Archive for February, 2012

Spiced, poached Quince

Last year, our neighbour Nettie gave us a huge bag of Quince. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Quince? You can’t eat them raw – they will rip the inside of your mouth out with sourness. They look a bit like apples – big, yellow, lumpy apples – and they smell sweet and almost clove-y as they ripen.

They make the most beautiful garnet-coloured jelly (which we have with lamb), and I did just that, but there were a lot of them, so I poached them and put them in the freezer – and promptly forgot about them. Then yesterday my new blogging friend Celia who is a New Zealander married to an American now living on a wee farm not far from Chicago – blogged about making a classic Kiwi favourite pudding called apple crumble. It sounded so good – you can read about her version here – and her blog is wonderful too: http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/undressed-apple-crumble-in-a-jar/. She reminded me, not only of the pud itself, but that I had apple in the freezer that needed to be eaten – and in looking for the apple, I found the quince too…

So I made this:

I didn’t use Celia’s recipe – it seems each family has their own – and I needed to make it gluten-free anyway… so, I just used a gluten-free flour mix for the crumble part:

4 parts flour, 2 parts sugar (I used brown sugar), 2 parts butter and a goodly amount of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. You rub the butter into the other ingredients until it gets a bit like breadcrumbs… gluten-free flour feels very squeaky when you do this – a sensation I did not like (a bit like finger-nails down a blackboard!) The crumble didn’t get golden – gluten-free flours don’t, but I could have used ground almonds instead of flour (then you have to watch it closely because almonds burn quickly)

The star of this pud is the poached quince:

2 1/2 cups red wine
50g sugar
6 whole cloves
3 long strips lemon zest (or orange)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or use cinnamon sticks)
1kg quince – peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices

Bring the wine, sugar, cloves, zest and cinnamon to the boil in a medium saucepan and simmer until reduced to 2 cups of syrup. Add the quince slices, cover and cook over a medium heat until tender [this will take about 2 hours, quinces are tough old things], don’t stir it – you don’t want the quinces to break up – just push the slices under the syrup from time to time.

Carefully strain the quince – discard the peel and spices, but keep the syrup. Return the syrup to a pan and boil it to reduce by at least a half. Pour the reduced syrup over the quince slices.

I promise you, this is worth the phaffing round you do in the peeling/slicing stages – not only does your kitchen smell like heaven while you are poaching them – it smells gorgeous again once you turn it into something else…. pie, crumble – it would be wonderful naked, with custard… the QUINCE naked – NOT YOU!

We had it warm with a drizzle of cream last night… there is no ice-cream in this house at the moment. I had some cold this morning for breakfast – still good ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks Celia – I was right – Rick loves you XO

Read Full Post »

I lied!

A little while ago I told you I’d bought a new cook-book… I lied – I bought two! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’ve ever bought a book from Amazon, you will know how they always say ‘People who bought the book you’ve just ordered, also ordered this…’ ย Well this is one of those…

And I’m glad I did.

I wanted to make that curry mayonnaise chicken salad thing for dinner again, but I found I’d run out of curry powder – so I used a recipe from this book to make my own ๐Ÿ™‚

I dry-roasted some spices, ground them up in a coffee-grinder that goes nowhere near coffee, added some more pre-ground spices and ended up with this…

The entire process took about ten minutes, my kitchen smelled exotic and lovely and the curry powder itself is much nicer than the stuff you can buy.

And the salad was good too.

The book is full of all sorts of information about herbs and spices (duh!) – and there are some very interesting sounding recipes for spice blends too. I think it will prove a winner.

Read Full Post »

It’s ‘that’ time of year again – when friends make excuses not to talk to you… in case (!) you talk them into accepting more zucchini…

A little while ago, fellow Kiwi/Paleo Blogger Lynda mentioned on her blog, a recipe I had posted for Nigella’s Lemon “Linguine” using zucchini shoestrings…

Lynda said she’d like to try that idea, but making an Alfredo sauce – with eggs, parmesan, cream and bacon…

I’m here to tell you… GREAT idea! Fry up chopped up bacon (I put some onion in too – apologies to any Italians, who are – come to think of it – probably off saying a few prayers at the thought of alfredo… without the pasta :-)), take the bacon out when it is as crispy as you want it. Melt a little butter in the pan if you need more fat (g’wan – you know you want to! – DON’T forget – fat doesn’t make you fat)… put in your zucchini shoestrings

Wilt them a bit – this won’t take long… In a wee jug, mix up some cream, eggs and parmesan. Take your zucchini pan off the heat (cos you don’t want to scramble the eggs) – Pour in the cheesy mixture and stir – the heat of the zucchini will cook the eggs and make a lovely creamy sauce.

Serve it with the bacon sprinkled on top.

Rick had seconds…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Read Full Post »

Look at this!

Is this not beautiful?

In New Zealand we can’t buy trout. It is a game fish and has to be given to you by the fisherman, or you can fish for it yourself.

