31 March 2011

sweet mother's kitchen

Seeing that I went on and on...and on in my last blogpost about the movies that I'd just seen.  Thought it best to come back to something food-related with pretty pictures.

Just in case I lose all my readers!

These are photos I took at Sweet Mother's Kitchen.  That's where we went for a quick bite before sitting down to 2 hours of strapping cute soldiers, lots of explosions, cheesy one liners and more explosions - refer to my previous post if you dare.

Sweet Mother's Kitchen sells itself as providing home-style cooking drawing on "...influences from New Orleans with Cajun and Creole dishes plus Mexican snack food".  Having never been to New Orleans or Mexico, I can't say how authentic their dishes are.  But I like the food and the quirkiness of the place even better.  And that's reason enough for me to keep going back.


If you look really hard (like I mean really hard) you can just make out action-man figurines hanging off each light fixture about the bar area.  They could be Hulk Hogan...or WWF wrestler of some sort.  They were quite naked.

And no.  That's NOT a real stuffed animal head.

And yes.  Those are plastic fruit all strung along the ceiling.  And a random piñata.


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is, iced coffee.  Double shot espresso with cold cold milk and vanilla ice cream + cinnamon.  Anything + cinnamon is always perfect.  This is one of my summer favourites. Ok, so we're now in autumn, but it was a hot afternoon and I'm allowed.


What we ordered: curly fries with aioli, aubergine sticks with blue cheese sauce and hush puppies with hot sauce.  And damn was that sauce hot!

Oh and that's me in the background - in my favourite tshirt.  ( a bit of shameless self promotion)


That's extra hot sauce at our table.

We looked at it, read the label, took a sniff, had a taste and took a picture.

We did not use it.

Like I said earlier - the hot sauce with the hush puppies was bitter hot already.

Don't you people remember these things??  Come on, get with the programme!


And that my friends, is a shot of a perfectly half eaten hush puppy.

Disclaimer:  No puppies or canines of any sort were harmed in the making of these dishes.  Dozens and dozens of jalapeño peppers were however murdered, for the sake of culinary perfection...and hot dipping sauce.


{movies} so here's what I think...

When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to write not just about food, but also about other things that I like or find interesting.  One of which was movies I've been to.  What I thought of it and whether I liked it or not.  And herein lies the problem.

Sometimes, I go and see a movie just for pure mind numbing entertainment. I walk out of said movie with no thoughts about whether I liked it or not, how good/bad it was content-wise, cinematography-wise, etc etc.  It was a movie I wanted to see.  And I saw it.  So really, not much to blog about!

Then there are the movies that you know even before going in what it's going to be like and how it'll end.  The kind of movie that you don't expect to walk out of the cinema with an epiphany about life.  But what it did was meet every expectation you had about it (may it be high or low).  And so again, not much to blog about.

Occasionally I do have some thoughts about a movie I'd seen.  And it’s not always some art house movie or one that's won numerous awards.

I haven't been to too many movies lately so had to wait a little before having something to blog about.  In the last couple of weeks or so, I've been to 4.  So tonight I have content!

Now people, just remember. This is not a movie review.  I won't pretend to be an industry expert or some hoity toity reviewer.  You know, the type that slags off just about every other movie they go see except for art house and highly acclaimed, multi-awarded movies - just so they can be seen as 'serious' , capable of 'appreciating art' and a cut above plebs like us.  This is just about the movies I've seen and me putting what I think about these movies down on digital paper and sharing them with you.

BLACK SWAN
I like Natalie Portman. So I generally like most movies she's been in.  Black Swan included.  It was as dark and gripping as all the reviews I’ve read say.  But there were no surprises for me.  From the start of the movie, you already know that Natalie Portman's character has lost it. Her state of mind (predictably) was only going to get worse and not better.  So how the movie ended wasn't a surprise.  I did find myself fist clenched throughout the movie - it was that kind of movie for me.  It went from one 'stressful' scene to the other knowing that this isn't going to end well.  Did the movie deserve all its accolades and awards?  Dunno.  Maybe.  Probably.  Yeah.  I didn't think you could fault the acting, costumes were fabulous, and I liked the story line.  And amid all the hype, it delivered what it promised.  I liked it.

