Tuesday, August 31, 2010

dinner date - lamb abruzzi

This lamb dish is one of my absolute favourites. Please do try it, as it is far more delicious than the photos suggest! (I find meat really hard to photograph...) You poke holes in the lamb leg, make a stuffing with bacon, garlic and herbs, and stuff it into the holes ....so the smoky, herby, garlicky flavour seeps into the meat as it roasts. When it is nearly cooked, the lamb is anointed with a generous quantity of balsamic vinegar which reduces to form a sticky sauce base, then is covered in buttery, parmesan breadcrumbs which crisp up beautifully. This is so tasty.
We ate it traditional style with roast potatoes, kumara and yams, and peas and broccoli. In summer it is lovely to serve alongside some interesting salads. There is a little admin throughout the cooking time, so start cooking the lamb 1 1/2-2 hours before you want to eat it.

Lamb Abruzzi (from Julie Biuso's book Viva L'italia)

3 rashers bacon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1.5-2 kg lamb leg
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp soft butter

Preheat oven to 190c.
Combine the bacon, garlic, herbs and pepper - I do this in the food processor to save chopping them up separately, and it results in a fine cohesive mixture. Use a sharp knife to make deep slits in the lamb, and force the stuffing into these, using the end of a teaspoon. I used a partially boned out carvery leg, so poked stuffing into the flap where the bone had been. Any stuffing left over is lovely just rubbed into the outside of the meat.

Combine the cheese, breadcrumbs and butter and put aside.

Rub the lamb with olive oil, grind over the pepper, and bake for 45 minutes. Take lamb out of oven and pour over the balsamic vinegar (I also add a splash of water to stop it burning) and sprinkle lamb with the salt. Return to oven for another 15 minutes. Remove, and pack the breadcrumbs onto lamb. Cook a final 15 minutes, remove cover with foil and rest for at least 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on things to check the balsamic doesn't burn, if it starts to get too sticky add a wee pour of water) This cooking time results in lovely pink lamb, the end bits will be more well done. Scrape the sticky balsamic reduction off the roasting tray, bubble over a high heat along with the meat juices, pour over meat and ENJOY.

Monday, August 30, 2010

a few of our favourite things

Daisy: just loves this little piano, with all its bells and whistles. We joined the local toy library last week, and this was the first thing to catch her little eye. Daisy thinks it's super, however I think the rest of the family will be quite happy to see it returned at the end of the week....the batteries must be nearly flat with all the use it has had!

Becs: I have been enjoying this frozen Kawan parantha (roti) bread lately with curry and dhal. I first tried them at the Foodshow where I bought a couple of packets, which until recently had languished in the freezer, forgotten about. I was so impressed with them that I have already been out to restock. They cook up beautifully in a dry pan, and taste superior to any roti I have eaten at restaurants here, where they are so often doughy and undercooked. They do take a while to cook and puff up to flaky perfection (at least 5 minutes each) so you wouldn't want to cook them for a crowd unless you had a few frying pans on the go....or a BBQ hotplate would work well. I like the plain ones best but the dhal stuffed parantha are good too. I tried another brand too but was disappointed, and I see on their website that they claim to be 'the world's favourite flatbread brand' so I will be sticking to Kawan!

Miriam: I love to have a peppermint tea in the evenings. I always find it so refreshing and peppermint tea is known to help aid digestion. If it's just me, I will have a Twinings peppermint tea bag. But if I'm making a pot (well currently it's a plunger, as I donated my tea pot to the tea room at work and am yet to replace it), I like to use this peppermint tea from t leaf T. The only ingredient is dried peppermint, and it makes a delightful brew. The perfect end to the day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

morning tea

Last week it was my turn to bring morning tea to work. I decided to make something sweet and something savoury. So I settle on sausage rolls, and coca cola cake. I've been making both for years, with the recipes being given to me by Becs.

