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    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Letters From Abroad - Settling in

    Nov 24th 1967 Friday
    Mr. & Mrs. P Schultz                                    Mrs. G Wrightson
    72 Derwent St                                               186 London RD
    Island Bay                                                     Twickenham
    Wellington NZ                                               Middlesex UK

    Dear Sandy and Pete

    Do hope you can read this but I’ve tried to fit everything in.

    Just received your letter, I’ve only just got home from work..It's 10 TO 6. Bit different that about 5 at home.
    First day at work in new Glad Rags

    I have now completed 2 weeks at Unilever and so everything seems to be going all right. Lab staff the same as home. All young and Colin would have a fit. We spend all day talking. Research is different than analytical.
    You do something and have to wait a couple of hours till it is finished.
    So you spend those 2 hours talking. So Colin should find he’s really well off with this hardworking Petone Staff.
    Here are those Hard working Petone Staff

    The Hardworking Staff also put on their Costumes and entertained the Children of the Staff at Xmas
    Sandy and yours truly taking samples

    Honestly talk about over employment. In my first week I don’t think I did more than about a total of 2 hours work. And guess who’s famous and is now a film star.
    Of course, your hero. I spent the morning filming with only me and the Instron, which is an instrument for breaking strains on hair.
    Unfortunately it won’t be going into cinemas. It is a Unilever film.
    Who knows when the product we are dealing with comes into New Zealand you might see me. Boy it’s hard work though.
    Hot lights, and repeating the same sequence, several times.
    We finished about 12.30 and went to the local pub for a shout for someone who left today so we stayed till about 2.10 and slowly went back to work. Great even had my lunch paid for and all my drinks. This pub isn’t like the one I wrote to you about.
    We do have a pub in the firm. There are clubrooms where you can buy pies, sausage rolls, play table tennis, snooker, darts, listen to music or play cards (bridge mind you) and just sit and relax.
    I never bother to drink alcohol for lunch it’s not worth it, but you can if you want, I think I mentioned before that I work in the Shampoo and Skin section, which employs about 10 grads and 10 assistants.
    The rest of the place is nearly all labs and they deal with basic research, Radio chemistry, dental care, biochemistry and anything dealing with Toilet Preps. Oh I forgot, there is also a canteen where you buy (oh I just burnt the bacon, I forgot it was in) a cooked meal either 1/9 or 2/6.
    Scotch Eggs 1/9, grilled lamb chops and tomatoes 2/6.
    Chips or boiled potatoes every day, Very satisfactory,
    We are having a competition at the club on Tuesday night with the Organic Lab, I am in the Tiddley Winks team. 2/6 each and bangers and Baked Potatoes for supper, quite good. The crowd is good. Quite mad and we have a lot of fun.
    The Fun Staff at Unilever Isleworth

    Next week I hope I have a project to do on hair conditioners so it should keep me busy. I hope so as the day goes slow when you haven’t any work to do.
    Dale’s work is quite good but I don’t think he is very happy there.
    All very pompous and ex public school;. You can imagine it. He should be home soon. Hey guess what, my first day I arrived late. Got on the wrong train ended up miles from anywhere. Finally arrived about 9.30, not a bad start!
    Well all your plans for Auckland seemed great. I don’t envy you moving though. What a job. I hate the thought of us coming home.
    Boy you will end up nuttier, working on your own. I bet you are looking forward to going though.
    You’ll be so much closer to relatives.
    I know about Jackie, Jan wrote me. Also Glenys said Graeme Martin is getting married in March. It is shame about Jackie but I think it is for the best.
    Funnily enough I was going to write to Colin and tell him about my job,
    but seeing as I got your letter I thought I’d tell you. Tell him I will write in a couple of weeks when I’ve got something different to say.
    Send my love to everyone, Bruce, Dave Williams, Roy, Owen etc.
    Also send my regards to Miss Forbes.
    We had a fabulous night last Saturday. The Ships Reunion.
    Over 100 turned up. We took over a Pub by Kings Cross Station. Everyone got boozed. A real NZ Party. Loud.
    Haven’t seen Tim for a couple of weeks. We haven’t got a car now but we intend buying a mini very shortly. So we can’t visit anyone at the moment. Oh they are just showing the All Blacks playing the French, we were going to see them in Paris tomorrow but we changed our minds
    It was going to cost us about £20 for one day and we wouldn’t be able to see anything so we though we’d go over for a weekend with Rikki and Terry, (this couple we’re friendly with), in a couple of weeks.

