Two Fifteen…

I have said it before and I will say it again I love a bargain.

Getting a three course meal for two people, for the low low price of $85 is fantastic. In fact I don’t know why all restaurants don’t jump on the band wagon- because I do not  know of one couple who would go out for a nice meal and not buy a drink or three or in this most recent case Mr Lid and I had 3 glasses of wine each and some sparkling water…. making what was meant to be a nice $85 evening a $185 evening, but not an eye lid was batted as it was still a great meal and well worth it.

Two fifteen on Dominion Road has been around for 5 or so years having recently-ish been taken over last May by a lovely couple who now work the floor, it has won some accolades in the past the most recent being Metro top 50 Restaurants in Auckland.

The food was simple, tasty, un complicated, generously portioned,yet under seasoned and  at times trying a bit too hard.

I would go again if just for the bread to start served warm, very chewy with a wonderful crust and the smokiest smoked butter I have ever tried- it was amazing and a lovely way to start the meal.

Mr Lid and I had a hard time choosing starters- we opted for the scallops minus the pork belly which came with a lovely pickled fennel and celeriac puree, and the air dried beef which while plentiful  was weird served with mash and a poached egg? Somewhat lacking in texture and well ummm finesse.

Mr Lid had the Beef main which was Huge, a real mans meal, again a large portion of mash and lacking texture it was gone in a flash and Mr Lid seemed rather happy with his choice, I had the snapper fillet with a herb and prawn risotto- the fish was moist and delicate (served with the skin on which I like but it was soggy not crisp which I find a waste of time) the risotto was a tad firmer than I like yet tasty and again a pinch of salt during the cooking would have made all the difference.

Dessert was decadent the chocolate dolice was rich dense and oh so moorish served with the classic vanilla ice cream and some dry pointless sponge and raspberry coulis, and Mr Lids Apple and Blackberry crumble was HUGE, nothing special although tasty in a nanna kind of way.

If only the chef had known the rule of the world’s most elegant woman, Coco Chanel, was said to have advised the following when dressing with accessories:

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

This rule can be applied to food… especially at Two Fifteen…

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My names Baba… BabaGanush

When I was 19 I had the amazing experience of living in Israel for 9 months. Travelling the whole country from the Golan heights to Eilat , I have hundreds of stories and a million memories.

I spent alot of time in Jerusalem, staying in the Old City for most of it, trying all the traditional food on offer and some of the not so traditional, one place I remember was Bonkers Bagels, freshly made bagels smothered with lox and cream cheese or smeared in Chatzilim typically known as Babaganush or Eggplant dip.

Coming back to New Zealand trying store bought Babaganush after Babaganush I lost all hope of ever finding the smokey slightly tangy creamy dip… until I made my own.

The memories of coming home at 1am after nights of drinking sweet kosher wine or some sort of alcohol that could quite possibly have been petrol, stopping off to get a tub of Babaganush and some slightly stale bagels to help soak up some of the 100%proof … ah to be 19 again.

You don’t have to be an eggplant lover to like this dip, like I said, it is smokey, garlicky, lemony and creamy and oh do delicious!

Babaganush

4 Eggplants

1-4 Cloves Garlic

2-3 Lemons juiced

3-5Tbs Tahini

Prick the Eggplants all over and place on open flame till they start to blacken- the longer you leave them the more smokey the end dip will be. Place on a rack over a tray in the oven till the Eggplants are deflated and soft, remove from the oven and cover the tray with tinfoil or cling film for 10min. Once the Eggplants have cooled a bit remove the flesh from the chard skin and place in a food processor.

Depending on your tastes add remaining ingredients till you have reached a lovely balance and a creamy consistancy, at this stage the dip is Vegan.

You can leave the dip as is or add in some optional: Natural yoghurt, Mayonaise, Sour cream.

These give a more mellow flavour and make the dip go futher.

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Bits and Pieces

I hate it when you have people over for a BBQ and there isn’t any room in the fridge for a big salad, yet you don’t want to make it and leave it out at room temp on a stinking hot day, and you also don’t want to miss out on having a cold drink with your guests because you are stuck in the kitchen making the salad.
What to do!? What to do?!

Or coming home from a long day at work and having to pull everything out of the fridge to make that salad you crave?
Yet a pre made salad never lasts more than a day- wilted lettuce, soggy tomato.. What to do?! What to do?!

Make a bag of bits.
Easy!

I like to cut all the goodies that go in my favourite green salad, keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge, all ready to be layered with the greenery of choice to make a fresh, crisp, delish salad…

Ideas for bits:
Radish
Cucumber
Courgette
Capsicum
Spring onion or red onion
Tasty cheese (feta is a bit too soft for this- but easy to add after)
Mung beans
Whole cherry tomatoes (cut tomatoes are too messy- best to add later)
Carrot
Raw broccoli or cauliflower
Just to name a few!!Cut everything into salad size pieces, put in a plastic bag, mix around and keep in the fridge till you want to make your salad. All you need to do is layer the bits with your favorite greens- or not- after all the bits are the well best bits 🙂

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Short & Savoury

Summer is totally about quick, easy, fresh and tasty.

So over the next wee while that’s what I’m gonna give you.

