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    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Leeks Again - Excellent Fish Pie

    I am re-posting this blog as I love this shot of my Grandson feeding his guinea Pig...Plus I'd forgotten how good this Fish Pie is
    My husband Dale is off cruising in Tonga...meanwhile I have been looking after grandchildren.
    He is swanning about in a 44ft yacht with our friend Geoff.
    Dale's culinary expertise basically is sandwiches and avocado on toast. I felt he needed a couple of lessons, so that he could contribute to the kitchen duties.
    He was a reluctant student but I did get him to fry an egg for a sandwich.
    He has learnt how to hard boil an egg (Martha's Method).

    We did three simple ways to cook fish...a very easy meat and tomato sauce for pasta.
    He was excited to learn how to cook rice and loves sticking his finger in the pot to judge the ratio of water to rice. Pre-cooking of course!
    I sent him off with sea salt and a pepper grinder. A packet of green Thai curry sauce. Some couscous and some garlic stock powder for extra flavour. And a couple of packets of Surprise green peas. Plus a tube of prepared much can one do with that?
    So he was off and I went to spend time with our grandchildren.
    I have been texting him over the last week or so...and was keen to see how the Kitchen Sailor was seems that what I taught him was considered to be girls food... and they are having Steak and Eggs, Bacon on toast and Fried fresh fish. As a change baked beans on toast and eating out.
    So there ya go!!!
    Geoff is cooking and fishing. Dale cleaning up and sailing I guess.

    Daughter-in-law Helen was off to the States to her brother's wedding on the East Coast.
    Taking 11 year old Sophia and leaving behind one husband and one son, 7 year old Joseph.
    So the boys needed a bit of help. It's been great fun.
    There have been many events so I am glad I didn't go to Tonga
    First 6 year old Mia's cross country race. She got a certificate for Determination earlier in the year. She is certainly showing it here, third on the right.

    Unfortunately she wasn't in the first three...but she was very pleased with her self.
    There was a performance at Joseph's school, each class performed a dance relating to the subject they are studying. His class is doing Spain. All dressed in red and black and lots of stamping and clapping.
    I took photos but I only had my phone and they were not great.
    But I do have shots of Joseph feeding Elvis the guinea pig. He has been very diligent. Sophia had left him instructions and he has been following them almost exactly.

    It dawned a beautiful Spring Saturday
    Dan and Joseph were off on a boys weekend to the uppermost piece of New Zealand...Cape Reinga 400 kms north of here.
    Boys on Tour.
    Joseph at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse
    This is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea...Just like a washing machine bet it is impressive when there's a storm. Wow.
    They had a ball.
    Now back to food
    Leeks again just love them.

    Got this idea from Gary Rhodes. Actually it is quite different from his recipe.
    But I was inspired by his "Sea Bass with Carbonara Sauce"

    I loved the idea of the sauce, and of course it contained Leeks which is up there for me as a vege.
    Thought it would make a great fish pie. Particularly good for celiacs.
    No gluten at all.

    Have made a similar fish pie before but the difference here was the bacon.
    The flavour from the bacon is the secret.

    It needs a meaty fish. I used Bluenose. It is similar to grouper, wonderful flavour I love it.
    It is very good for oven baked dishes, it stays moist
    150 gms fish per person
    2 tbs olive oil
    Sea salt and Freshly Ground black pepper

    1 tablespoon butter
    3 rashers bacon chopped
    3 tablespoons water

    2 leeks finely sliced
    1 carrot grated
    300 mls cream
    1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

    Normally I would just place the fish in the sauce and bake it but in this case for extra flavour I sautéed the seasoned fish for a few minutes on each side in some olive oil,
    Place in gratin dish

    In a large saucepan or wok fry chopped bacon in a little oil
    Remove and set aside
    Add water and butter
    Then leeks and carrots
    Cover and allow to steam for a few minutes.
    Add the cream and bring to simmer until lightly thickened
    Add the 1 cup of Parmesan and half of the reserved bacon to the sauce.
    Season with freshly ground black pepper and taste, add salt if needed
    Pour over Fish
    Cover with remainder of Parmesan and the bacon
    and bake in hot oven 200C for about 15 minutes.
    Beautiful over steamed rice.
    Dale where are you? I need you to cook the rice.

