As the winter rolls in and the wild west winds start to rattle the house, its time to crank up the indoor heating and firing up the oven on is one sure way of heating an old kiwi Bach. Coming from a country of central heating and double glazing the flimsy Kiwi houses made from gib and weatherboard without insulation or heating were a bit of a shock when I arrived in NZ. Winter is short here and relatively warm compared to Europe but I still didn’t get the ‘no heating’ malarkey but if you meet a Kiwi through winter you will see they are a hardy bunch, still wearing their Jandels (that’s flip flops to the Brits and Thongs for the Aussies), shorts and T-shirt as the temperatures dip below double figures.
Put another jumper or thermals on we’re the words often uttered by my Kiwi husband and there’s me a obviously spoilt Brit thinking thermals were for expeditions to the Antarctic or fancy ski trips to the Alps not for keeping oneself warm on your sofa! Sometimes we have to get a little creative and we all know a way to a mans heart is his stomach so I started making more casseroles, breads and pies, the perfect way to heat up the house and make it smell great too without someone complaining about the heating bill! So if you need a winter warmer this easy fish pie is a sure thing. It’s based on Jamie’s easy method, no white sauce to prepare and just potatoes and leek to pre cook. I have replaced the regular potato with our New Zealand golden Kumara (sweet potato) and added some cauliflower to the base.
This pie is best if you can use a variety of firm white fish, mixing a little bit of smoked fish for flavour, salmon or even prawns. Make sure that all the fish is scaled and pin boned, nothing worse than scales or bones with a mouthful of creamy mash.
1kg mixed fish fillets (I used salmon, smoked fish and Hoki), cut into 1 inch chunks
1 large leek, finely sliced
1/2 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 Tbsp butter
1.5kg golden kumara potatoes, roughly chopped
200ml single cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
50g grated cheddar style cheese
100g Feta cheese, crumbled
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a ceramic or Pyrex dish that can be used on direct heat add 1 tablespoon of butter and place over a low heat.
Add the leeks and cook for 10 minutes until they are soft.
Put the Kumara with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large saucespan of water and bring to the boil, cook until just tender.
Drain the Kumara and add a tablespoon of butter and mash with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the cream, feta and mustard to the leeks in the dish and stir thoroughly, turn off heat under dish.
Add the fish chunks, lemon juice, zest and cauliflower florets to the dish and stir so everything is coated with sauce.
Spread the mashed Kumara potato over the top of the fillings.
Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top.
Cook for 45-50 minutes or until golden and crisp on top and the filling is bubbling.
This Pear & Ginger Upside Down Cake recipe is part of my ‘winter white’ photo series, I’m branching out from my, what I call ‘medieval styling’ with its moody tones. Although my preference is for the darker photos with their depth and shadows I think I need to expand my repertoire and try new lighting and styling. I have never been very good producing the bleached white photo effect that is so popular, I have no idea why I find it much harder, probably because I still have a lot more to learn which is why I am starting a new photography course tomorrow. I hope over the next month you will be able to notice improvements in my photography but at this stage I am wanting to jump straight back into that medieval look!
Winter would not be the same without heart warming, spicy puddings that stick to your ribs. Take advantage of all the seasonal pears and make a ginger upside down cake. You don’t need to peel the pears, why throw away the fibre that is important in our diets. It may not win you Masterchef leaving the skin on but once baked in the cake the skins go soft, you don’t even notice you have left them on.
4 small to medium pears
50g unsalted butter
80g dark muscovado sugar
100g black treacle or molasses
100g runny honey
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
150g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4.
Grease and dust with flour a round cake tin 22cm in diameter.
Sprinkle the tablespoon of moscovado sugar on the base of the tin.
Slice and core the pears.
Arrange pears around the tin, stalk end of pear to the centre.
Melt together the butter, 80g sugar, treacle and syrup either in a pan or microwave, then allow to cool.
