Local Heart, Global Soul

April 3, 2012

Step-by-Step to Perfecting an Almost Perfect Pavlova!

Filed under: FOOD,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Step-by-Step Tutorials,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)I'm taking a little break from our Art Deco Tour of Napier because I promised you a short while back that I was going to experiment with my mission to make the Perfect Pavlova.

For me personally, “perfect” means that it has to contain some chewy caramel texture in the bottom and the edges of the outer crust and whilst I understand the workings of some of the ingredients, in my attempts with various recipes so far I couldn’t always get them all to play happily with each other when I put them together.

First I made a different recipe that involved pouring boiling water into the beating egg whites…this went contary to every Pavlova recipe I had ever seen before but Yes, after a while the sloppy mess in the mixing bowl puffed up just like it should and after an hour in a low oven it made a lovely tall pavlova with tons of soft marshmellow on the inside…

…but for me it was a definite fail… not a milimetre of chewiness anywhere and no real ‘crust’ on the outside to speak of (ok, there was a tiny bit).

I do know that adding a decent amount of cornflower (cornstarch) to your mix is what gives a pavlova’s outer crust thickness, but it’s also what makes it prone to cracking and collapse because as it cools, the different thicknesses and dryness of the various parts of the pavlova contract at dfferent rates.

This makes cooling your pavlova as slowly as possible essential to keeping it more or less intact. Ideally generations of New Zealand pavlova experts  recommend that you should make your pav the night before you want it, bake it in a low oven in the evening before you go to bed and once  it’s cooked just turn the oven off and let it cool off overnight.  You don’teven disturb it by opening the oven door to take a look!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My problem is that I’m often a spur of the moment pav baker…

…even an hour or two before dinner… so a nice slow cooling period is pretty well shot out of the water.

Oh well… never mind this IS a case of not judging a book by it’s cover  becuase I accept that my Pavlova will crack and collapse but at least it taste fabulous!

Ingredients:

6 egg whites

(take care that there are absolutely NO flecks of egg yolk in this or the mix won’t beat up to stiff peaks)

1 ½ cups white caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons cornflower (cornstarch)

Serving suggestion: top with whipped cream, peeled and diced fresh fruit.

Preheat your oven to 180 C  (350 F) and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the baking rack in the oven just a little lower than centre.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Six separated egg yokes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(the following photo should  just be white castor sugar but when I measured it out the container was almost empty and I didn’t have enough, so I needed to add some icing sugar (powder sugar) to top up the amount I needed. I wouldn’t  recommend using icing sugar though!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Beat the egg whites and add just one Tablespoon of sugar from the 1 ½ cup of caster sugar to it and beat for a minute or two then add a second  Tablespoon of sugar and beat, repeating  this pattern until all of the sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites. It sound fiddly but adding the sugar  slowly  like this will improve the texture of your Pavlova by making it lighter and should increase the volume.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst you are adding the caster sugar bit by bit, add in also the cream of tartor, vanilla, vinegar, and cornflower so that you will eventually have bought the egg whites to a stiff peak stage with all of the ingredients combined into them. (My second hand Kitchen Aid is the best bargain I ever got and takes all the hard work out of this for me)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Heap the beaten egg whites onto a baking tray and try and using a metal spoon, smooth it into a round form wthout flattening any of the air out of the mix. It’s important not to “over handle” the mix at this point.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Place the baking tray into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 120 C (250 F).
Cook for 45 minutes and then turn the oven off.  Don’t open the oven door!  just leave it in the oven and let it cool very slowly (prefereably overnight). The photo of it cooked is at the top of the page.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Remove your cold pavlova from the oven,  gently spoon whipped cream into the top and top it with fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries and kiwifruit are traditional) but I also use any soft fresh fruit: pineapple, manderines etc if the summer fruits are not in season.

Don’t despair if you Pav collapses in spite of an overnight/long cool off , it will still taste magnificent and the damage will be covered with whipped cream and fruit anyway!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Prepare for an invasion of instant and ravenous friends  if you broadcast that your pavlova is ready !
… and what to do with leftovers?  You are joking aren’t you?  There never are any!

March 3, 2012

Step-by-Step Bread in Your BBQ!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My cousin “P” in Christchurch, New Zealand is a fellow Foodie. He’s got a large BBQ that has a close-down lid which he and his wife “G” use ..to bake bread!

Having proved his dough he asked Kiwi Daughter if she wanted to make some shapes before putting it in the oven.

