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    Sunday, December 15, 2013

    Christmas Treats for the Yuletide Table

    Christmas Treats.
    Only 9 days till the big feast

    Here are two recipes that you may like to prepare for Christmas Day
    Or the day before...or the Day after

    First the Meringue Roulade
    This recipe came from Tony Astle from Antoines Restaurant in Parnell
    Thank you Tony for sharing this
    It is so easy and a real crowd pleaser
    My guests thought, I was ever so clever!

    5 large egg whites at room temperature
    340 gms white sugar
    1 tsp white vinegar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    30 gms cornflour

    Wet and line a sponge tin with baking paper
    Set oven 180c

    Beat egg whites to stiff peaks
    Add 340 gms white sugar quite quickly
    Beat full speed  for 2 minutes

    Add 1 tsp white vinegar and 1 tsp vanilla extract
    Straight  away, turn machine down and
    Fold in 30 gms corn flour 
    Combine well quickly be careful not to lose that air

    Pile into prepared tin
    Spread roughly
    Place in oven bake for 12 minutes only
    Remove and cool to room temp 
    Sprinkle plenty icing sugar on a sheet of baking paper
    Then invert meringue onto paper
    Spread with stiffly whipped cream leaving about 2 inch space at far end
    Roll as a sponge roll
    Serve in thick slices with some beautiful berries

    Christmas Bark is not a New Zealand tradition, but it doesn't take long for us to introduce new foods to our feast. This a lovely gift to take to a friend.
    So pretty and so so simple to make

    I saw this recipe on a Facebook Friends post.
    A link from the New York Times
    Submitted by a gentleman called Tom Faglon.

    Those Pomegranate Seeds are just like glistening jewels
    Set in Dark Chocolate with pieces of Crystalised Ginger
    Then finished off with a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt flakes

    The first time I made it, I ceased the chocolate.
    I forgot about adding cold and wet into hot chocolate
    So, when I made it yesterday I was more careful and cooled the chocolate
    a little and dried the seeds.
    Voila, it worked

    Nigella has a foolproof way of removing those seeds from the Pomegranate
    Cut it in half
    Over a large bowl
    Bash it with a big wooden spoon
    after the third bash they will start to fall out
    Just like ruby rain
    Keep on bashing
    Squeeze the fruit to get the rest of the juice out
    Turn them into a sieve and drain the juice
    Set that Juice aside, I have a recipe for it at the end of this post
    A Christmas Cocktail

    Gently dry the seeds, so that when added to the chocolate they won't seize it

    So let's start
    Line a small baking tray with baking paper
        •    200 grams dark (bittersweet) chocolate pieces (1 cake)
        •    40 grams finely chopped crystallized ginger 

        •   The seeds of a fresh pomegranate  (1 cup)
        •    6 grams flaky sea salt (1 teaspoon)

    Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it
    Either over a pan of simmering water
    being careful not to let the bowl touch the water
    Or do as I did, whack it into the microwave
    Keep stirring it till it cools slightly

    Add the ginger, then
    Add half of the pomgranate seeds
    Quickly turn out into the prepared tray
    Spread quickly to a thin  layer
    Throw the rest of the pomegranate seeds over the top

    Sprinkle with Sea Salt
    Chill for at least an hour

    Break up into pieces and devour

    Now for the  Christmas Cocktail
    Grab a glass
    Add several Ice Cubes
    2 parts Vodka
    1 part Cacao White Liqueur
    1 part Pomegranate Juice

    Sip away
    Merry Christmas Everybody

    Wonderful Summer Nicoise Salad - Perfect for Christmas entertaining. All the right colours.

    Salad Nicoise is a favourite of ours.
    Perfect for boat food.
    Canned Tuna, black olives, red onions, green beans, Boiled eggs, Tomatoes Potatoes, a few Capers and some chopped herbs
    All dressed with a tasty French Dressing
    All of the food groups just about and it's so fresh and clean
    This  particular version is outstanding

    And the beauty of it is you can prep early in the day.
    I assembled about an hour before.
    All ready, sit down have some drinks
    Off to the table and serve.
    Wonderful summer food
    So I have decided to re-post this blog.
    This salad is perfect for entertaining.
    I made it last night and everyone loved it.
    There is quite a bit of prep but once assembled thats it.
    An all in one meal
    We washed it down with some Champagne.
    That was a really good idea

    By the way the amounts can vary. That's up to you
    This is a guide line

    Anna Gare, is best known as a Judge on Junior Masterchef Australia
    Also she is in a programme called "The Best in Australia".
    It has all the right ingredients, but treated differently
    The tomatoes are roasted for the extra flavour.
    The red onions Caramelized.
    There is mayonnaise on the potatoes and eggs...I would normally use French Dressing
    I also used my marinated olives to scatter over the top
    And beautiful fresh Seared Tuna, drizzled with a Nicoise style salsa

