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    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Dinner From Three Continents

    Another lovely night with friends so the menu was “Food from Three Continents”
    Italian Starter. Asian Main and American Dessert.

    Our friend Jeannie gave Dale a bottle of Krug for his last significant birthday not only a bottle but a Magnum. We have been waiting to share it with her, so as she was going to be a guest at dinner Dale decided we would have it last night. Lucky all of us.

    It was beautiful
    I really love French Champagne.
    There are some excellent Methode Champagnoise made here in New Zealand
    But Krug well I ask you – one would never turn that down!

    English Chef Hugh Fearnly Whitingstall made these Baby Caesar Salads
    Which I thought would be lovely with the champagne
    Really simple...
    Baby Cos leaves filled with crunchy fried breadcrumbs
    Topped with this beautiful Caesar Dressing.
    This is courtesy of Ina Garten.

    1 extra-large egg yolk at room temperature
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    2 large cloves garlic, chopped
    8 to 10 anchovy fillets (optional)
    1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 cups good mild olive oil
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Place the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
    Process until smooth.

    With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube (as though you were making mayonnaise), until thick.
    Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse 3 times.
    It’s a superb dressing. Certainly makes heaps we will eating Caesar salad for days
    (Actually since I originally wrote this, we have had the Dressing on new potatoes in a BLT made with my Fabulous French Bread.)
    Lots of uses

    Fry the bread crumbs and cook in olive oil till crispy.
    Wrap Cos lettuce leaves around breadcrumbs and serve with Caesar Dressing.

    So onto the meal... we start with Italian
    I have finally got my own copy of Marcella’s Italian Kitchen and when I opened it…it fell at this recipe.
    Perfect for a spring dinner
    Baked Prawn with Asparagus
    It is her version of a classic recipe from a restaurant in Venice called Fiore.
    She changed it a bit using potatoes instead of rice.

    It is great.
    Simple, and you can make it 2-3 hours ahead, just assemble before baking as shown below.

    1 kilo asparagus
    1 kilo prawns
    250gms potatoes
    2/3 cup chopped onions
    5 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/4 cup cream
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    Plus an extra 2 tablespoon for topping
    Freshly ground black pepper.
    Trim asparagus and break off hard ends
    Cook in big pan of boiling salted water
    Juts cook for 2-3 minutes
    Drain and cool
    Cut each spear into 3 pieces

    Wash the prawns in cold water and pat dry with paper towel and reserve.

    Boil potatoes in salted water
    Put them through a food mill or ricer in a bowl large enough to take all ingredients
    Put 3 tablespoon of butter and the oil into a pan
    Add chopped onions and sauté till golden brown
    Add asparagus toss around for about a minute.

    Now you can prepare to this stage and let sit about 2 hours.
    Which is great for a dinner party.

    To continue
    Heat oven to 210C
    Add onion mixture to potatoes
    Then cream and 1/2 cup cheese salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Toss around and add prawns
    Pour into baking dish
    Top with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan and knobs of the remaining butter.
    Bake 15- 20 minutes till prawns are pink.
    Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
    The flavours are amazing. Loved it.

    So for the Main course...Off to Asia and another recipe off the telly
    Inspired by Huey’s Cooking Adventures

    Asian Beef with Lemon Grass and Ginger
    2 large onions chopped
    1.5 kilos of cross cut blade steak (this is excellent for stew. It likes long slow cooking) Cut into cubes.
    1 x 400 gms tin coconut milk
    1 x 400 gms tin of diced tomatoes
    1 cup beef stock
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 heaped teaspoon of Sambal Olek

    But first make a paste in the mortar and pestle of
    2 x lemongrass stick hard skin off bashed and chopped finely
    3 x red chilies de-seeded
    2 cloves garlic chopped
    1 tablespoon grated ginger
    2 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds
    Chopped 2 large onions in
    2 tablespoons oil in pan
    Add onions and paste cook down till soft
    Add turmeric, cumin and Sambal Olek
    Add the beef
    Brown the meat
    You will have to transfer to a bigger pot for this amount of meat

    Add coconut milk and diced tomatoes
    1 x cup beef stock
    Bring to simmer cook slowly about 2 –3 hours till meat is tender.
    Garnish with a few coriander leaves and serve with rice
    In between courses of course we have the smokers
    and the non smokers
    Now for the Americas and dessert.
    Actually the recipe is from Nigella Lawson( British) - but who makes the best Margaritas.
    America of course
    So our Canadian friend Laurian (pictured 2nd from right) made this delicious ice cream for us.
    And I made the most American of Cookies - Chocolate Chip.

