Monday, January 31, 2011

Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge

I really like Bob Marley and one of my favourite songs he wrote was called "No Woman No Cry'. One of the lines goes ..." and then we cooked cornmeal porridge of which I'll share with you" and I must say it couldn't help but sing that to myself as I whipped this up for pudding tonight. Last weekend in the midst of our 'summer holiday' we took refuge at the Matakana Farmers Markets, which while a little on the pretentious side and a little small, are still worth the visit for the ready made food on offer alone. Of course there are other things to buy but they tend to be a bit overpriced and a know, 'wah-wah' if you know what I mean. I did buy some Feijoa jam but we really spent our money on some of the fantastic food on offer. One of my favourite stalls was 'Jamaican Me Hungry' and we did buy most of the food we ate from there. I had a yummy beef pattie which was like a pie. It had a really soft and flaky pastry and a spicy beef filling. The Jerk Chicken was amazing and very spicy but it had a lovely smoky flavour too. We also tried the Cornmeal Porridge. I had always thought it would be bland and normal porridge which, incidentally, I detest as the smell reminds me of feeding the old people when I did my nursing training. It was, however, really different. It was really creamy and tasted like a vanillary semolina/rice pudding with a lovely texture and an even better flavour.

When we got home I did some hunting on the internet for a recipe and the one I found featured on many sites. It seems that this is what people eat for breakfast or as a snack but I think while it would be a yummy breakfast, it can carry off the dessert role too especially with some added fruit. I found the recipe easy to make, but I liked it to have a bit more sweetness so added some vanilla sugar to it although you could add some more condensed milk, (I mean life is that much better with condensed milk in it don't you think?). I also think some cream added at the end once it has been served up would be extra good too. Dons and Harry had honey is theirs and once she had added a bit of cream, Dons thinks if was just like the one at the market. However you could do whatever you like and tweak it to your liking. If the impulse so takes you while your making it, break out the reggae music to add to the reggae/Jamaican vibe of this dish.

Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge

1 c cornmeal (I used instant polenta)
4 c water
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/2 c condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Put the cornmeal in a bowl and pour over 1 c water.

Put 3 c water and 1 c milk into a pot and bring to the boil. Once it has boiled turn down the heat and stir in the cornmeal mix. Simmer 10 mins stirring often.

Stir in the condensed milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and simmer another 5 mins.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baking for Dayshift- Brown sugar-Pecan Shortbread and Goodbye Mel and Bex!!!

As I said in my previous post I made 2 treats to take to work tomorrow. This was the other one. I have made something very similar from Dorie Greenspan's wonderful baking book where the pecan nuts are ground up and added to the mix. These were from David Lebovitz's book which as I have said is my new cookbook. The pecans in these are toasted and chopped up coarsely then added to the shortbread mix. I love how the brown sugar adds to the flavour and in fact I think I almost prefer it to using white sugar. These shortbread are totally delicious and far too moreish. They have that lovely buttery flavour and a nice crunch without being too 'short' or too crumbly. I chilled my dough for a couple of hours before I made them which is why I think they held their shape pretty well. The dough in patted out to a rectangle shape, well chilled then cut into squares. I put mine onto a small chopping board lined with clingfilm as it would have been too hard to transfer it to the fridge initially due to the softness of the dough.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread

2 c flour
225 gm butter at room temperature
2/3 c (140 gm) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
100 gm pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale, smooth and well mixed. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and mix until incorporated then stir in the pecans.

Form into a rectangle and wrap in clingfilm then chill well for at least an hour in the fridge. Cut into squares and put onto 2 baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake at 170 C for 15 mins rotating the trays half way through baking so they all colour evenly. As soon as you can transfer them off the baking tray and onto cooling racks.

As an end to this post I want to say a big goodbye to Melissa (my new sister-in-law) and my niece Rebecca who finally got to go back home to the Gold Coast today after a stressful last 2 weeks. It was lovely to have you here and we will miss you heaps. Love you lots and HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEL!!!!!! xxxxxx

Spiced Plum Streusel Cake with Toffee Glaze

A taste test would be lovely with cream or good yoghurt

Add caption

For Xmas my Aunt who lives in London, gave the boys and I Amazon vouchers. Because the NZ dollar is so strong against the pound, I was able to get 4 books of which this David Lebovitz book was one. I love this guy! His recipes are lovely, attainable and so far seem to work out well. I also have his ice cream book which hasn't had too much of a work out this summer but I'm hoping to break this pattern very soon! I'm actually working on a long day tomorrow as an overtime shift so thought it would be nice to take some home baked treats into work. Therefore this really should be a 'Baking For....' post but I will do that for the other thing I made to take in with me as it really was too many words for the header. 