Sausage rolls are so quintessentially kiwi and ever popular. But once you've tried these chicken, bacon and prune ones, it's hard to ever go back to the frozen supermarket versions. The flavours go so well together and the moisture from the prunes means you don't even require sauce. The loose recipe is pretty simple;

Chicken bacon and prune sausage rolls
puff pastry
streaky bacon
chicken mince
relish / chutney
plenty of salt and pepper
1 egg
poppy seeds

Mix the chicken mince with a good few dollops of relish and season generously. Lines the chicken mixture, bacon and prunes along the pastry, then roll it up tightly and cut into bite sized pieces. Brush the tops with some beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes or until the look golden. Enjoy warm or cold.

The photo of this coca cola cake doesn't really do it justice, but don't judge it by the photo alone - give it a go and you'll realise that coca cola cake is one of the simplest chocolate cakes to make, and the outcome is deliciously moist chocolately cake. Although you would never know it contains a cup of coke, it makes a great talking point!

Coca Cola Cake
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups cocoa
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup coca cola
1 cup of buttermilk (I use trim milk and it works)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift all dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and beat on medium to high speed till combined. Don’t be alarmed at the consistency - this is a very wet mixture. Bake in 9 x 13 Inch cake tin at 180C until prong comes out clean (around 40 mins).

Incredible chocolate icing

100g soft butter
1 cup icing sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoon milk
1-2 tablespoon hot coffee

Combine the above in food processor and blend. Add vanilla, milk and hot coffee. Ice the cake - and you may like to decorate with white chocolate (as I did with this cake - although there was some initial shock as it looked like the cake had been decorated with coconut....)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday baking - carrot loaf

As we bake our way through A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

This carrot loaf is so so much more delicious than it looks so don't be put off by its dull, brown exterior. And don't be put off by the fact that it's gluten-free - I promise you can't tell the difference. It's a great recipe that everyone can eat regardless whether they can eat gluten or not but particularly for anyone that can't eat gluten, this recipe is a keeper. It is a great base-recipe that could be adapted to suit - you could add sultanas or walnuts, swap the grated carrot for grated pumpkin or courgette, or double the recipe, bake it in a round tin, ice with cream cheese icing and call it carrot cake.

This recipe had a couple of typos - one funny and one that was just plain annoying. The funny one was that is said to "sprinkle with extra grated cheese" after pouring the mixture into a loaf tin. There was no mention of cheese in the ingredient list and cheese-topped carrot loaf sounds revolting so I'm pretty confident this was a typo - but a pretty major one to slip through the editor. The second was the amount of salt - the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, which sounded a lot but I thought perhaps it was necessary because of the gluten-free rice flours, I reduced the salt to 3/4 teaspoon but it was still too much and you could just taste it. Next time I will only use 1/4 teaspoon. I've written up the recipe as I think it should be made - minus the grated cheese, using less salt and with the zest of an orange rather than a lemon.

Carrot loaf - Sean Armstrong (week 20)

150g brown sugar
150g caster sugar
150g oil (I used rice-bran)
Zest of one lemon or orange
100g white rice flour
100g brown rice flour
10g tapioca flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
150g grated carrot (about 2 medium sized carrots)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease/line a large loaf tin.

Mix the two sugars with the oil, eggs and zest. Mix well with a whisk, then fold in all the dry ingredients using a spatula. Fold in the grated carrot.

Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake for one hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Slice and serve. I tried a slice spread with a little cream cheese and it was delicious!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Little cakes from Ottolenghi

After a long day visiting the historical sites of London I was in the mood for some sightseeing of a different kind... a visit to Ottolenghi! We stopped off at the Kensington take-out store for some treats on our way home. It was late in the day but there was still plenty on offer - both sweet and savoury - and it all looked just like it does in my Ottolenghi cookbook! I spotted a few things we'd made from the cookbook -the yummy apple & carrot muffins, chocolate fondant cake, and lots more I'm yet to try. I wish I was able to take more photos but my request to take photos inside was declined - photos were allowed to be taken only through the window.

We chose four little cakes to share between four of us - a chocolate, mascapone & raspberry tart, a chocolate & hazelnut teacake, a raspberry & white chocolate cupcake and a lemon & marscapone tart - and divided each one into quarters so we could try a lovely wee morsel of each. My favourite was the lemon tart - a very tart little tart indeed. I would love to go back for another but the store is now closed for a short summer break... probably for the best given Paris is on the menu next week.