She tried her hand at a plait (braid), a smilie face and a knot that didn’t quite knot. (or should I have maybe phrased that instead as a “knot that knotted not” ? )

Soon all the pieces were ready to be put onto the unglazed tile that was already pre-heating in the BBQ, then a lid went down and we let it do it’s stuff.

A very short time later, Et Voila! Freshly baked bread… very hot out of the oven… we let it cool a little and then dig in with “P’s” home-made dukka and some olive oil.

Kiwi Daugher wants to help me when I attempt to make bread back in The Netherlands. We will have to do some improvising since our BBQ doesn’t have a lid.

I forsee some tile hunting will be necessary too and maybe our oven will have to surfice, but watch this space for Kiwidutch’s first steps into bread adventures sometime in the future. Let’s see how Kiwi Daughter’s first efforts fared…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yum!!!

December 2, 2011

Felt Christmas Ornament, the Kiwidutch Version…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s the beginning of December and for many western countries the shops have the  Christmas decorations out,  the background Carol music on and are cranking up their offerings of merchandise  to reap  the commercial benefits of the Christmas festive season.

I love the Christmas festivities too, but prefer to try and keep things  low key and true to the origonal spirit of  Christmas as much as possible by emphasising the value of gifts that are handmade with love, time and patience.

Tasks 11 and 12 on my “101 Tasks in 1001 Days”  project  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/about/101-things-in-1001-days/   are to make a handmade Christmas tree decoration for each of my two children, each year.

Many of my decorations in the past have been cross-stitched: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/stitching-ornament-heirlooms-for-kids/ but I’ve been branching out into felt ornaments in the last year and fancied making something a bit different  than cross-stitch  ones for a change.

Then I stumbled on a craft post on the internet that got me thinking… Jessica Okui  at  http://zakkalife.blogspot.com/2009/11/craft-project-felt-christmas-ornament.html  made a beautiful Christmas decoration from felt, ones that echoes a design of  paper or card decoration designs I have seen around  for years.

I liked the idea of working it in felt, but there were a few points about Jessica’s version that I still felt I wanted to tweek for my version.

First I knew I wanted all the edges of my ornament  to be stitched. Secondly, I knew I  wanted to stitch the two pieces of felt next to each other that radiate directly from the top and bottom of the ornament instead of leaving them oen as they are in Jessica’s version.

Lastly, I wanted not just to stitch the  sections together with thread but also to add beads. Shiny, sparkly beads, to twinkle in the light of tree lights.

So… here is a Step-by-Step tutorial of  the Kiwidutch Modified Version of a Felt Christmas Ornament.

Materials:
– 6 circles cut from felt  (mine each measure 6-7 cm / 2 inches across).
– Beads of your choice
– Needle that will fit through your beads. (a sharp needle goes though the felt easier than a blunt one)
– Embroidery thread of the colour of your choice ( mine match either the bead or the felt or both)
– Thread in contrasting colour  (for basting)
–  Decorative cord or ribbon for hanging up your ornament (20-24 cm / 6-7 inches)

Method:
1) Cut six circles of  felt fabric in the colour of your choice. I die-cut mine but tracing around a small jar lid would work just as well.

2) Place two of the circles over each other and with a contrasting basting thread, make a loose line across it vertically and horizontally, effectively making your circle into quarters. Then, still with your basting thread, divide each quarter in half again so that you finish with two circles of felt sewn together, and marked out in eighths.( This sounds more complicated when it is, the photograph below with the white circles and blue thread should make it clear).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

3) At the top of one of the basting lines, and stitching through both layers of felt,  attach a bead then blanket stitch the two edges together until you reach the next basting line,  add another bead, blanket stitch to the next basting line and add the last bead.  You will now have three beads attached with blanket stitch joining the sections between them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

4) Repeat step (3)  only  at the ends of a basting line with a bead on it.This will give you a circle with: bead-blanket stitch, bead-blanket stitch-bead, then a basting line with no stitching  or bead at either end, and then bead-blanket stitch, bead-blanket stitch-bead again. (Again, it sounds complicated when I describe it, but the photo will show  you how simple it is)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

5) Repeat this process with the other two felt circle pairs. Once they are all completed, fold your decorative ribbon (for hanging it up)  in half and secure it to one side of the middle layer, then line up the other two sets of  felt  on the outsides so that the beads match.