    Margarita Ice Cream with Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

    150gm icing sugar
    125mls fresh lime juice
    2 tablespoons tequila
    3 tablespoons orange liqueur- Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec

    Mix together then add
    500ml double cream
    Whisk in until soft and creamy

    You will find the recipe for the cookies…just click here

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    French Bread and Fishes - Providing Our Own Food

    Dale went fishing and he caught his first ever fish. I had to take a picture.
    It was lovely we had it simply pan fried for dinner.
    I made some fish cakes with the trimmings.
    An excuse for using the remains of my Caesar Salad dressing
    recipe in the Dinner from 3 Continents blog.
    But now onto the main event. French Bread.
    A while ago my good friend Diana gave me baguette tins. I have tried many recipes and have had success, but this is the closest I have got to bought French Bread.

    I love this cookbook from Terry Thompson. It’s called “Cajun Creole Cooking”
    She is so informative and instructive just like The Divine Marcella. I also include here as truly inspirational Elizabeth David and Mrs Julia Child...anyway
    I read Terry's book frequently for inspiration and it seems the page was always falling open on this recipe French Bread New Orleans Style.
    It seemed so simple anyone could make it. And it is so!

    It is designed for the food processor and what more can I say.
    Actual work time is only minutes but there is the usual resting time for the rising.
    So I started this at 8am and it was ready at 11.30 for our lunch.
    I turned my share into this yummy BLT.
    The flavour of this bread is fabulous. A great crispy crust and beautiful crumb.
    Fantastic flavour.
    All explained in the quote from Terry’s Book below.

    “A scientific discovery my good friend Shirley Corriher led to the addition of flavoured vinegars to the French Bread recipe. When testing breads prepared according to the age-old, long, slow rising French method, it was discovered that the dough became acidic during the extended and numerous risings. Her conclusion was simply to add acid at the beginning of the bread making process. The resulting loaves had both the aroma and the taste of the slightly soured and yeasty breads of Europe, without the long rising! Try this method with your favourite bread recipe, using as your guide one teaspoon of fruit-flavoured vinegar to every three cups of flour. Don’t be tempted to add more vinegar; excess acid could destroy the gluten in the flour.”

    I am so excited about this bread. It should be great on the boat.
    Have to take the food processor on board.


    1 1/2 cups warm water hand hot 45C
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

    1 pkt dry yeast (8gms)
    About 3cups flour

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or any other mild fruit flavoured vinegar
    1/4 cup vegetable oil


    20 gms cup butter melted with 1/2 teaspoon salt

    In a 2 cup measuring cup combine water and sugar.
    Sprinkle in yeast; stir till blended
    Leave till foamy 5-10 minutes
    In a food processor with steel blade blend 3 cups flour, salt and vinegar
    Add dissolved yeast mix all at once
    Process 3-4 seconds to combine.
    The dough should be wet and sticky with a slight degree of body
    If it is too soupy add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, processing between each addition until a wet sticky dough is formed.

    Process no more than 15 seconds to knead dough.
    Pour oil into a large bowl and oil your fingers
    Take dough from processor and pull of (with oiled hands) any dough stuck to blade and bowl.
    Form dough into a rough ball.
    Turn dough over several times to completely coat with oil.

    Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise till double in size. (approx 1- 1 1/2 hours)
    Lightly oil your tins
    Knock the dough down and pinch it into shape and pull to fit the tin.
    Brush dough with butter and salt glaze.
    Cover loosely with plastic wrap again

    Let rise till double in bulk
    Pre-heat oven to 205C
    When loaves are ready take plastic wrap off
    Brush again gently with butter and salt mixture.
    Into pre-heated oven

    It should take around 20 - 25 minutes to bake.
    Cook completely on cooling racks.

