Its no Bula…

So it is almost back to work time for me- it has been a wonderful three months writing and sharing my passion for good old home style cooking!

Mr Lid and I are off on well deserved Holiday this week, and rather than spend my days writing the blog I will be drinking cocktails and eating as much raw fish as I can stomach!

Have NO FEAR tho- seeing as I knew I would be heading away I have come up with this post. It is long and for four different recipes- they are super easy and oh so yum. You can choose to read this all at once… or split it up over the week… or read it EVERYDAY! I hope you enjoy this as much as I had fun making all these dishes…

I hate getting stuck in a rut. Some times I find that if I have the same ingredients in the fridge I find myself automatically making the same thing week in week out. Which is frustrating if someone in the family likes but does not love this particular dish.

I also find that if you make too much of said same old dish the left overs are never eaten with such enthusiasm as they should be.

What if I told you I have a great combination of items that you can make many a meal out of. All of them different.

All you need to do is make a big batch, split it into however many of the following dishes you want to make and viola you have made several different meals out of one base dish.

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Spinach, pumpkin & Two cheeses

Pumpkin- Diced and roasted

Spinach- Fresh or Frozen (if frozen defrost and squeeze out the excess water)

Equal quantities Cream cheese & Cottage cheese

Pinch Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

Mix everything together- season to taste and eat!

You can add some chilli, paprika, fried onion, garlic… anything you like.

Seriously I love this stuff cold, hot, warm, on a cracker or transformed into the following dishes…

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Fritters

Take some mix

Add Egg and mix well.

You can add cumin or other spices to your desired taste.

Fry till golden on both sides and finish in the oven till firm.

These are great as a lunch, or as a canape for a party- just garnish with more cream cheese or sour cream

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Mix

Mushroom

Simple really- stuff the mushroom with some of the mix, you can top with some tasty cheese if you like.

Bake in the oven till top is golden and the mushroom is soft.

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Meatballs with a spiced Carrot and Tomato sauce

Beef Mince

Mix

Cumin, Ground Coriander, Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

(I would have added some Cinnamon if I remembered to buy some)

Fry a little mix in a pan to test the seasoning.

Roll into balls and pop in the fridge till the sauce is ready.

Carrot & Tomato Sauce

Grated Carrot

Grated Celery

Grated Onion

Grated Garlic

Tinned Tomato (chopped)

Tomato paste

Smoked Paprika, Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Nutmeg/Cinnamon

In a splash of oil fry the grated vegetables and spices, once soft and fragrant add the tomato paste and cook out- about 5 min. Next add the tinned tomato, cinnamon quill and a splash of water.

Taste, checking seasoning- might need a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity in the tomatoes.

Next pop in the meat balls and cover with a lid. On a medium- low heat cook for about 40min turning meatballs every so often.

If sauce is getting too thick add more liquid- either stock or water, if its getting too watery take the lid off and let reduce.

Serve with couscous and cheese. I made cauliflower rice which is a great way not to have carbs.

Cauliflower Rice

Head of Cauliflower grated

Steam your grated cauliflower with, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of water with the lid on for a few minutes, until the

cauliflower is tender but not soft. Drain any excess water and taste for seasoning. You can add a little bit of oil or butter.

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Vegetarian Lasagne

Make your favourite tomato sauce add cooked Quinoa to make the meaty layer, use the pumpkin spinach mix to form the white layer. Layer as you would a lasagne- red, pasta, white, pasta, red etc- cover with grated cheese and parmesan and bake.

I cover mine with paper and then tin foil, Bake at 180c 30min uncover and bake another 30min till golden and bubbly.

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Vinnies

I love finding a bargain.

In fact the other day Mr Lid and I saw something on sale and we had the following conversation…

Mr Lid “Hey look at that, its on sale, we should get two”

Mrs Pot “We don’t need that”

Mr Lid “Yeah I know, but its on sale and you always buy things on sale”

I don’t think its just me, I think it is in every womans DNA to want to get a bargain.

This brings me to our Dinner at Vinnies by Geoff Scott the other night, they do a experimental menu on a Wednesday night that is 7 courses for $70 well worth a nosy I say.

Vinnies is in Aucklands Herne Bay, Chef Owner Geoff Scott trained in London under Albert Roux at Le Gavroche before working in Italy and France before finally landing a job working for Alain Ducasse at his Michelin three star restaurant ‘Le Louix VX’ Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.
Geoff creates modern New Zealand cuisine using respected French cooking techniques, inspired by classic Kiwi flavours and combinations.

The atmosphere is lovely with fantastic art on the walls show casing New Zealand artists, at the moment the work of FLOX are displayed and they are amazing!

It was weird when we arrived as we got asked if we wanted a drink at the bar while we waited for the rest of our table to arrive.. we were led to the bar which had two seats next to a fireplace, lovely and warm but in the main walkway from the kitchen- weird.