Other (food) highlights so far... a visit to Flat White for fantastic coffee... and several visits to the local supermarket! I just love checking out supermarkets in other countries.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dinner date - Asian broth

Last week, I had dinner at my friend Lucy’s house. She’d just come back from holiday and after overindulging, decided to start a ‘HER’(Healthy Eating Regime). So, in keeping with her HER, Lucy rustled up a delicious Asian Broth. There wasn’t a recipe as such, but the basic components were; Campbell’s chicken stock, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon and oyster sauce all boiled together. Throw in some veges; like bok choy, red peppers, and snow peas. Lucy then added some prawns and Leanne's Kitchen chicken and prawn dumplings , which were great (I guess you could alternatively make this with any meat and noodles). Toss some bean sprouts in at the end and dish into bowls, garnish with coriander and a wedge of lime or lemon. A healthy, nutritious and delicious dinner date!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A few of our favourite things...

Miriam: I spent the weekend at Flaxmill Bay on the Coromandel. While there, we had a wee trip to Cathedral Cove Macadamias. About 3km of dirt road takes you to this delightful wee stall, where you can sample the delicious array of macadamia based products. Brian was ever so friendly and we came away with quite a selection of treats – I’m looking forward to roasting some veges with the macadamia paste – Brian tells us it’s a real hit!
Here's a few of the macadamia goodies we came away with.

Becs: It has been a long, cold, wet winter here in Chistchurch, and the sight and smell of spring flowers is restorative for the soul. This lovely wee bunch of daffodils (they are tiny, it is a baby food jar!) was $2 at the market yesterday, and perfectly fills the brief of cheap and cheerful.

Libby: I have a new favourite sushi place. Yoshi opened on Tuesday in Featherston Street (Wellington) and so far I've been there twice! They do pick-your-own sushi so you can put together your own selection. It's all beautifully made and very fresh - the trays are continually replenished. Wellington has more than its fair share of sushi shops and Wellingtonians seem quite happy to queue for most of their lunch break at the best places. Yoshi has only been open for a few days so there's no queue snaking out the door yet but I'm sure it won't take long...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday baking - sultana cake

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

This week's Thursday baking is brought to us by our guest blogger Jane:

I’ve been enjoying baking date loaves and taking them to work for morning tea with my Milo (I’m not yet a coffee drinker - Miriam is working on this). This week Miriam suggested I try something different from the Treasury book, and this Sultana Cake looked a suitable substitute. We often have sweet treats at work so I enjoy more filling cakes and loaves if I’m going to have a daily snack. I also appreciate the simplicity and quick preparation of a basic cake/loaf.

I felt a bit of guilt as I watched the sultanas absorbing the melted butter… however I took heart in the fact that I didn’t cover the cake in butter, as I normally do when I have date loaf! In saying that, I found the cake very sweet with all the sugar and sultanas in it. I think you could reduce the amount of sugar and still be satisfied. The cake was plentiful so we won’t go without morning tea for quite some time.

Sultana Cake – David Burton (week 21)

225g butter
450g sultanas (I used slightly less sultanas and put a few dates in)
3 eggs
145g raw sugar
145g white sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp lemon essence (I used lemon juice)
1 tsp baking powder
170g wholemeal flour
170g standard flour

Preheat the oven to 160 deg C. Remove the paper wrapping from a block of butter and place, greased side up, in the bottom of an expandable baking tin. Expand or contract the tin to fit the size of the butter paper (we don’t have the recommended 20cm square tin so use a spring form round tin lined with baking paper).

