Thursday, March 31, 2011

thursday baking - ham and pesto pinwheel scones

Something savoury today...these pinwheel scones were made on NZ's Hottest Home Baker by Catherine last week. Even the snide Dean Brettschnieder (Global Baker!) seemed rather taken with them, which is no mean feat. At any rate, we all loved them. They were definitely best eaten within an hour or two of baking while the scone and cheese was deliciously crunchy. I used Barry's Bay smoked cheese, which explains the orange hue in the picture below... These pinwheels will definitely be added to my regularly-made savoury scone repertoire, along with the all-time favourites of potato scones and best ever cheese scones.

ham and pesto pinwheel scones

3c flour
4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
50g butter
1/2 c grated cheese
1 c milk
1/2 c chopped smoked chicken/ham/bacon etc
125g cream cheese
3 tbsp pesto
1 red pepper, diced
1/3 c pinenuts or cashew pieces, toasted
1/2-1c grated cheese
milk to glaze

Preheat oven to 220c. Combine flour, bp and salt. Rub in butter, then add the cheese. Make a well in middle and pour in the milk, mixing gently with a knife. Roll out into a large rectangle on a heavily floured bench. Spread with the cream cheese, then the pesto. Top with other filling ingredients. Roll up tightly, then cut into 2cm slices with a serrated knife. (I got 16 out of mine). Brush with milk and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

roasted tomato sauce

It has been a good summer for tomatoes, I collected this homely looking bowlful from the garden the other day. I have been on a bit of a preserving binge lately, but sometimes you just want to do things the lazy way. (Besides, I have run out of jars!) This oven-roasted tomato sauce is perfect for when you don't have time to hang over a pot for an hour or two. I freeze it in ziplock bags and use it on pasta - it's that sort of tom sauce, not the old fashioned kind you would eat with chips. It's super easy to make. Just roughly chop enough tomatoes to fill a couple of roasting trays (I chop the bigger cores out but leave skins on, no need to be too fussy) then top each tray with 2 wedged onions, 6 garlic cloves, a teaspoon of salt, lots of black pepper, a stem of rosemary, a good drizzle of olive oil and a dollop of tom paste if you have it. Add chopped red capsicum, carrots and celery if you have them or want to make it more vegetable dense, but just the tomatoes is delicious for an intensely tomato flavoured sauce.
Throw the trays in the oven and roast at 160c for a couple of hours. I tend to do this in the evening then turn it off before bed and leave the trays in there overnight. Because the oven is on for such a long time you want to make a few trays full to make it worth your while, or maybe throw in a banana loaf or two at the same time?! After roasting for a few hours the tomatoes will caramelise beautifully, with all the liquid cooked out of them they will look like this...

Use a spatula to scrape the veges into the food processor, making sure you include the lovely sweet sticky bits stuck to the sides and bottom. Blitz it up, add a drizzle of olive oil or thin with a little water if too thick for your liking.

And there you have your starting point for many a delicious meal...although I love it simply tossed through spaghetti with lots of parmesan.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

a few of our favourite things...

Libby: I bought a portion of Wholesmoked NZ's Cellerman's Limited Release Vintage parmesan on Becs' recommendation. It's made in New Zealand but has the intense flavour and authentic slightly crystallised texture of the real thing from Italy. It's strong stuff so a little goes a long way but I advise keeping the cheese and a grater handy if eating it over pasta - it's so delicious you'll feel the need to continually reapply it as you eat!

Becs: I love this smoked salmon from Stewart Island. It comes from Church Hill restaurant and they sell it weekly at the Christchurch Farmers Market, you can get it at Fresh Choice Merivale too. It's not at all dry like commercially hot smoked salmon often is, and was perfect flaked into Lois Daish's kedgeree for an easy Sunday night dinner. I also like it on top of a Vitawheat cracker spread with Philly cream cheese.

Miriam: My friend Bridget kindly gave me a VIP ticket to the Designer Garage Sale held on the weekend. It was a bit of a frenzy of clothes and women, but we persevered and managed to grab a few bargains. I love Kathryn Wilson shoes and was very pleased to find these ones in my size for $50! That’s worth battling the crowds for.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

thursday baking - apple spice cake

This delicously spiced cake was baked by our Aunty Marg, who kindly delivered a chunk of it at morning tea yesterday, along with a copy of the recipe. What a perfect cake to bake in autumn; it will be the next thing I bake. It is quite a humble kind of cake, and would be nice served warm as a pudding with a dollop of cream, or as is with a cup of tea.

