12 December 2014

Across the way, in Kawakawa Bay...

I have been lucky enough to learn a bit more about our native kawakawa plant this week - how to infuse it's goodness into oil, and then use that to make an antibacterial balm, which also kicks butt on eczema and other skin ailments.  Thanks Erin Keremeta-Kapa, tumeke!!  

First we infuse the oil.  Traditionally you'd place your leaves into your carrier oil and leave them to do their thing (prodding and stirring occasionally) for about 4 months.  Erin had recently stumbled across a much quick way to achieve the same result overnight - use your crock pot!  We both have large crock pots, so had them on low, stirred frequently, and turned them off after about 4 hours.  A small crock pot would be ideal though, 'cause the big ones do tend to get a bit hot, even on low.  Once this is done, strain your oil into a jar, for storage.  

To make the balm you simply put the kawakawa oil and some beeswax (about 3 parts oil to 1 part wax, though this is a movable feast, depending on how firm/soft you want your balm) into a glass jar, place the jar in a pot with some water in it, and stir until the wax has melted.  Then pour into your jars you'll be keeping the balm in.  

I added a little lavender oil to mine too, 'cause I love the smell.  They make great Christmas gifts, 'cause everyone gets cuts and scrapes from time to time.  Next time I'm also going to try adding in a little shea butter, to make a creamier balm which will moisturise too.  

26 November 2014

Pad thai

Pad thai, it's a favourite.  I don't know many who don't like it.  And, I've discovered, easy to make.  We love a good curry, or a fresh stirfry, so it's like a perfect combination of the two.  

This is another recipe from At My Table, adapted to suit younger tastebuds (I didn't put chilli in, as was being eaten by a 10-year old, but would ordinarily throw some in) and what we had in the fridge (the recipe called for 600 g chicken, but I just used one chicken breast and a heap of veges).  Also, I used olive oil in place of peanut oil, as Harry is allergic, but the flavour of peanut oil is very very worth using if you're not allergic to the good ol' peanut.  

Versatility-speaking, this is one of the best meals you can throw together, 'cause it works with any type of meat, or vegetables-only.  Chicken, prawns, pork, fish or whatever.  Chicken and prawn would be my favourite.  Big, fat prawns, with their tails removed.  Brilliant.  If you do use prawns, just add towards the end of the cooking, and that should be enough time for them to do their thing.  Maybe just before you do the eggs.  

200 g flat ribbon noodles (rice stick noodles for example)
1 tbsp oil (peanut, if you can)
1 - 2 chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 capsicum, thinly sliced
1 - 2 cups veges (I used fresh beans, zucchini and broccoli from our garden)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime/lemon juice
1 - 2 chillies, chopped (optional) - de-seed if you want less heat
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped spring onions
1 cup bean sprouts (mung bean or snow pea)
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (optional)
lime/lemon wedges, to serve

  1. Heat oil in pan and stir-fry chicken until golden all over.  Remove from pan and set aside.  
  2. Turn heat down to medium, add sesame oil and cook onion and garlic until softened.  Add chicken back to the pan along with the vegetables (broccoli may need to be steamed a bit beforehand, depending on how big your pieces are).  Fry together for another minute before adding the noodles and tossing to combine.  
  3. Add sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chillies, if using.  
  4. Move everything in pan to one side.  Add eggs, stir up then leave for 10-20 seconds before scrambling them.  When almost cooked, incorporate them with the rest of the pan (this will coat everything with a little egg, as well as distribute pieces of egg throughout the dish).  
  5. Stir in spring onions and sprouts.  
  6. Serve immediately with coriander and peanuts on top, and wedges of lime alongside, to squeeze over the top.  

Afghans afghans YUM!!

I have been a lucky loanee of Chelsea Winter's At My Table, so thought it was a good chance to try out a couple of her yummy recipes before returning the book (thanks Min!).  

Afghans are a childhood favourite for most kiwis, I think.  We almost all had them at some stage or another.  To be honest, I was never a huge fan.  The boys in my house now though are, so decided to whip a batch out.  These ones have cornflakes in them (not sure if that's traditional, or not, but I don't recall it from the days gone by) and it is, in my opinion, a HUGE plus.  I really enjoyed these.  I've eaten two today already.  

The recipe said it made about 18 biscuits, but I got about 25 or so, so filled the coffers for a couple of days!  

