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.