Tuesday, April 28

I'm doing it for you.........

I read somewhere that most of us cook the same 12 recipes. Now this is obviously a massive generalisation...........but one look at a bunch of my shopping receipts, which never seem to make it out of the bottom of my reusable shopping bags, would indicate I'm a fully paid up member of the most, churning the same puppies out, week in week out.....at least the ingredients bear a remarkable similarity, leak and bacon anyone?

So, in the interests of variety, and cleaning out my recipe tin, which I am presently unable to close due the volume of paper wodged within, I shall endeavour to cook my way through my box, using at least one new ingredient every week. I haven't got a new tin-recipe as such tonight, my lightening bolt only occurred to me this morning scrabbling around trying to find a Feijoa Chutney recipe (at the bottom, naturally), but I have a new ingredient, Wagyu Beef.

Now I have eaten plenty of beef in my time, but Wagyu is a specific variety , favoured for its flavour, and predisposition to a high unsaturated fat content, supposedly containing Omega 3 & 6, which gives the meat a marbled appearance (nigh on impossible to discern in my picture sorry, will try to get a clue about taking photos I promise....), and a higher degree of flavour & succulence than ordinary beef. It is most revered in Japan, where there are five major breeds: Tottori, Tajima, Shimane, Kochi and Kumamoto (in case you ever get asked at Pub Quiz). Our dinner is from Fresh Meats, purchased vacume packed at Farro. I usually prefer the butcher, but this is pretty specialised stuff. The animals spend the last 300-500 days on a feed lot, eating grain, which increases the fat content, and supposedly the flavour. Of course all this comes at a price, which is high! We are eating half a steak each, although it is a very thick piece of beef, and I imagine quite rich, so I think that will be ample.

I didn't want to drown out the flavour with a sauce, so I will simple give my pampered bovine a good coating of cracked pepper & salt, and griddle till bloody.....even Mr D has promised not to put ketchup on his piece.....alongside a lovely creamy dish of potato & leak baked with stock, cream & a touch of nutmeg, yummo.

I will report back on whether all the fuss & feedlot is worth it in terms of texture and flavour, in the meantime if all this makes you a tad envious remember for every new ingredient like Wagyu there is Tripe......and Liver.

Monday, April 27

A Quiche....or a Pie?

Hi all

Sorry, I have been a bit busy this week and have not been posting as intended (although according to Glenn I have not been remiss in the talking department.....how rude). Anyway supper tonight, after much deliberation, was going to be a lovely proper Leek & Bacon Quiche .I cant call it Quiche Lorraine as strictly speaking that is only bacon, cream & eggs, but the leeks at the greengrocer were fat & fabulous, (hooray, how ofter do you hear that nowadays?)......anyway Einstein here forgot to get cream on the way home,so consumed was she at remembering the cat biscuits and everything else on the list helpfully still sitting on the fridge.... After a weekend of Apple & Feijoa crumble and Chocolate Mousse (diet central around here cant you tell?) there was only a tiny puddle of cream in the bottom of the bottle. I cant perform magic tricks, so quiche was out , what else to do?

Making pies at 6.30pm on a Monday night probably isn't everyone's idea of relaxing, and even I did think I was being a tad ambitious, but frozen pastry is this girls best friend, and pies it was.

A couple of chicken thighs (I know you have heard it before but they really do taste better than chicken breasts, and they are not as dry) chucked in a small saucepan with a splash of Chard, 5 peppercorns, a bay leaf & some celery leaves, (I used the stalk to fry with the leeks & bacon) covered with water & simmered for 15 mins. Fry a few rashers of bacon , which freezes fantastically well & thaws quickly, hence it always lives in my freezer, in a knob of butter with a sliced leek, a stalk of celery and a bit of spring onion as it was knocking around the crisper. Let it all soften while chicken cooks, then add a splash of wine and let that bubble all the bits on the bottom of the pan, and take off the heat.

