Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kumara pikelets

Kumara are a purple-skinned sweet potato very popular here in New Zealand roasted as part of the traditional roast lamb dinner, or in a hangi.

I had one that was sitting in the vege bin getting wrinkled, I peeled it and put it in with some potatoes I was cooking, …

… then put the bits through the ricer …

… and added some flour, brown sugar, spices, an egg, milk, and baking powder …

… mixed it all up …

… and made pikelets:

Frozen yoghurt

Three cups of my home-made yoghurt, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, half a jar of plum jam …

… half a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Mixed together …

… then poured into the ice cream maker …

… which wasn't quite cold enough to completely freeze it …

… so it's now in the freezer hardening up. And I've been stirring it every so often and licking the fork. Yummmm.


Ever since I read Joe Pastry's post on crackers I've been experimenting with them. And with the tools for making them.

This lot have feta and caraway seeds in the mix …

… and I used all of these tools to make them:

On the right there is the roller-cutter that came with my pasta machine. It's good for cutting nice even rows of crackers, but it sticks and drags a bit if the dough is soft, in which case I use the knife on the left. Next to the knife is a pizza docking roller. I bought it specially for crackers, I don't dock pizza. Next to that is my latest tool. It's a tracing wheel, for transferring markings from paper patterns to fabric. It happens to be very good at making perforated lines on crackers so you can easily break them into smaller bits.


Feta and caraway crackers

2 cups flour
3 tbsp olive oil
~3 tbsp sourdough starter
1 tsp baking powder
100 g feta
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp salt
salt for sprinkling

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder, rub in feta until there are no lumps.
Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Add sufficient water to make a not-soft-but-not-stiff dough. Mix.
Leave to rest for 1/2 hour or so.
Roll out using a pasta machine or rolling pin, to about 1/8 inch thick.
Dock with roller or fork. Sprinkle the tops with ground rock salt, or any other large grained salt.
Cut into squares, put on baking tray and bake at 180°C until lightly browned and dry.
Cool on rack, then store in an air-tight tin.

Current sausages

Most of the fermented sausages I've made recently are now ready to eat. The only one left hanging in the pantry (I had to move them out of the spare shower when I had visitors and the weather is cool enough now to be able to keep them elsewhere anyway) is the saucisson d'Alsace. It'll probably be ready in another couple of weeks. Here is a sample platter:

They are, clockwise from top left; Venison salami seasoned with white pepper and garlic; a pork salami seasoned with garlic, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, and nutmeg; Spanish chorizo, which has garlic, cayenne, and both sweet and hot pimentón; and hare salami with garlic and a lot of black pepper.

The Spanish chorizo is delicious, this is the third time I've made it and it will be something I make fairly regularly for the foreseeable future. It's also quick to make (ready in 2-3 weeks), which is nice.
The pork salami with cumin etc is an adaptation of a recipe for sujuk. The recipe said to use lamb and beef if I remember correctly, but I had pork so that's what I used. I can't imagine it would taste as good made with lamb, this is the nicest salami I've made so far. You can't notice the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, I think they just round out the flavours; the strongest taste is cumin.
The hare and venison salamis would benefit from being made with pork back fat instead of the random pork fat I got from the butcher. They're perfectly nice, but the texture isn't quite right. They're also seasoned mainly with pepper, which is a little boring. On the other hand, turning these meats into salami has removed all traces of "gamey" flavours from them. This was the prime motivator in the case of the hare - Stephen, who shoots the game I get, dislikes the gaminess of the hares' back legs.
I'm looking forward to trying the saucisson d'Alsace, it also has cakey sorts of spices in it, but with the addition of rum.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I've had my eye on these for a while now, I went in yesterday and bought them with my tax refund money.

Kumfs is a New Zealand brand that makes super-comfortable shoes. They've only recently branched out into fashion shoes, for a long while they only made the sort of shoes that 80 year old ladies and people with foot problems wear. They are still of that quality, with built-in arch supports and very soft leather, but they've realised they can make them look good too. There are even a few styles with high heels, and some very nice looking boots. Comfort comes at a price of course, all the shoes are around $230 and the boots are $300 upwards.

I think these will be getting a fair bit of wear. Today I'm wearing them with a black merino twinset, black opaque tights, a soft floppy short cream skirt with big black polka dots, and a double string of my mother's old fake pearls. A complete stranger stopped me in the street to tell me I looked nice!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I need a name for this cocktail

Each glass has one scoop of lemon curd ice cream blended with 25ml vodka and two frozen Omega plum halves, floated on top of 25ml Crème de Mûre.

Half drink, half dessert.

Bits and pieces

I didn't need all the pasta I made yesterday for last night's dinner, I had one chicken thigh left over from the weekend, I had some slices of my hare salami that hadn't been eaten, and there was plenty of left over pesto, so these got turned into tonight's dinner.