    Of course I have also been spending time with Miss Cleo and yesterday we went to the park.
    Western Springs is close to the city.
    It consists of a speedway where some of the best outdoor concerts have been held.
    As I write this I am listening to Bos Scaggs on my computer. Fantastic!
    In 1978 he came to NZ and remain in my memory as one of the best concerts ever. I love this man.
    But I have digressed and continuing on Western Springs it has a beautiful lake and a gorgeous park. The Zoo is next door a haunt of ours.
    In all the time we have lived here I have never been into the park itself.
    There is a lovely lake probably the reason for Western Springs.
    There are lots of birds so Miss Cleo and I went for a walk.
    Almost like a bird sanctuary here.
    Of course the usual seagulls, pigeons, sparrows, hens, roosters, geese,herons, ducks and beautiful swans even baby cignets and ducklings.
    Swans swanning about
    She loved it.

    Pukekos below - a native New Zealand Bird...comical and colourful
    What fun!
    Couple of responsible parents looking after their babies. So sweet.
    So Western Springs we will be back... you are beautiful

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Marcella Hazan The Divine Signora M

    I am a new convert to Marcella’s writing and I am so excited.
    After reading "Angela Hartnett' s Cucina", I went onto the net and immediately ordered all the Marcella books in my local library... and after reading these have ordered “Marcella’s Italian Kitchen” from Dymocks.
    It is fantastic. Her writing is so inspirational. Like Elizabeth David she writes a little paragraph or two about the recipe…whether it is an old family favourite, from a friend, a restaurant...even her husband, plus of course so many recipes which will have originated from her kitchen.
    Always a little history of the dish.
    My mouth waters.
    So after reading the pasta section I just had to make the Vegetable Lasagne.
    It contains carrots, courgettes and broccoli in a béchamel sauce.

    A heart attack waiting to happen, but at least you could say you died happy.
    Replaced broccoli with cauliflower. Broccoli is so expensive at the moment and I object to paying nearly $4 for a head!!!
    This is a post worthy of Ruth from Once upon a feast Presto Pasta night
    There will be a round up on Friday. Have a look at Ruth's Site

    Got out the pasta machine and the 00 flour and some Jumbo free range eggs.
    I had made Angela Hartnett’s recipe a couple of weeks ago and she puts oil and salt in hers.
    Not so Signora Hazan.
    So I went ahead. Took a bit of kneading but soon I had a little package of silky pasta wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. Look at the end of the post for the pasta recipe.

    Miss Cleo, the littlest grandchild, was here for the day
    so I had to make the lasagne while she was asleep…as she is fairly busy when up, and this recipe even though delicious, is quite work intensive,

    I was also cursing the size of my kitchen as I needed lots of bench space for this dish. Don’t let the thought of the work put you off though… it really is great.

    The vegetables are cooked gently in garlic flavoured butter
    Nice cheesy sauce added to them and then layered up as per normal lasagne.
    Lovely aromas filled my kitchen

    The Filling
    400 gms carrots, peeled, washed and sliced into 1/4 inch discs
    6 tablespoons butter plus additional butter for greasing the pan (Actually I used olive oil)
    6 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
    400 gms courgettes washed and cut the same size as the carrots
    1 head broccoli or 1/2 head cauliflower.

    Pasta dough...either make your own recipe below or buy fresh lasagne pasta.

    To prepare the vegetables
    In a good size skillet add 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
    2 of the garlic cloves
    and turn the heat onto medium
    When garlic is light brown remove
    Add carrots and 3 tablespoons water
    Cook gently till water absorbed turning occasionally
    till carrots are tender but not mushy.
    Season with sea salt and gfresly ground black pepperand place in a mixing bowl.

    Wipe the skillet and repeat this method with the courgettes
    Season and into another bowl

    Meanwhile blanch the broccoli/cauliflower
    Drain and cool
    Slice into thin slices like the other vege
    Follow the method for the carrots and courgettes
    Cook in garlic butter and 3 tablespoons water over medium heat turning occasionally.
    Remove from pan and place in a third bowl.
    Make the Béchamel Sauce

    5 tablespoons butter
    4 1/2 tablespoon flour
    3 cups milk heated with a bay leaf
    Sea salt & freshly ground black freshly ground black pepper
    1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan
    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Melt the butter
    Add the flour
    Cook about 4 minutes till flour cooked out.
    Add warm milk and stir till thickened
    Add 1 cup parmesan
    Beat well
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste,
    Remove bay leaf

    Grease your gratin dish
    Smear over a couple of spoonfuls of sauce to bottom of dish
    Keep aside 3/4 cup béchamel for the topping
    Then divide the rest of the béchamel into the 3 bowls of vege.
    So now assemble the meal.