Add the eggs to the sugar and whisk with electrical whisk.
Sift together the flour and ginger then add to the mixture and stir until smooth.
Pour into the greased tin to cover the pears and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
Serve as is or with custard, ice cream or cream.
And here’s a pic from our local beach; winter surfing.
I remember making melting moments or Viennese biscuits as a young apprentice, back in the day when they used to make us pipe the mixture into fancy shaped biscuits rather than roll and slice. I was a skinny 17 year old with muscles like ‘knots on cotton’ a piping bag the size of my arm and not a hope in hell of pushing that dough out of the end. I had a love hate relationship with these biscuits, loved to eat them but just couldn’t pipe them to the amusement of everyone else in the kitchen. How sensible I thought, arriving in NZ and finding these pretty biscuits made from the same dough but rolled, sliced and a nice pattern pressed with a fork instead.
The traditional recipe has been tweaked after reading Lucy’s post over at Kitchen Maid who is hosting We Should Cocoa event in June, founded by Choclette. To enter you have to make something chocolatey with Lucy’s choice of ingredient for the month, coffee. So here it is:
175g butter, softened
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups plain four
1/2 cup corn four
50g butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
50g 70% cocoa chocolate
1 tsp fine ground espresso powder
Preheat oven to 180C
To make the biscuit, cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift the flour, cocoa and corn flour into the butter mix.
Work ingredients together to form a dough.
Roll dough into a sausage shape then divide into 20.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on non stick tray then flatten balls slightly with a fork to make an imprint.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the filling, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted remove from boiler and add the butter, coffee grains and icing sugar. Allow mixture to cool and it will become firm enough to pipe or spread.
Sandwich two biscuits together with a spoonful of the filling.
Winter is well and truly here in New Zealand, we have experienced our first frost in the valley and icy winds blasting from the snow capped south. But no need to grumble, it’s the perfect photo opportunity on these winter mornings, there’s nothing more beautiful than a blanket of frost on the ground as a sunny morning dawns. The snow brings winter sport, trips to the mountains, the thrill of snowboarding and of course the desire to cook hearty winter meals.
As an alternative to the classic meat stews, try a mushroom ragout, it’s quicker to make but still offers that satisfying, warming fullness we associate with a regular stew. High in protein, mushrooms are a good vegetarian alternative and since they are coming into season here in NZ also offer great value for money.
Ingredients for Scones
200g self raising flour
pinch of salt
Pinch of cracked black pepper
100g grated cheddar cheese
150ml of milk
1 tblsp Dijon mustard
Handful of thyme
Ingredients for Ragout
800g white or brown button mushrooms, washed and halved
1 large fennel bulb
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
150ml sour cream
Method for Scones
Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Remove the fennel fronds from the bulb and chop finely.
whisk the mustard into the milk.
Place flour, butter, pepper and salt into a bowl.
Rub butter and flour together until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Or use a food processor.
Add half the grated cheese and fennel fronds and mix through.
Form a well in the centre of bread crumb mix and add the milk, kneed gently to form a soft dough.
Transfer dough onto a floured board and press the dough out with hands (rather than using a rolling pin) until it is about 2cm thick.
Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the scones or slice the scones, it should make 8
Put scones aside till ragout is done.
Method for Ragout
Quarter the fennel bulb, remove core and thinly slice.
Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large oven proof frying over a medium to high heat.
Add the halved mushrooms and fry till they go brown and caramelized on the edges. You may need to do this in two batches if your pan isn’t big enough.
Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, sliced fennel and fennel seeds and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring several times.
Add the sour cream, water and mustard, stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Plop the scones on top of the ragout, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
If your frying pan can’t be put into the over transfer ragout to a casserole dish before putting the scones on top.
Serve with some steam green beans.
