Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday baking - sticky lemon slice

As we bake our way through A Treasury of NZ Baking...

Due to an issue with my copy of ATONZB still in storage, I have been thus far unable to participate in our Thursday baking challenge. Thankfully last weekend Becky lent me her spare copy, so now I'm back in the game!

I decided to make this sticky lemon slice as my friend Natalie was visiting and she loves lemon treats. It was an added bonus that the recipe doesn't need any special ingredients - so didn't require a trip to the supermarket. And thankfully I was able to scavenge the first of the yellowing lemons off the lemon tree.

This slice is quite similar to a lemon tart. It was delicious - very gooey and lived up to its name in stickiness. In fact it was so sticky and gooey that I got 'told off' for eating it too loudly! It is quite sweet, so nice to have with a cuppa - I had it with a peppermint tea, which complimented it nicely. I will definitely make this again. Here's the recipe;

Week 5: Sticky Lemon Slice (Julie Biuso)

225g butter, softened
70g icing sugar
275 standard flour

400g sugar
4 medium sized eggs, beaten
4 tbsp standard flour
1 tsp baking powder
grated zest of 2 lemons
90ml lemon juice, strained
icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170C. Line the base of a non-stick 32 x 21cm tin with baking paper. For the base: process butter in food processor until whipped. then add icing sugar until light in colour. Sprinkle in the flower and process until the mixture forms a ball. Tip into the tin an press flat. Bake for 15 mins, then remove from the oven. While the vase is cooling, make the topping.

Topping: Process eggs and sugar in food processor for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then sprinkle the flour and baking powder over the top. Add the lemon zest and juice, mixing it all together with a large spoon. Pour the mixture on top of the base (it will fill the tin).

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden in colour and firmish to touch. Cool in the tin, then dust with icing sugar and cut into squares. Transfer to an airtight container when cool. This slice will keep for 3-5 days.

Monday, April 26, 2010

instant 'ice cream'

A few weeks ago Miriam posted about the delicious banana ice cream sold at the Rotorua night market. The other day Libby came across this website that shows how to make the same instant ice cream at home using a food processor. Intrigued (and admittedly, slightly unconvinced) we made a batch immediately, as I had some sliced banana in the freezer ready for a spontaneous smoothie fix.
The 'recipe' couldn't be easier. Just slice up a bunch of ripe bananas, put them into the freezer for a couple of hours, then into the food processor for a minute or two, which will result in the dramatic transformation into this...

Super creamy, instant, and oh-so-delicious banana 'ice cream'. If you own a food processor this is a must try, I shall definitely be buying some ripe bananas to slice and freeze to ensure that banana ice cream is never more than a few minutes away. I think it would also be really nice with frozen berries blended in too....or chocolate or caramel sauce swirled through...

(Perhaps I am stating the obvious here but it's rather essential to ensure your bananas are not frozen solidly, as in this state they resemble bullets and your food processor will not appreciate it - I partially defrosted the prefrozen banana in the microwave for about a minute...after initially and unsuccessfully attempting to process them!)

a few of our favourite things...

Miriam: A few years ago, Becky told me about the wonderful flat bread from the Persian Network on Dominion road. I used to go there a bit, but had totally forgotten about its existence until I rediscovered it again last week. Even though it had been a few years, the shop hasn't changed - it still sells an eclectic mix of dried goods, refridgerated products, persian rugs and even has a special section cordoned off for DVDs. I was very pleased to find that the flat bread is still available and as good as ever, and at $2.50 a pop it looks like their prices haven't changed either. I see the bread company have their own website and courier the bread 'for home or restaurants'

Libby: The Harbourside Market at Wellington's waterfront on Sunday mornings is worth getting up for, not that I make it every weekend as its best to get there early before the crowds arrive. The market has expanded in the last couple of years and gone from selling mostly fruit and vegetables to all sorts of stalls selling nuts, bread, meat, baking, pizza etc... The fruit and vegetables are mostly excess/non-export quality stock from big distributors, though there are a few smaller organic stalls. The best thing about this market is the bargain prices (especially compared to Thorndon New World). Everything is so cheap it's easy to go overboard and buy more than you can eat. This was my haul from last Sunday - $20 well spent.