    We are thinking of spending a week in Austria in January. The weather here has been good the last 2 weeks. NO RAIN but fairly cold. All Blacks won of course. Haven’t lost a game yet. Fabulous team We are very proud.
    Things are getting tougher here what with devaluation etc. How’s it at home? Well you two, best of luck for moving, send us your address soon as possible. Hope I haven’t told you things I’ve said before but I write so many letters I don’t know who knows what
    Love Gillian and Dale

    We have to work New Years Day too. No holidays here only Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

    My Very First Post-Would you believe 5 years ago today - Delicious Prawns with Lemon Risotto

    I was just thinking it must almost be an anniversary of my blog. Had a quick look and would you believe 5 years ago today I posted this recipe, along with a photo taken from my phone. How 'bout that? This is very exciting 5 whole years. I think this is still an excellent recipe.Perfect for this time of the year. Looking at the photo we were obviously on the boat and reading David Baldacci...and drinking wine. Look like not a lot has changed. Except for the book Now reading off the iapd.
    So moving on.

    Delicious Prawns with Lemon Risotto

    Got the prawn idea from Rick Stein and have matched it with a risotto recipe from Tamasin Day Lewis

    So first prepare the risotto
    1 tbs olive oil
    25 gms butter
    2-3 shallots finely chopped
    1 stick celery finely chopped
    2 cups Arborio rice
    150 mls white wine
    4-5 cups chicken stock you may need more depending on the rice
    1 tbs Rosemary leaves finely chopped
    Zest of 1 lemon

    To finish
    1 egg yolk
    Juice half lemon
    4 tbs Parmesan cheese, grated
    4 tbs full cream
    25 gms butter
    Sea salt
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Heat olive oil and 25 gms butter, sauté the shallots and celery till soft and before they colour, add 2 cups Arborio rice and stir around to coat the grains with the shalloty oil, slosh in the white wine, let the wine absorb into the rice
    In another pot have 4-5 cups of chicken stock simmering away, and add 1 ladleful at a time stirring fairly constantly until the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked (you need to taste after 15 mins to get the consistency right…the rice needs to get rid of any little hard centres)
    Then throw in the rosemary leaves and parsley and the zest of lemon

    Meanwhile mix together in a small bowl, 1 egg yolk, the lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and cream.
    Beat well add freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste and maybe another squeeze of lemon juice, then add the butter (this gives a lovely sheen), give it all a final good beating and serve in nice big pasta bowls garnished with the prawns (below). So so good.

    Hint get yourself a lemon zester and zest the lemons over the bowl to get all the oils.
    I have finely peeled the lemon when lacking in a zester and sliced it very finely but zesting is the best.

    Now for the prawns…You will need for greedy people

    8-10 Large Prawns per person washed, shelled and de-veined
    Olive oil 2-3 tbs
    Juice 1 lemon
    Sea salt
    Freshly ground black pepper

    For the Gremolta2 cloves garlic crushed and finely chopped
    Zest of 1 lemon grated
    3 tbs parsley finely chopped

    Into a hot pan place 2-3 tbs olive oil, quickly sauté the prawns tossing frequently till pink and gorgeous, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper then squeeze juice of lemon let sit a couple of minutes to absorb seasoning.

    Meanwhile make Gremolta commonly used as a garnish for Osso Buccho. And sprinkle over the cooked prawns just before serving

    If you don’t want to bother with the risotto (but I highly recommend it) these prawns will still be delicious served with boiled jersey benne potatoes and a green salad with lemony dressing.

    Leftover risotto turns into a wonderful little cakes.
    Just mix in some extra grated parmesan cheese and form a flat cake
    Place into a hot pan with 1-2 tbs olive oil, to get it started, turn heat down and cook slowly over med heat until you have a golden crust, turn over and same on other side

    Delicious for lunch with a salad or brunch just like a hash brown.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Tasty and Easy Appetizer- Cheese and Ham Pinwheels

    Look at these, if that doesn't make your mouth water, nothing will.