I have been following Raymund’s blog Ang Sarap for a few years now and watched his blog change and grow over the years. Raymund is originally from the Philippines, the name of is blog means ‘delicious’ in Tagalog and the dishes he creates and shares with us certainly are delicious. We have a lot in common, he is a fellow Auckland blogger but we both bring our homeland food and culture to our blogs and sometimes we both feature our spouses recipes too! We have both developed a passion for food photography which is evident when you look at the then and now on our blogs.
Raymund thought it would be good if we could share a traditional dish, he knows I am a big dessert girl, although I have been know to do more savoury dishes these days so I decide to make and share a Bakewell cake which is a twist on the English Bakewell Tart. The difference is, I have skipped the pastry base with this recipe and I used berries instead of jam and added a little decadence with ground almonds where traditionally only almond extract would have been used. A nice simple cake to make, perfect with a pot of tea on a cold afternoon.
So if you would like the recipe or to find out more about our lovely Raymund and his blog, pop over to Ang Sarap.
Raymund is also doing a series of guest posts so if you keep and eye on his blog he will introduce you to some blogs you may never have seen before.
There is nothing better than a slice of good old fashioned ginger cake and how remiss of me to neglect it for the past ten years. A Jamaican Ginger Cake is what I had in mind with it’s heavy, sticky texture and dark molasses flavour. It’s an iconic British tea time cake but I have no idea where it got its name from. Did the recipe derive from Jamaica, was it the ginger that came from Jamaica or did a Jamaican in the UK invented the recipe. Or was it just an exotic name given to it by McVities (who produce the cake) and has no story behind it at all? If you do know drop me a line, I couldn’t find anything on the web.
Most recipe call for golden syrup but I prefer to use honey these days particularly since I have a constant supply from a bee keeper friend. If honey is too expensive in your neck of the woods you can substitute if back for golden syrup.
This is also my submission for Sweet New Zealand which is being hosted by the lovely Shirleen over at Sugar & Spice & all Things Nice. Pop over to her blog and see what other treats our fellow Kiwi bloggers are submitting this month.
250 g self-raising flour
3 tsp ground ginger
200 g honey or golden syrup
125 g butter
100g preserved stem ginger, chopped
100 g dark muscovado sugar
2 tbsp molasses or treacle
2 large eggs
200 ml milk
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease and line a 22cm cake tin with baking paper.
Melt the honey, sugar molasses, stem ginger and butter in a pan over a low heat.
Sift the flour and ground ginger into a separate bowl.
In another bowl whisk together the eggs and the milk.
Once the sugar mixture has melted pour it into the bowl with the flour and stir together to make a smooth paste.
Add the eggs to the flour mixture and beat together, the mixture will be quite runny.
Pour mixture into prepared cake tin.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Allow to cool in cake tin before removing it.
Ginger cake is always better if you can leave it a day or two before eating it, the cake becomes a lot more sticky!
Happy New Year everyone and welcome 2012. New Years morning, even before breakfast, hubby and I write a list of goals for the year ahead. Some people have New Year resolutions but i like a list! A little pedantic some think but I am a great believer of if you verbalize it and put it out there the universe will help you achieve it. Do you do anything like this at the beginning of a new year?
Here is my Christmas cake recipe that I rushed to make the week before Christmas. I’m glad I did, even without the maturing in booze for several months it turned out scrummy, this years twist was adding chocolate and ginger to the mix which is my favourite so far.
200g pitted chopped prunes
300g chopped figs
150g glace cherries
150g chopped crystalized ginger
200g dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
280g chopped almonds
1 cup brandy
1cup orange juice
250g butter, chopped
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup treacle
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup of cocoa
1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Extra 1/2 cup port or brandy for pouring over cake.
Soak all fruit, orange juice and brandy in a bowl for several hours (or overnight) until all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven on bake to 150C (do not use fan bake as this will dry the cake out). Line the sides and base of a deep 23cm-round tin with two layers of baking paper (help prevent drying out), bringing it 5cm above the rim of the tin.
In a bowl combine the flour, spices, cocoa, chopped chocolate and chopped nuts.
