27 April 2011

stringing you along

I've bought soft toys filled with catnip.

I've bought rubber balls with bells inside them.

I've bought plastic balls with bells inside them.

I've bought sticks with feathers and bells at the end of them.

Cyrus?  He only plays with strings.

Not any kind of string, but butcher's cotton twine.

The cat has taste.


Its feel like eons (again) since I posted anything up here.  But this time I have an excuse!  Or two.  Or three...

My dad, stepmum and a couple of her cronies came over to New Zealand for a holiday, and I played tour guide for a week.

Prior to them coming to NZ for a holiday, there was major house cleaning to be done.

Prior to the major house cleaning, and whilst the visitors were here, and after they left - I had to attend to a rat problem.

Ohhhh yeeah.  Rat.  A baby rat.  But a rat all the same.  A baby rat running loose in the house, creating all kinds of mayhem and general grossness.

Baby rat's finally gone.  Not away.  Gone as it dead as a door knob.  Dead as nail.  Dead as a dodo bird.  Dead as in neck broken by my darling gorgeous, but oft times lazy kitty cat.  Evil bl**dy things.

Post baby rat.  I needed time to de-stress from baby rat saga and playing tour guide for a week.  (You have NO idea how stressful THAT was I tell ya....)!

And now I'm back and I want to talk about kedgeree.  Now I'm going to assume that most if not all of you know what kedgeree is.  If not, just check out wikipedia.  You don't want to be bothered with a super long blogpost here about the history of kedgeree.

But I will wax lyrical (a tiny bit) about why I like kedgeree...

Its got rice, its got smoked fish, its got eggs and  its got cream.  Perfect autumn dish.  Wait hang on.

Perfect any season, any day dish!

If you can find shallots, get them.  They make a difference to the dish.  But if you can't, regular onions are fine.  And you may remember from previous posts that we love garlic in this house - explains the small mountain of minced garlic you see. :-)

I have a rice cooker.  Do you have a rice cooker?  Go get one.  Fluffy perfectly cooked rice, everytime.

And oh.  The recipe called for bismati rice.  Use it if you have it or can find it.  I happen to only have Thai fragrant jasmine rice in the pantry at the time.  Didn't give quite the right bite to this dish, but it still worked.

Then comes the cream...


And if you can afford it, buy good quality smoked fish for this dish.  An oily variety works best I've found - like mackerel.

If you've got the power bill waiting to be paid, pet food that needs topping up or out of your favourite lip gloss, may I suggest a cheaper smoked fish.  But if you've finished the packet of licorice, buy the best smoked fish your money can buy.  Smoked fish trumps licorice.

Most things should always trump licorice.

Actually, never buy licorice again if you can help it.  **shudders**

The incredible edible egg.  Love love love eggs.  Scrambled, hard boiled, soft boiled, sunny side, poached, steamed...

That's going to have to be another post I think.

This recipe makes enough for 4 people for dinner.

My photos don't do the dish justice.  Make it for people you love.  They'll love you for it.  Believe me.  I won't lie to you...or else you might never come back!

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's and several other recipes

2 cups rice (basmati preferably), cooked in lightly salted water
6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and quartered
500g hot smoked fish (smoked mackerel or cod is fantastic in a kedgeree)
Light oil, a little for frying (use a light vegetable oil like canola or rice bran oil, not olive oil)
2 large shallots or 4 smaller ones
4 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp butter (45g)
2-3 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric (don't be tempted to put too much as tumeric can be bitter if too much is used)
1/3 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon Diced flesh of quarter lemon

  1. Cook rice the rice. Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork or a pair of chopsticks and then leave to cool. 
  2. *Put eggs in another pan, and bring to boil. Boil for one minute, then cover and set aside for 10 minutes, then peel the shells and quarter the eggs. 
  3. In a large frying pan, heat oil at medium heat, add the shallots and cook gently until soft and cooked.
  4. Whilst the shallots are cooking, prepare the smoked fish by breaking it up into nice medium sized bite chunks.  Don't break the fish up into too small chunks because you want to be able to see and eat the chunks of fish and not just the flavour of it through the rice.
  5. Add grated ginger, butter, curry powder. Stir well until fragrant.
  6. Add the drained cooled rice and mix to coat the rice with the buttery oily curry mixture. 
  7. Add the fish and cream and stir gently to mix, taking care not to break up the fish too much.  Cook gently until fish is heated through.
  8. Taste and add salt if needed, and pepper to taste.
  9. Add the parsley, eggs, lemon pieces and zest and toss very very gently through the rice - try to keep the eggs from being broken up too much.
  10. Serve with wedges of lemon on the side, to be squeezed over just right before eating.  It just lifts the dish and imparts that fresh lemony zing to the rice.

