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    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Christmas Leftovers - Over Catered Lunch Keeps On Giving

    After an Excellent Christmas Day Feast
    We had Leftover Salmon and Peas

    I have people coming over tonight.
    Let's make Fish Pie

    This is not so much a recipe, just assembling really
    I defrosted some Prawns to bulk up the Salmon
    and quickly roasted them
    Saute some Leeks in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Season with Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper
    for about 4-5 minutes
    Toss in a good slurp of white wine
    Let the wine bubble away
    Remove from heat
    Throw them into a good Bechamel sauce
    Flavour that with some lemon zest
    I also added leftover Tartare Sauce
    Mix well together

    Top Salmon and Peas with the Prawns
    Mix in the White Sauce and top with fluffy mashed potatoes

    Here ya Go...ready for the oven set at 180C
    Pop it in for about 30 minutes till all bubbly and golden

    Dinner is served!


    A Twist on The Best Cheese Scones Ever - Perfect for Lunch


    I have just made, the tastiest scones, using the recipe that I have posted before.

    Thanks once again, to my friend Elpie, for giving me this recipe
    It is worth a re-post
    So so easy and quick. Perfect for lunch.
    I added red capsicum and spring onions both finely chopped for some extra flavour

    This recipe makes 4 scones. I like to make the dough fairly wet.
    Like bread scones really don't their dough being too dry.

    Heat oven to 220C

    While the oven is heating up
    Sift together into a bowl
    1 cup plain flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    Good pinch salt
    Add 1/2 tablespoon sugar
    1 cup grated cheese, I used Mozzarella this time
    1/2 red capsicum finely chopped
    1 spring onion finely chopped
    Grind black pepper

    1/2 cup milk

    With your fingers mix all of the dry ingredients together
    Add milk

    Mix with a knife till just blended
    If the mixture is too dry add a little more milk
    This should be the right amount (depends on the weather, flour etc)

    Turn out onto a board and knead two or three times,
    just to make sure they are well blended

    Pat with floured hands onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper
    Cut into 4 pieces

    Bake in pre-heated oven for 8 minutes
    turn the tray around and bake for about 3 more minutes
    We had them with Egg Mayonnaise, topped with some fresh tomato





    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    Perfect For the Christmas Buffet - Red, Green and White, Colours of Christmas


    It's beginning to look a lot Like Christmas in our house, as we get closer to the Magical Day.
    Friends from Wellington were up and what a excellent reason for a feast.
    I thought I would go the Salad way.
    It's summer don't you know and what better

    So we started with the old favourite Caprese
    Then a Roasted Prawn and Orzo Salad
    Accompanied by a delicious Aubergine dressed with Mint and Chili
    Topped off with Eton Mess

    I got a bit carried away with the Quantities with The Prawn Salad so there is leftovers which I will deal with in my next blog

    Caprese of course is very simple

    I just take
    1 large Tomato per person
    1 small Boccacino  (small balls of fresh mozzarella) per person
    Loads of basil
    Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Cut the tomatoes into wedges
    Throw onto a nice platter

    Break up the mozzarella
    Sprinkle around
    Season well with Salt and pepper

    Tear the basil and cover the the Tomato and Cheese
    Liberally drizzle the Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top and
    Voila
    Best to leave for about an hour to get those flavours melded

    I have to thank Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa for this Roasted Prawn and Orzo Salad
    It is perfect for your Buffet Table
    Ina's recipe feeds 6
    I doubled it and actually there would have been enough for 16
    The flavours are delightful
    The good thing is that you can make this earlier in the day
    But make sure that you get it out of the Fridge at least an hour before you eat
    Then the flavours will be perfect
    Don't be put off by the amount of salt It needs it.
      -->

        Kosher salt
        Good olive oil
        3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
        1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
        Freshly ground black pepper
        2 pounds (16 to 18 count) prawn, peeled and deveined
        Zest and juice of 1 more lemon for the prawn
        1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
        1 cup chopped fresh dill
        1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
        1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
        1/2 cup small-diced red onion
        3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 210C/400 degrees F.