225 g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (I used golden syrup 'cause I was out of vanilla)
185 g flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3 cups cornflakes
1/3 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa 
1 - 2 tbsp boiling water
walnut halves, for decorating if you wish

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.  Line baking trays.  
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale and thick.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  
  3. Beat in flour, cocoa and coconut.  Lastly, mix in cornflakes (best to do this with a wooden spoon, as mixture can get pretty hard for cake mixers to work with).  Don't worry if flakes get crushed up.  
  4. Place golfballs of mixture on trays and press down with a fork or your hand.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes on trays before transferring to a wire rack.  
  6. Stir icing ingredients together until a thickish paste is formed - best to do this when you're ready to ice, as it will continue to thicken and harden with time.  
  7. When cooled ice the biscuits and decorate.    

24 November 2014

DIY nappy balm

1/4 cup shea butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp beeswax
2 tbsp zinc oxide powder
1 tbsp bentonite clay 
Optional - few drops essential oil (eg camomile, lavender) 

  1. Heat about an inch of water in a small pot.  Place your butter, oil and wax in a glass jar and place in the water.  Stir and, as the water heats, the ingredients will melt.  
  2. Remove from heat and stir in your other ingredients.  I'd recommend a powdered clay, if you can find it.  I used a granular clay from Lotus Oils, but it took a bit of time to get dissolved.  
All ingredients can be found at Lotus Oils.  My coconut oil came from Bin Inn.  I made a half batch, as only need a small jar at a time, and it cost about $5 for a 60 ml jar's worth.  I've always used EcoStore nappy balm (which is brilliant, by the way), but making my own is about half the price.  

Here's a rundown, thanks to Wellness Mama, of why these ingredients are useful: 

Shea Butter – contains the fat soluble vitamins A and E. It is soothing to the skin and has a natural SPF of about 6. Additionally, it helps protect skin from drying out since it contains five essential fatty acids.
Coconut Oil  naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal. 
Beeswax- Provides a protective barrier for the skin and helps hold the other ingredients to the skin so they can be effective. 
Zinc Oxide- insoluble in water and so coats the skin. When mixed with the other ingredients, it makes skin water proof and keeps it from drying out. 
Bentonite Clay- Helps control moisture and fights bacteria on the skin that can be making the rash worse.

20 November 2014

2-ingredient ice cream? Yes please!

Ice cream with only two ingredients, no crazy equipment needed, and the only sugar it contains is from the fruit (ok, and possibly a gram or two from the buttermilk).  Yum!!  

I made this using buttermilk and bananas, 'cause we had a bunch that needed eating, but you could also use frozen berries.  And, if you prefer a frozen yoghurt, I don't see why you couldn't use plain yoghurt in place of the buttermilk.  The bananas do give it a thick, creamy texture though, that you may not get from berries, but hey - if it's more like a berry sorbet, so much the better!!

chopped bananas (about 6)
600 ml buttermilk

  1. Chop bananas and place in the freezer.  
  2. When frozen blend in food processor with buttermilk until smooth and creamy.  
  3. Scoop into freezer-proof container (with a lid) and freeze until ready to use.  
  4. Enjoy!!  

19 November 2014

DIY Natural Sunscreen

NB before reading - have been using this over the past month and found it not to be very effective.  So unfortunately it has been removed from our bag as a sunscreen.  I have however made another three batches of it, minus the zinc, as a really amazing moisturiser.  So still useful, and lovely to use.  Just not as a sunblock.  

Sunscreen.  Something you can't be without over the summer in kiwiland.  Well, you're wise not to be without.  We go through a heap of sunblock, and over the years have tried a million different brands, and a bunch of different types - aerosol, pump, squeeze, tub...  Generally I've always just bought whatever is cheapest, however the price of sunscreen is getting increasingly expensive, no matter how budget the brand.  Couple that with a stepson who has very sensitive skin and an 18-month old who has, well, baby skin, and it's time to look at alternatives.  

My sisters-in-law in the UK are a fountain of information on all things natural, in particular DIY natural products.  So, when one posted a link to the Wellness Mama blog recently, I decided to have a look.  I was genuinely surprised how straightforward making a lot of everyday products actually is.  I'd been imagining all sorts of crazy paraphernalia and ingredients, but no.  For most things only a few ingredients are required.  Then you can add in extras if you choose (to scent or colour), or just go with the basic.  

Here's what you need (and what you need to do) to make a basic sunscreen with an SPF of between 20 and 40 (depending on how effective the carrot seed oil is, and whether or not you choose to use it).  I got my ingredients from Bin Inn (coconut oil) and Lotus Oils, a kiwi company based in sunny Waipukurau.  