In a saucepan, cover the sultanas with cold water and bring to the boil. Drain off the water. While the sultanas are still hot, cut the butter over them in little pieces and leave to melt.
Whisk the eggs and both sugars until creamy. Add the essences. Sift the baking powder with the standard flour, mix with the wholemeal flour, then combine these with the sultana batter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for 1-1 ¼ hours, until the cake shrinks a little from the sides of the tin. Remove when still warm and leave to cool on a wire rack. This cake will keep in an airtight container for several weeks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

dinner date - homemade baked beans

I love homemade baked beans; for some reason they are something we have become so accustomed to buying that we forget how easy they are to make at home, and how tasty. Sarah made some the other night for dinner, which we ate with cornbread. I am going through a cornbread phase at the moment, and after trying a few recipes have settled on the one I like best and tweaked it a little. Cornbread is delicious with baked beans, scrambled eggs, tomato based soups, Mexican beans....or just toasted and enjoyed on its own.

The baked bean recipe is pretty loose, I make them a bit differently each time, so this is just the version we ate the other day. If you wanted to include meat in them some smoky bacon or shredded ham hock is perfect added at the start with the vegetables.

The beans in the picture were the leftovers I had for lunch the next day, so they aren't quite as saucy as they were at dinnertime. We ate them with baby spinach leaves and a handful of diced red pepper to add a little crunch. It made a colourful winter meal. The beans freeze well so it's worth making up a big batch and freezing some in single serve portions for homemade convenience food!

baked beans

1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
a little olive oil
1 x 750ml bottle tomato passata
brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika to taste
2-3 tins cannellini beans
Italian parsley, chopped

Blitz the first four ingredients in a food processor or chop really finely. Saute in the oil until soft and slightly coloured. Add the passata and other seasonings to taste and reduce down for about 10 minutes. Add the beans, and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with parsley.

sweet chilli cornbread (adapted from NZ House and Garden)

100g butter, softened
50ml oil
2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1 x 400g tin creamed corn
1/2 c corn kernels (optional)
1/4 c sweet chilli sauce
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 c grated cheese
1 c flour
1 c polenta/cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp polenta, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter, oil and sugar til creamy. Add eggs and mix well, don't worry if the mixture splits. Stir in the creamed and corn kernels, chilli sauce, spring onions
and cheese. Add dry ingredients and mix very lightly just enough to combine, it will be a bit lumpy like a muffin mixture. Tip into a loaf or square baking tin lined with paper. Smooth the top and sprinkle with the extra polenta. Bake 30-40 mins (if you use a loaf tin it takes quite a bit longer, more like an hour) until a skewer comes out clean. Serve warm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A few of our favourite things...

Libby: This delicious Mela apple juice is made in small batches in the Wairarapa and only available in the lower North Island. It's made from different apple varieties depending on the season - this particular bottle is made from Granny Smiths. It's very sweet, so is lovely mixed with ice and some sparkling water.

Miriam: I'm not normally one for buying lollies or chocolate - as generally I'll bake when I feel like something sweet, but when I want an instant sugary treat, I can't resist munching on peanut M&Ms. I love the crunch and taste! But unfortunately they are rather moreish, it's hard not to finish the packet.

Becs: I loved this handmade felt and fabric cuckoo clock the moment I laid eyes on it whilst browsing the felt site last year when I was pregnant. The handiwork is so detailed and perfectly put together; can you see the little squirrel sitting on a toadstool pouring himself a cup of tea from a red polka dot teapot?! The clock hangs on the wall above Daisy's cot, much to her delight.

Friday, August 13, 2010

and the winner is...

If you could send us an email with your address details we will pop your 'gingerbread friends' teatowel in the post.
Thanks everyone for sharing the lovely baking memories!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday baking - gingerbread loaf

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

I love gingerbread, and this simple loaf looked worth trying. It was easy to put together, and spread with a little butter it has been an understated, but perfect morning tea morsel lately to enjoy with my daily coffee. Substantial and sweet without being too OTT or treaty. My loaf was a fraction dry - I suspect I overcooked it a little - but it was lovely all the same. I upped the amount of ground ginger, which I think it definitely needed. I don't usually go for crystallised ginger, but was so glad I included it, as this and the sultanas really made it. This loaf kept well for over a week (I think I was the only one eating it as we have had a surplus of baking in the house lately!)

gingerbread loaf - Tui Flower (Week 20)

125g butter
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c treacle
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger (I added 2 tsp and it still wasn't overly gingery, just nicely spiced)
1/4c crystallised ginger, chopped
1/4c candied peel, chopped (I added orange zest instead)
1/4 c sultanas
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp milk

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and treacle and mix well. Sift in dry ingredients and mix in thoroughly. Add dried fruit. Dissolve baking soda in milk and add that.