TRUE GRIT
I'm not a fan of the country-western genre.  That's my dad's domain.  He loves those old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood gunslingers.  As a child I watched these on videos (yes, videos) c'os as a child, I had no say what was playing on the video!  Like how I had no say on what was playing in the car tape deck (yep, you read it right - tape deck).  Kenny Rogers, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell...you get the picture.
Anyway.

But I LOVED True Grit.  Hard to understand accent not withstanding.  No seriously.  And it isn't because I couldn't understand the 'southern' accent.  There are a couple of scenes where Jeff Bridges' character Rooster Cogburn is either so drunk or so mumbly, that I couldn't make out what in the hell he was saying!  But as I said - loved this movie.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  I even giggled through the shootout scene where Rooster goes head-to-head (or is it horse-to-horse??) with 4 baddies...and he wins of course.  Rooster shoots 'em all dead and I giggle.  Hmmm.  What does that say about me?  Don't answer that.  So.  The only other negative thing I have to say about True Grit, apart from the moments of dialogue incomprehension, is that I was a little so-so about the ending.  Overall, I liked it.  I liked it very much.

BATTLE LOS ANGELES
Yes, yes. I went to see Battle Los Angeles.  Money was exchanged for tickets.  Contrary to popular believes (mainly among the general male population), being female (and straight) does not preclude me from being a fan of movie genres that are traditionally seen as belonging to men, boys and geeks.  I am a big fan of war movies and also heavily CGI’d fantasy/sci fi movies.  Battle LA is kinda a mix of both.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.  One doesn’t go to a movie like this and expect Oscar-winning greatness.  The previews I’ve seen online more or less promised much of the same sameness.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  It had it all.
  • Opening scene with dozens of chinooks in the air with the usual dramatic soundtrack (think a cross between the score from Transformers and Pearl Harbour).
  • Strapping cute soldiers – half of whom die before the movie even hits the halfway mark.
  • One hotter-than-the-rest lead soldier who is appropriately angst filled.
  • One hero that sacrifices himself to save the rest in a very appropriately dramatic scene.
  • Army style pep talk liberally peppered throughout the movie.
  • Cheesy one liners, also liberally peppered throughout the movie.
  • Quite bit of bromance happening – but that can be expected seeing that there was a lot of army style pep talk and cheesy one liners.
  • Extra terrestrials.  Of course.
  • More chinooks in the air and the obligatory scenes of rolling humvees.
  • More dramatic music.
  • Lots and lots and lots...and I mean LOTS of fire power and explosions.
  • Lots and lots and lots of people flying backwards because of these explosions.
  • Lots and lots...and well for most of the movie really, computer animation and special effects.
  • And in this age of global PC-ness, there had to be a female soldier to balance the group out.  Acted of course by none other than Michelle Rodriguez.  She’s so typecast!

I didn’t get anything life changing, nor was there any revelation of any sort and I cringed and sniggered (along with a few others in the cinema) during the pep talk scenes and cheesy one liners.  It’s a perfect example of pure mind numbing entertainment.

And you know what?  I enjoyed every minute of it.  Loved it.

THE KING'S SPEECH
Love Colin Firth – he of the sexy wet shirt swoon worthy Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice (pre Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen).  Love anything he’s been in.
Love Geoffrey Rush – no one else could be Capt Barbossa! Love anything (well almost anything) he’s been in.
Loved the story line.
Loved the movie.
Awesome.


29 March 2011

fish stew and pretty yummy cous cous

 

When I first settled in New Zealand, one ingredient that I was looking forward to was seafood.  Here I was thinking - NZ must have a wide range of really good affordable seafood.  Afterall it is made up of 2 big islands right?  Okay, so its made up of more than 2 islands - the inaccuracy or accuracy of this detail doesn't help my gripe any!