1/2 cup olive oil or sweet almond oil (I used cosmetic grade olive oil)
1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4 and smells nice)
1/4 cup beeswax 
2 tbsp zinc oxide powder - careful not to inhale (natural SPF 20, or more if you use more) 
Optional: 1 tsp carrot seed oil (natural SPF 35-40)

  1. Combine ingredients, except the zinc powder, in large glass jar - I used a cleaned out pasta sauce jar.  
  2. Fill medium saucepan with about 5 cm water and place over medium heat.  Put the lid loosely on your jar and place into the water.  
  3. As the water heats the ingredients in the jar will start to melt - stir occasionally to combine them.  When completely melted add in your zinc oxide, stir well, and pour into the jar or tub you're going to keep your sunscreen in.  I used an old jam jar, but a plastic tub will be fine too.  
  4. Stir a few times as mixture cools, to ensure the zinc is fully incorporated.  
  5. Start enjoying - it'll moisturise like a lotion too - best used within 6 months.  
NB: Other ingredients you could use in addition to, or in place of, carrot seed oil are: 

Red raspberry seed oil (natural SPF 25-50)
Shea butter (natural SPF 4)
Almond oil (natural SPF 5)

Also, essential oils if you prefer a more strongly scented cream.  You'd use about 15 drops.  

17 November 2014


"You'll never be a kiwi 'til you love our Watties sauce!".  That's how the song goes, and I reckon it's pretty true.  I don't know many kiwis who don't have a bit of a love affair going on with good old Watties T sauce.  Even those who enjoy a different type too, they'll usually not turn their backs completely on the stalwart of the nation.  

Growing up we usually had Whitlocks Tomato Chutney in the fridge.  Not actually much of a chutney, it is a runny sauce, like the Watties, but with herbs and a bit more vinegar in it.  I still love that stuff to this day, so it sits alongside the Watties in the fridge.  Something for every palate.  

This recipe is for a homemade sauce, and it's similar to the Whitlocks, but will be more Watties-esque if you use less of the vinegar and herbs.  And maybe squeeze a little agave syrup or something in, as a sweetener, if that's your preferred taste.  I got this recipe from another blog, Cupcakes and Kale Chips, via my friend Cindy.  Thanks guys!   It's nice to make something we eat all the time, without all the unnecessary sugar and fillers and other unknowns in there.  I'm a fan of no-cooking-required too :) 

170 g tomato paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup cider vinegar (see NB)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin powder
grind black pepper
1 tsp mustard powder

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.  This recipe will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, so you can make a bigger batch, if your family chews through it.  
NB: If you use less than 1/2 cup cider vinegar, add water to a total of 1/2 cup of liquid.  This is if you prefer it to be less vinegary.  

30 September 2014

leek + potato soup

It's that time of year - time to rip out your winter garden and get it cleared and ready for summer's plants.  Our winter garden looked more like a nice, thick, lush lawn to be honest, but there were still a few odds and ends in amongst all the weeds and grass.  Including a very healthy, very forgotten, crop of leeks.  So, out they came and left us going hmmm, that's quite a few leeks.  Leek and potato soup, but of course.  

I used to make a fair bit of this soup back when I worked at Kitty O'Shea's, but haven't really touched the stuff since.  It can be delicious, or it can be stodgy wallpaper paste.  The trick is to puree it a bit (or a lot) if you want it thickened, rather than using flour or cornflour to thicken the broth (I know, who does that?!).  

Anyhoo, here's how we made ours on the weekend - it was hands down the best leek and potato soup I've EVER had.  I know that sounds like a rather large claim, but it's true.  No exaggeration.  Buonissimo, or as we'd say here in Kiwiland, bloody good soup bro.  

50 g butter
2 leeks, chopped
2 rashers bacon, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, finely diced (or crushed)
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper
3 cups chicken stock
2 large potatoes, chopped into cubes
good dollop sour cream and dash of milk (or 1/2 cup milk)

  1. Heat butter in large pot and fry leeks, bacon and garlic until leeks are softened.  Add the mustard, salt and pepper.  
  2. Pour in chicken stock (we actually used 2 cups homemade stock and 1 cup water, but depends on how strong your stock is).  Add potatoes and simmer away until potatoes are cooked.  
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and milk.  
  4. You can puree into a thick, creamy soup, or serve as is - thinner broth with chunks of potatoes and leek.  Or, as we did - a couple of blitzes with the stick blender, but still left with chunks.  Yum!!  

28 September 2014

Buttermilk berry Sunday

Mum recently bought Annabel Langbein's latest book (the accompanying show is currently airing on TV1 here in NZ), Through the Seasons.  It's full of really tasty-looking recipes, none of which use crazy ingredients - generally most things are items we would generally have in the cupboard or fridge, and lots of fresh produce.  Basically I think I'll be slowly chipping away at bits and pieces from it for a while.  There's a recipe for brown sugar pavlovas, which I'm gunning for Mum to make.  Best do a few trials before Christmas, Mum.  

