Archive for October, 2011

I have fallen off the wagon.

Having not bought a cooking magazine for months, I found myself in the confectionary aisle at the supermarket, and to distract myself from the Whittaker’s dark peppermint chocolate – I bought the October 2011 delicious.magazine from the display opposite.

I found this recipe, and I had wanted an excuse to use the jar of seriously expensive organic almond butter that somehow found its way into my trolley…

Like sate sauce – but better!
2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp cold  water
Mix everything together in a small bowl. Cook some chicken, serve with the sauce. (We had rice with it, and another dollop of the lovely rocket oil).

I keep saying I don’t like Nigella. But, I read an article about her the other day, written by someone who confessed to not liking her tv persona, but being completely charmed by her in person.

I suspect I am just jealous.

The girl sure can cook. This recipe is absolutely delicious. We licked our plates – oh, and I think almond butter might be my new favourite thing.

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Arugula to some of you.

Our rocket has… well… rocketed. And you know me, I hate to waste anything -so I searched the interwebs, thinking to make rocket pesto, but came across this instead.

150g rocket (it’s a LOT of rocket)
8 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic
Put everything into a food processor and wazz it to bits.
Put it into a jar and top with a little more olive oil to seal the top.

The colour of this is amazing – the photo doesn’t do it justice, it is GREEN!

And the flavour is good too – very clean and peppery.

It was perfect on top of a medium-rare steak.

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Tender Steak

We have finally finished eating Boris, and to be honest, I don’t think we’ll be in a hurry to eat his cousins… they live very well, the Boris family – in open fields, eating all the lovely grass and wandering the gentle hill-sides. They have good strong muscles, which made for steaks that were… tough. Tasty, but… tough.

I wish I’d known this trick for tenderising steak.

I can’t remember where on the interwebs I found this. It came with scientific explanations of the reasons why it works – none of which I can remember. There were also comments from readers who had tried it – and had it work beautifully… so I had a go the other day.


You take your beef, dry it and then sprinkle it liberally with flaky salt… and you leave it for as long, as the steak is deep. For example, if your steak is 3/4 of an inch thick – you leave it for 3/4 of an hour.

Then you rinse off the salt, dry the steak again and cook it as usual (don’t salt it again though).

Like I said, I don’t know why this works, but it DOES! The steak (which I got from the supermarket – as a test) was perfect and so amazingly tender… supermarket steak is not usually tender…though we are lucky here – all our beef is grass-fed and has had a good life.

Spell-check does not like ‘steak’… sigh

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There’s a restaurant in town that specializes in steak, though it does other stuff too – all of it beautifully cooked and presented – it’s a special occasion kind of place, and it’s always busy.

With your steak you get a potato dish of your choice, seasonal vegetables and a sauce of your choice.

I ALWAYS ask for béarnaise sauce – a delicious sauce made from clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and flavored with herbs – usually Tarragon (thank you Wikipedia). My tarragon plant has survived the winter and is now in its third year. Last season I made a simple herb butter to freeze, and I used it over the winter. I also made Tarragon vinegar. This year I want to make more of each. It is lovely, in the middle of winter, to have a reminder of warmer days.

I saw this recipe being made on TV the other day – instead of simply chopping Tarragon into butter, you make this simple béarnaise flavored butter  – great because, without the eggs, it will freeze!!! and – it can be made ahead…and it tastes just a good as the ‘proper’ sauce… which makes me want to do a happy dance 🙂

3 tbsp white wine vinegar – I used Tarragon vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp crushed white peppercorns – I can’t find white peppercorns, so I just used a twist or two of black pepper
1 shallot – finely diced
Combine, simmer till shallot is cooked and liquid is well reduced, cool
250g softened butter
2 tbsp fresh tarragon – chopped
2 tbsp fresh chervil (or fennel leaves, parsley or extra tarragon) – chopped
Smoosh every thing together
Press into a gladwrap lined cup, refrigerate to set then cut into discs and serve on top of steak (or not – I’m too lazy, I just splotched some on top of our steak…).

