Summer salad time

Every afternoon I come home home sit on the couch, laptop at the ready to write something witty, tantalising and interesting about a new experiment I’ve had in the kitchen, my head buzzing full of ideazzzzzzzzz and I promptly fall asleep for what I like to call nap time.

I am not 4, I should not need a nap, but I do.

I start work at 5:25am Monday to Friday- I am not making excuses but well, yes I am.

I have a strict system in the mornings… Alarm goes off at 5:05- I hit snooze and the race is on- the snooze is not a luxury it is a timer… Clothes on, hair up, teeth brushed, lunch packed, kiss Mr Lid goodbye and out the door before the snooze goes off, that’s 10 min to get ready- I’m quite proud of that!

As I mentioned on my Facebook page (here is the link https://www.facebook.com/Mrspotandmrlid?fref=ts just in case you weren’t following me on that form of social media- which would be awesome if you liked and shared with your friends) The last couple of weeks have been hectic hence the lack of posts- so I have taken a day off work to spend in the kitchen creating yummy things I can share with you.

I will start with the salad I had for Lunch- it was light, super quick, easy and delicious..

Roasted Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

Asparagus

Strawberries

Baby Spinach leaves- or any salad greens

Balsamic vinegar

Honey

Seeded Mustard

Oil (anything with a mild flavour)

Bend the asparagus and where it breaks naturally is where  the woody end separates from the tender goodness of the rest of the spares. Cut into bite size pieces- put in a bowl and add strawberries (cut in halves if big and remove the green) add in some oil and salt and pepper toss to coat- put on a baking tray and bake 180c for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.

You want it just tender as it will continue cooking after removed from the oven.

Make a dressing from the balsamic, honey, mustard and oil and sprinkle some over the warm roasted asparagus.

Layer the salad greens (I like baby spinach) and roasted mix adding more dressing if needed.

This salad is yum as it is or for a real treat crumble in some zesty goats feta and crunchy toasted almonds or hazelnuts..mmmmm

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Did you say Avocado?!?

So the Girls are coming for dinner and seeing as it is spring and summer is just around the corner a decadent chocolate dessert may be just what we feel like but not what we need if you catch my drift… so vegan and almost raw it is, and it doesn’t get much better than this. There are a million recipes on the web, this is my version, serve it with some cointreau macerated orange segments for a real doozy of a boozy dessert.

Vegan Orange and Chocolate Mousse

2 Ripe Avocados

3-4Tbs Agave Nectar

2Tbs Homemade Marmalade

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

Blend all ingredients together- if the mousse is too thick add some liquid (rice milk, almond milk or any liquid you like)
Taste- adding more of individual ingredients till you think its the best tasting thing ever.

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Made this morning- scone by the afternoon

I had a hankering this morning for scones.

I was meeting my sister and her soon to be three year old twins at the park for a play then a coffee- what situation is more suited to turn up to with freshly baked scones than this?!

These scones were not your ordinary scone, they were AMAZING- even if I do say so myself! And if you cant take my word for it then take my Mums- because she also loved them.

Those of you who know my Mum know she is a straight shooter who is not afraid to say what she thinks whether its nice or not- and today it was very nice- so nice she told me to take them all home with me when I left or she would eat them all, and that would be bad for the diet!

They were practically good for you as I made them with Extra Virgin Coconut oil instead of fatty butter, they were sweetened with unrefined molasses sugar and had glorious chunks of dark chocolate and tart dried cranberries dotted through the moist and crumbly layers, perfect for a mid morning snack with a hot cuppa .

Vegan Scones

3cups Plain Flour

2Tbs Baking Powder

80g Extra virgin Coconut oil- hard

1/2cup packed Molasses Sugar

Pinch of Salt

With finger tips rub the above ingredients together till there are no lumps of oil (it should look like bread crumbs). This can also be done in  the food processor.

I used Dark Chocolate chunks and Dried Cranberries but you could use white chocolate, dried cherries, orange zest, dates- anything your heart desires.

Mix flavourings into the dry mix and stir till mixed evenly.

Lastly add Rice milk (or any milk you like- almond milk would also be good, or coconut milk) slowly until the mix starts to come together- how much milk – enough so that when you fold to combine no dry flour is left at the bottom of the bowl- if you make it too wet- add some more of the magic mix -too dry add more milk.

Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and cut into 8 portions.

Put onto grease proof paper and bake 180c till a skewer comes out clean- 20-40minutes.

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The Tasting Shed.

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday and a perfect day for a leisurely drive to the country.

Seeing as just going for a drive is boring and usually ends in me sleeping uncomfortably instead of enjoying the scenery. The promise of good food and company is a motivation for the 20minute drive to Kumeu, further if you aren’t lucky enough to live in lovely West Auckland like us.
The Tasting Shed was our destination and man oh man I have been looking forward to eating there for a long time.
A table reserved on the undercover deck kept us sheltered from the weather, toasty warm and still able to look at the lovely outdoor area.
The idea behind the tasting shed is a variety of small plates that are meant to be shared- the menu isn’t huge but it is a wonderful blend of the exotic and usual proteins as well as some of the most delicious sounding vegetable dishes I have read in a while.

I find it very hard to go past something different on a menu- I love trying new things, it keeps eating exciting- is that a weird thing to say?

Mr Lid and I weren’t necessarily starving but when there were so many tasty things on offer our tummies always loose to our eyes.. or do our tummies win?!

The Lamb Belly: cumin, harrissa, eggplant, cucumber and mint-  a most exquisit piece of Lamb Belly that had a thin crisp layer of fat that gave way to a melt in your mouth tender morsal of meat that was juicy and nomnomnom, the cucumber was refreshing and tangy with natural yoghurt but where oh where was the harrissa? I was expecting a spicy kick mixed in with the eggplant but alas it was lacking.

There was no way I was going to miss out on the Stingray, asam laksa, prawn, coconut, puffed rice, coriander- I love Laksa, spice and soup two of my favourite things. The soup was nice, not the best Laksa I have had and the Stingray was almost as dry and tough as its 1965 namesake Stingray (its a British children’s Supermarionation television series if you don’t have a clue what I am talking about just smile, nod and keep reading ) but the prawns were cooked to perfection and the coconut foam was a delightful refreshing twist.

The Market fish was Snapper, scallops, parsnip puree asparagus- winner! I had to fight it off Mr Lid to get a second tasting, the fish was moist and showcased the delicate fish of every kiwis childhood.

Artichoke, jerusalem, mushrooms, truffle, parmesan, lemon- what a stunner of a vegetarian dish- so simple but perfectly balanced the sweet smokey silky smooth puree of jerusalem artichoke topped with a medly of exotic mushrooms with a earthy hint of truffle, seriously comforting and something I would go back for.

I could go on describing what the others at the table ate- yes it was all tasty but nothing can compare to the desserts.. I have to write about them now as just thinking about them makes me salivate…

Mr Lid is a big kid at heart… or a Granddad.. I am unsure of which as when it comes to  pudding he is rather predictable and the icecream in a cone was his go to on this day- a lovely homemade raspberry ice cream that was slightly tart and almost sorbet like which was a lovely way to cleanse after such a meal.

I however could not go past the Cheese cake! Goats milk, rhubarb, lemon curd ice cream… Wow.

It was oh so trendy and deconstructed, a crunch from the biscuit crumbs, the lighter than air goats milk foam (that reminded me of my sisters cheesecake- you know the one made with lemon jelly?) The ice cream was creamy but not fatty- it was just yum.

Over all I would love to come here on a sunny day with a sober driver and eat great food and drink good wine till i pop. It is however not cheap, in fact its a little expensive, it is a little hit and miss but when it hits it is a bulls eye!

Lovely place with friendly staff and some of the nicest bathrooms I have seen in ages (the things you notice when you are about to start renovations- haha)

 

 

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Muesli bars are so last year…

Well we are about half way through Sober September. You can look at it one of two ways… we have around 15 days to go… or we have successfully detoxed for 15 days.. the good ol’ glass half empty or full.

It is amazing how much money we have saved over the last three weeks! I have been making a big pot of vegetable soup for Mr Lid to take to work instead of popping down to the shop to buy a salad or a sandwich usually ending up in  quick $15 spent without the bat of an eyelid.