The wine list is not huge and it is not cheap- most wines sold by the glass were $13 and over- we managed tho.

The food- this is where I get excited, I know Geoff, and I know his food and it is lovely- he is very good at what he does and loves his job which shows in the little plates of art that we were presented with throughout the evening.

The Amuse Bouche (small taster to get your taste buds warmed up) was a Leek and Potato mousse with crisp leek and black sesame seeds- it was light, tasty, a gorgeous texture and set the tone for the rest of the evening

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First course was Gruff Junction goats curd with Nashi pear and mixed leaves with a burnt honey and lavender dressing- it was lovely and fresh the honey and goats curd are a match made in heaven.

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We were then served a homemade sourdough roll which was warm and crunchy, but to me a little out of place being served between courses not at the start of the meal?

Next up something Geoff was going to work on a bit more so it could be put on the menu- we were glad he said he was going to work on it more as it needed it. Don’t get me wrong it was lovely- Lightly confit Duck finished in the oven on a Hazelnut and potato mash with beetroot and white balsamic gel- it looked like art on a piece of slate instead of a plate- but it was stone cold and not a hint of hazelnut to be found.

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A sharp and most refreshing palate cleanser of Lemon granitas was presented getting us ready for the main.

Now the main was seafood. A bit unusual, lucky we all ate seafood!

Scallops on a Kingfish mousse with a crab foam (I had had a few wines by now so my remembering of descriptions was less that desirable) baby leeks and watermelon radish. the scallops although small were perfectly cooked, the Kingfish mousse was wonderful and lemony it was like eating air and not overly fishy, the sauce I liked but others on the table found it a bit too crabby? And if anyone ever offers me watermelon radish again I might pass as to me the texture was less than radish more week old watermelon.

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Now onto the sweets-Walnut bread, Quince paste and a Triple Cream Brie- the walnut bread tasted a bit stale and when paired with the cheese an overwhelming taste of socks comes to mind… the table was split two voted ‘yay’ two voted ‘nay’

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Pudding was yummy! It was a warm cake of Apple and spices with small balls of caramelised apple and a toffee sauce, served with sourcream ice cream- it was not too sweet, it had caramel and was dessert so I was happy.

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And to round the meal off- tea with a Yuzu Marshmallow. Yuzu is a Japaneese citrus and I love the stuff it is so tart and flavourful it makes anything taste good- and the texture of the homemade cubes of cloud were perfect.

The night was great, the wine was delicious, the food was fresh and tasty although not as experimental as we thought it would be, but that is Geoffs style- nothing too weird just really good. The seven courses- well if you count there wernt really seven, is a shotglass of shaved ice really a course? Worth the $70 tho and we even got a futher discount after using our Entertainment card- YESSS !




http://www.vinnies.co.nz/

 

 

If you could eat Debbie Harry… I bet she would taste like this…

Sometimes inspiration is found at the weirdest times…

On Friday we are heading away on a wee holiday, some real relax time before I start back at work the start of September.
Looking through the fridge today I know I have to use up all the odds and ends before we go because our house sitter won’t clean out our fridge- that’s my job – sad face

There has been 3/4 of an avocado just sitting there for around two weeks now- I have tried to entice MrLlid to have it on his toast in the mornings with marmite but alas he is a butter fan…

So again it’s up to me..

Mmm fudgie brownies is what I have a hankering for but alas no dark chocolate in the house- for a change! Typical!

We do however have white chocolate- of which I am not the biggest fan- too sweet… unless… its mixed with peanut butter… Light bulb moment!

Love those!

White chocolate and peanut butter blondies with avocado instead of butter! Drool

White Chocolate & Peanut butter Blondies

125g Coconut Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

100g Mashed Avocado

150g Peanut Butter- I used crunchy

165g/ 1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup

2 Eggs (large)

1tsp Vanilla

100g White Chocolate- cut into chunks

As easy as mixing everything together, putting into a lined 8″ square tray, smoothing out and baking.

170c 25-30min

I melted about 100g of White Chocolate and mixed in 2Tbs Peanut Butter and smeared this over the brownie- yum.

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Better than Bread.

I am unsure of anything that is better than a deep dark rich moist fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of orange.

I am sure that a healthy gluten free deep dark rich moist fudgy chocolate cake with a hint of orange that uses up last nights cooked Quinoa is better.

Thanks right, its full of good protein, great fats, no gluten or dairy and packed full of flavour!

