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Emigrated from America to New Zealand and never looked back. Couldn't have asked for a better husband, family & life!

CARROT, KUMARA & LENTIL SOUP

Last night was one of those where I had been so busy during the day that I had forgotten to properly plan a meal for the evening. I remembered a clever recipe that a new American friend had recently shared with me and I was ready to give it a go.

This was a very healthy option for us and, as it was a tad bit chilly, it turned out to be the perfect solution...but OOOPS!!! Looking at the recipe, I scanned through to make sure I had all of the necessary ingredients and something about "crock-pot" and "6-8 hours" cought my eye!! Oh, crap - what am I going to do now?!?! Well, bugger it - I decided to try it on the stovetop as I have done with my other lentil recipes and WHEW!!! I made the right decision!

So, I have Heather's original method and my stovetop method here for you and I can tell you they are both solid! She has made this for her friends and relatives in the slow cooker and I can fully attest to the stovetop method as we all enjoyed this soup immensely last night!

I have to say that my daughter doesn't normally eat kumara, but disguised in this soup she really enjoyed it (YEA!!). I have to admit that sweet potatoes were always something I hated growing up, but I do enjoy the occasional roasted kumara now. I guess our tastes do change as we get older - so long as that doesn't mean outgrowing chocolate covered cherries, I'm down with that! ;o)

So, without further adieu...here we go...

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbsp Rice Bran Oil
1 Lg Onion (red or brown)
2-3 Lg Carrots, peeled and grated
1-2 Stalks of Celery (or 1 Lg Celeriac Bulb), chopped
1 Tsp Coriander
1 Tsp Ground Cumin (adjust for taste)
1 3/4 Cups Lentils (I used red lentils)
2 Lg Kumara (or sweet potato), diced
6-7 Cups Stock (beef, chicken, or veggie)
1 Cup Cream
*Salt and Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


INSTRUCTIONS:

First, in a large stockpot, lightly sauté the onion and celery/celeriac until the onions begin to soften and go clear.

Next, add cumin and coriander and cook just long enough to bring out the aromas of the spices (about 1-2 minutes).

Now, add the stock, grated carrot, diced kumara and lentils to the sautéed mixture to your stockpot on the stovetop, or combine it all in a crock-pot.

For the stovetop method, bring the contents of your pot to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and leave covered to cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep lentils from sticking to the bottom.

For the crock-pot method, cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Now, approximately 30 minutes before ready to serve, puree the soup carefully using an immersion/stick blender.

And lastly, add the cream, salt & pepper to taste.

Thank you Heather for your contribution to NuKiwiKitchen! Much appreciated – this will become a regular in our house now as well. Also, this is a great vegan/vegetarian meal if you use veggie stock.

Cheers.





BONY FINGERS & TOES

COOKIES or SPOOKIES???

(adapted from recipe found at CanaryGirl.com)




DISCLAIMER: I usually do not embrace or celebrate anything about Halloween.


Even as a kid it was not a holiday that I really enjoyed. Yes, it was fun to dress up (if you had a cool costume like the 6 kids at school dressed as a 6-pack of Coke) and it was great to get loads of candy (provided your Dad didn't sneak all of your chocolate bars out "for inspection").

No, it was scary, embarrassing, and downright humiliating and confusing to be taught not to EVER take candy from a stranger...oh, except at night...in the dark...on all hallows eve...at houses that played ceepy music and had skeletons on their porch...from people with fake blood on their faces (do you see where I'm going with this?).


Needless to say, I am happy it has never really taken root here in New Zealand. There are a few stragglers here and there, but they don't even dress up, they don't know the "rules" (for example - never trick-or-treat a house unless they left the porch light on for trick-or-treaters) and, in my opinion, Kiwi kids already eat far too much rubbish from the friendly neighbourhood dairy (convenience stores akin to the American 7-eleven or Plaid Pantry) in the form of chewy, gummy lollies and 'chocky bars'.


Anyway, I was talking to a friend recently, and it got me thinking (scary in itself, I know), and reading some of the other cool blogs out there in foodie-blog-land. I eventually happened to stumble across CanaryGirl which had lots of gory and goulish ideas and it reminded me of a friend in Oregon who usually dresses up with the hubby (and the pooch) every year, so my lovely daughter and I felt obliged to make these little gems in their honour. This was a great kitchen bonding time for us too. (Cheryl, the boo chips were cool, but what do you reckon about these, creepy eh? LOL)


In any case, I spent the later afternoon yesterday with the family out back, planting the veggie crop for this year. We planted a good variety, so let's hope we get to eat more of it than those pesky white butterflies do this year!


