Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sweet New Zealand # 23 Round-up

Sweet New Zealand Badge

It has been my privilege to host Sweet New Zealand once again this month - a monthly blog event, created by the lovely Alessandra Zecchini, which offers an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen.  Tomorrow will be my blog's fourth birthday (my goodness, where did those four years go?), and I can think of no better way to celebrate than by sharing with you this round-up of all the absolutely wonderful entries this month.  I have certainly enjoyed discovering and visiting all of your posts.  Thanks to all of you for participating.

First up is an entry from Arfi at HomeMadeS.  Arfi is one of the most delightful, generous-spirited bloggers I know, and even though a busy, hectic, family life makes finding the time for blogging difficult for her, she still found time to share these gorgeous Gluten-Free Raspberry & White Chocolate Friands.  Even though I have never met Arfi, we have tweeted and commented on each others blogs for quite a long time, and whenever something goes wrong in my part of the world, the first person I always hear from (often even before my family) is Arfi, checking in to see if I'm ok.  I dream of one day meeting Arfi, and I would love to sit down and have a cup of tea and one of these friands with her.

Alessandra Zecchini, our founder of this event, never fails to surprise and inspire me with her use of unusual ingredients, often things that we might ignore or discard, like onion flowers, banana flowers or feijoa skins.  When she chose to use infuse feijoa skins into a syrup to make this Feijoa Zest Agar Agar Jelly, it kind of blew my mind.   Doesn't that look beautiful.

Having made the jelly, instead of discarding those feijoa skins, Alessandra made a zest and added it to these gorgeous looking Feijoa Zest Meringues.  How clever is that?  I would have dumped those skins straight down the wastemaster!  Thanks for making me look at them a little differently, Alessandra.

My friend and fellow Nelson blogger, Nicola from Homegrown Kitchen, has a brilliant way with making really healthy, good for you stuff, seem decadent.  Or is it that she takes really decadent treats, and removes all the guilt from them, without removing any of the deliciousness or satisfaction?  No matter which way you look at it these amazing Handmade Three Ingredient Chocolates are the perfect example of a heavenly little treat that I would not feel the least bit guilty about devouring.

Frances at Bake Club was wanting to make a sugar-free, freezable snack for her little one, and these Oaty Muffins with Stevia fit the bill perfectly.  Frances says that because stevia is green, it works best in chocolate based recipes to disguise the colour.  Who needs an excuse for chocolate, I say?!

Alessandra shares more sweet indulgence with us in the form of these Chocolate, Vanilla, Cream & Grappa Desserts.  I love the way that this is set in different layers ... makes for something that looks very "special occasion", and the addition of grappa is the "icing on the cake pudding".  Oh, and don't you just love these gorgeous little glasses?!  Thanks for sharing these Alessandra.

The lovely Lesley at eat, etc ... always brings a smile to my face, and never more so than when she talked about diving straight into the pantry to rustle these up as soon as she got home from work.  Any woman who has no qualms about making and eating dessert before dinner (yes, that's right folks, BEFORE dinner), is a real food hero in my opinion.  These little Soft-Centered Chocolate Puddings strike me as being just perfect for satisfying that winter evening, pre-dinner sugar craving.  I can't wait to try these, and true to Lesley's form I'm going to have one before dinner ... no regrets.

Michelle at Greedybread had me at "fudge"!  Add to that the crunch of pistachios and fragrance of orange blossom ... what's not to love.  Silky smooth texture, this Pistachio & Orange Blossom Fudge looks like everything a good fudge should be.  In fact, Michelle says she could even sell her husband for a piece of this fudge.   I think there could potentially be a lot of husbands for sale once we've all tried this one.

If you were a real Kiwi kid, just the mention of lamingtons will fill you with nostalgia - they certainly do me.  Memories of my brother and I, with newspaper covering every possible surface of the kitchen to catch the mess, up to our elbows in chocolate icing and coconut, rolling and dunking those chunks of sponge cake.  The results were never particularly elegant, but we loved it.  These stunning Raspberry & White Chocolate Ganache Lamingtons, on the other hand, from my very special friend Alli at Pease Pudding, just ooze goregeousness on every level.  I would love to be sitting down having a coffee with Alli and sampling some of her heavenly baking.  For me, living in Nelson makes that somewhat geographically challenging.  But for those of you lucky enough to be living in Auckland, you will be able to enjoy the delights of Alli's kitchen at her Gourmet Gannet pop-up patisserie opening in Waimauku this week.  Do yourself a favour and make the trip out there - I promise you it will be worthwhile.