    Serves 4
    4 x 120g tuna steaks
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Olive oil

    1 egg per person, hard boiled, peeled and quartered

    500 g small new potatoes boiled
    Little French dressing

    200 g stringless green beans

    Roast Tomatoes
    4 large Ripe tomatoes quartered or 8 smaller tomatoes.
    They are usually sweeter

    Sea salt
    Little sugar
    Olive oil
    Fresh thyme

    Caramelised Onions
    2 purple Onions finely sliced
    11/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
    1 tablespoon Sugar
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    Sea salt and pepper

    2 Cloves roasted Garlic finely chopped ( I used raw garlic)
    2 Anchovies finely chopped
    2 egg yolks
    1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    ¾ cup Olive Oil

    1 tablespoon baby capers
    1 tablespoon Italian Parsley chopped
    1 small Tomato deseeded and finely diced
    4 Anchovies finely chopped
    1 part of Lemon juice
    2 parts of Olive Oil
    Salt and Sugar to taste

    As many Black Olives as you like


    Place tomatoes onto baking sheet and sprinkle with salt & thyme and slow bake for 45 mins in 120 deg oven. This will intensify the flavour.
    Put aside.

    Cook potatoes whole in a pot of salted water and blanch beans in the same pot towards the end.
    When cooled cut potatoes & beans as desired.

    Caramelize onions by putting olive oil, sugar, salt, red wine vinegar and onions all into a pot and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are just cooked through- they should be soft and shiny.

    Make dressing by combining yolks, lemon juice, anchovies, garlic & mustard.
    Whilst whisking, slowly drizzle in oil.
    I did it in the food processor

    Lightly brush Tuna with oil salt & pepper then sear on high heat, 2 minutes per side.
    Don't overcook it. As it rests it continues to cook.

    For Salsa, mix all ingredients together and taste for seasoning and citrus factor.

    Dress potatoes & eggs with some mayonnaise 
    Place on desired platter
    Then add in layers, first onions, beans, then tomatoes. 

    Just before serving, sear tuna and place on top, then drizzle over with Nicoise Salsa.
    Throw olives over the top

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Christmas Cake - Herman The German, Travels Down Under to New Zealand, Just in Time for Christmas

    Herman Meets Busy Girl
    About 2 months ago, I was given by my Grandson Joseph a plastic container full of a Starter Dough. He was given it by my daughter Katie and so it started to spread around the family

    Herman is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you receive Herman, you transfer him to a larger bowl, give him a good stir and continue to look after him and feed him.
    After 9 days, you give him his final feed, then you split Herman into four portions
    Use one for making your cake,
    Save one for the next time and give away the other two.
    (I actually used 3 portions, made Bread, Banana and Coconut Cake
    Plus This Delicious Christmas Cake).
    Day 10. Cook
    Anyone can make this... it is so so simple, moist delicious, and we have nearly finished it already. A great success.
    “Sigh” that means, I will have to make another one, oh dear

    Your giver also hands you instructions and the recipe to make the original cake, which is like an apple strudel.
    Very yummy.
    But, Stop,  there is more... if you go onto the Herman The German Website,  click here
    there is a plethora of recipes. People all around the world have got excited about turning Herman into new delights. Including all sorts of cakes, muffins and bread
    Plus 'How to Start Your Own Herman'

    I was asked to devise a Christmas Cake.
    Decades ago my friend Jeannie, found a recipe for the aptly named “Busy Girls Christmas Cake”.
    It’s a Throw everything, all in together, cake, just like Herman.

    So Why not blend the two.
    Looking through other people attempts at different cakes on the Herman Website,
    For the proportions, I decided to remove 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of sugar and replace them with my portion of Herman
    (If you want to make the cake, sans Herman, replace the flour and the egg)
    Wet ingredients, dry ingredients and fruit
    Mix together
    Easy Peasy
    Preheat oven to 160C/325F
    Line a 23 cm tin with baking paper

    900 gms/2lbs ready mixed fruit
    60gms/2 oz blanched almonds optional
    950 mls/2 pints boiling water
    225 gms/8 oz butter cut into small pieces
    3 eggs
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2cup brown sugar
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp BP
    1 tsp mixed spice
    Pinch nutmeg
    Pinch cinnamon
    1 tsp almond essence
    ¼ cup Brandy or Rum

    In a large bowl place the fruit and almonds.
    Pour over boiling water, cover with
    a large plate and leave to stand for 15 mins.
    Strain off the water and cut butter into fruit.