Quinoa Chocolate and Orange Fudge Cake

2 cups Cooked Quinoa

5 Eggs

1/4 cup Honey

1/2 cup Agave nectar (if you don’t have any use Honey)

1 cup Orange pulp

(left over from making orange juice- or boil whole oranges for 2hours topping up water regularly cool in the water, strain and blend)

1/4 cup coconut oil melted

1/4 cup Rice bran oil (can use Coconut oil instead)

1 cup Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Coconut Flour

1Tbs Baking Powder

pinch Salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl till well combined. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake 180c 45-60 min. Best to check after 45min- if skewer is not coming out clean bake for longer- I trust you)

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Almost better than sex

I Love chocolate bars.

In saying that, they hate me, so I never buy them.

Those boxes of bite size bars are fun and a great way to just have a taste, if you can stop at just one.

I have really been enjoying trying out recipes for making chocolate bars at home- healthier versions.

I came across this homemade Twix recipe and WOW I can not stop eating them- although it tastes more like a caramel peanut crunchy chocolaty thing than a Twix.

It keeps great in the freezer- and when eaten frozen it is chewy and wonderful.

Bars of yumness

Base

1/4 cup Rice Syrup (found in a health food store)

2Tbs Peanut butter

1tsp Vanilla essence

Pinch of Salt

1 1/4 cups Puffed Rice Cereal

Mix all the wet ingredients together and heat till it bubbles and is melted together, add the Rice Cereal and mix till well combined.

Tip into a grease proof paper lined tray, with wet hands spread to cover the base of the tray. Put in the freezer to firm up.

Date Caramel

1 1/2 cups Pitted Dates (if hard, cover in hot water till soft then strain)

1Tbs Peanut butter

1Tbs Milk/ or Almond milk (you may need more)

Pinch of Salt

Place all Caramel ingredients in a food processor (or you can use a blend stick) and blend till rather smooth- you may need some more of the milk to help it blend, carefully spread over the base and put back in the freezer.

Chocolate topping

2 Rows of Chocolate (I like to use Dark 72%)

1tsp Melted Coconut oil- optional

Melt on medium power in the microwave till smooth- use the back of a spoon to spread over the Caramel layer.

When the Chocolate is almost set cut into small bars. Store in the freezer and eat, everytime you walk past the freezer.

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http://ohsheglows.com/2012/10/25/homemade-crispy-twix-bars/

Aint no party like a Chicken Nibble party

What I love about Family, is over the years without trying they develop traditions that get passed down from generation to generation. You can choose to embrace these traditions or not. No pressure.

You can make slight changes as the years go on and make the tradition your own in its own special way.

If you have ever been to a special occasion at my Parents house you will know ‘chicken nibbles’ make a party, and over the years special occasions at my sisters house or even my own the star of the show is and all ways will be ‘chicken nibbles’.

Cards night with the boys= chicken nibbles.

Girls night on the town= chicken nibbles

Birthday party whether it be a 1st or 60th= chicken nibbles

House warming, dress-up party, engagement, anniversary, watching the rugby or just a Sunday night.

These small yet perfectly formed morsels of chicken are tasty moist flavour explosions that in our family is one tradition I think will go on forever.

I do not have precise measurements, I never have, what I like about these is you can add what you like quantity wise to suit your taste.

Worlds yummest Chicken nibbles

Garlic
Ginger
Worcestershire sauce- dash
Honey (1/4)
Tomato sauce(1/2)
Soy sauce (1/8-1/4)
These are just a guide it really is to taste- I like to add different hot sauces for a bit of zing- mix marinade and toss through chicken nibbles and leave to macerate for an hour or even over night, spread on a tray (lined with paper makes cleaning up easy) and bake 180c for about 40-60min turning once during cooking. if there is marinade left over you can either baste the nibbles while cooking or boil in a pan and pour over once cooked. You can sprinkel toasted sesame seeds to finish.
It is a must to eat these with fingers, and a big saucy grin to finish.

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In the words of Tony the Tiger

Its Grrrrrate…

 

Another tool I could not live with out in the kitchen is my Microplane. The Microplane is a soft handled Zester/Grater that originates from woodworking tools.

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It is not cheap- you can find it for around $30-50 but I tell ya it is so worth it!

This grates even the hardest Parmesan Reggiano as well as other hard cheeses into fine lacy wisps. It’s also wonderful for effortless citrus zesting to add natural flavours to a lime buttercream or a basic vinaigrette, it grates fresh ginger and garlic with ease taking the fuss out of making any asian dish, Chocolate, anything- seriously this thing grates anything.

The blade is made from surgical grade stainless steel and has a comfortable plastic handle.

Dishwasher safe.
Cover included.
Dimensions: 30cm x 3.3cm

http://www.homestore.co.nz/cms_display.php?st=1&sn=24&pg=254&cat_id=45&product_id=14167

http://www.livingandgiving.co.nz/kitchen-and-food/preparation/graters-and-peelers/microplane-red-handle-zester/grater-5029447