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APRICOT JAM

I do realise that the stone fruit is disappearing fast as autumn is closing in.  If you have not already busted out a few preserves then it is high time you had a go.  There are still plums and peaches, the second crop of strawberries and raspberries and now quinces are available at the market.  Which all make delicious jams and jellies.  I have focused on the art of making preserves and jellies in my Autumn Journal available at the Otago Farmers Market.  It is such a precious skill to have as it adds variety to the sometimes dull winter pantry, it is cost effective and it is satisfying!

This recipe is taken from my Summer/Autumn Journal

The biggest issue when it comes to making any variety of preserves is to ensure you wash and rinse your jars well.  I dry mine in a low oven 50C for as long as it takes the jam to cook.  I also put the metal lids into a small pot of water and bring to the boil for 5 minutes, drain.  Try to avoid using a tea towel to dry them and also avoid handling them too much. Pour the jam in carefully when hot, wipe any spills and seal with the lids immediately.

APRICOT JAM

4 x 250g jars with lids

Apricot pulp

1 kg apricots, stoned weight (keep the stones)
4 Nectarines, ripe, peeled and stones discarded
500g caster sugar
120 ml water

Method; Halve the apricots and gently crack the stones opened and remove the kernels.  Blanch these for 30 seconds in boiling water, cool, peel and keep to one side, (they taste of almonds).
Put the apricots, sugar and measured amount of water into a large heavy based pot.  Heat very gently, stirring all the time, until the sugar dissolves, and the juices begin to flow from the apricots.  Raise the heat slightly, add the nectarines, using a potato masher mash the pulp well to even out the lumps of fruit.  Boil vigorously, stirring often to prevent it catching on the base of the pot.  The fruit should be soft and pulpy and the liquid should evaporate.  The jam is ready in about 20-30 minutes, test some jam a saucer.  When cool, if is stays apart when divided with your finger, then it is ready.  Remove the jam from the heat, add the apricot kernels and let the jam settle for 5 minutes.

Pour into sterilised jars, seal and label.



APRICOT JAM





KIA MOANA (SEAFOOD, NEW ZEALAND STYLE)

EVY, OLLIE AND FREDDY
ARAMOANA

It was one of those overcast and drizzly days, where one could of quite easily stayed indoors and mucked around.  Or you could of got your gum-boots on and went for a good old walk….
We went out to Aramoana, which is located at the head of the Dunedin harbour.  I always feel energised after a good walk on the beach, and the scenery seems to lift your spirits as it is just so rugged and natural.  It also has an abundance of kia moana (seafood).  Simon (my husband) dug his heel deep into the sand and then with a little more digging with his hand revealed a handful of large, sweet, juicy pipis.



gathering pipis



We also stumbled across some mussels hanging tightly to the rocks.  We now had a feast collected in our bag to take home for dinner.  Wow what a day……
Please note that Pipis need soaking in cold water over night as they hold a lot of sand and make for unpleasant eating if eaten straight away.
PIPI FRITTERS
12 fresh pipis, lightly steamed open
1/2 leek, finely sliced
30g butter
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp chives, finely sliced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, separated
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
oil for frying
lemon for serving and a little extra sea salt flakes
Method
Remove the pipi meat from the shell and roughly chop up and place into a bowl.  Melt the butter in a small fry pan or pot and cook the leeks without colouring until soft (5-8 minutes), cool.  Add the leeks to the pipi mixture, add the garlic, chives and egg yolks.  Mix gently to combine, add the flour and season with salt and pepper, mix until just combined.  Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff.  Fold into the pipi mixture. 
Heat a large fry pan up to medium-hot with enough oil to cover the surface.  Test a little mixture in the oil to check that the oil is hot enough and that your mixture is seasoned correctly.  When you are happy with everything, use a dessert spoon and scoop enough mixture into the oil to create a fritter size round.  Continue so that your fry pan is not over crowded, it is better to do them in batches.  Fry until golden brown, gently flip over and cook the over side until golden.  Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.  Serve warm with a light sprinkling of sea salt flakes and lemon wedges.
PIPI FRITTERS

SLOW ROASTED RED ONIONS

Whether they are red or white onions, cooking them long and slow makes them sweet, juicy and fragrant. I love them served alongside roast meats.  If you do manage some left over roasted onions, separate the layers and toss through a cous cous salad or add too a tart or sandwich to liven it up.

