Sunday, July 13, 2014

Best Meatless Lasagne - Thumbs up from my Dinner Guests

I don’t know how I found this site Moodie Foodie and decided to keep this recipe, but I’m so glad I did
It made the tastiest sauce.
Jay The Blogger said it fed 6... there were only 4 of us and we ate it all
Jay is more about lighter calorie food than me.

I have upped the fat content, but I still think it is pretty healthy
If you want to be gluten free, use eggplant or potato instead of pasta
And cornflour instead of wheat flour

Also there was plenty of sauce.
Enough for me to freeze for another day
So for Vege Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g field mushrooms, finely chopped
160g (1 large) onion, chopped
200g (3) celery stalks, finely chopped
180g (1 large) zucchini, finely chopped
100g (1 large) carrots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1½ cups stock, chicken or vege
60g (1/3 cup) red lentils
2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper

Bechamel Sauce
50 gms butter
1 small onion, finely sliced
50 gms flour
1 cup stock
1 cup whole milk

1 packet lasagne sheets, preferably the no pre-cooking kind
½ cup grated tasty cheese

For the best result with the vegetables, I chopped them in the food processor
I also do this when making meat sauce, particularly when cooking for kids who are a bit fussy.

Spray a largish rectangular casserole dish with oil.
I used a 30 x 20 cm dish this was perfect for the lasagne noodles that I used
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan and add mushrooms, onion, celery, zucchini, carrots and garlic with a pinch of salt.
Cook on a medium-low heat for 8 minutes until softened.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, lentils, oregano, bay leaves and sugar
and bring to the boil.
Check for seasoning,
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until fragrant.
Remove bay leaves.
Stir through parsley.

While vege sauce is cooking, make the Béchamel:
In a non-stick (if you have one) saucepan, heat oil on low.
Add onion with a pinch of salt.
Cook for 6-8 minutes on low until onion is softened.
Add flour and continue to cook for a minute or so until flour has been incorporated. Remove saucepan from heat and slowly whisk in stock and milk.
Return pan to the heat and bring to a simmer,
Simmering for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens.

To assemble lasagne:
Slap a good couple of spoonfuls of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish and top with a layer of lasagne sheets.
Top with 3 large ladlefuls of the sauce, This should cover the dish
Add another layer of lasagne sheets,
Then half the Béchamel.
Another 3 large ladlefuls of the sauce
Another layer of lasagne sheets
Top with the remaining Béchamel

Heat oven to 200°c

Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil, sprinkle over the cheese 
Continue to bake a further 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Serve with a big salad and you’ll be happy all night long.

I reckon some Garlic bread would also be a great accompaniment
And that way you could feed 6 people.

For great Garlic Pizza Bread  click here

Pizza at it's Homemade Best

I decided to repost this Pizza recipe, as the other day I made some wonderful Pizza Bread
It is really simple and perfect to having with lovely comforting soup with this miserable weather we are having here in Auckland.
When I looked for this post for the recipe, I noticed there were the photos of our time on the boat.
Definitely worth a re-post
Wonderful Summer weather.
Not too far away...only a couple of months...oh maybe 3
So here we go
Hi my first post for 2008 
This my version for the easiest So Simple Pizza
We are still on board Cajun Moon where we have spending the last month in the sunny and not so sunny (as it turned out this year) Jewel of the North Whangaroa Harbour. A beautiful and unique place.

How's this for a sunset?
But back to Pizza
Step by step
You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn for this bread
Max time: 1 hour 15 minutes... from whoa to go
I have this down to a fine art and feel really confident that anybody could get the same results.
i.e. to get the water to the correct hand hot temp 2/3 cold water 1/3 just boiled water.
This is the right temp for our granddaughter’s mouth and perfect for bread making
You learn something everyday

! cup high grade flour (if you have Italian 00 more’s the better)
1 pkt 8g dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Approx 100 mls warm water prepare 200 mls just in case…some days it may take more
It’s important that the dough is not dry

Place flour in a large bowl
Add sugar, yeast and salt
(making sure the salt and yeast are not together
Salt kills yeast)
So add about 100 mls of water and mix till the dough comes clear of the bowl
Turn out onto floured board and knead about 1-2 minutes
Till dough is smooth
Place back into the bowl which you have oiled and toss around to coat the dough
Cover with tea towel or plastic wrap.
Leave till doubled in size about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature
Pull away from sides of bowl