I sliced the salami slices across to make batons and quickly fried them in a pan before adding the thinly sliced chicken thigh. Once it was cooked I boiled the pasta then tossed it with the salami batons and a tablespoon of pesto and put the chicken on top:

Does pesto count as a green vegetable?

Pasta for dinner

One of Wil's friends came for dinner last night; I made pasta.

Pasta made from 375g flour, three eggs, and a little water:

Omnivorous pasta sauce; chicken, bacon (home cured by my brother's father-in-law), mushrooms, zucchini, onions, garlic, cream:

Vegetarian pasta sauce; as above, minus the chicken and bacon, plus some porcini powder for extra mushroominess:

Our dinners, with a good healthy spoonful of basil and parsley pesto on top of each serving:

And to top them off, the parmesan I made last year:

That's half of the pasteurised milk with no added lipase version in the front, behind that is half of the raw milk version that was a bit of a failure due to a mechanical failure of the cheese press. I.e. my home-made cheese press is ever so slightly tapered, the cheese was small, and the follower couldn't get far enough down the mould to compress the cheese properly. Hence all the the holes. I almost threw it out when I first made it, but then I figured I wasn't losing anything by keeping it and seeing how it turned out, so I did. It's actually not too bad. I have high hopes of the most recent attempt, which is made from pasteurised milk with lipase added and is making the downstairs beer fridge smell "like sick" as my granddaughter said when she visited, but which will not be ready to taste for a few months yet.


I had friends staying for the last few days. Wil, an old PhD student from where I work, needed somewhere to stay for a couple of days after having an arthroscopy here in Dunedin. He and his girlfriend, who accompanied him, went shopping before they arrived and deliberately bought, in addition to some fruit, something they were completely unfamiliar with just to see what I'd make out of it! It was taro, which is a staple starchy vegetable in the diet of Pacific Islanders.

I have used it once before to make okonomiyaki from a modified version of Maki's recipe at Just Hungry. My friend Yoshio says taro is an acceptable substitute for nagaimo, although it is nowhere near as slimy and is rather more substantial.

I also used a mixture of Chinese greens from the garden instead of cabbage, and used thinly sliced chicken thigh (sliced mushrooms for Nic's, as she's vegetarian) instead of pork slices, but apart from that I stuck pretty closely to Maki's recipe.

Okonomiyaki as first constructed in the frypan:

Okonomiyaki after it's been covered and steam cooked for 10 minutes or so, flipped to brown the chicken, then flipped again:

Okonomiyaki fully dressed in okonomiyaki sauce, katsuobushi, crushed Korean seasoned seaweed, and Kewpie mayonnaise:

Wil and Nic were well impressed, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if okonomiyaki makes its way into their regular diet. Healthy fast food!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chocolate biscuits

While the oven was hot on Sunday I thought I may as well throw something together to take to bridge - then afterwards remembered I'm not playing bridge this week. Never mind, they'll keep.

I creamed together some brown sugar and butter, added a good dollop of Dutch cocoa powder, and enough plain flour to make a good stiff dough. Rolled it up in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, then sliced up, put the rounds on a baking tray …

… and baked them at 180°C until they were cooked:

You may possibly notice that there are one fewer cookies in the "cooked and cooling" photo than in the "going into the oven" photo. That would be because I couldn't wait until they were cold to try one.

Delicious. Very chocolatey, not too sweet.


Chocolate biscuits

~ 50 g butter
~ 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 very heaped tablespoon Dutch process cocoa
~ 1/2 cup plain flour - maybe 3/4 cup? Enough to make a good stiff dough, anyway.

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cream butter and sugar, add salt and mix.
Add cocoa and mix. Add flour a bit at a time until the mix is really stiff but still holding together well - like pastry.
Roll the mix into a log and wrap in plastic. Put in the freezer for a while, until it's reasonably firm.
Take it out of the freezer, unwrap it, and slice it into 1/4 inch slices.
Put the slices on a baking sheet and bake at 180°C until cooked, ~15 minutes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Les petites Tartes Tatin.

I bought four kg of Braeburn apples the week before last. I do this every year, and then never seem to be able to get through them before they go … not exactly soft, but less crunchy than they started off being.

My solution to the problem this year is individual tartes Tatin. I started off mixing up a little bit of pastry and putting it in the fridge to rest, then making some buttery toffee and pouring it into the bases of a nice deep old patty pan tray …

… then peeling half a dozen apples, halving and coring them, and carving the large ones to fit the patty pans. Then I put them on the toffee, core side up…

… and baked them in a 180°C oven until they were soft …

… which was about half an hour, I think. Then I got the pastry out of the fridge, rolled it out, and cut appropriately-sized circles (just a bit bigger than the patty pans) with one of my plain cookie cutters.