Becs: Piako Gourmet Yoghurt has been talked up quite a bit in previous Lovely Wee Days posts, and with good reason. Piako were the first NZ company to offer like the thick, dessert-like yoghurt common in Australia, especially in Queensland. With its beautiful silky texture - thick enough to stand a spoon up in - it tastes almost like cheesecake. I like to eat it spooned straight from the pottle for a pick-me-up treat. I love the mango flavour best with the lemon curd a very close second, and would rather have a tub of Piako than ice cream any day (and did I mention it is 95% fat free...)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

celebrating the ANZACs

Most years around ANZAC day I pull out my Edmonds Cookbook and whip up a batch of ANZAC biscuits. When I lived in Edinburgh, my Australian friend Dylan and I marked ANZAC day by baking a bulk amount of the iconic biscuits and distributing them to antipodeans at the Walkabout pub!

I detest coconut so always leave it out of the recipe which changes the biscuits a bit, but for the better in my opinion. These are fairly basic, but rather nice if you feel like something relatively plain to nibble on. The golden syrup gives an almost hokey pokey like flavour. Here’s the recipe if you feel inclined to do some ANZAC baking;

ANZAC Biscuits from Edmonds Cookbook
½ cup plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup coconut (I leave this out)
¾ cup rolled oats
50g butter
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water

Mix together flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats. Melt butter and golden syrup. Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water and add to butter and golden syrup. Stir butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Place level tablespoons of mixture onto a lined tray. Bake at 180C for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday baking - banana chocolate chip loaf

As we bake our way through A Treasury of NZ Baking...

Okay so this recipe choice did not involve stretching my baking horizons, as since buying ATONZB I have probably baked this loaf about 3 or 4 times. It has quickly become my 'go to' banana recipe when there are a few overripe bananas lurking about. It is very easy to make, and with the chocolate in the mix there is no need to ice it.

This loaf is perfect 'fill the tins' baking when you want something delicious but not too fancy. Also, for some reason helping yourself to a(nother) dainty slice of loaf feels less piggish than if it were a piece of cake?! I used Whittakers dark ghana chocolate roughly chopped into chunks in lieu of the chocolate chips.

Week 4: Banana Chocolate-chip Loaf (Helen Jackson)

100g butter, soft
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c natural yoghurt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c mashed over ripe banana (2-3 bananas)
1/2 c chocolate chips
1 1/2 c flour

Preheat oven to 180c. Line a 24cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Combine the yoghurt with the baking soda and banana. Stir the chocolate through the flour.
Add the wet and dry mixes alternately to the creamed butter mixture and gently fold to combine.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

sunday supper

Another guest appearance from Sarah...

Miriam was down in Christchurch for the weekend and after an afternoon trawling the shops we were all in need of some sustenance. I decided to make a pot of Mexican spiced tomato soup and a batch of cheese scones to go on the side. The soup is based on a Sophie Gray recipe from her book Enjoy, as are the scones. It is very simple and makes a tasty weekend meal. I used to make it frequently for my flat during the cold Dunedin winters. The meat eaters in the house added some fried Italian pork sausage to their bowl.

Last summer I worked in a cafĂ© in Wellington. After receiving numerous requests from customers, I began making cheese scones. These proved hugely popular and in the end I was making dozens of batches a day. They are very easy and delicious warm from the oven with butter. This time I put some of Becs’ homemade tomato chili jam on top of the scones before baking, which was tasty.

Best-ever Cheese Scones

2 cups self raising flour, 2 cups grated cheese, plus extra for sprinkling (I used a mixture of Colby and Parmesan), pinch salt, 1¼ cups milk

Preheat oven to 200oC

Mix together flour and cheese. Add milk and mix until just combined. Shape, place on a tray and sprinkle with extra cheese. (I sometimes put a dollop of chutney or pesto on top as well). Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until well risen and crusty.

Mexican spiced tomato soup

2 tbsp olive oil, 2 onions, finely chopped, 1 cup celery, finely chopped, 2 carrots, finely chopped, 3 gloves garlic, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp oregano, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, 2 tins chopped tomatoes, 6 cups beef stock, 1/3 cup tomato paste, 1½ cups red lentils, 2 tbsp brown sugar

Optional - Italian pork sausages, 1 per person (Split the skins and squeeze out the meat. Crumble into small pieces and fry in a pan.)