    Our Mia has turned 9. Where did that time go?

    So Mia's other Grandma had Family dinner to celebrate this occasion.
    Karen made Fab little cup cakes. Chocolate Mint...Yum

    Karen asked me to provide some nibbles to help soak up our wine.
    I wanted to make something different.
    Did a little bit of research, One of my favourite TV programmes is the Canadian "Cook Like a Chef".
    This programme takes real Chefs who demonstrate different techniques and supply some good recipes.

    I really fancied these little Pinwheels supplied by Michael Bonacini
    I mean when you are having a couple... there is nothing like little savouries.
    The aroma drags you in... I defy you to turn these down
    I have adjusted the recipe, to use ingredients I could get at the supermarket.
    And it was very good
    So actually I now "Own this recipe" to quote Simon Cowell

    1 packet puff pastry

    200 gms soft goat cheese
    2 tablespoons thyme leaves
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Dijon mustard
    100 gms thinly sliced ham
    Or 100 gms smoked salmon
    1 egg beaten with a little water

    Mix soft cheese with thyme leaves and season with pepper
    Roll out pastry into 2 rectangles
    Spread mustard over one of the rectangles leaving a 1 inch border
    Cover that with the cheese mix
    Brush the border with egg wash
    Layer ham over the top
    I used smoked salmon for the second one

    Roll it up to the egg wash border keep it tight.
    Wrap in Gladwrap, tightly and into the fridge for at least 1 hour
    Or you can do this in advance up to 24 hours.
    Just before you want to eat them
    Pre Heat Oven to 200C
    Remove from fridge
    Unwrap and brush with egg wash to glaze
    Slice into little pinwheels

    Brush again with the egg wash
    Into oven for about 15 minutes
    Till golden brown
    They only lasted for about 10 minutes.

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Roasted Maryland of Chicken - Pretty Lunch for One

    I was about to make a sandwich for lunch, but it wasn't hitting the spot, so I rushed off to the butcher and bought a Maryland of Chicken Not the Southern Fried chicken usually associated with that name. Instead in this Antipodean part of the world it is the name that Butchers have given to the Thigh and drumstick joint of the bird.
    I would much rather eat this cut of chicken than the breast which as we know can so easily be dry and then chewy. Personally I love to eat the meat of the leg and then pick up the bones and have a good gnaw on them. Its the primitive in me, I believe. I then, have the insane desire to throw the bones over my shoulder but I have resisted that. So far.

    Anyhow back to lunch. There is nothing nicer than Roast Chicken, roasted of course, "Skin On".
    I haven't given specific amounts, you can't really go wrong with any proportions of these ingredients.
    Go for it.
    I picked some Sage, Rosemary and Thyme and chopped the leaves with the zest of a lemon,
    1 small shallot, some sea salt, good grind of black pepper 
    All mixed up with a little good olive oil.
    Chop away till almost a paste and then push this beautifully aromatic mixture under the skin of the leg.
    Rub on a little more oil,  sea salt and pepper.
    Sit on a bed of fresh herbs and another shallot to make a little rack for the roasting.
    Add 1/2 cup chicken stock ( this helps to steam the chicken and keep it moist while the skin is meanwhile crisping up. Yum)
    Gosh my mouth was watering. Is there anything better than the aroma of Roasted Chicken in your kitchen?
    I had to eat a peach while I was waiting, to stave off the hunger pains.
    This will take about 35 - 40 minutes till the juices run clear
    Rest for at least 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile make a pretty little salad.
    I used Iceberg lettuce. I'm sorry, not fashionable but I love it, really crunchy
    Bright red radish sliced
    English Cucumber, sliced
    1 x tomato quartered, de-seeded and sliced, reserve the seeds for the dressing
    Spring onions, chopped
    I love using the seeds of the tomatoes, to retain the juice.
    Just squeeze them through a tea strainer or small sieve
    This juice, makes a good base for a dressing
    Season it with a pinch of sea salt, ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.
    This delivers a very intense tomato flavour.

