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NEW POTATOES, GREEN HERB BUTTER

I seem to have this love-hate relationship with potatoes – i try to avoid them whenever possible as i really don’t need the extra carbs in my life (i have enough).  But i have to admit i find it really hard to resist freshly dug new potatoes with their creamy centres and papery skins – i am sure you get the idea.
We have had a potato growing competition with the children and so far Evy is winning with 24 potatoes from one pot.  It has been a wonderful project, (although quite competitive) the children have really got involved from planting their seedling potatoes, watching them grow and bloom and finally after many weeks and much anticipation digging them up and eating them – ya aah. When it comes to the taste test we simply boil them and serve them with butter.  We grew so many varieties that it has been a taste and texture experience for us all.
This recipe is wonderful as it combines flavours from the garden, blended through butter and smothered on potatoes.  Feel free to use herbs and flavours you like and more importantly that you have access too.

NEW POTATOES WITH GREEN HERB BUTTER
Serves 6-8

1 kg new potatoes, washed well and scraped if desired
100g unsalted butter
good handful watercress and rocket
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon and chervil – parsley, mint, basil, dill or fennel work well also
2 gherkins, finely chopped
1 Tbsp good quality capers, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked pepper
pinch salt

Method
Place the potatoes in a good size pot with a generous pinch of salt, cover with water and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender.
Whilst they are cooking, bring a medium size pot to the boil.  Quickly plunge the rocket and watercress into he water for only a few seconds.  Remove immediately and lay flat on a clean dry cloth to cool down.
In a food processor add the softened butter and blend until pale and creamy, add the rocket and watercress, all the herbs and blend again until well combined and green looking.  Season to taste.
Remove from the processor and mix through the gherkins and capers.  Put aside until the potatoes are cooked.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain well and put into serving dish and spoon over this fragrant, fantastic green butter.

BERRY SCONES……irresistable

I was brought up on scones and they were not just the run of the mill sort of scones.  My mother made scones that were light, fluffy, moist and golden – it is all about technique! I use to stand on the chair next to mums work bench from an early age and watch and play with odd bits of dough.  My mother would throw this in and that and a little milk or sometimes a little cream and even better if the milk is turning sour better still.  Mum would always cut the milk through wet ingredients with a bread and butter type knife and i still do the same today, actually i teach the same technique to my students.
The most important tip when making scones is too never over work (mix) them, when you are combing the ingredients you need it to be slighty sticky – but not sloppy. Remember this is not bread so you don’t want to get the gluten working so be gentle!

These scones are more like a drop scone or sugar bun to look at as you simply drop large spoonfuls directly onto the tray.  With the addition of summer berries it takes your everyday scone into a delighful little treat (great with cream). 

2 cups standard flour
3 Tbsp sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of scones
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
80 g cold butter, cubed
1 ½ cups fresh mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
¾ cup buttermilk, (standard milk is fine) plus a little more for to brush scones

Method
Preheat oven 200`C
In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and work in with your finger tips until a fine breadcrumb texture is formed. Or alternately you can put it in the food processor and pulse until your mixture resembles the same breadcrumb texture. Remove from food processor and put mixture into a large bowl.

What ever your method this part is the same for both, add the buttermilk and cut through the mix with a bread and butter knife. Do not over mix (that is the secret of light scones), add the berries and carefully combine, trying hard not to break up the berries to much as they will discolour the mixture.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of each scone lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until golden brown, and nice and puffy, about 17 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.
Serve warm with butter or whipped cream.

AUBERGINE AND TOMATO STEW

Aubergine/eggplant whatever you may know it as I do realise it isn’t one of our more commonly used vegetables. On my travels I started seeing these purple, sometimes white aubergines which were of all shapes and descriptions at markets more and more and I tasted dishes like babaganosh which was smoky, creamy and mysterious, I remember in the Alps ordering aubergine baked in a rich tomato sauce and covered in cheese, in Italy it was commonly char-grilled over coals and marinated and served for antipasti’s or tossed through a salad. As you can imagine when I returned home and discovered growers like Kakanui produce experimenting with different varieties I was very excited.