    This made 3 baguettes.
    Crisp crunchy crust and look at the crumb
    Just like a bought one.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Let's Go Eat Italian

    The camera took this shot by mistake. I love the colour of the tomatoes signs of Summer…Hooray.

    We were losing a valued member of staff Kerry.
    He is going on to better things and we wish him well, but will miss him.
    So a farewell lunch for Kerry was planned. I hadn’t made a staff lunch for ages…it was long overdue.
    Of course we still have a couple of people to take into consideration when planning lunch. There is a dairy problem.
    So I made 2 pasta dishes. One containing heaps of dairy and the other none.

    Mrs. Ina Garten was the inspiration for this one and it was fabulous

    Lemon and Broccoli Cream Pasta
    1 tablespoon good olive oil
    1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
    2 cups heavy cream
    3 lemons
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 bunch broccoli
    500 gms dried Fusilli pasta
    200 gms baby arugula (or 2 bunches of common arugula, leaves cut in thirds)
    ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
    1 punnet grape or cherry tomatoes, halved


    Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat,
    Add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds.
    Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
    Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

    Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem.
    Cook the florets in a big pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm.
    Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
    Set aside.
    I used the same pot and water to cook the pasta
    Bring it back to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and
    cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes,
    stirring occasionally.
    Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot.

    Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta.
    Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli.
    Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it ¼ inch thick crosswise, and
    Add it to the pasta.
    Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.
    This was so good I repeated it last Saturday for lunch with a group of old friends.
    A wonderful lunch with wonderful friends.
    Terry and Barb (below) were in Auckland for the weekend from Wellington.
    We all lived there in the past. That’s what I mean by old friends not age, but time.

    There was Pete
    Elphie his wife
    And our dear friend Catherine (pictured being greeted by Terry) and popping up in most photos (dressed in the virginal white) the lovely Dale.
    Meanwhile we have turned our friends Pete and Elphie onto The Divine Marcella Hazan.

    So Pete made this wonderful Scallop dish for our starter.
    Unfortunately I didn’t have a photo but this is how you make it.
    Very simple.

    Sautéed Scallops and Mushrooms
    For 4 people
    500 gms firm fresh mushrooms
    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons chopped shallots
    1 tablespoon garlic chopped
    Sea salt
    ½ cup dry white wine
    500 gms scallops
    1 teaspoon chopped dried hot pepper or 2 teaspoons of fresh hot pepper
    3 tablespoons chopped parsley

    In a large sauté pan add 5 tablespoons of oil
    Turn heat to high add shallots and cook till golden brown
    Add garlic and when that is golden
    Add mushrooms
    Turn down the heat
    Add salt and cover the pan.
    As you stir from time to time you will find that the mushrooms throw off some liquid
    After 15 minutes uncover the pan and
    Turn up the heat to medium heat to evaporate the liquid.
    Then add white wine
    Cook stirring until the wine has also evaporated and the only liquid in the pan is olive oil.

    Rinse the scallops in cold water and pat dry thoroughly
    Put them into the pan with hot freshly ground black pepper and parsley.
    Add a little m ore salt.
    Turn up the heat to high and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently
    Serve piping hot.
    Great with crunchy bread.

    Our friend Catherine supplied dessert
    Once again very simple and delicious.
    She made the lemon curd but you could buy it..

    Little Filo Pastry Cases filled with Lemon Curd topped with Strawberries and Cream
    She also supplied the beautiful Whisky Chocolate Fudge.
    That is just fabulous.
    Now back to the staff lunch. Here is the non dairy dish

    Giada de Laurentis supplied this recipe. It also was stunning
    Lemon Prawn Pasta

    For the lemon oil:

    ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 lemon, zested

    Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.

    For the pasta:

    500 gms linguine pasta
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 shallots, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    500 gms frozen shrimp
    ¼ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
    1 lemon, zested
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    100 gms arugula (about 3 packed cups)
    ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    For the pasta:

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
    Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
    Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

    Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat.
    Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
    Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes.
    Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
    Toss to combine.
    Turn off the heat and add the arugula.
    Add the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta.
    (You can strain out the zest but I like it to remain.)

    Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and toss to combine.

