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    Monday, May 31, 2010

    Salmon and Tuna Loaf with Tarragon Tartare Sauce with a Twist

    My friend Katie from Thyme for Cooking Blog Site (click here to see)
    posted this very tasty loaf today.
    It is a shocking day and I thought it would make a lovely lunch for us.
    Katie's original recipe is below
    Of course I made some changes
    First I couldn't get any tarragon so I substituted dill
    I had 1/2 cup of ricotta in the fridge... so I used that up
    Some bread and butter pickles, finely chopped, were an excellent addition
    Pinch of Chili flakes cause I love them
    So use whichever recipe suits

    8oz (240gr) canned salmon, drained  (Me 2 x 210gm tins)
    8oz (240gr) canned tuna, drained   (Me 1 180gm tin)
    2 eggs                (Me 3 eggs)
    2 tbs dry bread crumbs   (Me 3 tbs)
    2 tbs white wine
    1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
    1 tbs dried onion flakes
    1 tbs fresh chives
    1 tsp fresh tarragon  (Me 1 tsp dill)

    Put eggs in a medium bowl and lightly whisk.
    Add mustard, crumbs, onions herbs and wine, whisk well.
    Add fish, breaking up with a fork and stir well to combine.
    Do not 'mash' together, though....

    Line a 4 X 8 (10 X 20cm) loaf pan with parchment or wax paper.
    Butter the paper.
    Spoon fish mixture into pan and bake, 350F (175C) for 45 minutes.
    Remove and let rest 10 minutes.
    Remove from pan, peel off paper, slice and serve.
    Or let cool and refrigerate to serve cold.

    I just buttered my loaf dish and because it was a bigger loaf I increased the cooking time to 55 minutes.

    Katie served her loaf with this sauce

    Tarragon Tartare Sauce

    1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt
    1 tbs fresh tarragon
    1 tbs fresh chives
    2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
    1/3 tsp garlic powder

    Put all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well.
    Set aside for 15 minutes to blend flavors.

    I made a quick flavoured Mayo
    1/2 cup Best Foods Mayo
    1 tbs chopped bread and butter pickles
    Zest of 1 lemon

    Both sauces will work, mine is loaded with calories. But there ya go.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Mad About Vegetables - Soups and Purees

    Look at that colour... recipe for this pea puree at end of post.
    As the weather cools down one's thoughts turn to Soups and Winter Comfort Foods.
    Over the last week, I have made some very tasty Vegetable dishes and even did a wonderful Roast Pork inspired by Justin North on Master Chef Australia.
    So first, to go with the pork, which was served with cabbage and mashed potatoes I made a carrot puree.

    Once again MCA got me going. In the Masterclass, Gary made a carrot puree which I turned into soup earlier with parsnips.Click here to see how to do that. So The Pork dish needed colour, a little carrot puree on the side.

    Carrot Puree
    Take 3 carrots peeled and grated
    40 gms butter
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    A little water

    Melt the butter in a pan on med heat
    Add grated carrot and about 2 tablespoons of water
    Season with Salt and Pepper
    Gently cook till carrot squashes in your fingers about 10 minutes
    Add little more water if it gets too dry
    The into the blender

    You can do this earlier.

    Reheat in a little more butter once again gently
    Don't don't want that flavour.
    There ya go

    So back to soup
    Today I made a Swede and Leek Soup

    Buttery Creamy...beautiful
    No herbs or spices just vegetables (and Butter)

    40 gms butter
    1 leek cleaned and sliced thinly
    2 medium swedes peeled and cut into dice
    2 scant tablespoons flour

    Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    1 litre Milk
    Water to thin

    Melt the butter in a pot
    Add leeks
    Saute gently till soft NOT brown
    Add swedes
    Season again and toss
    Add flour
    Cook it out for about 3-4 minutes

    Add milk and stir till it comes to the boil
    Lower heat and simmer till swedes are tender about 15 minutes

    Add water if it is too thick, you are making soup, not a sauce

    Into the blender

    Smooth as!
    You could sprinkle over some chopped parsley but it's pretty good as is.

    Now lets go for some beautiful colour
    Mushy Peas
    Great with Lamb

    This is not of course the original Mushy English peas, as they use marrowfat peas
    I love bright green Frozen peas.
    The secret is in the sweet and sour, Honey and vinegar.

