23 November 2012

summer lovin'

Summer - berries, bacon and egg pie, fresh salsa and BBQ.  Plus asparagus, salads, lots of herbs and a whole raft of other gastronomic treats.  I love summer - there's so much colour and variety in food.  We're pretty lucky these days, as you can still access most foods in the deep, dark depths of winter, but they're often imported, hideously expensive and, frankly, pretty tasteless.  Nothing can compare to the summer foods we grow in our gardens or  pick up from the berry farm down the road. 
I had a virtually full carton of buttermilk in the fridge, left over from making an apple cobbler, so decided to make some muffins using a hoard of boysenberries I'd acquired.  Buttermilk is fantastic for baking (muffins, pancakes, scones etc) as it seems to make the end result just that much lighter.  We like to have some muffins or biscuits in the cupboard, for lunches, so this was a good way to use up the rest of the carton (you can also make a buttermilk substitute, by mixing lemon juice into normal milk and basically curdling it). 
Any berries will do for this, and throw in other bits and pieces as you have them - chocolate chips, almonds, pistachios...
2 cups berries
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil  
1 egg
zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 and 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius and grease 12 muffin tins (or line with cupcake cases). 
  2. Mix egg, buttermilk, oil and zest together in large bowl, whisking to combine. 
  3. Add dry ingredients and fold to combine - don't overmix, as this can result in tough muffins. 
  4. Fold through berries. 
  5. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes, or until inserted skewer comes out clean. 
  6. Leave in tins for 5 minutes before removing onto wire rack to cool. 

06 November 2012

Remember - always blow on the pie

We ate out at Fahrenheit on Sunday, for my birthday (happy birthday to meeeeee!).  One of their dinner specials was a fish pie, done with gurnard and salmon and a parmasan crust.  Sounds good eh?  We were all too busy chowing down on their tasty tapas to be ordering fish pie at the time, but it did make quite a few of us around the table go 'hmmm, yep, THAT's on the menu this week!'. 
So last night KB and I broke our proverbial fish pie cherries.  Having never made one before we didn't really have any preconceptions on how it should be done, which sometimes is a good thing.  We both knew, having eaten many a fish pie, that you bound the whole thing together with a white sauce, and topped it off with mash spud, but that was about it. 
We took a leaf from Fahrenheit's book and used salmon, but with a tin of smoked fish rather than gurnard, 'cause fish pie really tastes amazing when it's got that smokey flavour.  Freshly smoked kahawai would've been wicked, but we'll have to get out on the boat for some of that.  We threw in some dill and parsley, 'cause they always go well with fish, and also some capers, to give the creaminess a lift.  A little grated cheese in with the mash and finished off with a grating of parmasan and boom - mean fish pie.  I can't wait to have it again at lunchtime.  And with summer coming, and thus the kahawai-catching, there'll be many more on our plates! 
5 potatoes
3 cloves garlic
350 g piece salmon (relatively small fillet is all you need), chopped into small pieces 
300 g tin smoked fish
1 onion, diced
handful mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tsp capers
good handfuls dill and parsley, finely chopped  
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
milk and butter, for mashing potato
handful grated cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius. 
  2. Boil potatoes.  Mash with butter and milk, stir through grated cheese and set aside. 
  3. Fry onions in pot, set aside in casserole dish (the one you'll use for the pie) - don't rinse the pot out, 'cause you'll use it to make the white sauce.  Add mushrooms, capers, herbs and salmon to dish as well. 
  4. Make white sauce - melt butter in pot, stir in flour to make roux (paste-type stuff).  Slowly pour in milk, stirring constantly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in smoked fish (plus all the juices from the tin). 
  5. Pour sauce into casserole dish and stir all together.  Top with mash and grate parmasan on top. 
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned on top.  Serve with some steamed greens for an easy meal that'll have you going back for seconds. 
NB: Forgot to take a photo of the pie, but looked as you would imagine a casserole dish topped with browned cheesy mash to look.