I was tossing up between the Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting and Candied Peanuts and this but in the end this won out as I love streusel cakes and I love apricots. The recipe actually uses plums but he also suggests using apricots too which it what I went for as I had some that needed to be used up. It was a very easy cake to make and I don't think you could go all that wrong with it if you follow the recipe. I hope the girls like it tomorrow but if not I also have another treat I made just in case. Of course I have had to taste test it and it is a lovely light cake with the slightly tart apricots and nicely spiced streusel topping. Excuse the presentation 'plate' but it is in it's container ready to be transported to work. Give it a go...

Spiced Apricot Streusel Cake with Toffee Glaze

80 gm sliced almonds
2 Tbsp flour
70 gm brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon and grd cardamom
1 1/2 Tbsp butter melted

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder and baking soda
1 1/2 tsp grd cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (I use salted butter so I didn't add this)
115 gm butter
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk (I used plain yoghurt as for once I had no buttermilk)
5340 gm or 5 medium plums (I used apricots), halved, pitted and cut into eighths

Preheat oven to 175 C. Butter and line the base of a 23 cm springform tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl sieve the flour, soda, baking powder and spices. Add 1/2 of this to the butter mixture followed by the yoghurt then the rest of the flour mixing only until incorporated after each addition.

Put into the tin and top with the apricots of plums pushing down gently. Sprinkle over the streusel topping. 

Bake about 55 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin completely then spoon over the glaze allowing some to drip down the sides.

2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp cream
1/4 tsp vanilla

Melt the ingredients together except the vanilla and bring to the boil. Simmer about a minute then take off the heat to cool. Once it is completely cool add the vanilla. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our 'Summer' Holiday....

For the last week we have been away on a 'summer' holiday. I have had a little waterside Kiwiana bach booked for over 6 months and we had been really looking forward to having a lovely summer holiday where the boys could do all the things we used to do when we were little and at the beach. That included no TV! I had anxiously been checking the weather report for a couple of weeks beforehand and up until a few days before we left it looked like we might have a couple of slightly dodgy days but it would mostly be ok. However a couple of days before we left the reports started to change and it began to show heavy rain for one of the days an some showers on another. 

We left on a beautiful sunny summers day to the most wonderful little bach really close to the water. For that afternoon we got to taste what this holiday would be like with the kids all swimming and playing in the sand and walking over the rocks while we sat back and relaxed with a glass of wine and a dip in the bath-hot still waters of Scandrett Regional Park. However by the next morning the skies had become overcast and by that afternoon it started to drizzle. George came to the rescue by taking the kids back to his beachouse for a swim in the pool and then keeping the big boys to take them fishing on his boat the next day. As the bach was so small it would have been terrible having all 4 kids and us cooped up and unable to go outside. By Saturday the weather was looking even worse and pretty much set in so we went to the Matakana Farmers Market then I took the 2 little kids to see the Yogi Bear Movie. That afternoon the little ones looked after themselves and kept themselves occupied watching Snow White on the portable DVD player (a last minute addition to the packed gear), and making a hut in their room. By Sunday cyclonic winds and a huge high tide hit and we decided then and there to abandon ship and go to George and Russell's beachouse where we had been planning to go for a couple of nights on Monday. I could not believe how disasterous this holiday had become. Luckily the weather improved a bit and by Monday afternoon it had stopped raining and the wind eventually died down and by Wednesday, (the day we were leaving), it dawned a brilliant sunny day.

We were lucky in that each boy had someone to hang out with. Reuben had his friend Harry who stayed with us until Sunday and Harry had our niece Cousin Hollie for the whole time. Harry and Holls were amazing with not one argument the whole holiday. It's amazing how when you get the right personality type together, how well they can play and relate. They obviously have the right combination. Anyway here are some photos from our (hapless) trip...

View from the top of the hill looking down onto Scandrett Regional Park

Looking up from the bach

The little bach....very difficult to book

Dons in her element looking for kai moana

Harry and Reubs

Hollie and Harry plating on the first day

2nd day looking a bit overcast

Making the most of the, so far, rainless day

The raft

3rd day getting more dodgy

Tide right in but the day going from bad to worse

Dons trying to do some fishing fro the rocks in the rain

Little ones hut made as it was too wet outside

Bad to worse weather

Cyclonic winds and terrible high tide...we abandoned ship and went to George and Russ's

Trying out some different settings on my new camera

View from the boys beachouse

Finally some sun

Bay down from the boys beachouse

Dons in her element with a fire on the beach where the kids made s'mores

Tog bottoms not my knickers...sorry about the view!!