Turn back onto floured board and knead it well about another minute
Flour the rolling pin and roll into shape and place in oiled pizza pan
Now I do have a stone and a peel on board
and they have been well used, particularly by our son when he is on board but I think to myself… the pizza shop guys use these pans…why not me.
I sit the pan on the stone though to get maximum heat
On this occasion I just wanted to make pizza bread so I brushed an excellent olive oil
Over the top
Into a very hot oven and it should take anywhere around 10 minutes

It doesn’t need to be brown that makes it too crispy this is just perfect
Sliced into 6 pieces and served it with some beautiful tomatoes seasoned with sea salt and pepper and a drizzle of the good extra virgin olive oil
Some nice soft Castello cheese white and blue. Glass of crisp white wine.Lunch fit for a king.
To make Garlic Pizza Bread
Before you place it in the oven make a paste
Using 2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
A slosh of olive oil
Sprinkle with sea salt
Again about 8-10 minutes in a very hot oven
Perfect to have with anything really

Of course most times we add toppings.
This pizza I topped just simply with
Fresh tomato sliced
Spring onion chopped
Grated cheese (your choice...this was a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)
3-4 artichoke hearts
And few dashes of hot chilli sauce

It's so good I am going to make it again today

Friday, July 04, 2014

What to Do with Mushrooms - Make Soup of Course

It's Saturday and fine... but windy and cold

A sandwich just won't do and also we have some muffins left over from the other day
In the fridge were some Mushrooms
Ooh, Mushroom and Bacon Soup seems like a good idea
Warm buttered Muffins on the side
What could be better than that

 First you need to render some streaky fatty bacon
To get the fat to sauté the onions and also to have some tasty bacon bits to top the soup

To make a good hearty lunch for 2

4 rashers streaky bacon
1 red onion chopped
200 gms mushroom
Chop 2/3 of them and keep the rest to slice and add at the end

Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian Herbs
100 mls white wine
1/4 cup flour

2 cups chicken stock  (I used low salt)
50 mls cream (optional)

The sliced Mushrooms
Slurp of Olive Oil
S & P
Chopped Parsley 

Into a cold pan add the bacon
and cook over medium heat till the bacon gets crispy
and the fat has rendered out
Add onions
Cook till soft not brown
Remove bacon, chop and set aside for garnish
Add chopped mushrooms
You won't need any salt at this stage the bacon will cover that but a
Good grind of Black pepper is just perfect
Plus add the herbs
Toss in white wine and simmer till it is nearly all absorbed
Takes about 10 minutes
Add flour
Stir well to combine
Cook gently for about 3-4 minutes to get rid of that raw flour taste
Add chicken stock stir well and bring to boil
Transfer to a pot
Simmer for about 15 minutes

Saute the sliced mushrooms in olive oil
Set aside

Put soup into Blender
Whiz till smooth
Return to pot
Add cream

Bring back to boil and then
add reserved mushrooms

Ladle into bowls
Garnish with chopped Parsley and Chopped Bacon

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Best Hot Pumpkin Soup, with some Tasty Courgette and Carrot Muffins

It’s Winter...what is better for lunch on a bitterly cold day but
Hot Soup and Muffins straight from the oven

I have been making this Pumpkin Soup for years... got it out of the Triple Tested Cookbook
Of course I had to play with it a bit... using the ingredients I had in my kitchen
With a little curry and chopped bacon, it just really gives ordinary old Pumpkin Soup a lift

I like to use Buttercup Squash, a nice dry pumpkin, you don't have to peel it
the skin is really tasty and it’s very orange
But you could use butternut or any other pumpkin

This amount will serve 4 for a good hearty lunch
6 as a starter

500 gms squash cut in small chunks and seeds removed

Pop into micro wave for about 4 minutes to start cooking process
Or you can bring to boil in salted water and simmer about 10 minutes
You can then use that water as your stock

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 rashers bacon chopped
1 large onion peeled and chopped
1 kumera, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Water or stock

Add oil and bacon to a medium pot
Cook until bacon starts t crisp
Add onions
Season well with S & P and curry powder
Cook till translucent
Add chopped kumera
Stir well
Add the pumpkin which should have softened nicely in the microwave
Mix up so that all the vege are covered with the spice
Add a little more S &P
Cover with water or stock

