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

Makes about 30 truffles

I suppose I was feeling a bit adventurous this year, so I decided to try my hand at truffles. Not just any truffles, mind you, but my favourites with lots of peppermint! I used my own homemade creme de menthe (one for me, two for the pot) and a bit of extra peppermint extract to make them more aromatic and to allow the mint to penetrate the very rich dark chocolate.

They turned out wonderfully and they just melted in your mouth. I ended up giving most of them away as gifts (self-preservation) but did enjoy just a couple myself. They are really quite simple to make (although messy as all heck) so, perhaps I'll experiment with other flavours...I still have plenty homemade kahlua in the pantry alongside the creme de menthe, hmmmmm....


1 Cup Cream
½ Cup Creme De Menthe
(and/or optional peppermint extract - depending on how strong you like them)
250 Gm Dark Chocolate (at least 72% Cocoa), broken into small pieces.
¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
*Cocoa Powder for rolling truffles at the end
* Amount will vary with each batch.


First, break or cut the chocolate into small peices and put them into a medium heat resistant bowl and set aside.

Next, heat the cream and creme de menthe (and/or peppermint extract) and bring to a boil.

Remove the mixture from the heat and immediately pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and stir carefully until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture becomes a creamy and smooth ganache.

Now, add the butter and mix again until well combined before pouring the entire contents into a glass dish to cool in the refrigerator.

Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum – overnight preferred.

When the compound is hard but malleable, use a melon-baller or two teaspoons to form a small quinelle of ganache, roll them between (gloved) hands into a small ball, and then roll them in the cocoa powder.

The ganache will tend to melt as soon as you touch it, so don't roll them too long. Laytex gloves work well to assist in rolling truffles as they keep the mess localized and you don't need to keep rinsing hands in between balls. Adding some cocoa powder to your palms before rolling the quinelles into balls also helps, somewhat, to keep the chocolate from sticking to everything.
Set the truffles aside to chill in a sealed container when all of the truffles are done.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder and/or icing sugar (powdered/confectioners' sugar) then chill until 1 hour prior to serving.

To fully appreciate the flavour and consistency, they are best served at room temperature.


(aka Spiny Rock Lobster to those in North America)

First, I need to share a little story.

Just after arriving in NZ over 3 years ago now, my husband took me over to meet one of his many sisters and her hubby. We arrived just before her husband and his boat, as he had just returned from a dive with several huge creatures nearly as big as our daughter! I was then asked if I liked crayfish or scallops, to which I promptly replied, “uhm, not crayfish, but scallops are nice…I do like lobster though.”

I didn’t understand at the time why they might ask me about crayfish when we were looking at enormous lobsters (sans front claws though) here and, where I grew up, crayfish were smallish muddy horrible things that weren’t worth all of the effort to catch, soak in clear water overnight, clean and cook just to get one bite of meat from each of the little beasts.

So, we carried on with our visit and I think we even went home with some lovely NZ scallops (also quite huge and attached to some funny orange bit – more on that later). It wasn’t until later that evening at home when I realized in talking to my husband, that we could have probably taken one of those huge lobsters home if I hadn’t said I didn’t eat crayfish! What – you actually call those gigantic granddaddy lobsters crayfish???

Well, it’s been an ongoing joke ever since…Tiff “blew her chips” (meaning lost her chances) to get any fresh crayfish from now on.

Now, fast-forward to this weekend and my brother & sister-in-laws were on their way to visit another sibling nearby and popped by on their way to drop off a crayster – or lobsfish…you know what I mean… It was a great surprise and just in time for lunch – YUM!

I basically borrowed a slightly modified version of a friend’s cauliflower recipe over at
Cooking Dunkin Style and topped the creamy, cheesy cauliflower with the diced up crayfish meat. What a treat! I usually eat lobster with the traditional clarified butter, but I have learned to do things a bit differently here.

So, in a nutshell, here is one more nice way to have lobster/crayfish!


Mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellmans)
Diced Onion
Grated Tasty/Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper

All of the amounts are really up to the individual, so just go with what works for you.