INGREDIENTS:
½ Cup Butter, softened
¾ Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Vanilla
½ Tsp Green Food Colouring
1½ Cups Flour
½ Tsp Baking Powder
½ Tsp Salt
½ Cup (approx) Blanched Almonds (skin off)

DIRECTIONS:
First, cream the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and food colouring together in a medium bowl.

Next, slowly add in the dry ingredients and stir the mixture until well combined.
Now you will need to refrigerate the dough for at least 45 minutes, wrapped in plastic wrap.

When the dough has set firmly, preheat your oven to 150º C (325º F).

Divide dough in half and reserve one half in the refrigerator whilst working on the other.

Line baking sheets with parchment or, as I like to use, a silicone baking mat.

Now roll pieces of dough with your hands into thin fingers, making sure to keep them quite thin, as the dough tends to spread quite a bit.

Once you are happy with the shape, press an almond onto the end of each finger and, using a butter knife or skewer, make indentations for knuckles (I also squeezed the dough a bit where the knuckles were, to make them more prominent).

To make toes, roll small balls of dough, and then roll one side to make the length of the toe, leaving the part for the “nail” a little bigger. Press almonds onto the “toes.”

Finally, bake the “spookies” in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until done, but NOT browned.

Cool on wire racks for 2-3 minutes, then move them onto a plate.


They are not oversweet, but just right for a creepy after-school snack!





BLOG AWARD - THANK YOU!


Firstly today, a BIG thank you hug to Cheryl at Cooking Dunkin Style for this award on my 5-Minute Mug Cake.

I believe I am supposed to pass it on to another whose blog I have enjoyed and who had a recent chocoholic vision of excellence, so.... I am choosing to pass it on to another Kiwi transplant north of me - Arfi at Homemades for her Churros con Chocolat. Not only does she come up with beautiful creations, but she is also an excellent photographer as well.

Well done, Arfi!

MOCK WHITEBAIT FRITTERS
(Makes about 8 fritters)


For any of my North American mates, they will be wondering why on earth these are called Mock Whitebait Fritters when they are clearly potato, onion and cheese fritters or (minus the egg, flour, milk and baking powder) a potato rosti. The answer, my friends, is in the missing key Kiwi ingredient – WHITEBAIT.

Rather than ruining a perfectly good recipe by adding miniscule fish that I wouldn’t taste anyway, I have replaced the little critters with raw grated potato, which give the same effect with no fishy smell! In addition, I avoid the incessant teasing from Kiwis and Aussies alike about “topping and tailing” them first – yeah , right! I didn’t just fall of the taro truck you know!

In any case, these are brilliant for breakfast or even just for a snack. So…give this recipe a go!


INGREDIENTS:

2 Eggs
5 Tbsp Flour
4 Tbsp Milk
1-2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
1 Cup Grated Colby Cheese
½ Med Onion, grated or finely chopped
1 Large Potato, grated
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Rice Bran Oil
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper ~or~ Cayenne Pepper
*Flaky Sea Salt

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


DIRECTIONS:

First beat the eggs in a large bowl.

Add the flour, milk, and garlic and blend well (another great additive is chives).

Combine the mixture well and add the cheese, onion and potato.

Next, heat the oil in a pan and when it’s nearly hot enough, add the baking powder to your mixture and blend it well before cooking.

Now scoop about ½ to 1 cup of the mixture into the hot pan and flatten out like a pancake.

Once the fritter is golden brown on the bottom, flip it over and brown the other side.

Serve these wonderful fritters with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of freshly chopped chives and/or with fresh tomato slices. They are best if eaten hot, so serve immediately
.





FRESH NECTARINE TART
(Serves 6-8)
My all-time favourite summer fruit...well, apart from watermelon I guess, is the nectarine. I like the taste of peaches and apricots too, but can't get past the fuzzy skin on the fresh ones. Plums are great too, but the lovely and fragrant nectarine just has that extra 'je ne sais pas'.

Anyway, I found some gorgeous nectarines a few days ago and, per my usual enthusiasm, I bought far more than we could eat before they would overripen and go bad...so...I decided to make some mini tarts with the 4 large ones I had left softening in the fruit basket at lightning speed.

I had never really made my own pastry dough before, but I have no idea why now...it was SO EASY!!! I basically used Grandma's crust recipe and it worked a charm! (Aren't these little beauties gorgeous?!)