    500 gms frozen peas
    50 gms butter
    100 gms shallots or spring onions

    2 tbs honey

    50 mls good white wine vinegar
    Vegetable stock (I used the water the peas were cooked in)

    Blanch the peas in boiling salted water for about 1 minute
    Drain and into iced water to preserve the colour
    Reserve some stock to use later. About 200 mls
    Drain set aside

    Cook shallots or spring onions in 25 gms butter till soft NOT brown

    Put peas, onions honey, vinegar and about 75 gms stock into the blender

    Blitz till smooth
    Add more stock if too dry
    If you have a food mill pass the puree through. helps to get rid of the skins
    But it's not absolutely necessary

    To reheat melt the remainder of the butter
    Add the puree
    Heat taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

    Serve, great with lamb

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Memories - Chocolate Cup Cakes and Carrot and Parsnip Soup

    Isn't it amazing how some aromas and flavours can transport you back in time. This week I bought some beautiful Blue Cod from my local wonderful Fish Shop "Catch a Fish Takeaways" in Parnell.
    When I tasted this fish I immediately thought of my Mother. This is how she cooked fish and with the taste of butter and the beautiful flakiness of the Cod...Memories just flooded back.
    Brings tears to your eyes. 

    So I took it home and treated it very simply, as one should do with fresh fish,

    Seasoned it quick dusting of flour
    Into med hot pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and
    Cook on first side about 3 minutes.
    Add a good knob of butter and turn fish.
    Another 2-3 minutes
    Put aside to rest for a few minutes.

    I served this with Herb Stuffed Mushrooms and Broccoli with Garlic Lemon Butter
    Can't get much better than that. Quick squeeze fresh lemon juice.

    Next... I watched Rachel Allen make cup cakes on her "Bake" programme... on Food TV
    More memories, when I was young and went to the first cooking classes. Form 2, 12 years old.
    They taught us to make little Queen Cakes and Chocolate Cakes.
    The recipe just made a dozen.
    In the School Holidays My Mother would go to work in the local Bookshop about 10am
    Leave us to look after ourselves.
    My friend Dianne Torstonson would come over, and we would bake these cakes.
    Pulled them out of the oven and proceeded to eat the lot, hot, on one go.
    Here we are women of the world!!!

    Very greedy but they were just fab.
    I have never been able to find a recipe that only made a few
    So thank you Rachel Allen, her recipe makes just 8 Cup Cakes.
    You can whip them up from Go To Whoa in just 30 minutes.
    Dale and I only ate one each and I waited for them to cool so that I could ice them.
    Her recipe was for Lemon cakes
    I adjusted the recipe and made her cakes into Chocolate ones.
    Easy Peasy.

    Couple of hints
    Have all ingredients at room temperature
    In fact as the oven was heating I popped the sugar in for about 2 minutes, just to warm it.
    A baking hint from my friend Catherine.

    So let's get on with it.
    Pre-heat the oven to 180C

    Line 8 muffin tins with paper cases

    125 gms butter softened
    125 gms sugar
    2 large eggs
    150 gms plain flour sifted
     Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace with 2 tablespoons sifted cocoa
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    Pinch salt
    Several drops of vanilla extract

    Beat the butter till soft
    Add sugar in thirds
    Keep beating
    Add eggs one at a time
    Add vanilla
    Stir in sifted dry ingredients in thirds

    Divide mixture evenly amongst the paper cakes

    Into oven
    Bake 18  mintes
    Test with a skewer if still gooey back into the oven for another minute
    Onto a rack to cool
    If you want eat some now whilst hot go for it or
    Make a chocolate icing and smother the little cakes

    Here's an easy icing

    85 gms dark choc chips
    Knob of butter
    65 gms icing sugar
    Few drops of Vanilla extract
    Little hot water till it reaches the right consistency
    I reckon fresh orange juice in place of the vanilla and hot water would be excellent
    Melt the chocolate chips over a pan of hot water
    Add butter
    Stir well
    Add icing sugar and flavourings
    Stir well till right consistency to ice


    It's cold today and we returned home from our dear friend John Wallace's Funeral in Taupo
    We needed something to warm our bodies and our sad souls.
    I made a quick Carrot and Parsnip Soup
    Another 30 minute dish
    Don't cook it too long or you will lose the wonderful buttery taste of the Carrots and Parsnips

    Very simple
    50 gms butter
    2 carrots peeled
    1 parsnip peeled
    Salt and pepper
    1 1/2 litres of stock

    Grate the vegetables
    Melt butter in pot
    Add the grated vege
    Cook gently till tende about 8 minutes
    Into blender

    Add the stock
    Blend till smooth

    Back into pot
    bring to boil and simmer about 5 minutes
    And just serve as is. Delicious
    After that cooking and eating I turned on the TV and caught up on my My Sky.
    Now just waiting for the sun to go over the yard arm for the first wine of the day.
    Actually there is no sun, so I think I will have one anyway now.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Leek and Potato (can't get enough of them) Penne with Parmesan and Sage Cooked in Brown Butter

    On the advice of my friend Phil Webster from the UK I decided to add some texture to my Leek and Potato Soup.

