Monday, February 27, 2012

a few of our favourite things...

Becs: I had a visit to Auckland last week, where I enjoyed the comforts of Miriam's lovely new home. Daisy is allergic to peanuts, so on a trip away sans Daisy I am always accompanied by a jar of Pic's peanut butter. Breakfast is inevitably Vogel's bread toasted until crunchy, cooled (I like toast to be cool enough so the butter doesn't melt) then spread liberally with a layer of butter then Pic's. I enjoyed the above breakfast two mornings in a row, sitting at the sun-basked table. While I enjoyed some delicious bites in Auckland (a Mexi-kai pulled pork taco, a Little and Friday custard doughnut, a Kohu Rd ice cream cone with scoops of their banana and dark chocolate icecreams, and some incredible homemade kokado) humble peanut butter on toast still ranked right up there.

Miriam: I love Katherine Smyth ceramics. Mike's sister Sarah used to have a design store and before it closed we were lucky enough to get in an order of six 'duck egg blue' pasta bowls. They are so nice to eat out of, and having six means there's normally a couple available for serving sides out of too. However, rather than satisfying my pottery desire, it has only further fueled it; I've been eyeing up the ceramics on this website here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

a few of our favourite things

Miriam: My parents are hoarders. I don't often have a lot of appreciation for this behaviour. However, there are gems to be discovered in the depths of the cupboards, bedrooms, or even lounge. Today I received an email from Mum entitled "what I came across when searching for air bed". Attached was my art work and fishing story I wrote more than 20 years ago! I gave me quite a thrill to read, and made me feel like fish for dinner.

Libby: Another mention for Karikaas buttermilk. I love this stuff! Great for pancakes... muffins... these scones... it's going to become a regular fixture on my shopping list. There are two choices of buttermilk at my supermarket, Karikaas and Tararua. While there's nothing wrong with the Tararua product, I was interested to note that at $4/litre Karikaas was heaps better value - almost twice the size for an extra $0.60 compared to the competition. Makes you think about how tough it must be for small artisan dairy producers like Karikaas up against the likes of Goodman Fielder and Fonterra. I know who I'd rather support.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Buttermilk scones for morning tea

I bought a litre of Karikaas buttermilk with the intention of making pancakes this weekend. It didn't happen but instead I made these buttermilk scones with a lovely, tender crumb. We ate them while still warm from the oven with softly whipped cream, lemon curd and the company of my Aunty and her husband.

This recipe makes 18-20 scones which was more than I needed so in hindsight I should have halved it. I'll give the full amount and leave it up to you. It's based on a recipe from one of my most used baking books - Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery - though my scones looked flat and biscuit-like and not at all like Belinda's well-risen beauties. Delicious if a little compact!

4 cups self-raising flour
160g cold butter, cubed
500mls buttermilk
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp salt

Place the flour and butter in the food processor bowl and pulse to "rub" in the butter (do this by hand if you prefer). Tip into a large bowl and use a whisk to incorporate sugar and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in buttermilk. Mix until the flour is well moistened then tip out onto a floured bench and knead lightly into a 4-5cm high mound. Use a scone cutter to cut into rounds and place close together on a heavy, baking-paper lined tray.

Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, by which time they will be risen and golden. Remove from oven and wrap in your best, clean teatowel. Leave to sit for five minutes then serve.

Monday, February 13, 2012

a few of our favourite things

Miriam: While visiting Tauranga & Rotorua recently, we stopped in at Okere Falls Store. This is the most upmarket general store around, and as well as an extensive range of gourmet goodies for sale, they also have a lovely sunny beer garden. Their smoothies are not to be missed, with my friend Lewi claiming they're the best in NZ. Mike and I passed Okere Falls on two occasions during our trip and both times we couldn't resist leaving without a smoothie for the road. Oh and cup is 100% biodegradable, so there's no need to feel guilty about the take-away packaging.

Becs: I love my 2012 calendar illustrated by Victoria Griffin. Miriam does too, hence we managed to buy one for each other and also ourselves for Christmas, resulting in four identical calendars between the two of us. Each month is whimsically but simply illustrated; February features a sweet recipe for raspberry jam. If you are still calendarless for 2012 they still have a few on sale at Felt for just $15, snap up a bargain. (Credit to Victoria's blog for this beautifully styled picture too by the way)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

two ways with mince

A rather boring title for my first proper blog post for 2012 I know, but here are a couple of tasty dinners we have enjoyed lately. I am not too much of a meat snob, and provided it is decent mince I quite enjoy cooking with it.  A recent visit to Nikau inspired this dinner above - crispy Moroccan-style lamb on hummus.  The trick to getting it crispy is having a hot hot pan (cast iron would be best) and not cooking too much mince at once as it cools the pan down and ends up stewing.  So tempting I know to chuck it all in, but don't.  My rendition was more heavily spiced than Nikau's, so suit yourself in that regard, but it was still delicious.  We ate it with warm pita and a salad of roasted eggplant and red pepper.

To make a quick hummus in the food processor I blend a tin of drained, rinsed chickpeas with the juice of a lemon, salt, a clove of garlic and a spoonful of tahini if I have it. Then I add little pour of olive oil and a good dollop of yoghurt to loosen it; I like my hummus to be fairly sloppy in texture and sharp in taste.

crispy spiced lamb with hummus and herbs

 rice bran oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
400g lamb mince

chopped fresh mint and Italian parsley to serve
roasted almonds/pistachios/pinenuts or dukkah to serve

Slowly cook the onion until golden and tender, add the spices and fry gently for a few minutes. Put aside.

Just heat oil in a pan until smoking hot, add the lamb, breaking it into little bits with your spoon and fry until dark brown, stir through the onion mix and continue cooking.

Tip onto a plate spread generously with hummus, scatter with the herbs and nuts and serve with pita bread.

Pork mince is another favourite starting point for a quick dinner. The pork spring rolls below Mum made; don't let the fact that the recipe comes from Food in a Minute put you off,  they are very tasty.  I think homemade spring rolls are the only way to go - comfortingly you can rely on the filling being identifiable, and ensure a good ratio of filling to pastry.  This version is brushed with oil and baked in a hot oven, so they are pleasantly free of excess grease. You can find the recipe here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

a few of our favourite things...

Libby: I LOVE my new chopping board - a belated birthday gift from my sister Sarah. It's good and sturdy so it doesn't slide around on the bench but is light enough to pick up and move around as required. It makes my old plastic boards look especially old and decrepit! It's made by Bec's friend Marc Zuckerman of MZ Design. We're also fans of his remarkably useful toast tongs.

Becs: I have rediscovered greenshell mussels lately when just cooking for myself, they are such an easy meal for one and so cheap. I think their low price makes us take them for granted a bit here in NZ. These ones I steamed open in a covered pan with a little white wine, then removed the top shell, lay them on a lined baking sheet and drizzled them with sticky thai sauce before grilling for a few minutes. (To make the sauce just simmer 50ml each of lemon juice, soy sauce and fish sauce together with 2 chopped red chillis and 1/4c each of fresh mint and coriander - thicken with a little cornflour and store in the fridge - it will keep for ages.) These make a great pre dinner pass-around too when piled up on a platter.

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