand we didn’t offer our complimentary tickets to her. She does love music though. Here she is accompanied by her husband Rex and our friend Stu in the middle at a little soiree at our house last year.
    Anyway I don’t think Steely Dan are boring, they conjure up wonderful memories for me of driving along Ventura Highway with my husband Dale on our first visit to LA (1976) a friend’s Black BMW with the just released "Royal Scam" album blaring out from the stereo.
    The band was excellent and they played a lot from Royal Scam. A great night for me.
    So off to the Vector Arena again this week...a trot down the hill for us and we along with thousands of others were there to see Jeff Wayne’s "War of the Worlds". Read this review to get the picture

    Photo from NZ Herald website.

    A stunning performance and production. They developed a hologram of Richard Burton… a young Richard Burton looking in fact like a young gorgeous Elvis. Anyway this talking handsome head was the narrator. That beautiful voice I could listen to it for ever. Lucky Liz Taylor. And she got diamonds too. It was a lovely balmy night our friends Elphie and Pete and Katie and Chris joined us for an early dinner at the Clubhouse (Portofino) a little Italian to give us the energy for the walk down the hill. An excellent night.

    Sunday wet and eating from the pantry.
    My husband hates chicken and pulled a face when I said the bubbling soup on the stove was chicken but that all changed he negotiated around the chicken and consumed 2 very large bowls of this delicious soup.
    Chicken and Vegetables with Japanese Curry

    It’s a keeperThe piece de resistance is the Japanese Curry Tablet…they are divine. A must for the pantry.

    1 onion sliced
    2 carrots grated
    2 stalks celery sliced
    2 chicken thighs with bone in
    1 kumara grated
    Olive oil
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    ½ pkt Golden Japanese curry paste about 200 gms Handful frozen corn
    Handful frozen peas
    1 large tomato chopped

    Saute onion carrots celery & kumara
    Season with a little sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    Pop chicken on top

    Cover with water
    Bring to boil and simmer about 30 minutes

    Dissolve curry tablets in hot soup

    Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary

    Add corn and peas and tomato

    Simmer another 5-10 minutes
    Remove chicken…either save it for salad or sandwiches or in my case chicken on toast for breakfast

    Or you can shred it into the soup.

    This is excellent I will be making this again.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Cooking Class No 2

    While Sophia is Slaving the others are Playing...
    Joseph and Mia eating BOUGHT doughnuts!!!
    Cooking Class Day 2

    Today Sophia learnt many new skills
    Don't you love the jaunty tea towel...very professional I think.
    Our menu was
    Stuffed Potatoes with Chicken Yakatori
    A bonus from this was potato skins!!!
    Remember 1980 and

    Kiwi Crisps (Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.)

    This doesn’t seem like a lot but we learnt many skills

    For the Potatoes
    Heat the oven to 180C

    1 potato per person
    Head of broccoli
    Handful corn kernels
    1 spring onion sliced
    3-4 tablespoons milk
    Knob of butter
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Grated tasty cheese

    Scrub potatoes and dry
    Prick all over with a fork
    Rub with oil and bake for approx 1 hour until tender.

    Prepare broccoli into florets

    Blanch in boiling salted water about 2-3minutes
    Drain and pop into iced water to shock and set the colour.
    Remove potatoes from oven cool a little and when cool enough to handle
    Cut off the top to make a little lid.
    Scoop out potato flesh and push through a potato ricer or mouli
    Not compulsory but does give a better texture.

    You can just mash if you wish.

