25 November 2013

I see your pecorino and I'll raise you a blue

It has been AGES since I blogged anything.  It's not that I haven't been cooking, but between baby, work and this and that, I just haven't tried anything new.  Boring eh?  Yummy (the tried and true recipes have a special place in my heart), but not a fascinating read.  However, here we go, with someone like what would happen if a tried and true stalwart got a makeover.  Macaroni Cheese becomes (dah dah dahhhhh) - La Torta Formaggio!  

20 g butter, melted
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
400 g pasta (I used macaroni, but penne, shells...)
125 g blue vein cheese (Kapiti Kikorangi, booyah!!)
1 cup grated pecorino or parmasan
2 eggs, whisked
1 onion, diced
good bunch spinach, stalks removed and shredded
handful mushrooms, sliced
1 more egg, whisked
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius and brush 22cm springform cake tin with butter.  Shake breadcrumbs around tin until coated. Discard extra breadcrumbs. 
  2. Cook pasta until tender. Drain and cool. Add parmesan, blue cheese and first two eggs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir until well combined.  
  3. Fry onion in a little butter or oil until soft. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted (you may need to cover the pan and keep temp a bit lower). Drain off or squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine in bowl with extra egg.
  4. Spoon half the pasta mixture into prepared cake tin. Spread pasta evenly over base of pan and press firmly. Top with spinach mixture, spreading and pressing over pasta. Top with remaining pasta and press firmly. Sprinkle with extra parmasan. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and golden on top. Stand for 10 minutes before releasing clip and removing from tin.  
  6. Serve with a leafy salad for a incredibly flavoursome change from the usual pasta dish.  

16 August 2013

Hoki mai ra...

We love fish.  Catching fish, cooking fish, eating fish.  Talking with a friend the other night I came across a really nice way to liven up a piece of otherwise fairly bland fish - hoki.  Hoki is crazy cheap at the supermarket - $8.99/kg at the moment in Te Awamutu.  It's not as tasty au naturale as gurnard or snapper, but it's a really good way of getting plenty of fish into your diet.  We normally coat it with a little flour and panfry it in butter.  Or sometimes we'll chop it into smaller pieces, crumb it with panko and have tasty little fish bites.  However, this way wins hands down - topped with a parmasan and herb panko crumb and baked in the oven.  

We've done this with lamb racks before, but on fish would be my preference from now on.  

1 large hoki fillet (about 1/2 kg) - this'll feed two hungry adults
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
good grating parmasan cheese 
fresh herbs, finely chopped - I actually used a BBQ rub last night instead
couple dollops sesame oil - enough to have mixture bound enough to stay on top of the fish, but not too wet and clumpy 
1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Cut hoki into two pieces. Place on baking tray (I put baking paper down first, to save having to wash the tray.  
  3. Brush fish liberally with egg. 
  4. Press crumb on top and place in the oven.  
  5. Bake for about 5 minutes, then grill until crumb is nice and golden.  

NB: Panko crumbs are the creme de la creme of crumbing because they're always turn out nice and crispy, as opposed to normal breadcrumbs which can sometimes go a bit soggy.  Fogdog do them and are available at most supermarkets.   

02 August 2013

bring the chinese home - cashew chicken

I'm one of those people who have a crockpot but rarely use it.  I mean, we cook the good ol' corned beef from time to time, but other than that...  I know there's a myriad of possibilities, but I think I've probably only ever used it for the odd sausage casserole.  So, when I came across this recipe through my sister-in-law Kaz, I thought it was about time to break out. 

We used to have a chinese restaurant in Hawera, where I grew up, called the Wing Wah.  It was our go-to for pretty much every family birthday or major event.  My childhood fav was cashew chicken.  This is a different tasting, but similar textured dish, and I'll be making it again!  It made a heap too - fed four for dinner, then enough leftovers for another two for lunch (with rice).  Crazy easy chinese at home, which effectively cooks itself! 