Hand-stitch from centre bead (top) to centre bead (bottom, through all six layers of felt. (Opps, I know the felt has changed colour, I forgot to photograph this step on the white one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

6) Starting at one of the beads that is not on the centre line, blanket stitch only one layer of the two  along  the unstitched edge until you reach half-way along the circle,  take  the closest piece of  felt from the next felt circle pair and join them together with a bead. (look at the stitched and unstitched sections of  the centre of the ornament in the next photograph to make this clear).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The easiest way to stitch this is to make a zig-zag pattern all around one side of the ornament, joining all the centres in the middle until you get back to your starting point and then to turn the ornament around and blanket stitch the remaining unstitched edges in the same manner.

Voila! a beautiful hand-stitched Felt Christmas Tree Ornament, made with love and that will make your tree sparkle for years (and even generations)  to come.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that in the red ornament photo above, there are eight circles of felt (4 doubles together) and not three, as in the white.   The  red and yellow ornaments were experients where I used eight circles of felt  (4 doubles together).  Whilst I first thought that eight would be better than six, the finished  product is I think actually too “squished” in appearance. If you pull one side to make it look right it immediately squishes up on the other side.

To the other extreme the even bigger white ornament was made with 24 circles:  twelve “doubles”and I quickly saw that it looks very cramped indeed. I also used white beads on that one and they hardly show up or sparkle at all (at least in comparison to the dark glossy beads I used for the others).

This means that six circles of felt (3 doubles) appears in my opinion to work best and these are my new Christmas favourites!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 8, 2011

Finially, I’ve Conquored my Fear of…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know when you have guests for dinner and you’ve got one small side dish in mind and you sit and think : “Is there really going to be enough food?”   (or is that only me?)

I hate the thought that people might, possibly, remotely leave my table wishing that there had been just a little more food.

I have zero Italian heritage, but like an Italian Mama I feel the need to “feed people” and that means “feed ’em good“. My nagging fear wouldn’t let go… yep I won’t be happy until I’ve made a second side-dish to go with the lasagne and Piedmentese Peppers of yesterday’s post.

I was of course only slightly (ha!)  influenced by watching  chef and cookbook writer Simon Hopkinson’s television programme on the BBC called “The Good Cook”  …come on, the recipe is easy and  has garlic, olive oil, parsley and feta cheese in it.  If that’s not bait on the hook and reel me in, I don’t know what is.

Add to this that I’d just given myself a challenge in my 101 Things in 1001 Days:

35. Find and try out 5  aubergine recipes (that’s “eggplant” to some of you)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So this is how I find myself  adding aubergines to the shopping list and making: “Grilled Aubergines with olive oil, garlic, parsely and feta cheese”  to go with our meal. As with yesterday’s post, I have copied the recipe below and added in my own working method below as well as step by step photos of how I made the recipe.

Ingredients:

4 long, thin-skinned purple aubergines (alternatively use the ordinary plump, pear-shaped variety available from most supermarkets)
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
handful parsleyleaves, finely chopped
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a little sea salt and black pepper
150g/5oz feta cheese
l lemon, for serving

Method:
Preheat the grill to high.

Run a small, sharp knife round the top of the aubergine, 1cm/½in or so below the stalk and only just cutting through the skin; then make four evenly spaced, similarly shallow cuts, along the length of the aubergine right down to the end.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Grill the aubergines for about 20 minutes, turning every 5-7 minutes or so, until evenly cooked with charred skin, and until the aubergine feels soft, but not too collapsed within. In the case of the purple aubergines, the skin will also have turned a dull brown colour. Transfer to a large, oval, white plate and allow to cool for two minutes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Peel away the aubergine skin in four long, narrow sheets using a small knife. Without cutting right through the stalk end, cut the aubergines in half lengthways and gently prise apart until you have two horizontal halves remaining attached at the top end

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mix the garlic and parsley with the olive oil until well combined and spoon the mixture over the aubergine. Season lightly with salt (not too much – the cheese is salty anyway) and pepper, and crumble the feta cheese over the top. If liked, trickle over more olive oil to finish.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Serve warm, or at room temperature with lemon squeezed over.

So… the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed already that I totally forgot to include an ingredient:  the parsley.

