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    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Poor Santa - He Tries

    Poor Santa
    There he is bringing Christmas Cheer to the little children

    He didn't bank on Miss Cleo
    All dressed up to kill.
    Kill Santa I reckon.
    Mummy who wasn't dressed up, stepped in and all was well with Miss Cleo's world

    Sorry Santa

    Christmas Eve - Only One More Sleep

    Tis the Morning before Christmas and last night a big rainfall came through
    This is a dismal sight. In the Northern Hemisphere this is probably a common sight at this time of the year, but we are in summer here and it is supposed to be hot and sunny.
    It is still raining this morning, but hopefully it will pass.
    Of course we are eating outdoors tomorrow!!! Oh dear.
    Yesterday we were looking after Miss Cleo and eldest granddaughter Sophia came over to help.
    Seeing as I was home I did some Christmas Day Prep.

    I made a new batch of stuffing balls. Popped them in the freezer.
    Just thaw and refresh on the day.
    Plus pre-prepared the stuffing mix for the turkey breasts.
    All I have to do is add the wet ingredients on the day.

    Made the kids layered jellies.
    They have strawberries and peaches in them.
    One of the layers is made of fruit juice and the rest is ordinary old jelly.
    Actually now they don’t have artificial colours in this PC age so the green lime jelly is a bit disappointing but there ya go. I loved that bright green.
    After the children had gone home I thought about dinner.
    With what I had in the fridge I decided to make a Christmas inspired Frittata.
    It was great.
    First I toasted a handful of my stuffing mix in the oven tossed in olive oil.
    Thawed some prawns and frozen peas.
    Quickly chopped a red chili6 eggs beaten
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Toss prawns in stuffing mix
    Add peas and chili to eggs
    Hot pan
    Add 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Throw in egg mix
    Quickly add prawns and breadcrumbs

    Cook on top of stove for a minute to get the frittata going.

    Into a hot oven 200c
    Cook about 10 minutes till just set

    Slide onto plate serve.Isn’t this wonderful looking
    The real Christmas colours
    This would make a great first course for Christmas dinner

    In fact I think I may make it for nibbles with drinks.
    If I have time I will, it looks great.
    The flavoured breadcrumbs gave it a nice crunchy texture
    Bite of the chili

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Counting Down For Christmas

    It’s getting busy and I love it.
    Of course, as everyone does, I am making lists in my sleep.

    I have been up the last few mornings in the middle of the night.
    Can’t sleep, so I have been doing chores.

    On Saturday morning at 4am, I wrapped the Christmas presents.
    That job - Done

    I then drove 60 kms to Matakana to buy duck fat, only to find that the Duck man no longer has a stall there. What a pain BUT I do have some duck fat. We will have to supplement it with clarified butter and olive oil.
    Of course this is for the roast potatoes on Christmas Day.

    On my return, I settled myself in the kitchen to make Vegetable Fritters for the Celebration Party, being held at our son and daughter-in-law’s house that night.

    Helen’s brother Neil and his American Bride Nikki are here for Christmas and the summer holiday.
    They got married in September. Helen took Sophia our granddaughter to North Carolina for the Wedding.
    They rented a house on a beautiful beach and partied for a week.
    Here is our 11 year old Sophia in the Kitchen with her Uncle Neil (a chef)
    She has inherited the family passion for food.
    I love the concentration.
    We weren’t able to go, so we celebrated here on Saturday.
    Son Dan reading his wedding speech to the happy couple.
    Of course there was excellent food. Ciabatta rubbed with garlic and tomato.
    Very good guacamole, Spicy Tuna wraps and Dan also made some scrumptious meat balls with a very spicy chili yogurt dip.
    Sophia requested that my contribution be the Vege Fritters.
    A version of this recipe was the first blog I ever did back in February 2006.
    How about that?

    It is cheap and easy, just a little time frying the fritters but that’s not too hard
    The secret is to toss the vege in the flour before adding the eggs
    The same way you flour fruit for a fruit cake.
    This makes about 50 little fritters
    By the way when it is not corn season use frozen corn.

    Vegetable Fritters

    2 carrots grated
    2 courgette grated
    2 cobs fresh corn micro waved - 2 minutes per cob
    3 spring onions chopped
    Sea salt and black freshly ground black pepper
    Zest 1 lemon grated
    1 cup Self Rising flour
    3 large eggs

    Vegetable oil for frying

    Remove kernels off corn cobs
    Add to carrots, courgettes and spring onions.
    Add lemon zest and season with S & P
    Toss the vege with the flour
    Beat the eggs and add
    Cook one and check for seasoning adjust if necessary
    Cook small spoonfuls over medium heat in your best vegetable oil.