Spoon into a lined 19x7cm deep loaf tin. Bake at 160c for 1 - 1 1/4 hours. (Next time I think one hour would be plenty in my oven).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

fill the tins baking

I did a bit of baking yesterday, just to fill the tins, so nothing too fancy. I made Bill Grangers chocolate oatmeal cookies, a longtime favourite, and 'Betty Boop', a delicious, easy (and very moreish!) melt-and-mix chocolate slice our family has made for years. It is a little like an afghan slice if there was such a thing, as it has cornflakes in it, so is nice and crunchy and ever so slightly chewy. I have no idea of the origins of the name, the original recipe came from Rotorua's Fat Dog Cafe cookbook I think.

With the cookies I like to press a square of chocolate into the top of each one as soon as they are removed from the oven. The chocolate will melt onto the top of the cookie, which looks quite cool but also means each coookie is guaranteed at least one big chunk of chocolate. (Not that I am mean with the chocolate chunks in the dough, but it doesn't always get evenly distributed does it, and that can be disappointing!) Usually I am a Whittakers girl, but I think the flatter shape of Cadbury's Old Gold looks quite nice here.

Bill's Choc Oatmeal Cookies

300g butter
2 c brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 c rolled oats
2 c chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar. beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder, then stir in oats and chocolate. Roll into balls, press with a fork, and bake at 180c for 15-20 minutes. They won't spread too much so you can fit a few on a tray. Makes about 50.

Betty Boop

250g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
250g brown sugar (I have used white too which works fine)
2 c flour
2 1/2 c cornflakes
4 tbsp coconut
2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and press into a rectangular slice tin (smaller than roasting dish size). Bake at 180c for about 20 minutes. When cool ice with chocolate icing and sprinkle with coconut if you so desire.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dinner date - Red lentil, kumara and coconut soup

This soup from the latest Dish magazine (August-September) combines kumara, apple, lentils and tomato in a spicy, coconuty soup. I was in two minds about whether to add the apple the recipe called for because kumara, red lentil and coconut alone sounded like a good mix. In the end I used one apple but don't think it really added anything other than an odd sweet mouthful among the coconut and curry. I think the apple is just one ingredient too many. Next time, I'm going to leave out the apple and halve the amount of chicken stock to make this a curry to have with rice.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 teaspoons madras curry powder
1 tin crushed tomatoes
400g (1 large or 2 small) kumara, peeled & diced
2 apples, peeled, cored & diced (I added one)
1/2 cup coconut cream
4 cups chicken stock
3/4 cups red lentils

To serve:
chopped fresh coriander
toasted long-thread coconut (completely optional, coconut-haters can leave out)
extra coconut cream

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add onion, carrot garlic and a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Add ginger, mustard seeds and curry powder. Cook for two minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, season and simmer (partially covered) for 20-25 mins until the kumara is tender.

Before serving, stir in chopped coriander. Ladle into bowls and top with a little coconut cream, toasted coconut and more coriander.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A few of our favourite things...

It's by complete coincedence that all our favourite things are cheese-related this week...

Libby: I bought this wedge of Evansdale Farmhouse Brie at Christchurch Farmers Market on Saturday. It's one of my favourite cheeses - always beautifully ripe and unlike many soft cheeses it's incredibly full-flavoured. Best enjoyed with little more than some plain crackers or oat cakes.

Miriam: I love the combination of caramelised onion, blue cheese & pear. Some friends and I enjoyed this pizza I made on Saturday night while sipping on mulled wine - another of my favourite things when the weather's cold and wet.