    Lay sheets of pasta over the bottom of the dish
    Layer over the carrot mix
    Another layer pasta

    Final layer pasta
    Spread over remainder of sauce
    Cover with 3/4 cup Grated parmesan
    Dot with (Yes) more butter

    Into pre-heated 200C oven for15-20 minutes until a light golden crust forms on top.
    Allow at least 10 minutes before serving.
    Like most lasagne this one can be assembled the day before it is to be baked.

    To make the Pasta.
    I guess most people have made pasta and if you haven’t it really is very simple.
    Don’t be frightened.
    First the old trusty pasta machine is necessary. I have borrowed my daughters but I believe they are not too expensive.
    You can roll by hand but I think it would be fairly hard.
    So as all the best Italians cooks say.

    You must make the pasta on the bench.

    2 cups 00 flour
    3 large eggs

    Extra bench flour for kneading and rolling

    Make a big mound of the flour and with your fingers make a well in the middle
    I added the eggs one by one to stop them from sliding out onto the floor
    With a fork gently beat the egg like a omelet in the well and start to work the flour into the centre.
    As the egg is absorbed add the next one and continue to work till you get a ball.
    Start kneading.
    It’s an easy dough to knead, you will have to use extra bench flour till you get the right consistency.

    If you are not sure that you have put in enough flour,

    push a finger into the dough as far as its centre. It should come out clean and dry.

    If it is moist or there are bit of dough stuck to your fingers work in additional

    flour till it feels just right.
    Pop into the fridge for at least an hour.

    When you are ready
    Flour your bench

    Take a quarter of your pasta dough
    Roll out into a rectangle

    Then through the machine on the widest gap
    Fold in half and repeat another 3 times.
    Close the notch to the next level
    Through the machine again
    I floured the bench where the dough came out so it didn’t stick to the bench.
    Continue dropping the notch till it is nice and thin.

    Lay out on floured bench and cut into rectangles

    Brush of the excess flour and prepare to pre-cook
    Have a pot of boiling salted water
    Drop in about 3-4 at a time when they float to the top
    Take them out
    Drain in a colander and wash under cold tap.

    Have a tea towel ready on the bench
    Lay the squares on the towel
    Pat dry and "voila" they are ready to go.
    Layer away.

    Here’s another simple appetizer from the book…I just had to make this.
    So easy and so tasty.
    Tuna Spread with Capers

    2 x 300gms tins of best tuna in olive oil
    8 tablespoon good unsalted butter softened to room temperature
    3 tablespoon capers

    Drain the tuna of all the olive oil it was packed in
    Into the food processor with butter and capers
    Blitz to a creamy consistency
    Adjust seasoning to taste.

    Great for canapés

    Spread on little croutons topped with a sliver of red freshly ground black pepper.
    Pretty and good accompaniment with wine.

    I have had it on my toast for breakfast with tomato slices on top.

    And it was particularly great on Vogels toast, to accompany a bowl of Brussel sprouts and Leek soup.
    Excellent lunch.

    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    Jimmy Buffet and Rick Stein - Lamb and Chocolate All Favourites

    You may wonder how this heading relates...
    Our friend Lana has just returned from a wonderful holiday in the States.
    I volunteered to be her Taxi driver. When she left - going the airport was easy mid-dayish but her return was a 5am arrival. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but we had had a happy few hours with another friend Mary the night before, and when the alarm went off at 5am…I cursed that extra glass of wine and the consequent no dinner...quickly jumped out of bed, cleaned my teeth - threw on clothes and did the dash to the airport.
    But it paid off being a good friend…we were inundated with fabulous gifts.

    Some good spices and T-shirts from Jimmy Buffet’s Shop, we are Parrotheads you know.
    Love Jimmy Buffet have seen him about 5 times on visits to New Orleans Jazz Fest.

    Love his music and his lifestyle. I also got a new BBQ tool and the piece de resistance “A Living Fire” DVD. It’s wonderful.

    We have very good central heating and the house is always warm but I do miss an open fire. So here we go - there are 8 different fireplaces to choose from.

    Here is the Christmas fireplace – brilliant. Just turn it on. Love it.
    So we needed to hear about her vacation and she came around for dinner.

    Gave me a chance to make this wonderful Lamb dish, which is from Puglia.
    I saw it on Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Series.

