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    Monday, November 30, 2015

    An Excellent Chocolate Cake

    Always looking for a recipe to feed several people. Namely The Staff at St Andrews
    I found this on a previous post 
    I got this recipe from my daughter Katie
    She found it in a Cook book called The Cake Bible
    It is very moist and delicious.
    At this time, I just served it as it, but I think it lends itself to being cut in half and filled with say some whipped cream, or you could do a layer of the icing
    That also would be good

    My friend Catherine gave me this great hint.
    Warm your sugar before creaming. It makes life so much easier.
    Try it…it works
    So you need

    Also as an addition, I added a cup of Craisins
    I love their citrusy bite

    125 gms softened butter
    2/3 cup sugar warmed
    ½ cup icing sugar
    2 eggs room temperature

    1 ¼ cup SR flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    ½ cup cocoa
    Pinch salt

    1 cup Craisins

    1 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Heat oven 180C
    Grease and flour your tin.
    I like to line the bottom with a circle of baking paper.

    Cream butter and sugars
    Add eggs one at a time
    Beat well

    Sift dry ingredients
    Add Craisins to the dry ingredients
    Mix milk and vanilla

    Add dry ingredients milk mix alternately

    Bake 40-50 minutes check after 35 minutes cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean
    I found it took 40 minutes in my oven
    Let cake sit on a rack for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out and cool.
    It’s important that the cake is cold before you iced.

    I was going to make a Ganache icing but I didn't have any cream, so I searched the net for
    an icing made with Chocolate Chips and Icing Sugar
    I found this one on Food and it worked
    Doesn't have the fabulous dark colour of a Ganache but tasted good
    This is Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
    3 cups icing sugar
    1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, 
    beat the butter until light and smooth. 
    Beat in the icing sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

    Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and place over a small pan of barely simmering water. 
    Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. 
    Remove the pan from the heat. 
    Add the melted chocolate to the vanilla frosting and stir until smooth.
    Ice your cake
    When I originally made this cake I frosted it with a raspberry frosting and filled it with berries 
    It looked beautiful, so if you would like to see that
    Click here

    I see there is an interesting Savoury Tea cake on that same post. Nice to serve with drinks

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Salad Nicoise - My Take on It

    What I love most about Salad Nicoise, is how beautiful it is. So colourful
    Also an excellent lunch dish when you are having friends over
    This was always a winner when we were on the boat.
    Some crusty bread on the side. Superb
    The good thing is that you can prep in advance
    Just assemble just before serving

    It's really up to you what you add, there are arguments. Potatoes or Not, Green Beans or not
    What must be in is Tuna, Black Olives, Capers,  Eggs, Anchovies, Crispy lettuce and Tomatoes

    So here is my take on it
    Amounts entirely up to you
    I have set some guidelines below

    1 tin good tuna in Olive oil
    1 tin Anchovies
    1 hard boiled egg per person, peeled and quartered
    1 med potato per person
    1 Red onion pickled Recipe below
    Roasted peppers
    Green beans

    Cos or Iceberg lettuce
    Handful chopped Parsley
    Cherry Tomatoes Halved 
    2-3 Tablespoons capers

    French dressing

    So preparation as follows

    Peel and chop potatoes
    Cook in salted boiling water till just tender
    Drain and toss with 2-3 tablespoons french dressing

    Red Onion
    1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
    ½ tsp dried oregano
    5 black peppercorns
    2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
    Juice ½ orange
    ½ tsp sea salt
    1 bay leaf
    ½ tsp ground cumin

    Bring a small pan of water to the boil
    Blanch the sliced onions for about 30 seconds
    Place in a glass or ceramic bowl
    Cover with the other ingredients
    Marinate for at least 1 hour
    The onions will turn a vibrant pink. Pretty as.

    Roasted Pepper
    Lightly oil whole capsicums  
    Into 190C oven for about 30 minutes till skin  blisters
    Place in a bowl cover with plastic wrap and let cool
    Then pull the skin off over the bowl
    Reserve the juice
    Remove seeds and slice
    Place in a container
    Season with Sea salt and ground black pepper
    Drizzle with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil  
    Also pour over the reserved juice
    Let sit and marinate

    Green Beans
    Top and Tail beans
    Cook in boiling salted water for about 3-5 minutes till just cooked
    Drain and toss with French Dressing 
    Set aside to cool

    Cut in half, season with Salt and pepper
    Toss with some French dressing and mix in some chopped parsley

    So to serve

    Layer with lettuce on the bottom,
    then I layered down slices of capsicum
    Green Beans
    Scatter over the red onions
    Cover with Cherry tomatoes
    Place quartered eggs around the outside of the platter
    Break up the Tuna and place over the top
    Dot with olives
    Lay down the anchovies

    Sprinkle over the remainder of the parsley 
    Drizzle French Dressing over the top and serve

