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    Friday, November 27, 2009

    Sausage and Red Wine Pie

    Continuing on the "how to use the all the food up" theme. There was half a bottle of red wine. Got me thinking. In the freezer I had some sausages. Pork and Fennel, that I bought from the Hamilton Farmers Market. Gutsy flavour should go well with red wine. Also came to mind, a request from Wayne Roylance, about any ideas how to use sausage in a pie.
    OK let's try this.

    6 sausages
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 granny Smith apple chopped in little cubes
    1 stick celery, fine dice.
    Sea salt
    Red chili pepper flakes 1/2 teaspoon
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1/2 bottle red wine
    200 mls chicken stock approx

    25 gms butter
    25 gms flour

    Handful chopped parsley

    1 tomato, quartered, seeds removed and diced.

    Put oil in the pan
    Saute onion
    Season with salt and chili flakes
    Add celery and apple
    Continue to saute till soft
    Remove and reserve
    Add sausage to pan and brown on all sides

    Remove and cut in pieces
    Add red wine to deglaze pan
    Bring to boil and reduce by about 1/3

    Add chicken stock, sausage and vegetable back to the pan.

    Pop into 170 C oven
    Cook for about 1 hour for flavours to meld.

    Remove and cool

    Strain the liquid into a jug

    Now I wanted the mixture to have a pie consistency so I decided the best way to thicken it, was to make a roux and add the juice to that, so I did.

    Melt butter in pan
    Add flour, stir well and let flour cook out
    About 2-3 minutes

    Add liquid and cook till thickened

    Simmer about 2-3 minutes

    Add back into sausage and vege mix.

    It didn't look very appetizing,,, all a bit brown really
    BUT it tasted great.

    So I picked some parsley from my garden
    Chopped it finely
    Used another tomato
    Only 4 left now... might have to have tomatoes on toast for breakfast tomorrow

    That looks better

    All I have to do is make the pie.

    Puff Pastry in freezer
    Thaw, roll out and make the pies.
    Now That's a meat pie. Yes. Great Dinner.

    Tomato and Potato Soup - Perfect for the Summer

    We are going away tomorrow, for a few days. I want to use up any food that is in fruit bowls, fridge etc which otherwise would have to be thrown out, at a later date.

    I had quite a few tomatoes, so I decided to make one of my favorite soups. This is based on one supplied by Mrs Elizabeth David, in her French Provincial Cooking book.

    I have made a couple of small changes but it is still one of the most delicious and simple soups.
    She of course adds cream to hers, I didn't have any so we went plain.
    You can really taste the potatoes and the tomatoes quite separately, so smooth. Yum.

    I used my homemade chicken stock. 
    It is so easy to make have a look here
    I try and keep some in the freezer at all times, it is so gutsy and flavoursome, worth while doing.

    2 tbs unsalted butter
    4 med tomatoes, blanched and peeled and diced
    4 little new potatoes peeled and diced
    About 600 mls chicken stock

    Sea salt and white pepper
    1/2 tsp sugar
    Basil leaves for garnish

    Melt the butter
    Add the potatoes
    Toss around to cover them with the butter.
    A pinch of salt
    Add about 300 mls chicken stock

    Simmer till potatoes are just tender
    Add tomatoes
    Season again and add the sugar
    Add the rest of the stock

    Bring to boil and simmer for about 4-5 minutes

    Remove from heat
    Blend with hand blender
    Make sure there are still some cubes of potatoes for texture

    Rip some basil leaves over the top, and serve.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    The Best Fudge I Have Eaten

    Just a quick blog. I have to mention I have just eaten the most DIVINE fudge.
    My friend Elsje kindly  gave me this packet of fudge yesterday. I have just eaten 2 pieces.
    Very greedy I must admit... There are 3 or 4 varieties in the bag... I can't eat anymore at the moment.
    It is so rich and creamy, the texture is fabulous. The raspberry... (you can just see there in the picture)
    OH MY GOD I thought I had died and gone to food heaven.
    This is produced by Exquisit cakes and edibles right here in Auckland.

    Click here for information about Kim and her wonderful food.
    If you can find it buy it. Wow.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Duck Breast with a Ginger Marmalade Glaze

    Bit busy on the blog today, Dale has gone away for a couple of days at sea.
    I have appointments so I stayed home.
    When he is not at home I get to eat my favourite foods, without having to cook something else for him.
    Today I bought Duck Breast.
    Very simple dish, aren't they just the best.