The crayfish was boiled and chilled in advance, so all I really needed to do was crack that baby open and carefully pull out all of the meat, then dice it up and set it aside.

I cut up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces next and put them all into a microwave-safe glass dish.

Next, I put a couple of good dollops of mayo into a jug and added just enough milk to make it easy to pour over the cauliflower.

After that, I sprinkled diced onions evenly over the top and covered the whole thing with grated cheese.

To cook it, I placed baking paper over the top and nuked it in the microwave until the cauliflower was tender and the cheese was melted and beginning to brown (about 5-7 minutes).

To serve it, I just mixed up the cauliflower and scooped some into a bowl then topped it off with the crayfish meat and a bit of salt & pepper.
Couldn’t be easier, really…or more tasty.

Thank goodness that our daughter has not yet developed a fondness for crayfish, as it is currently about $100 NZD per kilo (2.2 Lbs)…that is approximately $50 per pound…or, $25-30 per pound in US dollars! :o) Doesn’t sound so bad that way, does it? LOL


Just a couple of months ago, I discovered another new treasure trove of goodies down under. The place is called Davis Trading Company in Petone, just north of Wellington City, and I discovered that they stock a good amount of items I like to have on hand, most of which can be a challenge to find down here. This is where I buy most of the things I use to make my Asian dishes but it is also a great place to stock up on spices and/or some bulk items such as, nuts, seeds, potato/tapioca flour, rice, etc..

Not too long ago, I was preparing to make my Pancit Canton and needed some Chinese sausages, so I trecked off to Petone…when right next to the meat fridge, there they were and I couldn’t believe my eyes! I hadn’t seen Dr. Pepper in a couple of years and it had been even longer since I had seen or tasted Root Beer. I was quite understandably excited…I couldn’t wait to have my Kiwi mates try a Root Beer Float or taste Dr. Pepper.

I have tried many times to explain what it tastes like, but find myself at a loss for the right words. I even ended up buying a few cans of Diet Dr. Pepper and Cream Soda on that trip as well. I don’t often drink sodas (or "pop" as it is referred to in Oregon) anymore – perhaps once a month or so… I usually have to settle for Sprite (aka lemonade here), Coke or Pepsi because those plentiful here, so I was happy to have a little favourite treat or two. My Dad and I love the Dr and Mom and I always enjoyed an occasional Root Beer.

So…a few weeks later, I decide to surprise my friends with a can of each for a taste test. It was one of the funniest things I had seen in some time. My friend and neighbour, Linda, poured a bit in several glasses starting with the Dr. Pepper. She stops the glass halfway to take in the aroma as you would do with a fine wine. Next, with a look of trepidation on her face, she takes a small sip and tries to hide the disappointment of her face as the others look on as if to see whether Linda would swallow or not. Linda makes an attempt at a smile and says, “Now that’s interesting…”, as the others suspiciously taste theirs.

The overall consensus on the Dr. Pepper was that it wasn’t all that bad and that the taste reminded them of almond essence (or Christmas cake marzipan) and a hint of cherry. Most of my mates didn’t mind the flavour and I think that one of them (Nadine’s family has ties to North America via Canada) actually liked the stuff! Linda never liked almond flavouring in sweets, so she said that is what turned her off the Dr. Pepper.

It was a whole different ball game with the Root Beer though. Again, I think Linda’s face was priceless and was a bit of advanced warning (not to mention comedic expression) for everyone when the glass was once again raised halfway for a good sniff first. “Aw, geez, this stuff smells just like liniment!”, she says…”I don’t know if I can drink this stuff, yuck!” Once the laughter died down, the group all pretty much concurred, that, yes, this one does smell funnily like medicine but the few brave souls courageous enough to take the first sips encouraged the rest to just try it because it wasn’t really that bad if you can get past the smell. I think it took Linda at least ten full minutes to work up the willpower to sip it, but I am pretty sure they all gave up on the Root Beer quick enough. The idea of combining it with any sort of ice cream probably sounded sacrilegious since Kiwis do truly cherish their ice cream! (Even in the winter!)

