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WET AND WINDY DAY AT MARKET

Wow, what a day at the Otago Farmers Market, if we didn’t have such fantastic produce available i am sure we wouldn’t have the die-hard patrons, battling the wild winds, and harsh rain, early in the morning.  Never the less i now have a fruit bowl full of summer fruits, a fridge full of incredible veg and some wonderful Waitaki Pork, and some very fresh fish from Edmonds.  You soon forget about the weather when you start thinking about what you will be eating for dinner….

I cooked with fantastic produce today at the market.  For those of you who missed it, the recipes will follow.  The peach fritters were really good and i must admit the turnips were excellent. 

CHAR-GRILLED AUBERGINE SALAD
For many of us the Aubergine or Eggplant (as some may know it), seems a little bit confusing and maybe even a little intimidating! I can assure you once you start to cook with it and enjoy the many dishes you can make from one vegetable you will be converted.

Serves 4
2 large aubergine (Kakanui Produce at the Farmers Market)
Olive oil for cooking aubergine
2 tomato, seeds removed, sliced or diced

1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 red onion, finely diced

2 tsp capers, roughly chopped                                 
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, flat leaf parsley, marjoram or oregano leaves, roughly torn
20 g shaved Parmesan cheese ( feta works as well)

Method
Slice the aubergine into 1 cm thick slices, length ways. Heat up a griddle pan or heavy based fry pan until hot. I try not to cook my aubergine in any oil if using a griddle pan, if using a solid base pan, just a light drizzle over the surface of the pan. Cook the aubergine in a single layer until brown on each side, it is important that you feel the flesh of the aubergine, it should be soft not tough.

While the aubergine are cooking, put the vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, capers and seasoning in a flat serving dish. As soon as the aubergine are cooked place into the dressing, you are wanting them to suck up the dressing so that the aubergine are moist and flavoursome throughout. Continue until all the aubergine are done. Scatter over the tomatoes, onions, herbs and Parmesan, you may need a little more extra virgin olive oil to lightly moisten the surface. Ensure all the ingredients are well combined, arrange so it looks fabulous!

BABABGNOUSH – aubergine dip

1 large aubergine
½-1 medium size onion, grated and liquid removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed into a paste
1 lemon, juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 180`C
Bake the whole aubergine until very soft, about 15- 20 minutes
Remove from the oven, carefully open (watching for steam) and place into a colander over a bowl. You are wanting any juices to drain and also for the aubergine to cool down.

When the aubergine has cooled, remove the skin, give it a light press down for any more liquid. Place the flesh into a bowl, add the grated onion, garlic and some of the lemon juice. Mix well with a wooden spoon so the mixture combines well and the aubergine takes on a lighter and fluffier texture. Season well and drizzle enough olive oil to lighten and loosen the dip. Check for seasoning and also for acidity, you may need more lemon juice. Best to serve it on a little flat plate or serving dish, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, half of a lemon and some good bread.

ROSEMARY SKEWERED FISH, WITH LEMON AND CAPERS
Serves 4

1 kg fish fillets, monkfish or cod
8 Long rosemary twigs
Extra virgin olive oil
2 – 3 lemons
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp capers
Pinch smoked paprika
Remove 2/3 of the leaves of the rosemary stick and set aside

Cut the fish into 1 cm cubes and thread onto the rosemary. Depending on the length of the stick you should get about 3-4 pieces of fish on each one. Lay them flat on a tray, drizzle over a little olive oil and zest the lemons and scatter over the fish. Season with salt and pepper just before cooking.

To cook, heat up a barbecue or a heavy based griddle or fry pan to hot. Layer the skewers single layer over the heat and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Whilst they are cooking roughly chop up the capers, add juice of 1 lemon, roughly chop 2 tsp of the rosemary leaves and add a good pinch of smoked paprika. Mix to combine season lightly and set aside.

Once the fish is cooked, put onto a platter and either drizzle over the dressing or serve alongside.

