Saturday, May 27, 2006


After dinner, we love a cup of filter coffee.

Our preference is the medium / dark roast from Origin Coffee which is "Sourced directly from the Muljane district in the high-altitude Shire Highlands of Malawi, this central African country's principal crops are tea and tobacco. Company director, Roger Sheppard, is a former South African plantation owner and coffee grower who personally selects the best beans of the crop from private estates to be imported into New Zealand, roasted and then packaged - ready for fresh delivery throughout New Zealand and the world!"


Check the ingredients

Always check that what you put in is what you think you are putting in!

We made a stunning pudding and served it up expecting rapturous compliments.

People were eating it but pulling faces and glancing looks and questions off each other. Eventually someone asked "Is this pudding supposed to be salty?"

The penny dropped! We used salt instead of sugar, The containers were both open and we were rushed.

One ruined pudding. A group of embarrassed chefs. A group of guests that were far too polite.

If in doubt, stick your finger in and taste!

Quick apple tart

1 sheet sweet pastry
1 tin pie apples

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes.
Remove the blind and bake for another 5 minutes.
Spoon in the pie apples, sprinkle over the sugar and syrup and bake for another 5 - 10 minutes.
Serve with custard, cream or ice-cream.

Quick lasagne

1/2 kg mince
Chopped garlic and ginger
Herbs and spices
Chopped onion
3 Tbsp tomato puree
Packet soup mix - tomato or onion is best
1 tsp beef stock
Worcestershire sauce
HP sauce
2 cups hot water
3 cups lasagna squares - NOT lasagna sheets
Cup grated cheese


2 tsp cornflour
Cup milk
2 eggs
Cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Pour boiling water over the lasagna and leave for 5 minutes. Mix the ingredients from the mince to the HP sauce together. Add the hot water and combine together.

Layer in ovenproof dish as follows:


Bake for 50 minutes.

For the sauce, mix ingredients together and pour over lasagna bake. Bake at 160 degrees C for 10 to 15 minutes or until set.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tools : Knives and spreaders

We bought these from Alison Holst

To quote:

"Serrated Knife

We find these knives unbelievably useful and we're sure you will too! They are perfect for cutting cooked meats, ripe fruit and vegetables, and slicing bread and baking. Treated carefully, these blades stay sharp for years. The serrated 110mm blade is rounded at the end with a black (dishwasher-proof) nylon handle, each knife comes in an individual plastic sheath.


After our knives, these must be the most used tools in our kitchens! With a comfortable plastic handle, metal shank and flexible plastic blade (suitable for use on non-stick surfaces), these are excellent for mixing muffin batters, stirring and scraping bowls, spreading icings, turning pikelets etc., etc...."

We can only agree - we like the knives so much we've got lots of them!

Aside : Red-hot pokers in the garden

Nothing like some vibrant colour to pierce the winter gloom.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Chocolate tart

1 sheet sweet pastry

50 g butter
250g dark chocolate - 70% cocoa is best - chopped
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
3 eggs
pinch salt

Bake the pastry blind in a oven-proof pudding plate at 180 degrees C for 15 minutes and then remove the blind items and bake for another 5 minutes.

In a double boiler, melt the butter, cream, chocolate, salt and half the sugar. Stir until almost melted and then remove from heat and keep stirring until cool.

Beat together the eggs and the rest of the sugar until pale - about 2 - 3 minutes.

Fold together with the melted ingredients and then gently fold in the ground almonds.

Bake at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes or until cooked.

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

Warning dear reader - this pudding is both moreish and very rich.


Some stale bread - 1 or 2 slices
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp beef stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp HP sauce
1 egg
1/2 kg mince
Herbs and spices
1 tsp garlic and the same for ginger

Sliced red pepper and tomatoes

Remove the crusts, cube the bread and soak in the milk.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl - hands are best.
Make into 4 large patties.
Place on a greased oven tray.
Cook for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees C. Check regularly as it burns quickly.

Serve on toasted buns with mayonnaise, tomato sauce, the sliced red pepper and tomatoes.

Hamburgers may not be gourmet cooking but home-cooked hamburgers are an order of magnitude better than the fast-food variety - and you know what went into them.

Check the oven

Rule number 1:

BEFORE you turn the oven on, check inside to ensure it's empty. My youngest child put her chips in a plastic bowl in the oven.

My eldest child turned on the oven before she started cooking without looking inside.