The lovely Mairi at Toast dared to go where I have thus far feared to tread with these Almond & Orange Blossom Florentines.  Mairi and I share a passion for the food of Yotam Ottolenghi, and this is a recipe she adapted from one of her beloved Ottolenghi books.  These look delicate and gorgeous, crispy and lacy, and with the addition of the orange blossom are tinged with the exotic.  Having allayed my fears of making florentines, I'm now eager to give these a go.

Lastly is my own entry of these Spice Cookies.  Like Mairi, I went the Ottolenghi-route, using a recipe I adapted from his Jerusalem book.  These cookies, a friend told me, "taste just like Xmas".  They are crisp on the outside, and slightly softer on the inside, delicately spiced, with lovely hits of chocolate, raisins, and citrus ... what more can I say?

And now it remains only for me to hand off the baton for next month's Sweet New Zealand to the lovely Nicola at Homegrown Kitchen.  Can't wait to see what you all cook up next month.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad

Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad 2

Yes, it's that week again.  It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and that means that we get to choose any recipe we like from any one of the eight IHCC chefs.  That's a pretty impressive line-up which includes our current chef of course, Yotam Ottolenghi, who enjoys the venerable company of Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, Giada de Laurentiis, Jamie Oliver, Tessa Kiros, Rick Bayless and Madhur Jaffrey.

With so much wonderful food to choose from, Potluck week is the time I usually like to try my hand at something a bit special, but at the fag end of a tiring week, and feeling a bit under the weather, something simple, comforting and tasty was called for.

This Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad, from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty, was perfect.  It was suitably light when I wasn't feeling like anything too heavy.  Lentils always speak to me of comfort and nourishment.  And celeriac ... well, celeriac is one of my favourite winter vegetables, and is pricey enough in these parts to make me feel like I'm having something quite luxurious.  However, for all that it seems expensive, celeriac does go a long way.  I paid $6 for one medium sized celeriac - I used half of it in this salad, which lasted me two days;  I used quarter of it in a pot of soup which is bubbling away as I write, and which will deliver at least 6-8 servings;  and I still have quarter of it left to use in a Celeriac Remoulade later in the week.

I did, as I always seem to do, tinker with the recipe a little.  I used the brown lentils that I had on hand, instead of the Puy lentils Ottolenghi uses in the original recipe.   For a bit of extra colour and flavour, I also added in some of the roasted red peppers I preserved during the summer, and some of those quick pickled lemons I shared with you a couple of weeks ago (which I now can't help adding to just about everything I make).  I also used flat leaf parsley instead of mint, which I think would have been wonderful, but which is seldom available in the middle of the New Zealand winter.

Since I was going to be eating on my own, I halved the original recipe.  That made two large, main meal servings, which I accompanied one night with grilled sausages and then on the second night with pan-roasted salmon.  Delicious with both, and I think it tasted even better the second day.  This dish can easily be made well in advance, but do make sure to dress the lentils as soon as you take them off the heat and drain them so that they really soak up the flavour.

Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad 1

Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi
from Plenty
Makes 2 generous servings
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/2 cup green or brown lentils
1-1/2 cups water
generous bunch thyme sprigs
1/2 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1cm (1/3 inch) batons
generous handful hazelnuts
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1x roasted red pepper cut into strips
quick pickled lemons, roughly chopped (to taste)
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Put lentils, water and thyme into a smallish pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy - about 15 minutes.

Add the celeriac to another pot of boiling salted water, and cook until just tender - about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a shallow pan over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until golden.  As soon as they are toasted tip the hazelnuts out into a clean tea towel, and rub vigorously to remove the skins.

As soon as the lentils are cooked, drain, and put into a serving bowl.  Immediately, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a liberal sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Drain the celeriac and add to the lentils, along with the roasted red peppers, quick pickled lemons, half the hazelnuts and half the parsley.  Toss well, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.  Sprinkle the rest of the hazelnuts and parley over the top to serve, and finish with an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

This is delicious served warm or at room temperature.

