Tuesday, April 26

Where did Easter go.....?

I actually made the dough these on Thursday night, but my weekend seems to have run away on me. If you find it please do let me know. While the Hot X Bun season is well and truly over, we enjoyed them so much they will be reincarnated as fruit buns, perfect for breakfast or brunch. Mr PK is a fruit bread addict, so these will make a nice alternative.
I made the dough in about 10 mins on Thursday night in the Kitchen Aid, then shaped the buns & left them to rise on Friday morning while I wandered into the village to pick up my coffee. By the time I got back they were ready for the crosses and into the oven. 15 minutes later fresh hot buns, and a rather heavenly smelling kitchen.
This is a Jo Seager recipe, and makes a large batch of approx 28 buns, either halve the mixture if you want less, or what you cant eat fresh pop into the freezer, they defrost beautifully.
For everyday lose the crosses, and perhaps decrease or omit the candied peel.

Hot Cross Buns (recipe by Jo Seager from the NZ Gardener Homegrown Recipes )

4 tsp dried yeast

1¼ cups warm water (about blood temp)
2 tsp sugar
7 cups white high grade flour (this is equal to 1.05 kg)
1½ tsp salt
¼ cup caster sugar
¾ cup raisins or sultanas (I used jumbo raisins)
½ cup currants
½ cup chopped crystallised peel
2 tbsp cinnamon (I also added a grind of nutmeg, about a tsp)
2 tbsp mixed spice
2 cups warm milk (again about blood temp)
75g melted butter, cooled
1 egg beaten

1/2 cup flour
1/ cup water

1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp water

Put the water into a small jug or bowl and mix in the yeast and sugar. Leave in a warm spot for about 10 minutes until it is frothy. If nothing happens your yeast has died, throw the mix out and start with a fresh jar of yeast .
In the bowl of your mixer (or a large bowl if you are making the buns by hand) mix together all the dry ingredients and the fruit. Make a little well in the middle and add the milk, melted butter , egg and your yeast mixture, and mix well. I use the dough hook attachment, but you could mix with a wooden spoon, then turn the whole lot onto a floured bench and knead for about 8-10 minutes. For more info on bread & kneading, see here.
I now popped the dough into the fridge to use the next morning, but if you want to use straight away, shape into 25-30 buns, and leave on a tray covered with a clean tea towel in a warm spot for 1 hour, until they have risen to almost double their size. Preheat the oven to 220C.

If you are using crosses, mix together the flour and water until you have a paste that will drop off a spoon. Fill a small plastic bag (I use a glad bag) and snip off the corner to leave a hole about 1mm across.

Use this as a piping bag, and pipe your crosses on. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden. Glaze as soon as they come out of the oven.

On a rather more sombre note, as some of your already know we lost our lovely puss Pru a couple of months ago. She was a darling and we miss her. Old age crept up and she simply went to sleep under the clothes line ( Pru was a champion sleeper) She is buried under the hydrangea, lying on her favorite toy mouse. Pru never got into the concept of playing with her toys, she preferred to lay on them and have a snooze. Not being the most active girl around myself, most of the time I could see where she was coming from.....a truly cool cat.

Tuesday, April 19

Supperclubs & Sauce....really good sauce

Saturday's supperclub was a grand success, great guests, good food (if I do say so myself....) made for a fun evening, and no nervous breakdowns in the kitchen to be had...I had food bloggers on the guest list, including Alli from Pease Pudding, Mairi from Toast (who took the pics, thanks!) and Becs & Miriam from Lovely Wee Days, so no pressure then........
The menu was based on recipes from the new Supperclub Cookbook, I chose a mix of dishes which would work together as a delicious dinner and also let me cook for 8 people in a very ordinary kitchen with one oven without stress or to much alcohol. My guests enjoyed........

Kir Royale
Chipotle Lime Popcorn

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toasts

Pork Belly Stuffed with Sage & Fennel
Quince & Apple Sauce
Potato & Celeriac Gratin
Braised Peas with Lettuce
Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts

Pavlova with Raspberries & Salted Caramel Sauce

Cheese- Kikorangi Blue
Crescent Dairy Flat White
Mahoe Very Aged Gouda
Fig & Aniseed Bread
Fig Compote

Coffee & Mini Peanut Slabs

Pork and crackle, mmmmmmm

Can you make Pav better? Yep, add sauce......

How I do love cheese

The cutest little baby Peanut Slabs.........

