Monday, 30 April 2012

Spiced Apple Cake

This recipe has been a favourite in our house since Dougie Read, a close family friend, shared it with Mum years ago. Its a delicious morning or afternoon tea that seems much healthier than other cakes as it has a crunchy oaty topping instead of icing. I also often serve it as a dessert, heated up with a scoop of icecream or dollop of cream. It would last in a tin for a week although it's never lasted that long with us. I'm finding it useful to have on hand at the moment as friends are popping in with gifts and to see 'the bump' as this pregnancy finally draws to a close!!

Dougie also produces her own olive oil from the trees on their Arrowtown property, and shares bottles with family and friends. Each time you visit the Reads, they have a new batch of something yummy, often a sauce or chutney. I love the spicy plum and apricot sauces Dougie makes.

We had a fantastic tomato harvest in our garden this summer...the cherries were the most successful, just amazingly sweet and a couple of larger varieties were nice too. I don't even know the names of the ones that came through, it's all a bit of trial and error. I made many sauces, chutneys and tomato based dishes for weeks and weeks on end and it was fun coming up with different ideas for tomatoes, I was loving the spicy indian sauces inparticular!

We are coming to the end of our courgette crop now and I need to think about some winter vege. I'm not much of a gardener but intend to improve and be more consistent - I get inspired by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Annabel Langbein and their passion for and pride in garden to plate entertaining.

I look forward to our next trip to Central Otago to visit the Reads and see what treats they have on offer, no pressure! ;) Thanks to Dougie for this cake recipe:

125gms butter
2 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt

25gms butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Melt butter and add grated apple with skins. Add sugar and egg and beat with a wooden spoon till mixed. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients just till damp. Turn mixture into 2 loaf tins or 1 cake tin.
For the topping: Melt butter, add rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon. Spread evenly over then bake at 180 degrees C for 30-40 mins

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday night - Minestrone

I'm a bit surprised that in the past few weeks of my pregnancy the thought of meat, particularly a chunky steak, has made me feel a bit squirmish. Surprised, because throughout my life and even this pregnancy I've enjoyed most foods at any time but with only 5 weeks to go, I shall get over it! My husband pulled some sirloin from the freezer before heading out for a round of golf, expecting that to be his dinner. Anyway, will attempt a meaty dish tomorrow night, this is what he got....

Something hearty...

My mother used to make a version of this soup when we were children. The vegetable bins in my fridge were full of vege that needed using up; celery, carrots, courgettes, butternut...this is a really easy, nourishing and hearty meal, that's cheap to make.

Serves 4

a couple of tbsps olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 courgettes in chunky slices
1/2 a small butternut, de-skined, de-seeded and diced. (You could use potato or kumara instead)
2 fresh tomatoes, core removed and diced
1 can tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans (alternatively to fill out this soup, you could use 200-300gms pasta shapes eg. macaroni or orzo)
2 cups chicken stock (I didn't have any vege stock so technically this isn't a vegetarian recipe!)
2 tbsps fresh oregano, chopped (use whatever you have on hand eg. thyme, basil, parsley)
1 tsp dried tarragon (try other dried herbs you may have - although fresh is best in my opinion)
seasoning to taste

To serve: a dollop of sour cream, pesto or some grated cheddar and crusty bread

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and sweat the onion, celery and carrot for a few minutes until the onion is translucent but not brown. Add garlic, butternut, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, herbs, stock and seasoning, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Add courgettes and simmer for a further 5 mins before adding the red kidney beans for another 5 minutes until heated through