One tip though...make absolutely sure that the pastry goes up high enough along the sides of the mini tart tins, or that you completely pinch and seal the edges of a large pastry pocket before cooking. I had a couple where the pastry wasn't quite high enough which resulted in molten nectarine juce lava on the cookie sheet that the tart tins baked on. (The baking sheet was a lucky precaution and saved my oven from certain disaster!)

Here is the recipe, but feel free to play around with it...I thought adding brandy or rum might also be an indulgent touch...

PASTRY CRUST – INGREDIENTS:

1¾ Cups Flour
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
100 Gm (about 3½ oz) Cold Butter, cut into 1 cm (about ½ inch) cubes
½ Cup Cold Water


DIRECTIONS:

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl then cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter.

Combine well until the mixture get to the texture of breadcrumbs.

Now, add the water and mix together with the fingers of one hand to bring into a ball.

Knead the dough lightly to get the mixture to come together, then roll unto a ball and slightly flatten (to about 2 cm thickness).

Next, wrap the dough in baking paper and store in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.


FILLING – INGREDIENTS:

½ Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Cornflour
(Corn Starch in Nth America)
4-5 Large Ripe Nectarines, sliced 1 cm thick (about 6 cups)
1½ Tsp Almond Essence/Extract or Amaretto Liqueur
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence/Extract
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

DIRECTIONS:

First, combine the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl.

Next, gently toss in the nectarines and add the almond and vanilla essences.

Stir until all nectarine pieces are coated and sprinkle with the lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

When ready, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a round size just larger than a pie plate (for a large tart), or into a rectangle large enough to cover 6 mini tart tins.

To transfer the large tart dough to an ungreased cookie sheet covered in baking paper, fold the dough in half then half again then and unfold on the sheet to make a round.

Now, pour the nectarines and the juices onto the pastry and mound it in the middle.

For one large tart, gently fold up the edges around filling, leaving a 6-inch opening of exposed fruit in the centre of the pie, then brush water on the pastry and sprinkle with a bit of additional sugar.

Bake the pie on the lower rack of a preheated 190 C (375 F) oven for 35 to 45 minutes.
Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or sweetened whipped cream if you like.






KIWIFRUIT GLAZED – BALSAMIC PORK SPARE RIBS
(Adapted from
Ming Tsai’s recipe from Simply Ming )

Now, I have had some really good spare ribs before...but this was really amazing! The bones literally fell out of the meat it was so tender, and the salsa gave the meat an extra depth that was phenomenal.

Note To Self: Buy a bigger rib rack next time...MUCH bigger!

I don't think much more needs to be said here - just see for yourself! (Bugger there aren't any leftovers for my lunch!!!)


THE DAY BEFORE…Make salsa and cure ribs.


INGREDIENTS – SALSA:

4 Kiwifruit, diced
1 Tbsp Ginger, finely minced
1 Large Red Onion, diced
¼ Cup Coriander, packed
2 Thai Chillies, stemmed and finely minced *Alternatively use 1 Tbsp Thai Chilli Sauce
½ Cup Lime Juice
*1 Shot Tequila (optional)
*Flaky Sea Salt
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl, gently mix all the ingredients then, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Allow to stand covered overnight in the refrigerator for flavours to fully develop.

Remove from fridge at least one hour before use and allow it to warm to room temperature.


RIBS: The day before, rub the ribs with salt and pepper and let cure overnight.




THE DAY OF…Cook ribs and prepare a simple side salad.


INGREDIENTS – RIBS:

1½ - 2 Kg Baby Back Ribs, cut to fit
1 Cup Good Balsamic Vinegar
¼ Tsp Chinese Five Spice
½ Tsp Ground Coriander
1 Cup (more or less) Ginger-Kiwi Salsa
500 Gms (about 1 Lb) Red Potatoes, scrubbed, boiled and halved
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Parsley Leaves, finely chopped
*Flaky Sea Salt
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).

Puree 1 cup Ginger-Kiwi Salsa in a blender or, use an immersion (stick) blender to blend until smooth.

Prepare ribs by rubbing off any excess salt and pepper first, then place ribs into a large deep pan.


Next, add the vinegar so that a 1/4-inch layer is on the bottom and cover tightly with foil.

Bake in the oven for 1 to 1 ½ hours, checking ribs at 1 hour, and continuing cooking until all the vinegar is evaporated.