Being on crutches gives me limited access to the lower depths of the refriderator, so first it was a case of  “out of sight,  out of mind”  and secondly I’m still on strong pain relief and my concentraion span is not at it’s best at the moment. I made these alongside the pepper recipe and was so tired that even though I read ” parsley” over and over in the recipe it never occured to me that I hadn’t actually used any.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yeah, “Duh”…. What I did  do, was to make the feta, garlic (I minced mine and doubled the amount) and some olive oil in advance, put some plastic wrap over the top and put it in the fridge for easy adding later when the aubergines were cooked. Then I went to bed and had a sleep.

So… fast forward to later in the day… The oven is on Grill wound up as high as it will go, as it the top oven rack and ack! my aubergines aren’t cooking well at all… they are cooking but realllly sloooow.  Since foodie friends have come for dinner and one extra visitor has let us know that she’s running late, we  panic not and try and work out a better plan to get these suckers cooked.  Changing from “Grill” to “Oven” seems to work well, so we keep with that and after a further  20 minutes of turning every 5 minutes my aubergines and getting  are back on track and nicely cooked.

My oven is old but a top element is a top element is it not? so while I have no clue what went wrong with this step, I at least know how to avoid it ( with my oven) next time around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

From there on it we just followed the recipe (ok, accidently sans parsley) and one of my foodie friends helped with peeling off the skins. Yikes these are HOT to handle and peel so wearing oven gloves to assist were a must… lastly we lavished on the feta mix and brought it to the table.

Himself had been non committal about aubergines due to many previous bad experiences with them in his travels, so was prepared to “grin and bare” this recipe, but shocked himself because he loved it!   In fact it was his favourite part of the evening  meal and he’s mentioned twice already that I need to keep this recipe please, as  he wants to make it again!

Therein lies a lesson for us all: We might often think we dislike a vegetable, but maybe  we just haven’t met the right recipe yet… trying “just one more time” might be the time we hit the jackpot and find a gem like this.

Clearly I have to thank Simon Hopkinson not only for a fantastic recipe, but also one that finially conquors my fear of cooking aubergines and one which has converted Himself to thinking that these might not be half bad eating after all. Cheers!

As with the peppers recipe, there were requests for the recipe from guests as well and the link http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/grilled_aubergines_with_73271 was duely sent from the BBC website.

Such is Himself’s enthusiasm that I have a sneaky suspicion that aubergines might somehow be on our shopping list for a repeat of this recipe next week too.

August 7, 2011

Piedmontese Peppers… a Treat for the Eye and Tastes Divine!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Although I am a hobby-chef and adore cooking in my free time,  the current situation  and my efforts to mix chairs, crutches and my tiny galley kitchen have not been particularly successful.

It’s been with regret that I’ve been cooking less than once a month, and it’s  a source of frustration. Luckily we have Foodie friends who have either turned up and cooked for us in our own kitchen or been very accomodating  with my simple menus.

In recent months with physio expanding  I have ongoing spells of pain that I couldn’t quite get on top of and when I finially had a “good” day  last month I was spurred by my frustration to make the most of it.

I duely gave Himself a shopping list for lasagne ingredients, dispatched him to the supermarket post haste and warned  him that if I was going to cook then I wanted to cook in bulk and make the effort worth while.

Just by using my tall soup pots and taking a few small shortcuts (adding precut frozen vegetables to the tomato and meat sauce, and dried lasagne sheets that don’t need pre-cooking), I made four large lasagnes in mass production fashion: kept one for direct use, gave one to Himself to deliver to a friend needing her rest in the last days before her baby was due and shoved the other two into the freezer for future easy meals.

Now a month later I have the cooking urge again and help was at hand in the form of a television programme on the BBC.  It’s called “The Good Cook” and is presented by chef  and cookbook writer Simon Hopkinson.

I immediately warmed to his style of using fresh easily available local ingredients.. and easy, uncomplicated recipes .  We had dinner guests coming over  and I needed to cook within my limitations so: Lasagne out of the freezer = main course almost taken care of,  just need a side dish.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Simon’s  roast pepper recipe “Piedmontese Peppers” looks divine… literally! (and easy) I’m seriously into “easy” right now.

I have copied the recipe below and added in my own working method below as well as step by step photos of how I made the recipe.

