Saturday, October 30, 2010

Miserable spring day

These photos were taken from my bedroom window. The first is across the hill, showing my lovely dwarf blossom tree getting blown to bits, the weeds growing rampant in my garden,  and a couple of sheep through the fence …

… the second is angled down the hill, showing the grey skies, grey harbour, and my neighbour's mottley lavender hedge:

Last weekend I was away "with the boys", partying in Timaru. Haven't really done any cooking recently, and all this weather makes me want to do is curl up in bed with a book. Which I am about to go and do, prior to getting ready to go out for dinner with the visiting brother of one of my friends tonight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Utility" sandals

I bought these a couple of months ago from, they were on special.

I'd lusted after them from the first time I saw them, and waited patiently for the sale. The weather is now good enough for me to wear them, and they do need some wearing in. A bit stiff; my little toes got slightly rubbed after a morning at work and a 2 km lunchtime walk.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lamb pasties and meatballs

Here is my weekend experimentation.

Lamb mince, half an onion, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 heaped tsp harissa, 2 cloves garlic chopped, an egg, and a big bunch of parsley chopped finely. And some salt.

Mixed it all together, then divided it in half.

First half: Added about a cup of chopped cabbage …

… mixed it up:

Made some pastry. Sort of cheating shortcrust. A bit less butter than a true shortcrust, no egg yolk, but half a teaspoon of baking powder. Rolled it out …

… and cut four bread-and-butter-plate sized rounds:

A quarter of the lamb/cabbage mix in the middle of each …

… then folded over and sealed, then into a hot (200°C) oven for 15 mins, followed by about 40 mins at 180°C:

No fruit jam open right now, so I used up the scraps in a savoury sort of turnover. Still a bit sweet, it's some capsicum jam I tried to make a while ago. Didn't set very well so I boiled it for ages until it is more like a spicy capsicum toffee, but it tastes good.

And the turnover was yummy.

As are the pasties.

The cabbage keeps them moist and I've been having them cold for lunch.

Second half of the lamb mix:

Added some breadcrumbs …

… mixed it all up …

… and made little meatballs:

After I'd fried them I put them in the oven with some water to cook properly through. Cooked them until the water had all evaporated, maybe half an hour?

They're also tasty.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marmite spaghetti

Loretta, who is a moderator on Just Bento, mentioned this article by Nigella Lawson, and said she had tried the Marmite spaghetti which is towards the bottom of the article. Sounded odd to me, but I thought I'd try it just to see. It wanted dried spaghetti and I have some in the pantry that needs using up.

Spaghetti into boiling salted water …

 … curled around as it softened …

… then boiled until al dente.

Butter …

… and Marmite (we have a different Marmite, so English Marmite is rebranded "Our Mate" here) …

… into a pot and melted together:

 The cooked spaghetti is tossed in it with a little of the cooking water, then some parmesan cheese …

… is grated on top:

Nigella says all children love it. I'm not a child, so maybe that explains why I didn't. But then I'm not a huge Marmite/Vegemite fan either, so it was probably expecting a bit much to think that putting the stuff on spaghetti would instantly turn it into something delicious.

That's my home-made parmesan, by the way.

Haggis pies

What to do with left over haggis?

You can fry it and have it with eggs, which is good, but it gets a bit boring after a while. I decided to make haggis pies and see if they were any good cold for lunch.

I made a sort of scone-y pastry, not too much fat. And I used half and half wholemeal and white flour, with a handful of rolled oats added in just for fun.

I cut roughly 10 cm/4 inch circles of the rolled out dough and put a teaspoon of haggis on half of them…

… wet the edges and sealed the other half of them on top, with one turnover, because there was an odd number:

Then I baked them for 15 minutes or so in a hot oven:

They weren't too bad. Better warm than cold, but edible even cold. Next time I do it though, I'll put a spoonful of some sort of relish or sauce in as well to help with moistness and to add a bit more flavour.

Being prepared

I have a lot of "heritage" carrots in my garden. I don't even like carrots very much, but they're good for adding flavour to stews and suchlike. The other day I bought some onions, leeks, and celery, and prepped a big batch of aromats to freeze. It makes things so much easier not having to keep the things around just in case I might want to make a stew, and I don't end up throwing them away.

