Saturday, 26 May 2012

Weekend brunch

I don't think I've ever actually made this brunch at home before. Delicious though! Leftover bolognaise (from Friday night's dinner) on vogels toast with a poached egg and a kransky.

This week has been pitiful in the kitchen for me. I just haven't been feeling hungry for a start so I've hardly got any groceries and takeaways have been purchased a couple of times!! Burger Wisconsin's petite chicken, bacon and avo burgers went down very well on Thursday night. I did make a venison cottage-type pie one night but wasn't organised enough to photograph it or even take note of the exact ingredients. Slack on the food and blog front but I will be back...

For breakfast I've had the new Grey Lynn's Farro Fresh almond croissant and a soy mocha twice! The croissants are so nice and crunchy on the outside with that yummy sweet almond paste in the centre and they are huge. I think they call them 'almond croissant loaf' but at just $3.99 I eat the whole thing myself.

Today we have done a proper large supermarket shop so we're sorted with lots of store cupboard basics so we only need to rush out and grab fresh ingredients over the next 3 weeks or so. Now it's just a waiting game for our baby daughter to arrive. One week till due date...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Curried Pear & Parsnip Soup w Cheese rolls

This soup would have to be an all time favourite of mine. It's sweet and creamy and delicious. Every time I serve it for friends they just love it. Do try this one...I bet it will become a regular for you too!!

Both these recipes use Carnation evaporated milk which I use to substitute cream in savoury dishes all the time, especially pasta sauces. I really can't notice the difference myself, you still get that wonderfully creamy taste but without all the fat. The light version is 97% fat free.

I'm cooking this soup for a late autumn lunch and serving with cheese rolls which I facetiously call Invercargill Sushi. They are traditional fare in lower South Island cafes. I was surprised when I made them for a work morning tea here in Auckland and most of the North Islanders had never heard of them. Apparently they first appeared in cookery books of the south in the 1930's and became popular when sliced bread was introduced in the 50's. I remember we would use them as a fundraiser when I was at school in Dunedin like you would a sausage sizzle. I'm unsure of the original recipe but here's how I do them...

In my experience 'Invercargill Sushi' is best received by the boys as a snack while watching rugby with cold beer!!!

Curried Pear and Parsnip Soup
Serves 6

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced
6 cups chicken stock
500g parsnips peeled and chopped
1 bayleaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 can evaporated milk

In a large saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat. Stir in onion, celery and pear. Cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, parsnips, bayleaf, salt, curry powder, pepper and nutmeg. Cook for about twenty minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Discard the bayleaf.

Puree soup until smooth. With the blender running, pour in the evaporated milk through the feed tube and keep blending until combined.

Cheese rolls

1 loaf sandwich sliced wheatmeal bread
2-3 cups grated tasty cheese
1 packet onion soup mix
1/2 can evaporated milk
a few grinds cracked black pepper

Firstly remove the bottom crust off each piece of bread, making it easier to roll. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and then spoon a small amount onto the crustless edge of the bread and roll. Squash it down a bit to flatten and repeat. I keep these in a tin for up to five days and just grill, bake or pop them in a flat toasted sandwich maker as I need them.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Vietnamese lamb chops with kumara ginger mash

You can't beat home kill! My husband went to visit his brother in the Wairarapa at the weekend to meet our nephew (Blake, of 6 months) and to go duck shooting. Zero ducks and 5 turkeys later, at least he brought home some meat. We were lucky enough to be gifted a 'meat pack' from Ngatapa Farm, which included these delicious lamb chops. And I'm pleased to say that the freezer is's like many things in's all about who you know!

I chose to marinade the chops with vietnamese flavours and serve it with a kumara mash & stir fried peas w onion and chilli.

The kumara ginger mash is based on a recipe we used often while catering for The Hobbit 'on set' film crew. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of months work experience as part of the Flying Trestles catering crew at the end of 2011. It was a huge opportunity for me, meeting some incredible people and learning lots about food & catering, how big budget films operate, very early morning starts (often before 4am) and 12+ hour days, 6 days per week!!! Quite a challenge in my first trimester of pregnancy and also after working 12 years in banking, 35 hours a week at my desk in front of a PC to 70 hours a week on my feet!!!

Serves 2

Vietnamese marinade
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Rub all over the lamb chops, wrap and refridgerate for no less than 2 hours.

Lamb chops
Cook the lamb chops to your liking. I would have grilled them in the oven for 10 minutes on each side but because I'd cleaned the oven that day, I fried them on a skillet for about 7 minutes each side. I don't mind them a bit charred myself but grilling is probably better!