    I then turned this into a dressing with 2 tbs of Extra virgin Olive oil
    2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar
    Stir well and dress your salad.
    Cut your perfectly roasted chicken in two
    Plonk on top of the salad.
    Isn't that marvelous?
    How healthy is that...even with the Skin on?

    Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    Spaghetti Carbonara - Dieters Dream...Not!

    Being on the boat means being frugal and working through your pantry and fridge as best as you can.
    The thing that you run out of first of course, is fresh vegetables.
    Frozen meat, prawns, canned tuna, Vacuum packed salmon and other cold cuts
    There is UHT milk and Cream in cartons. Plenty of tinned and dried food. Rice, Pasta etc
    Its easy to make bread, but one day the fresh veges go, and its time for a trip to the shop. I had eggs, cream, bacon, onions.
    I had an desire to make Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.
    First I needed to check out a recipe.
    I have lots of recipe books on the boat.

    But nowhere could I find this dish.
    Finally back to a favourite of mine
    Open House (published in 1987) by Sarah Leah Chase Co-author of the Famous Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook
    She has frequently been inspirational and I don’t know why I didn’t go there first. But there ya go. Maybe it was just time to get the others out and have a quick peruse!!!

    I didn’t make it exactly like this. First not so much bacon…my better half, doesn’t eat bacon but I substituted smoked salmon for him
    Plus I was only making for 2 people. I was also lacking in Mushrooms
    Nevertheless the dish I made was delicious

    I have given you Sarah’s recipe and it’s then up to you to go… where you want to go.
    This feeds 4-6 people

    450 gms Pancetta or good quality sliced bacon
    1 medium onion peeled and cut into slivers
    250 gms fresh mushrooms sliced
    ¼ cup dry white wine
    5 eggs at room temperature
    ¾ cup cream
    ¾ cup coarsely grated Parmesan
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    450 gms spaghetti
    ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

    Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat
    Remove and drain on paper towels and when cool crumble

    Add onion to reserved fat and sauté till soft about 7 minutes
    Add mushrooms and wine and cook for 5 minutes

    Heat a large pan of well salted water to boiling, to cook the pasta

    Whisk the eggs and cream together until well blended
    Stir in Parmesan and season with S & P

    Cook the pasta to the manufacturer’s instruction, but still firm to the bite.
    Drain and add back to the still warm pot
    Add egg mixture, mushroom and onions
    Toss thoroughly

    Add parsley

    Top with bacon and in this case smoked salmon

    Serve at once with some extra grated Parmesan, over the top if you wish

    Saturday, February 05, 2011

    New Zealand Pizza? You Say – A Clash of Cultures Perhaps…or a Touch of Genius?

    Bliss... Mr Dale relaxing in the pretty green waters of the Whangaroa Harbour
    I want to call this a New Zealand Pizza if I’m allowed.

    Our family have always been great ones for putting leftovers on top of toast, throw on some grated cheese and pop under the grill. We particularly loved cold potatoes. A British throw back to chip butties etc. Another huge favourite
    I’ll digress for a moment. This is a very greedy tale. I loved chip butties for school lunch. My Mother refused to make them, she disapproved. So I would run across the road to the corner store and buy ½ Long John loaf. (You know the one you picked at if your Mother was stupid enough to get you to pick up the bread, from the store, after school. Frequently, there wouldn’t be much of the loaf left) So soft and fresh.
    I then made a pan full of chips, sliced the bread, buttered it, placed the hot chips on top and wrapped them in greaseproof paper while still warm. Brown bagged them and off to school I went. I actually made 3 whole sandwiches… 6 slices of bread.
    The aroma coming out of my school desk was too much for me and often I would lift the lid and have a quick bite. One day I had consumed them all before lunch. I had to sit there while all around people were tucking in.
    I was only allowed to do this about once a fortnight. I guess my Mother was worried about me getting too fat.

