Wednesday, 10 September 2008

va·nil·la cream cheese logs

As I have mentioned G was sick on his birthday, and as I have also mentioned chocolate Guinness cake is part of the birthday tradition. So, the Wednesday prior I prepare for the G-birthday by a supermarket trip for cream cheese and a can of Guinness (most other ingredients found in house by rote). So when I find myself stocked but without cake audience I have to consider my options :

[Lucky am I that the dairy product purchased in August does not expire until the following January - is it just me or is this just a tad alarming?]

So cream cheese then, obviously the Guinness is easily dispensed. How to use? With smoked salmon? Yes, but there is only so much one can eat. So to baking I go :
Vanilla Cream Cheese Logs
makes 2 dozen

200g cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cream the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix the egg and vanillas in lightly but thoroughly. Blend in the flour, baking powder and salt, but only until mixed - no more!

Roll into log shapes, marking tops as you like, and bake for 15 minutes or until firm and turning golden.
We find these biscuits a bit like a sweet cakey bread - yum!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Witloof and I

Two large gins, two pints of cider. Ice in the cider.

Ah, Witloof : endive, witloof, chicory, escarole. Who are you? What to call you?

Witloof, leafed; olives, sliced; watercress, picked; grapefruit, supremed; spring onions, minced; vinaigrette, creamed.

Monty : Oh, how delicious!

I : another matter entirely.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Rabbit Schnitzel

Schnitzel. One of the biggest food compliments G has given me was when he said that my schnitzel was even better than his Austrian friend Reinhardt's mum's Wiener Schnitzel. That was saying something.

[For the record the other
biggest food compliment G has given me is that my apple pie is better than his Uncle Bob's mum's apple pie.]


Anyway, when it is G's birthday I like to ask what he fancies for the weekend's festivities and augment that list with his favourites. Strangely enough, rabbit generally features on both. However this year G was sick and so was the butcher's variety ; no rabbit. But a couple of weekends later at Moore Wilson I found the rabbit - lots and lots of rabbit : fillet, loin, leg and complete muscular bodies all ready to lop. But what to do?

Now, if you have tried to cook rabbit you may also have had the misfortune to produce dry, gamey rubbish. Feel my fear. But what better way to protect from dryness than to coat in crumbs? Veal schnitzel is often a bit tasteless, expensive and hard to come by, but rabbit : flavourful, pleantiful, presentable. Hence, I present rabbit Schnitzel :
Rabbit Schnitzel
serves 4

250g rabbit fillets
50g flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg beaten with a little milk
Bread crumbs

Trim the silver skin from the fillets and flatten to a uniform thinness with a meat mallet. Flour, egg and crumb the flattened fillets and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan and when at medium-high heat add olive oil and a knob of butter. Fry Schnitzels until golden on each side Keep warm in a low oven until all are cooked. Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Happy Birthday G!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday darling GG!
Happy Birthday to you!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

pup·py pop·si·cle

It has been brilliantly hot and sunny here in Wellington I thought I would give you dog owners out there a little tip for keeping your dog cool - puppy popsicles! They are particularly good for puppies when they are teething. Just almost fill a small container with water and add a nylon chew then freeze. Pop in your dog's water bowl when frozen for them to bob for and chew.

And may I introduce Nico, our new puppy :

Isn't she cute?! Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Sunday, 20 January 2008


"It is worth remembering that in its purest form a recipe was simply a cook's receipt written in a ledger to show where the housekeeping money had gone. At best it was an account of someone's meal, an aide-mémoire for the cook who might want to make a successfl supper again. To use either as an unshakeable chemcal formula is surely missing the point."

Nigel Slater, Appetite.

Monday, 7 January 2008

IV vs V

Four spice or quatre épices :
  1. White pepper (for savoury) or allspice (for sweet)
  2. Nutmeg
  3. Cloves
  4. Ginger
Used to flavour meats during the curing process and in the case of the sweet variation rich cakes and desserts.

Five spice or Chinese five spice:
  1. Star anise
  2. Cloves
  3. Fennel seeds
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Sichuan Pepper
A good flavouring agent for rich and fatty meats like pork and duck in a Chinese context.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

clot·ted cream

Q : What is the perfect accompaniment for scones?
A : Clotted cream, jam and butter - yes all three!

My brother-in-law is from Cornwall and I consider him the authority on Cornish goods : he makes the best Cornish pasties, has been to Rick Stein's restaurant and is an aficionado of clotted cream.

I have not had much clotted cream, but the few times I have I have appreciated it for its pure creaminess, delicious density and fine colour and texture. It is perfect with all deserts and afternoon teas. In fact don't bother with afternoon tea if you have no clotted cream. I made this for my brother-in-law at Christmas to have with the Christmas pudding, and we also had it with the mince pies. Oh yes. Really good.
Clotted Cream
makes 1 cup approximately

500mL cream

Preheat the oven to 90°c.
Pour the cream into a fairly shallow dish and cover firmly with foil.
Put the cream in the oven and leave for 8 hours.
Remove the dish from the oven and cool then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Skim the solid clotted cream from the liquid and eat with scones, Christmas pudding, mince pies, pies in general or how ever you choose.

Notes :
There will be a layer of a crusty yellow butter-like substance on the top. I just use this with the cream.
There will be a liquid layer beneath the clotted cream that is good for using in cooking where cream or milk is required : potatoes dauphinois , white sauce or bread.
Cheers Tonior! This is for you!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


When we were in Scotland we were treated to two nights at Monachyle Mhor (Thanks Maw and Paw R!) . It is a wonderful place : beautiful surroundings, lovely atmosphere and brilliant food. The chef is Tom Lewis who took part in the Great British Menu representing Scotland.

While everything we ate there was fantastic, it was the scones that we keep mentioning . . . isn't it funny how the little things done so well are so memorable?

The tea (morning or afternoon, or both!) menu noted that the scones take 15 minutes - arriving warm, fresh and obviously straight from the oven - complete with clotted cream, fresh butter and jam. The scones were light and had a lovely crust, fluffy yet substanital within, and tasted like they were made with good, honest ingredients and skill. I must admit that we had the scones both days in lieu of lunch ; what are holidays about if not having a brilliant breakfast, fabulous scones then a fantastic dinner?!

Once home, I tried to recreate the scones, to good effect I think, the outsides perhaps a little rougher, but looks aren't everything, right?
makes 12

250g plain flour (I use white spelt)
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, cubed
1t cream of tartar
1t baking soda
150mL yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 210
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter quickly with your finger tips. Sift in the cream of tartar and baking soda then quickly mix in the yoghurt to make a light dough. Form into the shape you fancy, either by rolling and cutting or just dolloping. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes on the bench
before baking 10 minutes. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


January is a brilliant month, so many of the best fruits and vegetables are around :
Fruit :
  • apricots
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • cherries
  • plums
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • oranges
Vegetables :
  • new potatoes
  • sweetcorn
  • courgettes
  • tomatoes
  • globe artichokes
  • beans
  • aubergines
  • capsicum
  • cucumber
  • radishes
Doesn't that all spell ratatouille cooked on the barbecue or a wonderful mixed salad?