Bring to boil
Simmer till all vege are soft
Into a blender
Back into pot
If too thick add more water to your liking
Check for seasoning and adjust if needed

So this morning, I decided toast wasn’t good enough to have for this lunch
Some Courgette Muffins would be good
so I looked up a recipe on the net and found this one on
The recipe is attributed to Nick Coffer,
Thank you Nick, this is a keeper

Absolutely delicious
What a good way to get vege into kids

Makes 10-12 muffins (dependent on the size of your muffin tins)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

125g extra-mature grated cheddar cheese (worth
buying extra mature as it adds to the flavour)
225g self-raising flour (I used high grade flour with 1 heaped tsp of Baking powder
175ml milk
55ml olive oil
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

1 large carrot, grated
1 large courgette, grated

Note: make sure you squeeze out the courgettes and carrots to remove any excess liquid
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/ 400ºF/ Gas Mark 6

In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour, cheese, carrot, courgette.  
Add in the oil, milk and egg and
stir it all together to form a smooth, slightly gloopy batter.
Lightly grease the muffin tins with oil and spoon the mixture in evenly,
about 2/3 the way to the top of each tin.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
The muffins are ready when they are risen, golden on top and fairly dense to the touch. Leave them to cool for a few minutes before serving them warm.

They keep well in airtight containers and can be warmed through in the microwave for 15 seconds before eating.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Particularly nice Lasagne

Our friend Mary was coming around to watch the rugby
What better to eat out of a bowl on your lap but Lasagne
Also, I had all of the ingredients handy
Which is excellent when one is housebound

I actually went to quite a bit of trouble with the components and it paid off
Ready to go into the oven

The Meat Sauce
One of the tricks for this very rich sauce was the addition of 250 gms of mushrooms
Also another,  was I whizzed up all of the vege in the  food processor
This is a great idea to disguise vege for the fussy kids in the family
And a secret extra... a dollop of ketchup

Added to the meat sauce, I also went to a little bit of extra trouble and instead of just dumping in a tin of tomatoes
I turned it into my special tomato sauce
One other difference was the addition of Buffalo Feta instead of Ricotta
I bought this from a local market
Actually it is from Bulgaria

What a stroke of genius
Salty sharp
You can use ordinary soft feta of course
By the way
There was enough meat sauce to set aside and freeze for another day

So you will need these ingredients
Meat sauce
500 gms Mince
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion peeled and rough chopped
1 carrot roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery roughly chopped
250 gms mushrooms roughly chopped
Red wine1/2 cup
1 Cup beef stock, I used a stock cube
2 tablespoons of your favourite ketchup

Tomato sauce
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 can tomatoes
Sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Bechamel sauce

75 gms butter unsealed
1/4 cup flour
750 mls whole milk, infused with a bay leaf
Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
1/2 cup grated cheese

150 gms Buffalo Feta

Packet lasagna sheets

Meat sauce
In a pan on medium heat add olive oil
Meanwhile throw all of the vege into the food processor and whizz till they are finely chopped
Add to olive oil season with S&P
and sauté till soft

Meanwhile in another pan over high heat
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown the mince
Season with S&P
Add to the vege
De-glaze the meat pan with red wine
Add to vege
Along with beef stock

Tomato sauce
Sauté finely chopped garlic in olive oil
When soft add the tomatoes
Season with S&P and sugar
Simmer for about 5 minutes to develop the flavour
Add red wine vinegar

Add to the Meat  Sauce and simmer everything for at least 30 minutes
The sauce will be very rich and dark
Add the ketchup and you will be amazed at the little lift it gives the sauce

Put aside

Make the Bechamel Sauce
Warm the milk with a Bay leaf and some freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a pot
Add flour
Sir and cook out the flour for about 2-3 minutes
Season with sea salt
Add all of the warm milk and stir till sauce is thickened
If there are any lumps don't panic just whisk and they will disappear

Don't forget to remove the Bayleaf
Take off the heat and add grated cheese

In a gratin dish
Spread 2 tablespoon of the cheese sauce
Place lasagne sheets
Add meat sauce
Sprinkle over 1/3 of the feta
Lasagne sheets
1/2 of the Béchamel
Lasagne sheets
Meat sauce
Then 1/3 of feta
Lasagne sheets

To the renaming Bechamel add a beaten egg and the remainder of the feta
Pour over the top