    Once again, ... just to prove how pretty it is

    Sunday, November 22, 2015

    If you like Apple Shortcake - Try Strawberry Shortcake

    Only a couple of weeks ago I posted a delicious Apple Shortcake
    Now there are strawberries Galore
    I had a punnet sitting on the bench and thought perhaps I could substitute Strawberries, for the Apples

    What a good idea
    So I am off to visit the Beloved with Strawberry Shortcake in hand

    Click here for the recipe for the Shortcake

    Follow the recipe for the Shortcake
    To prepare the Strawberries
    Slice and sprinkle with a couple of spoons of sugar
    You do need to do this
    Pre-heat the oven to 180C

    So make the Shortcake
    Cut the dough in half
    Roll both halves out, to about 1.5 cms thick
    Spread with the srawberries
    Add the other half on top
    Press edges to seal

    Brush with a little extra milk and sprinkle a little sugar on top

    Bake for about 18-20 minutes
    Cut when hot and devour

    Warm Goats Cheese with Sherried Figs and Onions

    I posted this recipe in 2007. I was on nibbles for dinner with the family the other night.
    I knew somewhere, I had a warm goats cheese recipe, and I also remember it being very popular.
    Below is the original recipe, as usual, I didn't have all the ingredients, no time to go to the shop...
    so I made do.

    So instead of Figs, Sherry, and Rosemary, I used, Craisins with Rum, Mint and Basil
    Also, you don't have to go to the expense of Soft Goats Cheese,
    I had some Goats Feta in the fridge, it was perfect
    What a find

    Perfect for these parties coming up

    Warm Goats Cheese with Sherried Figs and Onions

    300 gms soft goats cheese.

    2 onions sliced finely
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    4 cloves garlic chopped
    2 sprigs rosemary
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    10 dried figs sliced
    50 mls water
    ¼ cup Sherry

    For the alternative
    1 250 gm pkt Goats Feta

    2 onions sliced finely
    4 cloves Garlic finely chopped
    2 tbs each of chopped mint and basil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

    1/2 cup craisins
    50 mls water
    1/4 cup Rum
    Method is the same for both flavours

    First place fruit in saucepan add water and booze
    Bring to simmer turn heat off and leave to steep.
    This will plump up the fruit.

    Meanwhile sauté onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil with herbes
    Season with salt & pepper
    Till soft and translucent
    Mix in fruit, which will probably have soaked up all of the liquid

    Break up goats cheese into gratin dish
    Pour over onions and fruit mixture
    Into 170C oven for 20minutes

    Serve with slices of fresh baguette or maybe even croutons.

    I took this picture before the cheese was completely covered with the fig onion mix so that the method is shown

    Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    Christmas Entertaining- Food to Have with Those Christmas Drinks - Go Italian Flavours

    It is that time of year again and
    the Jolly, Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly Season, is once again, upon us.

    So let’s add to the usual suspects, some Italian inspired bites
    I am really keen on my pinwheels and they are always popular.
    So many ideas for flavours
    This year, The wonderful Italian Flavours
    Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan

    This is so simple and you can prepare ahead,
    in fact they need to sit for at least 2 hours, the longer the better in fact

    Remove from fridge just before you need them,
    Slice, brush with egg wash and bake

    I use the bought Pastry Sheets.
    Quantities are really up to you, depending on how many you want to make.
    I make up my simple tomato sauce, for the base
    If you don’t use it all, you can pop into a container and keep for a later date

    So Ingredients

    Tomato Sauce
    1 can good preferably Italian chopped tinned Tomatoes
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
    2 tbs Olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly Ground Black pepper
    Good pinch of sugar
    Splash red wine vinegar

    Gently heat olive oil in a pot and add the garlic
    Let cook for a couple of minutes, just to soften, don't overcook it will become bitter

    Add tomatoes
    Stir, season to taste with Salt, Pepper, and Sugar
    Let simmer gently till it becomes quite thick
    Add splash of vinegar

    Put aside to cool

    Sheets of Flaky puff pastry
    Bunch Basil leaves
    Parmesan cheese finely grated

    1 egg beaten with a splash of water

    Lay out the pastry on the bench
    Cover 2/3 of it with the Tomato sauce
    Cover with Basil leaves

    Grate Parmesan over

    Brush to the empty 1/3 with the egg wash
    Reserve the egg wash for cooking
    Roll up and press down to seal

    Cover and into the fridge for at least 2 hours
    Overnight is better
    Heat oven to 200C
    Cut into slices
    Place on lined baking sheet

    Brush with remaining egg wash
    Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden It may take a little longer, depending on your oven

    Keeping on the Italian theme…everyone likes Club Sandwiches
    It’s one of the times, that only Supermarket Bread will do.

    So I thought Caprese Salad
    Tomatoes, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

    I’ve done quite a bit of research on Club Sandwiches, which includes, eating plenty of them!
    also reading up on tips.
    If you are watching your weight, well, maybe, only eat one.

