Thursday, March 18

Things are looking up....

I am happy to say things are on the up on the lunch front. After my whinge last post, I have since discovered Cloves Indian. This little gem resides in the Happy Foodcourt ( I know I know, but very apt, my lunch made me happy indeed) on Victoria St in the CBD. From the eight or so dishes on offer I selected a Butter Chicken and a Lamb Jelfrezi , which is a favourite. I was immediately encouraged when each was dished up on a metal tray with indentations, like the ones I remember from India. Actually they were pretty battered and this one was shiny new, but let’s not split hairs. Instead of rice I had two roti, which were cooked to order, and a cooling yoghurt relish finished my tray (I think it is called a Thali in parts of India). All this for $7.50, so not much more than the average sandwich or tray of sushi in this part of town.

The butter chicken was perfect, smoky and with the heat this dish needs to stop it being cloying. The lamb also had some heat, along with plenty of meat, slightly chewy but very tasty, and loads of onion, and a thick gravy. The roti were light and flaky, not at all like the doughy indigestion makers I have had at far too many Indian establishments. The yoghurt cooled things off beautifully, and I was one happy camper. If you are hungry in the CBD, I recommend a trip to Happy Land, you will be.

Today’s lunch was a walnut & cheese salad, fresh pineapple and blueberries, and Crunchy Lemon Muffins, courtesy of Alison Holst. Mmmmmmm! I came by this recipe in the Treasury of New Zealand Baking I received from Mr Sweet Tooth for Valentine’s Day……no ulterior motive there obviously. It is a compilation of great baking recipes, to raise money for Breast cancer, an excellent book for an excellent cause.

Alison Holst’s Crunchy Lemon Muffins

For 12 regular muffins or 24 mini-muffins:

Turn the oven to 200 C with a rack in the middle of the oven


Mix together in a bowl, big enough to hold all the ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour (or if you are like me and don’t have any, 2 cups plain flour & 2 tsp baking powder)
3/4 cup sugar

Measure the next four ingredients into a small bowl, then mix them together.

75g butter, melted (or 50g butter + 2 Tbsp canola oil, or 5 Tbsp oil)
1 cup milk
1 egg,
grated rind of 2 lemons or 1 lemon and 1 other citrus fruit.


Tip the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and fold them together, preferably with a metal spoon. Mix just until the flour is dampened but NOT until the mixture is smooth. For some reason I struggle with this, and ALWAYS go a tad too far. As you can see from the picture, they peaked like Vesuvius; this is not what you are aiming for (still tasted good though)

Using two spoons, put spoons of mixture into 12 regular muffin pans or 24 mini-muffin pans coated with non-stick spray or rubbed with soft butter.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. While muffins cook, put about 1/4 cup lemon juice (or lemon and other juice) in a small bowl with a 1/4 cup of sugar

When the muffins come out of the oven, brush with the sugar/lemon juice mixture, so it forms a tangy wee crust on top, use all the juice sugar mix, then leave for a few minutes before taking out of the tins.

These are really yummy, tangy and moist, even the next day. I can’t vouch for any longer than that as I took the remaining muffins to work and they were hoovered up at morning tea. Mr ST was not impressed…….

Supper this week has again been an eclectic affair. I made the fabulous Tofu Balls, courtesy of Laura (actually Laura’s Nana) at the wonderful Hungry and Frozen blog, check it out They were utterly savoury and delish, we ate as many as we could manage(they are quite filling) with a spicy sesame sauce , cold soba noodles and broccoli. If you know anyone who is Tofu-phobic this could be a breakthrough recipe….

Back on the meat front last night was a Sri Lankan Chicken Curry, made with the roasted curry powder I made a couple of weeks ago. It is a Rick Stein recipe, I will post it up tonight, the ingredient list looks long, but the method itself involves nothing more taxing than a bit of toasting in a dry pan, and a wizz in a coffee grinder. I keep my little pottles in a large tupperware for ease of access, once you have your curry powder or paste made up, a good curry is really not very labour intensive, and just so good to eat! It also made a fab lunch today, although I am guessing the food police will be paying me a visit shortly, the office does have a faint ‘Delhi market on a warm day” aroma to it, a small price to pay surely……?