    Fill a large pot with water, 
    add 1 tablespoon of salt and 
    a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. 
    Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, 
    stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. 
    Drain and pour into a large bowl. 
    Whisk together the lemon juice, 
    1/2 cup olive oil, 
    2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. 
    Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

    Meanwhile, place the prawns on a sheet pan, 
    drizzle with olive oil, and 
    sprinkle with salt and pepper
    and grate the lemon zest over the top
    Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. 
    Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. 
    Don't overcook!

    Add the prawns to the orzo and then 
    add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 
    2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. 
    Toss well. 
    Add the feta and stir carefully. 
    Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. 
    If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and 
    bring back to room temperature before serving.

    Theo Randall made this salad in the TV programme "Perfect"
    How special for Christmas.
    Plus it was superb
    As usual I made some changes
    Particularly with the cooking of the Aubergine
    I like to roast it, it doesn't take so much oil and it is easier
    Just lay the aubergine on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for about 10 minutes 
    Taste the dressing before you use it, you may want a little more sugar or vinegar
    Use your taste buds

    Minted Aubergine with Ricotta Salad

        Olive oil,     
        2 large, aubergines, cut into 1cm circular slices
        1 garlic clove
        1 tsp red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
        2 tbs red wine vinegar
        1/2 tsp sugar
        1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
        150 g ricotta cheese
        squeeze lemon juice


    Method
    Oil a baking sheet
    Lay the aubergine slices on the tray and then either brush with oil 
    or in this case I use the Olive Oil spray can
    Season with Sea salt and pepper

    Cool then lay out on a platter

    Using the back of a knife, mince the garlic with some salt to make a paste 
    then place it in a small bowl.

    Add the chopped chilli, red wine vinegar, fresh mint and a splash of olive oil.

    Place the cheese in a bowl and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and black pepper, and a dash of olive oil.
    Scatter over the ricotta cheese in lumps and 
    then sprinkle over the garlic, chilli and mint topping.

    And finally Eton Mess 

    This is so simple
    You can use bought meringues but I did make the Chocolate Meringues that I pinched from
    the Foodlovers Blog go here to have a look at her blog click Here
    Helen has some great ideas


    3 size 7 egg whites 
    3/4 cup caster sugar 
    1 teaspoon cornflour 
    1 teaspoon cocoa 
    1/2 teaspoon white vinegar 
    2 teaspoons boiling water 
    50g quality dark chocolate, chopped

    Method


    Preheat oven to 120 C.
    Whisk the egg whites until foamy
    and with the motor running pour in the combined sugar, cocoa, cornflour 
    and then vinegar and boiling water.  
    Beat for 10 minutes until meringue is thick and glossy.
    Using a metal spoon fold through the chocolate taking care not to over mix.
    Place spoonfuls of mixture on a baking paper lined tray
    and bake for 1 hour or longer, until meringues feel firm and almost hollow when tapped.
    Place a wooden spoon in the oven door and turn the oven off.
    Leave the meringues in the oven for 30 minutes or longer before removing.
    These meringues should be chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
    I was inspired by Marco Pierre White for this version of Eton Mess
    There was a lot of  puree and I didn't use it all
    Use your discretion


       2 punnets raspberries
       2 punnets strawberries
       Icing sugar, to taste
       Kirsch liqueur or Rasberry Liqueur
       200g double cream
       20g icing sugar
       6 crushed meringues
       6 balls vanilla ice-cream
       Six sprigs of mint, to garnish

    METHOD
    Crush together the raspberries and the strawberries
    so that the fruit becomes a pulp.
    Season with the icing sugar and Liqueur

    Whip the cream and icing sugar together.

    To serve,
    Place a ball of vanilla ice-cream into the bottom of each of six chilled sundae glasses.
    Cover the ice-cream with a small amount of pulp 
    Finally, fold the crushed meringue 
    with the more pulp into the cream to form a rippled effect.