Ingredients
8 – 12 ripe plum tomatoes
4 red peppers, stalks left on (for decoration), cut lengthways in half, seeds removed
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large canned anchovies cut in half lengthways
small handful fresh basil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
2. Pour boiling water over the plum tomatoes, leave for 10 seconds, carefully remove from the water and refresh in a bowl of cold water. Peel off the tomato skins.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

3. Place the halved peppers into an ovenproof dish (preferably one that will be nice enough to present later), cut-side up.
4. Place the garlic inside the peppers and then fit the tomatoes inside too, pushing them gently into the space. Add a small pinch of salt and a grinding of freshly ground black pepper.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(this is where I put mine into the fridge instead)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Spoon over the olive oil and then place into the oven.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes to one hour, turning the heat down a little if you notice any excessive scorching of the peppers.

6. Once they are nicely softened and have slightly collapsed, remove the peppers from the oven. Criss-cross each pepper half with an anchovy, baste with the oily juices and allow to cool to room temperature.
7. Top with basil leaves and serve.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ok first I made three peppers (six halves) rather than the 4  (8 halves) in the recipe but we looove garlic so five cloves of garlic went into my six halves. I minced my garlic instead of slicing it. (tiny tweek). I added some freshly ground black pepper to the garlic layer before  putting in the peeled tomatoes. Himself had bought an assortment of vine tomatoes and not enough of the plum ones so I mixed and matched them all to fit. (worked fine). Another layer of black pepper went in on top.

At this point I was too tired to continue  and needed a rest, so just covered everything with plastic wrap and shoved it in the fridge. Half an hour before guests arrived  that evening I shoved it into the oven above the lasagne to cook.

I confess that it’s been so long since I’ve used anchovies that I couldn’t remember if I liked them or not…  you know what it’s like: “should I use them or should I just give them a miss?” ….but was brave and put them in as the recipe asks and wasn’t dissapointed, this tastes great with anchovies, and I need not be nervous about anchovies ever again, they are better than I thought.

The fresh basil was the final note in the harmony of this dish… yum, seriously yummy and I’ve already passed on the BBC link  http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/piedmontese_peppers_40938     to the three friends who came to dinner since they sang it’s praises too.

I delighted that I tried this recipe, it wasn’t hard, you can make it in advance up to the oven stage and it’s a keeper!

 

May 10, 2011

Your Guests arrive to find a Table laid only with Two Items…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have surprised some of our friends and family by inviting them to dinner and presenting them with a table set only with chopsticks and sushi rolling mats.

Then appear the ingredients and after a small lesson we let them loose on making their own…. everyone so far has had an excellent time and found that they actually like sushi!

.. yes, a few of the ingredients can be expensive to buy at first when you are starting out making sushi, but even with things like smoked salmon, marinated root ginger and a very good quality soy sauce, a little goes a VERY long way when you are making sushi, and you will be surprised at how little filling you will need.

Add things like super finely diced Bell peppers, cucumber, tofu, carrot, lightly steamed Asparagus, omelet, spring onions (scallions) mushrooms, snow peas, cooked chicken , tinned tuna mixed with a little mayonnaise to make your more expensive fillings go further.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

First assemble all your ingredients:
1 packet of Nori sheets
1 packet of sticky rice, cooked according to the instructions on the packet.
– wasabi paste
– good quality soy sauce

fillings of your choice, in this tutorial I have used:
– cucumber, chop it as thinly and finely as possible.
– avocado, paper thin slices if you can manage it… it needs to be flexible enough to wrap.
– root ginger – marinaded slivers.
– Surimi (fake crab sticks) finely diced.
– smoked salmon (yes I know that raw fish is traditional, but I would only personally use raw fish if I could see it coming out of the sea, dealt with, and sliced mega thinly before my eyes, so, since that’s not possible where I live (even though I live on the coast) and the health risks associated with raw fish after travel and extended lapse of time, I choose to substitute thin slices of smoked salmon in my sushi making)  Apologies in advance to purists…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

you will need a mat like this to help you roll your sushi up…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…put your nori onto the mat… it has a smooth side that should be facing downwards and and a crinkly side that should be facing upwards…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

..spread on (gently) as not to tear the nori, or flatten your your sticky rice…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…add a THIN layer of your filling.. only into the center strip of the sticky rice, then add another filling in the centre of your first filling (nice colour contrasts make your sushi even more visually appealing)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Using the mat to aid you, carefully roll up your sushi… … a tiny dab of water to seal the edges closed, and it should look like this…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…you are now ready to slice it with the sharpest knife you possess into sections about 2.5-4 cm ( 1 – 1.5 inch) thick.
Opps I forgot to take a photo of this bit…. .. sorry ’bout that.