    Place portion of Herman into a big bowl
    In another bowl beat eggs, white and brown sugar together. until soft and creamy.
    Add to Your Portion of Herman
    Sift Flour, Baking Powder and Spices together.  
    Stir butter and fruit mixture until well mixed.
    Stir in almond essence.
    Add the Herman, eggs and sugar blend
    Lastly fold in sifted dry ingredients.  

    Place mixture into prepared tin (well lined.)
     Bake at 160C/325F  for 1 3/4 hours.
    After one hour if you feel you need to, cover cake with sheet of brown paper.
    When it is finished check with a skewer or toothpick
    Hopefully after the 1 ¾ hours the skewer will come out clean
    You may have to cook for another 10 minutes
    When cold, prick with a skewer an inch apart all over the cake.
    Sprinkle brandy/rum over and wrap tightly in plastic
    I wanted to have a taste test after only 5 days, I had Girls coming for lunch
    It was lovely but if you can wait...give it at least a week before decorating.

    I’m not fond of the Almond Icing, Royal Icing Combo
    I went for the Apricot Jam Glaze and Glace Fruit and Nut Decor

    ½ cup Apricot Jam melted
    Your choice of Glace Fruits

    I went for Red and Green Cherries, Slivered Almonds and Mixed Peel
    Go mad it’s Christmas after all
    It has been tested on Real People and Given the Thumbs Up
    It is not a dark cake but so full of flavour.

    Looks like I will be baking it again on Friday, I’ll try and make it last ,closer to Christmas
    But then again... maybe I can make another

    Saturday, November 09, 2013

    Herman the German Friendship Cake - Also makes Good Bread

    I have been cooking Herman The German Friendship Cake for about 6 weeks now

    It is a starter mix that you stir and feed for 10 days
    To make the Starter Mix if you are having to start from scratch
    Go to the website click hereThen split in 4
    Cook with one
    Keep one for yourself and give away the others
    Originally, my daughter Katie gave a portion to Grandson Joseph
    He, then, gave one to me
    First we made the original cake,which has apples and raisins

    Tried one with Crunchie bars, not much success with that
    So No photographs of that

    Made a Raspberry and Chocolate one, This was very popular
    But this time,. I am using 2 portions
    I am making Bread AND a Banana and Coconut version that I found on The Website

    The Bread was posted by Cheryl
    Unfortunately, I left it in the oven too long and the rolls were overcooked
    I went back to bed as it was quite early and waited for the timer to go off

    Anyway I had one for breakfast and it was very tasty.
    Smothered it with Avocado and topped with tomato.
    The bread is sweeter than I would normally make, not as sweet as Brioche but nevertheless
    I will be definitely be making this again.
    It is perfectly fine to have with Savoury

    Next time I will keep an eye on the Oven
    I think maybe 15 minutes would do it
    We will have some for lunch with soup
    The rest I will turn into breadcrumbs for the freezer

    Actually...They were fine at lunch, in fact excellent with Cauliflower Cheese Soup
    Pity I have to wait another 10 days before I cam make it again
    There recipes on the website click here to get all of the info
    Also you will get "The How To Grow Herman"
    Great for children to be involved
    And now for the Bread
    I decided to make Bread Rolls

    This is taken from the Website as I said, posted by Cheryl
    I also took Cheryl's advice and let it rise over night
    Right Cheryl, this is from you

    To prevent Herman Bread tasting too sweet, you need to make an adjustment on “Day 9”.
Normally you would add his last feed of 1 cup flour, 1 cup (8oz) sugar and 1 cup milk, and then divide into 4 portions.
    But for bread, you need to add the flour and milk only, then divide into 4 portions, then add the sugar individually.  For any cake and friend portions add 2oz sugar, but for the bread portions add just ½ oz.  Then on “Day 10” bake or pass to friends as normal.
    The Recipe
        •    500g (1 lb 2 oz) Strong Flour (White or Wholemeal)
        •    1 Teaspoon salt
        •    240ml (8 fl oz) Tepid Water
        •    1 Portion Herman

    Tip:-   To get the perfect temperature water use 160 ml (⅔) cold tap water and 80 ml (⅓) freshly boiled water.
        1.    Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
        2.    Mix the water with Herman and pour into the flour well.
        3.    Gradually work the ingredients together to make a soft dough.  Add a little more water if it seems too dry, or add a little more flour if it seems to sticky.
        4.    Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
        5.    Put the dough in a large clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for 3 to 8 hours until doubled in size

        6.    Knock back, then shape into a ball and place in a large loaf tin, or divide into 12 and shape into balls for rolls. 
    Cover and leave to rise for 2 to 6 hours.

