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    Friday, July 31, 2015

    Best Blinis That I Have Made - Topped with Yummy Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon

    Our friend Annette had the misfortune to break her leg, so she has ended up in hospital till it is mended. Once a month a group of us have lunch including Annette, we normally choose a cheap and cheerful restaurant and try and find something different each month.
    Seeing as Annette is laid up we decided to take lunch to her.

    I made some little chicken sandwiches, very yummy but the piece de resistance was these beautiful light Blinis
    I know normally Blinis are made with yeast, but here is a recipe, that just uses Baking Powder.
    I think the secret is the amount of BP, plus the resting time in the fridge, before cooking. The mixture really starts to  kick in. They are so light and delicious
    I found it on The Australian Woman's Weekly website
      1 cup (150g) plain flour
      1 tablespoon caster sugar
      3 teaspoons baking powder
      pinch salt
      2⁄3 cup (180ml) milk
      1 egg
      50g unsalted butter, melted

    100 gms Cream Cheese
    2-3 Pickled Gherkins finely chopped
    Zest of a lemon 
    Sea salt and Black pepper

    Smoked Salmon

    Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
    Gradually whisk in combined milk and egg, then half the melted butter. 
    Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.
    It's a living thing
    Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
    Lightly brush the pan with a little remaining butter.
    Drop two teaspoons (10ml) of blini mixture into pan.
    Cook for a minute or until browned lightly underneath and bubbles appear on the surface.
    Turn, cook for another  minute, or until blinis are cooked.
    Repeat with remaining butter and blini mixture.

    I made my blinis a little bigger so they took longer than that to cook
    See how fluffy and light they are
    Meanwhile just blend together all of the topping ingredients
    When they are cool
    Top with Cream Cheese mix
    and Some Smoked Salmon 

    If you don't have any smoked, just fionely chop a tomato and add to the cream cheese mix
    Equally as good

    So after I wrote this blog, decided I needed a cure for Cabin Fever
    Popped into my local with my Kindle and had a nice chilled Glass of wine


    Sunday, July 12, 2015

    Lamb Tagine - Perfect for The Cold Weather

    Dinner at our House on Saturday. The weather is so cold. It is Winter of course,  so we need nice warming food. A few weeks  ago I found on my blog... an excellent Fish Tagine, recipe courtesy of Anthony Worrall Thompson.
    I have made that more than once recently. went down a real treat with guests
    Would you believe, he has also got a recipe for a Lamb Tagine?
    So I gave that a go
    Thumbs up from the crowd.
    I bought my meat from the Supermarket and they only had Lamb Shoulder chops.
    I cut off as much of the meat as possible, then I left the bones in.... for extra flavour plus, some of that meat close to the bone is The Best, So don't throw that away


        1 tsp cayenne pepper
        2 tsp ground black pepper
        1½ tbsp paprika
        1½ tbsp ground ginger
        1 tbsp turmeric
        2 tsp ground cinnamon
        1 x shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2in chunks (about 1.1kg/2½lb meat in total) 

        2 tbsp olive oil
        2 tbsp argan oil...Optional I didn't use it

        (Argan oil is a Moroccan oil from the argan tree. 
        You should be able to find it in specialist food shops.)
        2 large onions, grated, I chopped them finely in the food processor    
        3 cloves garlic, crushed
        570ml/1 pint tomato juice, or Passata
        2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
        115g/4oz dried apricots, cut in half
        55g/2oz dates, cut in half
        55g/2oz sultanas or raisins, I used craisins
        85g/3oz flaked almonds
        1 tsp saffron stamens, soaked in cold water
        600ml/1 pint lamb or beef stock
        1 tbsp clear honey
        2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
        2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

    Preparation method
    Place the cayenne, black pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon into a small bowl and mix to combine.
    Place the lamb in a large bowl and toss together with half of the spice mix. 
    Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

    Next day
    Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.

    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp of argan oil in a large casserole dish.
    Add the grated onion and the remaining spice mix and
    cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes so that the onions are soft but not coloured.
     Add the crushed garlic for the final 3 minutes.
    In a separate frying pan,
    Heat the remaining oil and brown the cubes of lamb on all sides then
    You will need to do this in batches
    Add the browned meat to the casserole dish.
    De-glaze the frying pan with ¼ pint of tomato juice and add these juices to the pan.
    Add the remaining tomato juice, chopped tomatoes, 
    apricots, dates, raisins or sultanas, flaked almonds, 
    saffron, lamb stock and honey to the casserole dish.
    Bring to the boil, cover with a fitted lid, place in the oven and
    cook for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is meltingly tender.
    Place the lamb in a Tagine or large serving dish and sprinkle over the chopped herbs.