Tuesday, March 9

Solo lunch.....

I was brimming with pleasurable excitement today at the prospect of a brand new magazine (World Sweet World, sadly the final issue…..) and a solo lunch. I actually brought some of last night’s delicious mushroom soup in to work today, but temptation overcame me and I ate it at 11.05am. So instead I trotted over to Atrium on Elliot, planning to have a scrummy Croque Monsieur at the French place. For some reason I got sidetracked by an Italian nearby (I’m sure I’m not the first girl to say that….) and opted for a small plate of Carbonara instead. What a disappointment. While I applaud the attempt to be authentic and not use cream, relying instead on eggs to provide luscious texture to the sauce, those eggs should not be in any way curdled! I managed about a quarter of the plate, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was eating garlic scrambled eggs……..

Why is it so hard to get a decent brought lunch? One that does not cost a fortune, is tasty and interesting, and won’t send you to sleep for the afternoon. Or leave you feeling irritated and $10 poorer? One of the highlights for me of a trip to Paris a couple of years ago was the respect people have for lunch. We went to several “cafeterias” (for want of a better word,) where you picked up a tray and wandered around to various counters selecting what you want. There were usually various salads, a couple of meats or hot dishes, soup, plated up desserts such as flan, cheese already sliced into wee wedges and plated with butter (you got your bread next to the counter I discovered, after wandering around for several minutes looking for it….tourists eh?) and a little bar thing where you could get a wee lunch sized carafe of wine, or a small glass of beer. It was FABULOUS! At one place I had broccoli soup, bread, a small green salad, and a tiny plate of cheese, with a glass of perfectly nice Rose. It was so civilised, so affordable, and so ordinary, I mean people ate like that every day? And not a curdled egg in sight……

A brief postscript: I have just had an email from my sister, most irate at a work colleague. A box of yet to be iced cupcakes were left in a meeting room, when she returned several hours later to ice them, not only had someone opened the contained and removed one, but had also put the used cupcake wrapper back in the container! Can you believe it?! Not only greedy, and very bad manners, but foolish, everyone knows the icing is the best bit……….

Wednesday, March 3

The States, via Ethiopia.........

It’s been an eclectic couple of days at the dinner table in our house. Tonight was “Mac ‘n Cheese”......or Macaroni Cheese down this end of the world. Creamy, cheesy, with a delish crispy bacon breadcrumb topping. I added a green salad with a tangy vinaigrette and tried to pretend it was slightly healthier. Who am I kidding? I may be having an attack of some kind of seasonal disorder, but it’s March, and I am ready for autumn. I love living in a country that has real seasons, but not crazy extremes, especially as I am essentially a weather wimp. Auckland never really gets very hot or cold, but varies enough that falling leaves and a subtle drop in temperature makes me start thinking about soups and risottos. And boots and wonderful winter coats, hurrah!

Last night was an all together spicier affair. I made a version of the Ethiopian Lamb recipe from a wonderful cookbook called The Hungry Girls. This is a totally handmade gem (two volumes actually, this is from Vol. 2) from three Australian girlfriends, originally as a gift for family and friends. Check it out here. The Ethiopian recipe is actually a quick cooked lamb dish, using a wonderful mix of Paprika and various spices called Berbere. I made the spice mix, as per the recipe, but I had picked up lamb shoulder chops from my butcher, rather than the fillet or backstrap the recipe called for. So rather than the quick cook version, all a lovely lamb fillet requires, I added extra tomato for moisture, and cooked the whole mixture for longer, more like a traditional curry. Topped with tangy yoghurt, cucumber and lemon, and some steamy basmati rice, it was warm, spicy, and totally tasty. Try it!