    So after sauteing the leeks, I removed a couple of large spoonfuls and set aside.

    I, also, for a new depth of flavour cubed the potatoes, popped them in the microwave for about 4 minutes, drained tossed with some olive oil and salt and roasted them for about 15 minutes.
    Reserve a couple of spoonfuls for the garnish and proceed with the soup as per my recipe
    seen here
    The potatoes for the garnish need to go into the oven for another 10 minutes just before serving to make sure that they are crisp.
    It made an excellent first course for my friend Lana's dinner party last night.

    She cooked us some beautiful salmon, with individual Dauphinoise Potatoes, roasted peppers, some rocket, all superbly presented. Then she made a pear tart. Excellent.

    So there was some soup and garnish left over.
    Lunch today
    Leek and Potato Penne, Topped with Parmesan and Sage cooked in Brown Butter
    Next time I will use more sage. Usually you use it sparingly, but in this case there was not enough, so go for it and use heaps.

    I reheated the leftover soup added the potato cubes and leeks
    Picked some fresh Sage leaves
    Heated a good knob of butter to the nutty stage
    Added the Sage
    Cooked about 1 minutes

    Place pasta in bowl, top with Parmesan, Cooked Sage
    A good grind of freshly ground black pepper.

    Lunch for a king... and he liked it too

    Now even though I say so myself I make a good pie.
    Keeping on with the Leek and Roasted Potatoes Theme
    An excellent filling for a pie.
    Make more than you need and stick them in the freezer for later consumption
    Cook the pies for the freezer for about 5 minutes less time.
    They will need to be reheated and you don't want them to dry out.
    You might notice, I use quite a bit of butter and oil, as this too keeps them moist. After all you are not going to be eating them every day. So go for the lipid of choice.

    You need
    Puff Pastry
    1 leek cleaned and sliced
    Butter 25 gms
    Grated cheese
    1 med potato peeled and cubed
    Salt and Pepper
    Olive oil

    1 egg beaten with a few drops of water for egg wash

    First prepare the filling
    Saute the sliced leeks gently in butter
    Season with salt and pepper
    Toss the potatoes in Olive oil and salt
    Roast till tender and golden

    While they are all cooling roll out your pastry
    Cut bottoms and lids to fill your pie tin
    Put to rest in fridge about 15 minutes
    Set oven to 205C
    Grease your tins
    Place bottom layer in
    Prick with a fork
    Add grated cheese to cover bottom
    Add leeks
    Break an large egg into a cup
    Just lightly break the yolk and disperse amongst the white, don't beat
    Add Salt and pepper
    Tip into pie case and top with more grated cheese
    Place lid on top. crimp edges
    Brush with egg wash

    Cook about 25 minutes
    Remove and don't burn your mouth as you will want to get into these as soon as they are cooked.
    The aroma is magnificent.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Letters From abroad - Life in Thames Ditton

    Mr. & Mrs. P Schultz                  Mrs. G Wrightson
    72 Derwent St                                     C/O Bank of New South Wales
    Island Bay                                           Sackville Street
    Wellington NZ                                    London W1 UK
    20th October 1967

    Dear Sandy and Pete
    We have been in England now for 1 week and today, is the same weather as the day we arrived. Overcast, a bit cold. It has been fine for about 3 days. quite an achievement apparently. Even though the weather is bad I am not moaning, because England really is great.

    We have been lucky living with Phil and Chris. remember him. he was the chap who came over a couple of years ago. Chris is terrific fun and I get on with her good oh. She is pregnant and it is called Fred, It even has a casting vote in an argument. They have been terrific to us. put a party on for us and all.

    Actually Chris and I are slowly picking up one and others accents. She is sounding like a Kiwi and me a Pom. God forbid.

    From Left; Moi, Chris with Fred and Phil

    Very impressed, actually the first Rolls Royce Convertible we'd ever seen, in fact probably the first Rolls Royce we had ever seen.

