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    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    An Asian Style Fish Dish - A Winner

    Food courtesy of Katie and Justine. Beautiful girls

    Our dear friend Justine, invited us over for my final birthday celebration.
    Present Justine, Dave, Katie, Chris, Dale and Me.
    She prepared this wonderful dinner. I liked it so much I made it for a group last night. Big thumbs up.
    It is Ginger, Chili and Coriander Fish served with a Green Salad dressed with a fabulous Sesame Dressing AND there's more. Katie's Coconut Rice

    Because I love trying new food I rarely repeat a recipe, but I still have some ingredients left over from last night so I am going to make it again for more friends, tonight.

    You will need 1 large fillet of your favourite fish per person
    I used terakihi
    You can do most of the prep early in the day.
    i.e. Make the Chili Sauce
    and Sesame Dressing
    Then Slice Mushrooms
    Toast Almonds
    Saute the onion and rice and put to one side

    The all you have to do is
    Add liquid to rice and cook
    Toss salad
    Fry fish
    So so easy really.

    The salad disappeared really quickly... I underestimated the pulling power of the aroma of the dressing. Very popular. Will make more next time.

    The Chili Sauce
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    8 cms grated ginger
    5 cloves garlic finely chopped
    2 long red chilies finely chopped
    Stalks and Roots of 1 bunch coriander finely chopped (reserve leaves for garnish)
    1 red pepper finely sliced

    4 tablespoons sugar
    4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
    Zest of 1 lemon or lime
    4 tablespoons fish sauce

    Heat oil in pan, medium heat
    Add ginger, chili, garlic, red pepper and coriander
    Cook gently 4-5 minutes
    Combine sugar, lemon juice and fish sauce
    Add to pan
    Bring to boil and simmer about 5 minutes

    You can make this much earlier in the day
    Just reheat before serving

    Now the Sesame Dressing for the salad
    1 large clove garlic finely chopped
    half red onion finely sliced
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
    2-3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
    1 tablespoon fish sauce
    Splash Rice Wine Vinegar
    Splash Soy Sauce
    2 tablespoon olive oil
    2 tablespoons sugar
    Pour all ingredients into a bowl and let the onion marinate at least 1 hour.

    Taste and adjust with lemon or sugar if needed

    Coconut Rice
    I like to do the finger joint measurement for my rice.
    Add enough liquid to come up to the first joint of your second finger.
    It always works for me but you use the method that suits you best.

    1 large onion
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    Sea salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    1 cup rice
    1 can coconut milk
    Chicken stock

    Saute onion in olive oil
    Add rice and toss around till rice is covered in oil
    Season with salt and pepper
    Add coconut milk and add chicken stock to top up to the right amount of liquid
    Bring to boil and simmer till it looks like a hot mud pool.

    Turn off heat
    Cover and leave 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.

    Below, the Cook and her new birthday apron, very chic.
    The Salad
    I used a mixture of Rocket and Baby spinach
    Your choice.
    6 white button mushrooms
    Handful toasted sliced almonds

    Layer in your bowl or platter
    Toss with the Sesame dressing

    Reheat Chili Sauce
    Flour, season and fry your fish in a mixture of Olive oil and a knob of butter
    Place fish on platter
    Cover with sauce and coriander leaves

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Win a Fantastic Prize

    For a bit of fun, it was suggested I might like to run a little giveaway for readers.
    You just need to  comment either on this blog, or on my Facebook page, or Plaxo or Sososimple on Twitter and you will be in the draw for the following. Sorry have to be  restricted to New Zealand only. Too heavy to mail overseas.

    A Coventry Gratin Dish
    Le Creuset Poterie Ramekins
    A Pretty Spatula
    And a Pottle of Perfect Italiano Ricotta
    Will make the draw in a week.
    I have been making quite a few dishes using Ricotta. Perfect Italiano Ricotta in fact and after making a couple of savoury dishes I decided to branch out on some dessert.
    It was time to make the Staff Lunch again. I have been a bit remiss over the past few months and I think they might just like a treat. It was still hot and a cool colourful tasty Pasta Dish followed by Chocolate Ricotta Pie
    So for the first course I turned a delicious Squid salad into Fusilli with Squid and Peppers.
    We ate delicious Calamari and Octopus Salads when we were in Croatia. So I searched the net for the one that appealed the most. I found this recipe on this Tuscan Recipes site.