That’s a lot of butter – purely for photographic purposes of course! 🙂


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A while ago now I bought some Duck fat, and used it on everything, until it was gone. I haven’t been able to find more here (I bought the original pot at Moore Wilson’s in Wellington)

I asked at Moreish – my favorite butcher here in town, if they ever got Duck or Bacon fat… Duck, yes sometimes… Bacon – no, but if I wanted, they would cut the fat off the bacon and put it in a bag in the freezer for me to collect when I was next in… I could render it for myself…

I did want, they did and I did…

Parsnips cooked in bacon fat… kumara – the same… oh.my.GOD!…

and then there’s this:

Asparagus roasted with Bacon Fat

Better Than Sex. That is all.

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2 large garlic cloves – finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger – finely chopped
2 large spring onions – thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cardamom seeds – I had pods, so I crushed them to release the seeds
2 small red chillies – deseeded and finely chopped
juice of 1 large lime
1/4 cup fresh coriander – finely chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf – finely chopped
250ml (1 cup) coconut cream
4 skinless salmon fillets – about 150g each

Combine all the ingredients in a snaplock bag. Put the salmon into the bag, squeeze out all the air, then squish the bag around to coat the fish thoroughly. Marinate about 2 hours.

Cut a piece of foil large enough to hold a piece of fish and put a fillet in the centre. Top with a quarter of the marinade. Seal the parcel and bake 15 minutes in a 200c oven. Or do as I did – put the salmon (I also put some prawns in with it) into a dish that will take everything in a snug fit, put the marinade in too – cover the lot with a lid, or some foil – then bake it)

Serve with extra coriander sprinkled on top. Have some rice, some pickle or chutney and a lime wedge. We had it on coleslaw, with avocado… and made little piggy noises as we ate…

You would think, since this is another dish cooked in coconut cream with spices, that it would be similar to the chicken dish we had the other night… but, no – this is quite different.

I can imagine this being made with any kind of fish – and even with chicken. It was fragrant and delicious.

On a totally unrelated, but really lovely note – I had an email from our friend Kyoko, who lived with us while she studied at the local university. Kyoko and our late cat Bella were great friends (Bella was aloof with almost everyone else, but she just love Kyo).  Kyo read that I had lost my photos of Bella and will email them to me (and of Yoshi too) once she is able. I’m so thrilled and promise to back them up AND put them on Picasa. XXX Thank you Kyo.

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Sleeping Horse just asked me if I thought being a good cook was a clue to a long marriage (I was only half-joking when I replied it was the wine that saved us).

I’ve been thinking it over.

I haven’t always been a good cook. And there are still days when things go wrong – either COMPLETELY wrong – like the time we were having 10 friends here for a bbq. Rick had bought a beautiful (and seriously expensive) pork roast and I started it cooking, then wandered off to prepare vegetables etc. There was a shout from the door – our next door neighbour – do you know you have a fire? ???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The pork was unable to be saved… and neither was the paint on the side of the house  …or there are the times when things go just a little bit wrong – something doesn’t taste as good as I imagined, or it doesn’t taste of anything much at all, even though I followed the recipe…

Rick and I both like to eat and I am really lucky that he usually enjoys trying something different and since cooking is my hobby it works out really well all round – so perhaps cooking HAS helped 🙂

This recipe is one that I have had lurking for a while – I love Middle-Eastern flavours, the spices are the warm, earthy kind – not the rip-your-ears off HOT kind. The recipe is for meatballs with a sour cherry sauce using dried cherries. I have searched, but can’t find dried cherries. Then I remembered I made that rice pudding with meringue and cherries disaster a while ago, and I had half a jar of sour cherries left over… so I changed the recipe a bit.

Rick had seconds, and is finishing the left-overs for lunch right now (which is a nuisance, because I had a hankering for it myself! :-))

Lamb Mince with Sour Cherries

In a mortar and pestle, munch 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin and a pinch of salt to make a paste.
Put some oil in a large pan and fry the paste over low heat until it is fragrant – doesn’t take long.
Add 1 finely chopped onion and fry until softened.
Add 500g lamb mince to the pan and stir to mix and brown the meat.
Add 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, a big handful of chopped parsley and about 1/3 cup of sour cherries (I chopped them up a bit – mainly to check there were no stones in them) to the pan and a little bit of stock or water to moisten.
Cook gently until the liquid has pretty much gone, squeeze in some lemon juice – just to sparkle it up a bit.

We ate it with a salad of tomato, cucumber and avocado which I chopped quite small, then added a whole lot of chopped parsley and coriander.

