30 August 2010


Laksa is my favourite south-east asian dish.  The coconutiness mixed with a little bit of heat makes for a really amazing flavour.  There're innumerable malaysian restaurants in Wellington, each particularly good for a particular dish or two, but for laksa (for me anyway) it's Satay Kingdom, down the Leftbank Arcade (off Cuba Mall).  Their vege laksa with tofu is the best i've ever had, hands down. 

However, seeing as I now live in the Mighty Waikato, it's a trifle difficult to get my laksa-fix (the laksa-flavoured Trident 2-minute noodles are good, but...), so I decided it was time to take the proverbial bull by the horns and make this king of soups for myself.  I've used chicken, because I'm a bit of a retard with the deep-fried tofu, so thought i'd leave that for next time.  So, here we are - chicken and vege laksa, adapted from a recipe found on Mindfood.  Hope you love it!  As with most recipes on here you can add pretty much any vegetable you like, swap chicken for prawns, etc.  I've used some baby corns too and, next time, will roast some chunks of kumara in advance and have those in there too.  Shake it up, serves 4.  :) 

125 g rice noodles (I like quite fat ones)
2 zucchini, cut into slices (or 1 eggplant, thinly sliced and salted)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 medium onion (optional)
400 ml tin coconut milk
600 ml hot chicken stock
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
150 g beans/sugarsnap peas, cut in half
1 tsp brown sugar
zest and juice from 1 lime (or lemon)
handful fresh coriander/basil
  1. Put noodles in a wide bowl and cover with boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain, refresh in cold water and set aside.
  2. Preheat grill to high. Put zucchini on baking tray, brush with oil and season with salt. Grill for 4-5 minutes each side until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Stir-fry curry paste in a large pan or wok over medium heat for 1 minute (with onion, if using). Stir in coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Add chicken and lemongrass, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Lift out chicken with a slotted spoon and shred.
  4. Return chicken to pan with sugar snap peas and aubergine. Simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in noodles, sugar, lime zest and juice and most of the herbs and heat through. Ladle into bowls. Serve with lime wedges (extra) and remaining coriander or basil leaves.

23 August 2010

we need more neon foods

Well, maybe not neon like the zinc we used as sunblock when we were kids, but definitely bright.  Turmeric is the queen of spices for this - she'll make the most boring of foods suddenly exciting.  Take this soup recipe for example.  When somebody gave me this (and apologies, I can not remember from whence this came) I politely smiled and graciously accepted the recipe.  Of course, the whole time I'm thinking "cauliflower soup? no freakin' way, my friend". 

Well, talk about having to eat my proverbial hat.  I eventually made the soup and had to not only admit that it tasted amazingly good, but it also looked cool - it's BRIGHT yellow, as neon as food can legally get in NZ.  Seriously, this stuff is the shizzle.  I've made it a few times now, for various different people and it has been enjoyed every time.  Most people look a little skeptical before trying it, but it don't last.  So, do something more interesting with that cauliflower going soft in the bottom of your vege crisper than pair it with cheese sauce (no disrespect to the cheese sauce though!).  If you've time, make some naan's too, for dipping.  YUM!! 

4 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 med. head cauliflower
2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper
300 ml hot chicken stock
300 ml milk
extra hot water
100 g chedder, grated
  1. Heat 1/2 oil, cook onion and celery in large pan. Add remaining oil and cook cauliflower florets for 4-5 minutes, with spices and salt and pepper.
  2. Pour in stock. When simmering add milk - if liquid not covering veges, add a little more water.
  3. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until florets are cooked (but not overly mushy).
  4. Blend (I use my wand thingee) and, over low heat, stir in cheese. YUM!!

18 August 2010

sticky chook

I think most people have had chinese soy chicken before, with its lovely sticky glaze.  I came across this recipe when perusing some Rick Stein cookbooks at the Bates' house in Taupo.  My Mum always used to make a mean version of this, so I thought it was worth giving a try. 