ROASTED RED ONIONS WITH THYME AND BALSAMIC

Serves 4
4 even sized medium red onions, skin on
50g butter, softened
4 sprigs fresh thyme
20 ml balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200C

Remove the first layer of papery skin from the onion. With a sharp knife, just take the bottom of the core end of the onion off, to give it a flat base, make 2 cuts in a cross-shape in the top, cutting about half way down the onion, ensuring that you do not cut through the onion. Push the sprig of thyme, salt and pepper into the gaps in the onion, add a knob of butter to each onion. Put into an oven dish and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil and spoon over any juices, return to the oven and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until the onions are soft, juicy and slightly caramelized.

FLATBREADS

I do love a recipe which not only is super easy, but one that is also super versatile.  This just happens to be one of those great recipes.  It can be kept in the fridge over night and then brought back to room temperature, a quick roll and before you know it you are plastering the surface of these delicious flatbreads with your favourite topping.

FLATBREAD

Makes 10 large
10g dried yeast
310g high grade flour
250g wholemeal flour
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt

Combine 310ml cold water with the yeast, whisk to combine.
In a large bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the flours, sugar and salt.
Add the yeast mixture and oil and mix on a medium speed until the dough is shiny and elastic looking.
Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest until double in size – 1 hour.
Turn out on a lightly floured board. Divide the mixture into 10 balls and roll each ball out to 14cm long.
Place on a lightly greased oven tray, brush with olive oil, sprinkle over sea salt flakes and bake until golden and cooked through 8-10 minutes.

PS. One of my favourite toppings for these wonderful flatbreads is a little avocado mashed with a touch of lemon juice and spread generously over the top and then some baked gurnard fillets flaked through some aioli and lavishly spread over the avocado.

KOREAN DUMPLINGS……wicked!

My knew venture at the moment is private cooking classes.  I create the menu to suit the customers needs, forward on the shopping list and recipes.  Arrive on the night and cook dinner with them whilst giving one-on-one cooking lessons.  They then sit down to a beautiful dinner (mostly created by themselves), i discreetly clean down and disappear.

One of the reason i am bringing the classes up is that the other night we did a class on “Steaming”.  Which was moulded around Asian cuisine, the first course was Mandu Korean dumplings.  They were so good that i ended up making them with the children on Saturday and we had them for dinner that night.  The children loved them, they had chop sticks to use and  a little dipping sauce each.  It was a highly enjoyable dinner.

MANDU- KOREAN DUMPLINGS…
MANDU – KOREAN DUMPLINGS
These dumplings are very similar to the Japanese Gyoza dumplings. They are equally delicious if you pan fry them in a little oil.

Makes 35

200g pork mince

150g firm tofu, coarsely mashed with a fork

100g drained kimchi, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
35 round gow gee or round wonton wrappers
plain flour for dusting
sesame salt
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp fine sea salt
dipping sauce
60ml soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

For the sesame salt, dry roast sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium-high heat until roasted (2-3minutes).  Cool slightly, set aside 1 tsp for dipping sauce, then pound with salt in a mortar and pestle until finely ground.

Combine pork, tofu, kimchi, chives, spring onion, sesame oil and a large pinch of freshly ground pepper in a bowl and season to taste with sesame salt (about 1 tsp) set aside.
Lay a few wrappers on a work surface, place a teaspoon of pork mixture in the centre of each, then brush the edges with a little water.  Fold in half to form a semi-circle, pleating the edges as you go and pressing them to seal. Set aside on a lightly floured board.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Meanwhile, for the dipping sauce, combine ingredients and reserved roasted sesame seeds in a bowl. 