I made this the day before and popped into the fridge, covered with foil
Take out of the fridge about an hour before you need to cook it
Pre heat oven to 180C
Bake for about 30 minutes
Take off foil and cook for another 30 minutes
Till golden and bubbling

Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving
This makes it easier to cut

Guaranteed to please
Now I used the remaining Meat Sauce
For a Pasta dish for dinner last night

Just topped with grated Parmesan Cheese

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Ginger-Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies - Something different

What I love about these cookies, is the classic combination of Chocolate and Ginger
and then... the addition of the tang of the craisins
So full of chocolate
They are so moreish
I just ate 2 in a row

Bit piggy, but I couldn't help it
This recipe, I have stolen from Ming Tsai and his Simply Ming Programme where he combined Ginger and Cranberries
This is a keeper
With your favourite Coffee

There is also a yummy fried rice, using this combo 
I will post that later

Makes approx 24 cookies

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
125 gms butter
1 extra-large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
225 gms chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries


Pre-heat oven to 165C degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter. 
Add egg, vanilla and ginger and mix until combined.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. 
In a second large bowl, combine cranberries and chocolate chips. 
Starting with flour, alternate flour and cranberry mixtures until dough is thoroughly combined. 

Using a tablespoon, portion cookie dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased bake sheet
(you can line with parchment, if you like).

Bake for 10-12minutes, or until cookies are golden brown and underside is the same.
They will feel moist on top, but will harden as they cool.
Let cookies cool on bake sheet for 5 minutes, t
hen remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Carrot and Mango Soup? Who would have thought?

One of the things that happen to you when you are a bit housebound.
You improvise.
I had a look in my fridge and found a couple of carrots, a kumara (sweet potato) and 1/2  mango
I make Carrot and Orange Soup frequently. That is a good match
"Why not Carrot and Mango?"
It really was delicious and will be a keeper in our family.
I decided that I would also add a potato just for a little extra body
This amount served 3 people

50 gms unsalted butter
1 med onion peeled and chopped
2 carrots washed and chopped
1 small Kumara, peeled and chopped
1 med potato peeled and chopped
1/2 mango peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1.5 Litres Chicken stock

Garnish  (optional)
Chopped parsley 
Little Cream

Melt the butter in a pot
Add onions  season with S & P
and cook till translucent not brown
Add the carrots, kumara and potato
Season again with S & P and coriander

Gently cook until they start to soften a little
About 5 minutes
Cover with Chicken stock

Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes
Till Vege are tender

Transfer to a blender
Add Mango to the mix
Whiz till smooth
Back into pot
Serve and garnish with chopped Parsley and a tablespoon of cream

Guaranteed excellent, with some toast or as we did with some fresh Ciabatta

Monday, May 26, 2014

MKR Auckland- Brothers-in-law Dan and Chris Top Our Ladder

My Kitchen Rules Wrightson Noble Style

Yesterday it was family lunch celebrating Katie's birthday
As Dale and I are finding it a bit difficult to get around at the moment, it was decided to hold the lunch here at our apartment
The usual family suspects were present
And the timer was set
The entree was Pear, Rocket, Walnut and Goats Cheese Salad
Accompanied with some HomeChrisgrown Beetroot

First on the plate
Finely sliced Pear and Beetroot

Then Rocket, Chopped Walnuts and Topped with Torn Goats Cheese

Drizzle over your favourite Vinaigrette
Best with a sweeter Vinegar
i.e. Apple Cider or Balsamic

They did well took a bit of time plating, that might need a little work if they wish to cook again
I scored them 9/10 takes a lot to get a 10 out of me

So onto the Main course Gumbo DanManStyle

Many years ago we did a trip  New Orleans
Found the New Orleans School of Cooking
I loved it so much, that on our next 4 visits, as we introduced many friends to this wonderful town
we returned and did the 2 hour course every time.
Very popular.

We learnt all About The Holy Trinity
Onion, Bell Pepper and celery
This is the base of many Cajun dishes
The king of which, is Gumbo
The recipe we were given from the NO School of Cooking is the one we base all of our Gumbos on

Dan came twice with us to N'Awlins and he has embraced the food as well...
I have to say he makes a damn fine Gumbo
He has played a little with the original recipe on this occasion
Below is the original
You must make this…it is wonderful and so so simple
One really important ingredient is
Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast): 
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika 
2 tablespoons salt 
2 tablespoons garlic powder 
1 tablespoon black pepper 
1 tablespoon onion powder 
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 tablespoon dried thyme Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
This will keep for ages in an airtight jar

I am very proud of my Gumbo its pretty good.
I use chorizo sausage…andouille is not that easy to come by here.
I also like the 'heat' in the chorizo.
Also I don’t use file or okra…sorry, it's a bit slimy for me

Making the Cajun Roux is different from the original French Roux.
It is made with oil (authentic cooks would use lard) and cooked for quite a long time to get the colour you desire.