    You can prepare these ahead.
    Just reheat for about 5 minutes in a 180C oven

    A little squeeze of lemon juice over them before serving.

    I can assure they will just jump off the plate.

    My husband sailed north on Thursday to Whangaroa. About 180 miles away.
    A delivery trip in preparation for our summer holiday up there.
    It took them 3 days of lovely sailing, fishing eating and I suspect drinking a little too much.
    Of course he and the crew had to get back here so I drove up to pick them up. It takes me about 3 1/2 hours.
    Whangaroa is a beautiful place. I am also taken with this little house just as you drive into the town. So I stopped and took the shot. Cute eh?
    By the time I arrived they had packed the boat in the marina where it will stay till we drive back up on the 27th December.
    Here is Cajun Moon in all her glory with son-in-law Chris preparing to disembark.
    So we arrived home safely.

    This morning while making my lists of things to do in the next 3 days, I decided to make the stuffing balls for Christmas and freeze them.
    They are fabulous if you don't want to stuff your poultry. Everyone loves stuffing.

    They were a it different than I normally make, and this is a keeper they are great.
    This amount makes 20 balls. I have to make a second batch there is not enough. So I will make more this afternoon

    Stuffing Balls for Christmas Day

    4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
    1 corn cob micro waved 2 minutes, kernels removed

    1 shallot finely chopped (About 2 tablespoons)
    2 tablespoon olive oil
    8-10 sage leaves chopped

    3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
    3 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
    8 dried apricots finely chopped
    1/2 cup dried cranberries finely chopped
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 eggs
    1/4 cup chicken stock

    More olive oil

    Gently sauté the shallot in the oil
    Add sage leaves and let cook about a minute
    This develops the flavour.

    Meanwhile toss everything into a big bowl

    Form balls with wet hands
    Fry in olive oil till brown..

    These can be served at room temperature.
    If you freeze them
    Just thaw them and pop into 180C oven for about 5 minutes, to freshen them up.
    Surround your poultry with these little balls.
    They are delicious.
    So another job done!

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Italian Chow - Great for A Buffet

    My Mother in law (pictured below with my husband, his brother and cousin Sue. Apparently it was a family wedding.)was a whiz at entertaining.
    Sadly we lost her to cancer in 1970 but I learnt a lot about catering for a crowd from her.
    This recipe was one of her favourites, she got it from some woman’s magazine in the 60’s.
    Very easy, you just bunged a whole pile of ingredients together and baked in the oven.
    It really is very tasty. Also very economical. Makes the meat go a long way.
    So keep this as a budget dish as well.
    Went really well on the buffet table.
    This amount will feed 4-6 people
    I though this would be a great entry for Ruth’s of Once Upon a Feast Presto Pasta Night
    It is being hosted this time by Foodietots
    Have a look at their sites. The PPN round up will be available on Saturday.

    Italian Chow
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 onion chopped
    1 lb of mince

    1 packet of mushroom soup
    1 cup water

    1 cup cooked macaroni
    1 tin of peas drained
    1 tin corn drained
    1 tin tomatoes with juice

    Grated cheese
    Cook macaroni and reserve
    Fry onion in butter till soft
    Add mince and brown
    Add Mushroom soup mixed with cup of water

    Cook gently for 20 minutes

    Add peas, corn, tomatoes and macaroni
    Mix well
    Place in gratin dish

    Cover with grated cheese

    Bake 180C oven about 30 minutes

    I have adjusted it using fresh produce
    My version is a lot more colourful and probably more tasty.
    But both work!

    My husband is giong to deliver our boat Cajun Moon, up north, ready for our Summer holiday
    The Crew are sailing right through - it takes about 20 hours so I have made this dish and freezing it.
    All they have to do is bake and serve.
    Just pop in a bowl, excellent for people sailing along, on a lean.
    Hopefully it will be smooth sailing for them

    My version
    Will feed 4 people

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    300 gms mince
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Slosh white wine
    1 Tablespoon of flour

    1 tablespoon oil
    1 onion chopped
    1 red freshly ground black pepper
    3 large tomatoes chopped
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 cup stock

    1 cup Orecchiette cooked - Penne would be fine.
    1/2 cup frozen corn
    1/2 cup frozen peas

    Hot pan add oil
    Brown the mince
    Season S & P

    Deglaze with white wine
    Add 1 tablespoon of flour
    Cook about 2-3 minutes to cook our flour
    In another pan sauté onions till soft
    Add red pepper, soften
    Add tomatoes and oregano
    Cook about 8 minutes

    Add corn, peas and pasta to tomatoes
    Mix meat and tomato mix together
    Into baking dish in this a foil container for the freezer

    Sprinkle with bread crumbs and rated cheese
    Cool and freeze
    When ready to cook
    It’s best to thaw
    Bake 20-25minutes in 180C oven till bubbling and cheese is melted.