Sauté onions, celery, carrots and garlic in oil until soft. Combine cumin, chili, oregano, sugar and salt and stir into pot. Add tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, lentils and brown sugar. Bring to the boil and stir, then reduce the temperature and simmer for 40 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Monday, April 19, 2010

a few of our favourite things...

Becs: My favourite vanilla brand is Heilala. Their extract is packaged with a vanilla bean in the bottle, which is a nice bonus once the extract has been used up. They also make a vanilla bean paste which is a handy product when you want the flecks of the vanilla seeds but not the hassle of scooping them out with a knife. I was most excited to buy a Heilala package (3 bottles of extract and a jar of paste) on Trade me last week for $50, usually these are around $20 each. Sadly this was a one off sale, but should keep us in vanilla for a while...

Libby: Pic's Really Good Peanut Butter really is the best peanut butter - it's just ground roasted peanuts with a bit of salt. Becs introduced me to it when she bought some a few years ago at the Nelson Market. At the time the Nelson Market (and the Pic's website) was the only place it was sold. It's now reasonably widely available and this morning I saw it for sale at Wellington's Harbourside Market. But its still slightly cheaper (and very convenient) to buy it from their website. It's $18 for the big 1kg jar including courier.

Miriam: Meringues have long been one of my favourite sweet treats. On Saturday, Becky, Daisy, Hiedee and I dined at the Raspberry Cafe in Tai Tapu, Christchurch. We shared this elaborate dessert, crunchy meringue topped with whipped cream & the last of the seasons sweet strawberries. Yum!

Friday, April 16, 2010

the MOST delicious cake

This Chocolate, Orange and Almond cake is one of my new found favourites. The recipe was emailed to me last year by my friend Anna, who had enjoyed it at a work morning tea courtesy of a colleague. I was impressed by her rave review, and baked the cake that very evening. I then forwarded the recipe to Libby who did the same, so within a few days the cake was enjoyed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch! Since then it has been made many times and has found a place in all our baking repertoires.

It is a variation on the ever popular flourless Orange and Almond cake, that those adhering to a gluten free diet are probably sick of the sight of...however the addition of some dutch cocoa and a layer of dark chocolate ganache take this recipe to new heights. It is moist, light and nutty, rich but not too sweet, as it contains whole oranges. This is the sort of cake that makes the kitchen, and indeed the whole house smell utterly delicious while it bakes. It is incredibly easy to make, being blended up in the food processor; the only forethought required is the precooking of the oranges. Often I will boil two extra oranges, puree them and freeze to use the next time I make this cake.

Everyone who tries it seems to love it, and will probably ask you for the recipe. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson.

Chocolate, Orange & Almond Cake

2 oranges (thin skinned)
6 eggs
200g ground almonds
250g castor sugar
50g dutch cocoa
1 tsp (heaped) baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Put the whole oranges in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for around 2 hours or until soft. Cut into quarters, and blend (skin, pulp, pith and all) to a fine pulp in the food processor. Add the eggs, followed by the remaining ingredients. (I like to roast whole almonds and blitz them in the food processor, I think the texture is much nicer and nuttier this way than using preground almonds.)

Pour cake batter into a 25cm cake tin that has the base lined with baking paper, and bake at 180c for around 45 minutes. Cool in the tin, then pour over chocolate ganache. This is quickly made by heating 150ml of cream in the microwave until nearly boiling, then adding 150g chopped dark chocolate, stir to combine until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Leave ganache to cool a little, so it will thicken slightly and be easier to pour or spread over the cake.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday baking - Aporo Treat

Our challenge to bake our way through A Treasury of NZ Baking...

I love apple desserts and ground almond-based cakes so was intrigued by this recipe for Aporo (apple) Treat - it's gluten-free and uses LSA (ground linseed, sunflower & almond mix) and ground almonds. I had high expectations but I have to say I was disappointed - with apples, honey and all that sugar it was too sweet. I also found the texture a bit too mushy.

The recipe was a bit vague on a few things - it didn't specify what size tin to use or cooking time ("whack dessert in oven for over an hour until it looks firm like a cake"). This was slightly annoying.