    I scored the breast and seasoned it
    Into a medium hot pan
    Let it cook, to brown the skin about 4 minutes
    Brushed some Ginger Marmalade onto the flesh and seasoned that
    Turned the breast over
    Brushed the skin with the Marmalade
    Into a 200C preheated oven
    About 6-8 minutes
    Rest about 5 minutes.
    Meanwhile I cooked some asparagus and potatoes...yet again.
    I will be looking like one soon.

    What a fabulous dinner. Juicy duck with a slight sweetness,
    Lovely little spuds and making the most of the asparagus

    It may just be a repeat for tomorrow night

    The Main Event, Potatoes - Potato and Pea Pies - Simple Fish and Chicken Salad a la Waldorf

    It's worth while keeping the fridge freezer and pantry  reasonably stocked... love to be able to fossick around for a tasty lunch.
    I did have a box of new baby potatoes. I love them at this time of the year.

    I was desperate for a pie for lunch.
    We are very fond of pies
    Here's a combination that worked
    I got 4 pies out 2 sheets of puff pastry
    2 with lids and 2 without

    2 sheets Puff Pastry
    5 baby potatoes steamed till tender
    Grated cheese
    Handful frozen peas
    1 onion finely chopped and sauteed till translucent
    4 eggs beaten separately

    Roll out pastry to fit your pie tins.
    Re-roll the scraps till you have 4 bottoms and 2 lids!
    Butter tins
    Line with pastry and prick with a fork

    Healthy amount of grated cheese on bottom
    Slice the potatoes and layer
    Throw in peas and onion
    Beat 1 egg per pie
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Add to pie
    Put more cheese on the top
    Place lids on
    Brush with some beaten egg and water to make a glaze
    Bake 200C about 15-20 minutes
    Remove from tins
    Cook slightly on a rack
    Pick it up in your hand
    Dip it into some tomato sauce
    Saw Julia Child make Salade Nicoise on Saturday
    I had some beautiful fresh gurnard...this recipe is really
    not like Salade Nicoise at all but it flashed through my head.
    Some Nicoise flavours in the sauce though.
    Simple, perfect for the summer, we might get one of these days.
    I haven't put quantities... its up to you.

    Cos lettuce
    Tomatoes quartered
    200gms gurnard per person
    Baby potatoes
    1 shallot finely chopped

    French dressing (just use your favourite recipe I always have some made in a jar)
    White wine

    For the potatoes
    Cook till tender
    Slice while warm
    Into a bowl with the shallots
    Pour over a couple of tablespoons of white wine

    Sit and let absorb for about 5 minutes
    Then toss with French Dressing

    Set aside till ready to use

    For the fish

    2 tablespoons Olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    White wine 
    Lemon juice

    4 anchovies
    1 tablespoon of capers

    Good knob of butter

    Season the fish with S & P
    Saute the fish in olive oil
    Don't over cook
    Remove and keep warm
    Add anchovies mush them up
    Throw in a good slurp of white wine
    and the juice of a lemon

    Turn heat up and bring to boil
    Reduce slightly

    Add capers and a good size knob of butter
    Add fish back into pan just to coat with the sauce.

    Plate up
    Dress the lettuce and tomatoes with your favourite french dressing.
    Lay out on the plate
    Add the fish
    Spoon over the sauce.
    You could of course follow the Salad Nicoise theme.
    Add hard boiled eggs, blanched green beans, olives
    Any flavours you like.

    I was making chicken stock for the freezer today. I couldn't get any chicken carcasses but they did have a special on legs.
    I really love leg meat it is so moist and flavourful.
    I put the chicken and vege in a pot to simmer for about1 hour.
    Took the legs out, removed the meat and chopped into 2 cm pieces then stuck them back in.
    Continued to cook for another couple of hours to extract as much wonderful flavour as possible.
    for my stock.
    Now what to do with that luscious chicken meat.

    I had a quick look in the fridge, all the ingredients for a Waldorf Salad were sitting there.
    Great, add chicken
    Sit on some crispy lettuce
    Accompany with some little new potatoes.
    Excellent lunch.