Anyway, the taste tests did make for a fun afternoon and even though I had to finish the Root Beer alone, I had a much better idea of how to explain these flavours to a Kiwi, or an Aussie, who perhaps had never tasted the stuff before.

More recipes coming soon, so stay tuned.



This is one of those desserts that sets mouths to watering just at the mere mention of it’s name. For anyone yet unfamiliar, banoffi is condensed from banana-toffee and, banoffi pie is like a banana split without the ice cream…well, sort of anyway.

Well, I saw this can of Highlander Caramel in the shop a while back and thought, “ooh, I wonder if it’s like the caramel sauce back home?”…well, short answer, no, it’s not…but, on the can was a really easy recipe for banoffi pie, so I just had to see if it was any good. Well, it is very nice – not quite what I had remembered from the good ole’ US of A, but lovely nevertheless.

Now, because this is a genuine Kiwified recipe, my North American friends will need to substitute a couple of things. The base (or crust) is made from Vanilla Wine biscuits (use Nilla Wafers in America/Canada) and the caramel bit is the Highlander tinned stuff (this is where it gets interesting). I don’t know if there is really an American equivalent, but what you can do is boil a deep pot of water and drop in an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk (label off) and let it boil away steadily for 4 hours. Make sure there is at least 4 inches of water above the can whilst it boils and cover the pot to keep as much water from evaporating as possible. Check on it regularly to make sure the water level NEVER gets down to the top of the can – it can cause the can to explode – so keep adding hot water if needed. Once the time is up, carefully place the can/s on a wire rack to cool and it’s ready for use!

I think those are the only things needing substitution for this one, so here we go…


1 Pkt (250 Gm/8 Oz) Vanilla Wine Biscuits (Nilla Wafers), crumbled
100 Gm Softened Butter
1 Can Caramelized Sweetened Condensed Milk
2-3 Large Bananas
*Grated Dark Chocolate
*Whipped Cream

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


In a medium bowl, blend the cookie crumbs and soft/melted butter until well combined.

Next, press the mixture into a pie dish or into individual mini pie dishes or ramekins then refrigerate at least an hour to firm up the crust.

Once the crust is ready, open a can of caramelized milk and mix well before pouring into crust/s. The caramel is to be about a centimetre or so thick.

Now, refrigerate again for at least 2 hours for the caramel to set.

When you are ready to serve the dessert, mash the bananas in a small bowl and spread over the top of the caramel, then sprinkle with chocolate.

Top it off with whipped cream (I cheated and used the spray cream in a can this time) then sprinkle again with chocolate.

Voila! A gorgeous little gem that goes great with coffee or tea! Enjoy!


Yesterday afternoon was nice. I had a few friends over and we had a lovely lunch. I prepared this salad with ham & tomato sandwich wedges…then we indulged a bit on banoffi pie (next post, I promise). The weather outside was delightful and, as usual, we shared stories, photos and lots of laughter.

Anyway, I really suggest giving this salad a try as it is fresh and tasty with a bit of crunch from the nuts. You can adjust any of the measurements really, to suit your own tastes, but it is one that should be given a try.

This salad was inspired by a lunch out with another American friend recently. We had lunch at a place called “One Red Dog” at Queen’s Wharf after riding the ferry out to Days Bay and back that morning. Funny story there, but in the interest of keeping it brief, I will just say that in the end we had to RUN for the ferry back to town and we certainly earned our lunch that day! LOL

The guys on the boat said they have become pretty astute at picking out the people late for the ferry as they often allow an additional 5 minutes or so for the last passengers running around the bays. Yes, they laughed at us, but so did we…we could laugh because at least we knew at that stage that we had a ride back home!