If making again I would leave out the honey (I enjoy honey on toast but don't like it as a sweetener), reduce the sugar and put more sliced apples on top (the one sliced apple specified in the recipe wasn't enough, two or three would be about right). I'd also use different apples as the Granny Smiths and Galas I used cooked down too much and turned to mush (not sure if this was mean't to happen or not). Braeburns (or something similar) might hold their shape better.

The recipe suggested serving with acidophilus yoghurt which would've helped cut through the sweetness. I didn't have any so served with frozen yoghurt/ice cream - further adding to the sweetness!

So Aporo Treat wasn't as much of a treat as I had hoped... in fact the recipe made such a big tray it became Aporo Chore trying to get through it all. It was best on the day it was made so unless you're expecting a crowd, halve the recipe. The recipe states it "serves 4" but these must be very generous servings! My tray would have easily served 8-10.

Aporo Treat (Anne Thorpe, pg 18)

1 cup water
Juice of one lemon
4 apples peeled, cored and chopped
230g caster sugar
4 tsp ground ginger
180g LSA
180g ground almonds
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 extra apple, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp walnut oil (I used butter)

Preheat oven to 165 degrees Celsius. Pour water into a saucepan, add lemon juice and chopped apple. Boil down for five minutes, until the mixture is almost dry.

In a small bowl, reserve a pinch of sugar, ginger, and a good pinch of almonds and LSA to sprinkle on top of the apples before they go in the oven (I took a few pinches of each). Mix.

Whisk the honey and eggs together until creamy. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the apple mixture. Wizz together in a food proccessor.

Line a tin with baking paper and grease it. Add the batter. Fan slivers of apple over the top and brush with walnut oil. Tap the reserved sugar, ginger, ground almonds and LSA over the top and whack the dessert in the oven for over an hour until it looks firm like a cake. (It only took about 50 mins in my oven). When cooked it should still be slightly soft on the inside.

Serve warm or at room temperature with acidophilus yoghurt. Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

lemon meringue - from the 90's to today

For Easter, Mum presented me with a recipe book entitled desserts & after-dinner treats. We don't normally get Easter presents, but Mum had noticed that the book featured a variation on our favourite circle of choux, so decided it must be good and purchased us each a copy.

I took a look at the book, screwed up my face like a spoilt child and proclaimed it to be 'very 90's'. Unlike the simplicity of modern recipe books, each dish was photographed surrounded by a variety of goodies - usually flowers (fresh and/or dried), some raw ingredients (eggs were an favourite), a few serving utensils, some fine china, and ALWAYS a piece of random fabric draped round the dish.

I thought I better try making something from the book before I judged by it's food styling alone. We were having people round for lunch, so I decided to make the Lemon Meringue Pie featured in the book. I made double the filling, and modified the method of cooking slightly - as otherwise it would have taken all day - the recipe suggested blind cooking the pastry, then letting it cool and similarly making the lemon filling then letting it cool, then putting the cooled lemon curd into the cooled pastry, topping with meringue and cooking again... too much admin for me, so I put the still warm lemon filling into the hot pastry added the meringue and cooked the lot. And the results were very pleasing. The pie was nice and high, and easly came out of the pie dish. The lemons I used were fairly bitter, so the meringue provided a nice sweet contrast, and the pastry was lovely, light and crisp.

Inspired (I'm not sure if that's quite the right word?!) by the food styling in the book, I decided to jazz up my photos too, with some flowers, fabric and a whole lemon! Here's the recipe if you too feel inspired:

Lemon Meringue Pie from deserts & after-dinner treats (reprinted best-seller)

1 1/4 cups plain flour
2-3 tablespoons icing sugar
125g butter, chopped

1/4 cup cornflour
1/3 cup water
1 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
3/4 cup caster sugar (I used normal sugar)
4 egg yolks (I only put two egg yolks in - not sure why!)
30g butter, chopped

4 egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar (I used normal sugar)

For the pastry:
sift flour and icing sugar, rub in butter until mixture is fin and crumbly. Add almost all the water, mix to a firm dough, adding more liquid if necessary. Roll out, and cover base and sides of a 23cm round pie dish. Refrigerate for 20 minutes the blind bake for 10 minutes (temperature was not specified in the book, but I cooked it at 180c)

For the filling:
combine cornflour with a littler water to make a smooth paste. Combine remaining water, juice, rind and sugar in a small pan, stir until sugar dissolves, then add cornflour mixture. Stir over moderate heat until the mixture thickens. Remover from heat, whisk in egg yolks and butter.

