Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday morning brown sugar cinnamon rolls

I have been thinking about cinnamon rolls since having a delicious one at DeliAro last Sunday morning. The DeliAro one was at the bready, fluffy end of the cinnamon roll spectrum whereas mine are at the other buttery, pastry-like end. Both are delicious but on this occasion I was after a tightly-wound, tender cinnamon roll.

I used a Dorie Greenspan recipe from her "all-American" classic baking book "Baking From my home to Yours" as a base, adapted it a little and it worked well. I started the dough on Saturday afternoon, left it to rise while I went out in the evening then rolled it out before going to bed. I left the tin to rise near the heated towel-rail overnight and that seemed to keep them nice and cozy.

I didn't bother with any extra glazes or icing to pour over after baking. The rolls sort of make their own glaze as the bake so if you turn them upside down they have a nice sticky toffee-ish coating.

1 sachet of active dried yeast
1/3 cup fill half way with hot water and topped up with milk (it should be just warm-to-the-touch)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 small eggs (at room temperature)
1/8 cup sugar
180g butter (at room temperature)

Brown sugar

Mix the yeast and milk/water mix in your cake mixer bowl and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt and mix to dampen the flour. Mix for a minute or two until you have a shaggy mass.

Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and set the mixer to low. Add the eggs followed by the sugar. Beat for three minutes until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, two tablespoons or so at a time. Beat until each piece is nearly incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a very soft, batter-like dough. Now increase the speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes until the dough pulls away at the sides. Leave the dough to double in size (an hour or so) then deflate.

I then left the dough for a few hours, just out on the bench, until I was ready to roll it and it didn't suffer because of it.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Mine was huge as I wanted thin, tightly-wound buns but roll to the thickness you desire. Melt some butter (30 grams or so) and brush on. Sprinkle with brown sugar. I rolled my dough out very late at night and was feeling particularly generous after several glasses of wine so perhaps was a little heavy-handed and sprinkled about 3/4 of a cup or so. Douse with as much cinnamon as you please (I used a couple of tablespoons worth).

Roll into a log and slice into rounds about2 inches thick. Place in a lined spring-form tin and leave to rise for at least a couple of hours or even overnight as I did.

Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 30 mins. Leave in the tin for five minutes or so before inverting onto a cooling rack. Enjoy! And keep enjoying until they are all gone... these buns are best when still warm from the oven.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yummy Yummy Yummy

A guest post from Sarah, Daisy's Aunty 'Raree'

Being housebound with all the snow on Monday, Daisy and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bake a batch of cookies, or "yummy yummies" as Daisy refers to them! At the word "baking" Daisy was off to haul her special step stool over to the bench. We chose to make a popular Jo Seagar recipe for chocolate chunk oat cookies. Daisy was on quality control, tasting each ingredient as it went in. She would have been quite happy to devour all the raw mixture and I had to be quick to keep little hands out of the bowl. It was lovely and cosy having the smell of baking wafting through the house as the snow fell outside (as cliched as it sounds...)

Chocolate Chunk Oat Biscuits (Jo Seagar) 


  • 250g butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Beat butter, condensed milk and sugar together until light and creamy.
Add flour, rolled oats, baking powder and chocolate chunks.
Flatten spoonfuls on the prepared oven trays and cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown

Daisy tucked into her cookie as soon as it was cool(ish...) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Judging by the lack of cookies left in the jar, the rest of the family have been enjoying them too.  


 Daisy was a little unsure of the snow at first, but once she realised she could eat it she was away laughing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

eating Melbourne

I have just had a delightful visit to Melbourne to see my friend Anna and tick off a rather large list (I should geekily admit it was actually a spreadsheet) of things and places to eat.

The standard of service and value at cafes in Melbourne is brilliant.  After being shown to a seat, water, glasses and menus are provided, and orders are taken by your waitperson.  New Zealand cafes - can you please take a leaf out of this well-written book and give the lazy counter-service, DIY-everything, (non)service style a miss?!  I love breakfast out, and couldn't get enough of breakfast menus in Melbourne. I don't think I once saw eggs benedict on offer - hallelujah! Here's a selection of what was enjoyed...