    Serve immediately.
    Some of our lot tucking in.
    Bye Kerry we shall miss you.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Lazy Blogger

    I really haven't been a lazy blogger.
    I have been Grandma Extrordinaire while our daughter Katie and her Husband Chris are in Rarotonga at this wonderful resort

    I have set up a blog of the kid's break from their parents.

    Have a look

    Back to food next week.

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Whitebait: New Zealand's Divine Treat

    Whitebait Season is here again

    This time last year we were heading off for our intrepid adventure, touring New Zealand.
    Which was a fantastic month. We loved it. It’s a beautiful country we live in.
    It was just at the end of the Whitebait season and we ate it at every opportunity, as we drove down through the country, until the season ran out and there was no more.
    You can buy it frozen but I’m looking at fresh here.

    I bought $20 worth last night and there was enough to make a lovely omelet.
    It is so expensive these days…when I was young it was cheap as chips, but now it is about $150 per kilo…but we have to treat ourselves to this New Zealand delicacy.
    So I buy it as often as I can afford.

    This time I accompanied it with a Broccoli Slaw.
    I always keep breadcrumbs made from leftover good bread and freeze them in little bags.
    You can toast them in some olive oil to crisp them up.
    Makes a wonderful crunch for pasta and also sprinkled over salads.

    Tomatoes cut into wedges and seeded
    Basil sliced
    For crunch
    3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    The Dressing
    1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
    Zest of 1 lemon
    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon sea slat
    Pinch freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    Mix together the first 6 ingredients with a small whisk or a fork

    Slowly add the oil whisking well

    Pour over broccoli
    Put into the fridge for at least an hour
    Heat the olive oil in a pan, med heat
    Throw in the breadcrumbs and fry them for about 4 minutes till crispy.
    Add tomatoes and basil to broccoli and leave for another 10 minutes to meld the flavours.
    Add the crispy breadcrumbs and serve
    Now for the omelet
    You may be surprise at the flour addition but I find it helps to bind it together

    For 2 people

    Pre heat oven to 190C
    6 eggs
    1 tablespoon flour
    200 gms whitebait
    sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoon olive oil

    Beat eggs in a bowl
    add flour, S & P
    Whisk again
    Add whitebait

    Heat oil in a pan (that will go into the oven)
    Till it is hot
    Throw in egg and whitebait mixture
    Shake it around over the heat for a minute or two.

    Into the oven for 5 - 7 minutes
    It should just be set don’t overcook it
    Cut into wedges and serve with a slice of lemon to squeeze over.
    We ate the salad separately.

    It was family dinner Sunday at Karen and Steve’s house and of course as usual the star of the day is The Baby Cleo
    The new trick “Where is Cleo?”
    Here is the three youngest watching DVD’s while the adults eat fab food and drink wine.

    Monday was Vegetarian Day at our house
    Leek Tomato Asparagus and Basil Risotto

    For 2 people
    1 cup Arborio rice
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 leek washed and sliced
    Sea salt & pepper
    1 cup white wine
    Approx 2 cups hot chicken stock
    Parmesan Cheese grated
    1 bunch asparagus tough ends broken off and chopped
    2 tomatoes seeded and sliced...Reserve seeds

    First in a pot add the chicken stock
    Bring to boil and add asparagus
    Cook till al dente
    Drain and reserve stock for the risotto
    Add tomato seeds to the stock for extra flavour
    Heat oil in pan over med heat
    Add leeks and sauté till soft but still green
    Add rice and toss around to fully coat the grains of rice.
    Season with S & P
    Add wine and stir till all wine is absorbed
    Keep adding the hot stock one soup ladle at a time
    Keep stirring as each amount of stock is absorbed.
    When the grains of rice are cooked
    Add tomatoes and asparagus
    Stir well
    Check seasoning and adjust if necessary
    Add basil and serve.

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Sandwich French Bread a la Julia Child: Pain de Mie

    This is quite a different dough from the bread I have been making over the last couple of years.

    I saw Mrs. Child make this on an old programme on Food TV. I just had to have a go.
    In France this particular bread is made specifically for sandwiches and toast.

    It is a milk and butter dough…Fairly rich.
    The French have a special pan to make this square loaf, but I made it in a loaf tin.