500 g chicken tenders (or breast, chopped up)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cashews
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 tbsp cider, rice or wine vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp grated ginger
3/4 cup soy sauce
8 tbsp tomato sauce
1 chilli, chopped (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass (optional)
3 tbsp peanut butter (I added this in, because I like the satayey taste)
  1. Mix flour, salt and pepper in resealable bag.  Add chicken and coat.
  2. Brown chicken in pan. 
  3. Place into crockpot and add all other ingredients (except cashews). 
  4. Stir and leave to cook on low for 3 hours. 
  5. Stir through cashews and serve with rice and naan (or similar). 

30 July 2013

Anzac and the choc chip brigade

It's not the time of year for Anzac biscuits, calendar-wise, but let's be realistic - who's ever going to turn one down?  We spent the weekend with Maz, Alex and the kids and, as always, Alex has baking in the cupboard.  When you've a house with four young boys and one hungry husband, keeping them in baked goods is a matter of continual production.  

So things have to be fairly quick and easy to make, and preferably make a high yield - no point slaving over a dozen super-fancy decorated cupcakes, for them to be demoed in the course of lunch and afternoon tea.  So it's biscuits, slices and cake in that house, and you'll not find any arguments from me!  We only have two baking-demoers in our house, but if I can make a batch of 30 bikkies, they'll last a week, or I can freeze some for when I've not the time to make fresh.  Muffins and cupcakes freeze well too, but one batch is typically a dozen, rather than almost three... 

These were in the tin when we were there and they reminded me of an anzac biscuit mixed with choc chip cookies.  Easy, quick and yum.  Can't ask for anything more!  

250 g butter 
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup choc chips
3 tbsp condensed milk 
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats 
  1. Cream butter, sugar and condensed milk. 
  2. Add all other ingredients and combine. 
  3. Place teaspoonfuls on greased or lined baking tray and press flat. 
  4. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees celcius. 
  5. Cool on tray and enjoy :) 

09 May 2013

Feed me up, Scotty

This is a recipe which goes by the rather uninviting name of 'Breastfeeding Slice'.  Don't worry - there's no milk in it (that would be both weird and kind of gross, frankly) - it was given to me by a friend when I had Finn, as apparantly being helpful with breastfeeding.  Helpful by encouraging the mother to increase her intake of calories, going by the ingredients, rather than actually boosting the quality of her milk, but who knows, perhaps it does both?  Either way, it's really yum, and I've made us another batch for at home, and its been going in the boys' lunches - and they sure as heck aren't eating it for quality control! 
I mean, who can resist, really?  It's got chocolate, biscuit, nuts and seeds, dried fruit and the creme de la creme of baking - condensed milk.  So not overly healthy, no, but really good.  And a little at a time (it's pretty sweet, so a little goes a long way), gotta be good for you (and for Finn, I'm eating it for him, I swear!). 

1/2 cup each rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, raisins/cranberries, chopped up dried apricot, coconut, slivered almonds
1/2 pack malt or gingernut biscuits, crushed
1/2 block dark chocolate
1/2 tin condensed milk
125 g melted butter
  1. Mix butter and condensed milk. 
  2. Add everything else, mix and pour into slice tray (I'd line this with some greaseproof, or baking, paper).
  3. Set in fridge.  Slice up and store in airtight container in the fridge. 
NB: I didn't take a photo of the slice because, to be honest, it doesn't look all that flash - the oats, the seeds etc, not very photogenic.  But you can imagine it, I'm sure. 

16 April 2013

Banana + oat loaf

I go to the Food Show in Auckland each year - it's a food and wine paradise, last year there were even a couple of whiskey distillers there!  Whilst I was busy samplingthe local fire water, KB had been drawn to a game show-type stand.  Buy a subscription to our magazine and you can spin the lucky wheel!  So we walked away with a 12-month sub for Food, and a copy of some dodgy old dude singing ballads CD. 
The latest issue has some real gems in it, so far, and this tasty cake is one of them...

1 + 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda, mixed spice
125 g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp molasses
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius.  Line loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, until pale and smooth.  Add eggs and molasses, beating after each addition. 
  3. Fold in dry ingredients.  Mix in bananas and milk. 
  4. Spoon mixture into loaf tin and sprinkle with extra oats, if you want to - I used some slivered almonds here. 
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until inserted skewer comes out clean.