    Sandy I received your letter at Curacao and very pleased I was to receive it I might add, as Mum didn’t write there.That photo of us in the paper I reckon I looked like the original Billy Bunter but it was still fun to see it,
     There ya go Billy Bunter in the middle

    I am just running a bath at the moment they have a great system, when the hot tap comes on it turns on the gas and it heats the water while it runs.Never out of hot water. I think that is quite good.

    Chris and Phil have their own house, in Thames Ditton, very nice. Housing is expensive here especially in London. They own a terraced house like Coronation Street but they have got some garden. It is quite big inside, Lounge, DR Kitchen, Bath, Toilet and 3 bedrooms upstairs. A very cosy little home. Well as you might guess I could live here easily for quite a while. 
    Happiness in Thames Ditton

     Another plus for Thames Ditton, Hampton Court Home, of Henry VIII, close by.

    We haven’t got jobs yet. I haven’t looked, Dale had an appointment yesterday to see this chap had any vacancies. He missed out on a job on BP account, (just what would have suited him) by 2 weeks. The chap said he would have hired him too so the chap is looking around different agencies for Dale, so we just sit back and wait.

    Today we have to take our hire car back £13 for 1 week, a Morris 1100, no mileage charge and we have been all over London. But we read in the paper a place which hires Morris same conditions so we are going to try there as we need a car for flat hunting.
    Looks like we are going to have to pay about £10 a week for a decent flat suits us. Haven’t seen Tim yet but we are going to NZ House today so I will look in the visitors book. It is best if you write to us c/o the Bank. I will put the address on the back.

    Sandy you would go mad like me in the shops. I bought a pair of beige patent chunky shoes for 89/11 and these were expensive. New woolen long sleeve frock £6
    Expensive too. Good bra 15/-. Panty hose I won’t now wear anything else/ 9/11 marvelous invention, no good for tubbys though. Heavy knit beige polo net woolen 42/6 from Marks and Spencers.
    At the Tower of London, attired in said Woolen dress, (red it was) and the chunky beige patent shoes
    The Red Dress now in Carnaby Street

    Now Dale in shot, continuing our early sightseeing. The Royal Town of Windsor

    Hooray I have long nails again. Send my regards to Lab Staff, Bruce, Owen, Mr Williams etc and also Dave Holey. Tell him I will write to him shortly.
    How is Julie managing with Willie away.
    Love to Darielle and Skid I will also write to them soon plus must tell Frances all about Tahiti as we were going to go there for a holiday. So inform all these bods that I will keep in touch. I will write again soon, Sandy.
    Pete, the girls with their mini skirts are quite something. Dale loves them
    Love Gillian and Dale

    Fred turned out to be Graham, cute as a button and now a Facebook Friend

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Leek and Potato Soup

    The secret of this soup, is, you must use butter. If you want to be calorie conscious, don't make it or just have a small helping.
    The flavours of the vegetables enhanced by the butter, make this a winning soup.
    Really easy as well.. You don't need the cream or the cheese but look on them as an added extra

    50 gms butter
    2 leeks cleaned and finely sliced
    1 small onion finely chopped
    2 med potatoes peeled and chopped

    1 tablespoon flour
    1 litre well flavoured (homemade if you have it) chicken stock
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Water to top up
    For added luxury, a little cream
    Optional, 50 gms blue cheese

    Melt butter in a pot don't brown
    Add onions toss in melted butter
    Add leeks, toss, season and cook gently till leeks are soft
    Add flour to make a roux and cook for 3 minutes or so just to cook out the flour taste.

    Meanwhile peel and chop potatoes and then add to pot
    Toss and cook a little longer

    Add chicken stock and extra water to ensure the vegetables are well covered
    Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

    Bring to boil and simmer about 30-40 minutes till potatoes are soft.

    Into the blender, whiz till smooth.

    When you are ready to serve, a swirl of cream is a good addition
    Or crumble in some blue cheese, melt and then serve.
    Particularly good, with the quick pizza, I whipped up to serve with it.

    Letters from Abroad - Innocents at Sea

    In September 1967 we set sail for the big OE adventure.
    We made the local paper's social page. It was big deal leaving to go Overseas in the 60's...Look how many people took time off work, to throw streamers, sing Auld Lang Syne and Now is the hour.
    Bringing lots of tears to our eyes.
    My dear friend Sandy kept all the letters, that I wrote to her over the period we were away. All twelve of them. What memories. I can't thank you enough Sandy.