If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...

IHCC Ottolenghi Leek Badge resized

... or check out Plenty and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and often hilarious, Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my good friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, and at Cook Your Books, hosted by the lovely Joyce at Kitchen Flavours.

See Ya in The Gumbo Badge            Souper Sundays Badge            Cook Your Books Badge

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sweet Potato Galettes

Sweet Potato Galettes 3

This has been a week of surprises.

First of all I discovered how incredibly easy it is to make your own sour cream.  Simply add the juice of one lemon to one cup of cream.  Stir and you will feel it begin to thicken slightly almost immediately.  Leave out on your kitchen bench for three or four hours, giving it a bit of a stir from time to time.  It will become noticeably thicker during that time.  Now line a sieve with a clean piece of muslin.  Pour the cream into the cloth-lined sieve and set over a small bowl.  Put into the fridge overnight.  The next morning you will be rewarded with beautiful thick, tangy sour cream.

Speaking of rewards, my second surprise this week came in the form of a rolling pin.  Ever since losing my rolling pin in the Christchurch earthquake, I've been making doing with a wine bottle.  Now a wine bottle does a passable job, but it does have its limitations.  For example, you can't use a wine bottle as a substitute meat tenderiser to bash the bejeezus out of a chicken breast, or to smash up a bag of cookies for a cheesecake base.  I am a huge fan of Joseph Joseph kitchen gadgets - I love the range of gorgeously stylish products, that work every bit as well as they look.  I'm so enamoured of the "form meets functionality" of their products, that I have several items in my kitchen cupboards, and have for ages been coveting the adjustable rolling pin.  So it was a wonderful surprise when I was gifted this rolling pin as a reward for my efforts at work.  (For the record, although we sell these products in my workplace, no-one is paying me to tell you this - I'm sharing this with you solely because I absolutely love these products).  Oh, and by the way, for the benefit of my New Zealand readers, you can buy Joseph Joseph products at Stevens Homewares.

Rolling Pin Collage

You'd think that two surprises in one week would be enough.  But no, surprise number three came in the form of these Sweet Potato Galettes from, you guessed it Yotam Ottolenghi.  Of course I should not have been surprised - I know well enough by now, and you will too if you've been visiting here for a while, that Ottolenghi is capable of taking a few seemingly unsurprising ingredients and turning them into a flavour and texture explosion which is so much greater than you might expect.

Sweet Potato Galettes 2

At I Heart Cooking Clubs this week we're sharing A Little Bit of Sunshine with Ottolenghi dishes in sunny hues of orange and yellow.  These gorgeous galettes seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

As usual, I've added a little bit of a personal twist to the recipe.  Flaky puff pastry is smeared with sour cream, which was homemade.  Also, remembering how well the hit of lime worked with sweet potatoes in this recipe, I couldn't resist adding some freshly grated lime zest.  I also subbed in some blue cheese instead of goat's cheese, and replaced pumpkin seeds with walnuts.

The end result is a sensation - full-on flavour, and fantastic contrasting textures.  Crisp, flaky, buttery pastry, smothered in tangy sour cream, given a bit of extra zip with a hit of lime;  softness and sweetness of the potatoes meets creamy, salty blue cheese, and crunchy walnuts;  all topped off with a bit of heat from chilli and garlic and a touch of freshness in the parsley.  Now, who wouldn't find that surprising?

Sweet Potato Galettes Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Makes 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2x medium sweet potatoes
250g puff pastry (I used store bought)
1x free-range egg, lightly beaten
sour cream
grated zest of 1x lime
blue cheese, crumbled
walnuts, coarsely chopped
1x red chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds if desired)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1x clove garlic, finely chopped
handful freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).

Bake potatoes in their jackets until they soften, but are still firm in the centre - about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 2mm (1/16 inch) thick.  Cut into four rectangles, approximately 7cm x 14 cm (3 in x 6 in), and prick them all over with a fork.  Place the pastry rectangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and rest in the fridge for about half an hour.