We had rice too.

I forgot to take a photo, so instead I will show you what has been happening in  our backyard today…

The new fence is taller than we imagined it would be...

If the rain holds off today – which doesn’t look likely, we should have a complete fence by the end of today. You can’t tell from this photo, but the lawn is so wet we are thinking of planting rice… 🙂




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Award Season

Just like the Oscars… but you don’t need to dress up… and there’s no paparazzi! Win/win! 🙂

My blogging friend (http://glutenfreedelightfullydelicious.com) and twin, Ina – who looks nothing like me (she is tall, slender, with legs up to her chin) has nominated me for this award:

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. ‘Liebster’ is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. What a gift to be awarded with such kindness! Now for the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all – have fun!

If you knew how few awards I have won, you would understand how special I feel right now.

Until December 2009, when I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I had no clue that blogging even existed. I read Shauna James Ahern’s first book, Gluten Free Girl, in which she talks about her journey of discovery regarding this disease and in her book she gives a list of blogs that helped her. For those of you who don’t know her, Shauna is a blogging rockstar – she has the kind of influence and readership that would keep me awake at night.

Back in January 2010 when I started my blog – I wrote this:

This blog came about because, in the middle of last year, my husband started making noises about how our house was too big for us and we would need to think about downsizing – which would mean I would have to get rid of my collections of magazines and recipes…. all ninehundredandseventytwelve of them. He has since decided that we will stay a while longer. But I thought it would be a good idea to put all my favourites in a blog – so that I can access them from wherever we might end up. In December 2009 I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I decided not to try to convert my favourite recipes to gluten-free, rather, I will use this blog as an opportunity to explore a new way of eating, so all of these recipes are gluten-free.

I expected no-one to see this blog but me. I do not crave ‘fame’ and find the whole culture of fame bewildering (yes Kardashians, I’m talking about you).

What I also didn’t expect was to find friends. Friends, for the most part, I will never be able to meet, but who are more important to me than you would ever believe. I spend most of my days alone (which is fine, I am very comfortable alone), but it no longer feels lonely… I sometimes wonder – would we get on if we met in person???

Life gets in the way of friendships sometimes, people you used to see a lot… fade out of your life… nothing goes wrong – no disagreements, nothing like that… just life takes a turn and… people disappear (I just heard from one of these people recently – they’re leaving town and can’t take their little cat with them… do I know anyone who might have her… I have Yoshi – who longs to be an only cat…. and Percy, who turned up desperate for love – I can’t take her [she’s a 9-year-old, Himalayan Chocolate Point who needs a quiet, safe place to be… if anyone can help]

I like to think we WOULD get on. I don’t know if I’m allowed to pass this award on to five people, or if I have to choose just one (CAN’T be done :-)). I’d love it if you would check out these folks blogs. They are a diverse bunch – not everyone blogs about food, but I’m willing to bet we all eat (!) – so we already have ONE thing in common 🙂

Oh, and I don’t know how many followers we have. I know that every now and then a stranger comments on something I have written, so I’m guessing there a people who pop-in every now and then… some who stay and some who don’t. Just like real-life I guess… If I assume you have less than 200 followers, and you in fact have thousands, I apologize – I love you even if you are famous XXXOOO

1)  susanszoldsays.blogspot.com   I found Susan because The Bloggess mentioned a post-title that Susan had written. (Jenny, The Bloggess, is a ROCKSTAR and as funny as hell). Susan’s post title intrigued me. I spent the weekend reading all her older posts – not realising that my visits to her blog were being noted in her statistics (I didn’t even know there WERE statistics… sigh). Susan commented, welcoming all the new visitors from NZ… I had to confess I’d been stalking… we’ve been friends ever since. I’m not sure what that says about either of us :-). Susan is kind, funny, sweet and a born writer – she doesn’t post at weekends… which is why I drink… oh, and she loves cats. I love her.

2) cradlerocking.wordpress.com:  I found MPS through a comment she made on a blog we both follow. She said something sweet and lovely, and it touched my heart – so I stalked her back to her blog and told her so. We’ve been friends ever since. Mary is another born writer – a VERY clever wordsmith, and funny as a fight. She is at something of a crossroad at the moment [life is not always fun, something I can relate to]. I am in her corner, cheering her on – and I’d love it if you were too. She has cats too…. do NOT ask her to cook – I suspect she might hurt you… :-). I love her.