    What I did do, that was different to normal, was my dressing
    The lemon zest really lifts it, as does the bite from the Piri Piri seasoning. 
    It was so delicious so I have to share.

    Chicken Salad  a la Waldorf
    So enough for two
    3 poached chicken legs
    2 sticks celery chopped into small pieces (not too small want to get the texture)

    1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes
    6 walnut halves chopped in half

    8 small potatoes
    Baby Cos lettuce leaves

    3 tablespoons Best Foods Mayo
    Zest of 1 lemon

    Juice  of 1/2  lemon
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 tsp french mustard
    Good pinch of Piri Piri seasoning

    Mix all of the dressing together in a bowl
    Add the rest of the ingredients and serve.
    There is enough for me for lunch tomorrow.  Hooray.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    The Overlander - Auckland to Wellington Scenic Ride -Take the train and See The Country

    At 7.30 sharp we departed from Britomart Station. Now en route to Wellington
    Check was easy the guards stood on the platform checked in your baggage...into the baggage carriage, allocated seats and All Aboard!
    Quite a surreal experience at the Station, all lit up like a Christmas tree.
    One happy passenger.
    As we travel our commentary is from an Indian Man quite quaint...sometimes a little difficult to understand. But never mind. He is very helpful and charming.
    Apparently we only allowed 20 minutes each in the viewing car, at the rear. Might just take a wine down later. As we were in the buffet car, (which was handy) he even came around and offered to bring us coffee and an afghan.
    It wasn't free but saved walking up to the counter
    I love the sound of the train goes over different tracks. Starting off with the "I think I can" just like the Sparky and The Talking Train, a favourite story from my childhood, to basic smooth. Then different clatters, as we go over different bridges. Sometimes there is roar over some of the tracks. Lovely.
    After coffee, I did walk to the counter, bought bottle of water...special labels for the train. Nice.
    Had to take a shot of the food of course. Excellent takeaways.
    All supplied by Wishbone.
    Little packets of yogurt berries and muesli, Cookies, Muffins,
    Gourmet sandwiches. actual meals which could be heated up.
    Of course the Iconic Kiwi Mince Pie. Which comes from Eve's pantry apparently.
    We are passing through towns, that I didn't even know existed e.g. Paerata?
    First major stop Hamilton a chance to stretch the legs. Such a beautiful day we are very lucky.
    Pity the windows of the train were grubby, not great for photos. but looking pretty good out of doors.
    The famous viewing carriage, as it turns out we never made it down there either way. Just too busy I guess.

    The entrance to the Hamilton Station
    Another happy passenger.
    So as it was close to 10.30am I decided that a bubbly and some nuts would go down well.
    As I tried to open it, in the time honoured way - you know take the paper off and let the cork go. Didn't work, then I was given instruction by another passenger
    Just screw it off.
    Blow me down, it is a screw top imitation cork.
    So albeit a little harsh on the stomach, at that hour. It passed away a half hour or so.
    The chillier than normal spring we have been experiencing has benefited the land - It is so green gorgeous in fact. We went through wetlands, I didn't know existed. You just don't see all of this from the Highway.
    At the front of our carriage is an aerial shot of the Raurimu spiral and amazing engineering feat.
    Click here for more information.
    We reached Taumarunui once the halfway stop...famous many years for hot pies and chunky white railway cups full of hot tea. It has been superseded by National Park, going down and Ohakune coming up. Meanwhile we had a couple of wines and ate our sandwiches.
    very tasty.
    So we are in the King Country. Home of such famous New Zealanders as Jim Bolger, Colin Meads and my favourites, The Rogers and The Wallaces.
    Unlike Europe, the main trunk line is a single track most of the way, every so often it branches into more tracks. Trains await their turn to proceed. Could be a bit dodgy if the communications break down. Wonder what they did in the 1800s?
    Here is the big diesel engine, that pulled us all the way.
    Of course from National Park, is the gateway to Whakapaka Ski fields.
    There standing in full view for us Mount Ruapehu. Stunning.
    Turn slightly to the left and you get Ngarahoe
    Nice Station at National Park, laid on good food for the travelers. We bought muffins to have as dessert, with our wine.

