Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Summer Holiday

Harry and Cuz Holls

First night dinner....the obligatory BBQ

A very happy Archie

Martins Bay


Pup and Mama

Martins Bay with Pup

And our 'whangai'd daughter Holls

Eating Fish and Chips down at Scotts Landing before a swim

Stunning Scotts Landing in the early evening

Playing in an old tree by the original homestead at Scotts Landing which used to be a real hub of activity with all the Steamboats landing there. It was even turned into a hotel at one stage.

The view from the George and Russell's lounge in the morning....STUNNING!

Keruru (Wood Pigeon) who chose to fly and sit in a tree right in front of us while we were having breakfast 

Thursday saw some of the whanau come for a swim and dinner

Down time with the screens!

Stunning clear water in the beautiful and almost private bay down from the house

Tides on the way in but you get the idea of how lovely it is

Along this way are the only 2 baches (one posh the other done up but still pretty Kiwiana) on this bay...if only I could win Lotto! 
Collecting Kai Moana (cockles) for dinner

Time with Dad after dinner on Friday
I know this is photo heavy! This is from our amazing week away at George and Russ's beachouse in Mahurangi which is about 1 1/4 hours away from where we live. For once we had the most amazing weather with stunning days every day allowing us to swim, swim and swim and just enjoy relaxing. Thanks so much boys for letting us use your gorgeous place. The serenity was fantastic and we had a ball. Now I really need to go back to WW!!!! Hopefully those having winter at the moment might jump on a plane and come to our neck of the can see how lucky we are to live in this beautiful country!

Harry Cooks


Scrambled eggs with rocket

Just a couple of creations by Harry. The top one he made with Dons....then he gets to get up to all sorts of creative no good in the kitchen! I think it's some sort of custard thing (which I hear was not all that edible because it had too much custard powder in it), turned out onto a plate dusted with icing sugar, sprinkled with grated white chocolate and with a 'berry coulis' and a sprig of mint to glam it up!

The other he made with me and made from scratch himself. It's scrambled egg with rocket on toast and it tasted really delicious! In fact Harry ate it all up for his breakfast! Proud mummy moment!

French Plum Cake

During our lovely holiday up north I was able to collect a heap of delicious dark plums from the tree up was either me get them of the birds! I have since made plum jam (really good), and preserved a couple of big jars of them but when we had a small housewarming BBQ at my Brother and Sister-in-laws new house, I thought this would be the perfect thing to take to showcase the amazing plums I had. Anyone here in NZ (and I think in Australia too), would have heard of Annabel Langbein by now....and if hadn't you really need to familiarise yourself with her because she is AMAZING!!! Her book 'The Best of Annabel Langbein: Great Food For Busy Lives' has been on the NZ best sellers for years and years. This recipe features in that book although I did change it a bit. It makes a large cake (a roasting tin size) and is easily halved. We had it with whipped cream but custard or yoghurt would have been even better. My other sis-in-law took a better photo of it for me (as I only took these quickly before we left) but I'll have to add it once she remembers to send it to me.

French Plum Cake

6-8 plums (I think I may have used 10!)
3 Tbsp sugar
300g butter
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
finely grated zest of a lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1 c milk
3 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a roasting tin with baking paper. Slice the plums and sprinkle with the 3 Tbsp sugar. Toss and leave to sit while you are getting the cake batter ready.

Cream together the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon rind and vanilla. 

Mix the flour and baking powder together then add to the butter mix alternating with the milk. Do not over mix. 

Put the batter into the tin then arrange the plums on top. Bake about 45-60 mins (depending on the size of the tin), until a skewer comes out clean.


After seeing loads of this around in various blogs and magazines lately I thought it sounded like the sort of thing I would like to eat....and pretty healthy too! It's very easy and taste wonderful. I just made mine up from a few different recipes and it went something like this....

Saute a small onion which has been finely chopped with a few cloves of crushed garlic. Add in about 1-2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin. Stir around a bit then add a can of chopped tomatoes and a couple of fresh tomatoes chopped up and a couple of red peppers which have been sliced not too thickly. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the mixture thickens a bit.

Make about 4 dents in the sauce and crack an egg into each. Cover the pan and simmer until the egg whites are opaque but the yolks still soft. Yummy with some crusty bread to dip into the egg! 

Of note one of the recipes I have is by Peter Gordon and his has a bit of lamb mince in it....think I will try that next time.

Gooey Cinnamon Cake

I spotted a recipe for Gooey Butter Cake ages and ages ago and in typical form when I tried to remember where and what it was exactly, I had a real mind block. I only knew that it was gooey and caramelised on top but that was it. I searched and searched (going more and more crazy), my blogs and the internet but got it totally wrong instead looking for a recipe which had condensed milk in it. How wrong I was, there is no condensed milk in this and when I finally spotted this version on David Lebovitz's blog, I knew immediately that this was my lost cake. I made it for night shift and I have to say it was delicious with a cup of tea. I liked it's simplicity but it's caramelised topping which gave it a bit of oomph! The cinnamon only added to it's yumminess. f you want to find this recipe you can find it here. I have to say though, I most certainly did NOT grind my own cinnamon!

