Tuesday, 29 August 2006

five things

With thanks to Haalo, and of course, Melissa from the Traveler's Lunchbox, I give you the five things I would recommend everyone eat before they die :

  1. the difference between sadly factory farmed and naturally organically reared meat, especially chicken and pork.
  2. something you have sown and grown then eaten at the peak of its existence - be that a herb, a vegetable, a fruit or a beast. For me, the pinacle (so far) is a broccoli I grew, then harvested and cooked and ate within about 10 minutes - definately the most delicious food I have ever eaten and has made me want to do it again and again and again and again . . .
  3. Butter so fresh because you have made it yourself - there is nothing to beat the freshness of your own unsalted butter - except your own butter from the milk from your own cow . . . not that I have a cow but I can dream . . .
  4. Pie : The perfect (yes made yourself with your own pastry) potato topped mince pie - mmmmmmmm!
  5. New Zealand sauvignon blanc - as fresh and tasty as a wine can get - albeit perhaps not as flash or expensive, but special and ground breaking to be sure.

I have never taken part in a meme before but there is a first time for everything, especially for something I felt would be so easy to complete . . . so if you feel the same join in and remember to link back to Melissa so she add your suggestions to the list!

Sunday, 27 August 2006

kip·per pâte

A packet of kippers needs to be cooked all at once, especially when you have you use the boil-in-the-bag method because the microwave is no longer an option (since it caught fire). But that is all good when there is also a bit of left over cream cheese and some horseradish in the fridge.

And that gives you all the ingredients for kipper pâte :

cream cheese

Just blend together to your taste and serve with toast : hot buttered, grilled pita or what ever you might like to use to make a fabulous nibble from a load of leftovers.

Just the way I like it!

Thursday, 17 August 2006


Yams are one of the most Anthropomorphic foods. Don't you think?!

What we, in New Zealand, call yams are not what people in other countries call yams ; they are also known as Oca. They are sweet and starchy and are a great part of a roast dinner. Quite possibly my favourite part along with the potatoes, meat and parsnips of course. When they are roasted they become super soft with a lovely chewy skin. And so easy to prepare : just a brief wash and trim.

Somethings I do with yams :
  • throw them around a roast to become beautifully sticky.
  • roast them with dots of butter, honey and salt and pepper.
  • include them in a slow cooked stew, into which they will dissolve and thicken and sweeten the sauce.
A friend told me that if you put a couple of yams in a bucket of soil and leave it until the plants have grown and the leaves have died back you will have a bucket full of yams. How could I resist? I have an eagerly watched bucket on the go now. Just a matter of time!

Saturday, 12 August 2006

beet·root ta·bou·li

A twist on an old stand by, just perfect for lunch. A salad of roasted beetroot chunks, fresh herbs, tangy dressing, sharp and salty cheese, and chewy bulgar wheat. Looks good, tastes good and feels good too!

Bulgar is wheat that has been soaked, cooked and then cracked into pieces. A wonderful cupboard stand-by ; easy to store, easy to prepare and good for you all at the same time. I generally prepare bulgar as the base of a salad but occasionally use it to thicken and pad out stews. It absorbs flavour and is a good chewy, textured grain. My rule of thumb is to put about 1/4 cup of bulgar per person in a heat proof bowl and add the same volume of boiling water. Stir briefly with a fork then cover with a plate and leave for 10 minutes or so to soften. I have read other methods that use up to twice the volume of water and then require you to drain and squeeze the bulgar once it has softened : I find the same volume of water to wheat works well and is much easier!

The traditional herbs to be included in tabouli are parsley and mint, but I often include other similar herbs ; a recent discovery that worked well is Vietnamese mint. The proportion of herbs to bulgar are of course up to you but authentic versions lean heavily towards the herb.

I also like to add vegetables to provide a more complete dish if the tabouli is to be lunch rather than an accompaniment. Roasted root vegetables work very well, left over and cut up or specially prepared, either way! But for the prettiest salad, a beetroot roasted in foil at 160°c for about an hour, then peeled and cubed, is just the thing - staining all a fabulous pink.

For extra protein or tang or contrast or for no reason at all, add some crumbled feta.

All that is left is to make is the dressing, which is more like a series of events. I like to add a tablespoon spoon or two of nice fruity olive oil once the bulgar has absorbed the water. Then a good dose of lemon juice and salt and pepper. And finally as much garlic as I dare for the environment in which the tabouli is to be enjoyed. All of these things added before the herbs, vegetables or feta. With a final adjustment just before serving.


Monday, 7 August 2006

peach sal·sa

The final ingredients for the edition of , run once again by Owen at Tomatilla! are :

Any newly (re)discovered herb
Something spicy hot

It is a little difficult to find fresh stone fruit in New Zealand in the middle of winter, and since it is nasty and rainy here today I was not motivated to go to the shop to try to find some dried or other version. So I turned to the cupboard and came up with the following interpretations of the ingredients!