To make the topping:
Beat egg whites until soft peak forms, add the sugar gradually, beating constantly until dissolved. Poor filling into pastry shell, spread with meringue to cover, bake at 150C for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

We had a gluten free guest for lunch, so I also made an individual pie in a wee ramekin with just the filling and meringue... and of course used the 90's food styling!

Monday, April 12, 2010

a few of our favourite things

Daisy...and her Mama, Granny et al...are loving this gorgeous wee merino hat knitted last week by her Great Aunty Marg. It is actually hat #2 for her, as she was given one exactly the same by a friend when she was a newborn, which she sadly outgrew. It will be perfect for keeping her snug (and oh-so cute!) during the cold Christchurch winter.

Becs: Last week I learned from a friend about a food shop in Christchurch that I had never been to. The next day I made a visit to Mefco, which sells lots of Middle Eastern foodstuffs. They have their own halal butchery, bake their own pita bread (the flat thin kind used in kebab shops) and make their own yoghurt, labneh (yoghurt cheese) and haloumi. For $30 I came away with a 10-pack of the pita, a pottle of labneh, a big bag of roasted chickpeas, Israeli couscous and black sesame seeds, and half a kilo of natural almonds.

Miriam: While in Hokitika last month, I purchased these handy wee toast tongs made by Marc Zuckerman of MZ Design. They have a magnet on one side, so attach to the toaster, and are great for retrieving stuck toast without fear of electrocuting yourself. They've been particularly handy during hot cross bun season, as toasted hot cross buns always seem to get stuck in the toaster.

Libby: A microplane zester grater is one of my most-used kitchen tools - perfect for grating Parmesan and chocolate, zesting citrus, and if I'm not careful, shaving the skin off my knuckles! This weekend I found a new use for the microplane: removing the burnt bottoms off peanut brownies! It shaves off just the right amount and leaves the biscuit intact (and the biscuit-eater none the wiser).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

a celebration cake

I made this cake last weekend for a double celebration - my lovely friend Margaret's birthday and her and Simon's engagement party. I have often made Hummingbird cakes using Jo Seagar's recipe but this time I used the recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (a Christmas present from Margaret).

I used almonds instead of pecans (as I usually do) but any kind of nuts would work fine - I might try Brazil nuts sometime. Most Hummingbird cake recipes use crushed pineapple but this one uses chopped pineapple pieces - I liked it better having the pineapple in big chunks so will use pineapple pieces from now on. I upped the pineapple as 100g just didn't sound like enough and used most of a drained 440g tin.

I usually just make a single cake but I took advantage of being in Mum's well-equipped kitchen with an abundance of cake tins and made two 20cm cake tins and sandwiched them with cream cheese icing. I decorated the cake with toasted coconut threads but any dried fruit, seeds, nuts etc or a sprinkle of cinnamon would look nice too.

Hummingbird cake

300g caster sugar
3 eggs 300ml sunflower oil
270g mashed banana
1 teaspoon cinnamon
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (I used more)
100g tinned pineapple, chopped into small pieces (I used about 200g)
100g pecans (or other nuts)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Put sugar, eggs, oil, banana and cinnamon in cake mixer and beat until well incorporated.

Slowly add the flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla and continue to beat until well mixed.

Fold in the pineaple and nuts by hand until evenly dispersed.

Pour mixture into greased, lined cake tins (recipe says three 20cm tins, I used two). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown annd the sponge springs back when touched. Leave to cool in tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

When cakes are cold, sandwich together and ice with cream cream icing.

Cream cheese icing
125g butter (room temperature)
250g icing sugar (room temperature)
500g icing sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese in food processor until smooth. Add icing sugar and process until well combined.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday baking - Gateau aux Noix

Our challenge to bake our way through A Treasury of NZ Baking...
I decided to make this cake for us to eat on Easter Sunday. I loved the simple, sophisticated look of it in the book, with the glossy chocolate icing and perfect walnut halves, and I really like the texture of cakes with ground nuts in them instead of flour. With fresh walnuts being in season and therefore plentiful and cheap at the moment, it seemed like a good time to make it.