Take chicken out of poaching liquid & slice/tear into the leek mix. Let it cool down while you make a bechemel sauce, which means putting about 300ml milk in a saucepan with half an onion and a bay leaf and bring it to the boil on a gentle heat. While that happens melt 25 grams of butter in another saucepan ,(the one you cooked the chicken in maybe?) also gently, and add a couple of teaspoons of plain flour stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon until it looks grainy. Let it cook for about a minute, then add your heated milk , taking out the onion & bay leaf. Stir/whisk until it thickens, let it bubble gently for a minute or two, taste to see if it needs seasoning, and there you go, a bechemel sauce (or in our house white sauce). I added a teaspoon of Dijon mustard at this point, because I love it with chicken, but its up to you. This is also where you would add cheese, if you wanted to cover some steamed cauliflower with love and breadcrumbs....Anyway add sauce to your chicken mix, and stir it all together. You could add some chopped tarragon, or parsley but don't worry if you don't have it.....I use sheets of Edmonds frozen savoury pastry but any brand will do, line your wee pie cases, or a large pie tin, add your filling (better if you can leave it to cool a bit, but don't be eating at midnight just for that) and cook in a 200C oven for 20-25 mins. All that took about 35 mins to get to the oven, including feeding the cat & wandering around the garden in the dark trying to pick lettuce with out touching anything creepy crawly, so not sooooo bad, especially as quite frankly pulling off a crispy, chickeny chock-full of chook pie, well, how fab are you:) Right, dinner and Midsomer Murder calls, bye for now x
P.S I have Feijoa recipes to post, will get onto that this week, before some poor soul actually drowns in Feijoas.....it could happen!

Tuesday, April 21

Ok, its a work in progress!

Don't look to closely, although its amazing what you can fit in to a few raised beds......

Soups you Sir!

We had a roast chicken at the weekend , complete with lovely Agria potato's , roasted crunchy in duck fat, cauliflower in a very cheesy cheese sauce, and steamed ginger pudding with proper custard (5 egg yolks, yikes, for some reason I find cooking anything with large amounts of egg the last word in decadence) Anyway, I think old skool covers it!
So after spending pre-recession amounts of dosh on an Organic chicken, (which I am pleased to say did taste totally delish, although I am loath to say it was like chicken "used" to taste, in our house back in the day, chicken was roasted to incineration, or covered in sweet & sour sauce, ergo it tasted of dry nothing or pineapple....), I wanted to get every last bit of yummy out of it, in my book (or blog)this means chicken stock........
I cant encourage you enough to make your own stock, for a number of reasons, it tastes better, (the best reason come to think of it...) , you know what is in it, and 1 litre of a good quality chicken stock I saw at the Seafood Produce Market today was $13.99!!!!!!!!! forgive the ! marks, but when you know what goes into chicken stock, you will go ! as well
So for the price of a bottle of wine on special at New World , all it takes is your roasted chicken carcass , or indeed any chicken bones you can lay your hands on (my butcher sells the raw carcasses for a couple of bucks a tray) which you put into a large saucepan with an onion, a couple of carrots, a leak and some celery (from the garden, wow does it taste better) all roughly chopped . Add maybe 8 or 9 peppercorns, two bay leaves and a small bunch of parsley if you have it, cover with cold water & bring to the boil. When it boils turn the heat down & let it "blip" gently away on the stove top for a couple of hours (yes, a long time, but you are not standing over the pot stirring for that long...). Strain out the debris & either use as is, or pop it in the fridge over night, in which case any fat will solidify at the top & you can spoon it off. I don't add any seasoning to my stock until I actually use it in a meal, if you want to make a stronger flavour just boil your stock down until it is the required strength..........Bask in the fug of a great smelling kitchen, and make some soup, yum!
We are having French Onion soup for supper, complete with cheesy toasts on top, I will trade wacky dreams for a cheesy toast any day.......will post the recipe tomorrow:) In the meantime have posted a couple of garden pics, from a distance you cant see the weeds.......