Aubergine/eggplant would be in my top 10 of vegetables not only for its very distinctive flavour but also for vast array of dishes you can make from it.


The combination of fresh tomatoes stewed together with the aubergine is sublime – it works well on its own with some bread to dunk in or partners perfectly with some grilled lamb chops. It will keep well in the fridge if covered with a layer of oil for a good week or so.

AUBERGINE AND TOMATO STEW
Serves 4
2 large aubergines (eggplants), remove pointy tops and cut into large cubes
100ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g very ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks (or 1 tin drained tomatoes)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into big pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
When cooking aubergines, don’t be put off by the fact that they soak up a lot of the oil like a sponge; just continue cooking.
Heat a large frypan up to hot and add the aubergine and fry until brown on all sides. Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, then add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and the basil. Let the flavours combine for a few more minutes.
Great hot or cold!

GLUTEN FREE BANANA CAKE

No I’m not joining the revolution of rejecting wheat but i am experimenting as my youngest child has allergies to something and i do try to avoid processed wheat whenever possible. I didn’t make my own gluten-free flour as i was a little lazy and just picked some up from the shops it works fine and the flavour is no different. 
Today is one those days when the weather outside is wet and inside we are all just doing our thing.  My thing of course revolves around food – my second batch of cheese is sitting undisturbed as the curds separated from the whey, the sweet, sticky aroma of jam is drifting through the house and banana cake is baking in the oven.  With all this hot weather you may find your bananas over-ripening faster than usual, this is where banana cake comes in handy.  It can be toasted for breakfast, eaten anytime of the day or night and freezers well. 
This recipe can be made with or without gluten-free flour.

Gluten-free banana cake
Makes 1 full-sized loaf or 2 small loaves
Preheat the oven to 180C
In one bowl, combine:
115g butter, softened
2 eggs
2 or 3 very ripe bananas, mashed with fork until fine pulp
2/3 cup sugar
In another bowl, combine:
1 1/3 cup gluten-free flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Method
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients are blended together.

If you like, stir in additional ingredients here, such as chopped walnuts or pecans, dried cherries or apricots, or chocolate chips. A handful (about a half a cup) is about right.

Pour the dough into a greased loaf tin and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Small loaves take around 30 minutes, a normal-sized loaf takes around 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven. This bread is great warm, but it is excellent cold too.

After they have cooled for 5 or 10 minutes the loaves can be removed from the pan to cool. Once they are cool they can be individually wrapped and frozen.

BORSCHT

BORSCHT – one of Russia’s better known dishes. Simple to prepare, inexpensive and highly nutritious. It is wonderful served hot in winter and equally as good in summer chilled.


Serves 4

50 g butter
500g beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ litres beef stock or vegetable if desired
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon or red wine vinegar
Soured cream to serve
A handful of chopped chives to garnish or dill
Method

Melt the butter in large pan over a gentle heat and slowly sweat the beetroot onion, carrot and garlic, turning the vegetables (which will become a lurid pink) over the butter.
Add the sugar and stock to the pan, season with a few grinds of pepper bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Using a blender or food processor (cover with a tea towel just encase it splutters out the top) whizz the soup until it is entirely smooth then add the lemon juice or vinegar and salt to taste.

Serve with a swirl of sour cream and a scattering of herbs.

RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY TART

This tart has symphonies of seasonal flavours, obviously when the seasons change and the stone fruit and berries take a front seat then adapt the fillings to suit. This tart is supposed to be rustic looking as it has a free-forming pastry case which adds that lovely summer country charm. Do try this combination as the rhubarbs tartness, combined with the sweet perfumed strawberries partners perfectly to give you a wonderful dessert!