    Make sure you use plenty of butter, this protects the bread from getting soggy
    Make sure your fillings are well seasoned and moist

    Cut the crusts off, very important
    Once again quantities, this is up to you.
    So these are the ingredients for the Salad Caprese Club Sandwich

    Nice ripe tomatoes, finely sliced,
    Sit on paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess moisture
    Bunch of basil leaves
    Fresh Mozzarella, I used Boccacini sliced
    Packet of sliced bread
    Softened Butter
    Sea Salt and freshly Ground Pepper

    You need 3 slices of bread for each whole sandwich
    Place slices of bread on the table
    Butter the bread
    Cover with slices of tomatoes
    Place leaves of basil on  top

    Season with S & P
    Place another slice on top butter side down
    Butter the top side of that
    Cover with sliced cheese

    Season with S & P
    Cover with another slice of bread... Butter side down
    Press very firmly,
    Cut off the crusts
    Slice into 3

    or for pretty little sandwiches, cut into triangles

    Place on serving plate
    Cover with damp paper towels, till ready to serve
    If making further ahead, also cover with plastic wrap
    But I suggest when using tomatoes, eat as soon as possible

    So so yummy

    Some other ideas for fillings
    Just add seasoning to your taste

    Chopped chicken,
    Spring onions finely chopped
    Chopped parsley
    Grated Cucumber (squeeze all of the juice out before using)

    3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
    1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
    Squeeze Lemon juice
    Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper
    Mix all the mayo ingredients together

    Add enough of the Mayo mix to the chicken etc... to make a nice moist filling
    Rocket (Arugala)

    Hot smoked salmon
    Gherkins finely chopped

    3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
    Touch of gherkin vinegar
    Sea salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper
    Mix all mayo ingredients together 

    Once again. add as much of the Mayo mix, to the salmon as needed


    So, with the two fillings above
    Make the protein layer the bottom layer

    Cover with bread
    Then keep the rocket separate,
    Top with final slice of bread

    Monday, November 16, 2015

    Seared Cumin-Spiced Prawn and Cous Cous Salad with Green Tahini - Created by Sarah at The Ponsonby Bistro

    Earlier this month, I was asked to help, behind the scenes, at the excellent
    Festive House Tour, held each year in Auckland
    10 accommodating families, open their homes to visitors, to raise money for
    this years Charity... World Child Cancer’s Pacific Chapter Appeal
    Each house is assigned a stylist, to dress the house for Christmas, plus a Chef from an Auckland Restaurant.
    The house I was working in was in Parnell, and our Chef was Sarah Conway, from Ponsonby Bistro.

    Not only did they supply a delicious Cous Cous Salad but also, Melissa Morrow,  Front of House at The Bistro, made a delicious Punch.

    The salad was so yummy, I asked, and was given permission by Sarah, to post the recipe on my blog
    It is perfect for summer. Think Boxing Day Lunch, Think any hot Summer day
    Even though I look a bit po-faced pictured below, with Melissa, on the left, serving a little, salad and Sarah beavering away, creating...
    I really enjoyed my day, picking herbs, helping serve, taking the money
    Just  my cup of tea,

    So below, is the recipe,  Serves 10-12 people.
    Cheeky little Rose on the side
    Perfect lunch

    Ingredients (serves 10-12)
    1kg frozen tiger prawn meat 

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    2 tsp salt

    1 tsp sugar
    11/2 tsp dried chili flakes
    4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
    2 big or 3 small lemons, juiced and zested
    2 cups couscous, cooked as per packet instructions
    1 cup golden raisins
    1 cup sliced almonds, toasted (plus a few extra for garnishing) 

    Large bunch spring onions, washed and sliced thinly
    Good olive oil

    2 punnets cherry tomatoes, 
    3 baby gem lettuce, washed and leaves pulled
    Salt and pepper
    Extra lemons for serving 

    300ml Tahini
    450ml water
    1 cup each of mint, coriander and parsley, set a bit of each aside for garnishing
    1/2 tsp honey 1/2 tsp salt 


    1: Cut each prawn into three, and marinate with garlic, salt, sugar, dried chili and cumin.
    ideally, leave overnight. or for at least 2 hours.

2: Make dressing by whizzing together, the tahini, water, herbs, honey and salt in a food processor until really creamy and green.

    3: Add lemon juice and zest to couscous, 
    then add raisins, almonds, spring onions, and a big splash of good olive oil. 
    Mix until combined.

    4: Sear the prawns in a hot pan with a little olive oil until just cooked through.
    When cool, combine with the couscous salad.
    Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    5: Quarter the tomatoes and toss in a bowl with a little salt, pepper and olive oil.

    6: Arrange the washed lettuce leaves around a large serving platter.

    Pile the Prawn Couscous in the middle. 
    Drizzle with green tahini
 and scatter over tomatoes, extra herbs and almonds. 
    Tuck in some extra lemon wedges, and
    serve the rest of the Green Tahini in a dish on the side.

    Just had to add photos of the beautiful mint and lemons, just love the colours