    Another hero of mine - this series follows his travels around the Med and I was very taken
    with this dish
    It is a layered dish and it was very tasty. I would make it again.
    Apparently in Puglia it is made from very young spring lamb and new potatoes.
    It is just spring here but the produce is not quite ready yet.
    I bought little lamb steaks from my butcher
    Not quite the lamb the Italian lady was using, but it was pretty good.
    She also used Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses.
    My local deli had run out of Pecorino, so I only used Parmesan.
    Next time I would love to try the Pecorino as well.

    Amounts are a little difficult to write down - depends how greedy you all are.
    It’s really like making a roast dinner you know how much you can eat.
    Choose the size of the dish depending on how many people you are feeding
    The three of us polished off our casserole.

    Any way
    Lamb steaks 200 gms per person remove any fat
    2 large Potatoes peeled and sliced thinly
    1 cup of parsley
    6 cloves garlic
    Parmesan cheese, finely grated
    Cherry tomatoes 300 gms
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Olive oil

    Grease a casserole dish with olive oil
    Lightly blitz in the food processor parsley, garlic and half of the tomatoes
    Season with S & P
    Cut the lamb into 3-4 cm pieces
    Toss with 2-3 tablespoon of parley mix
    So start layering

    Smear a spoonful of paste over the bottom of the dish
    Cover with layer of potatoes
    Lightly season with S &P again

    Spread over more tomato/parsley mix
    Cover with grated cheese
    Squash (with your fingers) 8 or tomatoes and sit in the cheese
    Add lamb
    More grated cheese
    Another layer potatoes, season S & P
    More tomato mix
    Grated cheese
    Squeezed Tomatoes
    Last layer of potatoes
    Season S & P
    Finish with grated cheese
    Rest of the tomatoes
    Season again.
    Drizzle over some olive oil
    Cover dish
    Bake at 200C about an hour till knife will slide through potatoes and meat.
    I let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving
    The flavours were excellent.
    Quite a lot of juice soaked up nicely by the potatoes.
    This is a keeper.
    Actually some chopped parsley would finish it off, unfortunately, I ran out of it.

    To complete the meal.
    I have been lusting after this dessert that I found on my friend Arfi’s website
    Click here and you will find the recipe.
    Her photography is's a pretty site.

    I made one slight change.
    To get the extra orange flavour. I mixed Whittaker’s 72% Ghana Chocolate with their orange chocolate.

    Very nice.
    Arfi it’s a lovely dessert and we loved it.
    Thank you.

    Just a little addition this is a simple little appetiser to have with drinks.
    I have just discovered Marcella Hazan described as the reigning queen of Italian Cooking and this is one of her recipes
    1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano
    1 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
    I teaspoon chopped fresh basil
    ¼ pound shelled walnut halves

    In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the walnuts
    Scoop up some the mix with your fingers and apply it to the walnuts sheathing each half only partially, leaving about 1/3 exposed

    Place coated walnuts on a dish without overlapping and refrigerate until ready to serve
    It is best to coat them only 1-2 hours ahead.

    Actually I found the flavour better as they came to room temperature.
    Sorry about the photo I didn't think to take the shot till we had nearly eaten them all.
    But it should at least give you an idea.

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Back To Old Favourites - Courgette Souffle

    I had bought a couple of courgettes.
    They are very expensive at the moment and are imported from Australia.
    Anyway - nice for a change.
    One of my most favourite soufflés is Mrs. Elizabeth David’s Courgette Soufflé.
    This is from her French Provincial Cooking a bible of mine.
    Well used as you can see.
    Don't be frightened of soufflés...they are really easy and so so good

    I have a pot of mint in the kitchen, and thought I would add a little of that
    and see how it worked out.

    Well actually it worked out just fine.

    The mint was quite subtle so next time, I would increase the amount of leaves
    but it was a sensational lunch anyway.

    I followed the classic recipe so here it is…just a couple of small changes.
    First the addition of the mint and I didn’t salt the courgettes as she said.
    I think when her books were written, vegetables like courgettes and aubergine were bitter and needed to be salted to remove any bitterness.
    Apparently over many years the vegetables have been developed without bitterness.
    The liquid from the courgettes will be absorbed with the cooking.

    Pre-heat oven to 190C
    Butter a 1 1/2 souffle dish

    400gms courgettes finely sliced
    2 whole eggs and 2 extra egg whites
    5 tablespoon of grated gruyere cheese
    8 mint leaves finely sliced
    2 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan

    Bechamel Sauce
    2tbs butter
    2 tablespoon flour
    and a scant 1/4 pint warmed milk

    The sauce well seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt
    Don’t forget the cheese will be salty so taste before you add salt.