Daylight savings began this morning, so when we got up the clock read 7:30 am.  Even though my body still said "Hey, it's 6:30", my brain was happy with that psychological advantage of an extra hour's sleep.  So, out of bed and feeling chipper, pancakes were on the menu.  Buttermilk pancakes with bacon, to be precise.  And blueberries.  Unless there are just none to be found, I gotta have some berries with me pancakes.  I used a recipe from Annabel's new book, and it was hands down the nicest I've ever used at home.  They were light and fluffy, but the outsides were tending towards crispy - I think it's because the recipe has melted butter in it, in addition to the standard milk, egg etc.  

So, for a really kickass start to your weekend, give these a whirl.  Oh - this makes about enough for 5 or 6 people, 'cause one or two cakes was plenty per person.  They were filling!  

2 cups SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk with 2 tbsps lemon juice - let stand together for 5 minutes)
50 g melted butter
berries, maple syrup, lemon etc - or whatever you like to eat with yours

  1. Combine dry ingredients in bowl.  Make well in centre.  Add eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and butter, whisk until smooth.  
  2. Melt a little butter in frypan.  When hot, drop large spoonfuls of batter in.  Turn when bubbles form (about 2 minutes).  
  3. Keep warm in a warmed oven, serve with toppings of choice - and fried bacon!!  

23 September 2014

Cheese? Yes please!

Finn's having a couple of mates over this arvo (ok, really just an excuse for us to have a coffee, but the kids enjoy the company too), so thought it was about time to whip up some more mini-muffins.  But this time, savoury.  I love savoury pinwheels, so thought that would likely translate into a love for bite-sized morsels of bacony, cheesy goodness.  And I was right.  

I got this recipe from kidspot, they have loads of recipes for (a) tempting little ones to eat, which is great if you have a picky eater and (b) kids to make (when they're a bit older than Finn, perhaps!).  For example, most savoury muffins will use corn kernels, and then milk and butter to bind the mixture.  This one cuts that - it uses creamed corn, so the corn and the wet ingredients are dealt with in one fell swoop.  Probably not quite as healthy, but if it gets them made quickly, and makes them easy for kids to make, then that's a fair trade-off to me.  

Anyhoo, here we go, enjoy!!  Oh - and they freeze really well, so make a heap then freeze to pull out for lunches or afternoon teas.  And 'cause I think even KB will be happy to take some in his work lunch, I put a dob of cream cheese in the centre of some...    

1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup cream corn
1 cup grated cheese
2 rashers bacon, diced and cooked
cream cheese (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.  Prepare muffin tray (12 normal sized, or 24 minis).  
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Add corn, cheese and bacon.  
  3. Break egg into measuring cup and whisk lightly.  Add water to make egg up to 3/4 cup.  Add to other ingredients and mix until just combined.  
  4. Spoon into muffin tins (add cream cheese if using - just poke a glob into each one) and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.  
NB:  Dried herbs would be great into these too, and finely diced onion.  

09 September 2014

Ensalada de naranjas

I went to The Food Show a few weeks ago with my Mum and a friend and, as always, it was amazing!  I've been going to the Show (and for several years working at it) since it began, as it was started and it run by some very talented cousins of ours, and every time I go I'm blown away by the sheer magnitude of the event.  The number of stalls, the cooking demos, the products that you just HAVE to have in your pantry.  I love it.  

This year I watched a couple of cooking demos, one of which was Ray McVinnie.  He was someone who I'd always made fun of (eh KB?), based purely on how he came across sometimes in Masterchef NZ.  However, I have to eat my hat.  He is actually really down-to-earth and personable.  Judge a book by its cover, you will not, as Yoda would say.  He was focusing on Spanish-inspired meals, for sharing with friends (the idea being that you just put the platter on the table and help yourselves from that shared plate).  One of the dishes he prepared was the following ensalada de naranjas (orange salad).  He also did an interesting catalan-style venison, which you'll find on The Food Show's website above.  

Mum's made this salad a couple of times since the show and it's a winner - really light and fresh, so perfect for summer, or (as has been the case) after a heavy winter meal, such as the good ol' Sunday Roast.  You get a treat of having a dessert, but without the overfull feeling that so often follows.  I'm looking forward to a summer of this bad boy.  At the moment we're using cut-up dried dates to sprinkle on top, but once berries are about again, it'll be blueberries, raspberries and blackberries for Africa - ¡Buen apetito!   

300 ml cream
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp orange flower water *
6 oranges (NZ navels are perfect)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 cup dates / berries to sprinkle all over 

  1. Peel oranges so there's no pith left.  Slice into 1 cm slices.  Arrange on platter, sprinkle with sugar and dates/berries, cover and chill in fridge.  
  2. Put cream, orange flower water and lemon juice into bowl.  Do not stir - just set aside for 20 minutes, then stir slowly and the cream will thicken.  Cover and place bowl in fridge.  
  3. When ready to serve, spoon acidulated cream over and enjoy!!  
* Found this in an Asian food store.  

