Monday, 30 April 2012

1, now there are 3

One sick looking plant...

One root bound sick looking plant...

Three empty pots...

One wheel barrow full of potting mix...

One sick root bound plant sliced into three...

roots trimmed away...

repotted...three new plants

Sunday, 29 April 2012

prawn pasta

I decided to make this for lunch today as my old friend and neighbour Cathy who now lives in Canada, left me a comment saying she had made my prawn linguine.  I love to get comments and feedback as it reminds me of some of the recipes that I haven't made in a while.  This recipe is not the same as I didn't have all the ingredients.  I have come up with a flavour base that is not new but one that I have not done before.  That is to melt anchovies with garlic and olive oil.   Really delicious..

For this recipe I used

  • 500g of dried linguine or bavette pasta
  • 400g of raw prawns
  • 4 large anchovies in oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of chicken stock ( I used some stock that I had  made from the scampi tail shells that I had in the freezer.)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • a few shakes of chile flakes
  • handful of italian parsley
  • black pepper

Start off heating a good glug of olive oil in a large frying pan on low heat.  Add the garlic and anchovies.  You do not want the garlic to colour.  Once the anchovies had melted in the oil add the capers, chile flakes and tomato paste.  Stir around and cook the rawness out of the tomato paste and then deglaze with the stock.  Let it bubble away and reduce by at least half.  Add the prawns.  They will only takes minutes to cook through.  Next goes the butter, zest, and parsley.  The butter thickens it up a little.  Lastly add the cooked pasta to the pan mix through the lemon juice and the black pepper.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

easy stirfry

Like the fried rice recipe this has no rules.

I know the stirfry is very 80s - 90s but it is a goodie for a week night family dinner.
We would probably have some sort of stir fry once a fortnight.  This is one way of getting your 5 fruit and vege a day in one go.  I always make a huge amount so there are some left overs as Finn and Lily like taking it to school for their lunch.  Use what ever protein and vegetables you have at hand or choose, asian greens are perfect also, but the idea is to have a lot.

For this recipe I used

  • 2 pieces of rump steak chopped into small pieces
  • 10 chicken loins (they were on special at New World) chopped into small pieces
  • 2 courgettes sliced julienne
  • 1 head of broccoli cut into small flowerets
  • 1/2 head of large cauliflower chopped into small flowerets 
  • 2 brown onions sliced julienne
  • 1 small red pepper sliced julienne
  • 1 small yellow pepper sliced julienne
  • 2 carrots sliced julienne
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • sticky sweet soy sauce with cornflour and water added
  • brown rice 

Start off by heating your wok on medium to high heat with some oil, peanut oil goes well until smoking.  Stir fry your beef and chicken in small batches and then put aside.  The idea is to get some colour and not to cook it right through as that will finish off when you add the sauce at the end.
Once you have done the meat put aside.  Add some more oil to the wok and put in the onions, courgettes and garlic  and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Then add the carrots and the peppers and the broccoli and cauliflower (that I have previously steamed) and mix around and stir fry for around 2 minutes and then finally add your sauce.  I make quite a large quantity of the sauce mixed with cornflour and water and add until I have the amount I want.  Lots of sauce its good as you want plenty for the rice.  The sauce will thicken as it heats up.  Finally add the beef and chicken and give it one more stir through and serve with rice.  I used brown rice as I am going through a brown rice  phase.

Friday, 20 April 2012


 I pulled this fresh horseradish out of my garden tub.  It has been growing there for about 3 years and I have just ignored it.  I don't even know when you are mean't to harvest it. I will find that out though.  Anyway I got enough to do something with, but what is the question?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

the glass castle

I just finished this book this morning and I absolutely loved it.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

plants still alive and growing

Planted the parsley, cauliflower and chives from seeds on the 18/2/12, 8 weeks ago.  All looking robust and hopefully will do well.
I also planted some beetroot.  There is no sign of that though.  3 out of 4 not so bad.
This is what they looked liked last update on the 15th March.