Surprise, surprise.  Seafood here is expensive and the range a little lacking.  The fillets sold in supermarkets are often water logged as well.  I didn't understand for ages why those fillets produced SO much water once they were cooked.  Didn't matter how I cooked them - steamed, fried, baked in the oven in a pouch, etc.  Then someone explained to me that once the fish was skinned and filleted, it was packed in ice so that they'd stay fresh whilst being transported to the supermarkets.  Apparently the whole pack in ice thing meant that the fillets get water logged.  The only time this didn't happen was if I bought a whole fish.

Side note:
Yes.  I can actually scale, gut and clean a WHOLE fish.  Must be the asian gene.

So for the last 15+ years, I've gone from having fish almost daily if I wanted to in Singapore, to once a week at best.

Ok.  If you're still reading this, then thanks for hanging around and being patient.  Grumbling finished.  This post does move on to a more positive note!

Moving on now.

Remember the pretty photos of cous cous, cranberries and almonds at the start?  There's a reason for it.  Yep.  I made cous cous with cranberries and almonds.

As a side dish to fish stew.

'S' had gone out on a fishing adventure with some mates and came home with his catch-of-the-day.  Skinned, filleted and NOT packed in ice.  And super fresh.  Yippee!!  The plan was to bake some of the fish in a pouch with lots of chinese flavours (ginger, sesame oil, oyster sauce, etc).  But by the time I got home from the supermarket, I'd changed my mind and decided on a fish stew inspired by the fish stew dish I had from Osterio del Toro.












What's even better than cooking with freshly caught fish?  Cooking with 3 types of freshly caught fish!  There was Tarakihi (Sea Bream), Hapuku (Groper) and Blue Cod.  What a treat.  What a luxury.

For those of you who are familiar with these - I have NO idea which fillet was which.  Once filleted, all the fillets were mixed together in the same bag.  So don't get your knickers in a twist about the fish names on the photos.  Its very likely that I've got the wrong name written over the wrong fillet.  Its just a bit of fun and photoshopping okay?  Don't sweat the small stuff!


Aaanyway.  Back to fish stew.  I had made fish curry and fish tom yum many times in the past but haven't made fish stew before.  I kinda knew what I wanted it to taste like, so it wasn't going to be too hard.

It turned out perfectly.  Exactly how I wanted it to.  A rich tasting stew that didn't smell fishy but tasted rich, yet fresh at the same time.


I wanted to make this dish easy and quickly, without fussing with too many spices and steps.  As with many of my savoury dishes, I cook by taste and sight, and not measurements.  So the ingredients below are only a guide.


You can substitute the cannellini beans with any other beans and the amount of garlic you put in this dish is entirely up to you.  We love garlic so there's heaps in mine.  I also added a decent amount of ginger to give this a little kick.  Again how much ginger you use is up to you.  The saffron is totally optional - I had some and been wanting to use it in a seafood dish.


Fish Stew with Tomatoes and White Beans
served with Cous Cous


INGREDIENTS
Fish fillets, cut into large-ish chunks (I find that smaller pieces can sometimes disintegrate once cooked)
1 onion, sliced thickly
1 fat finger of ginger, finely julienned
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 leek, sliced thinly
2 Bay leaves
Thyme (fresh if possible), about 1 teaspoon or a small bunch
A few strands of saffron (optional)
1 can of tomatoes (I buy the ready chopped ones c'os I'm lazy)
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (canned chick peas or butter beans will do as well)
Fish stock, about 400ml (as high quality as you can afford it)
2-3 spring onions, chopped roughly 2cm in length (try and get fat spring onions)
1/2 lemon


  1. Saute onions and ginger first until soft and fragrant, but not brown.
  2. Then add the garlic and leek. Continue to saute until leek is soft.  But careful not to burn the garlic!
  3. Whilst the leek is cooking, drain and rinse your canned beans - since these are often canned in brine, I like to rinse them a couple of times with water.
  4. Add the beans and canned tomatoes (entire can, juice included).
  5. Add the bay leaves, thyme and saffron.  If you're using saffron, be careful to just use a few strands.  I used fresh thyme and chucked a bunch in, stalks and all.
  6. Add the fish stock and bring to boil.  Then simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes covered.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste at this point.
  8. Add the spring onions here.
  9. Add the fish fillets and very gently move the fillets around so that they're all immersed in the liquid.  If the liquid has evaporated a little, just add a wee bit of water. 
  10. Don't turn the heat up as rapid boiling will break your fillets up.  Just continue to cook on medium heat, uncovered.
  11. Cook until the fish fillets are just cooked (this won't take too long).  The fish will continue to cook in the hot liquid as you're laddling it out, so be careful not to overcook your fish.
  12. Squeeze in 1/2 a lemon juice and serve.