TURNIPS
This is one of those recipes where it works wonders with vegetables like Turnips, Jerusalem Artichokes or onions. It will transform a some what curious flavoured vegetable into a rich, buttery dream.

Serves 2-4
800g – 1 kg baby turnips or large one cut in half
1 medium onion
90g butter
400 ml water                                                                   
Pinch of vegetable stock
60 ml white wine (optional)
½ tsp Vegemite or Marmite
1 sprig rosemary, or small bunch fresh thyme

1 garlic clove
1 chilli, chopped very small
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parsley

Peel the turnips and if using larger turnips, cut in half. Soften the onion in 30 g of the butter, all this on a gentle heat until brown. Add the turnips and cover with the water and stock, white wine if using and Vegemite and the remaining butter.

Add the rosemary or thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a piece of baking paper cut to size and seal with a well fitting lid.

Bring to the boil for a few minutes and then reduce heat slightly. Shake the pan about to loosen any catching on the bottom. They are ready when very tender and almost at a stage when the turnips begin to break up.

Add the chilli and parsley, they are deliciously exotic in flavour and work well with beef, pork or simply add a good robust green salad.

TURNIP TOP’S – as you are well aware I try not to waste a thing, and the tops of the turnips are no exception. Simply remove the tops and discard any damaged or tough looking leaves. Bring a pot of salted water tot the boil and quickly blanch the tops for a few minutes. Drain immediately and sauté in a little oil or butter with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

PEACH FRITTERS                        

250g flour                                                                      
1 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp warm water, plus a little more for mixing
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg white
6 peaches
Sugar for sprinkling
Pinch of cinnamon
Oil for frying

Prepare the batter 2 hours in advance. Put the flour in a bowl. Mix the yeast to a paste with the warm water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and put the oil and yeast into the well. Mix in warm water, a little at a time, until the batter falls like a ribbon from the whisk. Beat the egg white for 1 minute with a fork. Stir this into the batter. Allow the batter to stand in the refrigerator for 2 hours before using.

Heat the oil in a deep heavy based pot to 180C or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Cut the peach in half and remove the stone, cut into even slices. Dip the peach slices , one at a time into the batter. Carefully lower the apple slices, in batches, into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes until golden and tender. Drain, sprinkle with sugar and a little cinnamon.
Great with apples, pears, and strawberries

ALISON WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING VENDORS FOR THEIR FANTASTIC PRODUCE AND THEIR SUPPORT

EDMONDS FRESH FISH
GORDONS ORCHARDS
WAIRUNA ORGANICS
KAKANUI PRODUCE

GINGERBREAD PEOPLE, KIWI’S AND ICECREAMS…..

Into the last week of the school holidays, unfortunately for us down here in the far south the weather has been more like winter than summer. It is a little sad as my children have been inside for far too many days. We have made every jig-saw, played every game and made a lot of huts.
I have tins of baking that we won’t eat, it was just a fun way to fill in the day. I always cook when i am restless and frustrated. The children have fun, although i secretly think why they like baking so much, is so they can eat the scrumptious dough, mind you i quite like it.



Evy and Ollie Baking


GINGERBREAD PEOPLE

125g butter, softened
100g brown sugar
125ml golden syrup
1 egg, separated
375g flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven 180`C
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the golden syrup and egg yolk, beat well to combine.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add in 2-3 batches into the mixture. Tip out onto your bench and work the dough together so it forms a ball. Roll out to about 1 cm in thickness, cut out desired shapes. Decorate with raisins, m&ms, silver balls etc. Place onto a baking sheet, allowing a little space between them.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden and firm.
Cool on the tray for a few minutes and then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
You can now ice on more features like clothing, faces or the odd accessory if you fancy.
Icing:1 egg white
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
3-4 different food colours

Whisk the egg white in a small bowl, gradually whisking in the icing sugar. Divide into 3-4 bowls, add your desired colours and mix to combine. Pour into 3-4 resealable bags(do not over fill), cut a small hole in the corner and use as your icing bag. Beware it can get messy! Have fun and get creative!