 Five-grain porridge with winter fruit compote at the smartly pared-back De Clieu

 Homemade crumpets with leatherwood honey at Birdman Eating

Shakshouka - baked eggs with roasted red pepper and marinated Persian feta at cumulus inc

Grilled field mushrooms with herbed goats chevre, rocket and toast at Pearl Oyster

Just to show what a priority food is in Melbourne - check out some of the crowd of people waiting amidst overflowing dumpsters for a table to breakfast at the oh-so-cool St Ali.  Sadly our meals were lukewarm  but the coffee (beans are roasted onsite) was excellent.

Some other highlights...

I just loved Gewurshaus, which was just around the corner from Anna's place in Prahran.  The loveliest little shop crammed with beautifully displayed spice blends.  I brought home wee bags of merlot salt, Tahitian vanilla salt, Viennese christmas sugar and masala chai sugar among others to experiment with.

We didn't eat out at any big-name restaurants, and everywhere more casual has a 'no-bookings' policy which makes for some long waits but fun times.  Dinner at the brand new Chin Chin (contemporary Thai) was great fun, eating at the bar watching the chefs at the starter station, the menu of which we ate our way through almost entirely - amazing value.

Dinner was washed down with a refreshing jug of punch - Vietnamese mint, vodka, lime all featured among other things?!

Pork roll-ups with braised suckling pig and herb salad (the pancakes were freshly steamed in bamboo baskets and divine..)

Scallops with crispy pork and green chilli nahm jim

We had another beautiful dinner at Gigibaba - the (many-coursed) banquet was immense but delicious - the braised lamb shoulder below came out last of all so was hard to do it due justice but it was demolished all the same...

Finally a couple of my favourite Melbourne sweet treats to finish...

Burch and Purchas - their Sweet Studio on Chapel St is definitely worth a look. Check out the wall containing specimen jars of the ingredients they use in their 'lab'.

We picked up 4 of their incredible little cakes courtesy of a voucher Mrs Cake had received when over there for the Food and Wine Festival.

A bombolone (vanilla custard filled donut) from Baker D Chirico in St Kilda - I have been dreaming of these since my last visit to Melbourne 5 years ago - the perfect ratio of custard to doughnut.

Ice cream at Jock's  - I loved the hokey pokey with huge chunks of honeycomb

Monday, July 25, 2011

A few of our favourite things...

Becs: While I usually like to make my own cereal - porridge in winter, bircher or granola in summer - I like to mix it up a bit sometimes with something from the cereal aisle at the supermarket. I tend to buy a treat cereal (something clustery that feels a bit nutritionally void for an everyday breakfast) and dilute it with a box of something more earnest and healthful, that is, fibre containing. Now Kellog's have done it for me with their new All Bran Apple Crunch product. I am loving this at the moment, there are treaty bits as well as bran flakes and sticks, and it is not too sweet, nice one.

Miriam: I was sitting down to do my favourite thing, when we received an email from our landlord informing us that they're putting our lovely Kingsland bungalow on the market. In 90 days we have to move out. Suddenly the vege garden dug from scratch (with the rhubarb almost coming to fruition), the outdoor furniture rescued from the inorganic collection and the romantic gas fireplace all flashed before my eyes. As a psychologist I know the stages of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, depression & acceptance). I think currently I'm caught somewhere between denial and depression and feel unable to do a favourite thing.

Positively, on Saturday I'm off to South America for 5 weeks, (so can embrace the denial stage some more). Hopefully over the next few weeks I'll be able to do some favourite things from Peru, Bolivia and Argentina!

Libby: I bought some raw milk to have a go at making mozzarella cheese (not that you can't use pasturised silver top) and after trying a glass of it almost didn't want to use it to make cheese. The milk was delicious: rich and creamy, and so, so fresh! It would have been such a waste of beautiful milk had it been a complete disaster. I am a complete amateur when it comes to making cheese so consulted the internet. I used a combination of methods from two trusted sources: Mrs Cake/Rosa and Pease Pudding/Allison. I am not sure I got it entirely right - especially the "cooking the curd" part, but when used on a pizza for dinner on Sunday night it looked and tasted reasonably authentic!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A regional delicacy from the deep south

Cheese rolls are a "delicacy" from the south of the South Island and you'll rarely find them north of the Waitaki River. Apparently they're a popular fundraiser - a sports-mad colleague from Invercargill likes to tell us about how his sports teams would get together and make loads, bag them up, freeze them (untoasted), and sell them by the dozen. I can't see them being a big money spinner these days with cheese being the main ingredient but it sounds like the humble cheese roll has funded a fair few sports trips over the years.