You can eat this with some nice bread (like a baguette or even a ciabatta) which is always great for some messy soaking up of the last bit of stew in your bowl, or maybe some cous cous on the side.  Which is what we did.

Cooking cous cous is a no brainer really.  You can add to it whatever tickles your fancy, makes you happy, floats your boat...

Pretty Yummy Cous Cous

INGREDIENTS
1 cup cous cous (enough for 2-3 people)
1 cup boiling water
A handful of dried cranberries
A handful of almonds, roughly chopped
A handful of parsley, finely chopped
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt


  1. Mix cous cous, cranberries and almonds into a microwaveable container.
  2. Add boiling water and cover for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Mix and fluff cous cous with a fork.
  4. Cover it back up and microwave it on high for 1-2 minutes (depending on your microwave).  This extra step in the microwave ensures that my dried cranberries (or any dried fruit) is softened.
  5. Add the parsley and drizzle in the olive oil - toss quickly with a fork.
  6. Salt to taste.

Voila.



25 March 2011

sunday brunch


Its been quite a while since I posted anything here.

Its been a while since I felt like doing much.

Its been a while since I felt happy-happy-joy-joy.

Today I decided its been a while since I've been in such a doldrum.  And I needed to SNAP out of it.

Well at least try to.

So whilst I getting some photos tidied up and thinking about what to write about them, I thought I'd share these with you.  Photos taken at Sunday brunch couple of weeks ago at one of my favourite places to eat - Floriditas.  Its also got one of the best atmosphere for those 'catch ups with the girls'.

Check out these very kitsch egg cups.  If you order the Soft Boiled Eggs and Soldiers, that's how you get them. I just LOVE 'em!  Great way too to get the kids eating their eggs.



Now this is one of my favourites.  I keep telling myself that I need to order something else each time I go there. But when the waitress is standing right by the table, pen and pad in hand, somehow its always the Smoked Mackerel with Potato Hash and Pouched Eggs.

I must mention that the yolk always arrives runny.  But by the time I faffed around with taking photos of the dishes, the yolk was no longer the way I normally like it - creamy golden runny rivers of goodness.  Still.  Runny or not, this dish makes my day.


























Ahhh...

11 March 2011

coffee snaps

I've been hankering for cookies.  To be precise - baking them and eating them.

So I made these.


Over the next few days, I would consume a small tower of sweet caffeine crunchiness with a touch of chew in the middle of each golden disc.  Daily.

And always with a mug of strong coffee and a touch soy milk.




Oh but I did share!  'S' took some to work to share around the office on the first day.  That was more than I could part with.




Tonight, I made a large mug of Milo and ate the last 3.

Coffee Snaps
Recipe from: Australian Women's Weekly

INGREDIENTS
125g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (275g) firmly packed brown sugar
3 teaspoon instant coffee, the stronger (like espresso) the better, granulated and not powdered
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg (size 7)
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
3/4 cup (110g) self-raising flour

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350° F). Line cookie/oven tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift flours and instant coffee together into a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until just combined.
  5. Stir in sifted flours.
  6. Roll rounded teaspoons of mixture into balls and place on tray about 3cm apart.  Or you can use one of those cookie dough scooper thingy.
  7. Bake for 10min.  You can leave it for another 2mins if you like your cookie crispy all the way through.  10min will give you a cookie that's 80% crispy but with a slight chew in the middle.
  8. Stand for 5mins before transferring onto a wire rack to cool.


These'll keep for a week.   Mine didn't.  I think I need to go to Cookie Anonymous.