NIgella's Italian Roast Chicken with Peppers and Olives

I have a fair bit to add to my rather ignored blog. For those of you who live at this end of the earth in the South Pacific where it is lovely and very very hot at the moment, will know that it's our big school holidays. The children are off school for at least 6-7 weeks so that combined with Christmas and New Year makes for a very busy time. At the beginning of each long break it always seems like it's endless like we will have to find lots to do to fill in our time. But it's amazing how fast it all goes. All of a sudden going back to school with all the new requirements is upon us and I realise that I have hardly done anything or caught up with the people I have wanted to. 

Anyway for those of you with little time, little inclination but with a taste for good food, then this recipe is one for you. I got Nigella Lawson's book 'Nigellissima' for Xmas and whipped this up one night. Yum yum yum!!! Give it a go because it is delicious!

Italian Roast Chicken with Peppers and Olives

1 whole chicken
1 lemon, cut in half
4 sprigs rosemary
3 leeks, washed and trimmed (I think I only used 2)
2 red peppers
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper (or use whatever mix of colours you want just not green....yuk)
100g pitted black olives
60ml olive oil
salt (use Maldon sea salt) and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the chicken into a roasting tin and put the lemon halves and 2 sprigs rosemary up it's bum.

Cut each leek into 3 logs then slice lengthwise. Then remove the core and seeds from the peppers and slice them into strips. Add to the tin with the olives.

Pour the olive oil mostly over the veges but some over the chicken too. Add the rosemary sprigs to the veges along with salt and pepper to tastes then stir well to make sure everything is coated with the oil.

Sprinkle over some sea salt flakes and roast until cooked. It's ok for the veges to be a bit scorched in parts. Remover the chicken and rest about 10 mins. Keep the veges warm in the oven. 

Cut the chicken up chunkily and transfer to a warmed platter, then remove the veges with a slotted spoon and arrange on the chicken. Finally pour over the browned juices from the bottom of the tin.

Nigella recommends some nice bread to mop up the juices and maybe a green salad.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Berry and Pomegranate Charlotte

Tonight I had my lovely and most dearest friend Annie, Deb and their lovely son Jesse (also known as the 'Miester') over for dinner. Annie and I have been friends for over 24 years....isn't it amazing when you can say you have got friends who have lasted for that long? I have only a few other friends with that kind of friend Leigh is most notably one them! With life being so busy you realise how little time we get to spend with these people who are so precious to us. Sometimes it's all we can do to get through our working week (especially when you are a shift worker and going against the grain of every other 'normal' working person), looking after our children, doing all the normal house stuff and keeping up with family. At times, though, I realise with horror how long it has been since I have spent time with any friends. You forget how important it is to maintain these friendship and 'feed' them, instead focusing on all the everyday stuff. I guess the same could be said for any relationship.....

Anyway I digress. Tonight I made a lovely dip which I heard Helen Jackson talk about on the radio the other morning. I roasted 2 red peppers, took the skins off and blitzed them with some roasted cashews, a bit of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and some good EVOO. I have to say it was delicious especially for how simple it was. I also made, amongst other things the Annabel Langbein Sausage and Caramelised Onion Tart and the Zucchini and Feta one too. A plain rocket salad, the Spicy Eggplant salad from Ripe's cookbook and some plain cooked corn on the cob accompanied it. I also made some lovely marinated Chicken Wings done in Indian spices and cooked on the BBQ (recipe found in Monday's Herald bite) for the kids but in fact they also ate the pizza too.

For dessert I made Annabel Langbein's Vanilla and Citrus Terrine from her latest book but I was really underwhelmed by it. On the way home from a 4 hour shift this morning I had a quick change of mind and bought the ingredients for this Berry and Pomegranate Charlotte which I had seen in the Sunday Star Times this morning. It is lovely BUT next time I would make a couple of changes. It is a celebration of all that is good about summer....berries! And I think it looks pretty stunning too.

Berry and Pomegranate Charlotte

1 c sugar (next time I would use 1/2 c)
1/2 c water (I would use 1 c water next time so it isn't so sweet)
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 c raspberries (I used 2 punnets of blueberries, 1 punnet strawberries and 1 punnet raspberries all up)
1 1/2 c blueberries
400g mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp icing sugar
18 savoiardi biscuits

Line a terrine mould or loaf tin with clingfilm.

Place the sugar and water into a pot and cook over a low heat for about 10 mins without stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stir through the pomegranate and simmer a further 5 mins.

Place all the berries into a bowl, pour over the sugar syrup, mix well and cool.

Beat together the mascarpone, vanilla and icing sugar.

Layer into the mould beginning and ending with the biscuits. I went biscuits, berries, marscarpone and biscuits. Wrap tightly top prevent leaking when inverted (I forgot to invert mine).

Chill 4 hours flipping halfway.