This time Himself  adds a layer of finely sliced cucumber… all is going well…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I tell him that I need to finely dice the Surimi ( fake crab) and prawns first, so that it’s not too fat to roll up… Himself  says he is certain that it will roll up … what can I say… he was very hungry and I am making him take step-by-step photos of our dinner before he is allowed to eat … (being married to a foodie means suffering sometimes LOL)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…needless to say , this roll up was more difficult to do … (I said nothing to Himself,  just smiled as he took three tries to stubbornly get this one rolled up LOL) … I’ve included these photos so that you can learn from our difficulties…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… result ! …he succeeds in the end.. but it was hard going….. yep, got it closed, but the filling barely fits and bursts out in places, Himself  with the rumbling tummy bagged first dibs on this one LOL…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now my turn again… back to another roll with smoked salmon in the first layer…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

.. adding finely chopped surimi and prawns…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

this one rolled easily…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

ahhh … your very own sushi .. and So easy ! …and you just got your guests to make their own dinner!

February 16, 2011

Spanish Stuffed Tomatoes …. Tutorial Tapas Delicioso!

Filed under: FOOD,SPAIN,Step-by-Step Tutorials — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A “Spanish” theme was proposed for the  food to be served at our last beer tasting evening.

The idea germinated after a recent cycling trip in Spain by our friends “The travelling Two” and  prompted by the fact that they had bought back a wonderful Spanish ham as a tasty souvenir and were willing to share.

I thought of  tapas recipes I had tried in the past but decided on a whim to try something  completely new.

My dear friend Google supplied me with a multitude of options, (actually too many options)… but after a little investigation I stumbled on a recipe that looked different, tasty and quick and easy, i.e. not too fussy to make with crutches and a chair in my tiny galley kitchen.
I will post the recipe as I found it and note the alterations I made as I went.

In my version:  I made 7 very large  tomatoes, so I  used 10 eggs,  used only 5 Tablespoons of mayonnaise,  (to keep it “healthy” but  upon reflection, who am I kidding with 10 eggs in the mix already ?! LOL)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I used half a cup of breadcrumbs, added 6 large cloves of  fresh crushed garlic and at least half a cup of freshly chopped parsley.

Ingredients:

8 small tomatoes, or 3 large ones
4 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
6 tablespoons allioli or mayonnaise (allioli  btw is a traditional Spanish Garlic mayonnaise)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon white breadcrumbs, if using large tomatoes

I have a little gadget what I scored from the local Kringloopwinkel (second-hand Shop) many years ago, it’s like a giant wire spoon that’s proved great for scooping out boiled eggs,  anything in the deep fryer and in this instance, getting tomatoes in and out of hot water for quick and easy blanching.

Method:

Skin the tomatoes, first by cutting out the core with a sharp knife and making a ‘+’ incision on the other end of the tomato. Then place in a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds. (yep, I can confirm that 10 seconds is really all it takes!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Remove and plunge into a bowl of iced or very cold water (this latter step is to stop the tomatoes from cooking and going mushy).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Slice the tops off the tomatoes, and just enough of their bases to remove the rounded ends so that they will sit squarely on the plate. Keep the tops if using small tomatoes, but discard those large tomatoes. Remove the seeds and insides, either with a teaspoon or small, sharp knife.

(This proved trickier than I thought since the tomatoes were slippery to hold without their skins on, and the sides tended to break easily… I’m going to try and scoop one out next time skin-on and then see if it stays intact after it’s 10 second dip into simmering water… I don’t know if it would work but I’d be willing to try to see if I can make this step  a bit easier)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mash the eggs with the allioli -or the mayonnaise, if using- salt, pepper and parsley.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For large tomatoes, the filling must be firm enough to be sliced. If you make your own mayonnaise, thicken it by using more egg yolks. If you use shop-bought mayonnaise or allioli, add white breadcrumbs until the mixture reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(I just used less mayonnaise)

Stuff the tomatoes, firmly pressing the filling down. With small tomatoes, replace the lids at a jaunty angle. If keeping to serve later, brush them with olive oil and black pepper to prevent them from drying out.

(I was lazy and didn’t bother with the olive oil)

Cover with clingfilm and keep. (but I did do this)

Refrigerate for 1 hour, then slice with a sharp carving knife into rings.