    To accompany this dish. I made a colourful rice dish
    for 6 people
    2 tbs olive oil
    1 red onion finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic crushed
    1/2 yellow pepper, finely chopped
    Sea salt and Pepper
    2 1/2 cups Basamti Rice 

    Handful of shelled pistachio nuts 
    Cup of craisins
    1 tablespoons powdered Chicken Stock dissolved
    in Warm Water approx 5 cups

    Handful parsley leaves, chopped
    Grated Zest of 1 orange

    Heat the oil in a pan 
    Add onions and yellow pepper cook till soft
    Season with Salt and pepper
    Add garlic, nuts and craisins
    Toss then add rice and cook till slightly toasted

    Add water. 
    There should be enough water so that if you touch the top of the rice
    The water should come up to the first joint of your finger
    Stir and bring to the boil
    let simmer away till holes start to form (about 4 minutes)
    Turn the heat off and
    Cover with a tight lid
    Leave for about 12 minutes
    Remove lid
    Fluff up with a fork and turn into serving dish

    Scatter herbs and orange zest over the top
    Some of the satisfied customers
    It warms the Cockles of your heart!!!

    Tuesday, June 02, 2015

    Tasty Flavoured Tomato Butter - Liberally Spread on the Best Cheese Scones - Divine

    Now Here’s A Thing.
    Seriously, I thought there was nothing finer than a good cheese scone.
    BUT I have discovered an embellishment.
    Tomato and Parsley Butter
    Now these are really the Best Cheese Scone

    Friends were coming over for Afternoon Tea, well actually and Afternoon Wine
    Of course I must make food
    So I whipped up a batch of Cheese Scones,
    Normally I would just supply some good butter to spread on them
    This time I decided to flavour the butter

    Take 150 gms of Unsalted Butter at room temperature
    4 Cherry Tomatoes, very finely chopped
    2 tablespoons of chopped Parsley
    Sea Salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper

    Mash the butter
    Add the tomatoes and parley
    Season to taste with S & P

    Spread liberally on the freshly baked scone
    Seemed to go well, with the Champagne and also Chardonnay
    Covers all bases
    Just in case, people cant be bothered looking up how to make the scones… I have added the recipe for the scones from a previous post
    So Pre-heat oven to 220C

    1 cup of plain high grade flour
    2 1/2  teaspoons of baking powder
    Pinch of salt
    Good pinch of Cayenne Pepper
    1 cup grated tasty cheese
    2 spring onions finely chopped
    1/2 cup milk
    Sift the dry ingredient into a big bowl
    Add cheese, stir

    Add spring onions 
    Add milk
    Quickly mix and turn onto lightly floured bench
    Pat into a circle
    Cut into wedges
    Place on a lined baking sheet (you could just flour it if you wish)
    Bake for 8-10 minutes
    Break open and put a nice pat of butter on top

    Monday, May 25, 2015

    The Best Stew - Cajun Style

    Here's a tasty stew.

    Being a “clever” shopper!!! I noticed that there was an amazing  special at the supermarket... about 12 mixed coloured peppers, for only $3.99. That is really cheap at this time of the year
    Also there was beef on special, close to use by date, but that's fine, planning to use it straight away.
    Plus I found an organic chicken cheap as chips,  sectioned that and straight into the freezer.

    Peppers are very much part of Cajun cooking,
    They form part of The Trinity,  Onion, Peppers and Celery
    The main base of Gumbo, Jambalaya Or anything your Cajun heart desires.

    Perfect, so I found some Cajun seasoning in my pantry and started work on this very tasty stew
    Which we ate with mashed potatoes
    The rest of the peppers, I roasted, marinated them in olive oil, and they are in my fridge
    They will last for ages

    There was some Pinot Noir remaining in a bottle
    Good, wine such a good addition to any meat dish


    500 gms Beef chopped into 1 inch pieces
    2-3 tablespoons flour, seasoned with sat and freshly ground black pepper
    2-3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 x onion roughly chopped
    3 Capsicums seeds removed and chopped
    2 sticks celery
    2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
    Slosh of wine
    1 can Chopped Tomatoes
    Water to cover