13 August 2014

Coconut pikelets!!

400 ml coconut milk
2 cups SR flour (2 c plain flour + 3 tsp baking powder)
1 tbsp honey / agave nectar 
2 eggs
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Cook in a non-stick frypan and when bubbles appear flip over.  Serve warm.  YUM!!  

21 July 2014

passion de l'amour

4 passionfruit
4 lemons 
185 g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp butter, softened

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (160 if using a fan-forced oven).  Grease/line  22 cm tin.  
  2. Squeeze lemons for their juice and grate the rind.  Strain passionfruit pulp so you have the juice and the seeds.  You need 1/2 cup of juice (mixture of passionfruit and lemon). 
  3. Place butter, lemon rind, juices sugar, eggs, milk and flour in a bowl.  Beat on low speed in cake mixer until combined, then increase speed to high and beat for 2-3 minutes until pale.  Stir in passionfruit seeds.  
  4. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  
  5. Stand in tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto cooling rack.  Once cooled, ice and serve.  A little extra grated lemon rind would look good as a decoration, or some more passionfruit pulp.  

19 July 2014

Popsicle, popsicle!

Our tree has gone crazy with lemons.  So, having juiced (and frozen) enough to last copious summer afternoons of gin and tonics and made a cake, I decided to make some iceblocks.  Icing sugar, lemon juice and sparkling water.  Easy!  Next time I might try using honey, in place of the sugar, but we'll see.  

1/3 cup juice
2/3 cup icing sugar
1 cup sparkling water

Makes enough for about 6 little iceblocks.  

07 July 2014

♪ Can I have another piece of chocolate cake ♫

You can't beat a good chocolate cake.  For me, that means three things - 1) soft, moist and chocolatey (I can't stand chocolate cakes that don't taste of chocolate!), 2) easy to throw together and 3) a reasonable size - ideally it's got good height, and will last for more than a day with ravenous raccoons marauding the pantry.  

My mother-in-law has always made the following recipe, and I can testify that it meets each of the above requirements.  One mixing bowl, nice big cake, tastes awesome!  

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup cocoa
200 g melted butter
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla essence
pinch salt
3 cups SR flour
1 cup boiling water with 1 tbsp coffee dissolved in this

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius and either line or grease a large spring-form cake tin.  
  2. Mix all ingredients, in order given above - note, this is a very wet mixture.  
  3. Bake for 40 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.  
  4. Cool on a rack, then ice with your favourite chocolate icing and decorate as the desire takes you.  

03 July 2014

We got the 'erb, 'erbaliser...

Wintertime.  Herbs.  Cooking.  Herbs.  Coughs and colds.  Herbs.  See a pattern emerging?  It's that time of year, when the nights are early and cold, the nose is blocked, and we're stuck with endless episodes of 'XYZ got Talent', 'Police Raid Borneo' and 'Eketahuna Idol'.  But alongside that we've got cosy kitchens, warming dinners and a million uses abounding for the fresh herbs we grow in our gardens (or in pots on the windowsill).  

Tonight we have steak on our menu.  Good ol' steak, with good ol' roaties and steamed garden veges.  The difference?  Lots of herbs and lemon.  I've been making a herbal remedy for my cold, and to be honest it smelled so good, I decided to effectively replicate it to spice up our dinner.  So, here we go - winter herby steak with winter veg.  

Steak, enough for 2 or 3 people - I used rump, but skirt would work here too (or scotch, sirloin, or eye fillet, but you needn't use such august cuts when marinating)

3 or 4 cloves good kiwi garlic 
2 sprigs rosemary (just the leaves)
1 tbsp fresh oregano, majorum or thyme
zest of 1 lemon
pinch salt (ground rock salt, not table salt - it's to help pulverise them, rather than flavour)
2 tbsp oil

zest and juice of another lemon 
salt and pepper

potatoes, cut into even chunks
beetroot (leave whole if they're smallish, cut into quarters if massive)
pumpkin, cut however you like
more sprigs rosemary

carrot (sliced into matchsticks)
baby brussell sprouts 

  1. Place garlic, rosemary, oregano, lemon zest and rock salt into mortar and pound gently until crushed.  Add oil and mix.  
  2. Place steak into shallow dish, grind over some salt and pepper, sprinkle with lemon zest and juice.  Press herby mixture onto steak.  Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour (can be longer though, ours will be in the fridge for about 7).  
  3. Toss oven veges with oil.  Place into roasting tray with extra sprigs of rosemary and roast at 180 degrees celcius for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.  
  4. Steam the 'greens' and serve alongside steak and roasties.  I like to make up some gravy to go with this too - homemade would be awesome, but a favourite packet will do just fine too.  Enjoy!! 

