Local Heart, Global Soul

May 5, 2010

A Lazy Salad for Lazy Hazy Summer Days, and not even a guilt trip to go with it !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This trip to New Zealand I have already discovered one new Summer Salad because of the culinary genius of my cookin’ cousin. He’s a whizz in the kitchen and his boys are too… (let’s hear it for parents who aren’t scared to get their kids into the kitchen and get creative … Yeah !!!!)
Now we have a ton of fresh raspberries thanks to our berry picking efforts, I have some odds and ends in the fridge, it’s warm and I’m feeling like creating something new myself.

Well if I’m honest this one pretty much created itself, as it’s a amalgamation of whatever-was-left-over in the fridge that wasn’t way past it’s due date and still looked nicely edible.

At first I looked and thought “nah… maybe a this is mixing too many different flavours” and then I thought “Heck why not, it will either be a Hit or a Miss and it’s worth a try at least one time“.

Well, I can safely say this this is a HIT. Even Himself, who is not a great fan of fruits mixed into any other non-dessert style ingredients liked this a lot.

And as usual with the best of wonderful recipes, it’s easy, very quick and easy, so it means that you spend less time in the kitchen and more time playing around the garden hose with the kids,  chatting to friends or reading that novel you’ve been trying to finish for ages.

I also liked that a tiny drop of olive oil or balsamic vinegar is all that is needed to finish this off, in fact this salad is even good flying solo without accompaniment (excellent if you are looking for a healthier lifestyle and a slimmer waistline). Yes the avocados do add some calories but a little of the good stuff in moderation is good for ya, don’t you know?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Anyway, lets cut to the chase and run the ingredients past your chopping board… measurements are approximate, throw in whatever amounts you have to hand, and expand the lot if you are feeding a crowd.

– Fresh lettuce  washed and sliced ( I used Iceberg  ‘cos our picky kids will eat it)

– Tomatoes, (washed, and cut into quarters or slices)

– avocado (peeled, pitted and sliced)

– fresh raspberries, whole (washed)

– fresh mint, (washed) (to taste)

– freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

– Balsamic vinegar, the least amount the better  (optional ingredient)

– Olive Oil, the least amount the better (optional ingredient)

Method: Place the lettuce in the bottom of the bowl, heap in the tomato, avocado, raspberries, and mint. Toss immediately before serving. Drizzle over a splash of oil or balsamico if you need to at the end, but don’t drown this salad or you’ve downgrade the wonderful flavours.

(sigh) so little effort, so little guilt….  enjoy !

September 24, 2009

Easy Savoury Fish Bake

This recipe cames from a small community on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The cookbook was made by Dixon House and is now sadly out of print. There were no serving sizes or preparation time given in the original recipe and so mine are guesstimates since it depends entirely how large your fish fillet are. When I make this it serves four people and take about 40 minutes to prepare ( 30 minutes of which is cooking time).

1 1/2 lb fish fillets ( 680 grams) pic6hsMnI (Small)

1/2 teaspoon sweet basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ounce butter, melted (30 grams)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 cup soft breadcrumbs

1 cup cheese (grated)

1 teaspoon parsley (chopped)

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

Place the fish into a lightly greased baking dish.

Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, basil salt and parsley.

Stir together tomato sauce, lemon juice and melted butter.

Mix the crumb mixture into the melted butter mixture and spread evenly over the fish.

Cover with tinfoil and bake at 380 F (180C) for 30 minutes.

picz7tK5P (Small)

September 12, 2009

Kiwidutch’s not too sweet Rum Balls:and photos why!

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
pic0ESgow (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

I have seen a multitude of Rum Ball recipes and many of them contain condensed milk. Mine doesn’t but it does contain walnuts and sultanas… but chopped so nice and finely that you might be hard pushed to know it. If you are from New Zealand or Australia then this recipe might not be too different a variation from one you know, but if you are from America or Canada then you are in for a shock: a good one, because this recipe is totally different from any rum balls that you will have had so far.

There are two reasons for this, firstly ” desiccated” coconut as those of us “down under” know it, is a totally different item than what will be found in many North American kitchen cupboards. It’s finer, and most importantly it’s unsweetened. It’s also very dry and smaller, and the coconut needed for this recipe can be found in the Health Food isle (I found mine, the correct, unsweetened version in the supermarket ” Shaws” without problem.) if you use your “regular” sweetened coconut then the outcome will be far too sweet, so if you are serious about getting the “real” taste of these then you will need to make two ingredient changes. O.K. So the first ingredient to get right is the coconut….

USA coconut,  larger flakes, sweetened and wetter texture.

