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    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Double Chocolate Pear Cake -Thanks to Julie Le Clerc

    There is a programme on Food TV, featuring that excellent cook, Julie Le Clerc,
    called “Café Secrets”, you can Google this, then read about Julie and this very good programme.
    All the recipes on there as well.

    I watched her make the following
    A Double Chocolate Pear Cake

    I had some preserved pears in my Pantry, grown picked and preserved by my friends Derrick and Lorraine.

    They have a lovely lifestyle block in Bunnythorpe and there are dozens of fruit trees.

    One year, they actually grew a pear in a bottle for me and then immersed it in brandy.
    Derrick and I tying the bottle onto the bud

    Delicious, my own ‘Poire Williams’…well almost.
    So after seeing Julie make this cake, I just had to do it.
    Not only delicious, but so so simple
    Thank you Julie, we all loved it
    Word of warning... test the cake at say 45 minutes, I left it in too long.
    When I pushed the skewer in it came out damp but I think I make have hit a molten chop chip.
    So I left it in another 10 minutes.
    It was a little dry. Still tasted very good though.
    I fixed it by reducing leftover syrup in a small pan.
    I then put holes in the cake, with the aforementioned  skewer, poured the syrup over the cake.
    Actually maybe this could be a good idea anyway. See what you think.

    Serves 12
    100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
    150g butter, softened
    1 cup caster sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    3 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
    Extra 100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
    3 home-preserved pears cooked in red wine or 400g
    can pear halves in juice, drained and quartered
    Icing sugar, to dust

    Preheat oven to 180°C.
    Spray a 22cm spring-form cake tin with oil and line the base
    with baking paper.
    Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of
    simmering water (do not allow the bowl to touch the water or
    it will get too hot and may damage the chocolate).
    Stir until smooth and set aside to cool a little.

    Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat
    until pale and creamy.
    Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla extract.
    Beat in eggs, one at a time.
    Stir in flour to just combine.
    Stir in extra chopped chocolate.

    Spread cake batter into prepared tin.
    Slice pears into quarters and arrange over surface of the mixture,
    pressing them slightly into the batter.

    Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer
    inserted comes out clean.
    If necessary, cover with foil towards end of cooking
    to prevent cake over browning.

    Cool in the tin for 30 minutes before removing to a wire
    rack to cool completely.

    Brush peas with cooking juice to moisten.
    Dust cake with icing sugar, if desired.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Corn and Tomato Soup - Nice use of Fresh Summer Produce- And Some Unexpected Kudos for our Countdown Supermarket

    Its a beautiful Summer's Day, they have been few and far between this year.
    You may think Soup? Is she having a laugh? but I can assure you this fresh light soup was just perfect for lunch today.
    I made a chicken salad for sandwiched the other day.
    And, what do you get when you poach Chicken?
    Why, Chicken Stock of course.

    I fossicked around in the fridge
    grabbed a few ingredients and quickly put together this delicious soup.
    I really like using Vegeta as a flavour booster.
    And when cooking tomatoes I always add a little sugar to balance to flavours

    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 carrot grated
    1 red onion finely sliced
    2 medium tomatoes, cored and large chop
    1 tbs Vegeta or any good stock powder
    500 mls of homemade chicken stock
    1 tsp sugar

    2 cobs fresh Corn
    Little parsley for garnish

    I popped the corn into the microwave for 5 minutes
    Removed the silk and husks, then sliced off the kernels
    Set aside

    Meanwhile heat butter over med heat in a pot
    Add carrot and onion
    Gently saute till soft
    Add tomatoes and Vegeta and sugar
    Add chicken stock
    Taste and adjust seasoning, using sea salt and black pepper if needed

    Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes
    Add corn kernels
    Simmer another 5 minutes
    That's enough
    This has a wonderful fresh taste.
    The corn is still crunchy, tomatoes, carrot and onion soft

    By the way the Chicken Salad was pretty good as well
    I lightly poached chicken thighs in water
    With the addition of carrot chunks, onion, celery. stalks of parsley
    Once again a tablespoon of Vegeta

    Best way for moist chicken...
    Bring everything to the boil.
    Simmer for about 5 minutes
    Turn heat off
    Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes.
    This should be enough for small, no skin, boneless thighs
    Remove the meat and chop
    Mix with some chopped cucumber, and spring onions and a little parsley

    Toss in Mayo
    I used a bought one.
    Best Foods is pretty good.
    I added some lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
    Also for an added extra, a big teaspoon of a curry coconut paste, that my friend Heinzie made.
    This is so good.
    Unfortunately, I don't have a recipe for it. But it has such good flavour.
    The sandwiches were excellent.
    I had leftovers.
    Chicken Salad on Toast
    An added bonus.

    So "Waste Not, Want Not"
    Its not often I pour kudos onto our local supermarket.
    It is handy, a 2 minute drive and basically they suit me
    but I frequently make complaints.
    It's obvious when the big spenders, get their product on show and the particular brand, you would like gets either left off the shelf altogether... or placed so high you cant reach.
    But that aside,
    I have to mention their latest promotion in association, with Thomas from Rosenthal.
    The prize, if you collect enough stamps is a set of excellent knives

    It's like the olden stamps
    Collect enough and you get a prize.
    Of course I got sucked in, but was a little apprehensive.
    Anyhow...Last week, I had enough for my first knife.
    It is excellent. I am rapidly shopping to acquire another.

    Good work Countdown and Rosenthal

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Spicy Stuffed Eggplant

    Our friend Joyce is here from the States
    Last night she made this eggplant dish or dinner last night
    It was very yummy and for those who are interested, it is gluten free
    Eggplants are cheap at the moment and it is always good to have yet another way to cook them.

    By the way, here's another use for cooked rice
    Of course if you don't have leftovers, just cook the rice anyway
    The Sriracha Sauce, which is possibly foreign to many, was recommended by Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen Thank you Kalyn.
    Click here to get some inspiration. It is a great blog.
    Anyway it is an excellent hot sauce.
    I assumed that you can't buy it here, so I asked Joyce, to bring me some from the States.
    The day she arrived, we took a trip to the local Chinese green grocer .
    Joyce was poking around the store and guess what she found... a bottle of the Sriracha sauce.
    So you can buy it here in New Zealand . Hooray.
    But I digress
    So here you go.
    This is enough for 4 people
    1 eggplant per person
    Olive oil

    1 red Onion finely chopped
    1 tbs Olive oil
    500 gms mince
    2 stalk Celery finely sliced
    1/2 can crushed tomatoes
    1 Tsp Oregano
    1 Tsp ground Cumin
    8 leaves Fresh basil sliced
    sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    Parmesan cheese. grated to cover

    50 gms feta cheese crumbled
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 tsp Sriracha Hot Chili sauce (or any hot sauce that takes your fancy)

    1/2 cup cooked white rice

    Heat oven to 180C
    Cut eggplant in half lengthwise
    Lightly Oil
    Place on a baking sheet and bake till just tender
    Remove and then when cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh
    Reserve the shells for stuffing
    Mix the flesh with feta and the Sriracha hot sauce
    Season to taste and set aside

    For the mince
    Sauté the onion in olive oil in a medium hot pan
    Add mince and sauté till brown
    Add celery
    Season with S&P
    Add oregano, cumin and basil
    Add crushed tomatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes

    Time to assemble
    Lay the empty eggplant shells on a lightly greased tray
    Mix all the components together
    The mince
    The eggplant mix
    And the rice

    Pile into the shells
    Cover with grated Parmesan
    And bake for about 15-20 minutes
    I only thought to take the picture, when I was halfway through my dinner.
    That plate was clean as, not long after.