19 June 2014

Patea Maori Club presents 'Pie e'

You can't beat a good pie.  Homemade pies, with just the right amount of pastry?  Yum.  Last night we had a fridge full of leftovers from the night before's roast chook.  So last night, when facing that daily conundrum of 'what for dinner', we had options.  Another roast meal.  Make the leftovers into a curry.  Risotto perhaps (had freshly made chicken stock too!)?  Then I did what we all do - looked into the freezer, for that one thing that might just act as a flash of inspiration.  And I got lucky - sheets of flaky puff pastry, lying there in the cold, desperate to be taken out an cooked (seriously, the edges were getting freezer burnt).  So, it's pie time kia ora talofa, it's pie time....  I've made chicken pies before (see the pie time link), but always with a creamy white wine sauce.  They're great, but can be OTT rich.  So this time I wanted to keep things a bit more mellow, and have the flavour of the stock etc really shine. 

Homemade stock is awesome, and if you've had a roast the night before it's easy as - chuck the carcass into a pot with a bit of water (maybe 1/3 -1/2 the way up the bones) and simmer on a low heat for as long as you can.  I had it simmering away for about 3 hours, but that was probably overkill - 1 hour should do the trick.  If you're using fresh chicken, rather than already cooked, then grab some liquid stock from the supermarket, if you can.  Powdered stock will be absolutely fine, just can be a bit salty, so make sure you taste before you add any extra salt.  

Right... you will need... 

3 sheets flaky puff pastry 
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
good handful mushrooms, chopped up 
1 1/2 cups vegetables (I used leftover roasties, chopped up, but frozen mixed vege will do)
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken, chopped into bitesize chunks
2 tsp cumin or rosemary (or whichever spice you fancy) 
1 1/2 cups chunky soup (see NB at bottom)
1 cup stock 
1 tbsp flour 
1 egg 
  1. Sauté onion and mushrooms in butter.  If your chicken needs cooking, add this once onion has softened.  
  2. Add all other ingredients except flour and egg.  Once all ingredients have heated through sprinkle the flour over top and mix in - this will help to thicken the sauce.  Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.  Turn off and allow to cool and thicken.  If sauce is too liquid, add a little more flour (add only a little at a time, because it's amazing how much a little will thicken, and you don't want super-stodge).  
  3. Spray pie dish (I used a casserole dish this time 'cause you do need quite high sides) or grease with butter.  Lay pastry out covering base and sides.  Pour in filling.  Place more pastry on top and pinch to join any edges.  
  4. Brush top with egg and bake at 150 degrees celcius for about a half hour (or until golden).  Serve with some steamed veges, or a salad.  
NB: I used some of my Mum's peanut chicken soup (AMAZING, will get the recipe!), but if I hadn't had that I'd have used something like a thick, chunky chicken and corn soup, a minestrone, or even a tin of chilli beans (kidney beans in a salsa sauce).  

05 June 2014

The legend of the Ginger Ninja

I love ginger.  It smells great, apparently has some medicinal qualities, and it goes in both curries and desserts.  What a legend!  A few weeks ago I did a chocolate self-saucing pudding.  Well, this is its ginger ninja sister.  Suit up like a samurai and get cooking!  

Batter1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp ground ginger
¼ cup Chelsea Soft Brown Sugar
¼ cup Chelsea White Sugar
50g butter
1 tbsp Chelsea Golden Syrup
½ cup milk

Sauce½ cup Chelsea Soft Brown Sugar
½ cup Chelsea White Sugar
1 tbsp Chelsea Golden Syrup
2 tsp ginger
2 cups boiling water

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt butter with golden syrup. Pour into dry ingredients with milk and mix.
  2. Place in greased oven-proof dish that is quite deep, such as a small lasagne dish, or into ramekins (as I did, but maybe don't fill them quite so much - I should have put some into another dish).
  3. Put sauce ingredients in a bowl (you can use the same one you used for the batter). As you add the boiling water, stir until ingredients are mostly dissolved, then pour over the batter mixture.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes at 180°C (or about 20 minutes for ramekins).
  5. Serve with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.

29 May 2014

Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs

Or rather, non-meatballs, as it happens.  I get a recipe emailed to me each day from Mindfood - they're always beautiful ideas, using heaps of cool ingredients, but often not something that's easy to make work under the 'family dinner when everyone tumbles back into the house at 5pm' category.  So, more often than not, I enjoy perusing them, but ultimately they get deleted from my consciousness.  Not, however, yesterday...