    Railway yards never the prettiest of places. Lovely long freight train though.
    Great shot from does look superb.
    So it was All Aboard again. I managed to get a shot of our hostess Elaine.
    Little observation: The toilets are very clean, unlike the Orient Express, which had a very unpleasant odour. Of course they had carpet in the toilet. Not a good look or smell in fact.
    Didn't visit the toilet on the TGV this year. Didn't have time really. Unlike this trip which took 12 hours, our longest journey on the TGV was 4 hours, probably for twice the distance. and 3 times the speed.
    Unlike a plane, you become quite friendly with passengers and the Hostess becomes your new best friend. Very cosy. A good journey.
    We finally arrived in Wellington. Terry came to meet us. Whisked us home to their new apartment. Situated right on the centre of the City, it is in a great position.
    Take the lift down and you are on Willis Street. Just across the road is The New World Metro.
    A wonderful inner city supermarket.
    Looks to me like they modeled it on Balducci's the famous store in New York.
    Not as pricey though. But similar layout if I remember correctly.
    After a wonderful dinner cooked by Barbara we sat up talking until well after 2am.
    Just like the old days...except we are now getting a bit past, that late hour.
    So on the morning after a late start, Barb, Dale and I wandered around met Donna for coffee.
    We then took our cameras and headed for the waterfront.
    On a good day nothing beats Wellington really. It was wonderful.

    We found Mac's Brewery, had a tasty lunch and retired for a rest.

    I had coffee and a cake with my friend Anne ,at one of the little coffee shops just below the apartment. By then the blue sky had gone and the temperature had dropped by 8C.
    Fairly chilly pity.
    We ate that night at Ortega's Fish Shack.
    Sarah and Anthony joined Barb, Terry, Dale and I.
    Good company. good food and only cost $9 in the cab. The joys of inner city living.
    Next day we shopped at the superb Moore Wilson Store click here for 'moore' info.
    Back drop by Dick Frizzell.
    Sunday was busy. After a triumphant night when New Zealand Football team qualified for the World Cup, first we went to the market, met up with Debbie for coffee, long time no see.
    So nice to catch up.
    Back to the apartment but before lunch we managed to fit in the "Dotty" Exhibition.
    Love Wellington... they decorated the Art Gallery with hundred of dots. All in honour of Yayoi Kusma the mad artist. read about her here
    It was a fantastic exhibition glad we went.
    Below: more outstanding sculpture from the Wellington Waterfront
    After lunch the Santa Parade. It was freezing, the southerly has kicked in.
    Could only stand out on the balcony for a few minutes at a time.
    Thomas the Tank Engine weaving down the road.
    Shame about this shot, but I promise it is Santa.
    We continued on, with a gathering of more old friends. Terry by now, very confident with his brand new BBQ. We ate excellent sausages and a beautiful piece of sirloin from Moore Wilson Diana and Dave brought fresh lettuce from their garden.
    Plus their first batch of Olive Oil picked, pressed and bottled by their fair hands.
    Grassy green, with a real good pepper hit, at the back of the throat. Superb.
    All washed down with some nice crisp wine.
    We have learnt our lesson and finished at a reasonable hour.
    Dawned yet another beautiful day. Still a bit chilly though.
    Obviously, the calm before the storm. 7am at the station.
    Waiting for rush of commuters.
    Our baggage boys on the right.
    First stop Paraparaumu. A new driver
    Christine our attendant that day checking in the passengers and about to load their baggage into the car.
    Ohakune. Lunch anyone?
    The old signal masters little house.
    Looking good this year.

    One punter a little weary for the long weekend!
    Some of more spectacular views were from the viaducts. Situated over these magnificent gorges

    Love the way the river has carved its way through the landscape.

    Not only do we farm sheep and cows in New Zealand...we also have car farms!
    Below the little station, where we have a crew change.
    Out with the old and welcome to the new lot.
    So here endeth the story. Unfortunately, the weather going home was not as 'clement'
    as our first trip. It was a little grey and to be honest after after this stop,
    the ride became a little tedious.
    As we got closer to Auckland, we got stuck behind a suburban train,
    which of course stopped at every station. I think we slowed down to about 40 kms.
    The scenery was no longer lush and fabulous...they had closed the bar.
    Couldn't wait to get off by then.
    So the lesson is... Go down to Wellington on the train and fly home. Then it will be perfect.