Apple Spice Cake

2 cooking apples
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c flour
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 c sticky raisins (soak in boiling water while you mix the other ingredients)
4 oz butter (113g)
1/2 c walnuts

Peel, core and dice apples, sprinkle with sugar. In a large bowl melt the butter and beat egg into it, then add the apples. Sift in the dy ingredients and stir well. Finally stir in the raisins and walnuts. Pour into a lined tin and bake at 180c for 50-60 minutes*. Leave to cool before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

* I have since made this cake, I baked it in a 20cm square cake tin and found it cooked in just 35-40 minutes on fanbake.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

lovely little chocolate puddings

While I do enjoy an old school self-saucing pudding (and stodginess does have its place at times!) these rich but light little puddings are almost as fast to make, and don't sit in your tummy too heavily afterwards.

I felt sorry for the pair on Masterchef last week whose task it was to produce 100 of these soft-centred chocolate puddings. They are easy enough to whip up, but it can be a little tricky to get the cooking time just right, so that the edge sets firmly enough for them to sit on the plate without collapsing, yet still have a gooey centre that oozes out when you crack into it.

We made a half batch when I was staying at Libby's in Wellington recently. (We used 4 eggs and it made 8 puddings from memory) This recipe is from Julie Le Clerc, sourced via Pink and Powder Blue. It makes a lighter, eggier pudding than similar recipes that use ground nuts instead of flour. I reckon ours were a bit overcooked, but we erred on the side of caution with Libby's fickle oven and also her aversion to 'raw' cake...

You can also make this pudding batter and freeze it uncooked; I poured our leftover mix into a muffin tin lined with paper baking cases, then froze them to be baked another day - cook them from frozen, just allow a few extra minutes. I love them served with runny cream poured into the saucy bit in the middle, ice cream is nice too though.

little chocolate puddings - makes 12-16 depending on tin size

250g butter
250g dark chocolate (we used Whittaker's Dark Ghana as always...)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c sugar
7 eggs
pinch salt
7 tbsp flour

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler and allow to cool to lukewarm. Preheat oven to 160c. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt to the chocolate, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Gently fold in sifted flour, mixing only until incorporated. Pour into 12 greased muffin trays and bake for 10 minutes or until just set around the edges and top but still wobbly in the middle. Serve with cream or ice cream...they do need one or the other to cut through the chocolate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

dinner date - lamb with grilled vegetables

On Saturday night, I cooked dinner for a 4 of my girl friends. Pre dinner nibbles consisted of homemade hummus, and pita chips (I just brushed flat bread with olive oil and sesame seeds and grilled for a few minutes). The hummus was a bit of a freestyle recipe, but was a pretty standard combo of chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil. I saved some of the chickpeas to add on top, and then sprinkled the hummus with smoked paprika. Very simple, but much nicer than bought hummus.

I've been a Cuisine magazine subscriber for the last couple of years, and although I always enjoy reading it, I have probably only ever made a handful of recipes from it. Well, times are a changing, and I have vowed to try out at least one new recipe from each magazine (I know that's not many, but it's a start).

Our main course was from Cuisine, and was a recipe for lamb backstrap with chargrilled broccolini & zucchini salad. Sadly the broccolini at the supermarket looked very limp, so I went for broccoli instead, and also added green beans to the mix as they looked so fresh and crunchy.

I didn't feel like cranking up the BBQ so just grilled the veges in the oven and cooked the lamb in the pan which worked well. I seem to always overcook lamb, well, meat in general actually, so tried very hard to stick to the 3 minutes per side recommend time, but alas, there was only a vague hint of pink left of the lamb when I cut it. It still tasted good though.

The veges were a lovely combination, and the toasted sesame seed really enhanced the dish, as did the tahini & coriander sauce. The recipe recommends serving this with buttered orzo, but after our pre dinner nibbles, we were all feeling full, so didn't bother with the orzo.

It's nice to have a new dish in my repertoire, and I'll certainly make this one again.

Lamb backstrap with chargrilled broccolini & zucchini salad

Tahini & coriander sauce

1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, process until smooth, then season to taste. Set aside.

For the lamb & salad

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 small red chillies, thinly sliced
400g broccolini, trimmed
2 zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1cm sticks
1 lemon, thinly sliced
500g lamb backstraps
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/3 cup coriander leaves
buttered orzo to serve (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small saucepan over low heat and fry the garlic and chili until the garlic turns golden. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Cook the broccolini in simmering salted water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Brush the broccolini, zucchini and lemon slice with 2 tablespoons of oil and chargrill in batches over high heat until just browned. Toss the broccolini, zucchini and lemon with the garlic and chili mixture.

Brush the lamb with oil and chargrill over high heat for 3 minutes each side for medium rare. Remove from the heat and rest, loosely covered with tinfoil, for 5 minutes before slicing.