    Toss the chopped beef into the seasoned flour
    Heat the olive oil in a pan till it its hot
    Add the beef and brown the pieces
    Place in an ovenproof dish
    Add the onions to the pan and they will pick up the nice crispy bits
    Cook till soft but not browned
    Add the capsicum and celery
    Continue to cook until they are soft as well
    Add the Cajun seasoning
    Keep cooking for about 5 minutes to cook the spices out
    Add the wine. this will help to deglaze the pan
    Add the tomatoes
    Stir well and then pour over the meat in the dish

    Rinse out the pan with some hot water, so that all the lovely flavours are not lost
    Add to the meat
    Make sure that everything is just covered
    You may need to add some more water

    Bake in 170C oven for about 2 hours
    The meat should be tender and the sauce thickened

    I served with mashed potatoes
    Perfect for a Winter Night

    Of course There was too much for two people and there were left overs
    The mashed potatoes were turned into fish cakes
    And the stew into a lasagne
    Which was layered with Bechamel and some of the roasted peppers

    You could use some of those peppers in the jar, bought from the Supermarket
    Up to you the amount you use

    So, first, I made a béchamel sauce
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoon flour
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup milk
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 cup grated tasty cheese

    Melt the butter in a small pot
    Add the flour to make a roux
    Cook for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour
    Season with salt and pepper
    Infuse the milk with the bay leaf
    I just pop it into the microwave for about1 1/2 minutes to heat it

    Pour the hot milk onto the roux
    Stir, till it is smooth
    Let it simmer away for about 3-5 minutes
    Add the cheese and set aside
    Drain the oil off the peppers
    Open a packet of lasagne sheets
    I like to use these Barilla Sheets, no need to pre-cook

    So to assemble the lasagne
    A spoonful of béchamel
    Lasagne sheets
    The stew

    Roasted peppers

    Lasagne and top with the remaining Béchamel

    Cover with oiled foil
    Cook in a 180C oven for 30 minutes
    Take the foil off and finish off for another 15 minutes

    The top should be golden and the sauce bubbling
    The aroma. so inviting

    What a really tasty dish. Just like a bought one

    Sunday, May 10, 2015

    Stretching Your Dollar - Simple Fish Pie - Don’t Waste Food

    We entertained last night and I over catered a little.

    I peeled too many potatoes, chopped too much parsley. Our friend George, brought up freshly caught Trevally which I cut into Sashimi pieces.
    It was delicious, so so fresh, we just dipped into soy sauce.
    There was quite a lot, so I quickly put the overs in the fridge.
    Now, a day older, I decided I should do something else with it.
    What quickly came to mind. Fish, Potatoes?
    How about a fish pie for dinner tonight?

    I constructed a Bechamel Sauce, popped in the chopped Parsley
    The zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
    Next I added the fish
    Find a nice little pie plate to cook in

    Meanwhile I brought the potatoes to the boil, added some hot milk mashed them up
    Beat it some cold butter

    Spread it over the top
    Ready to go into the oven

    Dinner done
    That's tonight sorted

    Tomorrow night the actual leftovers : Lamb, Tomato and Potato Bake with Leeks and Peas
    Tastes a lot better that it looks
    Before we cut into it. Very tasty. tender lamb

    Thursday, May 07, 2015

    French Toast Roll Ups - What a Great Idea. Kids Love these

    When I saw this recipe, I know I had to make it. Kids love French Toast and Churros
    This is, you may say... a "poor man's" Churro.
    I made this for dessert, if you wanted to make them for breakfast, maybe just drizzle over some Maple syrup
    So you tust turn your Nutella filled French Toast into cigar shapes,  and dip in egg and milk.
    Shallow fry in butter
    Dust with sugar,  flavoured with cinnamon and orange zest
    Dip into a warm velvety chocolate sauce and
    Voila Heaven
    Mine is right!
    I grabbed this recipe off a friends Face book page and she got it from the Cinnamon, Spice and All 
    Webpage. I have made a couple of changes
    Reeni the host, suggested that you could use other spreads, but our kids adore Nutella
    I thought it could be nice, filled with grated cheese, like the Southland Cheese Rolls
    When they were cooked you could shake them around in finely grated Parmesan perhaps
    Maybe a few herbs?
    I will try that
    Once again, this is the time when only the plastic white bread, will do
    2 per person and sometimes you could almost eat more

    10 slices white sandwich bread
    2 eggs
    3 tablespoons milk
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Zest of a medium Orange
    Butter, for frying

    Trim the crust from the bread and flatten it out with a rolling pin.
    Spread the Nutella over the bottom 3/4 of the bread

    Roll the bread up and repeat until they're all filled.