    There is quite a lot of resting and leaving to rise.
    You can’t rush this bread but you can delay it.
    If you wanted it fresh for lunch I suggest you make it in the afternoon, leave it in the fridge for the second rise and in the morning you can complete the job,
    You will then have fresh bread cooled and ready to slice for your lunch time treat.
    Or another option...after the second rise, wrap with plastic and freeze till you need it.

    3 1/2 cups flour
    1 1/3 cups tepid milk
    2 teaspoons salt

    1 pkt yeast dissolved in 3 tablespoons warm water

    Mix up with a spatula when you have a sticky ball
    Turn out onto bench and rest for a few minutes

    Knead on a lightly floured board till the dough gets elastic
    Use a flat scraper like a paint scraper to lift the dough
    Push down with the heel of your left hand and lift the dough with the scraper.
    Pick it up and throw it. No gentle handling here just whack it.
    Keep going till it gets elastic and smooth – 3-4 minutes and it no longer sticks to your hand.
    Leave to rest again for a couple of minutes

    Take 55gms butter from the fridge and bash it flat
    Knead it with the heel of you hand.
    This makes it malleable ready to add to the dough
    Put a small bit of the squashed butter on the dough and start to work it in.
    Keep adding the butter and work hard. It becomes quite ropey but it will mix in.
    Use your scraper to lift all the bits from the bench.
    You shouldn’t have to add more flour it will work in.
    Get it into a ball and place back in a clean bowl
    Cover and leave to rise about 3 hours
    Knock the dough down and onto a lightly floured bench
    With floury hands pat into a rectangle and fold into 3 turn pat down again and fold once again into three.
    Pop this back into your clean bowl and leave to rise again for another 1 1/2 hours.
    Look at this dough it is magnificent
    Knock it down
    And pat down on the bench with floured hands.
    I love handling this dough it is so silky…I bet the little kids would love to play with it.
    Now that’s an idea for when they next come over.

    I took the delay option and made a little parcel of the dough and wrapped in plastic
    It went into the freezer till it was needed.
    So I took it out of the freezer and left it overnight to defrost in the fridge.

    Next time I would take it out and let it defrost on the bench.
    After I had defrosted was time to form the bread.
    Pat it out on a lightly floured bench
    Fold over and make a crease with your hand on the edge
    Turn it onto the crease and make a trench with you hand on the top, and fold it over again.
    The idea is to turn it till you get a nice smooth top.
    Fold it over again and pinch the edges and put the edge on the bottom you should have a nice smooth top.
    Pop it into a light greased loaf tin
    Leave to rise in a warm place
    Heat oven to 220C
    Cook for 30- 35 minutes.
    I found in my oven it was ready after 30 minutes.
    Isn't it sensational!

    Take it out of the tin and cool on it’s side.
    Mrs. Child suggested that you leave to cool completely makes it easier to slice.
    Now it should keep for a couple of days. T is an enriched bread and tastes like brioche but not so buttery.

    It is excellent we couldn’t wait and I cut into it while it was still warmish. Bit hard to handle but it was gorgeous. Well worth trying. We loved it.
    Unfortunately because we were greedy cutting the loaf while still warm pushed it out of shape,
    The remainder (not a lot) went into a plastic bag and the fridge.
    Made great toast.
    My breakfast...Peanut butter, tomato and a little basil. What could be better?
    So to recap the instructions

    Mix the ingredients in a bowl
    Turn out onto lightly floured board
    Rest for a couple of minutes
    Knead using the spatula method till the dough is elastic.
    Rest again for 2-3 minutes

    Mash your butter to make it malleable
    Add a little butter to the dough and work it in
    Keep on adding the butter and kneading till elastic again
    Make a ball and into a clean bowl to rise
    About 3 hours.

    Knock down
    Pat into a rectangle on floured bench
    Fold in three time.
    Turn and fold into three again

    Back into a clean bowl
    Rise again for another 1-2 hours.

    Knock down
    Now you can either form your loaf or put into the freezer till you need it

    Pat out on floured board
    Form loaf
    Into a very lightly greased loaf tin.

    Leave to rise in a warm place

    Into 220C oven 30-35 minutes
    If it is cooked it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom

    Remove from tin
    Cool on rack on it’s side
    For best results
    Leave to cool before cutting

    Its not difficult just takes a bit of time and it was worth it.