Saturday, April 18

A recipe, a movie and a book

Technology has failed me somewhat, but finally back online, so will post recipe as promised.
Sausage & Lentils...snappy title or what (serves 2)
Brown a couple of sausages per person ( I like the Pork Apple & Fennel or Red Wine & Venison from the Ellerslie Butcher for this, but whatever you like, just make them good meaty ones) then put aside. Using same pan fry off a couple of onions in olive oil with a clove of garlic, a chopped carrot or two and no cabbage (added nothing but a rank smell). Throw in a tin of chopped tomato's, 120 gr Puy Lentils (available at supermarket in a box usually, or food stores such as Sabato, Farro...) a couple of Bay leaves, and about 400ml liquid (water, stock, red wine, esp if using venison and red wine sausages) with some salt & pepper, and put in a oven proof casserole with a lid, along with browned sausages. Cook at 190 C for approx 1 hr, yummo with bread to mop up the sauce
My celery is nearly ready so that will go in next time. I don't actually like celery per se, but it does seem to add something to soups, risotto etc, so it gets a small corner of one of my raised beds. Was going to post a couple of pics of the garden in full autumn flourish, but of course camera battery flat....as always! Charging now, so will get snapping this afternoon.
No doubt you are sick of hearing born-again gardeners like me wax lyrical about the bounty of their plots, and the absolute succulence of every morsel, so fresh and fabulous it wanders inside and jumps into the pot all on its own.......so let me put it out there right now, that is not me.
I have had some success over my first summer, and more than my share of flops, tomato's being one (I know, who cant grow tomato's???), In fact the best thing I actually produced from my tomato plants was a green tomato relish, after I pulled all the mouldy mildew ridden plants out of the ground still with fruit attached. Actually if there was a prize for growing powdery mildew I would win that hands down.........but I persevere, experience must count for something, and I am getting my fair share:) My little baby cabbages are nearly ready which is encouraging given I appear to have a white butterfly colony in my back yard, these were recommended to me by my mother in law Florence, I cant remember the name, but they are about the size of a softball, which is prefect for two, and means leftover coleslaw does not actually go on into eternity......
Went to see The Reader last night at the Lido, great film, go and see it if you can. You may start out wondering why you should really care what happens to Kate Winslet's character, but by the end of the movie you will, she totally deserved that Oscar.....I have listed a book in my favs called A long Slow Affair of the Heart, by a NZ writer Bruce Ansley. I love this book, he has written about a year spent with his wife Sally on a canal boat in France, it is honest & sometimes very funny, and the absolute opposite of those 'run away to France/Italy and everything works out perfect in the sunshine" books, I am returning my copy (overdue!) to the Remuera Library today, so I know at least one will be available, or it is at Whitcoulls!
Ok, that's enough, off to Brunch:)

Wednesday, April 15


Hmmmm, I'm not sure I am off to a flying start as a "foodie" blogger (actually I hate that word, surely we all eat?), given in my enthusiasm to get online I forgot about the onions & garlic on the cooker frying for dinner...the compost bin is happy to swallow my carelessness and I start again. Tonight's supper (safely in the oven) is a Nigel Slater recipe (well it started out that way) that turns into a new variation every time it makes an appearance, which is about weekly at the moment as I am in love with Puy lentils & sausages.
Nothing like an absolute surfeit of salads & BBQ to make you crave a casserole. I have just gone through & removed two exclamation marks, I am limiting myself to one a week, but it isn't easy.......anyway, I am not sure if I am allowed to put recipes up that belong to someone else , even if heavily modified, (yes, I am that new to all this techo stuff) so I shall do some research and if all good post it tomorrow. Tonight's version has cabbage in it, which has certainly subtracted from the chic factor (it looked very "70's suburban" heading for the oven), but will hopefully add to the taste equation, which given it will be eaten in front of Sense & Sensibility & True Blood (love Wednesday night telly) on the couch in my PJ's, sorry Lounge Wear, is probably OK........
Future posts will concentrate on really essential stuff like breakfast, lunch and dinner, the garden , and all points in between:)