Cook the mandu in batches of boiling water until cooked (2-4 minutes or when they float to the surface).  Drain and serve with the dipping sauce, sesame salt and kimchi.

MANDU-KOREAN DUMPLINGS

FREE RANGE CHICKEN, DURUM WHEAT SALAD

I absolutely love salads, and i am not talking just a few lettuces leaves tossed together.  I take salads very seriously and i get so angry when restaurants/cafes serve salads with a dodgy dressing drizzled over top.  I really started to appreciate a good salad when i was working at the River Cafe in London.  I loved to do the larder section their as it was always so fresh and interesting. 

This salad is just one of those delicious impromptu salads which has texture, flavour and of course what is in season.  When deciding to make a salad, have a look in your fridge, pantry and garden.  Think flavours first and foremost then think textures, such as crunchy, juicy, acidic and so on.  I use a lot of pulses such as cracked wheat, barley, cous cous and lentils.  I then add a hearty dressing (which ideally add whilst still hot, so it soaks into the the pulses).  Then finish off with the herbs, vegetables, cheese etc.

FREE RANGE CHICKEN & DURUM WHEAT SALAD

Serves 5

200g durum wheat or any type of pulse
5 chicken breasts, flatten out with a rolling pin 1cm thick all over
fresh oregano or marjoram
2 lemons

2 slices good quality smoked bacon
2 cobs of fresh corn, kernels removed
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 red chilli seeds removed and finely chopped (i used cherry chilli-wicked flavour)
generous handful wild rocket or any robust leaf
generous handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp sumac
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
sherry or red wine vinegar

Firstly flatten out the chicken breasts by laying them between two sheets of gladwrap/plastic wrap and hitting them gently with a rolling pin or mallet.  You are wanting to even out the thickness of the breasts (1cm thick), put into a dish.
Remove the leaves from the stalk of the marjoram or oregano and pound with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle.  Add a good squeeze of lemon juice and loosen the paste up with oil.  Pour over the chicken and marinate for as long as possible.  Set aside.

To make the dressing; 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar. 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Cook the wheat in lightly salted water until tender (15 minutes).  Drain, drizzle over a little dressing, cool.  Set aside.
Heat up a fry pan with a little olive oil, sliced the bacon into strips and add to the fry pan and cook until golden brown.  Add the onion wedges, and corn kernels, cook gently for 5 minutes. 
Add to the wheat and mix through, add the herbs, chilli and rocket, sprinkle over the sumac and add a little more dressing. Mix gently together and taste, adjust seasoning as needed.

Heat up a heavy fry pan or griddle pan to very hot.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook until a delicious golden brown colour appears (3-4 minutes), turn over and continue on the other side.  Squeeze over a little fresh lemon juice and sprinkle over a little salt.  Serve with the salad, a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a cheek of lemon.





BEETROOT AND CHOCOLATE CAKE

Beetroot for me is one of the most versatile ingredients i have in my garden.  I put them into my super juices, grate them into salads, makes excellent relishes which goes fantastically when added to my venison burgers. 
I am well aware that beetroot and chocolate cakes are nothing knew, but this recipe is AMAZING!  It is deeply chocolaty with a mousse like texture.  The beetroot adds a almost cherry-like flavour to the cake and also helps keep it moist.  My tip is to grate the beetroot as fine as possible or it will make it hard to cut.




BEETROOT CHOCOLATE CAKE

 

FRUIT BRUSHETTA






APRICOT, NECTARINE AND PLUM BRUSHETTA

Serves 4

4 apricots
2 soft nectarines
4 plums
4 x 1.5 cm slices from a sourdough
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla pod
250g caster sugar
25ml brandy (optional)
Crème fraiche to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C

Grease a baking tray.