My only quibble with the recipe was the ingredient list stating '2 slices of white bread' were required, from which you are instructed to make the breadcrumbs that go into it. Libby recently gave me a copy of 'The Pedant in the Kitchen', an amusing little book, the author of which would have a field day with this instruction. While I wouldn't usually consider myself a pedant in the kitchen, this lack of precision was a bit annoying. The kitchen scales were out to measure the other ingredients so why couldn't the breadcrumbs just have been listed by weight too?! Anyway, I used some baguette as we otherwise only had Vogels, and used 8 slices, figuring the small rounds would equate to '2 slices of bread'. In hindsight it was probably a few too many breadcrumbs, as although the cake was moist it was a little crumbly.

Pedantic comments aside, this cake was quite delicious. The flavour of the lemon zest came through quite strongly which was nice. The chocolate icing added richness, but overall the cake tasted rather elegant and understated, just as it looks.

Week Two: Gateau aux Noix (Peta Mathias)

2 slices of bread
150g butter, soft
100g sugar
4 eggs, separated
zest of 1 lemon
150g walnuts, ground
pinch salt
25g sugar (extra)

100g dark chocolate
30g butter
walnut halves

Preheat oven to 150c. Toast the bread in the oven till dry, then grind up in a food processor.

Grease a 23cm round cake tin, dust it with flour, and line the base with baking paper.

Cream the butter and first measure of sugar, then beat in the egg yolks one by one, beating in well.
Stir in the lemon zest, breadcrumbs and walnuts.
In another bowl whip the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Add the extra sugar and beat for another minute. Fold this into the cake mixture and pour into the tin.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the sides of the cake pull away slightly from the tin edge. Cool in the tin.

To make the icing gently heat the chocolate and butter together and mix till smooth.
This cake will keep for 4 days.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

my favourite way to eat courgettes

Courgettes are an oft-maligned vegetable, but I really like cooking with them. BBQd, grated into fritters and loaves, roasted... However my absolutely favourite way to eat them is stuffed, which is kind of old school and a bit fiddly to be honest, but I think totally worth the effort. The recipe is based on one from Julie Biuso, she suggests 'making more than you need as they are so delicious' and I agree!

My version of the recipe is fairly vague and more of a starting point, change the filling to suit by adding chopped capsicum, bacon etc as takes your fancy. Just don't skimp on the parmesan...

Stuffed courgettes with herbs and parmesan

For four people I would use at least a dozen courgettes. Cut about 6-8 of them into halves and use a pointy teaspoon to hollow out the flesh. Grate or finely dice the rest of the courgettes and combine with the scooped out bits.

Finely dice an onion and cook gently with some olive oil until it is soft and translucent. If they start to catch on the pan I add a little water to loosen them rather than more oil. Add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and cook another minute, then the courgette 'insides' plus the extra grated courgettes and any other veges, and some salt and pepper (be generous as courgettes tend to need it, especially at this time of year when they can be a bit watery). Cook until the water cooks out of the courgette. Cool slightly then grate in fresh parmesan to taste, I do about 1/4 cup. Add some chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, an egg, and a handful of fresh breadcrumbs to bind the mix.

Spoon filling back into the hollowed out courgettes, grate over more parmesan and bake at 200c for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley and more parmesan if you like, and serve warm. These are especially good with lamb.

Monday, April 5, 2010

a few of our favourite things...

Libby: I was pleased when Miriam told me about these reusable coffee cups ('keepcups') late last year...having looked for something similar for years. Simple, stylish and SMALL. Finally someone has designed one that is not super ugly with a big chunky handle, garish colours and a capacity of approx 1L! Some coffee places like Peoples Coffee in Wellington sell branded versions and offer a discount off takeaway coffee when they are used.

Miriam: I love passionfruit... I love the taste, texture and colour. But I also love the name. I've long been a fan of the word pash and try to use the word whenever it's socially acceptable to do so! This passionfruit is presented on another of my favourite things, a 1920's Royal Doulton 'Maori Art' hand painted plate - which David sourced from ebay.