Now either transfer ribs to a grill and slather with more or less 1 cup of the pureed Ginger-Kiwi Salsa or, keep them in the pan and slather with blended salsa and change oven setting to grill/broil to colour well.

Meanwhile, to make a simple German potato salad: Toss hot (or warm) potatoes with bacon, olive oil, vinegar and parsley.

Check for flavour and season if necessary.

Serve the potato salad on a large dish and top with sliced ribs and reserved salsa.

The bones just fall out and the meat is moist, succulent and full of gorgeous flavour.

Now, TUCK IN and savour!!!

(Nothing but empty bones left at the end of the meal!)





5-MINUTE MUG CAKE
Okay Dad, this is the one you were waiting for! Hope it meets with your approval.

I promised a 5-minute mug cake, although this one is really more of a tea-“cup”-cake (pun fully intended). Anyway, the original recipe fell a bit flat of my expectations, so I modified it slightly. I think it began as an email that my dear husband received from a work mate (probably as a sort of joke) but he printed it for me to try nevertheless. It sounded interesting, so I gave it a go.
I found that the cocoa powder made it a bit drier and if I used almond or orange essence rather than the cocoa powder, it actually improved the texture quite a bit. I have also added baking powder to make it a bit fluffier. In any case, it’s a good little recipe to have handy if you just have a hankering for a sweet hunk of cake and don’t want to share. :o)

Hey Cheryl, this might be good with a cuppa coffee by the TV watching the Food Network…beats cereal!!! (Offered with love, of course.)

I just made a simple chocolate butter cream frosting but it’s good on it’s own too. Oh, and just one more thing to note...my Tbsp are equal to 3 Tsp (unlike the Aussie 4 Tsp per Tbsp).



INGREDIENTS:

4 Tbsp High Grade Flour
4 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Cocoa (or 1 teaspoon of your favourite flavour essence…almond, orange, lemon, etc.)
½ Tsp Baking Powder
1 Egg
3½ Tbsp Milk
½ Tsp Vanilla Essence/Extract
3 Tbsp Oil
3 Tbsp Chocolate Chips (or M&M’s in a pinch)


DIRECTIONS:

In a medium measuring jug, combine all dry ingredients and mix well.

Crack in the egg and mix well then add the milk, vanilla, and oil, mixing until there are no visible lumps.

Now pour it into your coffee mug or favourite microwaveable teacup and nuke it in the microwave for 2½ to 3 minutes (until the cake stops rising and sets in the mug/cup).

Allow it to cool at least a minute before devouring!

For my simple chocolate frosting, get about a Tbsp of soft butter, a splash of vanilla, a teaspoon of cocoa powder and mix that well. Now add a splash of VERY hot water and one spoon at a time, add icing sugar and mix well…continue adding icing sugar until it reaches the consistency you desire. I ended up with about ½ cup of icing – just the right amount!

Now, sit back and enjoy!




MARGARITA PIE

MARGARITA PIE
Here’s a nice cool summery dessert I dug out of the old Pampered Chef archives. For my Kiwi & Aussie Friends, Pampered Chef is a bit like Tupperware (only reasonably priced) where they only sell direct from catalogues and you have a party at your house where the host/ess cooks something using their gear.

I had this at a friend’s home years ago during a party at which I am certain I spent far too much money on stuff I had little storage room for…but I remember how nice this was and it is another I can add to my “Unusual Ingredients” category because it has a pretzel crust…something different, eh? Tasty though…very tasty!

I had to make a few slight modifications as the original (or the version I still had) was a bit on the sweet side, and because the recipe originally called for Cool Whip non-dairy whipped topping which is not available in New Zealand (to my knowledge, anyway). I must say though, after trying my own version, I should suggest either individual servings made in ramekins, freezer storage, or stabilizing your whipped cream with dissolved gelatine before folding into the filling (recipe below). This should help it to keep its shape sans Cool Whip.

If you are in North America, you won’t have a problem – just replace the whipped cream below with Cool Whip!


STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM:
(Makes about two cups)

1½ Tsp Unflavoured Gelatine
4 Tsp Hot Water
1 Cup COLD Cream
½ Tsp Vanilla Essence/Extract
Combine gelatine and hot water and mix until syrup-like consistency, and slightly cooled.
Now whip cream and vanilla until slightly thickened then, while beating, slowly and gradually add gelatine to the whipped cream mixture.
This needs no sugar because the rest of the filling mix is sweet enough!