We face a few challenges this weekend with Mr Lid away for a night on a work conference (poor man, with all that temptation of a breakfast buffet, fancy dinner and free alcohol) We have a mates 30th on the weekend which is dinner and drinks then a catch up Lunch with friends to round out the weekend… sometimes it is easier to hide away but man does it get boring! Don’t get me wrong I love spending time with Mr Lid I also like to talk to other people too!

One thing I find hard about detox is when the clock hits 3:30 in the afternoon, the dreaded three thirtyitis sets in and sugar cravings start, day dreams of chocolate and naughtyness.. mmmm

But I have made the yummest bar of goodness that is chocolaty and jam packed full flavour and it keeps you full till dinner time- and to make it even better (how can it get better I hear you say?!) it is naturally sweetened, gluten free, vegan and oh so goooood

Energy bars

2 cups Dates (chopped)

1/2 cup Prunes

1 1/2 cups Water

Bring above ingredients to a simmer in a pot till the water is almost gone and the fruit is mushy, you can use the mix like this or blend till smooth.

1 cup Ground Almonds

1 cup Raw Cashew nuts (roughly chopped)

1 cup Desiccated Coconut

1 cup Mixed Seeds (Sesame, Pumpkin, Sunflower)

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries (or diced Apricots)

3/4 cup Cocoa Powder

Put everything in a bowl and mix. Add Date and prune mix to the bowl and mix well- you can knead with your hands if easier.

Put into a paper lined tray and press down till flat and even. Leave to set in the fridge. Cut and eat. You could also roll into truffel sized balls and roll in coconut for a snack on the go or to have for a more fancy afternoon tea.

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Short and simple

I have so many recipes for salads they by far out number the number of interesting things I have to say.

Below is a lovely Quinoa and Roasted Beetroot Salad, with fresh oranges and toasted Walnuts, it is fresh, tasty and filling.

Roasted beetroot and orange salad

Beetroot- diced and roasted (I like to add some garlic, fresh herbs when roasting)

Orange segmented (juice squeezed out for the dressing)

Spring Onion- Finely sliced

Mint

Toasted Walnuts

Cooked Quinoa (with a touch of Cumin)

Dressing

Lemon juice

Oil

Orange juice

Cumin

Honey

Garlic crushed

Cider vinegar

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Everyone loves a good strapping…

Family is very important to me, and so are Birthdays, who doesn’t love a day dedicated solely to them?!

Growing up my Mother has made sure that we are always surrounded by Family, and Birthdays always had a big deal made about them, a party for friends and then a gathering of the Family, this is definitely something I want to carry on with, with Mr Lid.

The other day was my Mums Birthday, and it broke my heart to know how much she misses her Family, with only a Brother left who now lives in Australia with his lovely wife and Awesome kids, we miss them so much. It kinda makes special occasions bitter sweet, but with a little extra effort the day can be wonderful.

My mother has never been much of a foodie, she loves wine and cigarettes leaving food to take a back seat… In saying that she loves to graze, crackers here, gherkin with cheese there, salad, toast, eggs she loves eggs!

So when it came to mums birthday having brunch followed by afternoon tea was obviously the right decision.

So that is what we did, afternoon tea full of her favourite things- cheese scones, a selection of egg and cheese and onion finger sandwiches, peanut brownies, cupcakes for the kids and a black liquorice toffee for the adults all washed down with a glass of bubbles- perfect!

I looked long and hard for ages to find a home made recipe for liquorice- surprisingly it is not a thing many people make at home- it is a bit of an effort but for the last week I have been unable to walk past the container without breaking off a piece of tooth shattering salty black beauty…

Black Liquorice straps

120g Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sugar
½ cup Dark corn syrup
½ cup Sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup Blackstrap molasses
⅛ tsp Salt
¾ cup Plain flour
1½ tbs Anise extract
1½ tsp Black food coloring

Line a square baking dish with parchment- I lightly sprayed mine with cooking spray.

Bring butter, sugar, syrup, milk, molasses, and salt to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer until temperature reaches 130c.

Remove from heat and stir in flour, extract, and coloring; pour into pan. Chill until firm, 30–45 minutes.

Invert onto a cutting board, peel of paper, and cut into thin ropes; twist to shape. Place on baking sheets; chill 20–30 minutes until set.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Homemade-Black-Licorice