The broadbeans I planted from seeds on the 29/2/12,  about 7 weeks ago.  They are doing amazing.
The spinach and butter crunch lettuce planted from seeds on the 12/3/12,  5 weeks ago are just coming on.  I have planted more lettuce and spinach seeds since.
Chris has had to build a frame for the broadbeans to give them some support.  I am very happy with the progress,  just hope the snails and things don't eat them first.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

this is why I don't bake

This is why I don't bake, because I can't, I don't have the patiences or the temperament.  You know this...
I had high hopes for these brandy snaps though.  I have wanted to give them a go for a long time.  I did the research, got the recipe that I thought would be best, my state of mind was in the right place.  But hell when it went wrong I swore like a sailor and wanted to chuck them across the room.  And of course I gave up.  My first attempt is the burnt crumbly bits in the background.  2nd attempt I got to roll them ok but they were not holding their shape and flattening out.  Meanwhile the other ones on the other tray have got too hard to roll.  No fun at all.
I'm still smarting.  Don't even like dessert.

Monday, 16 April 2012

brown rice fried rice

 Fried rice is such a simple meal to make and makes use of whatever vegetables you have left in your fridge.
William my nephew who is a cyclist, inspired me to add some spinach when I was reading his blog 'Yarns of a kiwi cyclist'. He adds it to his bacon and egg fried rice.

I decided to use brown rice as I thought it would go well with the spinach.

Left over vegetables that needed using in my fridge were

  • 1 courgette diced
  • 1 orange pepper diced
  • spinach sliced up ( you can use a lot as it cooks down to nothing)
  • beansprouts - a big handful

I also added 

  • 1 chicken breast cut into pieces - any protein would be good or a combination
  • 1 brown onion - finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped ginger
  • sprinkling of finely chopped basil, as there was some on the bench
  • tamari soy sauce
  • sweet chile sauce
  • 7 peppers, pepper

First off add 1 cup of brown rice in large pot of boiling water and boil until cooked.  I often will put some rice on in the morning so when I want to make the fried for lunch or dinner it is already to go when you want to prepare the fried rice.
 Next fry off the chicken in the wok or fry pan with some oil and then put aside.

Then cook the onion, courgette, garlic and ginger in the wok until softened and cooked down and a little browned, takes about 10 minutes followed by the spinach and beansprouts,  They only take a minute to wilt away.
Finally add the rice and chicken and the soy sauce to your liking.
I add a blob of sweet chile on the top with the basil and some 7 peppers, pepper.

This is always a good meal as it stores well in the fridge ready for a re heat whenever you are hungry.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

chicken caesar salad

Creamy avocado, succulent chicken, crunchy croutons and lettuce, tasty parmesan mayonaise dressing. Yum yum.  A marriage made in heaven in my eyes...

The recipe I use for making a basic mayonnaise is by 'Jamie Oliver'.  I like his recipe because he only uses one egg yolk so hence it is not too eggy in flavour.

The recipe goes as follows

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
285mls peanut oil ( I use grapeseed as I think peanut oil is too strong)
258mls olive oil

I don't use all that amount of oil, as I think it makes to much.
I hand whisk and just add equal quantities of oil and stop when I have as much as I need.

"Mayonnaise can be be made in a food processor, by hand with a whisk and a bowl, or in a food mixer.  Put the egg yolk, mustard,  3 small pinches of salt, vinegar and lemon juice into a bowl and whisk until the salt has dissolved.  Whisking fast, add small drops of the oil bit by bit, so the egg can emulsify with it.  ( If you add it too fast it could split.)  When you've added a quarter of the oil it will start to look like mayonnaise, and you can add the oil slightly quicker.  If at any point it does split, just pour a tablespoon of boiling water in the mayonnaise and that should re-emulsify it.  When you've added all the oil, the mayonnaise should look thick, creamy and slightly yellow.  At this point you should check for seasoning."

At this point I add 1/2 a cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of caster sugar and a smidgeon of finely grated garlic, Probably 1/8 of a teaspoon.  Adding the cheese thickens it up.

Make sure your egg is at room temperature before you start, as if it is cold there is a great chance of it splitting.  I have been known to cry on more than 1 occasion when my mayonnaise has split.  I then just give up.  I was very pleased that I was successful this time.

For the croutons, slice 1-2 day old baguette wafer thin.  They are much nice and crunchy this way.
Bake in a 200C oven for just 2-3 minutes.  Keep an eye out as you don't want them too brown.

