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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