Place the broccolini salad on plates, top with sliced lamb and sprinkle with sesame seeds and coriander. Serve with the tahini and coriander sauce and buttered orzo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

a few of our favourite things

Libby: Kedgeree is one of my all-time-favourite dishes - I love it at any time of day. My version is based on Lois Daish's recipe, as is the Kedgeree served at Nikau cafe in Wellington. I just had to have one of these lovely "Kedgeree" teatowels designed by Sarah Maxey for Nikau cafe. Too nice to use for drying dishes, I'm going pin mine on the kitchen wall. At $25 it's an expensive teatowel but very cheap kitchen "art".

Daisy adores raisins and was most pleased with herself for finding this stash in the kitchen drawer. She made quick work of removing the peg and proceeded to happily tuck into her feast of foraged raisins. (Ziplock bags are no match for this girl either...)

Becs: Caramelising onions is a long, slow process, and cutting up the onions in the first place is never a pleasant job. This onion marmalade from Barkers is handy to have in the pantry as a $3.99 a jar it is certainly cost effective as well as convenient. I love it spread on a pizza, topped with creamy blue cheese, thyme and walnuts. Even more delicious served with a salad of baby spinach and sliced pears tossed through some balsamic vinegar...

Miriam: Libby introduced me to Ceres peanuts a few years back - they are delicious, far superior to standard peanuts. Unfortunately about a year ago, I bought a bag of these peanuts that was rancid. I sent the company an email complaining and never received a response. I had therefore boycotted the peanuts. However, last week I decided on a whim to resend the email and express my disappointment in their lack of response. This time I received a prompt apology and a day or so later a courier package with the above products arrived. Better late than never, and I'm pleased to say this packet of peanuts tasted as delicious as I remembered them tasting (before the rancid incident).

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I had a little cake stall at work last week to raise a few dollars for Christchurch. I made these cute (and appropriately coloured) Elmo cupcakes and for those who couldn't bear to eat anything as cute as Elmo, I iced some with chocolate buttercream.

I had two payment options: cash could be left in the "honesty glass" or payment could be made directly to the Red Cross earthquake appeal by texting 4419 to make a $3 donation. Too convenient!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A few of our favourite things...

Miriam: My parents have two quince trees. I remember in my teenage years complaining about how ugly quinces were and suggested they remove the trees. Thankfully they ignored my teenage grumblings. Transformed into paste and coupled with blue cheese, the humble quince had its time in the spotlight in the early 2000's. I became a firm fan and have remained so ever since. Mum has perfected the art of making quince paste and keeps me in good supply with wee portions wrapped in baking paper and tied up with string that can either be consumed immediately, kept in the fridge or frozen and used year round. Delicious!

Libby: I already count Wellington's Harbourside Market as one of my favourite things but the herb stall located on the Te Papa side of the market (not to be confused with the herb stall on the Waitangi Park side) deserves its own special mention. It has all sorts of herbs and Asian greens that you can't find all in one place anywhere else in Wellington. On Sunday I picked up generous bunches of mint and coriander, spring onions, lime leaves and chillis, all for $1 a pop. Incredibly cheap and so, so fresh!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday baking - delicious family favourite banana cake

Today's Thursday Baking is written by Jessica, who is continuing to bake from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking.

This recipe is a very good version of the classic banana cake. In fact, my husband and I have declared this the best banana cake we've ever had, so this will be the new fall-back recipe for when I have bananas in the fruit bowl past their best for eating! I'm not sure what it is that makes it so moist and delicious- maybe the inclusion of yoghurt. We recently were given an easiyo maker and I love now always having yoghurt on hand in the fridge. Because it's so cheap to make, I don't feel bad using it in baking or in curries and save the bought more 'gourmet' style yoghurts for situations where I'll appreciate them. This cake is also very easy and quick to make (no surprise as it is by Jo Seagar) and doesn't require any creaming of butter and sugar.

I followed the recipe to the T, but I know from past experiences with banana cake it is also very nice with either chocolate or coffee icing too.

Delicious family favourite banana cake - Jo Seagar
1 cup sugar
100g butter, melted
3 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
150ml natural or fruit yoghurt (apricot is nice)
2 cups standard flour
3 tsp baking powder

50g butter
juice and zest of a large lemon
2 cups icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line and grease a 20-22cm springform tin. Beat the sugar , melted butter and eggs until thick and creamy. Add the mashed bananas and beat well. Heat the milk in a small bowl or a glass jug in the microwave until almost boiling (aprox 1 minute). Stir the baking soda into the milk then stir into the banana mixture. Add the yoghurt, flour and baking powder. Mix well and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 45-50 mins, until the cake is cooked in the middle and just pulling away from the edges of the tin. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the lemon icing, place the butter, lemon juice and zest in a small microwave-proof jug or bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds until the butter is melted. Beat in the icing sugar and spread over the cooled cake. This cake won't keep for long, but can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days. You can also freeze the cake uniced.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

dinner date - bulgur wheat salad

I've been a rather absentee blogger of late. I had been doing a psychology internship and much of my time over the past couple of months was spent finishing (or starting) assignments and preparing for oral exams. Hence my lack of blogging. Thankfully all went smoothly with my exams and I am now qualified as a Health Psychologist, with two new jobs at North Shore and Middlemore hospitals.