The recipe seems to vary a little depending on whose mum or nana you receive it from. I first tried cheese rolls when Becs returned to Rotorua from her first semester at Otago Uni. She'd stayed with her friend Rachel's family in Gore and had tried Rachel's mum's cheese rolls. It uses more milk than some other recipes and uses a little cornflour to thicken the cheese mixture.

Most recipes call for evaporated milk and that's what I used. Next time I'll go back to Rachel's mum's recipe as it's less salty and I am feeling very thirsty as I write this... Before reading any further I suggest putting aside any prejudices you have towards Maggi onion soup powder and processed foods in general. These cheese rolls offer little nutritional benefit but they sure are tasty!

To make cheese rolls using the easiest possible method...
Heat a 400ml can of evaporated milk, 375g grated cheese, 1 packet of Maggi onion soup mix and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard until smooth.

Leave overnight in the fridge to firm up.

The next day when you want to eat them, spread white sandwich slice bread with the mixture and roll up (sort of fold into thirds). There's enough cheese mixture for about 1.5 loaves of bread so I suggest you keep on spreading until there's none left. You can freeze the untoasted rolls for another day - take them to work for lunch if you have a sandwich press or oven and give your workmates lunch envy.

Preheat the oven the 200 degrees Celsius. Line up your cheese rolls on an oven tray - cook more than you think you need! Brush with a little melted butter and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on the outside and the filling is starting to ooze out the ends.

Try them with soup... or just on their own. Trust me, they're delicious!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A few of our favourite things

Miriam: We went on a wee getaway to Raglan for the weekend. It's such a good spot to go to from Auckland, with great beaches and walks, nice cafes and interesting shops. I couldn't resist buying two of these Crown Lynn side plates in a shop that had stacks of china (I would have bought more but they only had two). When I bought them, the lady told me she also had this set and had spend the past 20 years sourcing pieces for it.... I fear I may have started a new obsession!

Libby: It had been awhile between visits to the City Market and when I went along on Sunday I was hoping to find Greytown's French Baker... it seems he was either taking a weekend off or doesn't attend the City Market anymore. (Does anyone know?) While there I bought a tub French onion soup from another favourite stallholder: Le Canard. Not just any old French onion soup but duck & truffle French onion soup. They sell it for a very reasonable $6 for a 700ml tub (or two tubs for $10). It made a delicious and easy Sunday lunch served with a slice of cheese covered baguette.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brown food, a call for recipes... and a giveaway

Brown food (excluding anything chocolate) rarely looks appealing when I take its photo. When I say "brown food" I mean things like bran muffins and loaves: everyday, easy to throw together, baking that's lovely with a cup of tea but doesn't make you go "wow! I really want to make that". In a word...uninspiring!

This "no-chop date and orange loaf" is one of those recipes - simple, quick to make with ingredients you already have and tastes better than it looks! The recipe is from "Now You're Cooking" a sweet little cookbook put together by the Destitute Children's Home Pokhara Charitable Trust as a fundraiser for a children's home in Nepal. The Trust is run by a dedicated bunch of Wellingtonians and funds raised from the sale of this cookbook have gone towards really practical things to make life easier in the home - like a microwave - as well as the day-to-day running of the home and education for the children living there.

The first cookbook, released two Christmases ago, was so successful the Trust is putting together another one in time for Christmas 2011. So here's your opportunity to be come a published food writer and contribute to a great little book! The Trust is looking for recipes (especially desserts) to compile into a second cookbook - recipes of the tried-and-true variety - things you love to make and eat yourself. Send your favourites to Linda:

I bought several copies of the first book for Christmas gifts - at a very reasonable $10 they were the perfect little gift - and have ended up with an extra copy so it's up for grabs! Leave a comment about your favourite "brown food" (stuff that doesn't look pretty but tastes delicious!) and I'll make the draw in a week's time. Anyone is welcome to leave a comment & contribute a recipe for the next book but the giveaway is only open to NZ residents.