The pastry circles went on top of the cooked apples …

… and then it all went back into the oven, which I'd turned up to 200°C, until they looked cooked:

I let them cool for just 5 minutes or so, then turned them out onto a baking tray:

I was pretty amazed at how good they looked. I'd been fully expecting several of them to stick and need spooning out, but they behaved wonderfully. This is not to say they all fell out at once, several of them needed a little encouragement, but nothing drastic.

And they taste great too.

No, I didn't waste the bits of apple I had to carve off to make them fit the patty pans. They went into a pot with the tiniest dash of water and a bit of sugar …

… and were cooked until they were soft and transparent. Then I shared them out amongst 10 silicon muffin cups …

… and covered them with a sort of spongecake mixture before putting some in the oven with the tartes …

… and some in a steamer over a pot of water.

Here they are all cooked:

They and the tartes can go in my lunches this week, but I think I'll have to freeze some of them or I'll end up the size of a house.


butter (I used about 100g for this)
flour, a bit more by weight than the butter (I used 120g)
salt - about 1/4 tsp for this much pastry
half a cup of water with a tbsp of vinegar in it. You won't use anywhere near all of it.

Cut up the butter and put it in a food processor with the flour and salt. Whizz until it's breadcrumb-like.
Dribble in the water/vinegar mix slowly just until the dough starts to come together.
Tip the dough out and knead lightly. Wrap in plastic and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Tartes Tatin (makes 12)
Pastry as above (many people use sweet short pastry, but I find it too sickly)
6 eating apples (cooking apples turn to mush, and you want them to stay whole)
3/4 cup or so of sugar
a little water
50 g butter
patty pan tray (NOT non stick)

Pre heat the oven to 180°C.
Mix the sugar and butter in a small pot with just enough water to dampen the sugar. Put on the heat and cook until it starts to go brown. Quickly pour it into the bases of the patty pan tray cups.
Peel, halve and core the six apples. Put them in water that has some lemon juice added to stop them going brown. Carve off any bits that won't fit in the patty pans.
Place the apple halves, core side up, in the patty pans and place the tray in the oven. Cook until the apples are soft. Remove the apples from the oven and increase the temperature to 200°C.
Roll out the pastry and cut circles that are slightly bigger than the patty pans. If you're really anal, put the pastry circles in the fridge for another half hour or so, but I didn't.
Place the pastry circles over the cooked apple halves, tucking in the edges.
Return the apples to the oven and cook until the pastry is cooked - maybe half an hour.
Remove them from the oven, let cool for just a very few minutes, then place a flat tray over them and quickly turn the whole lot over. Give at a few thumps to dislodge any stuck tartes. You may have to use a knife or spoon to encourage some of the apples to come out.

Apple ginger sponge

apple scraps from the tarte apples, or a couple of whole apples peeled, cored and chopped.
sugar to taste
1 egg
50g butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little milk
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger

Put the chopped apples in a pot with just enough water to stop them burning until they start to exude their own juice. Add sugar to your taste (I used maybe a tbsp).
Cook the apples until soft and transparent.
Place a dessertspoonful of apple at the base of as many silicon muffin cups as it takes.
Cream the butter and sugar together with the ginger.
Add the egg and mix until smooth.
Add baking powder and the flour, mix.
Add enough milk to make a soft, not quite pouring consistency, batter.
Spoon the batter on top of the apples, then place the muffin cups either in a 180°C oven, or in a covered steamer over boiling water.
Cook until the tops spring back when pressed with your finger.

Can be eaten with custard or cream for dessert, or can go in a packed lunch.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New everyday shoes

Last week I finally had to throw these shoes …

… in the bin. The soles were perfectly good, but the inside part of the uppers had completely lost its integrity and my feet were starting to slide every which way as I walked. It was the rubbish for them, or a broken ankle for me.

I so wish I could have bought a straight replacement - those shoes have been my everyday comfortable shoes for at least ten years and they only cost $20.

The closest I could find was this …

… $169 suede pair by Django & Juliette. They are comfortable, they have a small wedge heel, and they give the same impression of tights and shoes being one continuous item when I wear black tights with them. But I would much rather have paid $20 than $169.

Monday, May 3, 2010


One of the women at work gets salmon from her Rotary Club once a year as a fundraiser.

On Friday she brought my order in, these sides …

…each one just under 1 kg, @ $20 each, and this bag of frozen steaks:

The steaks went into the freezer as is. I cut one side into three and vacuum-packed the pieces for the freezer…

… some of the remaining side got cured for smoking, some got salted…

and some got immediately cooked and eaten.

I've been having a very salmon-snack-ish sort of a weekend.


The spare shower as it is right now:

The new sausage on the right is a saussicon d'Alsace, and the three misshapen looking things on the left are more Spanish chorizo.

Which meant I had pork bones to get rid of.

I thought I may as well cook them and have a gnaw, so the next morning, when I took this …

… out of the oven, I put the (salted) bones in to cook in the residual heat.

After an hour I had this…

Which is rather out of focus. But it was a delicious snack, and now I don't have smelly slimy bones to get rid of.