    Spoon this mixture into the glasses. 
    Top with extra puree
    Devour
    The end of the day,
    Cup of tea before departure
    A great night


     

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    Fresh Fish-The Best Way to Cook It

    People are always worried about how to cook fish. I don't know why
    It is so so simple
    This is a fail safe way.
    I bought some beautiful Terakihi from Faro Fresh
    The filets are not too thick so the timing here is just perfect
    Using the method that Ina Garten uses for Roasted Prawns, this is quick and beautiful
    Amounts don't matter, you can do this for as many people as you like

    Filets fish I like to have between 150-200 gms per person
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Zest and juice of 1 lemon per 2 people
    1 medium tomato per person cut into chunks
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Heat the oven to 210C


    Oil a baking sheet with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Season your filets of fish both sides with Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Lay on the baking sheet
    Cover with tomatoes, lemon zest and drizzle more olive oil over the top

    Pop into preheated oven
    Bake for 6 minutes
    Remove and drizzle over the lemon juice

    I served with New Potatoes and Peas
    Throw some butter and mint into the cooked vege

    Yum

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    White Chocolate and Craisin Cookies

    I thought I would re-post this recipe, as Christmas is coming and these are great for this time of the year
    I have been baking these for a cake stall today. I ran out of Ground Almonds
    So I made the third batch will Ground Cashews
    Works very well
    You can also substitute craisins, for sultanas and dark choc for white choc
    But the best is the original

    I got the recipe from Rachel Allen, off her TV programme on Chocolate treats...
    Here is one of them
    Nice for Christmas Presents
    White Chocolate and Craisin Cookies

    Heat oven to 180c
    Assemble all of the ingredients
    This is a very quick method

    First melt 150 gms butter and cool a bit

    Then into a bowl
    150 gms plain flour sifted

    1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

    Pinch salt

    50 gms ground almonds
    50 gms rolled oats
    60 gms Craisins
    100 gms light brown sugar
    100 gms white Chocolate chips


    1 large egg yolk

    When butter has cooled slightly...this is to stop it melting the choc chips
    Add the egg
    Whisk and add to all the dry ingredients
    Mix



    Place directly on top a baking sheet, you don't need to grease it
    Make balls about the size of a ping pong ball as per the 2 on the right
    Squash down 2-3 times to flatten with a fork dipped in flour
    Just like the 2 on the left

    Bake 10-12 minutes
    They spread a little

    Leave to cool for about 5 minutes on the tray
    If you try to move them too soon they will break
    and onto a wire rack.
    Excellent

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Gluten Free Lunch- and Very tasty It Was Too

    We had our first lunch at our new Abode yesterday.
    My menu needed to be Gluten Free
    I thought about a lovely, tasty, filling Salad
    But even though it is warming up, it's not really Summer yet
    Looked at the Bookcase
    Staring me in the face was Nigella Lawson's book "Kitchen"
    Flipped through the pages looking for ideas and came across her Venetian  Lasagne.

    Instead of Pasta, the layers were made of Polenta
    What a great idea.
    No gluten there.

    So, for the first course. I did do a salad.
    Caprese in fact
    Normally for presentation, the Tomatoes and Mozzarella are layered with basil leaves, but this time I decided to tear the Mozzarella and Basil and cut the Tomatoes into wedges.

    So doing that, I arranged them on the plate,
    Seasoned well with Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    Made a quick dressing of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with Balsamic Vinegar
    Drizzled that over the top
    Fabulous colours

    I made the Lasagne the day before and I highly recommend doing this, particuraly if you are serving for lunch it does take a minute or two
    Plus gives the flavours a good chance to meld

    Next time and there will be a next time, I will make the polenta in 2 batches.
    Much easier to spread, I think it was a bit thick.
    Like Nigella I used the Instant variety.
    Could call it cheating but it's very easy
    Another shortcut, (also suggested by Nigella), I used grated Parmesan.
    It's not like the smelly sawdust, you used to get and certainly saves time

    First the Polenta
    500 gms Polenta
    2 litres of Chicken stock
    1 tablespoon butter
    200 gms Parmesan Cheese grated
    2 baking trays
    A baking dish suitable for lasagne

    Wet the trays with cold water to stop the polenta sticking
    Make it in 2 batches for ease of spreading