    Heat milk and butter
    Add to potato and beat well
    Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed

    Chop broccoli and add with corn and sliced spring onions to potatoes
    Mix well
    Fill potato shells
    Cover with grated cheese

    Bake in hot oven 200C 25 minutes

    Just look at those potato skins...actually pretty much the highlight...especially with Grandma's Tomato Sauce
    The bonus skins!!!
    Take the little lids
    Spray with olive oil
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Add a little grated cheese
    20 minutes in 200C oven

    Crispy and yummy

    Skills: Chopping, preparing and cooking green vege

    Now for the Chicken Yakatori
    Chicken pieces marinated and pushed on to skewers with spring onions and grilled’

    First Sophia made the marinade

    6 tablespoons Soy Sauce
    1 tablespoons Kecap Manus
    2 tablespoons Mirin
    2 tablespoons Sake
    1 tablespoons sugar

    Place in a saucepan
    Bring to boil and dissolve

    3-4 boneless, skinless thighs

    Chop chicken into 3 cms pieces

    Place into bowl…pour over marinade
    Mix well
    Leave about 20 minutes

    Soak skewers
    Cut 2-3 Spring onion in 3 cm strips
    Skewer chicken and spring onion

    Spray hot ridged grill pan

    Place skewers on pan
    Brush with marinade while cooking

    Turn them 2-3 times
    We served with the Stuffed Potatoes

    Skills - Measuring for the marinade
    Developing a taste for Asian foods
    Preparing the skewers

    I still think these are the best Chocolate Chip cookies ever.
    Good for egg allergic egg
    Very short and chocolatey
    Kiwi Crisps (Double Chocolate Chip Cookies)

    115 gms butter
    ¼ cup sugar
    2 tablespoons condensed milk
    1 cup flour, take out 2 tablespoons and replace with
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    Pinch of salt
    1 cup your favourite chocolate cut into pieces the size of a pea

    (Or choc chips)

    Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
    Add condensed milk
    Mix chocolate chips with sifted flour cocoa, salt and baking powder
    Then add to the butter mix
    Blend well
    Roll into a 3 cms log and cut in pieces

    Place on baking paper on a baking tray
    Squash down with a floured fork

    170C for 15- 20 minutes

    Makes 12 fat cookies or 18 or you wish

    Skills – Creaming butter and sugar

    We were so full and thought that that was enough food for all day almost but it’s amazing how it all goes down and you can fit in more.
    So we made

    French Toast with Hot Fruit Compote and Maple Syrup Cream

    Above... Sophia skinning the pineapple

    Hot Fruit Compote

    1 gold pineapple peeled and cut into chunks
    2 punnets blue berries
    3 punnets raspberries
    1 ½ cup of caster sugar
    ¾ cup water.
    2 tbs raspberry liqueur (optional) but does add an extra zing

    Into a pot put the fruit, sugar and water reserving 1 punnet of raspberries and bring to simmer and cook gently 5-7 minutes.
    Let cool and when you need it reheat again gently and
    add the extra raspberries and the raspberry liqueur just before serving.

    French Toast
    1 slice white toast bread per person
    1 egg
    ½ cup milk
    Butter for frying

    Cut crusts off bread we cut them into rounds…looks pretty

    Beat egg and milk
    Soak bread in this mixture for about 5 minutes

    Heat pan add butter

    Add toasts cook till golden brown each side.
    Beat 200 mils cream with 1 tablespoons maple syrup
    Mint leaves finely sliced.
    To serve

    Place golden rounds on plate, spoon over some warm fruit
    Top with whipped cream and sprinkling of mint leaves.

    Skills – Beating cream, frying French toasts, cutting and peeling pineapple

    Would you believe it we ate it all.

    How greedy is that?

    Roll on Friday

    Fried Chicken
    Chip Butties
    Fudge Cake
    Toffee Apples

    We are having guests.
    So Sophia loved the French Toast so much we are going to serve them that treat.

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Cooking Classes Day 1

    Sophia wants to learn how to cook.

    Her Father dropped her off on his way to work and we started on a very busy morning.

    First we made a shopping list based on our menu
    Then lets go shopping.

    Our menu was based on her learning some basic skills.
    Yesterday I made the wonderful Mandarin and Chocolate bread.