Kirsch, cherry liqueur
Canned peaches, the easy winter peach option!
Vietnamese mint, from the garden, easy enough to pick on my way in. I have only just started to grow this and have only used it one or twice.
Peppercorns, tellicherry peppercorns to be precise. Which, if pepper could be classed as a herb I could claim the tellicherry version to be newly discovered with this being its first outing in my kitchen. And come to think of it, I could claim this as the cherry part too, right?!

We are having steak for dinner tonight, and I thought a peach salsa would jazz up dinner and satisfy the paperchef ingredients at the same time!

Peach Salsa :

Peaches, canned or fresh, chopped
kirsch, a slug
Vietnamese mint leaves, shredded
Tellicherry peppercorns, crushed

Mix all ingredients together and leave for at least an hour for the flavours to meld. Serve as you would any salsa, perhaps as we are with a tellicherry peppercorn crusted steak.

I think this might fit the Paper Chef Home category since I did not have to buy any ingredients especially. And all could be substituted easily : how about a pear, whisky, mint and peppercorn salta tomorrow?

Sunday, 6 August 2006

Eng·lish muf·fin

English muffin's egg-ring eggsploits eggsposed!
English Muffin, beloved of breakfasters everywhere, was found getting a freshly laid egg yesterday. A tip off was received by Jeanne and our canny reporters were on the case.
The only comment released was that the English Muffin wanted to be like her cousin MacMuffin, but she is English not Scottish! The lure of the perfectly formed fried egg laid on a toasted cheese base with a couple of rashers of bacon was too much for English Muffin to resist. We quite understand.

English Muffins
makes 9

300g of white stoneground unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1 tablespoon of shortening (or a mixture of shortening and butter, or all butter)
1/2 cup of buttermilk (why not make the butter to go with the muffins first and then use the resulting buttermilk!?)
polenta for sprinkling

Make a very soft dough with all the ingredients except the polenta. The dough should be very soft, tacky, but not really sticky.
Rise in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for an hour or until doubled in size.
Prepare a proofing pan by lining a baking sheet with non stick paper, spraying with oil and sprinkling with polenta.
Divide into 9 pieces, shape into balls and place at least 2 inches apart in the proofing pan. Spray with oil, sprinkle with polenta, cover in plastic again and leave to double in size, about an hour.
Preheat a heavy pan to medium and the oven to 180
Spray or brush the pan with oil and gently lift the risen muffin dough balls with a spatular into the pan, only as many at a time as fit comfortably leaving enough room to turn them. Cook each side for about 4 minutes then put in the oven for 4 minutes.
Leave to rest for 30 minutes before eating.
Incidently, the correct way to open an english muffin is to push the tines of a fork into the circumfrance all the way round then pull the two halves apart with your hands!

Saturday, 5 August 2006

four ways with cro·sti·ni

When I saw that Bron had chosen bruscetta and crostini as the theme for I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out something I had been thinking about for a while.

I quite often make crostini as a way to use up the last bit of a baguette or ficelle. Having crostini in the cupboard is a great thing, they keep so well and make a brilliant snack with a bit of whatever is kicking around in the fridge to call a topping. More and more often I will use part of the dough when I am making bread to form into a ficelle just so I can make crostini.

I usually just make the crostini plain, but why not experiment with flavouring the toasts themselves as well as with the toppings? Why not indeed?!

So I give you four ways with crostini and some suggested toppings :

Plain - Slice a ficelle or baguette and brush or spray both sides with olive oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 180°C for about 10 minutes, turning over half way through, until golden and crispy. Top with - lightly crushed pieces of peppered mackerel.

Garlic - [my favourite!] Make as for plain, but when they are cooked rub a clove of garlic over the pieces. The garlic will grate onto the crostini, leaving a wonderful garlicyness. Top with - onion jam, half a black olive and a bit of anchovy fillet.

Mushroom - Make as for plain, but sprinkle the oiled pieces with some dried mushroom powder before putting in the oven. Top with - a paste made from mashed feta and some yoghurt with a few drops of truffle oil on the top.

Spiced - Make as for plain, but sprinkle the oiled pieces with a mixture of spices before putting in the oven. Top with - mashed leftover kumera made in the style of hummous with a bit of tahini and some more of the spice mix used on the crostini.

I was a little late with this so the round up is already done - I'll try better next time!

Friday, 4 August 2006

sweet lab·neh

And now for a sweet verison! So simple to describe with the details already covered.

Step 1 : Take some thick strained yoghurt and mix with some liquid honey, warmed to make it runnier if you like.

Step 2 : Roast some walnut pieces by poing boiling water over them and leaving for 10 minutes, draining and then roasting in a hot oven for a few minutes until they are golden.

Step 3 : Peel and slice a kiwi fruit.

Step 4 : Assemble to mouthful size, with a slice of kiwi, and blob of sweetened yoghurt and a sprinkle of walnuts.

Lovely and light and healthy. Just the thing for getting over the indulgences of a holiday week!