There may or may not be a lot of reading involved on your behalf- which means there may or may not be a lot of writing on my behalf- it also means more time for you to spend out on the deck in the sun eating a yummy salad and drinking a crisp Pinot Gris…

I love raw broccoli- slightly spicy, great texture and such a beautiful colour.

Raw Broccoli and Cranberry Salad

Raw Broccoli – cut into small pieces- kinda like couscous

Toasted Almonds

Dried Cranberries

Your favorite vinagrette (balsamic, oil, seeded mustard, honey)

Mix everything together and enjoy- seriously it is that easy!

This is also great if you add some chilli flakes for a bit of heat, or avocado, feta, wild rice even red rice for texture.

Happy Wife, Happy Life…

Over the weekend my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary!

Every time I think about it, I have to pinch myself, 40 years… thats a life time.. thats longer than my life time… Mr Lid and I just celebrated 8 months of marriage- my parents have been married 50 times longer than us!

So for such a special occasion we had a family picnic on the beach, not just any beach, it was the beach where we as kids spent most of our summers as it was where my Grandma and Granddad used to live, on the hill over looking the water, it is a place that has such strong memories for me, family, summer, food… Which really made it a lovely afternoon, the kids running in the water and playing in the sand (well crushed up shell), the adults drinking bubbles, catching up and eating way too much food.

For such a relaxed Summers day I thought what better sweet treat for dessert than a Hazelnut meringue.

Light and slightly chewy, smothered with a layer of dark chocolate to give a bit of bite, soft juicy slightly tart Strawberries and lashings of vanilla whipped cream- layer it all together and you have a wonderful dessert to share with friends and family.

Hazelnut Meringue

5 Large Egg Whites at room temperature (I like Free range egg whites)

275g Caster Sugar

2tsp Cornflour

160g Toasted Hazelnuts- (shells removed, cooled, chopped)

Heat oven 120-130c fan forced

Prepare the trays for the meringue before starting- I drew two large rectangles on baking paper to fit my trays, lightly grease trays and place baking paper drawing side down (you will still be able to see the outline- you just wont get pen/pencil in your meringue)

Whisk whites in a large clean dry bowl till firm/stiff peak (when the whisk is removed the whites should stand to a peak without falling over).

One Tablespoon at a time whisk in the sugar, till glossy, when rubbed between two fingers you should no longer feel any graininess of the sugar.

Fold in cornflour and Chopped Hazelnuts till well combined.

Once the meringue is ready divide onto the two paper lined trays and gently push mix to the edges of your drawn outline.

Make sure the meringue is even.

Bake 40 minutes then swap the trays over so that they cook evenly, bake for another 40 min, turn the oven off, leave the door slightly open and leave to cool. I keep my meringues in the oven till I need them- just make sure the kids don’t play with the knobs, or your husband doesn’t try to make you dinner and ruin your meringues!

To finish off my meringues I melted some dark chocolate and covered the two flat sides of the meringue (carefully turn the meringues over, peel off the paper)

Next layer vanilla whipped cream and sliced strawberries (or any berries) carefully place the second meringue chocolate side down on top of the other meringue. Cover the top with more cream and berries and chocolate if you like.

This is great for a crowd or if you are feeling fancy you can make individual meringues and layer them for a amazing dinner party dessert (if making small meringues the cooking time will vary).

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Everything Slaw

Sometimes you just crave flavours and textures, on a warm afternoon as it starts to cool down with the setting sun I crave something fresh, crunchy and light yet creamy and amazingly tasty.

At this time of year salad vegetables are a plenty so you can add in or leave out what ever you like- and the dressing… well i could eat it on anything… it would go wonderful on a cold japaneese noodle salad with toasted sesame seeds and even some grilled chicken…

Everything slaw with Creamy Asian Avocado dressing

Carrot

Red Cabbage

Radish

Cucumber

Red Onion

Bean sprouts

Capsicum

Coriander (mint would also be lovely)

I like to cut the vegetables in long thin pieces like a traditional coleslaw.

Toast in a dry pan a selection of nuts and seeds, I used:

Cashews

Sunflower Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Creamy Asian Avocado Dressing

Avocado

1 small clove Garlic- finely grated

1/4tsp Ginger- finely grated

Small handful Roquette or Spinach

1Tbs Tahini

Tamari/ Soy sauce to taste

Sesame Oil

Juice 1 Lime

Salt

Optional- Chilli

Blend everything till creamy- Adjust flavours to desired taste

Add a little water to thin if you want to use as a salad dressing.

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Who dunnit?!

Murder mystery success!!

Mr Lid and I hosted a 1920’s themed murder mystery night- if you have never done one- do it!

We had a really interesting mix of friends all from different groups and wow! Give someone a character to play, a murder to solve and dress up galore throw in some cocktails and you have one great night!

I searched high and low for an authentic punch recipe from the 1920s this one was delish with a little tweek- I will definitely be making this to drink in the sunshine over summer!

Pomegranate champagne punch
2 tea bags steeped in 500ml hot water- after 3-5min remove tea bags and leave to cool, I used pomegranate and apple herbal tea it was amazing
750ml bubbles
500ml soda water
1cup sugar
1/2cup water
4Tbs brandy
2Tbs spiced Rum
2Tbs Triple Sec
Mix sugar and water bring to the boil for 10min then let cool- if too thick add more hot water.
Once tea is cold add spirits, bubbles and soda water, and sugar mix to taste…. Drink on a sunny day with good friends

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