    It is very good, so we had 200 mls of juice from the canned mandarins.
    Yes Jelly

    200 mls Mandarin Juice
    3 teaspoons gelatin
    1 tablespoons sugar

    200 mls Berry Juice
    2 x nectarines
    Handful frozen raspberries.

    Heat the mandarin juice with gelatin and sugar till dissolved
    Add berry juice and water
    Into serving dishes add cut up fruit
    Divide the juice between the dishes and into the fridge till set.

    Skills measuring.

    Joseph our grandson has many allergies
    Egg is one
    This makes life difficult for the cook and adding mayo to salads or sandwiches is a no no.
    I thought let’s make the
    Old Fashioned Salad Dressing

    The Much Maligned Salad Dressing I add
    But actually everyone sneakily likes it.
    So so simple

    1 can Highlander Condensed Milk
    ½ teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
    1 cup white wine vinegar

    Mix together to combine
    Leave to thicken and store in refrigerator.

    Skills can opening and using a whisk.

    Next Macaroni and Cheese.
    This amount made enough for 4 people

    Skills making a roux
    Grating cheese
    Developing palate

    300 gms macaroni
    ¼ cup butter
    ¼ cup of flour
    ¼ cup of white wine
    180 mls of evaporated milk
    1 shallot peeled, freshly ground black pepper, bay leaf
    2 cups of milk
    1 teaspoon of paprika
    2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
    200 gms of cheddar cheese, grated
    50 gms of Parmesan cheese, grated
    Salt and freshly ground black freshly ground black pepper

    Grated cheddar cheese
    Panko breadcrumbs
    1 slice tomato per person
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Infuse milks with shallot, freshly ground black pepper and bay leaf about 4 minutes in the microwave.
    Cook macaroni to manufacturers instructions
    Melt butter and add flour mix to combine
    Cook 3 or so minutes to cook out the flour. Add white wine, whisk quickly till smooth and then
    Add hot milk all at once.
    Add mustard and paprika
    Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring so it doesn’t stick
    Add grated cheese

    Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed
    Drain cooked pasta add to sauce and divide into individual dishes
    Cover with grated cheese and breadcrumbs
    Pop a slice of tomato on top
    Bake 190C about 20 minutes.

    We went completely retro and made the salad from iceberg lettuce,
    cucumber, avocado and chives
    Skills Chopping and balance of ingredients.
    We had the salad dressed with the Old Fashioned Salad Dressing as a starter with some French Bread.

    She's a Happy Camper

    Last but not least

    Queen Cakes
    This recipe makes about 9 little cakes just enough to eat in one go.
    Skills basic baking...creaming butter and sugar and measuring ingredients.
    Even spooning mixture into cases

    70 gms sugar
    70 gms room temperature butter
    1 egg well beaten

    115 gms flour
    ½ teaspoon BP
    ¼ cup milk

    55 gms sultanas
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

    Cream butter and sugar
    Add egg beat well
    Add rest of ingredients
    Mix well

    Cook in patty cases about 15 minutes in 200C
    They will be golden

    So Sophia had non allergy foods for Joseph Jellies, Macaroni Cheese, ( he reckons he doesnt like Mac and we thought we might call it Cheese and Tomato Savoury)
    Anyhow she will have to eat the cakes by herself!!!
    Shouldn't be too hard I think

    A successful first day.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Eggs, Eggs and More Eggs

    Our butcher, Gladstone Butcher supplies excellent organic Free Range Eggs.
    When I have just bought my fresh dozen….it’s a poached egg breakfast for the next two days.
    As they age a little we can convert to other dishes and I have been very pleased with these two recipes. First a Frittata using up the vege in the fridge and then a Calorie, Protein high but very luxurious fish and egg dish. I like to think the cholesterol level of the soufflé in counteracted by the Omega 3 goodness of the Salmon.

    Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
    It was the night before we left to go away and I hate waste.
    So I raided the vege box and found, swede, parsnip, carrots and celery.