Spinach and cheese balls.  Sounds kind of gross, I thought, as I started to skim through yesterday's inbox offering.  But, keep reading I did.  Hmmm, spinach and cottage cheese, I thought.  We have those in the garden/fridge and they need eating.  Further on, I did read.  And discovered that these were a tasty, vegetarian take on the classic meatballs cooked in a tomato sauce.  Yum!  We were having a pork roast for dinner, so I made a batch of these as one of our vegetables.  I was supposed to add mushrooms, but didn't have any, however next time I'll make the effort to get some - I think it would have added something that was missing.  And lots of fresh herbs - my bad, can't believe I forgot them.  But regardless, these were tasty, and a great side dish, or as a main.  Buon appetito!      

60 g spinach leaves
10 g butter
1/2 onion, chopped finely (or one small one)
1 clove garlic, crushed
100 g mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped
100 g cottage cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup tasty cheese
400 g can tomatoes (or smashed up frozen ones, leftover from summer)
can tomato puree, or good couple squeezes tomato sauce
1/4 cup toasted seeds (I used sunflower, pumpkin and sesame)
  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.  Wash spinach as place in a large bowl.  Cover with boiling water for a minute, or until starting to wilt.  Place in cold water.  Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Finely chop and set aside.  
  2. Saute onion in butter.  Add garlic and mushrooms.  Place in large bowl to cool.  
  3. Add all ingredients except the tomatoes and seeds to the bowl.  Mix thoroughly. 
  4. Pour tomatoes into ovenproof dish.  Roll golfball-sized balls of mixture and place in the dish with tomatoes.  
  5. Sprinkle liberally with seeds and bake for 20 minutes with foil covering.  
  6. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes, then grill until golden.  
NB: This served 6 adults as a side dish (3 balls each), so would probably be fine for 3 main meals.  I would probably have some rice and steamed vegetables or something with it too though, if serving as a main.  

08 May 2014

Super-saucy chocola-la

You can't beat a nice warm dessert after a meal on a bleak, wintery night.  It doesn't matter if it's ginger, steamed, chocolate or apple crumble, there's just something about it that takes the edge off and makes the chill retreat just a little farther from the door.  

We don't eat a lot of desserts, as generally have no room left after dinner, but sometimes you just get a hankering for one.  Or, as in this case, see a recipe whilst flicking through the obligatory holiday Woman's Day.  

The trick, I have discovered, is that self-saucing puddings need a lot more sauce than the recipe advises (the one in the picture was really yum, but needed more sauce.  Thankfully we had plenty of cream!).  So I have doubled the sauce and listed below.  Bon appetit mes amis!  

1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
75g butter melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Cream (oh yes, yum yum yum!)
Choc sauce - 2 tbsp cocoa, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups boiling water

  1. Grease 8 cup dish (I used a casserole-sized one, but smaller would have been probably been a bit better). Turn oven on to 180 degrees celcius.  
  2. Combine dry ingredients.
  3. Whisk wet ingredients, combine with the dry and pour into dish. 
  4. Sprinkle sauce cocoa and sugar over top of pudding batter.  Pour boiling water over. 
  5. Cook at for half hour.
  6. Serve with pouring or whipped cream.  You could serve with a nice caramel custard too, and some fresh strawberries.  Yum!! 

31 March 2014

Just a spoonful o' sugar...

Cookies.  Biscuits.  Tasty morsels of awesomeness.  Call them what you will, but I think we're fairly universal in our love for them.  They pick you up when you're flagging mid-afternoon in the office; they make the sitting down and eating part of lunchtime at school fun; they're portable for those long car trips when virtually all parents have resorted to bribery at some time or another.  

I made some cinnamon and coconut anzac biscuits last week, which I've been thoroughly enjoying, but decided it was time to break out some more choc chips, for the younger members of our family.  Harry loves them with mini m&ms, so that's what I used, but any chocolate will do.  

125 g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup castor sugar (or regular, or raw)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg 
1 3/4 cups SR flour (or same amount normal flour + 3 tsp baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup choc chips
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Grease or line baking trays.
  2. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla together until creamy (well, as creamy os brown sugar will go). Add egg and beat together. 
  3. Pour flour and salt in (sift it, if you can be bothered) and mix well.  Mix in choc chips. 
  4. Roll little balls of dough (about golfball size or a little smaller) onto tray and press to flatten slightly.  
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden.  
NB: Makes a good 40 biscuits - I make about 24, then freeze the rest of the dough, and then I've got enough dough in the freezer to whip up another dozen or so when we need them.  

SR = self-raising flour

01 March 2014


KB and I have always had a bit of a laugh about the prevalence of 'meat'-two-ways in restaurants.  Duck two ways, lamb two ways - it's a current trend, and one that eateries seem to have really latched onto as a way to give their menus a little bit of je ne sais quoi.  That's right, just throwing that in there, so I seem a little pretentious and trend-setting too.  