Becs: I have recently rediscovered these single serve packs of Philly cream cheese. I used to take them to work, for my back up lunch of toasted Vogel's fruit bread with cream cheese, sliced banana and honey. Perfect for when you want cream cheese to be available but without the obligation to eat your way through an entire pack.

Friday, August 6, 2010

gingerbread men...and a wee giveaway

Wallace Cotton, purveyor of beautiful linen have just released the 2010 'Ruby's tea towel'. Ruby is a 13 year old cancer survivor who has designed a teatowel for the last three years to raise money for Starship Children's Hospital. The tea towels are a bargain $10 each, and all profits ($6) go to Starship. I bought one to frame and hang in Daisy's room, alongside 'Ruby's cupcakes', the 2009 edition.

I have an extra 'Gingerbread friends' teatowel, so if you fancy it just leave a comment on this post telling us what your favourite baked treat was as a child. We will draw a winner next Friday, and send it out to you.

Daisy and I made a batch of Ruby's gingerbread men the other day. Little fingers were very keen to help, and the wee man was very nearly popped into her mouth...no doubt he would have tasted rather more exciting than her rice cakes!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday baking - ladysmith cake

Ladysmith cake has the flavours of Belgian biscuits - cinnamon, mixed spice and raspberry jam - in a cake. You can use any kind of jam but I used raspberry as it goes well with the spices and I had just the right amount (four tablespoons) to use up.

The mixture wasn't difficult to make but spreading it out in separate layers with jam in the middle was a bit fiddly. Especially because the end result - wobbly, wonky layers - is less than impressive given the time and care that I took!

Despite what the recipe said, this cake didn't keep well. It was soft and delicious straight from the oven, but by the following day it was going stale. I made the mistake of slicing the whole cake into squares before putting into a tin. The cake might stay fresher if you put the whole cake into a tin and slice as-you-go. But I have my doubts, I always find "pound" style cakes like this one with an equal ratio of butter, sugar, flour and eggs quite dry.

If making again I would make it even more Belgian biscuit-y and spice all the mixture instead of leaving half plain. In place of the walnuts I would ice it with pink icing and sprinkle it with pretty pink jelly crystals or coloured sugar. And I would eat it the day it was baked.

As we bake our way through A Treasury of New Zealand Baking...

Ladysmith cake (Alexa Johnson) - week 20

180g flour
1 tbsp (15g) cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
180g butter (at room temperature)
180g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp raspberry jam
45g walnuts, chopped

Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder together.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time,, beating well after each addition. Carefully fold in dry ingredients and when mixed together, scoop half the mixture into another bowl and sift spices on top and fold through.

Spread the spiced mixture into a greased & lined 18cm square cake tin. Spread the jam over as evenly as you can and then top with the plain cake mixture.

Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 50-60 minutes. Or until the cake springs back when pressed.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I went to a Tupperware party on Sunday. I was feeling slightly delicate after the food (and wine) show and wanted to eat/bring something cheesy - so I whipped up these pinwheels.

I made a basic bread dough in the breadmaker (about 3tsp yeast, 3 cups flour, 1tsp of sugar & salt, a swig of olive oil and 1 and a bit cups of water). I rolled out the dough, spread on some cream cheese, and scattered over some ham, herbs from the garden and grated edam cheese, then rolled it all up and cut into appropriate sized segments. I brushed the tops with some beaten egg, sprinkled on some poppy seeds and cooked at 180C for around 20 minutes. Yum, just what I needed while checking out all the plastic fantastic containers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dinner date - from Morocco to my house

When Lewi was in Morocco a few years back she bought this tagine. It has sat on display looking pretty until recently when it was deemed time for its maiden voyage. So, lamb with figs and sesame seeds was on the menu, served with couscous with roast pumpkin, raisins and almonds. This was a yummy, satisfying winter meal - it was subtly spiced, and I'm told it tasted just like the tagines in Morocco. The recipe comes from Julie Le Clerc and John Bougen's book 'Made in Morocco'.