    So first make the salad.
    • 2 tsp best-quality red wine vinegar
    • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • sea salt
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3 tomatoes, diced
    • 1 green bell pepper, cut into matchstick strips
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into matchstick strips
    • 2 small zucchini, cut into medium cubes
    • 4 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or chervil
    • 1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 lb squid, cleaned and sliced into thin rings (including tentacles
    1. In a medium sized glass bowl, combine the vinegar and 1 tsp of the lemon juice. 
    2. Add salt to taste and stir to dissolve it. 
    3. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, the tomatoes, green and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, parsley or chervil, pepper flakes, thyme and scallions, and stir to blend. 
    4. Set aside.
    5. Put 3 quarts of water into a large saucepan. 
    6. When the water reaches a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt. 
    7. Add the squid rings and tentacles. 
    8. Cook just until the squid becomes opaque, not more than 1 minute (the water may not return to boil). 
    9. When they are cooked, turn the squid out into a large colander; drain well, but do not rinse.
    10. Immediately add the drained squid to the marinade and toss to blend. 
    11. Stir in the remaining olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. 
    12. Taste the mixture and add salt to taste as necessary. 
    13. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
    Meanwhile when you are ready
    Cook Fusilli in a large pan of Boiling well salted water.
    When al dente drain and toss with Calamari Salad
    So onto the next course.
    If you want to use Ricotta of course you must hunt amongst your Italian recipes.
    Giada De Laurentiis of course normally comes up trumps and this Chocolate Ricotta Pie is just divine.

    In the crust she used cornmeal but I used ground almonds.
    Also in keeping with the almond theme I scattered toasted slivered almonds on top for the crunch.
    If you wish you could use toasted pine nuts. Its up to you.

    For the Crust
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
    • 3/4 cup pine nuts,
    • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 3/4 cup
    • Pinch salt
    • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
     For the Filling
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cups)
    • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
    • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1 large egg
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds


    Blend the flour, ground almonds, 3/4 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup sugar, 
    and salt in a food processor until finely ground. 
    Add the butter and pulse, just until the dough forms. 
    Press the dough over the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an 11-inch-diameter tart pan with a removable bottom. 
    Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 175C.
    Line the tart dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. 
    Bake the tart shell in the lower third of the oven until just set, about 25 minutes
    Carefully remove the foil and pie weights. 
    Bake the shell until golden, about 10 minutes longer. Cool completely. 

    Combine the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. 
    Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 

    Cool the sugar syrup slightly.
    In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over very softly simmering water.
    Pulse the ricotta cheese and cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. 
    Add the egg and egg yolks, 1 at a time, and process until smooth. 
    Add the melted chocolate and process until combined. 
    With the machine running, add the sugar syrup in a thin steady stream and process until smooth.
    Pour the custard into the tart shell and bake until the filling is almost set, 
    about 30 minutes or until the custard has set.
    Scatter the  3/4 cup toasted almonds  on top of the filling. 
    Let the tart cool completely before serving.
    The tart can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 3 days. 
    Return the tart to room temperature before serving. 

    Our Staff loved this lunch.
    Soup next I think. Autumn is coming.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Rick Stein At Bannisters-Worth a Visit

    Time to sing Praises about Rick Stein At Bannisters. Mollymook, South Coast, New South Wales.
    Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend JT, to join her and a few other people to meet and dine with Rick Stein, at his first venture into Oz, Rick Stein at Bannisters.
    JT and I, popped on a big bird, flew to Sydney, picked up a hire car and drove 200kms south of Sydney, to Bannisters Point Lodge in Mollymook...Mollymook you say. Yes that's right, no mistake. A lovely little coastal town on the South Coast, obviously somewhere Sydneysiders would go for the weekend or a summer holiday.
    The Meet and Greet Rick Stein Event was organised by Melinda Gregor along with her brother Stuart and sister-in-law Sally from Gregor and Lewis Bespoke Travel
    Melinda had planned the venture and Stuart was along, to make sure we drank excellent wines and plenty of them. And we did.
    It was an easy drive down, we checked in.