    Terakihi Baked With Salsa
    Left over time again
    I had some corn salsa left over from last night.
    This salsa has the lovely sweetness of the papaya and corn, balanced with the tomato and spring onion.
    Its delicious.

    First The Salsa
    2 corn cobs
    1/4 peeled and chopped papaya
    8 cherry tomatoes halved
    1 spring onion chopped

    Pop the corn in the microwave for 3 minutes
    Remove outer leaves and silk
    Cut the kernels off the cob
    Mix with the other ingredients
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil

    This is great with chicken, fish, any cold cuts.
    So today I bought some beautiful fresh terakihi for dinner

    A quick and so so simple dinner

    1 filet of Terakihi per person or any white fish - snapper would be good.
    Lightly oil a gratin dish
    Season your fish, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Lay in dish
    Cover with salsa
    Cut up an extra tomato and place on top

    Into 200C oven 15 - 20 minutes
    Don't over cook.

    Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil
    A good grind of freshly ground black pepper
    Throw over a few basil leaves
    My word it was fabulous.

    Another keeper.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    T'is the Season to be Jolly

    Ho Ho Snow!!!
    Just set up this little tableau for the kids for Christmas Day
    It's starting to get mad now. I love it.
    Bring it all on.

    Chicken with Roast Cauliflower and Onions

    A quick dinner I made the other night. So good it’s a keeper.
    My husband won’t eat chicken so I buy a leg for me and cook fish for him

    Everyone’s happy. I love this cut of the chicken Picking food off the bones is in my mind one of life’s great treats. He doesn’t get it at all...but there ya go.
    I sauté the fish in the same pan so he gets all the yummy flavours.

    1 Chicken Maryland per person
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 onion peeled and cut into thick slices
    1/2 cauliflower cut into florets.

    Olive oil
    Piri piri seasoning

    Filet of Fish (I used Gurnard) seasoned with sea salt and pepper

    Big handful rocket
    Colonna Lemon infused oil (optional)

    Season chicken with S & P
    Hot pan with a tablespoon of olive oil
    Skin side cook about 2 minutes to start good colour
    Remove chicken

    Toss onions and cauliflower in 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Place onions slices in pan
    Sit chicken on top and surround with cauliflower
    Sprinkle with Piri piri seasoning

    Into 200C oven it will take about 30 minutes
    Remove Chicken and vege
    Toss in a little more oil and quickly fry the fish
    Meanwhile toss the vege together with rocket drizzle with Colonna Lemon Oil
    Pile onto the plate and serve with Boiled Jersey Bennes,
    Summer delight.
    And for the non chicken eater.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    How to Peel an Onion Without Tears - Canapes for Christmas Parties

    This is age old question and like everyone I have been contemplating this conundrum
    As I was cutting onions the other day it occurred to me that I haven’t cried in ages.
    Over the last year or so I have adopted this way of cutting onions.
    The reason;
    By peeling the skin back and leaving it there you have something to hold onto.
    Onions are a bit of a pain and can sometimes be slippery
    This method was designed in fact to make slicing and chopping the onions without cutting your fingers.

    Cut the onion in half lengthwise
    Chop off the top and peel back the skin leaving the core intact and some skin remaining.
    This gives you something to hold onto.
    So go ahead and slice or chop…no more tears
    Now also it seems that keeping the core intact is the reason that the juices don’t flow the same way and spray into your eyes.. Don’t ask me why but it works for me. Hope it works for you.
    So the reason for this peeled onion was to make a pepper and onion dish to have with fish.

    So simple, not a recipe actually just cooking some vege…but my word it looks divine.
    The colours of these peppers…so summery.
    Just slice 2 onions and sauté in olive oil till soft don’t brown
    Add 2 cloves garlic finely chopped and then
    1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow and 1 green freshly ground black pepper, sliced
    Add to onions
    Sauté till soft

    To add to these vege, blanch some green beans, toss in garlic butter or olive oil - what a lovely accompaniment for a Summer dinner.
    While we are on the hints I have to say Thank you Delia.