USA coconut, larger pumper flakes, sweetened and wetter in texture. (photo © kiwidutch)

unsweetened coconut: smaller, drier & is the one needed in this recipe.

unsweetened coconut: smaller, drier & is the one needed in this recipe.(photo © kiwidutch)

Maria biscuits (cookies) look like this.

Maria biscuits (cookies) look like this.(photo © kiwidutch)

picGMAWZX (Small)

Note how small the coconut flakes are...(photo © kiwidutch)

the second are the biscuits (cookies). I know that it is common practice when a recipe calls for “Digestive” or “Maria” cookies to assume that a substitution of “Graham Crackers” will be fine. In this recipe the final taste will be considerably different if you do that, and I found actual “Maria” cookies in the International Section of a small town “Shaws” whilst in the USA. If you use these then you will get the desired result. Grahams have their own distinctive flavour and would skew the taste of these as they are supposed to taste. “Maria” biscuits are called “Round Wine, Vanilla Wine or Milk Arrowroots’ in New Zealand and all of these will give exactly the same taste as Maria’s. One of the secrets of this recipe is to crush the cookies into small crumbs and to chop the walnuts and sultana very fine indeed. You can use Rum Essence or real Rum, as per your preference and a single recipe makes anywhere between 12 and 20 small balls, depending on how big you make them. For a party crowd I usually quadruple the recipe and use two small shot glasses of real Rum. I got this recipe somewhere in the 1970’s or 80’s from the Children’s Corner section of the long since closed down Christchurch “Star” Newspaper and have lost count how many times I have made it over the years. Often the mix will be a little wet or a little dry, it depends on the brand of Maria’s you use, (different Brands are not all of equal size) how fine the crumbs are and how plump the sultana’s are and how generous you are with the Rum or Rum essence. This recipe is extremely forgiving, just add a teaspoon of water at a time if it’s too dry and a little extra coconut, cookie crumbs etc if it’s too wet and it will be just fine.

10 plain sweet “Maria” biscuits ( cookies) crushed finely.

100g butter (4oz melted)

1 Tablespoon coco powder

3/4 Cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)

1/2 Cup desiccated (unsweetened) coconut

1 Tablespoon Rum ( or Rum Essence)

1/4 Cup walnuts (very finely chopped)

1/4 Cup Sultanas (very finely chopped)

additional unsweetened coconut (for rolling).. .estimate at least 1 Cup, depending on how big a batch of these you are making.

– Crush the Maria’s by hand or with a food processor until you have fine crumbs, then tip into a mixing bowl.

– Very finely chop the nuts and sultana’s by hand, or put them both into a food processor and pulse until chopped.( if you try and do the sultanas alone they will just fly around the sides of the processor bowl and not get near the blade).

– Add the sultanas, nuts, cocoa powder, icing sugar, coconut and Rum to the crushed cookie crumbs and mix well. The mixture is the correct consistency when you can firmly squeeze it into a ball and it doesn’t fall apart. (the balls will be a little soft at first, they will firm up properally once they have been refrigerated for a while). As my note above expresses, you may need to adjust the mix a little: add a little water if the mix is too try, or more dry ingredients if it is too wet.

– Roll into small balls, a little smaller than a golf ball, then roll immediately into the additional coconut to coat.

– Place the balls on a flat tray in rows and if you need to make more then one layer, then place some cling film or baking paper between the layers. Refrigerate for at least a few hours so that they firm up nicely. Enjoy!

If you make this recipe and would like to give a Review  on it, I also have it posted here: http://www.recipezaar.com/Kiwi-Rum-Balls-Sultanas-Nuts-No-Condensed-Milk-206342

July 31, 2009

Bran Date Muffins from Linette at Plum Tree Cottage

So where exactly is Plum Tree Cottage? .. that’s easy , it’s in Hanmer Springs.

….And where is Hanmer Springs? Well, first you need to head down under to New Zealand, once there , go to the South Island and if you are in the city of Christchurch then you take State Highway 1 North until you reach Waipara, turn left inland on State Highway 7 heading towards the Lewis Pass until you come to the Hanmer turnoff.

Once you have passed the bridge that straddles the gorge and checked out any bungy jumpers who may be about to leap off it, it’s then just a short drive into the village. So, what so Cool about Hanmer?

Well “ cool” isn’t exactly the right word for it.. “Hot” would be a far better one. This small alpine village with a permanent population of 900 souls play host to many visitors who flock to the town’s main attraction: geothermal hot pools, that occur naturally in the area.

There’s a large rectangular pool that’s a cool 25 C (77 F) and then the properly warm stuff: a multitude of smaller pools ranging in temperatures from 36 – 42 C ( 96- 107 F). That means no matter what kind of heat you can mange there will be a pool to suit your personal preference.