Once sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove skins and cut into 3mm (1/8 in) thick slices.

Remove pastry from the fridge, and brush lightly with the beaten egg.  Place a spoonful of sour cream on each piece of pastry, and spread leaving a small border on all edges.  Sprinkle a little grated lime zest over each one.  Arrange sweet potato slices over the top, keeping the border clear.  Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Sprinkle a little blue cheese, walnuts and chilli over the top of each one.

Sweet Potato Galettes 1

Bake in the oven until the pastry is golden and cooked through - about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together olive oil, parsley and garlic, and brush pastries with the mixture as soon as they come out of the oven.

Sweet Potato Galettes 4

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Two of these per person, accompanied by a simple salad, make a delicious light meal, or serve one per person as an appetiser.  And if you're lucky enough to be enjoying some real sunshine and summer weather where you live, these would make sensational picnic food.

If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...

IHCC Ottolenghi Leek Badge resized

... or check out Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

I will also be sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace.

See Ya in The Gumbo Badge

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quick Pickled Lemons and Fish & Caper Kebabs with Burnt Aubergine

Fish & Caper Kebabs with Quick Pickled Lemons & Burnt Aubergine

New Zealanders as a people are sports-mad in general, and rugby-mad in particular.  It is without doubt our national sport, and it's importance is so deeply embedded in our national psyche, that details of some amazing triumph on the rugby field or, shudder the thought, devastating defeat (heads must surely roll), will often be lead story in our national news broadcast ahead of child kidnappings, murders, parlimentarians in trouble, or earthquakes in China.  We know here what's really important!

At the end of a rugby match, the captains of each team are always interviewed for their comments.  And I can wager, a pound to a pinch of the proverbial, that their statement will always begin with the words, "Well, it was a game of two halves, and full credit to the other team ... blah, blah, blah".

Why, am I telling you all this.  Because this is going to be a post of two halves, with once again full credit to Yotam Ottolenghi.

In the first half of this post, I'm bringing you Ottolenghi's Quick Pickled Lemons.  At I Heart Cooking Clubs, our Monthly Community Recipe for the month of May was preserved lemons, either the traditional method which takes 4-6 weeks of curing, or this quick pickled version, ready in 24 hours.  As I have already posted preserved lemons here before - in fact they were the very first thing I ever posted on this blog - I decided to give the quick pickles a try.  These quick pickles, I have to say, are incredibly moreish and I know that these just became a "refrigerator staple" for me to accompany all manner of things.  I would still urge anyone to have a go at preserved lemons as well.  I always have at least a jar or two in my fridge - they are incredibly easy to make (and very cheap compared to bought ones), and they are invaluable for bring wonderful flavour to stews, casseroles, couscous, salads, and even dressings.  If you do a search of preserved lemons on this blog, you will find a number of recipes in which I've used them.

Quick Pickled Lemons

In the second half of the post, the Quick Pickled Lemons are served up with Fish & Caper Kebabs and Burnt Aubergine, from Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem: A Cookbook.  I'd had this recipe bookmarked for a while, and with out theme this week of "Pattycake, Pattycake" at I Heart Cooking Clubs, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give these a try.

The fishcakes - light and delicate (no stodgy fishcakes, these babies), with the little hits of briny capers - were an absolute hit around here.   The burnt aubergine accompaniment - sumptuous smokey flavour, enhanced with garlic and herbs - may possibly have been an even bigger hit.  With the pickled lemons on the side, this was a stunning meal.  Apart from a bit of work involved in preparation of the lemon and aubergine, both of which could be done well in advance, this makes a quick and easy meal to put together for a midweek supper - a great dish for entertaining too.

Quick Pickled Lemons
Adapted (slightly) from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1x smallish red chilli, roughly chopped
juice of 1x lemon
3x medium lemons
(halved lengthwise, then sliced widthways as thinly as possible)
35g caster sugar
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1x clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Grind the chilli to a rough paste with juice of 1/2 lemon in a mortar and pestle.  Transfer to a large bowl with the juice of the other half of the lemon, and all the remaining ingredients.  Mix everything together well, massaging all the flavourings into the lemons.  Cover the bowl and leave on the bench overnight.  Next day transfer to a clean, sterilised jar and refrigerate.  Will keep for approximately 2 weeks.