They taught us the quicker high heat method and I find this the easiest.
This recipe will yield 15 or so portions.
Great for a crowd.
1 cup oil rice bran not olive oil
1 chicken cut up
3 tablespoons Emeril’s Essence
3 large chorizo sausages
1 cup flour
4 cup chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped green and red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
8 cups stock
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 cups chopped green/spring onions
600 gms green prawns

Dry Sherry to be served at the table
Cooked rice (optional)

First prepare the vegetables
When the roux is cooked you need to add it immediately, to the Vege and stop it from scorching.

First place the chopped vege in the pot you are going to cook the gumbo in.

Season the chicken with essence and brown in oil
Pop into oven and cook for about 15 minutes
Remove till cool enough to handle and break off from bones.

Slice chorizo and brown in pan remove and set aside.
Strain this beautifully flavoured oil from chicken and chorizo and strain out bits.
Top up to 1 cup to start the roux.

The Roux

Heat oil till just smoking
Add flour all at once and whisk.
Keep on whisking over high heat we are aiming for a nice brown roux
This will take about 5-8 minutes to get the desired colour.
The roux funnily enough doesn’t thicken just gets browner.
If it looks like it is about to burn take it off the heat for a minute or two whisking all the time

This is the perfect colour for me
Now throw it immediately into the vege

Cook until vege soften

Add chicken and sausage to pot
Gradually stir in stock and bring to boil
Reduce to simmer and cook for and hour or so
Best to make it to this stage in the morning. The longer it sits the better

There is quite a film of oil on the top and I remove that just before I add the prawns and spring onions.
So remove the oil bring back to the boilAdd prawns and spring onions
Cook for 10 minutes and serve.

You can serve with boiled rice but I prefer to have it as is like a soup rather than a main course

Its fab

Dan served his with Black Rice cooked in Chicken Stock, very nutty and tasty
Go The Boys

To top off the lunch
We had a Donna Hay ChrisManStyle Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart

    •    ¼ cup (25g) Dutch cocoa
    •    1½ cups (225g) plain flour
    •    125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
    •    ½ cup (80g) icing sugar
    •    3 egg yolks
    •    1 tablespoons iced water
    •    sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Salted Caramel
    •    1 cup (250ml) single (pouring) cream
    •    50g unsalted butter
    •    1½ cups (330g) white sugar
    •    ½ cup (125ml) water
    •    1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Dark Chocolate Ganache
    •    150g dark chocolate, chopped
    •    ½ cup (125ml) single (pouring) cream

To make the Salted Caramel, 
Place the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over low heat and cook,
stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. 
Place a sugar thermometer in the pan increase the heat to high. 
Bring to the boil and cook for 10–12 minutes, without stirring, 
or until the temperature reaches 150°C and the mixture is a deep caramel colour. 
Remove from the heat and working quickly,
Add the salt and cream and butter mixture
and whisk to combine.
Return to the heat and cook for a further 2 minutes or until thickened slightly.

For the Pastry
Place the cocoa, flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor
and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
With the motor running, add the egg yolk. 
Add the iced water and process until the dough just comes together.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently bring together to form a ball. 
Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C. 
Roll the pastry out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm-thick.
Line a lightly greased 24cm round loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry.
Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
 Line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper,
fill with baking weights and bake for 15 minutes. 
Remove the paper and weights and
bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is just cooked. 
Allow to cool in the tin. 

Spoon the salted caramel into the tart shell and refrigerate for a 2–3 hours or until set.

To make the Dark Chocolate Ganache, 
Place the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat and
cook, stirring, until melted and smooth. 
Allow to stand for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel and refrigerate for 1–2 hours or until set.

Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.
Serves 6–8.

It was divine and served with some Whipped Cream to cut back the richness

In fact by the time we had finished the meal I reviewed my score and the
Brothers-in-law from Auckland went to the top of the ladder with a perfect 30/30

Take a miracle to beat that