    So back to the pizza.
    I made a very easy Tomato Sauce
    Its so so simple.
    I small onion peeled and finely chopped
    1 clove garlic chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    S & P
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    1 can tomatoes
    Large Pinch sugar
    Splash of balsamic, I actually like to use white balsamic for this

    Sauté onions and garlic till soft
    Season with Salt, Pepper and oregano
    Add tomatoes and sugar bring to simmer
    Left gently cook till nice and thick
    Add splash vinegar

    Cook for another 4-5 minutes
    Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

    Cool and put aside

    To assemble pizza
    Cold minted potatoes grated
    Salami and or smoked salmon sliced finely
    Grated Cheese Cheddar

    Roll out the dough
    Cover with tomato sauce
    Add salami or salmon
    Cover with grated potato
    Then generous amount of cheese
    Good grind black pepper

    Into 200C oven for 10-15 minutes.
    Cool a bit…other wise "Burnt Tongue Syndrome"
    Biting into that potato cheesy mixture

    I now want to sing the praises of this bread recipe.
    Click here to get the recipe
    Not only have I made Pizza and Focaccio Style bread
    BUT I have also turned it into a nice little white loaf
    Good crumb

    Makes excellent toast.
    The toaster on the boat requires a bit of expertise not to get Burnt toastIts amazing what one can do when one is pressed

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011

    Pizza Bianca and the Crowd Went Wild

    So Pizza
    This was a real hit.
    The crowd went wild
    A Pizza Bianca
    It is so nice to make a pizza without the usual tomato base. A dollop of sour cream, a good grate of Parmesan, smothered with caramelized onions and topped with prawns.
    Make the pizza dough as per recipe here 

    This recipe makes 2 pizza bases

    Meanwhile Prep...
    2 med onions sliced
    ½ yellow pepper sliced
    Sauté in 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp of sugar
    And the leaves of 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
    Cook altogether till onions and pepper are soft and melting

    Take 12 prawns
    Add 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    Zest of 1 lemon finely grated
    Toss with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and a little chili flakes
    Set aside

    3 tablespoons sour cream
    4 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
    Heat oven to 200C
    To assemble

    Line a greased pan with Pizza Dough
    Spread it with sour cream and grated Parmesan
    Layer on the onion mix
    Dob prawns on top
    Another grind of black pepper, to finish off

    Into oven, it should take about 10 minutes depending on your oven.

    We all gobbled that up and meanwhile I had popped Pizza number 2 into the oven
    I am a big fan of Pizza Marguerita, using fresh tomatoes
    Just seasoned tomatoes and beautifully melted cheese
    Once again, can’t get more simple than this

    Take 3 med tomatoes, chop roughly
    Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Rip up 6-8 basil leaves
    Add to tomatoes
    Pour over pizza base
    Cover with strips of mozzarella cheese
    Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over... and bake once again till base is brown and cheese bubbling.


    Tuesday, February 01, 2011

    Gnocchi - Its easy when you know how.

    I never really got Gnocchi, thought it was a bit boring. Obviously I hadn’t really tasted it properly.
    This recipe that I got from Chef Michael Smith is perfectly simple and is excellent.
    The little gnocchi pillows just melt in your mouth, with the added extra, of brown sage butter
    Sorry if you are on the Atkins, or watching the calories, stop here.
    Otherwise carry on, you are in for a treat.

    The Gnocchi is made from Kumara (Sweet potato)
    No eggs just some oil to moisten.

    There is a little trick rolling them down the fork and I haven’t got that right yet but I am on my way. This is not necessary but the ridges formed by the fork hold the sauce.

    Has to be fresh sage but that is easy to come by. Sage is one of the herbs easily grown in pots. If I can do you can!

    So here we go

    Sweet Potato (Kumara) Dumplings (Gnocchi).

    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
     Now is the time to roll them if you wish
    Just roll down the fork and the tip of the prongs will make little ridges

    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 for a later date.
    NOW leftovers
    I had of course the Baked Kumara Skins
    Popped them on a greased tray

    There was leftover Pumpkin Risotto
    Filled the skins.

    There was also Sage Brown Butter in the pan
    Too rich to eat the lot, over the Gnocchi

    Warm the butter
    Add 2 medium chopped tomatoes
    Saute about 2 minutes
    Add enough flour to make a roux
    Stir well
    Season with S & P

    and add water stirring while it thickens.
    Let simmer for about 5 minutes

    Pour over filled skins
    Cover with grated cheese
    Into a hot oven say about 10 minutes
    Sprinkle with a little parsley
    Voila Lunch!