I've also decided that this is to-date (Nov 2011) my most successful baking attempt. So I've chosen this post for my contribution to November's Sweet New Zealand, hosted by Mairi at Toast.  Hope on over to Toast and check out all the other contributions from other Kiwi bloggers, at home or abroad.


08 March 2011

tomato tart



'S' had a horrendous couple of weeks at work, so I decided to make a nice dinner for him on Saturday.  We normally eat in front of the tv, so by 'nice', I mean sit down at the dining table (after it's been cleared of all my junk!) and eat like normal people do.  I did try and spesh it up with candles and tealights, giving me an excuse to break out my black candlelabra which has just been sitting and gathering dust.

We had soup (Pumpkin and Ginger) with crusty bread to start - ready made, not homemade.  I'm not above buying ready made soup, especially if it's from Pitango.  A multi-awarded brand that only uses organic and free range products.  Justifies buying ready made soup!

Soup was followed by a tomato tart.  After spending what seems like a couple of hours trawling through the internet for tomato tart recipes, I decided to just make something up based on your basic puff pastry, tomatoes and feta tart.

Like usual, I did a quick inventory check on what I had and what looks like it's threatening to go off if I don't use it up soon.  The quick check coughed up some corn (actually it was ONE ear of corn) and some rather ripe avocados.

So there it was.  A tomato tart with corn, avocado and feta.


Some of the recipes I stumbled across called for sliced onions.  I decided to caramelise my onions since I hate raw onions.  Can't stand them actually.  Apart from onion breath, raw onions gives you bad B.O. (body odour).  That horrid, rancid, I bathed in yesterday's onion juice smell.  Blaaagh.  Anyway, didn't want to run the risk of the onions not cooking through properly.  So caramelised onions was the answer.


I didn't really measure the ingredients.  I took out the pan that I was going to bake the tart in and basically made enough so that the ingredients covered the base of the pan.  I cut one more tomato when I realised I didn't have enough and ended up only needing to crumble 2/3 of my block of feta cheese.  Although I enjoy the exactness of baking, cooking this way (by sight and taste) is one that I much prefer doing to be honest.

I also used pre-made puff pastry.  Make these from scratch if you must.  But I'm not precious about buying ready-made pastry dough.  It saves SO much time and guarantees no mistakes.

Once this came out of the oven looking as perfect as I wanted it to be, my mind was racing with other tart ideas (get your mind out of the gutter!).  The whole thing turned out a whole lot easier than I expected.  And highly edible too!

Tomato Tart

INGREDIENTS
1 large onion
1 tablespoon raw sugar
Very ripe but firm Tomatoes
Corn (fresh if possible)
1 avocado
Black olives (about 10)
Feta
Thyme (fresh if possible)
A packet of puff pastry
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 210°C



Slice onions and tomatoes into thick-ish rings.


To prevent the tart from getting soggy, I spread the cut tomatoes out on a plate and place paper towels on top of them (pressed down lightly) to soak up some of the excess liquid.

Fry the onions over a medium heat until soft, and then add the sugar. Continue to fry until the onions are brown and caramelised.  I allowed mine to burn a tiny wee bit - I like the sweet smokey flavour when that happens.

Remove caramelised onions into a bowl. Cut the black olives into halves and mix the olives and the corn in with the onions.

Roll out your puff pastry and line your pan with the pastry so enough pastry going up the side of the pan.  Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork.  Oh by the way, I lined my pan with a baking sheet/paper, instead of buttering the pan - no mess!

Slice avocado, approximately the same thickness as you've done for the tomatoes and lay the slices out in the pan.

Add the next layer of ingredients - the onion and olive mixture.  I just used my fingers to spread it out evenly.

Next, crumble the feta all over.  Then lay out the sliced tomatoes on top of the feta.


Sprinkle with thyme (leaves only - chuck out the stalks), salt and pepper.


Bake in the oven until puff pastry is cooked and golden.