    From the fruit bowl, tomatoes and a nice fat onion.
    1 swede peeled and chopped
    1 parsnip peeled and chopped
    1 carrot peeled and chopped

    2 tablespoons butter
    2 stalks of celery sliced
    1 onion peeled and chopped

    2 tomatoes chopped

    5 eggs
    sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Bring the swede, parsnip and carrots to the boil and simmer till tender
    Drain and mash

    Reserve the liquor and give it to your husband as little first course
    He will love you for ever

    So then sauté the celery and onion in the butter
    Last moment add tomatoes toss around to coat in the buttery flavours.

    Place all in gratin dish. As above.
    Beat eggs add little seasoning and pour over top.

    Bake at 190C about 20 minutes till puffed up and golden

    If you have some fresh herbes they won’t go amiss. Just chop and add.
    Here you go lovely golden frittata. The mashed root vege are just wonderful.
    It's a fabulous texture as well.Now for the Heart Attack material.

    Salmon Topped with Cheese Souffle
    Inspired by Huey’s Cooking Adventures Cooking Programme

    A degree of difficulty here but really just takes time.

    Heat oven 195C

    1 fillet salmon about 180gms per person skinned and pin boned
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon Olive oil
    Lemon juice

    40 gms butter
    30 gms flour
    300 mls hot milk
    1 teaspoon French mustard
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    4 eggs separated
    115 gms grated tasty cheese

    Make a roux
    Melt the butter
    Mix in the flour
    Add mustard &salt & pepper
    Cook for 2-3 minutes
    Add hot milk all at once
    Stir well and keep on cooking
    This will form a nice thick sauce.

    Let cool a little
    Add egg yolks look at the colour isn't that great.

    Add grated cheese
    Taste and add extra seasoning if needed

    Season Salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Meanwhile in a hot pan add olive oil
    Add salmon and sear
    About 1 minute then turn over and another minutes
    Remove from pan and place in a gratin dish
    Squeeze over fresh lemon juice.

    Back to the soufflé
    In a clean bowl beat the egg whites till soft peaks

    Add 1 spoonful of egg whites to the roux
    Mix well to loosen it then carefully fold in the remainder of the egg whites.

    Pour over the salmon and place in oven

    Now timing was an issue here I totally under estimated the time.
    I took it out too early Yuk not cooked

    So I quickly popped it back in and it became a “twice baked”
    Soufflé. I was nervous about this as it’s a no no in soufflé-ville
    But as it turns out it wasn’t a problem
    The extra 10 minutes were just what it needed it rose even further and
    So pretty.

    It didn’t look so pretty served on the plate so I didn’t shoot it.
    I am going to have to have another go, when the heart has calmed down.
    But next time I think it should be in separate little gratin dishes.
    Trying to find the salmon in one piece under the souffle was a bit messy
    But it was delicious and well worth making.
    Once again I think that should have fed maybe 3 people.
    Of course we ate it all.

    Salads only the next day.

    Actually a simple tossed green salad is an excellent accompaniment.

    Rich Task
    A month ago our granddaughter Sophia came over to interview me for her Rich Task and we had lunch.
    On Monday I was invited along with her parents to see the Rich Task “role played.”
    Unfortunately I was late (but earlier than her parents!!!) and got there just time for the last minutes of her little play.

    The topic was “You Kids Don’t Know How Lucky You Are”

    The role playing consisted of one child as Grandma and another as the Modern Kid.
    Grandma scrubbed the clothes on a wash board - Modern Kid pushed the button on the machine.
    Grandma milked the cow for their dairy products-Modern Kid bought milk from the shop.
    Grandma heated the iron on the fire and ironed one garment and then had to heat the iron up again - Modern Kid just pushed around the steam iron and so on
    The punters were enjoying themselves.

    Below Sophia and her father who missed it completely but Sophia was thrilled we made the effort to get there.
    When Sophia’s Mum Helen arrived she requested a replay and we got to see it after all.
    A fun little afternoon.