This loaf contains a modest 50g of butter - good news in these times of high dairy prices - and also helpfully suggests you can swap the butter for four level tablespoons of oil. The recipe says the addition of an orange lifts this loaf a cut above a plain date loaf, I didn't have an orange so made it without and it was still delicious.

No-chop date & orange loaf (contributed by Virginia)
225g pitted dates
Juice of an orange, made up to half a cup with water
50g butter (or 4 TBSP oil)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup milk (or soy milk)
1/2 cup raw sugar (or could use white)
1 beaten egg
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup broken walnuts

Turn the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Put the whole dates, rind and 1/2 cup of liquid into a pot. Bring to boil and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the butter until melted and leave to cool a bit.

Mix the baking soda into the milk. Beat the egg and sugar together in a large bowl. Add both the milk/baking soda to the egg/sugar mix and stir in the dates. Sift in the dry ingredients (throw in the wholemeal bits left in the sieve from the wholemeal flour. Stir gently to just mix.

Pour into a lined loaf tine and bake for one hour. Test by poking in a skewer: if it comes out clean the loaf is cooked.

The recipe suggests serving plain when fresh and buttered as it get a bit older. This is good advice but I couldn't resist a little butter on a slice when it was still warm from the oven.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sunday lunch

A glazed leg of ham is always on our family's Christmas menu. It's usually a once-a-year treat but with me at home for the weekend and Mum and Dad returning from a holiday we decided it was the perfect time to use the half ham from Havoc that Becs had acquired when helping out at the Taste Farmers Market Awards a few weeks ago. We invited our aunty and uncle over and made an occasion of it: Sunday lunch.

We defrosted the ham in the fridge for a couple of days then on Sunday morning, a couple of hours before lunch, we put it into a nice warm bath (sealed in a plastic bag) to help it come to room temperature before going in the oven.

Our glaze "recipe" is very simple and only requires two ingredients: marmalade and brown sugar. You can use any type of marmalade you like. On Sunday I used Rose's English Breakfast marmalade because it has a high fruit content (compared to some other brands) and lots of nice orangey-bits.

The very first step is to prepare your baking tray. Use a tray or dish deep enough to contain the glaze and it's absolutely critical that you cover it with a layer of tin foil and at least two of baking paper. Failure to do so will result in very difficult-to-clean sticky mess.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

To prepare the ham for glazing you need to deal with the mildly unpleasant task of removing the skin. Carefully ease back the skin, leaving the thick layer of fat behind...

...once you have the skin off, use a sharp knife to score nearly all the way through the fat in a diagonal pattern.

Press a whole clove into the centre of each diamond... for the glaze: smother the ham with as much marmalade as required. We used about 1/3-1/2 a jar for a half-leg. Then pack on the brown sugar... don't be shy - pack on a really thick layer into the marmalade. Watch out for little fingers...

Now your ham is ready to go in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees C, basting every 10 minutes. Then turn the oven up to 200 degrees C and bake for a further 15 minutes. By this time the glaze should be lovely and sticky. We put the ham under the grill for a few minutes for extra stickiness but if you do this you need to watch it very closely - by this point in the process there's a lot at stake!

If glazing a whole ham, increase the cooking time to 1.5 hours or so.

We like to eat the ham hot so carved it straight away... and poured over the delicious, citrusy glaze that had collected in the bottom of our well-lined pan.

The ham hadn't suffered at all from spending a little time in the freezer - it was deliciously pink and tender and juicy. Havoc say once you've tasted their pork you'll know the difference and I have to agree. We enjoyed the ham with mustard fruits (another family Christmas staple), freshly-baked focaccia, and a salad of greens, oranges, blanched broad beans.

For a sweet treat, Becs made roasted pears with chocolate and walnut crumble served with vanilla cream in her cute pink Crown Lynn bowls. It's sort of a deconstructed crumble - honey roasted pears topped with an oaty, chocolate, walnut cookie-type crumble. The recipe is on page 86 of the current (July 2011) Cuisine magazine. If you don't have it already, buy it and make these pears!