Serve hot...candles and tealights optional. :-)




the long and short of it

A week ago I cut my hair.  Oh.  And coloured it.  You may wonder...so? She cut and coloured her hair.  So what?  Well.  Cutting my hair was not necessarily a momentous moment, but it certainly was a 'grit my teeth, summon some courage and go for it' moment.  See my hair was pretty long - it went quite far down my back.  What you could call bra-strap length.  It's been this length forever.  But I was getting really tired of the fistfuls of hair at the bottom of the bath after every shower, on my pillow every morning, stuck in clumps in my hairbrush, on the floor and the carpet...You get the picture.  It's bad enough to see clumps of fur floating by you whilst you're going about your day (like blogging, baking or cooking).  But having to contend with fur and hair was not so cool.

And then there are the whites.  I'm not referring to any clothing item here.  I mean white hair.  Oh yeah.  They made their appearance about 3 years ago.  Just a strand here and there.  So very deceiving.  So I shrug it off as random.  In fact I could be found occasionally in front of the mirror marveling at the one or two white strands I had in the sun.  Little did I know...

3 years on.  I now spend on hair colour more than I've EVER done before.  And the longer the hair, the more hair colour product I have to buy.  Its just ridiculous!

What with the clumps of hair in every nook and cranny, and the ever increasing cost of hair colour, I had to make a decision.  And I knew it had to be quick, spur-of-the-moment, get it done and over.  If not, I'd just chicken out.

So there I was.  Sat on the chair at the salon.

Brendan: What can we do for you today?  Another trim?
Me: Cut it. I want it all off.  Quick.
Brendan: Ahhh (smiles and nods knowingly)

We have a quick discussion on styles, agreed on one and then snip, snip, snip.  The deed was done.

The hair colour (Dark Chocolate) after a couple of days of private mourning.  Buh-bye whites!

So this is pre-cut days. That's my Aunty Irene.

This is me now.

Me thinks that I'm going to have to break out my winter scarves a lot earlier this year to keep my neck warm.  And have another excuse to buy more scarves.

:-)))

03 March 2011

puy lentils, bacon & vegetable salad

A few days ago, we popped into this small new deli down the road and bought some ready-made salad to quell our rumbly tummies.  They had this cold lentil salad made with puy lentils which I thought was surprisingly flavoursome.  Just so happens that 'S' had not so long ago, requested that I make lentil curry - a dish that he really likes.  So I thought instead of a curry, I'll make my own puy lentil salad.


Now I knew that since it was going to be for dinner, I wanted it to be a warm salad.  I also wanted to have meat in it - I mean lentils are already healthy for you, and there was also going to be vegetables.  So I had to add some meat to it.  Why?  Well...
  1. So that the dish had a nice meaty flavour to it,
  2. So that we wouldn't feel hungry after just a couple of hours after dinner, and raid the kitchen for something utterly unsuitable and unhealthy just before bedtime (like sweet banana muffins, chocolate biscuits, bowl of coco pops, toast smothered thick with Nutella...), and
  3. So that I'm not responsible for cooking a super healthy dish - I like to live a little dangerously!


But if you're a vegetarian, or feel the need to eat more healthily or just plain chicken, then just cut out the meat and bulk the dish up with more vegetables.



Before I go into the ingredients I used, how I cooked it, yadi yadi yadi ya...I have to first tell you about my experience buying the bleedin puy lentils.  We went to 2 supermarkets and 1 organic shop before we found some.  For some reason no one was carrying raw puy lentils.  Who would have thought it was going to be THAT difficult!

We found some canned ones, but they were canned in brine or salted water.  I wanted to cook them from scratch (they don't take long to cook anyway).  When we got to the organic store, I thought we must be able to get some here!  We scoured the entire place and found none.  So I thought puy lentils are going to have to wait until another day.  But on our way out I decided to stop and ask the lady behind the till when she thought some were coming in.  So glad I did that.  She took me to this shelf that had ONE packet of French lentils left.  See I didn't know that puy lentils were also French lentils - duh!  I don't think she saw a customer more happy over a bag of lentils.


So here's what I did.