ahmed's tagine of lamb with figs and sesame seeds
1kg lamb shoulder steaks cut into 5cm pieces (we used lamb shanks)
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
2 teaspoons simple Moroccan spice blend*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon each ground ginger and paprika
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Place lamb in the base of a large tagine with onions and brown over a medium heat for 5-10 mins. Add remaining ingredients to the pan, except sesame seeds. Cover pan and bring the liquid to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer for 1-1/2 hours, turning the lamb once or twice, until lamb is tender and the liquid is much reduced. The cooking can alternatively be done in an oven heated to 180C. Adjust seasoning of sauce with salt and pepper to taste and skim any excess fat from the surface. Spoon caramelised figs over finished tagine and sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.
Caramelised fig topping
2 cup dried figs
2 cups cold water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

While the tagine is cooking. simmer figs in water until softened, then add sugar and cinnamon and continue simmering until liquid is reduced and figs are caramelised.

*Moroccan spice blend: combine 2 teaspoons each ground cumin, coriander, paprika, ginger and cinnamon, 1 teaspoon each ground white pepper and turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon each chili powder and ground nutmeg.

couscous with roast pumpkin, raisins and almonds
1/2 large pumpkin
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 cups chicken or vege stock
1-1/2 cups instant couscous
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 200C. Cut pumpkin into 2cm cubes and place in an oven pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for 30 minutes until pumpkin is tender and golden brown.

Meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan and cook onion and garlic over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add stock and bring to the boil. Stir in couscous, then remove pan from heat, cover and leave to steam for 10 minutes to soften. Remove covering and fluff up couscous with a fork. Season well with salt and pepper to taste. Combine couscous with raisins, toasted almonds, coriander and hot pumpkin and toss well to serve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A few of our favourite things...

Miriam: I went to The Food Show on Saturday. I hadn't been to one since about 2005, and was a little skeptical as to how much I'd enjoy it - the concept of paying $22 to fight crowds for 'free' samples didn't really appeal. But we took a strategic approach and went at about 2pm, when the crowds had died down a little. And what fun we had! We feasted on fine (and some not so fine) food and washed it down with samples of wine. Here's Natalie, Jane & I enjoying Ti Point wine.

Becs: Growing up in Rotorua, the nearest mall was Bayfair at Mt Maunganui. Every now and then the family would make a shopping trip and - much to our excitement - at lunchtime Mum and Dad would give us each a $5 note to purchase the lunch of our choice from the foodcourt. Such choice! These days foodcourts are possibly my least favourite place to eat, but I do like the Sushi Express at our local Westfield, and have been enjoying these rice balls lately. Sticky, seasoned sushi rice enclosing a generous filling of teriyaki chicken and avocado. Delicious and very easy to eat on the run, therefore enabling me to avoid having to sit in the foodcourt!

Libby: I been wanting to pay a visit to Cafe Polo in Miramar since reading Millie from GustyGourmet's post. We had one failed attempt - turning up on a Sunday to find Cafe Polo is closed on Sundays and Mondays. This time we went on a Saturday and I even made a reservation as I didn't want to miss out a second time! I had the hash browns with roasted tomatoes, feta & rocket (which was actually mesclun salad greens) and Jabez had these Polo baked beans with ham hock & Island Bay Butchery sausage - both delicious, as was the coffee. Well worth the trip across town.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

muffins by Sarah

I'm not the biggest fan of muffins. It may have to do with the ubiquitous cafe muffin. Often over-sized, dry and born of a pre-mix. If after a sweet treat to have with coffee I would usually pick a biscuit or slice over a muffin. I couldn't, however, resist these carrot, apple and pecan muffins when looking through the Ottolenghi book. They sounded a bit like a morning glory muffin, but with the addition of a crunchy crumble topping. The only change I made to the recipe was to use walnuts instead of pecans, as those in the supermarkets are usually rancid. It made quite a big batch, I got 18 decent sized muffins. Unlike cafe muffins they tasted every bit as good as they looked! The recipe says the flavour improves after a couple of hours, and I found this to be true. I put some in the freezer and have been taking one out to pop in my lunch each day. Some even made their way up to Wellington for Libby to sample...You can find the recipe for the muffins here.
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