I have been asked for the Salted Caramel Sauce recipe, this is true ambrosia, I'm pretty sure if you drizzled some on a bit of cardboard it would be a fine pud.

Salted Caramel Sauce (adapted from The Supperclub Cookbook by Kerstin Rodgers)

250gr  Sugar (Could use plain or caster)
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp sea salt (don't use iodised table salt for this, if you don't have sea salt beg steal or borrow some)

Put the sugar & water in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat & leave to melt. Don't stir or fiddle, it just needs to melt. If you notice a little graininess say a silent prayer to the God of Sauces & hope it browns and turns to caramel before seizing up. This NEVER happened to me when I was growing up using thin crappy saucepans, now I am a grownup and used cast iron it does occasionally but as long as it isn't full grainy you can recover.
When the sugar turns brown (not black, when it will be bitter) take off the heat & whisking, add the cream. It will bubble and spit so be careful, when it has become a thick silky sauce, add your salt. Taste (carefully, this stuff can strip your tongue when boiling) and when cool store in a jar in the fridge. Administer a large spoonful straight when feeling sad, bored, sunny,  annoyed, happy, irritated, fed up or to decorate a pav or with ice cream. Or anything else.

To finish these are the flowers I had for the table. My mother went out in appalling weather & picked them from her garden. Thank's Mum.

Thursday, April 14

Creamy beans with beef.....

What a busy week, month end, year end, sense of humour end, it's had it all. A quick healthy dinner was in order, something nourishing but maybe a little different? This hit the spot nicely, creamy beans, corn and carrots topped with tangy balsamic marinated beef, yum. The beans would also be great with fish or chicken, and are substantial enough not to require carbs .
This came by way of Jamie's America which I am enjoying on TV at the moment. I brought the book after seeing an episode the first time around, and it is one of my favorites. American food gets such a bad rap, sometimes rightly so. But they also gave us Mac n Cheese, Banana Splits and the Cheeseburger, for that alone I am prepared to cut some slack. This recipe featured on the Georgia episode, and originally contained Venison & Lima beans. Jamie substitutes Broad Beans, but I came across some frozen Edamame beans at the supermarket and used those instead, saves peeling, and they are not only tasty but very good for you.........and they look pretty.

Creamy beans with beef

Serves 2-3

1 large Sirloin steak
Clove crushed garlic
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
good grind of black pepper and salt

2 rashers of bacon (optional)
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 small onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and finely chopped
2 cups frozen edamame beans (or use broad beans)
1 cup frozen sweetcorn
1 cup chicken or veg stock
More salt & fresh ground black pepper
big splash of cream

First marinate your steak by mixing together the garlic, oil and vinegar & pouring over the meat. Let rest at room temperature while you prepare your vegetables.

Fry off the bacon rashers if using in a medium non stick pan until crispy. Take out of the pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour most of the fat out of the pan, but leave about a tbsp to fry off your onions, celery, carrot & chopped rosemary. Cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables have softened, then add the beans, corn and stock to the pan, with a good grind of pepper.

At this point I would cook my steak.  I sprinkle my meat with salt, and on a preheated griddle pan, cook over a medium high heat for about 3 minutes a side until med-rare, then pop it in a warm place to rest while you finish your veg
Simmer your bean mix with the lid on for about five minutes, then take the lid off, pour in your cream, stir and let it bubble for a couple of minutes until it thickens. Add more liquid if there is not enough sauce to your taste, stock or extra cream. Taste and add salt if necessary.

To serve portion onto warm plates, slice the meat on an angle and put a few slices on top & sprinkle with your bacon. You may notice a lack of bacon in the picture, this is because I actually forgot about it, so maybe leave it somewhere visible....?

On an entirely different note, I have just finished a great book, written by a new New Zealand author called Tony Price"Kicking Out" is Tony's first novel and it is a cracker.
If you like thrillers, give this book a go. It has a supernatural element, which isn't normally what I would go for, but the treatment is subtle and never feels unrealistic. I met Tony last year, and he not only can he write a good story, but he is a really  nice guy also. Tony has published this book himself, and if you click on the link it will take you to all the available stockists.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who has the perseverance to write 90,000 words, I have written much less, and it is hard! You write a page, read it the next day, wonder why anyone would want to read such drivel, write it again, read it the next day, and on it goes until you have a finished book or have lost your mind. I am still writing, so I clearly have not reached a decision on that one......