Carrots - every colour under the sun …

… grated …

… sweated in my monster frypan (about 45cm/18 inches across) over a low heat in oil with five chopped onions …

… leeks …

… chopped and added to the carrots and onions …

… celery …

… likewise …

…then the whole lot stirred and sweated for at least half an hour …

 … until they're all soft and mooshy:

Then I divided them into six aliquots and froze them, all ready to put into stews and casseroles and save me bucketloads of time.

A Duck. Pt 3, prosciutto & confit

Thought I'd better finish of the duck posts.
The finished prosciutto:

They're both delicious, I think I prefer the one with the smoke on it though. The smoke is quite subtle, but it adds just a little more depth to the flavour.

The confit after being in the fridge for a couple of weeks:

I melted the fat and extracted on leg and one rump …

 … which I baked in the oven until crispy on the outside:

Very yummy. I nibbled on the rump and cut the leg in two to take to work for lunches. I've since eaten leg number two as well.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I've been doing a bit of knitting over the last couple of months. I made a few things for me, then some things for my granddaughters.

A pink jersey for the big one:

She loves pink.

A purple jersey for the little one:

Because I got really really sick of pink.

Then a pale green short sleeved cropped cardigan that should fit either girl:

Because the big one and the little one are actually the same size around their chests and tummies.The big one is just a bit taller.

The big one (Emily) is turning five very soon, she's very excited.
I have started a pale blue cropped cardi too, but it's gone by the wayside a bit, what with the visitors and everything. I'm not sure when I'll get around to finishing it, because I have a pretty full-on schedule for the next few months.

Visitors and eating out

I've had visitors for the last week and a half; my brother and his family came for part of the school holidays. My sister-in-law was competing in the New Zealand ice skating championships so the rest of the family tagged along.

 My brother only stayed for four days, but the others just went home yesterday. This has meant I have been very busy, and I ate out a lot! We three adults had lunch at Ombrellos last Thursday; Tania (sister-in-law), my niece and her girl cousin had lunch at a new café over the road from work on Wednesday; and Tania, my niece and nephew and their boy and girl cousins had lunch at Capers (a place where I used to eat regularly but hadn't been for years) yesterday. Tania and her parents and I went out to a winemakers dinner on Tuesday night, and my brother, all four kids, and some other friends came out for a Scottish dinner at my house last Saturday while Tania was practicing her skating.

Here's the winemakers dinner menu:

It's a degustation menu so no choice, but very very delicious. The chef chooses the food to go with the wine, rather than the other way around, so the food flavours are quite subtle. My favourite of the four courses was the beef broth, which was served with a rosé of all things. It was a most unusual dish, and came with three eating utensils! There was a soup spoon for the broth, and a knife and fork for the beef belly (which I think must be a posh name for brisket, but with all fat removed). This was one piece of meltingly tender and gelatinous caramelised meat, sitting in the middle of a plate of a wonderfully rich and slightly sweet broth.

Another surprising mix of flavours was the cauliflower and mint beignet that came with the duck galantine. I'd never have thought of putting cauliflower and mint together, but it was gorgeous. The mint flavour was only just perceptible and the beignet itself was super-light and tender.

The winemakers turned out to be the parents of one of the PhD students where I work, and did quite well out of us. Tania bought a mixed case of the wines to take home to Auckland! I hope my brother likes them, although I can't imagine anyone not liking the rosé and the pinot gris - they were something quite special.

I wish I had remembered to take photos of the Scottish dinner, but I didn't. We had  Cullen skink to start with, then haggis with neeps and tatties, then cranachan, which the girl cousins made, for dessert. Our friend Robert brought his vegetarian sister with him, so I also made a broccoli soup and a vegetarian haggis. The vegetarian haggis was made of grated carrots and swede and chopped nuts and lentils and beans, and I thought it was a bit of an abomination myself, but the kids ate it and the vegetarian seemed to enjoy it so it can't have been that bad.