Serves 6

1 quantity short crust pastry (shop bought or homemade – recipe below)

750g rhubarb stalks, washed and leaves discarded
125ml water
110g sugar
1 star anise
1 tsp rose water
12 strawberries hulled and halved
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp crushed gingernut biscuits
50g ground almonds

To make shortcrust pastry:
240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
A pinch of salt
180g butter, diced
60ml ice-cold water

Method
Preheat oven to 200C

To make the pastry: Put the flour and salt into a bowl of a food processor, blitz for a couple of seconds. Add the butter and processor until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. With the motor running drizzle in the water and process until it just forms a dough. Turn out onto your work surface and bring together to form a ball. Wrap in gladwrap and chill for 30 minutes.

NB I always make a double batch of pastry and freeze one portion as it can be so useful when making your next pie or tart!

To make the filling: Prepare the rhubarb by cutting into small chunks.

Simmer the water, sugar and star anise together in a small pot over low heat. Add the chopped rhubarb and rosewater cook gently for 2 minutes or until rhubarb is just tender. Remove the rhubarb and strain through a sieve over a bowl as you will be using the syrup to glaze your tart.

Transfer rhubarb to another bowl remove star anise and discard, fold through 2/3 of your strawberries. Set aside to cool.

To make your gingernut mixture: In a bowl combine the flour, crushed gingernuts, sugar and almonds and set aside.
To assemble: Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured work surface until you get a 26cm round. Place onto a baking tray. Scatter over half the gingernut mix in the centre of the pastry and spread out a little, mix the remainder through the rhubarb (this helps to absorb excess moisture). Pile the rhubarb and strawberries on top of the gingernuts, spread it out a little remembering to leave to a generous edge around the filling. Arrange remainder of the strawberries on top, gather up the pastry from the edges and crimp and pleat it up and around the fruit filling. You are wanting it to hold the filling securely but to leave a large open surface to expose your beautiful filling!

Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile reduce the syrup in a pot over high heat until it becomes syrupy (3-5 minutes).
When the tart is cooked brush generously with rhubarb syrup, cool slightly before eating.

JERK TURKEY AND GRILLED CORN

I do realise Christmas has come and gone, but this recipe was the perfect partner for our great NZ summer Christmas, actually it works great anytime of summer and it obviously works well with chicken!
It is essential to brine the bird whether it be chicken or turkey first; i have the recipe for “brining” under Christmas dinner!
The bird was then basted heavily in this lovely sticky paste and left to marinate.  It was absolutely delicious with the grilled corn.  It seemed to matter not that our Christmas day was hot as the turkey didn’t seem heavy or stodgy it was just right! Nice one Simon!
(Although recipe was all thanks to the fantastic Gourmet Traveller!)

JERK BBQ TURKEY WITH GRILLED CORN

Serves 10
1- 6kg turkey
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lemons, halved
2 onions, peeled and halved

Jerk marinade
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 habanero chillies, deseeded and chopped
8 shallots, peeled and diced
2 bunches chives, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
12 sprigs thyme
6 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp allspice
2 tbsp nutmeg
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
250 ml dark rum
250 ml malt vinegar

To serve: 10 barbecued corn cobs, quartered

Method
To make the jerk marinade, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process on high until smooth.
Place turkey in a large bowl. Rub the jerk marinade inside the cavity and all over the turkey, cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and scrape excess jerk seasoning off the turkey back into the bowl. Add the oil to the remaining jerk marinade and whisk well. Use this marinade to baste the turkey occasionally when barbecuing or roasting.

To barbecue the turkey, place the lemon and onion halves inside the cavity.
Heat a lidded barbecue until hot and cook the turkey over indirect heat or on the side of the barbecue, making sure the coals do not die down while cooking, for about 3 hours, turning and basting every 30 minutes.
During the last 30 minutes of cooking, barbecue the corn cobs.
To check if the turkey is cooked, use a meat thermometer and pierce the breast, if it reads 72°C, the turkey is done.
Remove turkey from the barbecue, cover in aluminum foil and a couple of tea towels and rest for 20 minutes before carving.
To roast the turkey, roast in preheated oven 180C for approx 40 mins per kilo.  Baste frequently and ensure that you allow at least 30-1hour for resting.  Carve and serve with all juices poured over it!
Serve sliced with corn cobs.