Continue whipping on high speed until stiff but stop before you get butter!

CRUST – INGREDIENTS:

1 ¼ Cups Finely Crushed Pretzels
½ Cup Butter or Margarine, melted
¼ Cup sugar


DIRECTIONS:

For crust combine all ingredients in medium bowl; press onto bottom and up side of deep pie pan. (Doesn't get much easier!!!)



FILLING – INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Tsp Grated Lime Peel
1/4 Cup Lime Juice (approx 2-3 limes)
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1½ Cups Stabilized Whipped Cream
(recipe above)

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, combine milk, lime peel and juices, then fold in whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into the crust and refrigerate until well chilled – a minimum of 30 minutes.
Serve chilled – goes great with tea!
This one is very rich and sweet, so you may want to go easy on the portions (I think one could almost get cavities from just the photo alone!)
Cheers!


FOODIEVIEW POST BUTTON



RUSTIC AVOCADO AND GOAT’S CHEESE CIABATTA


I woke up to the birds singing this morning and the sun was just peeking through the bedroom curtain. Sometimes I can just tell it is going to be a great day, and this is one of those times. Spring flowers are in full bloom, butterflies are emerging from their winter naps, and until the heat really kicks in and turns the hills from vibrant green to a muted brownish-green colour, all is lovely in Wellington.

Our daughter returned to school today to begin Term 4 which ends just before Christmas, and I managed to get out and complete a few errands early before working the morning away then proceeding to the kitchen to fix myself a simple yet scrumptious light lunch on the patio. I then began working away a bit longer until it’s time for school to let out for the day.

What a life…I am very thankful for the opportunity to be so free and work at home so I can be here for our daughter after school. I am also thankful for my loving and kind husband who helps out so much. I guess there are plenty of things in today’s world to get upset about…nasty people, bad economy, political posturing, upcoming elections, discourteous drivers, and even crime and punishment if you really want to fuss…but none of that can bother me right now as I count my many blessings and quietly enjoy the bliss that is a wonderful Wellington summer in the air.

(This is "Buttercup" the Monarch that our daughter raised from a tiny caterpillar.)

Today’s lunch is also a great light snack or, in smaller portions, a tasty appetizer (entrée to Kiwis and hors d’oeuvres to anyone feeling French). In any case, however you fix this quick & easy dish, I am sure you will find it as tasty and refreshing as I did.


INGREDIENTS:

*Tuscan Ciabatta Bread
1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, good quality fruity dipping oil
1 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar, again – good quality for dipping
½ Avocado, mashed
*Fresh Semi-Soft Goat Cheese
*Fresh Tomato Slices
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, mix the oil & vinegar together.

Slice off a moderately sized chunk of bread, then split it in half horizontally for two open-faced sandwich halves.

Drizzle the oil/vinegar mixture over the bread as evenly as possible.

Now top the bread with mashed avocado and cheese, then finally tomato.

Finally, sprinkle lightly with pepper and serve (or eat) immediately.

If you still have any oil/vinegar mixture left, sop it up with your last bite of bread…Mmmm good!

Enjoy!

CHICKEN PARMIGIANA
One comfort from home that I miss occasionally is The Olive Garden. I have fond memories of high school dates, family birthdays, college graduation, and my first dinner date with my hubby at this establishment. I think my two favourites were usually the Chicken Marsala and the Chicken Parmigiana, so I thought I would certainly have to add these to my recipe list at some stage…so here’s the first of the two.

Here in Kiwiland, there aren’t too many convenient choices in canned or jarred sauces…not good ones anyway, unless you venture out to the
Mediterranean Food Warehouse in Newtown. For me, it’s just as easy to make a lovely marinara of my own from fresh ingredients here in our own backyard (so to speak). No, we haven’t any new veggies in the garden ready for harvest (only herbs at present), but we will get there in the end. :o)

So, without further adieu…



SAUCE – INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Brown Onion, finely diced
3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
1 Tsp Celery Salt
1 Medium Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper), finely diced
4-6 Tomatoes, diced
2 Bay Leaves
1-2 Tbsp Basil, fresh & finely chopped
2 Tsp Oregano, fresh & finely chopped
1 Tsp Thyme, dried is okay
1 Tbsp Coriander, fresh & finely chopped
1 Cup V8 Vegetable Juice
1 Tsp (more or less) Tabasco Sauce
½ Cup Red Wine
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes


DIRECTIONS:

In a med-large pot, heat oil and add onions cooking until they begin to soften.