You can imagine the rest!

Rule number 2:

Refer to rule number 1.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Basic ingredients

Just about every main dish we cook starts off with the same basics:

Sweated onions, garlic and ginger. Gives the food colour, richness and a depth of flavour.

We often also add a dash of balsamic vinegar - this often puzzles people who ask "There's something in here that I can't quite put my finger on". You know the feeling.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Aside : Some vireyas in the garden

Nothing like a bit of colour in winter!

Spices as required

You'll see this dear reader in quite a few of the posts.

That's because half the fun is experimenting. The recipe is not going to be ruined if you substitute some cumin for coriander or leave out the chili!

Play around - that's half the fun.

We don't like bland food, we always add some kind of herbs and spices and we don't cook with salt. That can be added as desired when you tuck in.


Life is too short to eat bland food
Variety is the spice of life (pun intended)

Jam steamed pudding

50g butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 egg
Grated rind of 1 lemon - juice optional
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp jam - more if sweeter topping desired

Cream butter and sugar
Add lemon rind and egg and beat in
Sift in flour with milk
Place jam at the bottom of a pudding basin
Spoon batter over
Steam in a pot of boiling water for 1 hour - remember to place basin on top of a saucer to keep off the bottom

Serve with thinned syrup, custard or cream.

Chicken pie

1 sheet puff pastry
6 mushrooms
1 onion
500g cooked chicken
150g frozen vegetables (thawed)
150 ml cream
Spices as required e.g. cumin, fengureek, coriander

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Cook mushrooms and onion until soft
Add rest of ingredients and heat
Put all ingredients into pie dish, cover with rolled pastry (remember to make some holes so steam can escape)
Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is browned

Monday, May 08, 2006


1 Burrito kit
1 onion
Chili beans

1/2 kg mince.
1 onion

Brown the onion and add the mince. When almost cooked, add in the burrito mix and 1/2 cup of water. You don't want the mince to be too "wet".

Grate some cheese, chop tomatoes and lettuce finely.

Warm burrito in microwave for 1 minute.

Assemble mince, salsa sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and chili beans inside burrito, fold over and enjoy.

Chocolate self-saucing pudding.

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour.
2 Tbsp cocoa
50 g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence


2 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water

Heat oven to 180 degrees C

Sift cocoa and flour. Soften butter and work into flour. Add the sugar and stir.

Beat in egg, milk and vanilla essence with dry ingredients to form a stiff mixture.

Scoop into greased 6 cup oven-proof bowl.

Mix sauce ingredients and pour over pudding. Pour over inverted spoon to avoid making a hole!

Bake for 45 minutes or until ready.

Serve with cream or ice-cream.

This pudding has as many recipes and variations as grains of sand on the beach. If you want lots of sauce (and isn't that the point) use more water. Don't let this pudding stand more than 5 minutes because the pudding will gradually absorb the sauce!

This is the first recipe my eldest child made entirely on her own!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Winter season

This is a seasonal thing which belongs in winter. In summer, the days are warm and long and most Saturday meals are cooked on the BBQ.

So look for lots of stews and warm puddings - perfect to fight the chill on those cold, long , dark winter nights where you can hear the wind howling outside and the rain lashing at the windows.

And you long for comfort food, food that's going to warm the cockles of your heart. Food that gives you a warm, inner glow as you cuddle up to the heater.

So keep reading ...

Mini apple pies

Roll out a sheet of sweet pastry to fit the bottom of a baking tray.
Mark into eight equal pieces.
Place tinned pie apples in the centre of each piece and sprinkle with sugar.
Roll and place another sheet of sweet pastry over the top.
Cut pastry to form eight pies. Press edges to seal.
Cook at 220 degrees C for 15 minutes.
Serve with cream or ice cream.

Moroccan chicken with almond sauce

Fry onions and peppers until soft.
Add some garlic and ginger, herbs, cumin, coriander and some Moroccan meat rub.
Add a tin of flavoured tomatoes.
Simmer until cooked.
Add about a cup of ground almonds. This thickens the sauce.
Place chicken drumsticks in a dish, cover with sauce and cook for about 45 minutes at 160 degrees C.
The almond sauce is filling so rice or potatoes is not really needed.


My kids really enjoy it. They cook every Saturday to give Mum a day off. Maybe some of these recipes will inspire others to pass onto their kids their love of cooking.