    So here is the first letter, interspersed with photos, from our albums.
     George Clarke, Liz Miller , Dale, Yours truly, Lou and Craig

    Front from left, My Brother Jack. My Mum Nora, Dale's Mum Faye, Joan from work, Auntie Glad and with the white hair in the rear George Shapland
    From left; Smidgen of George Shapland, Joan, Auntie Glad, Liz, Sandy, Dave B and George C

    Half of My Mum, Lou at rear, in front of her, Mr Dave Williams from work, Top of Craig's head,Dale's Mum. Auntie Glad and From my work, Joan, Liz and Sandy.

    Mr & Mrs P Schultz                                  Mrs G Wrightson
    72 Derwent St                                           Passenger,
    Island Bay                                                 Northern Star
    Wellington NZ                                          Shaw Savill, London

    22nd Sept 1967

    Dear Sandy and Pete

    (Election Day Tomorrow. Hope we win)
    I just remembered I forgot to ring Nan, Do apologise for me, I’ll send her a postcard possibly from Trinidad .
     Moi with a Calypso Singer in the a fore mentioned Trinidad
    Below: The Hotel where we had our first ever Rum Punch. Immediate conversion.

    We can’t send anything but these things (aerogrammes) from Acapulco and I am writing as few letters as possible. Thank God tomorrow we land in Acapulco. 8 days at sea is too long, everyone is getting scratchy.
     Acapulco - You can just pick out the diver wonderfully talented stupid young men.

    The day life is great I can stand any amount of that,
    Life on board - Dale with unidentified playmate in the deck sports.

    the weather is hot not too hot, and we are both sporting good tans but even Dale admits this, ‘the night life is boring’. We’ve had 2 movies since Tahiti ,TV and every night, boozing in the tavern. I haven’t been drunk once yet, I very rarely have more than one drink We’ve made some good friends,on board and mix in with four or five different crowds. There is certainly some weirdies on board. One American chap, fortyish, they put off at Tahiti because he was always drunk and there is a group of NZ boys who were threatened that they would go into
    the brig if they didn’t behave. We have a very nice married couple at our table called Rikki and Terry Yearbury, who come from Auckland.

    She is a school teacher and they are really fun.
    Blair Harkness, Ricki Yearbury, Yours truly and Nigel? in our cabin. Cop the nice traveling rug on my bunk. A 21st birthday present

    The Crew have had a few amusements this past week, Last Saturday night there was Tahitian night, Everyone went native and had a wow of a time,
    Ahh so sweet.
    Another Big Fancy Dress night below

    Looking more Mexican than Tahitian, Senor Dale.

    Sunday was Quiz night Ricki, Terry Dale and I nearly won first prize., then Bingo what a laugh, That is you should hear the funny sayings ‘No 2 small duck on a pond’ and everyone goes Quack quack…’No 8’ Big fat lady, ‘Legs 11’ and all the men whistle.

    Tahiti was fun. We didn’t go on a conducted tour, we made our own, we ended up on a native bus where the driver couldn’t speak English and very little French but somehow we communicated with him and he took us on his usual run up this valley which was lovely, streams and waterfalls. Only cost is 20 francs each (1 franc =1 penny) and other people paid £5 to see what the tour guides wanted them to see. 

    From left; Moi, The 'Kindly' Driver and Ms Ricki

    We saw a lot of poverty but colourful poverty(!). The people are very happy, until they are drunk, then they are like the Islanders at home, Stroppy. At night we went to the Tahitian Hotel. Fabulous place 10/ to get in and 8/4 for a drink, any drink Coco Cola, beer anything…all 8/4
    Dr Dale

    We crossed the Equator on Wednesday didn’t even feel the bump! Dale played a part in the ceremony, he was horrible and funny. He was the Doctor throwing kidneys and livers and bones around. Fresh ones too. Let Nan and Grandy reads this letter as this is for them as well as for you. Give my love to all at work. It really seems years since I left. Amazingly enough I don’t feel homesick I think that might come at Xmas. Thank Joan and Mr Williams, as well as you Sandy, for seeing us off. I was thrilled, Won’t write again till we arrive in the UK

    Lots of love Gillian and Dale

    More random shots
    On Deck round the pool

    (It seems as now, no matter where we go, we take Bad weather with us!)
    Below Acapulco again - Could be Wellington?

    Curacao, still raining

    Below: Going through the Panama Canal
     Last Stop before the UK -  Lisbon

    Below; And here we are in Southampton with the hire car. Do you think England was ready for us?