Becs: Mercato is a food store in Fitzgerald Ave in Christchurch that sells lots of the artisan products imported by Sabato, as well as lovely NZ made food products. I was in there the other day getting some coffee beans, when I noticed they now sell deli sandwiches. For just $5.50 you get a Rachel Scott ciabatta roll filled with your choice of meat and cheese from the deli counters (all beautiful, mostly imported from Italy), Provisions chutney and salad greens. We tried the combinations of prosciutto and taleggio/brie de meaux, and salami milano with smoked provolone - delicious! What a great starting point for a picnic.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rotorua market - part II

Not only does Rotorua have a Saturday morning Farmers Market, it now has a Thursday night market too. I'm back in Rotorua for Easter and a visit to the market was top of my activity list after hearing rave reviews about it from my family.

The atmosphere was quite different from the Saturday morning market, with live music creating an ambiance not unlike some of the markets I've been to in Europe. But unlike a foreign market, I could only walk a few stalls before bumping into someone I knew - or even if I didn't know them, eveyone seemed up for a chat!

This Mount Eliza Cheese tastes as good as it looks! We bought a slab of the Eliza Blue (not featured in this photo) and I can't wait to tuck into it with some of the quince paste we bought from the adjacent stall.
I dined on a $5 plate of Porcini Mushroom Ravioli with a creamy garlic sauce from Pastamia. I've been a fan of this pasta since I first discovered their ravioli in the frozen section of Thorndon New World. Ever since, I have been a ravioli snob, turning my nose up at the standard fresh ravioli from the supermarket which I find very gluey with its unrecognisable fillings. The delicious Pastamia ravioli is at the opposite end of the ravioli spectrum.
I was quite taken with this banana ice cream from Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten... the 'icecream' is apparently an old Rudolf Steiner tradition. Amazingly, the only ingredient is frozen banana, which is pressed into a juicer, and the result (served in a cone for $2) is a smooth creamy guilt free delight. Not quite so guilt free, but even more delicious is the baking at Sugar and Spice. Siobain's melting moments are perfect and great value at $2 a pop. This stall is oh so pretty and all the baking gets the LWD's tick of approval!

I finished my dining experience with a great coffee from the meanbeans mobile van. The perfect end to a great evening of food and meeting & making friends!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

baking on thursdays

Introducing a new LWD regular...

Every Thursday one of us will post something we've made from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking - a collection of 104 recipes from New Zealand cooks, bakers and food writers. That's exactly two years worth of baking if we try each recipe... Hopefully it will provide some motivation to bake out of our comfort zone and try some new recipes.

Wannabe bloggers - if you have the book and want to help us out, send one of us an email with a picture and a wee rundown of the recipe you tried and we will post your results!

Week One: Fruit Salad Loaf (Claire Aldous)

This recipe seemed familiar when I chose it from the book. After flicking through my pile of yet-to-be-filed recipes I found I already a copy of it cut from Ruth Pretty's Saturday Dominion Post column a couple of years ago (its also here on her website). The version in the Dom Post (called Orange and Apricot Cake) has more fruit in it, and vanilla which is missing from the version in the book. Next time I'll try the Dom Post version and compare.

It made a lovely moist loaf and although it says its "a keeper" I took it to work for morning tea where it quickly disappeared. It reminded me a bit of hummingbird cake, but with apricots and orange and no almonds.

Next time I won't add nearly as much lemon juice to the icing - it was much to thin and most of it ended up dripping onto the bench. Next time I'll also use tart Central Otago dried apricots - much nicer than their Turkish counterparts.

Fruit Salad Loaf

150g butter, at room temperature
175g caster sugar
175g standard flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp mixed spice
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
8 plump dried apricots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup well-drained crushed pineapple
1/3 cup mashed banana

3/4 icing sugar, sifted
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (I just used juice and made candied lemon and orange zest to decorate)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease base and sides of a loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and ,mixed spice.

Beat eggs into butter, one at a time, until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients, orange zest and juice, apricots, pineapple and banana. Fold together using a large metal spoon. Tip the batter into the tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the loaf is firm and the sides are pulling away from the tin.

To make the icing, sift the incing sugar into a bowl and add enough lemon juice to make a smooth pourable icing. Drizzle this over the loaf, allowing some to run down the sides. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the top while the icing is still wet.

The loaf will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Candided lemon and orange peel can be substituted for the fresh lemon zest. Before icing the cake, cut strips of zest, then cook in 100g sugar and 100ml water until soft. Drain and dry on a kitchen towel. (I also rolled the zest in caster sugar once cooled).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...