Butter each slice of bread on one side only.
Cut the vanilla pod into small pieces and pound with the sugar in a mortar.
Halve and stone the fruits, put into a bowl, add the sugar and brandy. Stir gently to combine. Let marinate for 20 minutes or so.
On each buttered slice of bread, divide the fruits so there is an even amount on each slice. Put some fruit flesh side down on the bread so the juices seep into the bread and put some flesh side. Pour over the remaining juices from the bowl.
Bake the brushettas in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. They should be crisp on the edges and the fruits cooked. Serve warm with crème fraiche.

PORK SCRATCHINGS

I think this may be a British thing….pork scratchings!  To some it may sound disgusting, to others (like myself) they are quite moreish.  My husband thought he would give them a go and too our delight they were wickedly good, especially along side a fantastic beer like Emersons. 
If you want to have a wicked little snack you will need to pre-order some pork skin from your butcher and you will need to allow a day or two for them to dry out properly. They are worth it….

PORK SCRATCHINGS

PORK SCRATCHINGS

800g piece pork skin
2 Tbsp sea salt flakes

oil for frying

Cook pork skin in salted water over medium-high heat until very tender (1 hour).  Preheat oven to 110C.  Drain skin, cool slightly, then scrap off as much fat as possible.  Score the skin, place flat skin-side up, on a wire rack, season with salt, then bake until skin cracks (8-10hrs).  Cool slightly, then break into pieces.

Pre heat oil in a deep sided pot to 175C (test a little piece first).  Carefully fry the scratchings in batches until crisp (1-2 minutes; be careful as the oil may spit).  Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle over sea salt flakes.  Cool and serve with a good beer.  Store in a airtight container for a couple of weeks.

BACK AT LONG LAST!!!

So much has happened lately.  For us here in New Zealand we are coming to terms with such extreme devastation to lives and life in Christchurch.  It has hit all New Zealanders in ways which i can’t describe.  Perhaps because our country is so small, we all seem to know someone who has been affected by the Earthquake, and we all seem very connected to Christchurch as a city.  I am aware that there is not a lot one can do except offer unconditional support and lots of love. 

I am still awaiting a replacement for my stolen computer, and i am sure i will be waiting for quite a bit longer now as there are more urgent matters on hand.  I have had mixed emotions about not having a computer on hand.  For one i have loads more time which was happily spent with the family, although i have found life exhausting as i do a lot of writing these days and i have had to even revert to paper and pen a few times….crazy!

Anyway i having been dying to get a few posts up as the summer produce is disappearing fast.  I have too start afresh with all my recipes and photos as they all were with the computer.  But hey sometimes a new beginning isn’t all that bad.

TOMATOES – soil grown, sun ripened and juicy sweet.  So many ways to eat them, where to start…….

This tomato was picked from my parents crop.  It weighed in at 600gm! I had never seen a tomato that big before, it was however picked from the Big Beef variety.  One slice fitted perfectly in my daughters sandwich for lunch.

STEWED TOMATOES, FRIED EGG ON TOAST
serves 2

500g sun ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
25 g butter
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
fresh coriander or basil
few drops fish sauce (optional)
salt and freshly cracked pepper

2 slices good quality bread toasted and rubbed lightly with garlic

2 free range eggs
olive oil for frying

In a medium pot melt the butter and cook the onion, and garlic until soft (3-5 minutes), add the chopped tomatoes and chilli.  Cook gently until the tomatoes burst and the sauce starts to thicken.  Add a few drops fish sauce, season lightly with salt, be a little more generous with the pepper.  Add the coriander and cook for a further two minutes.  Turn down the heat and set aside.

If you haven’t already, toast the bread on both sides, rub lightly with garlic and drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil.  Place on a warm plate.

In a fry pan heat enough oil to fry the eggs.  Add the eggs carefully and fry until crispy around the edges of the white.  Place a generous amount of tomatoes on the toast and place the fried egg on top.  Scatter a few more coriander leaves and a little chilli over the dish.  Great for breakfast/brunch!

STEWED TOMATOES & FRIED EGG ON TOAST