12 April 2013

Return to Tongariro

Catching up with friends over a morning coffee, I hate to go empty-handed.  So last night I thought, hmmm, perhaps I'll whip up another carrot cake.  This thought was almost immediately discarded as unrealistic for a busy Friday morning.  Perhaps just a good ol' chocolate or vanilla cake?  Nope.  Finn had other plans for our morning, and they included more him eating than me baking.  Okay, plan C.  Chocolate.  Chocolate brownie
Chocolate brownies are awesome.  They taste wicked, are easy to make and I don't think I've ever some across a single person who doesn't like them.  Really, brownies should be my plan A.  This one is made in the microwave, so takes all of 5 minutes to cook (so about 10 minutes from start to finish).  This is a cheat post, since I've already blogged about this recipe before, but I think it deserves a second airing.  This is perfect for anyone who wants a homemade treat, but for whatever reason just hasn't the time to be faffing in the kitchen with baked goods.  Yum, and leaves you with time to get other stuff done. 

02 April 2013

follow that carrot

Almost four weeks ago we had a baby boy.  So I reckon I've a pretty good excuse for my lack of recent blogging.  But now it's time to get back in the proverbial saddle, and what better way than with some tasty home baking?  My partner and I both love carrot cake, so it was a no-brainer place to start.  I almost stuffed it completely, by forgetting it was in the oven, but fortunately got to it just in time - extra golden, but not yet torched!  Cream cheese icing covers the heightened colour nicely.  Kyle had to laugh though - virtually every time I bake I forget something. 

Anyhoo, carrot cake a go-go people, everyone loves it, so treat your office, or your family, or hell, just yourself, and make one.  You get to lick the cream cheese icing spoon. 

3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups carrot, grated
1/2 cup nuts (I used slivered almonds)
1 tsp lemon rind
3/4 cup crushed pineapple


2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
squeeze lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. 
  2. Beat eggs until thick.  Mix in oil, then dry ingredients. 
  3. Fold in remaining ingredients. 
  4. Pour mixture into lined/greased 22 cm springform tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until inserted skewer comes out clean. 
  5. Leave in tin for further 10 minutes following removal from oven, then move to cooling rack. 
  6. Ice with cream cheese icing when completely cooled, sprinkle with sunflower seeds if desired. 

16 January 2013

zucchini madness

It's that time of year, when zucchini plants run rampant and, if you're not careful, you end up with massive marrows.  We like to have a surfeit of zuccs, so always plant several plants.  It means we can eat zucchini every day, if we so choose, but also means that new ways to deal with the fruits often need finding... 
In the past I've made zucchini fritters, zucchini-based lasagne and zucchini soup.  This time it's time to introduce a new flavour alongside this sweet, summery vegetable - the lemon.  Zucchini and lemon loaf, with slivered almonds.  Yum!  This recipe comes from the January 2013 New Zealand Gardener, with the only amendment being that I used one loaf tin, rather than splitting between two and also added some lemon juice.  Enjoy mes amis!
400 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
250 g sugar
250 ml rice bran oil 
400 g grated zucchini 
grated zest and juice of lemon 
100 g slivered almonds 
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. 
  2. Beat eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy.  Beat in the oil and then stir through the zucchini and lemon.  
  3. Stir through the dry ingredients - don't over-beat though, or loaf will be dense instead of light. 
  4. Pour into greased loaf tin and scatter top with almonds. 
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until inserted skewer comes out clean.    

08 January 2013

salmon fishing in the yemen?

One of the things I love about holidaying in Whitianga is Salt, a restaurant and bar with never-fail amazing food.  We eat really well at home and at friends' houses, which makes the restaurants' jobs a lot harder, but Salt always seems to meet the challenge. 
Eating there a week or so ago I had a simple and exceptionally tasty starter of cold cured salmon slices, with mandarin (or it may have been wee segments of tangelo) and buffolo mozzarella, all drizzled with a lovely oil (from memory I'm going to say it was avocado, but really any nice, full-flavoured oil will do - a basil one would be perfect!).  The plate was supposed to be with scallops (which Shaun had and loved), but being allergic I had those replaced.  And boom - mozzarella was the perfect foil for the stronger flavours of the citrus and the salmon.  You can grab a ball from most supermarkets, or from local foodie stores such as our Red Kitchen
Buon appetito and enjoy the summer!