Puy Lentils, Bacon, Vegetables & Feta

INGREDIENTS
Puy lentils (250g was enough for dinner for 3 people)
1 onion, chopped
Garlic, minced
Bacon (I used bacon ends - they're economical and quite meaty)
Button mushrooms, quartered
A big bunch of spinach, chop off roots and also stalk if its dry
1/2 cup water
Pepper
Feta, crumbled

  1. Boil the lentils in plenty of water until cooked through.  Drain and put aside.
  2. Fry onion in a tiny bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Use a pan that is NOT non-stick if possible.
  3. Add bacon and turn up heat to medium-hot.  Continue to cook until the fat on the bacon starts to melt and the bacon is browned, but not crispy.  Halfway through frying the bacon, add the garlic.  I add it at this point so that the garlic doesn't burn.
  4. Add mushrooms and toss so that mushrooms are well coated with the bacon fat.  Continue to fry until mushrooms are cooked.  The fat and some small bits of bacon will start to stick and burn at the bottom of the pan.  Don't worry about this.
  5. Add pepper to taste.  I don't add any salt to the dish as the bacon I used is quite salty.
  6. Once mushrooms are cooked, add water to deglaze the pan - once you've added the water to the hot pan, it'll start to bubble.  Quickly using your spatula and scrap the burnt fat and bits at the bottom of the pan, mixing it around.  You'll notice that it'll all come off quite easily to form a nice gravy.
  7. Add the lentils into the pan, mix and cook until lentils are heated through.
  8. Throw in the spinach and mix it through until wilted.
  9. Top each bowl of lentils with crumbled feta just before serving.
  10. You can also drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil before serving.


:-))


02 March 2011

autumn, cyrus & blueberry sauce

Today is first day of Autumn for those of us in the southern hemisphere.  I love Autumn best.  Still warm days but cooler nights.  We don't get masses of yellow and gold shades associated with Autumn that other parts of the country do, but I'm definitely looking forward to a few of those late summer evenings although technically summer's over.

Today I also met up with a good friend of mine who was caught up in the Christchurch earthquake.  I didn't find out until yesterday that she was right smack in the city centre at a client meeting when it hit.  I won't go into details here in respect to what she went through.  Suffice to say, she's all right and back home safe in Wellington.  It was good to see her.

Today I thought for a bit of fun, a bit of lightheartedness and a bit of 'hope this puts a smile on your face if you're reading this blog...I'd post a series of photos I took of Cyrus yesterday, and the blueberry sauce I made for dessert.


Chilling out on the sun-warmed ground...

 Here comes mama with her camera again

 How about this angle? Its my best side.

 Make love to the camera?  Well...rrrrriiaoo...

 Oh.  Wait.  Itchy paw.

 Ahhh.  Itch taken care of,  Now, where were we?  Oh right.  How about this sultry look?
Dum dee doo...getting bored mama with this camera thing...

 Righto.  Bored now.  Not doing it anymore.  Talk to back of the head c'os the face ain't listening!

 All that hard work just for some kibble.  Need my beauty sleep.
Now, leave me ALONE.

zzz.............

Blueberry Sauce and Ice Cream


Last week I blogged about picking organic blueberries.  We picked LOADS.  So many that we froze a whole tub full of them after using some for muffins and our morning cereal.  One of the first things we did with our blueberries was to make a dessert that night when we got back from berry picking.  It was quick, easy and it was de-li-cious.



INGREDIENTS
1 cup blueberries (we also threw in a handful of the last of our blackberries)
2 tablespoon water
Balsamic vinegar
Vanilla Ice Cream (we love Kapiti Vanilla Bean)


  1. Place blueberries, sugar and water in a pot, preferably heavy bottomed.
  2. Heat over medium heat.
  3. Watch carefully - sugar will melt and berries will start to soften and breakdown.  Stir once or twice to prevent burning.  Do NOT cook until the sugar caramelises.
  4. Once sugar has all melted and berries start to just breakdown (but not mush), add in a 2-3 sploshes of the balsamic vinegar.  Again stir gently a couple of times to prevent burning.
  5. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced to a syrup consistency.  At this point, some of the berries would be broken down to mush but some will still be intact.
  6. Remove and pour over vanilla ice cream.\
  7. Eat, or inhale.


:-)))