Fish & Caper Kebabs with Burnt Aubergine Recipe
Adapted, slightly, from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

Burnt Aubergine
3x medium aubergine
1/4 cup natural, unsweetened yoghurt
1x garlic clove, roughly chopped
generous handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Fish Kebabs
430g white fish, skinned & boned (I used tarakihi)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons capers
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
grated zest of 1x lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

sunflower oil for frying

Begin by burning the aubergines.  Cut a few long slashes through the skin of each one,  and put onto the grill of a hot barbeque.  Turn regularly and cook until the skin is black and flaky, and the flesh is soft - about 15- 20 minutes. (* See note below)

Remove the aubergines from the heat and leave until cool enough to handle.  Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the soft flesh in long strips and discard the blackened skin.  Put the flesh into a sieve set over a bowl for any water to drain out of the flesh while you prepare the fish kebabs.

Cut the fish into very thin slices, and then into very tiny dice,  Put the diced fish into a bowl.  Add the breadcrumbs, egg, capers, herbs, lemon zest and juice, and spices.  Season generously with flaky sea salt and pepper.  Mix everything together well, and using your hands shape into small patties - you should get 10-12 patties depending on the size you make them.  Place the patties in a single layer on a plate or tray, cover and refrigerate for about half an hour to firm up.

Meanwhile finish off the burnt aubergine.  Put the drained aubergine flesh into the bowl of a food processor, along with the garlic, parsley, and yoghurt.  Add a generous pinch of flaky sea salt and a good grind of black pepper.  Pulse in the food processor a few times, just until everything is roughly chopped and combined.  Make sure that you keep a bit of texture - you don't want a smooth paste.  Set aside.

Set a frying pan over medium-high heat, and cover the base with a thin layer of oil.  Cook the kebabs in batches, until golden all over and cooked through - only a couple of minutes on each side.  They are very delicate, so do take care putting them into the pan and turning them.

Serve hot, with a generous dollop of the burnt aubergine on the side and a small amount of the quick pickled lemons.

*Note:  Ottolenghi offers a method for burning the aubergines of lining the base of a gas hob with tin foil and then blackening them directly in the flame. This smacks to me of "mess" and also having to stand over the flame and keep moving the aubergines around.  His alternative suggestion is doing them in the oven under a hot grill. My method of choice is doing them on the barbeque - altogether less mess and less fuss, and works perfectly.  You do want to make sure first of all that you make a few long slashes through the skin in each one - helps to prevent any possibility that they might explode!!

If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...

IHCC Ottolenghi Leek Badge resized

... or check out Jerusalem and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.


I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace.

See Ya in The Gumbo Badge

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sweet New Zealand # 23

Sweet New Zealand Badge

Amazingly, we are now into the 23rd month of the Sweet New Zealand monthly blog event, created by the very lovely Alessandra Zecchini, and it is my pleasure to be hosting the event this month. This is an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen. You can find a round-up of all of last month's drool-worthy sweet treats here at After Taste - Bridget did a great job and I want to try everything!  This is a really fun way for us all to get to know each other, and I hope you will all join in for another month.  If you're new to this event, the rules are simple:

1.   This event is open to all bloggers living in New Zealand (even if you are not a Kiwi), as well as all Kiwi bloggers living and blogging overseas.

2.   You can enter anything sweet: cakes, biscuits, slices, desserts, even drinks, and you may submit as many entries as you like, including old posts if you like.

3.   Your entry must contain the phrase Sweet New Zealand, the Sweet New Zealand badge (choose your own size), a link to the host, and to this post - so if you are submitting an older post remember to update it accordingly.

4.   To make submitting your entry really, really easy I have included a linky tool at the end of this post.  The linky will be open until 28 June and I will do a round-up of all entries on 30 June.  To use the linky tool, simply scroll down to where it says "You are next ... Click here to enter", and then follow the instructions.  If you prefer you can email your entry to me by 28 June, providing your name, your blog name and URL, your post URL, and a photo.  Please email to yoga(dot)tapas(at)gmail(dot)com.

And that's it - no more rules!  Have fun and I look forward to seeing all your sweet entries.