Made by many little hands…

A LITTLE SOMETHING TO HAVE WITH A CUPPA…

I sometimes just want a little something with my coffee in the afternoon or anytime for that matter.  I particularly like a fruit loaf, it may have a little to do with the lavish amounts of butter i spread on each slice or it might just simply be the sweetness from the fruit and the satisfaction from the cakey side to it. I haven’t yet figured that one out. 

This recipe is a quick one bowl mixture, which never seems to fail.  It is a great recipe to get you confidant if you haven’t yet ventured out into this style of bakery. I think it maybe handed down from my mother, so its gotta be good!

FRUIT LOAF

3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter
250g sultanas, dates or raisins
1 cup water

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Method
preheat oven 180`C.  Grease a 22 cm loaf tin lightly with butter, and sprinkle with flour, tap out excess.  I always line the base of the tin with a little greaseproof paper, which i cut to measure.
Simmer the first lot of ingredients (butter, fruit etc) together in a pot for about 5 minutes.  Leave to cool.
Mix the remaining dry ingredients together with the fruit.  Be careful not to over mix.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the lower half of the oven for about 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean when pierced into the centre of the loaf.  Remove from the oven and leave  to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Slice into desired thickness, and a little or as much pure butter as desired!

OTAGO FARMERS MARKET – JANUARY

Finally back at the Farmers Market today and despite the weather, it was lovely to be back and to be surrounded by such fantastic, vibrant produce.  I had the pleasure of using many superb producers today but i especially enjoyed Kakanui’s Produce.  Their vast range of peppers and chillies are impressive. I spent a lot of time tasting and explaining that chillies have more to offer than simply heat, they have a complex range of flavour.  With a little experimenting and avoiding the membrane and seeds of the chilli, we added different varieties to many different dishes.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tasting and i learnt a lot about the humble chilli today.

HARISSA
I highly recommend making your own as some shop bought varieties can be quite one-dimensional.You will certainly taste the difference as you noticeable taste the spices and the chillies.

serves 6-8
250g long fresh red chillies
3 heaped teaspoons coarsely ground caraway seeds
3 heaped teaspoons coarsely ground cumin seeds
1 level teaspoon ground black cumin seeds (optional)
4 garlic cloves
1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 dessertspoon tomato puree
1 dessertspoon red wine vinegar
2 level teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

It is advisable to wear rubber gloves when preparing the chillies.  Slice the chillies in half lenthways.  Lay each chilli on a chopping board cut-side up, gently scrape away the seeds with a teaspoon and discard them.  Roughly chop the chillies and transfer to a food processor with a sharp blade.  Blend the chillies with a pinch of salt, half of each of the spices and the garlic cloves until as smooth as possible.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.  Now add the remaining ingredients – the rest of the spices, the peppers, tomato puree, vinegar, paprika and olive oil.  Taste and season with more salt to balance out the vinegar. 
Harissa keeps well in the fridge, but be sure to cover it with a little oil to seal it from the air.

BEETROOT, LAMB AND CRACKED WHEAT BURGERS

I was watching Nigel Slater the other day and he busted out these brightly coloured, moreish looking burgers.  Apart from the fact that they are truly scrumptious, you could easily change the lamb mince to beef or why not try venison.  It would go beautifully with the sweet, berry flavour of the beets.

You could cook them on the barbecue or in a fry pan as i have done.  I would suggest making a little yoghurt, lemon and chive or mint sauce to go alongside them.  Have fun!

BEETROOT, LAMB AND CRACKED WHEAT BURGERS
serves 4

500g lamb mince
3-4 medium beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 cup cracked wheat, soaked in boiling water
1 onion, grated
handful chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
oil for frying

In a large bowl add the mince, grated beetroot, onion and parsley.  Using your hands squeeze out any excess moisture from the cracked wheat, add to your beetroot mixture.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Using your hand mix all the ingredients together really well.  If the mixture needs some binding add the egg and mix well.
Using slightly damp hands mould four even size patties and put onto a plate and chill until required.