To assemble the salad.
Firstly I coat the lettuce leaves in a small amount of the dressing in a separate bowl, so as to keep the salad bowl clean.  I used cos and frilly lettuce, but iceberg would be good as well.
Now put some lettuce leaves down in the salad bowl, then some sliced avocado, croutons and chicken, then repeat.
Finally add some more dressing if you wish.
This would be gluten free if you didn't add the croutons.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I'm in a funk

I am now in day 2 of my funk.  A mood of apathy and discord.  At the moment I have no joy in cooking or food shopping.  I am just going through the motions hoping that my aimlessness and general lack of direction will get back on track soon.
 Usually when I feel this way I can usually restore my motivation and inspiration by going on

Here are some random things that I found anyway...

Can you fathom the absolute grandscale of this ridiculousness...

I do like the look of these cork screws used this way,  I have a fondness for hooks.  It would be nice if you could a variety of some old vintage ones together on the wall.

I thought making some beef stock might help... I have been using the stockpot instead of the slowcooker these days.  If you haven't made beef stock before I urged you to try.  It is so good and you could use it to make french onion soup.

Have you ever seen what a fresh nutmeg looks like, quite incredible and beautiful...This site 'season with spice' is a good one..

I have so much rosemary in my garden at the moment that I do not know what to do with it. Last year I got a little carried away in the planting.  There is only so many roasts with rosemary one can have.  Any suggestions?

Friday, 6 April 2012

bacon jam

This stuff is absolutely exquisite.  The uses for this are endless.  I have just finished eating it with last nights leftover roast potatoes.
I got the recipe from 'sea salt with food' and pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except that I didn't cook it as long.  I only cooked it for about and hour and not 2.
I think this jam will get better as the days go by as the flavours continue to mingle together.
The bagel with the egg was Jacobs request, along with mayonaise, tomatoes and basil.

and  Lily wanted hers with scramble eggs and tomatoes on the side.  Finn wasn't here and Chris was at work so they missed out.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

teriyaki chicken with choy sum and sushi rice

This is my ultimate comfort food dish.  I could just about eat this every other day.  We have it at least once a week for dinner and I sometimes take it to work.
It is really easy and quick to prepare.

For this recipe I used

Prepare the rice and teriyaki sauce so it is ready to go.
Open out the chicken thigh and butterfly so it is the same thickness and spread out.
I like to bbq the chicken as I think it tastes better.  It doesn't take very long and I like the smokiness that the rendered fat creates.

Assemble first with the rice, the choy sum, the sliced chicken and as much teriyaki sauce as you want. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

chicken spinach and feta cheese pie

This is a recipe is from Penny Oliver's book 'beach, bach, boat, bbq'. We had it for our lunch on Sunday.  The book is down at the beach so I have tried to do it from memory.  I have adapted a bit as she uses chicken breast, but I like to use a whole chicken that has been jointed and slow cooked.

For this recipe I used - This makes 2 pies

  • 1 whole chicken jointed
  • 2 cans of whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 big bag of spinach - washed and stalks removed
  • 1 block of feta cheese
  • 1 pack puff pastry sheets
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • salt and pepper

Cut the chicken into its pieces and gentle fry skin side down in a thick based pan with some olive oil until the skin is golden.
You are not cooking the chicken as such but trying to render some of the flavour from the fat.
Once the skin is golden and some fat has been released, remove from the pan and put aside to cool.  When cooled remove all the skin from the chicken.
Next add the onions and garlic and soften.  Now put back the chicken pieces minus its skin back into the pan along with the 2 cans of tomatoes.   Add the sugar, some salt and pepper and cook gently uncovered for about 2 hours until the chicken falls off the bone and the liquid has reduced.
Keep an eye on it and add water if you need to so it does not scorch on the bottom of the pan.
Once it is at your desired consistency, remove the bones and taste and tweet for seasoning.

Wash and remove the stalks from the spinach, steam and then squeeze out the water so you are left with a green ball the sized of a tennis ball.

Assemble the pies, starting with the first layer of pastry.  Add the chicken, evenly divided  between the 2 pies.  Break up the spinach and layer next and finish with the crumbled feta.

With the top layer of pastry,  slice with a knife in lines to what ever thickness you like.

Place the top layer of pastry on the filling.  Brush with some egg wash.

Fold over the bottom layer of pastry and pressed down with your fingers to seal.
 Put in the middle of the oven for about 1/2 and hour at 180C.
Don't bake it on baking paper as I did, as it didn't cook all that well on the bottom.
Serve with a green salad.