In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together until is pale yellow light and creamy. Then beat in the treacle.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the fruit to the creamed mixture and mix together.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Stir with a metal spoon until just combined but do not over mix.
Spoon a layer of mixture across the base of the tin and gently spread so the lining doesn’t move. Spoon and spread the rest of the mixture into the tin.
Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the top to help prevent the cake from drying out.
Wrap brown paper around the tin and tie with string. My Nan always did this to prevent it from drying out and I have done it ever since.
Bake for 2-2.5 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre. Check at two hours and then every 15 minutes.
Once cake is cold pour over port and wrap in clingfilm/gladwrap and place in a tin and store in a dry place.
You can substitute any of the fruit as long as you keep the quantities the same. I use prunes & figs since they produce a more moist cake.
Spot the photo from 2009, I’m pleased to look back and see my photography has improved over the years.
I can’t believe it is only a few days till Christmas, this week has flown by. It has been a busy December for me with a work trip to Aussie ( the job that pays the bills) and a busy month for my cooking school (my second job that I hope one day can pay the bills) and Christmas group bookings. With the final class for the year behind me today it’s time to get organised for our own festivities. We are hosting Christmas lunch at our house, there will be eight and I and haven’t even decided on the main course. I tend to start at dessert and work the menu back, not surprising really. Having been given crayfish and whitebait that has sorted out the entree. Heston’s Christmas pudding and vanilla Panna cotta with pomegrante and pistachio for desserts but I am still procrastinating on the main course. What about you, are you all organised?
Here is my recipe for chocolate mince pies if you haven’t yet made any.
2 tbs brown sugar
¼ cup brandy
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
100g raisins, coarsely chopped
zest & juice of one small orange
(1/3 cup) orange marmalade
1/2 tsp mixed spice
50g 70% choc, chopped
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
Set aside, and soak over night, stir occasionally
Ingredients – pastry
60g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Place the flour, butter & sugar in a bowl.
Work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and bring dough together.
Rest dough in fridge for an hour before rolling out.
Roll the dough out thinly and use a cookie cutter that will fit your cupcake tins, making sure it is large enough to cup the filling.
Add about one heaped teaspoon per case and then cut out star shape out of the pastry for the lids.
Egg wash the star shaped pastry.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
The Jamie Dodger is a biscuit of my youth, I can’t say they were my favourite at the time as they were probably bought as an economical choice to stretch amongst us kids. Although now I am older and no longer live in the UK I look back at them quite fondly. I did like the chewy bit of jam in the centre though more than the biscuits itself so I have decided to revamp the Jamie Dodger to my taste with a little Christmas spice too. For my biscuits I have added cinnamon to a sable dough and added Opies ginger spread to the centres. You could use any ginger jam available in you neck of the woods. If you are a ginger fan, Opies make a wonderful range of ginger products, unfortunately the shop I used to buy mine from has closed its doors and I haven’t yet found a new source. Being a UK product I’m not sure there will be many places in NZ that stock it but do let me know if you come across it in Auckland.
Ingredients – makes 12
300g plain flour
100g castor sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
100g ginger jam/spread
Preheat oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients except for the ginger jam and egg in a food processor and blitz till the dough becomes fine breadcrumbs in texture.
Add the egg and pulse until a dough starts to form. Remove from food processor and bring together by hand.
Roll the dough out in between to sheets of baking paper to prevent it sticking to the work surface or rolling pin, to about 1/2 inch thick.
Rest in the fridge till chilled.
Cut out shapes with a round cookie cutter. Half of the biscuits need to have the centre cut out with a smaller cutter (round, heart, star shaped).
Re-roll the off cuts of dough to make more biscuits.
Place biscuits on a non stick baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Once cookies are cool, dust the top biscuit with icing sugar.
Spread a generous amount of ginger jam on the base biscuit and press the top biscuit into the jam to form a sandwich.