Last night the ingredients were thrown together.  It was super easy and all the ingredients were in the cupboard or fridge, so no having to make a trip to the supy just to make dinner.  Happy days!  I've make a note of where I altered an ingredient, due to lack of the original, but I don't think Rick will mind. 

6 chicken drumsticks
1 small lemon
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or chilli)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
5 cm piece peeled fresh ginger, finely diced
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp HP sauce (I didn't have this)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree (I used paste)
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  1. Preheat oven to about 180 degrees celcius. 
  2. Place chicken in oven-proof dish.  Squeeze over the juice from the lemon, the oil, cayenne (just sprinkle this to taste) and salt.  Grate the lemon zest over top. 
  3. Put all other ingredients into a bowl and mix into a smooth sauce.  Brush over the chicken on both sides. 
  4. Cook for about 35-45 minutes, taking out periodically to brush with more sauce.  Once chicken is cooked through, serve with rice, mash, or couscous. 
NB: I served this with rice (add cumin seeds at the same time as the rice, that's REALLY good) and a green salad.  The jus from the chicken made for tasty goodness on the rice. 

Coca Cola, and a little bit of thievery...

This recipe comes to you for two reasons - firstly, because I read Laura Vincent's wonderful 'Hungry and Frozen' recipe blog, and secondly because I love Nigella Lawson's baking.  Yum yum yum.  When Laura blogged recently about making a Coca Cola Chocolate Cake, from Nigella's 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess' (which I am fortunate enough to have a copy of), I thought right, that's me this week.  Bake that. 

So Wednesday morning, rather than reading something for uni, I'm reading Nigella's baking bible and thinking how wrong it seems to be pouring coke into cake batter.  But strangely good, at the same time.  And from the smell coming from the oven, I reckon it was a good call.  So, without further ado, I present to you the recipe for what is likely to be the cake of all chocolate cakes... 

PS: I've used a link to Laura's blog of the recipe because it seems a waste to type it out a second time and because you should read her blog too.  Go Wellington, go!  The only difference between hers and mine is that I used 100 mls milk and 30 mls yoghurt, rather than half and half.  Enjoy! 

PPS: If you want some icing heat together 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp coke, 1/2 tbsp cocoa and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Once butter all melted stir in about 150 g icing sugar.  Pour over once cake is removed from tin, but still warm. 

17 August 2010

Cuppa chai, love?

About a year or so ago I was staying with Millie at her old flat in Taupo (it was mean, right by the airport, runway playground!!) and, as happens in Taupo during winter, we were getting a trifle chilly.  Mil started making chai for everyone, creamy, fragrant spiced goodness.  And not from a lipton box or sugary syrup bottle either, she was making it from scratch.  It was the first time I had ever had a chai tea (or chai latte is, I suppose, more appropriate, given there's milk in here and it's got quite a creamy texture) and, having tasted imitations since, hands down the best.  She learnt the basics of what to do when travelling in India, and from there it's really a matter of taste.  If Millie reads this she may notice a couple of alternations from her usual modus operandi, as chances are I've forgotten/changed/added bits along the way.  So, get a pot, something to use as a strainer, and simmer your way to a piece of terrestrial heaven. 

2 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced
4 whole cloves
6 cardamom pods, bruised (basically smack 'em)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 tbsp honey (use two, if you haven't any raw sugar)
1 black tea bag
1 cup milk
1 cup water
  1. Put everything in a pot, over medium heat on the stove.  Slowly heat through, allowing the tea bag to steep. 
  2. When the tea has a good colour remove the tea bag and the ginger pieces (this is to taste, I don't like mine too gingery).
  3. Strain from pot into a pourer, or directly into 4 cups - I pour mine from the pot into a coffee press (bodum etc) and use the strainer in that. 

11 August 2010

me gusta mañana, me gustas tu, me gusta enchilada, me gustas tu

One of my favourite types of food is mexican and (good) tex mex.  Quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, empanadas...  The list is long, and the list is tasty.  When I was in Texas recently I ate some seriously good mexican and tex mex, at restaurants (if you're in Allen, near Dallas, check out La Finca Chiquita, it's awesome) and at home. 