(I chose to cut my large tomatoes into quarters instead). Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

(…next time… all my parsley was already in the filling mix)

I semi-expected these to be quite heavy, and so did a few of my Foodie friends… but everyone commented on how unexpectly light and refreshing they were,  and they disappeared rapidly. Excellent!  I will experiment with different sized tomatoes (smaller ones have more flavour) but due to popular demand I will definitely be making these again.

http://www.spain-recipes.com/stuffed-tomatoes.html

February 3, 2011

Spicy Parsnip and Carrot Soup… Easy Step-by-Step WONDERFUL!

Filed under: FOOD,Step-by-Step Tutorials — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post,  where I made Kung Pao Chicken for our lunch meeting guests, I also had a soup that preceded the main course.
This soup has become a staple winter favourite in our house for the last three years, and is a favourite not least because it has been part of my adventures with parsnip  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/new-227/.

This is also THE soup that prompted “I-think-I-have-always-hated-soup”  Himself to rethink his views.

As a member of the ex-Recipezaar website (now known as Food.Com) I found this recipe posted by member “Patchwork-Dragon”    http://www.food.com/recipe/spicy-parsnip-and-carrot-soup-203270 and it has been a feature at family buffet meals, entertaining  with friends as well as being a winter treat on our dinner table.

If you make this recipe, I’m sure she would be delighted if you could please be so kind as to leave her a review.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Over the years I have to confess to making a few personal changes: here are my notes:

– I have substituted red (or green) curry paste for the curry powder and we all prefer the deeper, more subtle complex flavours that it brings to the recipe.Add it carefully, starting with a small teaspoon and you will find a wonderful tangy (but not too fiery) heat in the aftertaste… fear not ! even fussy guests have come back for seconds. Experiment a little and increase to add more heat if you prefer. Personally we like spicy so use a heaped teaspoon of  curry paste.

– using curry powder instead of curry paste gives quite a different flavour… also, I found that adding it when cooking the veggies or at the end also changes the flavour.  I now prefer to use curry paste and to add it only at the blender stage, after the vegetables are totally cooked. The flavours stay more “pure” we think.

– I have added several peeled and diced potatoes to the recipe as they are a natural thickener and  we love this soup thick!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– After running out of milk on time,  I now skip the milk in the recipe as we found we liked it better without.

– I add plenty of freshly ground pepper, some whole bayleaf, but no salt. (Shhhhh ….No-one I’ve served it to knows this and nobody has missed it yet!)

– Cooking the vegetables in the olive oil before adding any other liquid gives amazing flavour.. skipping this step does make a difference to the result! ( I sometimes add a tablespoon of butter to the olive oil for a little extra yum factor)

I have given the recipe per the original and added my extras as “optional”

Ingredients:
1 onion
450g parsnips (1 lb)
225g carrots  (1/2 lb)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
350 ml vegetable stock
300 ml skim milk
salt and pepper

1 small teaspoon Green (or Red) curry paste (or to taste)  (optional)

3 potatoes, peeled and diced ( cook with carrot and parsnip) (optional)

2 bayleaf ( cook with vegetables but remove before blending!) (optional)

Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and cut parsnips and carrots into evenly sized pieces.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the vegetables, coat with oil,and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for a minute.
Stir in the stock and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Allow to cool a little, and then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. If it’s too thick for your liking add more stock.

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is when I like to add the curry paste…

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s the consistancy of mashed potato so I add some water to thin it….

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I took these photos after it came out of the fridge and before heating it in the crock-pot later, so it looks thicker now than it  ended up being when we served it. ( and the very top photo in this post is of an earlier batch, but still the same soup)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Reheat gently to serve.

…and Enjoy!

February 2, 2011

Kung Pao Chicken, Step-by-Step Stir-Fry Easy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following other bloggers’ blogs is always a very enriching experience.

… and if any of them are fellow Foodies,  it can  also have very tasty repercussions indeed.

On January 28, 2011 Raymund, who’s blog is called”Ang Sarap (A Tagalog word for “It’s Delicious”)  featured a recipe called  Kung Pao Chicken.

Raymund has given us an excellent description of the recipe  in his blog post so if you’d like to know more,  please just follow the link:

http://angsarap.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/kung-pao-chicken/

The photograph instantly got my attention and the  ingredient list had me swiftly pressing the “print” button, so that this recipe could make it’s way to my kitchen sometime soon too.

Last Sunday Himself and I  had some people over for a lunch meeting. I’m still in plaster and although it’s a walking plaster I still need crutches and it’s early days (if I’m up for any length of time my foot swells a lot) so ideally we need a very simple recipe that I can prepare in stages (and have a rest in between) and that doesn’t take long to throw together at the end.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Stir-fry menu  possibilities spring to mind, and a nano second later I remember this recipe.