Edited March 2012 to add recipe as Cuisine stll haven't loaded it on their site :(
1/4 c honey
150g butter
juice 2 lemons
6 ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored and halved
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c flour
70g walnuts, chopped
150g dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180c.  Place pears cut side up on a lined baking tray. Melt honey and 50g butter, brush over the pears. Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Mix remaining butter with brown sugar, flour, oats, walnuts and chocolate.  Crumble over pears and bake uncovered for a further 30 minutes.

a few of our favourite things...

Becs/Libby: Libby was down in Christchurch this weekend, and after collecting her from the airport on Friday we drove into town to visit the Canterbury Cheesemongers. They sell delicious cheese sandwiches at lunchtime in their own ciabatta rolls. You go into the cheeseroom to peruse and if desired, taste the selection of perfectly ripe cheeses on offer before making a decision (we chose Meyer very old gouda and Pont l'Eveque and then went halves) Your sandwich is then prepared on the spot, complete with chutney and salad greens. A perfect lunch.

Canterbury Cheesemongers is a Christchurch business that has picked itself up post-earthquake(s) and come back just as good as ever. Its Salisbury Street store was demolished after the September earthquake so it re-established itself in Montreal St near the Arts Centre. Thanks to the February earthquake there's now little going on in that part of town but the Canterbury Cheesemongers alone is worth a special trip. Not only for the impressive cheese room but also for the hot-from-the-oven breads and baking. You'll also find Canterbury Cheesemongers at the Christchurch Farmers Market on Saturday mornings selling cheese from their special little cheese van.
Miriam: I love this Casa Rinaldi balsamic reduction; use as a dressing for salad, combined with olive oil and served with bread, drizzled on top of mushroom risotto, splashed onto beetroot while still roasting... it's one of the staples in our pantry and I seem to be constantly finding new uses for it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday baking - Nigella's banana bread

I've been a bit remiss with my blogging of late, but now I'm back, with two posts in a week!

This banana bread recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. You can find a copy of the recipe here. My go-to banana loaf recipe is this Banana chocolate chip loaf. However this Nigella recipe has become a welcome addition to my selection of recipes for using up those overripe bananas that seem to pile up in my house. The walnuts and whisky soaked raisins are a nice addition and put this a cut above standard banana cakes/loafs/bread (apart from the tin, I'm not sure what the differences is in recipes for banana cake/loaf or bread?).

The first time I made this recipe, I added the specified 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and then discovered I didn't have any unsalted butter, so just used salted butter. Although it was still delicious, I felt like it was just a bit too salty (no one else seemed to notice though). The next time I made it I left out the salt altogether and just used salted butter. It turned out perfect. It keeps well for several days.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

dinner date - spanish spiced chicken breast with hot chorizo and chickpea salad

My friend, Ash, presented me with this recipe, which comes from Nosh. I served it up for dinner on Sunday night, much to the delight of my flatmates. We bought the chorizo in a 60g piece from the deli section of nosh, but I guess you could use any variety of chorizo. It's a simple dish to make, and oh so delicious and satisfying. I loved the combination of flavours and textures, and it was just as good for lunch the next day. I think it will become a regular in our dinner repertoire.

olive oil
4 x boneless chicken breasts
4T flour
1½ T paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
60g pamplona chorizo, cut into lardons
60g traditional chorizo, cut into lardons

1T fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can baby roma tomatoes, drained
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon, zest & juice
120g pkt baby spinach

For the hot chorizo and chickpea salad: Add chorizo lardons to a saucepan with a little olive oil and cook until the lardons start to crisp. Once the chorizo has let off a bit of the paprika infused oil add your oregano, onion, garlic, celery, carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, chickpeas and drain the baby roma tomatoes. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Once the ingredients are cooked turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach.

For the Spanish spiced chicken: In a large bowl mix together the flour, 2 tablespoon of paprika, 1 pinch of Cayenne pepper and salt. Lightly oil your chicken fillets and dredge in the spiced flour. Heat your heavy based pan to a medium high heat and cook the breasts on each side for 5 min or until juices run clear. Season again and set aside to rest for 3 min.

Present the salad on a white plate topped with the chicken breast and served with a wedge odlemon, extra lemon zest and unsweetened yogurt.

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