Now add the finely diced capsicum and garlic and cook for another minute or two until the pepper begins to go soft as well – don’t burn the garlic!

Next, add in the tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs, and vegetable juice and simmer for 10-15 minutes before adding in the Tabasco and the wine.

Allow this to simmer on a med-low heat for at least 20-30 minutes whilst you prepare the chicken and when ready to serve it, add the black pepper.


CHICKEN – INGREDIENTS:

4 Chicken Breasts, boneless & skinless
*Garlic Salt & Pepper
½ Cup Flour
¾ Cup Parmiggiano Reggiano, finely grated & divided
½ Cup Breadcrumbs
2 Eggs
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


DIRECTIONS:

First, you need to tenderize the chicken by cutting each breast in half (they will basically double in size when pounded) and place the chicken between sheets of baking paper to tenderize and flatten by pounding with a kitchen mallet or similar heavy instrument (I have used an A-1 Steak Sauce bottle because it’s flat edge it perfect, but be careful not to pound too hard if using a glass bottle). You need to flatten the pieces to about a half centimetre (5-6 mm) thickness.

Now season both sides with garlic salt and pepper.

You will now need to clear a space to put the chicken as you dredge and coat them, so lay out a large sheet of baking paper or a wire rack.

Next, in a small bowl you need to beat the eggs for the coating ‘glue’.

In separate shallow dishes, add the flour to one and mix the breadcrumbs and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese in the other.

Working now with one piece at a time, dredge the chicken in flour first, shaking off any excess, then quickly coat in beaten egg, moving quickly into the breadcrumb and shredded Parmesan mixture, pressing firmly so that the coating is secure and set aside.

Heat half of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, begin frying half of the chicken pieces about 2-3 minutes each side or until both sides are golden brown and crispy and juices run clear and there are no signs of pinkness remaining if chicken is cut open.

Transfer chicken to a baking dish and keep warm in the oven.

Now add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and cook remaining chicken pieces.

Once all of the chicken is done, top it with the sauce and the remaining cheese. You can serve immediately or brown the cheese under a grill/broiler on high for about 3-4 minutes.

I like to add a bit of provolone and mozzarella when I brown the top, but this time it was already getting late and I wanted to feed my family quickly.

Not much better than this! And…the leftovers are great wrapped in Naan Bread with salad greens!!! YUM!!!


HERBED MINCE RISSOLES WITH

CARROT & BEETROOT SALAD




This was a throw-together from last night. We had a fairly busy day with our daughter home on school holiday for another week, not to mention my car was due for it’s annual warrant of fitness, so I hadn’t had much menu planning time. I did, however, remember to pick up some fresh ground pork mince and I had some baby spinach and carrots in the fridge. These were the makings of one very decent healthy meal, and even the little one ate nearly everything on her plate…she doesn’t care for rice, couscous, barley or quinoa, but she will eat salad most of the time (thank goodness).

So…in true meatloaf style, I started chucking all sorts into my mince bowl until it started to smell appealing to me, then made rissoles which are Kiwi meatballs…usually too big to be a true blue meatball, but not flat enough to be called a patty. Normally rissoles have a filler as well like crushed weet bix or breadcrumbs, but I didn’t need or want that this time.


Also, just a tip – when using pork rather than beef, eggs aren’t needed to bind the meat because pork is ‘sticky’ enough on its own.

Anyway, here is how I managed last night’s dinner.



RISSOLES - INGREDIENTS:

500 Gms (about 1 Lb) Lean Ground Pork
(or Beef)
2 Tsp Oregano
1 Tsp Sage
2 Tsp Coriander
½ Tsp Cumin
2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
½ Tsp Chilli Flakes
1 Tsp Thai Fish Sauce
3 Scallions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Peanut Oil


DIRECTIONS:

Combine everything listed above, except for the peanut oil (later used to fry the rissoles). These ingredients must be mixed well, otherwise there will be meat without seasoning – the best way to combine meat and seasoning ‘meatloaf style’ is to don rubber gloves and squish it between your fingers over & over again.

Once well combined, roll into balls just smaller than say a tennis ball, and slightly flatten them out.

Place onto baking paper until ready to cook them.

Heat peanut oil in a shallow pan and gently brown the rissoles on both sides cooking approximately 3 minutes per side on a medium-high heat or until completely done in the centre and well browned outside. Do not overcook or they will become dry and useless.