Himself  is dispatched to the supermarket (he didn’t find Chinese wine, but found out from Raymund that Sherry could be substituted so used that.)

I am going to take liberties and change the original recipe just  fraction, by adding some broccoli, onion, and tagué (bean sprouts) so that I can increase the vegetables quota in more of less one stir-fry dish.

Let’s take a look at Raymund’s recipe and go cook!

Kung Pao Chicken  

Ingredients: (Note: I’m cooking for a crowd  in these photo so have quadrupled the recipe)

700g boneless chicken thighs, cubed
3 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup Chinese cooking wine
3 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 spring onions, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
peanut oil
1 tbsp cayenne pepper (use less if you don’t want it to spicy)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Method

1. Marinate chicken in 3 tsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, 2 tsp sesame oil and 2 tsp cornstarch for at least an hour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

2. Heat the wok then add peanut oil, add chicken and quickly stir fry in high heat for a minute.  Remove chicken then set aside.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

3. Using the same wok add more peanut oil if needed then sauté garlic and cayenne pepper, put in high heat then add the carrots and chicken.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

4. Add the remaining Chinese wine, dark soy sauce, brown sugar and peanuts.  Bring to a rapid boil then stir in spring onions.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

5. Remove from heat then drizzle sesame oil on top.

(Apologies that the nest photos are not so clear.. Himself was hovering waiting to take the dish to the table and then I wasn’t sitting in the place with best light…  but as usual I figure that a bad photo is better than none)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This, our Main course was very well received indeed… Thanks Raymund for a wonderful lunch!  Ang Sarap!

July 14, 2009

Auntie Barbara’s Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry

aunty barbara danish

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

My Aunty Barbara has been making this amazing dessert ever since I can remember and I now make it regularly because it’s always demolished whenever I take it anywhere. This is also a brilliant recipe because it uses basic ingredients to wonderful effect and is so easy to throw together.

The result looks like you slaved for hours, adding to the Wow factor and it’s refreshingly ” different ” to bring to a gathering in a country where many desserts are gorgeous but often smothered in a thick layer(s) of whipped cream.

I have included step-by-step photos to show you just how easy this recipe is.

If you make it exactly as shown I can assure you of 100% success because this is a recipe that has never let me down in all the years that I have been making it.

I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do !

Auntie Barbara’s Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces butter (115g)

  • 1 cup flour (250g)

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 4 ounces butter (115g)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup flour (250g)

  • 1 teaspoon almond essence

  • 3 eggs (whisked)

  • walnuts or glace cherries, for decoration

Icing

  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar (powder sugar)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence (or a little less extract)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoon warm water, (approximately)
  • Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

    Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

    Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

    Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

    Take the first 3 ingredients only: 4 ounces butter, 1 cup flour, and 2 tablespoons water; rub the butter into the flour; add the water. You will have a soft and slightly sticky ball. Spread this mixture out onto an unbuttered baking tray (cookie sheet) to an approximate 5 to 7 mm thickness. (1/4 inch) Note: This recipe makes one tray size pastry that you cut into slices afterwards, rather than individual pastries that I now understand North Americans might be used to.

  • Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

    Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

    Take the second quantity of butter and water: 4 ounces butter, 1 cup water; put into a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.

  • Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry3 81698 (Small)

    Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Take off the heat, mix in all the second quantity of flour (1 cup) all at once.
Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry4 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

1.Stir until you have a smooth ball. I use a whisk for this and the following step as it goes much faster than with a wooden spoon.

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Stir until you have a smooth ball. I use a whisk for this and the following step as it goes much faster than with a wooden spoon. Add the almond essence and all the eggs at once and stir until your mixture is a smooth glossy paste.

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry6 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry7  81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry8 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry9 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Spread the second mixture evenly over the first mixture.

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry10 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

 

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry11 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

 

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) for approximately 45 minutes or until light golden brown and topping is a little bit crisp.

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry12 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

 

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry13 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

 

Cool.

Glaze with icing. Spread icing over Danish and sprinkle with nuts or other decoration etc. as preferred.

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry14 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry15 816998 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

 

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry16 81698 (Small)

Auntie Barbara's Yummy & Easy Danish Pastry. Recipezaar Recipe No.81698 by kiwidutch ( photo © kiwidutch)

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