    Went to the room. Nice view.
    We had arrived in time for lunch and tasty pizzas, plus a glass of wine at the Pool Bar, served us very nicely before we had our first appointment at the Spa.
    Very attractive Pool, but guess what. I brought the bad weather with us again. Fine, but chilly, no swims for these Pensioners On Tour.
    We walked over to the Spa and amidst divine aromas we were pampered by the Lovely Ladies.
    It was wonderful.
    Bought product, as you do, and back to the room to prepare for Drinks and Dinner.
    Waiting on our beds, were a copy each of Rick's latest Book. That beautiful bottle on the books was sparkling water from Switzerland ( bought from the Pool Bar not a freebie).
    Off to drinks. JT is not a big drinker but she is a Bolly girl.
    Enter our Hero Rick and his partner Sarah Burns. He certainly lived up to our expectations. Charming, funny and happy to be there. We were seated and first Rick explained what we were about to eat.
    Stuart gave us a quick run down on the wines he had lined up for us.
    The anticipation was almost too much for us.
    First course was little Fried Hawkesbury River Prawns, all crispy served with Aioli
    Course number two
    Marinated Tuna with Passionfruit, Lime and Coriander
    This was superb
    Potato Gnocchi with King Prawns. Hermit Crab, Tomato and Basil
    Very silky

    Then we dined on Grilled Blue Eye Trevalla on a Spring Onion Mash and Morel Mushroom Sauce.
    Wonderful Crispy Skin. This fish is reminiscent of Blue Nose, the NZ version.
    A cheese course, then a well earned break.
    These were my wine glasses God, no shortage of wine I did finally finish them I think!.
    How about these little biscuits to have with the cheese. Personal little Rick biscuits.
    JT, Sarah  Burns and I awaiting our cheese,

    Then accompanied by a nice Sticky little number,
    Chocolate Fondant with Coffee Ice Cream
    It was excellent, but I was so full. Couldn't even finish it.
    We farewelled our new friends and waddled back to the room.
    Couldn't wait to crawl into bed.
    After breakfast our group were invited to Rick and Sarah's beach house, where Rick proceeded to demonstrate several dishes for us.
    First he made the beautiful Marinated Tuna with the Passion-fruit, Lime and Coriander Dressing.
    Luckily for us, we were supplied with recipes of all the demo food.
    Then he prepared Roasted Fish with Hot Sweet and Sour Sauce
    He used John Dory but you could use Gurnard, maybe Snapper.
    It was delicious, the sauce had shallots, garlic, tamarind paste, chilies and palm sugar.
    We all got to taste these delights
    He finished off with Goujons of Lemon Sole with Parmesan Breadcrumbs served with Sauce Tartare.
    Lots of samples, Very Yummy, almost nothing better than fried food
    Then Rick kindly signed all of our recipe books
    and answered questions
    JT with Rick
    So after a fun morning we were in for more treats
    Stuart had a wine tasting for us.
    7 wines in all,
    You will be pleased to know I didn't spit.
    Stuart is a great storyteller. Amongst his credentials, he's a very knowledgeable wine buff...he also has his own wine label and has been a judge in many important wine challenges.
    And very funny to boot.
    JT and I more massages booked in and we slid over to the Spa.
    Once again it was so relaxing. God, if only one could have a massage every day.
    Wonder if they could massage fat away?
    As we missed lunch, JT bought us a treat from the Pool Bar.
    Rhubarb Crumble Pizza. Yes Yum. Will have to make one of those I think.
    Before long, it was time to eat.  We had booked ourselves in the restaurant again.
    No Rick or Sarah this time but we had the pleasure of dining with Jackie Bacon.
    A delightful woman from Ireland. We met her on day one and immediately clicked. Her son Peter is the Manager of this Lodge and she was spending a couple of weeks with her family.
    So our dinner
    First course for me
    Lobster Ravioli
    I think the sauce was a lemon tarragon... I forgot to write it down and its too far away for my memory.
    Scallops for JT
    Warm Duck Breast Salad for JT (The only meat dish on the Menu)
    It is a seafood restaurant after all and there is a wonderful array of superb dishes. I could  eat there for many days and not eat the same thing twice.

    My main course and Indonesian Fish Curry with Monkfish Prawns and Crab
    Apparently Rick also serves this in this Padstow Restaurant.
    Came with Crunchy Green Beans and Rice
    And of course The Cheese with Birthday Wishes
    Below : JT, Moi and Jackie enjoying our wine. What a wonderful birthday...What great gifts, JT and her husband John, gave me the Event, Jackie paid for our drinks. I can't tell you how spoilt I felt.
    In the morning, as you can see the weather wasn't much better. That ship rolling around out there in the bay was fishing. Glad I wasn't aboard. Seasick country I feel. There a real swell coming into the bay.
    So in the morning Breakfast, Continental which is part of the deal. Excellent fresh fruit, juices and the very good yogurt, plus toast, banana loaf, cereal etc. Of course if you want a cooked one you pay.
    We had a farewell breakfast with Jackie and also Helen who was part of the group then packed the car and back to the city. It's an easy drive and for a couple of days away, for a little luxury, getting your body looked after, inside and out. The Spa - The Restaurant. Go to Bannisters, Mollymook it's great. fun.
    Wonder what we will do next year?