When ready to cook, heat up a good size fry pan with enough oil to just cover the base of the pan.  When almost smoking add the patties and turn the heat down to medium, cook on both sides so they are golden brown and ruby red, they should take around 5 minutes either side (depending on the thickness).

Serve immediately, we made some homemade wedges with lemon and rosemary and a little yoghurt dressing. 
A very reasonable and very filling supper!

CENTRAL OTAGO

We have returned from a few magical days away.  Central Otago is pretty special, it has endless breathtaking scenery, mountains that go from the waters edge to what looks like the top of the world, the many lakes are a glistening turquoise blue and the air is so pure and fresh your body just seems to feel at one with it all.  Apart from the many vineyards offering world class pinot’s and orchards selling world class stone fruits there is a lot to do. 
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure i would recommend this rare, spiritual region of New Zealand.

The pictures say it all, happy holidays!!





Lake Wanaka



Lake Wanaka



A few pictures of my children on holiday.
Evy

Ollie
Freddy

I am back to the Farmers Market this weekend and i have unbelievable produce to use, i can’t wait to get cooking again. I will also be back on track with the blog, a lot of beautiful food to cook and devour.
Summer/Autumn Cookbook will be available soon

    

GOING CAMPING FOR A FEW DAYS……

Before i disappear with my family camping for a few days, i just want to share our dinner from last night.  We went foraging at Blueskin Bay (outside Dunedin), apart from breathtaking natural beauty.  Kai moana (seafood) is plentiful and delicious, as you can see Cockles or Clams as a lot of you may recognise them as, are plump, sweet and exciting.

Don’t worry i do realise how fortunate we are to have them still freely available in our clean, untouched seas. God bless New Zealand!

Here is a simple, classic recipe to include cockles, i omitted the chilli in this dish as it was for the whole family.  But i highly advise adding the chilli as it  is not there solely there for heat, it actually adds a background depth to the dish.

SPAGHETTI WITH COCKLES, CHILLI & PARSLEY
serves 6

1 kg (at least) fresh cockles in shell
1 packet good quality dried spaghetti
handful flat leaf parsley
1 red chilli
2 lemons
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
drop or two Thai fish sauce (optional)


Soak the cockles in fresh water with a little sprinkle of flour, and let sit for as long as possible,  this will allow the cockles to spit out any remaining sand.
Rinse well and remove any cockles that are open or broken.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil.
Roughly chop the parsley, deseed the chilli and finely slice, zest one lemon and slice the garlic. Set aside.
Add the spaghetti to the boil water and stir briefly to separate, cook until
al dente (vital not to over cook the pasta), look on the packet for times.

Heat a large heavy based fry pan up with a generous amount of oil, add the garlic, and chilli, add the cockles, give the pan a bit of a shake.  Cover and cook until the cockles start to open (depending on size any where from 3 minutes to 5-7 minutes).  Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, a few drops of fish sauce if using and grind or two of cracked pepper.  Sprinkle over the chopped parsley. 

Drain the pasta and add to the cockles (if not enough room in pan, add back to the pasta pot), drizzle over some more olive oil and taste.  It should be fresh, slightly salty like the sea and enough liquid/ oil to coat the pasta.  Serve in a large dish on the table.  I made some Foccica bread to dunk into the juices left in the pan.  An absolutely unforgettable meal!

Cockles and Spaghetti

See you when i get back from Central Otago.  Bye!



ZUCCHINIS

Every year i do the same, i plant a few zucchini, squash plants.  Thinking to myself i can’t wait too do this dish and that dish, and then all of a sudden i have zucchinis sprouting every where.  Which is not a bad thing, it just means i have to be on the ready with numerous ideas of using them up.  This is just one of many, i like the simplicity and vibrancy of this delicious dish.