My brother-in-law Nigel is a brilliant fisherman. This beauty was one of nine he caught on the same day. It is so pretty. I tried to show you the colours (this is a brown trout, not a rainbow trout, but it was still lovely.

Sometimes wild trout can taste a bit muddy, but this was sweet and delicious. I had planned to have it for dinner, but Rick rang telling me he had a business meeting that he’d forgotten about. So I filleted it and we cooked it for breakfast the next morning.

Pan fried in butter and drizzled with freshly squozed lemon juice – a great way to start the day. AND, there were no bones!

Read Full Post »

Plum Jelly

Nettie next-door gave us some plums from her tree. We don’t really eat fruit, but Rick loves to have fruit jelly with roast meat. It’s a ‘thing’ I had never heard of before I met him – it is not something anyone in my family ever did – so I have no clue if this is a Rick ‘thing’ – or if it is my family who are the odd ones out…

Jelly is really easy to make, now that I have my sugar thermometer – you just wait until the fruit juice/sugar mix has reached a certain temperature and you know it will set.

I don’t phaff around with jelly bags and straining the stewed fruit through muslin to get a clear juice (and so make a sparkling jelly). I want lots of jelly, so I squeeze the bejeebers out of the fruit and get as much juice out as possible, and you still get sparkle… I took it outside in the sun to photograph it for you… Percy helped…


Read Full Post »


WordPress has FINALLY decided to let me into my own blog! I keep getting a ‘we don’t know you or your password’ message… Then I get a ‘have you forgotten your password?’ message [well NO, I haven’t, but since THEY HAVE – I opt to reset my password]… WHEREUPON, I get another message – ‘check your email to reset your password’ ย – which I do… and the cycle continues….

Today – I get the ‘check your email’ bit ย – BUT IN THE MEANTIME – OFF YOU GO, LOG IN ANYWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s enough to make a saint spit… And I ain’t no saint baby!

SO, while I’ve been fuming, I’ve also been doing stuff, so I’ve got a lot to show you ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m still doing the Primal thing – I’m in it for life – it really has made me feel so much better. But, to be honest – when we had the two shock deaths of friends recently, my wheels fell off a bit. You know how I’ve been trying to kick the sugar addiction? Well, I confess I made and ate an entire plate of chocolate fudge… two and a half cups of sugar… on my own… over just two days…

I stopped taking my supplements. One of which was recommended to me by the lovely lady in the health-food store, to help me with sugar cravings…

Apparently, this stuff is lacking in New Zealand (food, soils… I’m not sure). Anyway, IT WORKS!

It takes just a couple of days for the effects to kick in – but it really does work. I find, when I take one of these a day, that I don’t even THINK about anything sweet.

This is a huge breakthrough for a junkie like me.

I stopped taking it when the boys died, and the cravings came back. The fudge tasted like sand… sweet sand sure, but still… sand. It was awful, but I ate it anyway…sigh.

Back on the straight and narrow now… but, I’m curious… Am I the only one, who in times of crisis, does stuff theyย knowย is not good for them… or stops doing stuff they know works??

Read Full Post »


because this summer has been more like spring…

ie – wet, windy and cool…

birdies have been doing the wild thing… pretty much constantly actually…

SO… there have been baby sparrows in the roof above my chair… I hear the parent birds wittering all the time.

Then there was a HUGE commotion … I shot out to investigate… so did Percy…

suffice to say, Perc got there first. A baby (nearly fully fledged) had fallen out of the nest. Percy took it under the deck and tortured it for at least two hours… BASTARD

Read Full Post »

I made Coronation Chicken Salad for dinner…

Left-over roast Chicken – torn into bite sized bits, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, sorrel, mint and parsley all from our garden – well not the chicken, but the rest of it was…

Mayonnaise, curry powder and the last of a jar of home-made rhubarb chutney (about 1 tbsp)

Mix everything together and serve on a bed of home grown rocket (arugula).

Top with store-bought avocado.

Put in your tummies… ๐Ÿ™‚

Read Full Post »

I bought a new book…

Well, you know me – cookbook addict ๐Ÿ™‚

In my defense… this isn’t really a cookbook… there are no recipes… Instead it’s a guide to understanding ingredients – how they work together, what works with what… and if you haven’t got a particular ingredient – how to substitute something that will still work in your recipe… how to make subtle changes to a basic recipe that will turn it into something magical…

I figured I’d get a lot of use out of it, especially now that our food is so simple… (that’s my excuse – and I’m sticking to it :-)) – though I suspect I will always be able to come up with some excuse for a new cookbook…

I’ve also decided that, for entertaining, I’d like to find 5 or 6 recipes that I can practice, perfect and rotate with each dinner party. I hope, that way I can relax and be ย a gracious hostess – rather than a frazzled wreck who just wants her guests to GO HOME ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Do you have any suggestions as to what those recipes should be?

What is your go-to favorite, never-let-you-down menu for a dinner party?


Read Full Post »