Anyhoo, tonight our little kitchen (big enough for two, not really for three) is giving up the teasing and jumping on the band wagon.  Salmon two ways...  

We have two pieces of salmon, both will be seared in the pan, then transferred to the oven to bake, until they're done to our liking (cooked all through, though if you prefer them still red in the centre, just take them out earlier).  

One has been brushed with a marinade (prior to going in the pan) - horseradish, tamarind chutney and peanut butter.  We had it last night on our stirfried chicken and it was so good we saved some for tonight.   

The other will be friend au naturel and then topped with a panko crumb before going into the oven.  The crumb is a personal preference thing, but ours has panko crumbs (obviously), grated parmasan, chopped capers, salt, pepper and freshly toasted sesame and sunflower seeds.  To toast the seeds (we toasted quite a few, so could save some in a jar for future use, they keep really well) just pour however many you want to toast into a pan and put on the stovetop - no oil.  I toast mine over a medium heat and it seems that nothing is happening for AGES.  But be patient - once they start browning they will cook really fast, so be on hand to move them round, to stop them burning.  

And that's about it - bake for about 15 minutes at 150 degrees (or more, or less, depending how you want your fish).  We're having them tonight with roasted mini new potatoes (the tiny tinys that came from the summer crop) and a fresh tomato, loads of fresh herbs, cucumber, red onion and apple salsa, drizzled with lemon juice (tastes great and stops the apple from browning, or from oxidising, if I'm being pretentious).  Bon appetit!   

28 February 2014

All roads lead to Wellington

Well, not entirely true.  Only two roads lead to Wellington, something that would prove problematic should a natural disaster occur.  However, I digress.  

We had some leftover sheets of pastry recently, from a bout of pie-making, so thought 'hey - what about beef wellingtons?'.  I hadn't had these for absolutely years, not since I was a kid and Mum used to sometimes make them for dinner parties.  Her ones were always tasty, and I knew the key was not putting too big a slab of meat inside - you want to have a good meat:pastry ratio.  

So, we decided to stick with the traditional beef ('cause I can't see why you couldn't have chicken, lamb, or simply a vegetable filling), but with plenty of onion and mushrooms in with it, to heighten the flavour of the meat.  So, I panfried a small piece (about the size of my palm) of sirloin - salted, peppered, and beaten a bit too, to make sure it was tender.  Place that on a sheet of pastry big enough to fold over the meat (and whatever else you throw in there) and close around the edges.  If you're adding other bits in, do this now too.  We gave the onion and 'shrooms a wee fry too (in butter, of course!).  Press edges of the pastry down and brush with egg - this'll give the wellington a nice golden sheen when its done.  Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until it's the right colour.  

Now, traditionally a beef wellington has a layer of pâté on the beef, but that sounded too rich a parcel for me.  But if you're feeling traditional and want to invoke the shade of the 1st Duke of Wellington (his favourite dish, according to some sources), then grab your fav fois gras and get cooking!  

26 February 2014

go bananas with some mini muffin madness

These little gems are the tastiest banana muffins I've ever made.  I've made loads before, but these ones, with soft brown sugar in place of regular or raw sugar, are super tasty and light.  I've made mini ones for one reason - they're a better size for school lunches and almost-one-year-olds.  This made 36 mini muffins, so should keep us going for a few days!  

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or a few more)
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
3/4 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 180°c and grease mini muffin tray.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl. 
  3. In another bowl beat egg, stir in oil and milk, then mix in the banana. 
  4. Combine dry and wet ingredients.  Spoon into muffin trays and bake for about 10-12 minutes.  
  5. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. 

22 January 2014

Return to the village chicken - summer mixer # 2

Back in 2010 I blogged about a childhood favourite, resurrected in my mind by a chance meeting with a Rick Stein recipe book - Sticky chookRecent parlays with family in the UK has once again got me on the chicken train.  Sticky chicken drumsticks are such a winner.  Easy, tasty, kids love them, the list goes on.  The only downside is you get very sticky fingers eating them, but that's hardly a deal-breaker (hell, who am I kidding, for some that would be a deal-maker!).  

So anyhoo, having seen photos of Mark and Cindy's chicken culinary creations, I decided it was time our rotisserie had it's turn too (ha ha, no pun intended, but loving it!).  To give a nod to the season, we had ours with zucchini from the garden and fresh, summery salsa.  For the salsa I combined a small diced red onion, cherry tomatoes, corn (cooked on cob, then stripped), one nectarine chopped into small pieces and mint and basil.  It was kick ass, colourful and smelled great too.  The only thing is that next time I'd look for a way to bind the salsa together a bit more - perhaps a little oil, or balsamic.  Or a mix of those two?  Enjoy, summer mixer numero dos!