    I have a potato ricer which I use for making smooth mashed potatoes but when I was watching Delia
    (For those from the United States she is Britain’s Food Martha Stewart)
    She said don’t go to all that trouble, just use your electric hand beater.
    Start slow add warm milk and cold butter
    Look at that it’s fab.
    Much easier than the ricer I have to say and easier to wash as well.

    Now the mashed potato was for a topping for these lovely little canapés.

    Once again calling on Terry Thompson-Anderson...I made the lovely little bread patty cases. These are wonderful
    They are crispy and you can fill them with anything
    I made mini cottage pies

    You just buy some soft white sliced toast bread.
    Now my hint to get the nicest cases,
    Remove crusts and roll out with a rolling pin as thin as you can. I quarter turn after each roll.

    Cut out shapes
    Butter mini muffin tins
    Gently push in the rounds
    Bake in 200C for about 8 minutes.

    These will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days or you can freeze them.

    I made a simple Grandma (My Mother) type mince mixture.
    Thickened with a flour and water slurry.
    Extra flavour from Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce
    Great for Mince on Toast

    Olive oil
    500 gms mince
    1 onion finely chopped

    Beef stock

    Worcestershire Sauce

    Heat olive oil in the pan
    Brown and break up the mince
    Season with salt and pepper
    Remove and set aside
    Add a little more oil and sauté onion till soft
    Return mince to pan
    Add beef stock just enough to cover
    And simmer till tender
    When it is cooked check that there is not too much stock - if so remove some
    We want a meaty thick mixture to fill the little cases
    Make a slurry of the flour and water
    And add to mince stirring till thickened
    Simmer about 10 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
    Add a good slug each of Ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce
    Taste and check seasoning
    Adjust if necessary.

    Fill shells
    Top with mashed potato
    This photo taken halfway through the piping the topping - to show the mince.
    This can be done a few hours before.
    A quick grate of Parmesan over the top before they go in the oven is a nice touch.

    Place in 200C oven about 10 minutes to reheat.

    Canapes With Blue Cheese and Pine Nuts

    This is another delight from Signora Hazan.
    I have made them twice now… the original recipe was for good quality sliced white bread.
    This is great but equally as good on French bread slices.
    You could use a food processor but better to be done by hand
    4 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
    5 ounces creamy blue cheese (Gorgonzola or in my case Castello Blue)

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley

    1 tablespoon chopped pine nuts

    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon whole pine nuts

    8 slices of good quality white bread crusts off

    Turn oven onto 200C
    Put butter, blue cheese, herbs and chopped pine nuts into a bowl
    Mash them up with a wooden spoon until smooth
    Season with freshly ground black pepper and
    Add whole pine nuts

    Spread the mixture on the bread leaving a rim on the outside
    Onto a baking sheet and bake in hot oven until bread becomes golden brown around the edges

    Cut bread into triangles and allow to cool for a moment before serving.

    Good fodder for drinkers.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Honeyed Buttercup Squash-Vegetarian Starter

    This is a quick blog…I have just finished making and eating this dish.
    Inspired by Jun Tanaka on Market Kitchen.
    The plan is to cook it for dinner tomorrow night and it will be a starter for 4 people.
    I decided to give it a trial tonight…we ate it all …just the two of us.
    The sweetness of the squash, enhanced by the honey and grapes, and the wonderful saltiness of the cheese along with the crunch of pine nuts.

    Just excellent

    I used buttercup squash instead of butternut
    And White Castello cheese instead of soft goats cheese which was looking expensive at the supermarket.

    2 tbs Olive oil
    1 Butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded cut into bite-size chunks
    1 knob of Butter
    1 tablespoon clear honey
    1 handful pine nuts
    1 handful green grapes
    Goat's cheese, such as St Tola or in my case White Castello

    For the Salad
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    1/2 lemon, juice only
    Olive oil
    1 handful rocket
    1 handful watercress leaves

    Heat the olive oil in a pan until very hot.
    Add the squash cubes and cook for 15-20 minutes until soft and golden (they should be just tender, but not loosing their shape). I popped them into the oven 180C 16 minutes.
    Season well with salt and pepper.

    Stir in the butter and honey, then
    add the pine nuts and grapes and cook for a further minute.

    For the salad:
    Whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and olive oil, then season.
    Toss the rocket and watercress in the vinaigrette.