Kumara ginger mash
3 red kumara, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp crystalised ginger, finely chopped & heated so forms a paste
1 tbsp chicken stock powder
75g butter
1/4 cup of milk

Boil the kumara in salted water until soft, drain the water. Add rest of the ingredients and mash then blend with the milk for a finer consistency. Season with salt & pepper to taste

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Spicy pumpkin soup

I'm really enjoying soup at the moment. If you have a well stocked vege bin each week there are countless possibilities for yummy soups to be part of the weekly diet. Great for a simple dinner or lunch, or even afternoon tea.

This soup is based on Annabel Langbein's recipe in Savour the Pacific, possibly my favourite of all her books. There is a particularly handy section in the back of this book...'useful side dishes/pacific flavours' which has great ideas for dipping sauces, marinades, salsas, jams + brilliant side dishes for for asian/pacific cooking. I consult this book often!

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kg pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded, pith removed and finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind or 1 tbsp minced lemongrass
1 tbsp fish sauce
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of fresh parsley or coriander, chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan and gently cook onion, sugar and garlic for 8-10 minutes
Add all other ingredients, except for the herbs, and simmer for about 20 mins or until the pumpkin is tender
Blend ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste and mix through herbs

A favourite marinade for spare ribs or chicken drums/nibbles

This is a Chrystall family doesn't even have a name, but this marinade featured all the time for us as children on chicken drums. I've been purchasing spare ribs a lot lately from the Westmere butcher, marinating them and baking them whilst basting the meat with the marinade throughout cooking for extra sticky & intense flavoured ribs. These are a winner with kids and adults alike - a brilliant bbq idea for everyone to enjoy. Use on ribs, chicken drums and nibbles

Have a play around with measures of these ingredients to your own taste...

For 10 pork spare ribs, I used
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsps honey
This gives you plenty of marinade leftover for basting

In a flat dish, place marinade ingredients and mix together with a fork or spoon. Use your hands to massage the ribs with the marinade. Cover dish with gladwrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180-190 degrees. Place ribs on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for up to 50 mins, basting every 10 minutes. (To baste, simply remove baking tray from the oven and spoon leftover marinade over the ribs before returning to oven)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tamarillos - simple dessert idea

We are always looking for new and different toppings for icecream in my husband makes a great homemade chocolate sauce and I've been making my own maple walnut with french vanilla. It's super exciting that our tamarillos are now ripe from the tree. I found this recipe on the Tamarillo NZ website.

Macerated tamarillos

Serve as a dessert with icecream, yoghurt or custard, with a crumble topping or with your cereal for breakfast!

10-12 tamarillos, peeled and cut into quarters
1 cup brown sugar

Place the tamarillos and sugar in a bowl then leave overnight at room temperature allowing the tamarillo juice to blend with the sugar.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Savoury scones - Saturday morning breakfast

I'm an early waker these days and have more energy in the morning than any other time of day. Its gives me plenty of time to bake for breakfast in the weekends. I just love a savoury or sweet muffin or scone with a cuppa tea or coffee, especially when it's still warm from the oven!

I used a recipe from Ripe Recipes by Angela Redfern. She owns my favourite local cafe which is only a few hundred metres up the road. Not only do they do great coffee but their food is outstanding and right up my alley, style wise. As stated in her book, "Ripe's philosophy is simple, fresh, quality, seasonal, healthy food that's good value for money. It's all about getting back to basics, creating simple, tasty fare and thinking about where your food comes from".

I often purchase these scones but it's nice to be able to make them at home and they taste just the same, delicious!!!

Savoury cheese scones

Serves 6
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
50g unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup fresh curly parsley, finely chopped (I used italian parsley from the garden)
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
100g diced cooked bacon (optional)
1/2 cup milk, approx

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease an oven tray or line with baking paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Dice up the cold butter and rub it into the dry mixture using your fingertips until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add parsley, tomato, grated cheese and cooked bacon, combining well.
Add enough milk to lightly combine, sitrring lightly. Be careful not to overmix as this will toughen the scones. On a lightly floured surface, empty the mixture from the bowl and pat it together. Cut the dough into six pieces and place them on the baking tray. Brush with milk to glaze. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

...Mine needed much longer than the recipe stated, more like 20-25 mins...there's possibly something wrong with my oven! I also forgot to put the bacon in the mix so added it as a topping instead. I added 1/4 small onion finely chopped too and you could use ham in place of bacon and play around with any other savoury ingredients you have on hand.