        7.    Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220ºC / Gas Mark 7, for 35 minutes for a loaf or 20 minutes for rolls.  When cooked the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.
    A good idea:  Do steps 1 to 5 after lunch, Step 6 before you go to bed, step 7 first thing in the morning, and amaze the family with freshly baked bread for breakfast!
    Thank you Cheryl
    Unfortunately a little overdone
    But an excellent Crumb
    Reminiscent of Ciabatta

    So I will make this again
    This is a Rustic Bread, well worth it
    Now for the Cake

    This is mix all in together cake but I like to break it up a bit
    The recipe was posted by Rachel Norris

    Banana and Coconut Cake
    1 helping of Herman
    1 cup sugar   - 225 g
    2 cups SR flour -300 g
    ½ tsp salt
    ⅔ cup desiccated coconut
    2 mashed ripe bananas
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tabs boiling milk
    ⅔ cup cooking oil 160ml
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    Pre-heat oven to 175C I use fan oven

    Put flour and salt through a sieve into a big bowl
    Add sugar, nutmeg and coconut

    Meanwhile in a small bowl
    Beat eggs, vanilla, add oil
    add Mashed bananas 
    Add to Herman
    Pour into dry ingredients

    Add baking soda to boiling milk
    and Add to the bowl

    Mix till combined
    Pour into prepared 23 cm tin
    Bake in oven for about 45 minutes
    You will probably find it needs another 10-15 minutes

    Test with a skewer if it comes out wet
    Put back in till skewer comes out clean
    It does take longer than you would expect

    Cool a little in the tin then turn out onto rack
    and cool

    I iced it with
    Orange and lemon icing
    160gms Icing sugar
    2 tablespoons butter
    Add zest of an orange
    And enough lemon juice to make a fairly stiff icing

    Very nice for Afternoon Tea
    It is Bread Baking Day #62
    I thought this would be a good post for this event

    Monday, November 04, 2013

    Quick and Tasty Prawn and Tomato Pasta - Pantry and Fridge Dish

    I need to have a herb garden here in our deck. Then this delicious dish, would look prettier.

    Nevertheless I haven't and I didn't want to go to the shops.
    I always have tinned tomatoes, dried pasta in the pantry
    Plus frozen prawns in the freezer
    Just add some garlic, lemon and good olive oil and you have an excellent dish
    This prawn dish is good enough to serve to guests.

    A friend, Chef Brent Matches, gave me a tip to get a really good quick tomato sauce.
    Add a slosh of vinegar at the end
    Use a good vinegar, I really like Cider or Rice Wine Vinegars, they have a touch of sweetness which lifts the tomatoes
     This also makes a great base for pizza and will keep well in the fridge for at least a week or so.

    I used Fettucine, but use any Pasta that takes your fancy or more to the point, whatever you have in the pantry
    Anything to soak up the fabulous sauce

    Tomato Sauce
    2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
    1 tin crushed tomatoes
     Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon sugar
    Slosh of vinegar (white wine, cider or rice wine)

    On a medium heat add olive oil and garlic
    Just cook for about 2 minutes to get the garlic going, (Oooh that divine aroma)
    Add the tin of Tomatoes, rinse out the tin with a little water, no waste please
    Season with Salt, Pepper and Sugar
    Simmer for about 10 minutes, longer if you have time but not really necessary
    Add Vinegar

    Set aside till needed
    Refrigerate, if needed later

    This is my favourite way of cooking prawns
    Inspired by Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa
    Prawns cooked this way are now on our Christmas Menu
    Requested by the Grand Children

    They are so cheap these days, already cleaned and with just a tail on
    A great standby in your freezer
    The packet I buy, has approx 100 prawns per kilo
    Amount per person... that's up to you
    I reckon for this Pasta Dish about 8-10 per person

    Frozen Prawns
    Juice and Zest of 1 lemon
    Garlic peeled and crushed
    Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

    Thaw Prawns
    Throw into a ceramic dish
    Add Olive Oil. Lemon Zest, Garlic Salt and Pepper
    Let marinate for at least 10 minutes
    Meanwhile pre-heat oven to 210C

    Roast Prawns for 4 minutes
    Remove and pop into a dish with all of the juices
    Add Lemon Juice

    So while all of this is happneing
    Put a large pot of Salted water on to boil

    Add Fettucine Pasta... 100 gms per person

    Cook till al dente (around 8-9 minutes

    Combine Tomato Sauce, Pasta and Prawns
    As I said at the beginning, some cut up fresh herbs, would have been nice
    Basil or parsley I think