So, without further adieu…


¼ Cup Walnut Oil
¼ Cup Riesling Verjuice
*1 Tbsp Honey
*1½ Tbsp Wholegrain or Mild Dijon-style Mustard
* 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
*Salt & Pepper
3-4 Med-Lg Carrots, grated or julienned
1-2 Braeburn or Fuji Apples, grated or julienned
¼ Cup Currants
¼ Cup Walnut Pieces
2-3 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves

*Amounts vary to individual Tastes


In a small measuring jug or large mug, combine the oil, verjuice, honey, mustard, lemon juice and salt & pepper. Some of the measurements will vary, but the measurements given are approximately what I tend to use in my own.

Now whisk the dressing to emulsify the ingredients.

Next, in a medium-large salad bowl, combine the carrots, apples, currants, walnuts, and spinach. I suggest grating or julienning the apples just before serving and having the salad dressed and tossed prior to serving to protect the apples from going brown too quickly. If you do it in this fashion, the apples will stay crunchy and will not tend to discolour much at all.

Now, enjoy this light & fresh salad on it’s own or with a sandwich or pasta as I do!

(No actual cooking involved!)

Well, ballet and swimming are finally over for this year and the recital was just lovely. I have been working and playing hard since Thanksgiving, but I have not forgotten about my little pages here.

It has been pretty warm here these last few nights and, wouldn't you know it, my oven element blew the other day, so it's been BBQ for several evenings (which is really lovely in this weather) but I wanted something more substantial than just the average sausages and rolls, etc..

Here is a yummy recipe to try if you are hankerin for something other than a green salad or cole slaw to accompany any main dish.

This is one of my most favourite summer salads and I have even been known to eat it on it's own as my lunch for the day.


1 Head Broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ Red Onion, finely diced
1-2 Carrots, grated
1 Cup Bacon, finely diced & fried crispy
¼ Cup Currants (or raisins)
¼ Cup Pumpkin Seeds (or sunflower seeds, pine nuts, cashews, etc.)
½ Cup Mayonnaise (Best Foods or Hellmans type)
1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
¼ Cup Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Sugar
*Salt & Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


In a large bowl, mix all of the vegetables and then add the bacon, currants (or raisins) and nuts (or seeds).

Next, prepare the dressing in a measuring jug or large mug. I rarely measure anything when making dressings for salads, so adjust the amounts to suit your own taste and to get the consistency that you prefer.

For maximum flavour, dress and chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving.

That’s it – simple as anything and VERY tasty. One of my favourite summer salads and it’s brilliant with any BBQ and/or pot-luck style dinner.



Thanksgiving 2008 was the first year since we moved down under that I really prepared a Thanksgiving feast. I refer to my recipe as the "Holiday" recipe, because it is often repeated for Christmas, unless we opt for a Christmas ham, leg of lamb, or prime rib dinner instead. More often than not though, for us it was turkey.

This particular fowl is not altogether popular here in New Zealand...it is actually difficult to buy a turkey unless it's close to Christmas and we won't even discuss the price of the bird!!! I have been told though, by many of my Kiwi mates here, that they think of turkey as a very dry and tasteless poultry and it's not worth the price...well, until they taste this one, that is!

This basic recipe had been passed down through the generations in my family and is also quite good when applied to chicken rather than turkey, but for today's blog, it's a Tom.

I have yet to come across a turkey here that is not free-range (which may account for part of the financial blow), and they are generally MUCH smaller than their steroid enhanced cousins in North America. Nevertheless, I was able to get my hands on a 10 kilo bird through our local butcher (I love buying meat at a butcher shop rather than the supermarket anyway)...that's 22 pounds to you Yankee Doodles out there!

So, I invited 35-40 of our closest friends and family (more or less), hired the local church hall, and set out to show these Kiwis what a traditional Thanksgiving is all about. Okay, so we had it a couple days late (on Saturday) due to the fact that Thursday wasn't a holiday here, but it was wonderful! I spent a couple of days making pumpkin, pecan, and cherry pies ahead of time, and everyone brought something to share so it was truly a feast among friends!!! Everything was SOOO good!

