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    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

    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.

    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

    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 
    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
    This from a blog I follow
    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

    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

    Monday, November 05, 2012

    Rarotonga-Turama, All Souls Day- What A Beauteous Sight

    Hanging around Graveyards  may not be your thing, but if you are in Rarotonga for 1st November, you musn't miss Turama, All Souls Day
    Held in the evening, it  is a celebration of the departed. It’s a Ancient Catholic Tradition, but I believe other religions participate
    The Rarotongans spend days, decorating the graves, which are prominent all over the Island.
    I have never seen so many different types and brilliant colours of plastic and silk flowers. They are sensational

    There are Mass Grave Yards, but it also common to bury your loved ones on your land.
    There are many Mausoleums, dotted around amongst the houses. 

    At 6pm, there is a service at the Cathedral, then the priest takes Holy Water he has blessed and sprinkles on the graves. This takes place at Panama, the Graveyard close to the Airport
    We watched these people construct their tribute to their family
    They finished it off with garlands of Tiare, Stunning

    On the evening there are ceremonies and people lay fresh flowers and light candles
    The families gather, chat to the departed and reminisce, many happy memories 
    It is very beautiful

    We drove around the Island and took some shots of Graves on Private Property
    In stark contrast to the colour, we found this old graveyard just close to where we are staying
    Until recently it was ramshackle but caring folk have reconstructed it.
    So white. I love it also

    Our favourite Grave. We Love You Dad in huge letters with Dad’s War Helmet, jauntily hanging off the side of the tombstone.
     Obviously not religious. Not one flower for Dad

    I thought this was a little sad
    White crosses, very few flowers, but an empty bottle, but on the bright side, maybe Uncle's favourite tipple