Thursday, July 14, 2011

For Ingrid: Soup full of Goodness

So it's taken me a few weeks to put this up for you but as we're just kicking into soup season I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunity to perfect your own version over the next few months!


1/3 cup olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6-10 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
1 cup white wine (plus one for drinking)
Approx. 1.5 Litres liquid - I used 0.5L homemade chicken stock + 1L water but my stock is quite strong so if using bought stock I'd swap those ratios around.
1 cup orzo
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 large leaves of silverbeet, finely sliced
2 large handfuls fresh chopped herbs (I used flat-leaf parsley, fennel, thyme & oregano)
salt + freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over a low heat, add the carrot, onion and celery, put the lid on the pot and sweat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.  Increase the heat slightly, add the bacon and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, then add the garlic, cooking for just a few minutes before adding the wine.  Turn the heat right up and allow the wine to reduce by half, then add the rest of the liquid.  Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 15 minutes (or until your dinner guests arrive!). 

About 10 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the orzo, and then the beans and silverbeet 5 minutes after that.  Season well, I put quite a lot of salt in as I don't put salt in my stock but, if using bought stock you might not need very much so be sure to taste before dumping lots in.  Just before serving, stir through the herbs.  Top with some shaved Pecorino.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday Night Fish Pie

Sunday night dinner is a time for comfort food.  To console yourself about the weekend being over and work being only a few too-short hours of sleep away.  Soup in winter and a quiet beer with the neighbours in summer.  Fish Pie is the perfect comforting Sunday night fare.

My fish pie is a pretty basic version of this classic dish, with a slight twist of mixing grated courgette into the topping - just to sneak some veg in.  I have used fresh bay leaves to flavour the white sauce and the result is a wonderful delicately flavoured sauce.  Cooking with fresh bay leaves is a revelation if you have only ever used the dried version.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things That Rise: Part One - Focaccia

So, buoyed by my minor Crumpet success I pressed ahead with real BREAD!  I decided to go ahead with a recipe from my trusty Annabel Langbein ‘The Free Range Cook’ book, because a) I've never made an Annabel recipe that didn't work out spectacularly well; b) it's a flat-bread, surely even I can get that right; and c) the food porn is fantastic in this book and I really, really wanted to eat the bread in that picture.

I had faith that Annabel would not let me down, and of course, she didn’t.

FYI - I made this bread.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Passionfruit Curd and Crumpets

After a trickle of one or two passionfruit ripening per day from our vine, they suddenly started coming thick and fast with about a dozen coming off in one day earlier this week.  While we could happily sit on the ground below the vine and eat them as they fall without playing around with this perfection that mother nature has provided us, I wanted to make something with them.  Which provided a bit of a dilemma because I didn't want to use them all up on one ice cream, sorbet or cake.  So I decided on passionfruit curd.  My rationale being that I could then use it in all sorts of ways... however, the most popular use for it so far seems to be eating spoonfuls straight from the jar.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Herb Crusted Blue Cod with Tomato Sauce

When I grow up, I want to marry Annabel Langbein.  I have a major girl-crush on the poor woman!  After hinting numerous times to my husband that I wanted her new book, The Free Range Cook for Christmas, (if you can call saying to said husband, "oh you can get me this book for Christmas", hinting...) I gave up (husband is seriously bad at picking up hints) and just asked my Mum.  Luckily Mum came through with the goods, and we have been feasting on Annabel's delights for the last few months.  One of the best things about Annabel's books, including this one, are the variations and different ideas she gives after most recipes and how all of the parts of the book tie in together.

I have been dying for our tomatoes to ripen en-masse so that I can finally make the recipe for Harvest Tomato Sauce (recipe below) that I saw on The Free Range Cook tv show last year, and finally it has happened (actually the husband stole the first 3kgs to make tomato soup, but now it's my turn)!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beautiful Surprise

A posey of Chillies! A beautiful gift from a lovely friend - thanks Lee!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Summer Bounty

Even though summer seemed to have come to an abrupt end, it is a stunning Wellington day and due to some late planting, we are just hitting peak harvest of our summer bounty now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

RIPE - Raw Energy Salad

When I cook, it can be a bit messy.  I start out with an idea and it evolves throughout the cooking process as I add in extra ingredients to change the flavour and texture in an attempt to reach the elusive perfection I can see and taste in my head.  I struggle to make the exact same thing twice as every time I cook something it is a slight variation of how I did it the last time and I'm a bit of a shocker when it comes to measuring!  For this reason I have always been more of a 'cook' than a 'baker' and find baking quite hard work.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spinach, Ricotta and Feta Stuffed Conchiglioni with Fresh Tomato Sauce

As the calendar ticked over from February to March the weather also made an abrupt overnight change from summer to autumn that has left me feeling very annoyed that summer might be over for another year - it never seems to be long enough!! But I hold out hope that we might get another few weeks of warmer weather before winter sets in, like last year; and we have invited workmates for a barby on Friday so fingers crossed for sun at the least and maybe just a bit of warmth.