Well, I have to thank Dad first, for sharing his expertise and advice on the recipe. Now I understand just how much time, effort, and sacrifice went into making these huge family gatherings so successful (I love you HEAPS Dad). Yes, Mom helped out on Thanksgiving, and I love her HEAPS too, but the turkey was always his job and he was the one chopping all the veggies to make the stuffing and getting up every hour or so to baste the turkey the night before, then whipping up a gravy "to-die-for" after pulling the bird out of the oven the next day. (Good on ya!)

Next, I need to thank my hubby for all of his assistance, without which I may have come up short at the finish. And, finally, I thank all of our great friends and family for sharing their amazingly beautiful, tasty dishes and, for helping us eat all of that turkey so that my family didn't have turkey stew for the next 6 weeks!!!

So, without further adieu...here is how to manage a very moist and delicious turkey.

PREPARE THE BIRD: (9 kilo (20 lb) minimum)

Remove the yellow dead skin and any pinfeathers.
Clean out any loose material and set aside the liver, gizzard, heart & neck from the inside.
Dry off the exterior of the body.
Tie up the legs and wings (just to keep them manageable)

Keep a turkey lacing kit or large needle and cooking string handy for later…


¼ lb. Beef Mince (hamburger meat)
¼ lb. Pork Sausage with sage (homemade is fine)
½ Celery Bunch (or more)
2 Med Yellow Onions (do not use white onions)
2 to 3 Med Potatoes
All Giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) from the turkey
1-2 Bags of Breadcrumbs or Croutons  (seasoned if possible, if not add sage and just a little thyme)
*Salt & Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


First, chop up the vegetables as fine as you like and set aside (1 cm pieces work well).

Then, chop up the liver, gizzard and heart and lightly-brown with just a little oil to keep from sticking. Season mixture with a little salt & pepper.

Next, add pork sausage and continue to brown, add the hamburger last and turn down the heat so as not to over cook.

Bring up the heat to the meat mixture and add the vegetables a little at a time to heat through but not cook. Add a little stock or water if needed, to steam the veggies.

Now, set the mixture aside to cool.

Once the meat mixture has cooled sufficiently, preheat the oven 106° C (250° F)

Next, put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and add milk, a little at a time, mixing by hand until the bread is just a little moist but not mushy, then fold in the dressing mix and combine well.

Just before it’s time to place the bird into the oven, salt & pepper the inside of the turkey well (body and neck cavities).

If you have one handy, you can place cheesecloth inside the turkey to hold the dressing and make it much easier to remove later.

Pack the dressing into the body and lace up with a turkey lacing kit or whatever method you have handy.

Next, if you like a sweeter German-style dressing, you can modify a small portion by adding some raisins in just the neck portion (or just leave it the same as the rest, if you don’t like sweet stuffing).

Pack the dressing well into the neck area and lace up as well as possible.

Get your roaster ready and then rub the entire turkey with butter and liberally salt & pepper.

Place in the pan Breast up – this is only if you plan to slow cook at 106° C (250° F).

Now, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of dry white wine in the pan and begin cooking.

After the first 3 hours, add 1 additional cup of wine over the bird, and then continue to baste it with the pan juices every 1½ - 2 hours. If the pan juices evaporate too quickly, add a bit more diluted wine (don’t use more than 600 ml of wine total, as it will ruin the gravy later).

The bird should be covered until the last two hours and basted often especially at the end. It should cook until the internal temperature reaches 77° C (170°F) or about 30-35 minutes per 500 gms (per pound), or shorter if the dressing is still warm when put into the bird.

You can also cook it quicker at 180° C (350°F) for 25 minutes per 500 gms (per pound), but if you do, you will need to start the bird breast down and turn it over when you remove the cover for the last two hours.


Pan Juices
2-3 Cans Unsweetened Condensed/Evaporated Milk
1 Cup Cold Water
½ Cup Corn Flour/Corn Starch
*Salt & Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Take pan dripping and add 2 to 3 cans of evaporated milk and enough water to make the desired amount (I added the water from the boiled potatoes for mashing) and heat to a boil.

Mix about half a cup or so of corn starch with cold water.

Slowly add the dissolved corn starch mixture to the slow boiling drippings until you reach your desired gravy consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste.