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    Monday, April 04, 2016

    The Easiest Sweet Treat for Kids - Eton Mess Tarts - Just Like a Bought One

    This dessert was so popular with our grandkids.
    If you really want to be in control, you can make the components yourself
    But for speed. Go Shopping

    1 packet mini Tart Shells 1 doz
    6 Bought Medium Meringues 
    Frozen Raspberries - 1 cup
    A Little extra sugar, about 1 tablespoon
    Cream - 1 cup

    Place the Raspberries in a pot with sugar and heat till defrosted and sugar is dissolved
    Blend with a hand blender till rough puree
    Set aside to cool

    Meanwhile, whop the cream till fairly stiff
    Break the meringues up and add to cream

    Take half of the raspberry puree and marble through the cream mix

    Fill the tarts with the mix
    Top with remaining puree

    Guaranteed a huge hit

    Thursday, March 31, 2016

    My Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs - Kid Friendly Food

    Once again always looking for Kid Friendly Food
    I found a recipe on The Epicurious Website and adapted it for my kids
    Added vegetables that they like… e.g. Broccoli instead of Spinach
    Onion instead of leeks and I also added courgettes
    So here's My Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs

    It was very popular, the kids devoured it.
    Will make this again
    The meatball recipe made around 48 little balls
    I cooked them all and froze half for next time

    600 gms ground chicken (2 cups)
    1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
    6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
    4 garlic cloves,  minced,
    5 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    2 large eggs, whisked to blend
    Sea salt,
    Freshly ground pepper

    The Broth
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 red onion finely sliced 
    3 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced    
    1 large carrots, finely sliced
    1 courgette finely sliced
    1 litre chicken broth
    2 cups water
    1 cup Orecchiette Pasta

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 small head of broccoli finely sliced

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Chopped fresh basil
    Extra Grated Parmesan

    To make Meatballs
    Mix chicken, breadcrumbs, Parmesan,garlic cloves,
    Chives, eggs, Sea salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl.
    Form into little meatballs
    I used a melon baller. Nice size

    Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
    Cook meatballs until golden all over, about 3 minutes (they will finish cooking in soup).
    Transfer to a plate;
    Set aside.
    To Make Broth
    Add onion to pot and cook,
    Stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
    Add thinly sliced garlic cloves; cook for 1 minute.
    Add carrots and courgettes, cook for another 3-4 minutes
    Add broth and water; bring to a boil.
    Stir in pasta 
    Simmer until pasta is almost al dente, about 8 minutes.

    Meanwhile in another pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil to medium heat
    Just lightly saute the Broccoli, for about 3 minutes
    Add meatballs to soup
    Simmer until pasta is al dente and carrots are tender, and meatballs are cooked through,
    About 3 minutes.
    Add cooked broccoli
    Season with salt and pepper.
    Ladle soup into bowls.
    Garnish with chopped Basil and Parmesan

    Wednesday, March 23, 2016

    Don't waste Food - Make something for your freezer. Egg, Cheese and Ham in a Tasty Sauce

    I'm about to go away for a few days. I went to clean out my fridge. There were so many bits and pieces tucked away in there
    Spring onions, red and green pepper, celery in the Vege bin
    Some shaved champagne ham, 3 eggs, milk just on it's last legs, and some chunks of old cheese
    A few cherry tomatoes

    Surely I can do something with this.

    Yes I can!
    Here is the finished dish ready to go into the freezer, for a meal when I get home
    I will either cook up some yummy mashed potatoes and smother the sauce with them
    Or Might just cover it with a Golden Puff Pastry Lid
    Going to be tasty, no matter what
    To fill this plastic container
    I used
    75 gms butter
    75 gms Flour
    450 mls of milk

    salt and pepper

    1 small green pepper chopped
    1/4 red pepper chopped
    3 spring onions chopped
    2 sticks celery chopped
    6 cherry tomatoes cut in half

    Handful of shaved ham chopped
    2 hard boiled eggs peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup of chopped leftover cheese

    Over medium heat, melt butter
    Add chopped vege
    Season with Sea salt and Ground Black pepper
    saute about 3-4 mins till tender

    Add flour
    Stir well
    Cook for about 2-3 minutes to get the rawness out of the flour
    Add the milk
    Keep stirring till sauce is thickened
    Let cook again,
    You may need to add more milk, don't want it too gluggy
    Add the protein
    Gently fold in, then I plonked it into a plastic container, and it is now in the freezer

    Monday, March 14, 2016

    Joyce's 7 Layer Dip - Perfect for Drinks Party - Gluten Free as well

    In the early 80’s, ...our friend Joyce Baker, (pictured below, on the right)... note the 80's hair styles... from California, came to stay with us here in Auckland
    In those days, New Zealand was a bit behind the eight ball, with current food trends.
    We decided to have a party while Joyce was here, (as we did), Tex Mex Food was beginning to
    rear it’s head. Up till then, I could make a good chili.
    Gilli’s Chili, it got called in fact.
    I’ll post it one day, still like it...however, we weren't really together, with some of the real flavours of Mexico.

    On this particular visit, Joyce introduced us to the Famous 7 Layer Dip
    Joyce was amazed that we didn't have Cilantro here
    Of course, that was a language problem
    You couldn’t google it then
    We finally worked out that Cilantro, in American English,
    was, in New Zealand English…Coriander
    Plus, I don't think we could get refried beans
    So I think we just squashed up some red kidney beans, with some garlic
    But now, all of these ingredients are readily available

    We were very impressed with this dip and have been making it since

    In fact, I selfishly, didn't pass on the recipe, to anyone but our family
    Don't know why I did because as it turns out, it came from
    a Californian Food magazine and is widely known in the States
    So anyone can find it and make it
    But we prefer to call it Joyce’s 7 Layer Dip
    Very Simple

    For the basic recipe of 7 layers
    You need
    1 tin refried Beans
    Guacamole, your favourite recipe
    Salsa… Spicy is good. Any good brand
    Grated Tasty Cheese
    Fresh Tomatoes, finely chopped, seasoned with S & P
    Sour Cream flavoured with Taco seasoning
    Spring onions and Coriander, chopped  Handful of each

    This time, I changed a couple of things,
    I made my own Salsa
    1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
    3 spring onions, finely chopped
    1 cob fresh sweet corn, Pop in Microwave for 3 minutes
    Slice the kernels off
    Add to onions and tomatoes
    1 red pepper finely chopped
    2 tablespoons chopped coriander
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    A little olive oil
    Mix well

    I could only buy ready made Guacamole
    Not as good as homemade unfortunately
    To improve it… I mixed it in with the salsa, which also helped the salsa to stick together
    So 2 layers became 1!

    In fact the Dip this time, was only 5 layers, but still tasted pretty good
    To assemble this particular version

    Find a nice flat dish about 4 cms (1 1/2 inch) deep
    Cover the bottom with the refried beans

    Cover with Salsa
    The Grated Cheese
    Mix the Sour Cream with 3-4 tablespoons of  La Morena Taco seasoning
    Spread the sour cream over the grated cheese
    Top with the chopped herbs

    Best to make a few hours in advance for the flavours to meld

    Serve with Taco Chips

    Sunday, February 21, 2016

    Roast Chicken on a Bed of Greens with Yummy Potatoes

    Keeping on with the chicken theme of this week
    It was our Granddaughter’s 14th Birthday and Grandma was on dinner duty
    A chicken dinner seemed to tick all of the boxes

    Amongst recipes I have saved over the years, I found this idea from Angela Hartnett,
    a British Chef I really admire
    This is a dish that can be eaten at room temperature

    Potatoes with Chicken, sitting on a salad of Green Beans, Leeks and Red Pepper
     Very pretty and particularly tasty

    Crispy skin, was not important on the chicken this time, just wanted lovely juicy breasts
    But I left the skin on, to self baste the breasts
    Removed it for serving
    So prepare the Salad first

    600g/1lb 5oz green beans
    16 baby leeks

    ½ tsp Dijon mustard
    50ml/2fl oz cider vinegar
    250ml/9fl oz olive oil
    2 banana shallots, finely chopped
    2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
    4 tsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

    1 red pepper chopped

    Place a large pan of salted water over a high heat and bring to the boil.
    Add the beans and leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes,
    then drain and refresh in iced water.
     Place the mustard, vinegar and 250ml/9fl oz olive oil into a bowl and whisk to
    Slice the beans and leeks into three on the diagonal and add to the dressing.
    Add the shallots, tarragon, parsley and red pepper
    Then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    Set aside

    Now the Chicken 
    4 large chicken breasts, skin on
    Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Preheat the oven to 180C
    Season the chicken breasts, both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    Into a roasting pan and into the oven for about 12 minutes
    Remove and test with a skewer or sharp small life
    Just push it half way through the breast
    Hold for 10 seconds
    Put it to your lips, it should be hot
    And the juice should run clear
    If not quite done… back into the oven for another 3 minutes
    Remove and set aside to rest for a few minutes

    Drain the salad, keep the dressing
    Slice each breast into 4 pieces and place into the dressing that is drained
    from the salad
    Lay out the salad on a large serving platter
    Place the dressed chicken slices on top

    Pour any remaining juices over the top

    Trishie’s Potatoes
    Now you can make this in advance, in fact the more ahead, the better
    Get those flavours infused

    Take 4 large Potatoes peel and chopped into medium cubes
    Bring to the boil in salted water and simmer till they are almost cooked
    Drain and pop into a oven dish
    1 packet of French Onion Soup Mix or  in this case I used this
    Roast Garlic with Tarragon Flavouring, which worked in very well with the tarragon flavour in the chicken
    Plus 200 ms cream

    Sprinkle the potatoes with the soup mix,
    Season with a little salt and pepper
    Funnily enough the French Onion soup mix is not overly salty
    so it needs some extra seasoning
    Pour the cream over
    Toss well and cover
    Let sit for at least an hour or even longer
    so that the potatoes can absorb those flavours and the cream

    Pre-heat oven to 200C
    Cook till cream is absorbed and potatoes are golden and crispy
    Probably take about 30 minutes
    Season with a little extra salt and pepper

    Once again. you can do this earlier and just pop back into a hot oven for 5-10 minutes,
    Just to heat through

    Here is our beautiful Mia singing at her Granddad's funeral just 3 weeks ago
    So proud of her
    Cheers Mia, Happy birthday

    Friday, February 19, 2016

    Dinner for One - Family Favourite Roast Chicken

    Sometimes you just need a Roast Dinner and when you are living alone,
    I guess it seems like it's not worth doing, but I assure you it is.
    These days of course you can buy any old cut of meat to feed one, with usually some interesting leftovers for the next day.
    Baby lamb rumps, or in this case a Chicken leg...

    It is so simple, quick prep, into the oven and plonk down in front of TV with your favourite tipple. while it cooks away
    A virtual one pan cook, Less dishes you say?
    Yes, indeed

    Recently I have been cooking my chicken, as I learnt from Thomas Keller of
    The French Laundry, fame.
    Purely season and cook
    Lovely crisp skin, very moist chicken, just the way I like it
    I will post his instructions for a whole chicken, shortly

    The Vegetables.
    Just cut them into small cubes, everything will cook at the same time

    I had some chicken fat in the fridge, extra chicken flavour, so I used that, but normally I would use Olive Oil

    So for my Roast Chicken I used

    1 Chicken Maryland (leg)
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
    1/2 a capsicum any colour, cut into cubes
    1 red onion large chop
    Olive Oil or Fat of your choice
    Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

    Frozen Peas

    Pre-Heat your oven to 200C
    Add a good slosh of Oil to your roasting pan
    Pop it into the oven to heat the fat
    Throw your prepared vegetables into the tin
    Season with S & P
    Toss well

    The idea with the chicken, is to keep it dry and let it cook in its own fat and juices
    So pat the leg dry, with a paper towel
    Season it well , both sides with salt and pepper
    Place on top of your vege

    Into the oven
    Cook for 25 minutes
    Remove and toss the vege around in all of the chicken juices
    and shuffle the chicken so that it is flat on the pan with all the vege around the sides
    so that they will all brown
    Back into the oven for another 10 minutes
    Slip a sharp knife or metal skewer into the leg, the juices should run clear
    Remove and let rest for about another 5-8 minutes.

    Meanwhile while they are resting
    Cook your frozen peas in the micro wave
    Should take about 2 minutes on high
    Throw into the pan and mix
    Serve, This chicken was so moist, I ate every single little bit.
    Yes I did have leftover Vege, They are going to be in a pasta dish.

    Perfect Roast Chicken - Thank you Thomas Keller

    Every morning,  recipes arrive into my email box, from the Bon Appetit/Epicurious Website
    So every morning I scan down to find something of interest.
    One that caught my eye, was
    The Perfect Roast Chicken, from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook

    I’d love to reprint it, as I love his descriptions,
    but I may get in trouble
    with copyright.
    So here in my words, is how to Roast a Perfect Chicken
    Courtesy Thomas Keller

    Take one 1.5Kg Free Range Chicken
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Chopped thyme (optional)

    Some important points to note
    First you must dry the chicken completely...
    Inside and out
    The idea is, the less the chicken steams, the drier the heat,
    The better the chicken

    Season the chicken well inside, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Secondly: Truss the chicken
    You don't have to be an expert to truss
    just make sure the wings and the legs are close to the body,
    this makes a great shape and the chicken can roast evenly

    Pre-heat your oven to 220C/ 450F
    Rain sea salt over the chicken and grind some pepper over the top
    You should see those flakes on top

    Place the chicken into a roasting pan and place in the oven

    Do not touch it, just let it cook for 50-60 minutes
    Check after 45 minutes don't want to overcook it
    Best way to test for “doneness”
    Just poke a skewer into the leg
    Hold there for about 10 seconds
    The juices should run clear
    Put the skewer to your lips
    it should be hot
    Not quite right,
    back into oven for a few more minutes

    Remove from oven
    Place thyme (if using) into pan and baste the chicken
    Baste with the thyme and chicken juices

    Let sit on cutting board for 15 minutes to rest

    Remove the twine and break up into pieces
    The aroma is divine, it’s so hard not to rip into it and eat it all by yourself

    So unselfishly,
    Dish out good portions to your guest/guests
    Serve with a simple green salad, maybe some simple boiled potatoes
    So so simple in fact!!!

    Guaranteed a huge success

    n.b. Thomas Keller slathered the chicken with butter, before serving, but I did find that made the skin a little flabby
    So in my wisdom. Serve as is.
    I want some right now

    Monday, November 30, 2015

    An Excellent Chocolate Cake

    Always looking for a recipe to feed several people. Namely The Staff at St Andrews
    I found this on a previous post 
    I got this recipe from my daughter Katie
    She found it in a Cook book called The Cake Bible
    It is very moist and delicious.
    At this time, I just served it as it, but I think it lends itself to being cut in half and filled with say some whipped cream, or you could do a layer of the icing
    That also would be good

    My friend Catherine gave me this great hint.
    Warm your sugar before creaming. It makes life so much easier.
    Try it…it works
    So you need

    Also as an addition, I added a cup of Craisins
    I love their citrusy bite

    125 gms softened butter
    2/3 cup sugar warmed
    ½ cup icing sugar
    2 eggs room temperature

    1 ¼ cup SR flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    ½ cup cocoa
    Pinch salt

    1 cup Craisins

    1 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Heat oven 180C
    Grease and flour your tin.
    I like to line the bottom with a circle of baking paper.

    Cream butter and sugars
    Add eggs one at a time
    Beat well

    Sift dry ingredients
    Add Craisins to the dry ingredients
    Mix milk and vanilla

    Add dry ingredients milk mix alternately

    Bake 40-50 minutes check after 35 minutes cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean
    I found it took 40 minutes in my oven
    Let cake sit on a rack for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out and cool.
    It’s important that the cake is cold before you iced.

    I was going to make a Ganache icing but I didn't have any cream, so I searched the net for
    an icing made with Chocolate Chips and Icing Sugar
    I found this one on Food and it worked
    Doesn't have the fabulous dark colour of a Ganache but tasted good
    This is Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
    3 cups icing sugar
    1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, 
    beat the butter until light and smooth. 
    Beat in the icing sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

    Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and place over a small pan of barely simmering water. 
    Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. 
    Remove the pan from the heat. 
    Add the melted chocolate to the vanilla frosting and stir until smooth.
    Ice your cake
    When I originally made this cake I frosted it with a raspberry frosting and filled it with berries 
    It looked beautiful, so if you would like to see that
    Click here

    I see there is an interesting Savoury Tea cake on that same post. Nice to serve with drinks