But the one good thing about the cooler weather is Comfort Food!! This stuffed pasta dish was the perfect way to segue from light summer fare to stodgy winter comfort food - not at all heavy but still full of flavour and lovely comforting cheese!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Great Sunday Bake Off

It has been a week of stunning disbelief and horror, incredible fear and gut-wrenching sadness.  I say this, writing from the safety and security of a clean, whole and solid Wellington (oh the irony).

I cannot begin to imagine what the people of Christchurch have been through, and are still going through.  Although the clean-up is just beginning, basic services still being restored and many families are still without confirmation of whether their loved ones are alive or not, the spirit of Canterbury remains strong and I wonder if the people of any other province in New Zealand could pull themselves back together, in the way that I know that Cantabs can and will.

And although Cantabrians may not yet be aware of it, the whole of NZ is behind them and willing to help in any way possible.  The problem is, that unless you happen to be a nurse, doctor, engineer or some other trained specialist currently in high demand, it's really bloody hard to do anything to help.  Cold hard cash is most beneficial and I'm sure that most people who are able to, have given to one of the many funds that have been set up, however it doesn't make you feel any better.

And so, we baked.

It's not going to change lives, reconnect water or rebuild a city, but when the lovely people behind The Great Sunday Bake Off put the word out, it felt like I could finally do something tangible to help the people of Christchurch - if only in the form of a bit of nourishment (or a sugar hit, at least).

I made Gingernuts, Chocolate Chips and Banana Loaf with lots of love.  But in the end, hundreds of people have (likely) died, and I baked a few biscuits so I don't really real any better at all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crayfish, Watermelon and Feta Salad

This is a recipe from an old Cuisine magazine (Issue 103 March 2004) that I have made several times and every time we eat it we are WOW-ed all over again at the perfect brilliance of the flavour combination... sweet, salty and fresh.

It is super fast and easy to make which is great as I had my first ever yoga class after work tonight!  When I got home I was hungry but didn't feel like a big heavy meal.  This salad hit the spot with light, fresh flavours and a protein hit from the crayfish.

This is one of the few perfect recipes in the world that I don't alter at all from the original... an amazing feat for me as I usually cannot resist adding my own twist to a recipe.

Crayfish, Watermelon and Feta Salad - the recipe can be found here.

Special mention should also go to the monster cray who gave his life for our dinner...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Avocado on Toast

Who doesn't love a bit of glamour in their food?  I certainly do, but sometimes the most delicious things are the simplest treats...

Like Vegemite and Avocado on toasted Ciabatta!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crayfish and Broad Bean Risotto

The HG has been hard at work again bringing me home a couple of sizable Wairarapa Crayfish!  We generally steam crayfish and eat them cold with some wasabi mayo on the side, with bread and butter or in a salad, however I have to side with Rocky (from Taika Waititi's movie BOY who groans about having crayfish for dinner AGAIN!- sorry NZ reference) and sometimes you need to shake things up a bit.  So, last night we had an amazing Crayfish risotto with broad beans, which we had frozen from our bumper crop in December.

The broad beans held up quite well after being frozen (I lightly blanched then prior to freezing) however in the future I think I'll probably use them in a dip or mash rather than whole, as the texture was a little off.

I kept the risotto very simple, just sweating the onion before adding the rice, then garlic, wine (I used Riesling) and homemade fish stock (added in the traditional manner, bit by bit).  I also had a couple of peels of lemon rind in while the rice was cooking.

When the rice was almost cooked I added the already cooked and chopped crayfish and then at the last minute the cooked broad beans and stirred through a large dollop of Ricotta (I would usually add butter at this point, however post-Christmas we are trying to be a bit healthier so used ricotta instead!) and some fresh chives from the garden.

I found this interesting Crayfish Oil at Ontrays in Petone last year and bought it on impulse, it has since been sitting unopened waiting for inspiration to strike!  So I drizzled a tiny, little bit over the top of the plated risotto - very powerful stuff!

The risotto was delicious and so full of flavour due to the homemade fish stock.  And it just so happens there was enough left over for lunch today, so I'm off to take care of that now - YUM!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lack of Bloggage

After complaining to a friend about why I haven't been blogging she has advised me to get over myself and put some shit up... I'm reading between the lines here but I think I've got the gist of it!


My super-cute niece, Florence, eating butter off the knife... ah the joy of being 1!