Now that I have reclaimed my weekends and evenings, I'm hoping to try out new recipes and keep up the blogging. Thanks Libby and Becky who have keep the blog ticking along nicely in my absence.

This bulgur wheat salad was not so much a new recipe but rather a freestyle creation made using whatever I found in the cupboard, pantry and garden.

After the above harvest of courgettes and fresh herbs I inspected the pantry and fridge and found a few veges that would roast well (including onions from the garden, potatoes, kumara, red pepper and some rather sad looking mushrooms). These seemed fitting to some sort of salad, so chopped up the veges and coated them with olive oil, some macadamia paste, salt and pepper and roasted them until cooked.

There was a packet of course bulgur wheat in the pantry which I soaked hot water for around 20 minutes until cooked. I stirred through the roast veges along with the fresh herbs and generous amounts of some basil pesto I made earlier in the day. The salad was garnished with sunflower and pumpkin seeds and extra pesto.

This was a delicious throw together kind of meal, with great textures, flavours and colours. The seeds add a lovely crunch and the nutty flavour of the macadamia paste also adds a nice dimension. I really rate bulgur wheat as a base for salads (far more than buckwheat which always tastes to me like it's not quite cooked properly). Although we ate this for dinner it would be a great salad to take to work for lunch.... lucky I made lots so there was leftovers for lunch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

a few of our favourite things

Libby: The only time I eat liver is when it's made into pate with lots of butter and brandy! We bought this chicken liver and brandy pate last week at the City Market from a lady whose stall name now escapes me...she also makes macarons and runs cooking classes at her home. Hardly worth making your own pate(not that I ever have!) when you can buy delicious, homemade-quality pate like this for just $5. Especially love the fresh bay leaf garnish. We enjoyed it spread on slices of baguette from the French Baker.

Becs: While in Wellington last week I paid several visits to one of my favourite cafes, Nikau. I love their baking cabinet; it is always full of delightfully different baked goods that you just don't see in other cafes, and making the decision of what will accompany your coffee can be a bit tricky. I chose and loved this freshly-baked-and-still-warm raspberry cream donut. The little rosewater and blackberry tarts looked good too.

Miriam: I am a big fan of pizza stones, and use one not only for pizza's but also for other breads, like this focaccia type bread I made today. If you put the bread or pizza dough straight onto pizza stone that's been heated in the oven, it speeds up the cooking process and produces a lovely crisp base. Clean up is simple too - just dust off the flour or give it a quick wipe with a wet cloth and it's ready to go back in the cupboard.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday baking - Dutch apple cake

Dutch apple cake is more pudding than cake. It is my favourite apple dessert and I have the Horgan family to thank for it. It's one of those recipes that makes something delicious out of next-to-nothing in just a few minutes. The walnuts are optional but worth adding if you have them.

Dutch Apple Cake
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
6 apples peeled and diced
30g butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 160C. Beat egg and sugar until frothy. Mix in dry ingredients and then stir in the apple. Put mixture into a greased dish and pour melted butter on top. Bake for around 30 minutes or until it looks cooked. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with cream, icecream or yoghurt.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

pork lettuce cups

Libby made these for our dinner on Sunday night. This is a nice 'throw-together' kind of recipe, that can easily be adapted depending on the contents of your fridge. It's carb-free if that's your thing - it's not ours but we had been pre-dinner snacking on a bowl of homemade refried beans and corn chips so weren't overly hungry. However you can add some rice noodles to the pork mix to bulk it up a bit.

Pork Lettuce Cups - based on an Annabel Langbein recipe

500g pork mince
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 c mung bean sprouts
1/2 c fresh coriander or mint, roughly chopped
1 iceberg lettuce, washed and separated into individual leaves
1/2 pineapple, finely diced
1/2 c cashews or peanuts, roughly chopped

Cook mince in a frying pan with the sesame oil, sauces and ginger. Once cooked add the pepper and beansprouts. Sprinkle with herbs and serve at the table, spooning the pork mixture into the lettuce cups and topping it with the pineapple and nuts. Enjoy.

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