Zucchinis from the garden


 CHAR GRILLED ZUCCHINIS with LEMON, MINT AND FETA

This is simple, seasonal and delicious, try it with some toasted sourdough bread, or perhaps some pan fried fillets of fish and aioli.
Serves 4

8 medium size zucchinis, try different varieties and colours
Handful of fresh mint leaves
75g or more if desired of good quality goats feta cheese
1-2 lemons
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a griddle pan or barbecue up very hot.
While that is heating up slice the zucchinis length ways 5mm thick. Set aside.
Grate the zest of one lemon and add the juice to a small bowl. Add the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, add the mint leaves and taste. You are wanting a fresh, zesty dressing.
Once the grill or pan is hot, place the zucchini strips single layer on the grill or pan. Cook for about 1 minute, if the grill is hot enough it should leave a lovely charred effect. Turn over and briefly cook the other side of the zucchinis. Do not over cook them, as they should have some texture. Once cooked place the zucchini strips directly onto a nice serving dish, add the dressing and sprinkle over the crumbled goats cheese. Toss gently to combine everything together. Enjoy.




Sunshine on a plate







WELSH CAKES

For some unknown reason down here in Dunedin it has been overcast, wet and not at all summery!  I realise it won’t last forever, but at present my husband and i are trying ever so hard to keep the children active, and excited. We are also trying to keep ourselves active, excited and positive.  I have got back into exercise, trying to cut back on sampling all the baking i do.  However when Simon (my husband) asked for a batch of Welsh Cakes, i eagerly jumped at the chance to make these flaky, fluffy, sugar coated cakes.  My Nan in-law from Wales gave me her original recipe, which had lard instead of butter and of course cooked on a skillet.  I have improvised a little, i added butter and i unfortunately don’t have a skillet, but any heavy based fry pan will work just as well.
If you haven’t made these before i recommend giving them a go, they are quick, easy and absolutely delicious. 
In ode to my Welsh husband and Father in-law.

WELSH CAKES
makes about 12
225g Self Raising flour

110g salted butter, diced
1 egg
1-2 Tablespoon full fat milk
generous handful sultanas
50g sugar

Gently heat up a large heavy-based fry pan.
In a large bowl, add the flour and butter.  Rub between your finger tips until your mix resembles breadcrumbs.  In a small bowl break the egg and add 1 Tablespoon milk, lightly whisk together and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix with a bread and butter knife, until combined.  If looking too dry add a little more milk, the mixture should be only slightly tacky.  Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and every so gently move the dough around, so it is smooth and round in shape.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out 1.5cm thick, using a round, crinkled edge cutter, cut out the circles.  Re- roll the remaining dough and cut out as many cakes as possible.
Rub a little butter over the base of the fry pan with a paper towel and place the cakes in the heated pan, leaving a little space between them.  Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.  Once cooked remove and place on a cooling rack, covered with a tea towel.  I sprinkle over 1/2 the sugar on the tea towel and place the hot cooked cakes directly onto the sugar, sprinkle over the remaining sugar. 
Eat warm, or cold, smothered with butter or any which way you please.  A good mood changer!!

Welsh Cakes

LOVING THE HOLIDAY’S



BLUESKIN BAY



Summer holidays here in New Zealand are a pretty chilled out affair.  After living abroad for so long, i do really appreciate the simplicity and beauty of a good old NZ day out.  One of my brothers has a holiday crib (batch or holiday house, depending on where you are from), in beautiful, quaint Warrington.  Its only a mere 20 minute drive north of Dunedin and you end up in a lovely village, no shops, no cafes but my goodness what a magnificent beach and bay.  No matter the weather or mood, i find Warrington is my space to clear my head and too take a few deep breaths of fresh sea air.  Life ain’t too bad!!

What i love about my day out at the crib (holiday house) is that it is back to basics, you automatically unwind, sit back in the sun chairs and catch up with the whanau (family).  It is important to stop the madness and to catch up on the sweet, little things; like how is school going, how are the renovations going on the house or what have we got to eat…..(sorry that’s my obsessed thoughts).

old skool classic holiday cooking equipment



WILD BRAISED RABBIT



My children got to splash around in the water at the bay and i got to try my brother Bruce’s new toy board out.  It was great fun and now i want one…



Board Surfing



I am feeling positive about 2011, i wish for a healthy family and lots of laughter.  Happy New Year Everyone!