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Tomatoes, Potatoes and Kumara - Some more ideas

    Quelle domage! I bought the wrong potatoes.  Still cooking with tomatoes, I wanted to make one of my favourite soups.  Whilst I was out west, (buying the tomatoes), I like to buy other fresh vege as well. I was saddened to hear that Nick, from Kiwi Orchard, who was my favourite market garden retailer, died last year. I have been shopping there, for at least twenty years and it was a shock to see the little shop, all closed up.
    He had great fruit and vege, a lot of which was grown on his property and he always sold me excellent produce. His uncle Steve, is the owner of Riverhead Orchard, my tomato supplier.
    So back to the potatoes I went elsewhere and I bought some Agria, an excellent all purpose potato... but obviously not at this time of the year. They are waxy and not suitable for my soup as I soon found out.
    Anyway, didn't notice that, till too late. The soup is fine but a nice mashing potato, would have been better.

    Sorry I have been rambling, so on to the soup
    It is from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, a big favourite of mine

    Cream of Tomato, Leek and Potato Soup
    50gms butter 
    White part of 2 leeks finely sliced
    225gms tomatoes cored and chopped340 gms potatoes peeled and diced
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 tsp sugar
    1 litre water

    100 mls cream warmed
    Chevril or parsley

    Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan
    Add leeks and just let them soften. Don't brown it will completely change the flavour of the soup
    Add tomatoes, let them cook until the juices flow
    Add potatoes, salt, sugar and stir
    The add water to cover
    After it comes to the boil
    Turn it down and simmer steadily for about 25 minutes (or until potatoes are tender in my case)
    If you have a food mill put it through, but a blender will do

    Before serving add cream.
    To garnish a little chopped parsley or chevril.

    This is a lovely soup, very simple, but you can taste each ingredient separately.
    Do try, it's lovely.
    By the way I went out west again and this time, bought Sebago potatoes made more of the soup and they were perfect
    Two containers for the freezer. Yum.

    So, I also bought Kumara.
    Michael Smith from the Chef at Home programme on Food TV, made these wonderful little
    Sweet Potato (Kumara) Dumplings (Gnocchi).

    He flavoured them with cumin, as he was making them to accompany a Moroccan Dish.

    I wanted to do the Italian Sage Brown Butter way, so I used dried oregano in mine.
    So easy and with the Sage Butter, superb.
    People are frightened of making gnocchi, don't be, it's dead easy and once you cook the kumara, real quick.

    3 medium Kumara
    1 cup flour plus extra for rolling out
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

    1/4 cup unsalted butter
    6 fresh sage leaves

    Heat oven to 170C
    Place Kumara on baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour till they are squishy
    When they are cool enough to handle
    Split open and spoon flesh into a large bowl
    Add oregano, 1 cup flour. Salt, pepper and olive oil
    Mash and knead everything into a dough
    If the dough seems a bit wet add a little more flour
    The trick is to add the least amount of flour to bring the Kumara into a workable dough

    Turn out on floured board and roll into a ball.
    Cut in half and roll each half into a sausage

    Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to the boil
    Salt the water liberally as you would for pasta.
    Cut each sausage into 2.5 cm pieces
    Toss them around in flour, to stop them sticking together
    Drop them into the boiling water you can do about 10 at a time.
    Cook them till they float to the surface about 2-3 minutes

    In another pan melt butter over medium heat
    Add sage leaves
    Let butter brown and bubble
    DON'T burn
    It will have a lovely nutty smell
    Remove gnocchi from pot and place in sage butter
    Toss around for a minute or two till they brown
    Continue and repeat with the rest of the gnocchi.
    Look at these. So yummy
    I placed the extra, not eaten by us, on a tray and free flow froze them
    When they are frozen, place in a plastic bag, remove air and pop them into the freezer for a later meal.
    I also made them and tossed into a mushroom sauce
    Serve with grated Parmesan Cheese. Equally as good.