    In a shallow bowl whisk the eggs and milk until well combined.
    In a separate bowl mix the sugar with the cinnamon and orange zest
    In a skillet set over medium heat melt a tablespoon of butter.
    Add the rolls to the egg turning to coat on all sides then place them in the pan seam side down.
    Cook in batches until golden brown, turning them to cook and brown on all sides.
    Add butter to the pan as needed.
    Add the hot rolls from the pan to the orange and cinnamon sugar and roll until completely covered in sugar.
    Meamwhile whip up this very simple sauce to dip them in

    100 gms choc chips
    50 mls cream
    50 mls milk
    1/1/2 tbs golden syrup

    Place everything in a small pot
    Heat gently till melted
    I think everyone needs their own little bowl of sauce
    Dip your French toast into the yummy warm Chocolate


    By the way not just for kids. We loved them too

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015

    Le Cordon Bleu School in Wellington - Birthday Treat

    Growing Older sometimes doesn't have a lot going for it… but in amongst the saggy body, greying hair, joints that need replacing and all that sort of things…There are some very pleasant surprises.
    I certainly got one for my 3 score and 10th birthday. Dear friend Lana, suggested to a group of friends and family that they contributed to a fund, which took me, along with Lana to hometown Wellington, to partake in a Cordon Bleu  (Sometimes lovingly referred to as Gordon Blue) one day course. It featured Sauces, Classic and Modern.
    What a great present, mind you, I also received other wonderful gifts. All sorts of beautiful creams, pedicures, foot massage, hair treatments, vouchers, earrings, scarves. wine, Champagne.
    Well blessed
    So first we found a Nice Holiday Retreat for Dale at the St Andrews Retirement Village in Glendowie. Settled him in, packed bags and off we went.

    Valet parking at the Carpark, off to Koru Lounge, some bubbles, light meal. Seated at the front of the plane.
    Nothing but the best

    Of course it is not in our DNA, to just go and do one thing, no,no, no, we filled in every possible moment.
    First we were picked up by Tony Stevens, who kindly dropped us at the Hotel.
    We checked in.
    Waiting in the room, Chocolates and a card from the Hotel, wishing me a Happy birthday.

    Dear Tony returned to take us back their house, where the lovely Carol was waiting with drinks, dinner and great fun.

    Fresh fish, with a delicious dessert. Not together of course!

    Of course some tasty liqueur to finish us off, not literally thank God, big day ahead.
    What a great start.
    After a tasty breakfast we headed off to Le Cordon Bleu School
    First we were introduced to our Chef Tutors for the day. Chef Paul Dicken from the UK and Chef Francis Motta from La Belle France
     So off to our work stations, felt like a real student Chef.
    We needed to be in groups of two. Ms Lana setting up, with Chris, her partner for the day
    The plan was to make basic Primary sauces, which are the base for so many other delicious sauces, to enhance your meal.
    First up, we made Chicken Stock, Chef Paul demonstrated.
    We went back to our work stations and all the ingredients were waiting for us
    New tip for me, normally I would just chuck the bones into the pot. No, not in Cordon Bleu Kitchen...first we cut off any excess fat,
    then we removed any innards from the bones...then the carcasses go into a bowl of running water and remove any blood. Helps to make a nice clear stock
    For the chicken stock, they keep the vegetables fairly large. I liked the way the leek was folded up and tied with string, plus a tidy little bouquet garnie
    Interestingly enough no salt added, till the end. Also very important for a nice clear stock.
    Skim, skim, skim as it simmers away

    Next we made Beef stock,which interestingly enough, contained a couple of pigs trotters, this provides the gelatinous compound. They provided us with the bones, already roasted for extra flavour and colour.
    The vegetables for the beef stock were chopped into smaller cubes. Once again, skim. skim and simmer for a couple of hours