    So cook the sliced courgettes gently with a little salt till soft and all liquid absorbed
    This will take up to 10 minutes.
    Don't let it dry out

    Meanwhile make béchamel sauce
    Add courgette puree, grated gruyere and mint
    Add the well beaten egg yolks
    Beat the eggs whites to soft peaks
    Stir in 1 tablespoon egg white mix well to loosen the mixture
    Then carefully fold in the whites
    Pour into prepared soufflé dish
    Sprinkle top with grated Parmesan
    Hint from Mrs David which I didn’t notice at the time…
    (Hence my soufflé rising higher on one side.)
    With the palette knife, mark a deep circle an inch or so from the edge, so that the soufflé will come out with a cottage loaf look to the top

    Place in a pan of hot water and bake for 30-35 minutes
    Don’t open the oven door

    Anyway it was a great texture and tasted fabulous.
    Lovely pale green colour.

    You could make this in miniature soufflé dishes
    6 little 4 oz dishes.
    Cook for 23 minutes.

    Great lunch.

    Jenn from The Left Over Queen
    had this list sent to her.

    The idea is to Bold out all the items you have eaten
    Put crosses next to any items you would never consider

    You may have to google some of the items I did.

    The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

    I have only tried 63 not as good as I thought.

    1. Venison
    2. Nettle tea XXX
    3. Huevos rancheros
    4. Steak tartare
    5. Crocodile (well I have had alligator)
    6. Black pudding
    7. Cheese fondue
    8. Carp
    9. Borscht
    10. Baba ghanoush
    11. Calamari
    12. Pho
    13. PB&J sandwich
    14. Aloo gobi
    15. Hot dog from a street cart
    16. Epoisses (would love to try!)
    17. Black truffle (and infused oil)
    18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
    19. Steamed pork buns
    20. Pistachio ice cream
    21. Heirloom tomatoes
    22. Fresh wild berries
    23. Foie gras
    24. Rice and beans
    25. Brawn or Head Cheese
    26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (bit hot for me)
    27. Dulce de leche
    28. Oysters
    29. Baklava
    30. Bagna cauda

    31. Wasabi peas
    32. Clam Chowder
    in Soudough Bowl
    33. Salted Lassi
    34. Sauerkraut
    35. Root beer float (Root beer hasn’t taken off in NZ)
    36. Cognac with a Fat Cigar
    37. Clotted Cream Tea (Devonshire Tea)
    38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
    39. Gumbo
    40. Oxtail
    41. Curried goat (Will try when available)

    42. Whole insects XXX
    43. Phaal
    44. Goat’s milk XXX (Don’t like any milk but love goats cheese)
    45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
    46. Fugu XXX You have to be brave for this
    47. Chicken tikka masala
    48. Eel

    49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
    50. Sea urchin XXX
    51. Prickly pear
    52. Umeboshi
    53. Abalone
    54. Paneer
    55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
    56. Spaetzle
    57. Dirty gin martini (Have to try one of these)
    58. Beer above 8% ABV (not sure)
    59. Poutine (This sounds like Canadian Nachos!)
    60. Carob chips XXX (I won’t eat carob)
    61. S’mores
    62. Sweetbreads
    63. Kaolin (can’t find out what it is)
    64. Currywurst ( These are German curried sausages…I'll say yes - there ya go)
    65. Durian XXX (too smelly)
    66. Frogs’ legs
    67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears
    or funnel cake
    68. Haggis
    69. Fried plantain
    70. Chitterlings (I’ll stick with Haggis)
    72. Caviar and blini
    73. Louche absinthe
    74. Gjetost or brunost (This is a Norwegian treat haven’t ever seen it)
    75. Roadkill (I don’t think so) XXX
    76. Baijiu
    77. Hostess Fruit Pie (not available in NZ)
    78. Snail
    79. Lapsang Souchong (I’m not a tea person)
    80. Bellini
    81. Tom Yum
    82. Eggs Benedict
    83. Pocky (a Japanese snack)
    84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu (I am so planning to do this!)
    85. Kobe beef
    86. Hare
    87. Goulash
    88. Flowers
    89. Horse
    90. Criollo chocolate (It’s apparently available in NZ have to track it down).
    91. Spam
    92. Soft shell crab
    93. Rose Harissa (I have only had regular Harissa )
    94. Catfish
    95. Mole Poblano (I want to try a real Mole, think Mexican, not animals)
    96. Bagel and Lox
    97. Lobster Thermidor

    98. Polenta
    99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
    100. Snake (had it Hong Kong)

    Give this a go its fun