I can attest that these pools are simply divine in soaking away jet lag, and if you have been taking advantage of the many walking and mountain biking trails in the large forest areas that almost surround Hanmer, or the skiing in winter in the ski fields nearby,, then your tired and weary limbs will adore the respite of the soothing heat of the pools waters.

Linette , one of the permanent residents of Hanmer Springs makes the very best Bran Date Muffins…. … she and I swapped some recipes and I have made these for many a subsequent visitor to rave reviews.

If you don’t wish to make 18-20 muffins then this mix can be used to make 12 muffins and 1 small loaf. Sultanas can be mixed into the date amount if preferred. Mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance and covered, refrigerated until use. Thanks Linette!

bran muffins (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

2 ½ cups plain flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup sugar

3 ½ cups unprocessed natural bran

1 ½ cups pitted dates (chopped)

1 cup vegetable oil ( for example – light olive)

2 ½ cups low fat milk

2 eggs ( lightly beaten)

Pre-heat oven to 190 C (375 F)

Sift together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon.

Stir in the chopped dates, unprocessed bran and sugar.

Mix together the lightly beaten eggs, milk and vegetable oil, and then gently stir into the flour, dates etc mix until only just combined.

Spoon into a muffin pan and bake in a moderate to hot oven (190 C / 375 F) for about 20 minutes or until cooked.

Moi ? … I like my muffins warmly broken open and dubbed with a pat of real butter… yum!!!

July 5, 2009

Standing out from the crowd of buffet table “usuals” …

Need a recipe for a school fair, work event or church gathering? Want something that stands out from the crowd of “usuals” on a crowded buffet table, will please both young and old, is easy to sling together and which is made with just a few standard store cupboard ingredients? If so, have I got the recipe for you… one of my all time favourite recipes: “Gabrielle’s Apricot Slice” which I got many years ago from a friends in New Zealand.

Gabrielle's Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gabrielle’s Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

First a small note: I usually double all of these ingredients simply because using only half a tin of condensed milk is really messy to measure and secondly because in the rare event that there is any left over, friends, family or neighbours are always very happy indeed to relieve me of it very quickly indeed with a very big smile… 🙂
Warning: a double mix makes a LOT…

Second, some very handy tips from years of making this:
– I line my dish with plastic cling wrap and then press the mixture in, once it’s been in the fridge and firm, all you have to do is to cut it down the middle first and gently ease it out on both ends.. peel off the plastic wrap and cut it easily into squares on a cutting board.
– the best way to mix everything together is to wait until the liquid has cooled a little so you don’t burn yourself, then with scrubbed clean hands get in there and mix it by hand in a large bowl by hand, a double mix will take some mixing ! ( this is the workout to burn off a few calories) press into a large container as firmly as you can.
– lastly, try and make this the evening before you want it.. the result will hold together a LOT better and somehow a night in the fridge improves it… don’t ask why, ¨cos I don’t know….it just does LOL
plain sweet biscuits = Superwine or Roundwine in NZ/ Maria biscuits in NL. ( watch out Maria’s come in smaller packets of 200g!)

Ingredients

1 (250 g) packet plain sweet biscuits (Superwine or Roundwine in NZ/ Maria biscuits in NL)
1 cup dried apricot (chopped)
4 ounces butter (113g)
3 ounces light brown sugar (85g)

1/2 of one (395 g) can of sweetened condensed milk

180 g chocolate chips
——
Directions:

1) Crush the biscuits ( make some into very small crumbs and keep some still in quite big-ish bits) and mix with the chopped apricots.

2) In a pot, melt the butter then add the condensed milk, and brown sugar together (Do not boil). LOW HEAT and stir well or it will burn. The butter will start out as a separate layer on the top, keep stirring until the butter becomes a small ring around the edge of the pot and then disappears completely. ( if you don’t melt the butter first then it will sit on the top of the condensed milk in lumps that are stupidly hard to mix in with the rest later)

3) Mix the liquid mix into the biscuits & apricots. Add chocolate chips if using… try and wait a few minutes whilst your liquid mix cools a little, before putting them in our they will melt completely instead of staying as chips.

4) Press firmly into a straight sided container.
5) Refrigerate and cut into blocks when cold.

… and if it’s for a gathering outside home, hide it from your family so that it makes it to the stomachs that it’s intended for…

Gab's Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gab’s Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gab's Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gab’s Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

apricot slice5 (Small)

Gab’s Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gab's Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gab’s Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gabrielle's Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

Gabrielle’s Apricot Slice (photo © Kiwidutch)

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