3) sleepinghorse.wordpress.com   SH is a fellow New Zealander. I can’t remember how I found her. We both have celiac disease, her blog is a day-by-day account of what and how to eat. She is brave, honest, hard-working and clever. It is my hope that one day, we will be able to meet. I love her.

4) keaslife.blogspot.com  I can’t remember how I found Kim. Kim is a Canadian cat lady – this is her own description of herself and her life: Slightly crazy (who isn’t?), getting close to 50 (!) now, divorced for many years, introverted but not shy (yes, there’s a difference). Work full-time and am grateful for the good job. Love my fur family dearly. Have given up trying to find meaning to Life and now am happily self-medicating with dark chocolate. Okay, and the occasional shot of 12-year old rye. Words I live by: “If it’s got tires or testicles, it’s gonna give you problems.”

What’s NOT to love? And through Kim I found poppyq.blogspot.com. Poppy looks like Buzzy Szold, which is enough to make me love her. (I’m cheating I know, but choosing just 5 is too HARD)

5) bodaciousboomer.com – Michele is an artist and a candidate for sainthood… she thinks her real-life is not interesting enough to blog about, but she does it anyway – AND she’s funny. Michele is a dog-person – and I suspect she is one of the over 200 club, but I love her anyway…

5A) If this is supposed to be an award for food bloggers, I can get in a few more… 🙂

intolerantchef.blogspot.com – beautiful recipes and stories from a chef whose cafe you KNOW you’d be safe to eat at… AND she lets her cat lick the beaters(but only at home!).  I love that! Chef is Australian – which we will forgive… unless Australia wins the Rugby World Cup, in which case, all bets are off 🙂

5B) cookbookimmersianproject.blogspot.com  Ei is stuck in Corpus Christi (temporarily – soon to be posted to Italy – which, frankly is enough to make me drop dead from jealously).  To save herself from going out of her mind, she is picking one cookbook from her collection and cooking exclusively from it for a month. It is a brilliant idea – I love it! And, she is funny – another born writer. I’m so looking forward to hearing about Italy… sigh

You people are my oldest blogging friends. I have more…am I the only one who looks at my favourite blogger’s ‘blogroll’ and stalks off to lurk at their friends’ places???

I am???

Oh dear…


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I’m a gravy kind of girl. You either are or you aren’t. I really miss gravy – those lovely dark bits that remain in the pan after you’ve roasted something, thickened with a roux and made into a silky smooth sauce with stock or vegetable water…  There are plenty of things you can do to make up for not being able to use flour. This chicken rubbed with Asian spices and lime juice for flavour is served with a creamy, spiced sauce… you don’t miss the flour at all.

1 Tbsp oil
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
grated zest and juice of 1 lime (if you’re using a whole chicken, use another lime – cut in half – and stuff it into the cavity – along with some slices of fresh ginger, 2 lemongrass stalks and 2 kaffir lime leaves – I just chopped all these small and sprinkled them over the top of my chicken pieces)
1/2 tsp salt
Rub the spice mix over the chicken
Roast until done.
Take the chicken out of the pan and leave it to rest while you make the gravy.
Into the pan, stir
200g coconut cream
2oo ml chicken stock
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
Stir to get any of the lovely sticky bits from the bottom of the pan and cook the gravy over medium-high heat until hot.
Serve the gravy over the chicken.

 We had this with cauliflower and broccoli. We had some left-over potatoes from yesterday, so I cut them up and put them in with the chicken to re-heat. The gravy is creamy, lightly spiced and very moreish. Perfect.

Rice would be good too… so would Asian greens…


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If I had had any clue, 26 years ago when we bought this house, I would have planted asparagus. You have to plant them, then wait for two years before you harvest any – any sooner and they sulk, pack up their tents and slink off into the night.

As a child, asparagus rolls were my favourite thing – thickly buttered white bread, with the crusts cut off… asparagus (from a tin), salt and pepper… roll up…. eat for a treat…usually a birthday.

These days, we prefer fresh asparagus – drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper – and roasted for about 3 minutes at 230c. We eat asparagus this way at every opportunity… until the season is over.

Tinned asparagus? Never! 🙂

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