    Method
    Bring the stock to the boil
    Slowly rain in the Polenta
    Stirring all of the time with a wooden spoon

    I actually took a whisk to it,
    made it a bit easier to get out the lumps
    When it starts to thicken
    add the butter and 100 grams of Parmesan
    Beat well
    Over a low heat keep cooking and stirring, for about 3 minutes
    It will start to come away from the side of the pan

    Pour into the trays and spread out as thin as you can

    Put aside to set
    When ready to use, turn it out onto a board
    It pops out easily.
    Cut to fit your baking dish
    You will have enough for 3 layers
    Might look a bit like a jigsaw but that's OK

    You can use any Meat sauce that you like
    This is loosely based on Nigellas, basically, its what I do anyway
    I like to brown the mince, before I cook the vegetables, one gets a better flavour from the beef.
    Also I cooked the Mushrooms separately, same reason. Flavour.

    2 tablespoons oil oil
    500 gms mince
    1 large onion finely chopped
    1 carrot finely chopped
    1 stick celery finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
    Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
    1 can chopped tomatoes
    1 can Water
    1 bay leaf

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    250 gms mushrooms finely chopped
    Few sprigs fresh thyme
    Dash white wine
    Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Heat a large frypan add 1 tablespoon oil and crumble in the mince
    Don't overcrowd the pan you may need to do it in 2 batches
    When the mince is brown remove and set aside
    Add another tablespoon of oil and throw in your onions
    Season with S&P
    Soften then add carrots, celery and garlic
    Once again, cook to soften
    Add your mince, tomatoes, Bay leaf and Tomato paste
    Fill the tomato can with water and add

    Meanwhile in a separate pan, cook the Mushrooms
    Add oil to hot pan
    Throw in the mushrooms 
    Toss
    Season with S&P and add thyme
    Toss again
    Then add wine and let it reduce till mushrooms are dry
    This will get maximum flavour

    Add to mince mixture
    Simmer about an hour
    Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

    To assemble

    Grease the baking dish
    Add a layer of polenta
    Half of the meat mixture
    Another layer Polenta
    Rest of meat
    Top with final layer

    Sprinkle over the top, with the rest of the Parmesan
    Place some slices of Mozzarella on top

    Bake at 200C for about 45 -to 60 minutes
    Cheese should be Golden and meat sauce bubbling
     You can make this to this stage the day before

    Just cover with cling wrap and stick in the fridge
    Here's the cross section

    Voted by the Guests 10 out of 10

    In keeping with the Gluten Free Theme, I made some Chewy Chocolate Meringues
    They are delicious, bite in and get a mouthful of Meringue with Chocolate Chips
    Yummo!
    This from a blog I follow foodlovers.co.nz
    Click here to get the recipe
    I served them with Marinated Berries and Fresh Cream
    Pretty Yes?
    All in all not bad for the first lunch
    Next!

    Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    Rarotonga Punanga Nui Market-Put it on your Wish List


    This is my last post from The Island, today sadly we go home.
    I thought I should post some images of the Punanga Nui Market

    Every Tourist should put a visit to The Market on their wish list
    It opens around 8am every Saturday
    It is so colourful
    It’s where we go to get the fresh produce, buy gifts and bits of Raro to take home
    Great Smoothies, all that fresh Tropical Fruit

    This weekend there was the official opening of the new Stage for the Market.

    As with most things on the Island, it took a while to build but finally there it is, in all its glory.
    There was an official opening, then several Dance groups performed for us






    My friend Trish, who just loves the Island, joined her sewing circle, who sewed while the dignitaries spoke.

    Meanwhile our friends Vira and Barbara held court at Vira’s Massage Hut

    When in Rarotonga you must visit Vira he is such a good masseuse
    We walked out of his hut feeling like a million dollars

    First we went to Café Salsa for breakfast.

    This is a must for everyone. Highly recommended.
    Dale had poached eggs on smoked Marlin Hash with Hollandaise

    I had Eggs Benedict

    Both were excellent

    Meanwhile, here are some images of the people, we found fascinating