    Fellow students working away
    Then still on basic primary sauces, Bechamel, which of course segues into Mornay sauce, with the addition of a tasty cheese...if I am making Lasagne or Moussaka, I usual add an egg yolk for extra richness and puffs up nicely. The twist to this...Chef Francis quickly whipped up a Sabayon, with egg yolks and water.
    What a great idea the sauce was very light and fluffy and very tasty, We popped a cartouche over to stop skin developing.
    Then we started to make sauces, which were based on the stocks
    First up a Sauce Bordelaise which contained poached bone marrow.A very rich Red wine reduction, enriched with butter...perfect to serve with lamb or beef
    Next, below, a Sage and Orange Emulsion Sauce, which was whipped up, and the froth spooned over fish.
    At a later date I will make this and blog the recipe.
     Frothing the light Fantastic
    Getting close to lunch time. We were about to make our own lunch
    Duck A L'Orange. Once again the Chef demonstrated and off we went to our work stations, to cook the duck and the very delicious orange sauce.
    The point of difference in this sauce. A Gastrique. First we need to julienne, blanch and macerate the zest in Cointreau, beautiful
    Below: Nice little Julienne I thought,
    Actually they used Oranges and Lemons, so really it's a citrus sauce, not just Orange 

    The Gastrique: First caramelize sugar, red wine vinegar,  deglaze with citrus juice.
    This is added to reduced duck stock, carry on reducing, pass through a sieve, add butter and the macerated zest.

    Cook the duck breast, rest and slice on the diagonal
    Spoon over the divine sauce
    Meanwhile, while we were beavering away in the main kitchen, in the background, all sorts of things were going on. Whole Snapper and Lamb Legs, were in the ovens, roasting away, eggs being poached, all that so that we could smother them with the appropriate sauces, made by our own fair hands.
    As well as the Chefs, we had 4 helpers, who are students at the school. They were able to assist us when we were flumoxed.
    So we all left the kitchen, to an area out in the hall, tables were set up with big bowls of salad, to go with our meat. Wouldn't want to be a vegetarian in this kitchen. In fact according to French Chef Francis, vegetarians are not normal, ha ha.
    The Chefs, earning their keep .
    A good use of the Mornay Sauce, smother poached eggs with it.
    After I had eaten my duck, I went back for seconds.
    Lamb with Bordelaise Sauce and Snapper with the Sage and Orange Emulsion
    After lunch, we made a cream for Tiramisu,  A quick version, all mixed up in a syphon... Reminiscent of the Whipped Cream in a can, but much nicer, flavoured with Amaretto and Rum. Yum
    Then, Creme Anglaise, Beurre Blanc  finishing off with 2 couli's
    One made with Fennel and Parsley
    Once again, perfect for fish or chicken
    Fabulous Deep Green
    While Chef Paul was working on the Vegetable Coulis...
    Chef Francis worked on a Raspberry version
    By this time it was 4.30 and time to pack up.
    What a fabulous day.
    It really was so special.
    Just got some final photos of people we spent the day with
    Lana and her partner Chris
    Shelly my partner with Moi, in case you didn't know!
    And our Chefs Paul and Francis Thanks to you both, we learnt heaps

    But of course the day wasn't finished yet. We walked back to our hotel, had a shower, a rest, then back onto Shank's Pony and in moments. we arrived at The apartment of Barbara and Terry.
    They were hosting an evening for us, so we could catch up with more dear friends. Rocky and Jeannie, Gerry, Sharon and Linda.
    Plenty of drinks, great pizza, wonderful conversation, what a perfect end to our day

    But wait there is more.
    After a good night's sleep, back down to Breakfast again. Our friend Andy Yavasis arrived and picked us up. Another Grand Tour of the Wellington Southern Bays. he is building a house in Lyall Bay.
    This amazing wild and windy coast, Looking good on Sunday, but can get totally out of control Magnificent.
    Great view from Andy's house.
     Tour guide Andy
    We had coffee at Elements in Lyall Bay, a very busy little cafe.
    Next on the menu, Yum Char with our friend Trishie and her work mate Bronwyn .
    Couple of wines and some Yummy Chinese food, all set up for the next move
    Te Papa. Wellington's Museum. As luck would have it they were holding an exhibition,
    celebrating Air New Zealand's 75th Jubilee
    It was so well done. You entered on a runway

    Lana flew for Air NZ for many years, many years ago.
    And there she is, young and gorgeous
    They even changed the doors to the lift to resemble an aircraft door
    Memories for Lana,
    "Flight attendants, please prepare doors for landing, Thank you".

    So Tour completed, we grabbed a cab to Trishie's house in Breaker Bay. Once again on that wonderful coastal road.
    More wine, cheese
    Then, Wellington turned on a beautiful Double Rainbow, just for us
    So I want to thank all my superb friends for making this happen.
    I will never forget it
    As it turns out, now it is blogged. Up there in the cyberspace, forever.

    Dale wasn't too lonely, he had friends

    Lovely to be at home with him now though. Dale not the Pukeko!