*You can 'boil' eggs in the microwave as well!  Yep - go figure.  Here's a trick I learnt - wrap the eggs individually in aluminium foil (yep - again, go figure!) and place them in a microwave proof bowl. Make sure that the bowl is big enough so that the eggs are not cramped together. Cover the eggs completely with boiling water - they must be covered completely so that the foil does not spark in the microwave.  Zap on high for about 7 minutes for 6 large eggs.  Take it out and sit the eggs in the bowl for another minute.  Then pour out the hot water and fill the bowl with cold water from the tap a couple of times.  Once the eggs have cooled enough to handle, remove the foil and peel the eggs.

08 April 2011

pizza muffins

I've been really slack lately with the blog.  Call it blogger's block if you like.  I call it procrastination.  Its true.

I've cooked and baked all these yummy stuff and took all these photos.

But they sit languishing in a sub-subfolder within a subfolder within a folder on my laptop.

I've even started 8 blogposts.  Yes, 8 blogposts.  All of which have at least the title and a handful of key words as a start.  I do this whenever I get an idea.

But they sit languishing in draft.

Until tonight.

Tonight, let me introduce you to some Pizza Muffins.  A favourite of mine.

Why Pizza Muffins?

Because most of the ingredients can also be found on a pizza.  But of course!

So you start with these ingredients.

Plus these ingredients.

And you must have these ingredients.

I ran out out muffin paper cups, so I made some myself - baking paper cut up into squares larger than each cup in my muffin tray.  To make it more 'rustic' looking with uneven edges, I tore the paper into rough squares instead of cutting with a scissors.

Pretty generously filled muffin paper cups.

Golden cheesy, bacony, nutty mouthwatering goodness.

You can have it for dinner.  I did.  With some equally yummy organic soup.

And lashings of butter.

You can have it for breakfast.  I did.  With a big mug of coffee.

And lashings of butter.

You can also have a second serving.  I did.

My excuse was that I needed another muffin to finish up the last bit of butter.

Oh by the way, I used bacon ends and bits rather than bacon rashers.  You can buy packets of bacon ends or sometimes they're called bacon bits.  These bacon ends come in quite large chunks which I chop up into big-ish cubes.  I used bacon rashers the first time I made these and they just about disappeared in the cooking process.  Using chopped bacon ends give my muffins a meatier bite - which I prefer.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Pizza Muffins
Adapted from: Allyson Gofton's Best-Ever Muffins

250g - 300g of bacon, chopped into chunks (don't trim away all the fat)
3 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic salt, or substitute with 1 cube of chicken OXO cube, crumbled.
1 tsp cracked black pepper
50g butter, cut into cubes and keep cold
2 cups grated cheese, chedder or tasty - something with a bit of bite.
2 free range eggs
2 cups milk
20 black olives, quartered
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, well-drained of oil and chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts, lightly dry roasted in a pan
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, also lightly dry roasted
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees (425 F) and prepare your muffin tray by lining it with muffin paper cups.
  2. Without adding any fat/oil, over medium heat, fry the bacon in a non-stick pan until golden, caramelised and you're drooling.  The fat left on the bacon will render in the frying process and keep them from sticking onto the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and seasoning.
  4. Then rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Work as quickly as you can to prevent the butter from melting.
  5. Toss 1 1/2 cup of the cheese and the toasted nuts and seeds through the flour and butter mixture.
  6. In a smaller bowl, lightly beat the eggs and milk.  Then stir in the olives, sundried tomatoes, parsley and bacon.
  7. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and stir in the wet mixture.
  8. Stir until the dry ingredients are just wet - don't over mix.  The final mixture should look lumpy.
  9. Drop spoonfuls of mixture into prepared paper cups and top each with some of the remaining cheese.
  10. Bake for 15-18 minutes until well risen and golden.
  11. Cool in the muffin tray for 5 minutes before removing onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  12. When ready to eat, reheat your muffins until warmed through.  Or eat it cold if you're that way inclined.


03 April 2011

sunday treats: french pastries

Its Sunday.

You're waiting for a bus.

The bus stop is right next to a French cafe and p√Ętisserie.

What do you do??

Seriously, if you don't know the answer to this...there is no help for you. Sorry.

However, if I have to spell it out for you...

1. Buy some beautifully made French pastries.
2. When you get home, take some pretty pictures of them.
3. Post them up on the blog.
4. Make a cuppa tea.
5. Eat ALL the pastries you've just bought (although its only a couple of hours to dinner time).
6. Pretend (whilst you're eating the pastries) that you're a French woman - that is, somehow all that sugar and fat will magically go away without adding an ounce of weight to your hips or tummy.

Paris Brest 

Chocolate Meringue filled with cream and chocolate 

Macarons - Coffee, Lemon, Praline and Passionfruit.

Nothing beats Sunday treats.