SALAD – INGREDIENTS:

2 Carrots, grated
2-3 Beetroots (beets, to anyone in the USA), boiled, peeled & julienned (canned will do in a pinch)
1 Cup Baby Spinach
¼ Cup Verjuice (or diluted lemon juice)
¼ Cup Walnut Oil
1 Tsp Wholegrain Mustard
*Crushed Sea Salt
*Fresh Cracked Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual taste.


DIRECTIONS:

In a medium salad bowl, combine grated carrots, julienned beets, and spinach leaves.

In a small measuring jug or mug, combine verjuice, walnut oil, mustard, salt & pepper as a pseudo-vinaigrette dressing.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

I served my rissoles and salad with barley cooked in stock, but rice, couscous or quinoa would do nicely as would a mashed veg if you prefer.

We really enjoyed this dinner, which is a variation of my Asian Minced Pork (coming soon) where I usually just brown the meat and stir in veggies to serve with rice…but as I said before…our daughter is not fond of rice or many other grains, so I thought I could sneak the barley through this time. A few bites went down, but she ate her rissoles and salad, so I won’t complain.


Well, bon appetite…back to the kitchen again soon to figure out tonight’s menu. (sigh) ;o)

Hot dogs anyone???

CRÈME DE MENTHE
(Makes approximately 2 Litres)

This is a very refreshing liqueur that is great on ice cream or even on it’s own as an aperitif. A good place to keep it (if you have the room) is in the freezer.

Unfortunately, the Kiwis are particularly fond of their doll-sized appliances (don’t get me started on the laundry situation), so I keep my homemade liqueurs in a small storage area where hubby likes to keep his wine collection…it’s also a nice storage area for Santa when he needs to drop off a few items early.

One upcoming recipe to watch for will be Grasshopper Pie, using this lovely liqueur. I may even make a Grasshopper milkshake or two with a lovely Kapiti Coast Vanilla Bean Ice Cream…mmm. We can hardly wait! Summer is nearly here – bring it on!!!



INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Water
5 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves
2 Tbsp Peppermint Essence/Extract
2 Tsp Green Food Colour
1 Litre Vodka


DIRECTIONS:

In a stockpot, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil to form a syrup base.

Allow the syrup to simmer approximately 2-3 minutes then remove from heat and gently stir in mint leaves.

Leave it in a cool place for a few hours until the syrup reaches room temperature again, then remove mint leaves and discard them.

Now add the peppermint essence, food colouring, and vodka then mix well.

Next, pour the mixture into sterilized glass bottles and make sure to use an airtight seal once they are full.

Store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks before consuming.

See? This is ‘easy as’ and really yummy. The hardest part is waiting to try it! These make great gifts too, so make sure you get the appropriate size when purchasing your decorative bottles.

Enjoy…

MACADAMIA CARAMEL CORN &
BUTTER TOFFEE CRUNCH

I had to post this one today, before I forgot. I wanted to make sure and give thanks to our friends in Blenheim for taking us “Tiki Touring” and for stopping at the
Makana Confectioners Boutique Chocolate Factory…or perhaps curse them for doing so…(kidding, of course).

No, this was not an inexpensive trip to a candy shop, but a lovely experience for all of us. We walked through the door to be greeted by a meter tall (3-foot) chocolate man in a bow tie, then the staff greeted us with samples of whatever “Junior” was making at the time. We then munched away whilst he continued his work, occasionally offering our daughter a stick of dark chocolate (which she gave to Daddy and me because she’s not a big fan), or a few white chocolate-dipped strawberries (which she loved and devoured immediately).

We eventually tore ourselves away from the viewing window to wander through the shop only to be ever so temporarily distracted by the staff approaching us with Macadamia Brittle samples. Meanwhile I found several things I wanted to take home with me, but I didn’t want to expand my waistline so I settled on two for all of us to share. Their version of Caramel Corn looked irresistible, and the sample of the Toffee Crunch took me back to sharing Almond Roca with Grandma (it was her favourite), so that’s what came home with us.

Sorry, no recipe on these…but the photos can almost show you how scrumptious they are!

Cheers!

CAULIFLOWER GRATIN




I'm back! And what a lovely holiday we had. Yes, it was just a short break, but a well deserved one. Now it's back to unpacking, laundry and yes - back to the kitchen!


First, I have to say, the Blenheim and Picton areas are gorgeous. We had a great time with our friends down there who took us around to some lovely places and shared their local farmer's market with us. Absolutely fabulous!


