Monday, January 30, 2012

a few of our favourite things...

Libby: I usually like to buy vegetables a few times a week depending on what I feel like eating but this week I'll be using up the huge array of veges from the mixed box delivered by Epicurean Supplies on Friday (via a daily deal voucher). I was impressed by the selection - lots of salad leaves and other leafy greens, chioggia and red beetroot, carrots, capsicums, cucumbers, bok choy and a great mix of herbs - and most importantly, all lovely and fresh. 

Becs: Daisy and I are up in Wellington for a few days, so we paid a visit to the City Market on Sunday morning.  Libby and I loved the beautifully packaged honey-based syrups from Bees blessing; she chose an Elderflower and honey cordial while I bought a bottle of the Mulled lemon and honey.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

hawaiian crepes

This is a bit of an old-school dinner Mum used to make us (and still does on special occasions). It's kind of like a crepe cannelloni. The 'recipe' is pretty loose; make a whole bunch of crepes, fill them with ham, pineapple, cheese and anything else you have lying around. Roll them up and squish them all into a dish, sprinkling with cheese on top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the ham is warm. Serve with a green salad if you want. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

plum & vanilla upside-down cake with vanilla mascarpone

Mike's mum Barbara recently gave me some Heilala Vanilla that came with a recipe handout. I've never made an upside down cake before, but this one look appealing and given that plums are in season and I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard, I decided to give it a go. I made two of these; the bigger one was shared when we had friends over for dinner and the slightly smaller version was for my friends Lewi & Kate who were in need a pick-me-up. It was simple to make, and the vanilla mascarpone was delicious on the side. The recipe suggests you can use any fresh fruit for this cake, so I must play around with other fruit too.

Plum & vanilla upside-down cake

20g butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

6-8 black or red plums

125g butter

1 cup caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/4 cup milk

Vanilla mascarpone

250g mascarpone

1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)

2 teaspoons icing sugar

preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper. Melt the first measure of butter and the brown sugar in a small pan. Pour it into the base of the cake tin and spread evenly. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Arrange the plum halves, cut side down on the butter and brown sugar mixture. Put the extra butter, caster sugar and vanilla in a bowl and using an electric beater, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold the flour into the creamed mixture alternatively with the milk. Spoon the cake mixture evenly over the plums. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tine for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the mascarpone, vanilla paste and icing sugar. Turn the cake out onto a platter and serve with the vanilla mascarpone.

Monday, January 23, 2012

a few of our favourite things

Miriam: Ginger Crunch is having a resurgence in my household. And I love it! I think the Edmond's Cookbook recipe is pretty good, but, it is made soooo much better when you double (or triple) the topping of the fudge-like ginger goodness.

Becs: I really rate these crispy little lavosh made by 180 degrees (they don't seem to have a website?) I have tried all their lavosh variants and the black and white sesame seed is by far my favourite; the others seemed a bit 'flavoured' or oversalted. These little crackers are brilliantly crunchy and super served with a bowl of garlicky hummus. Not too expensive either - about $4 from memory - I stocked up at the supermarket before Christmas when all these sort of treaty things were on special.

Monday, January 16, 2012

a few of our favourite things

I've recently re-discovered ice cream-in-a-cone. It's the perfect sweet finish to a summer barbecue - it's easy (if you buy the ice cream), inexpensive (as ice cream seems to go further when served in cones) and best of all... no dishes. Stay away from those horrid orange wafer cones though - I like the "Select" brand waffle cones from Countdown and Pam's honey waffle cones.

Miriam: My brother David requested this Heston Blumenthal Christmas Pudding for Christmas. Apparently these were a must-have in the UK and a black market developed with puddings selling for up to 15 times their RRP. I purchased this one at Nosh for a more modest $50. The pudding has a candied orange in the center, which adds a lovely moistness to the whole pudding, with the orange juices/oils running throughout the pudding. Although I found it a bit sweet for my liking, it certainly was worth a taste and a little goes a long way so lots of us were able to indulge in a sample.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Asian-style chicken salad

I may have eaten one too many barbecued sausage over the Christmas break because since coming home I've been felt like cooking anything but barbecued food. I've been making lots of curries, with loads of fresh garlic, ginger and whole spices and tonight, for a change from barbecued food and curries, I made this chilli-spiked, salty-sweet Asian-style chicken salad. It's inspired by this recipe here from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty and a recipe from Oamaru's Riverstone Kitchen that was in this week's Sunday Star Times.

I know the ingredient list below is a reasonably long one but you're missing something just swap it for something else or leave it out. It's more a list of suggestions than a recipe. I used iceberg lettuce because I love its refreshing crispness but finely sliced cabbage, baby spinach or any other salad green will work just as well as iceberg. The pineapple could be swapped for mango or left out altogether if you don't like the meat-with-fruit combo. Similarly, cashews or plain peanuts would also be delicious instead of honey roasted ones. Or if you're feeling extravagant make the caramelised macadamia nuts in the Ottolenghi recipe linked above. They are truly delicious so make enough to nibble a few while you cook.

Asian-style chicken salad
2 chicken breasts
400ml can coconut milk

2 pinches chilli flakes
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1tsp flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 capsicum, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 pineapple sliced into thin batons (or a finely sliced mango if available/affordable)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

to finish
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped
4 tablespoons crispy shallots

Place the coconut milk and chicken breasts in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and simmer for 8-12 minutes - until chicken is cooked all the way through (if your chicken breasts are fat ones allow more time). Leave the chicken to cool in the coconut milk. Once cool, shred and place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Bring the coconut milk to the boil and add the salt, chilli flakes, garlic and sugar. Simmer for a minute or so to dissolve the sugar then remove from heat and add the lemon juice and fish sauce. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing over the chicken and set the rest aside to cool.

While the dressing is cooling prepare the salad ingredients and place in a large bowl. When ready to serve, add the chicken and an extra 1/2 cup of the coconut milk dressing and mix. Serve topped with the fried shallots and peanuts.

Serve with rice noodles or plain steamed rice and extra dressing on the side.

This recipe makes enough for four people. Adjust the quantities as required.

Monday, January 9, 2012

a few of our favourite things

Miriam: I spent some of the Christmas holidays in the South Island with Mike along with some of our family and friends (including Libby, Becs and Daisy). During our adventures, we went to my Dad's home town of Temuka. Becs and I both managed to find treasures at John's Collectibles on the main street. I brought these glass cream bottles. To combat the post holiday/return to work depression, I have filled the house with flowers. I think the bottles look rather sweet with carnations and help brighten up the place in the dreary weather we are experiencing.
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