    To serve
    Place squash on plates,
    Crumble over the goat's cheese and
    Arrange the dressed salad on top.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Mad About Pies - Several Ways to Enjoy Pastry

    Pie Mad
    I love pies in fact I think most people do.
    I lean more towards savoury pies but I also love sweet Pies.
    Anyhow it is all savoury for this post.

    Chicken Pie
    A few weeks ago I was looking after our two youngest grandchildren whilst their parents were sunning themselves in Rarotonga
    This is the second chicken and vege pie I have made for the kids.
    I made the first ones in muffin tins and everyone except for Mia (6years old) liked them.
    Apparently the very obvious courgette presence put her off.
    Not enough chicken.
    So Model two
    I couldn’t find pie tins or big muffin tune here so this time I decided to make a big pie in a cake tin.

    Three kids to feed…should be plenty. Some mashed potato on the side.

    So this time I poached the chicken in a vegetable broth containing courgette, carrot and spring onion.

    I added some milk once the chicken was nearly cooked and back to the simmer and let it sit for an hour or so to infuse.
    The idea is to have all of the goodness of the vege without actually seeing them.
    I strained the stock off and then shredded the chicken
    Carrot apparently is quite acceptable so I chopped the carrot and added it to the mix.

    Rolled out the pastry and lined the cake tin. Don’t you love the rolling pin!!!!
    Make it work and then drink it.
    Pricked the bottom and covered with grated cheese.
    Put it in the fridge to rest for 10 minutes
    Filled with the chicken mix
    Topped it with a lid and into 200C oven till golden brown
    It was very popular.
    Meanwhile on the success of the bacon and egg I made Dale and I these little pies for lunch.
    Dale is not wrapped in bacon so he got smoked salmon

    Saute a small shallot chopped
    Add 2 -3 rashers streaky bacon until fat starts to render not crisp
    Remove and cool slightly
    So I lined the tins with puff pastry
    Layer of cheese on the bottom
    Next layer
    I de-seeded a tomato and cut into strips
    Then a small handful of frozen peas
    Season salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Scatter onions
    Top with bacon for me
    Smoked salmon for Dale
    Break an egg into the pie
    Season with freshly ground black pepper there should be enough salt from the earlier seasoning and the bacon and cheese.
    Move the yolk around lightly just to break it do not beat
    This is the secret for the moistness of the pie.

    Cover with lid
    Brush with egg wash
    Bake 200C till golden brown about 25 minutes
    Let cool about 5-10 minutes before cutting
    See these layers
    This was moist and wonderful.
    So now to an excellent Vegetable pie.
    You could call it “Use Up What’s in the Fridge Pie”
    This fed 2 of us.

    1 tablespoon butter
    2 leeks sliced
    1 carrot chopped
    1 courgette sliced
    Some florets of Broccoli cut up
    Sea salt and Piri Piri seasoning

    Saute vege in butter a few minutes
    Add about 1 cup water and let bubble away gently for about 5 minutes.

    Strain and reserve juice and vege.

    2 tablespoons butter
    Flat mushrooms
    2 tablespoons flour
    1 x Egg hardboiled

    Saute mushrooms in butter
    Season sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Add flour and cook about 3-4 minutes to cook out the flour.
    Add reserved stock stir madly to get out lumps
    Add enough milk to make a ‘thinnish’ sauce
    The boil it down to reduce… this is good for the flavour
    Add vege and place in little casserole dishes (ramekins)
    Peel and cut egg in half, Don’t you love the colour of the egg?
    Place on top of vege good grind of freshly ground black pepper
    Grease rim of dish
    Put pastry on top and brush with egg wash and
    Bake about 15 -20 minutes till golden brown.

    I have to pass these little delights on
    Great for pre dinner drinks
    Savoury Palmiers
    I just use bought puff pastry sheets

    Lots of Sage leaves
    Parmesan cheese finely grated
    Sea salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Lay sheet on lightly floured bench
    Sprinkle lavishly with Parmesan
    Spread sage leaves over
    Season with S & P
    Fold sides into middle lengthwise
    Repeat cheese sage and seasoning
    Fold over now in half and cut into strips about 1 cm
    Sit cut side up
    Sprinkle more cheese on top
    Lie on side as above and bake in hot oven 200C 10 minutes
    These are very tasty.
    You can also replace sage with fresh thyme
    And use a cheddar cheese for the non Italian feel.
    Works just as well.