We even managed to fit in a day of tramping through the bush (that's hiking to you Yankee Doodles). We did one of the tracks along the Queen Charlotte Sounds but only walked 11 of the 71 kilometers...which was enough for me anyway! A mail boat picked us up in Picton and ferried us out to Resolution Bay where we began our hike. Four hours later it picked us up at the other end (well knackered and yet, pretty satisfied with ourselves). We even caught sight of one of the little blue penguins (aka fairy penguin) swimming around in the bay as we were preparing to board the boat back to Picton.



video

In any case, it was a great few days away but I promised this recipe from last week, so here is a treat of a veggie dish. This was another Contessa-inspired dish that went very nicely with our rolled pork loin, and I am certain it would go well with a plethora of other main dishes as well. We love cauliflower and we love cheese - what better than putting them together, eh?


Off to plan tonights menu now...so, until tomorrow...



INGREDIENTS:

1 Cauliflower (approx 1 Kilo or 2 ½ Lbs), cut into large florets
4 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Flour
2 Cups Milk, hot
½ Tsp Nutmeg
1 ½ Cups Gruyere
½ Cup Parmiggiano Reggiano
¼ Cup Bread Crumbs
*Crushed Sea Salt
*Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*Amounts vary to tastes


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F).

Blanch the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, or steam until tender but still firm.

Drain the cauliflower & set it aside.

Next, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat to make a roux paste.

Now add the flour, stirring constantly for approximately 2 minutes.

Carefully pour the hot milk into the roux mixture and stir until it comes to a soft boil.

Continue stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened.

Now remove it from the heat, and add 1 teaspoon of salt, some pepper to taste, nutmeg, 1 cup of the Gruyere, and all of the Parmesan.

Next, pour about 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the drained cauliflower on top, then pour the rest of the sauce evenly over the cauliflower.

Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining ½ cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top, then melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is browned.

This dish is great to make ahead of time and is great served hot or at room temperature.

PORK LOIN WITH FENNEL AND ONION STUFFING

Well, this will be my last post for a few days as we are soon off to enjoy some of what our South Island friends have to offer. I made a gorgeous pork roll the other day and stuffed it with fennel from my garden and onions and spices in a Barefoot Contessa inspired way.

A while back I saw the
Contessa make a very similar pork loin and she served it with a lovely Cauliflower Gratin (one of my future posts for next week) made with Gruyere cheese & nutmeg to some friends she was having for a dinner party. It all looked so good, I had to try and emulate it at the first chance I could find.

I suppose another use for fennel piqued my curiosity, because I had some growing in my hubby’s lovely veggie garden project, so I was hooked from that point on. I must say, this one is a real winner!


INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Cups (about 1 bulb with some of the fronds) Fennel, sliced fairly thin
2 Brown Onions, roughly chopped
*Crushed Sea Salt
*Freshly ground black pepper
4 Cloves Garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
2 Tbsp White wine or Verjuice
2 Cups Breadcrumbs
2 Kgs (4½ Lbs) Pork Loin, butterflied

*Amounts vary to taste.


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F).

First, heat olive oil and the butter in a large sauté pan and add the fennel and onions with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fennel and onions soften and begin to brown.

Next, add the garlic and thyme and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Now add the wine or verjuice and cook for another minute, to deglaze the pan.

Next, add the breadcrumbs and approximately another teaspoon of salt to the stuffing mixture.

Flatten the pork on a clean surface fat side down, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, then spread the stuffing evenly on the pork and roll up jellyroll/log-style, ending with the fat on the top of the roll.

Next, you need to tie the roll with kitchen string or secure it with silicone food bands, then you need to rub it with a bit more olive oil, and season the outside of the roll liberally with salt and pepper.

Place the rolled pork loin into a roasting dish or on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes on the 2nd or 3rd rack of the oven (to begin to crisp the pork skin on top).

After the first 30 minutes, you need to lower the heat to 175 C (350 F) and roast for another 2 hours or until the meat in the middle of the roll reaches 58 C (137 F). Remember not to measure the temperature of the stuffing, so take care to make sure the thermometer is in the meat. It is a good idea to test it in several places to make sure.

Remove the roll from the oven and cover completely with aluminium foil and leave meat resting for 10 minutes.

Remove the strings or bands then slice thickly to serve.

Amazingly perfect, moist and tender pork…perfect for company or a holiday meal.

Until next week – bon appetite!