A friend gave me her enchilada recipe which, having made since getting back to kiwiland I can confirm that it is muy MUY buen.  I've made a few annotations to the original recipe, to make it user-friendly across the great Pacific-divide, because some ingredients have to be altered slightly.  But that's okay, in fact, that's the best part - you can alter ingredients quite a lot with recipes like this one.  You don't like avocado?  Don't use it.  You want to use some mince?  Go ahead - just brown it with some onion and add it to the filling.  Can't find green taco sauce?  Use regular salsa.  Oh, and heads up - coriander = cilantro. 
So, without further ado, it's enchilada-time! 

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups grated cheese (US - jack with peppers, NZ - tasty)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 fresh chilis, chopped up (US - use 4.5 oz tin green chilis)
1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped 
8 flour tortillas (8")
1 jar green taco sauce/salsa (about 1 cup)
toppings - diced tomatoes, diced avocado, more coriander, red onion...
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 farenheit).
  2. Stir together the chicken, cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream.   Spoon mixture over tortillas, roll up. 
  3. Place tortillas seam-side-down in lightly greased oven dish.  Brush lightly with olive oil and twist some cracked pepper. 
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden. 
  5. Stir together the remaining sour cream with the taco sauce.  Spoon over hot enchiladas, and top with toppings.  Serves 4. 
NB: What's with the title?  Manu Chao, baby!!

09 August 2010

Vegetastic goodness

Sunday night.  It's been a busy weekend up in Auckland.  Can't be bothered even THINKING about dinner.  But obviously, one must eat.  So...something simple, using what's in the fridge, preferably with lots of vitamins and minerals, to replace those lost by a weekend of wine, coffee and adrenilin.  Vege bake!!  KB introduced me to the wonder that is the vege bake a few months back.  I mean, I knew that people made them, but never had personally.  Here's what went into last night's creation - it was gooooooood - the garlic was the icing on the proverbial cake, methinks. 

1 beetroot, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin (cut into pieces about 1x2 cm)
1 cup yams
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour (you might need a little more)
1.5 cups milk
1/2 cup cheese, grated
salt and pepper
1 cup cauliflower and broccoli

  1. Place beetroot, carrot, pumpkin, yams (or whatever combo of veges you have for roasting - capsicum, zucchini, potato, kumara etc), garlic in roasting pan (pour a little olive oil over them, swish around to coat). 
  2. Mix together the olive oil, soy sauce and honey.  Drizzle over the veges, in particular the yams. 
  3. Chuck the rosemary sprigs on top and put into the oven (about 180 degrees celcius) to roast for about an hour.  Pull them out periodically, to move them around. 
  4. Melt butter over low heat in small pot.
  5. Add flour and whisk to form roux (basically mix it until it's all combined).  Add milk slowly, whisking all the time.  Turn up heat to medium, bring to boil, then reduce back to low.  Add cheese.  When all melted in, remove from heat and allow to thicken.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Place veges (roasted and the cauli/broc combo) into ovenproof dish.  Pour cheese sauce over and grate a little parmasan cheese on top, if you have some (some freshly-grated nutmeg would be yum too).  Pop into the oven until browned a little on top and eat.  YUM!!!! 


Banana-ripeness has a tendency to sneak up on me.  Sometimes I'll buy a bunch and chew through 'em no problems.  Other times I get distracted, go away for a couple of days and boom, they're soft and kind of gross (at least, for eating).  So it's baking time.  I'm not a big fan of muffins, but they're the easiest way to rid your fruitbowl of a couple of banana bandits.  I found this recipe on Kiwiwise.  I added chocolate chips.  :) 

2 mashed bananas
6 tbsp melted butter
8 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tbsp baking powder
chocolate chips, up to you...
  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius.
  2. Add egg and sugar to melted butter and beat.  Stir in banana and milk.
  3. Add dry ingredients and stir until free of lumps (except those that are mashed banana).
  4. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake for about 10 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean when poked into muffin.