Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Time to head off and stoke the boiler in my ride so I can roll the streets tonight with my crew! 2009 has been a very good year for me, and one of the most memorable in such a long, long time. I've grown more comfortable in the kitchen, and my skill set has grown considerably; I've started my own little business; the blog took off and I have a large and steady readership; I've met so many new people, rediscovered old friends from my past, and for a little while, I was loved by someone special. It's been a very grand year indeed...

Advice for the new year? Don't rely on miracles - make your own good fortune. It sounds glib, but my god, it actually did work for me. Give it a whirl and see what happens.

Have a glorious new year, everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Meet Dan and Gwen. Dan is a local lad; Waipawa born and raised, he's the former owner of a ferocious looking beard, is very well travelled, and in the course of his journeys, met Gwen. Gwen is an American (from Seattle), Jewish and has seen more of this great planet than compatriot Sarah Palin is ever likely to. We were talking at work one day about December and Christmas, when she mentioned that the season for her is experienced a little differently than your average kiwi.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Under Construction

Hello! The blog is undergoing a makeover, minus the Ty Pennington shouty-megaphone bits - I even have a proper web site designer doing the work! The preliminaries look brilliant and once revealed, I'll fill you in on all the background - it's going to look fantastic! I've a few posts to put up before that though, looking at jam and Aunt Daisy, Hanukkah, butcher's blocks and another way of cleaning pans! But those will have to wait, for I'm off to town for some last minute Christmas shopping before starting work at the restaurant. I'll fire off a Christmas post afterwards but till then, have a good day, be civil to each other, and spare a thought to those less fortunate than yourselves - in fact, do more than that; give them something, whether it be food, cash or your time. Bye for now...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Honeyed Whiskey Mustard

Just a quickie today. With the growing abundance of late spring/summer produce, and after last weeks chutney exercise, I've caught the condiment bug. Over the next few weeks, I plan to make some relishes and sauces, but for now, here's an old mustard recipe I've put to work.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Rhubarb & Custard...

...cocktail! I had a little rhubarb left over from the chutney, and still wanting to keep away from the usual things folk make with the red stuff, I thought a drink of some description would be worth a try. So after trawling through my cookbooks and asking the internet, I found this (apologies in advance for the non-metric measurements - I'll change them soon):

Rhubarb, Apricot & Ginger Chutney

At the bottom of your typical New Zealand backyard, just past Francesco the Jack Russell's grave and the smelly old compost pile, is an oft neglected plant found in many a New Zealand back yard: the rhubarb plant. It's a sturdy thing, requiring little in the way of attention; bearing a resemblance to silverbeet, it has long crimson stalks topped with full, leafy green, leaves. 

Friday, December 04, 2009

Reconditioning a Cast Iron Frying Pan

When I'm not busy wrestling middle-aged women for vintage cookbooks at garage sales, I can be found rummaging through piles of bric-a-brac for old kitchen treasures. Say hello to my latest acquisition, an old, cast-off cast iron frying pan. With an eye to restoring it back to its former glory (thanks to Greg's post here), it accompanied me home to the Kai Lab.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Clearing Out the Fridge 2 - Peanut Butter & Jelly Toasted Sandwich

Remember my last post, where I found the membrillo lurking in the back of my fridge? I also came across a jar of Welch's grape jam, an American pantry staple sent to me ages ago by my friend Ashley. This brought immediately to mind a recipe given to me the other day by Gwen, a genuine American citizen living in Waipawa! It's for a peanut butter and jelly toasted sandwich. Here goes...

PB 'n' J Toasted Sandwich
You will need:

  • 2 pieces of white bread
  • butter
  • grape jam or jelly (hard to find but you could try Trademe, Ebay, or the neat Asian food store in Napier near Firecats - they get it in every once in a while, as well as A&W root beer!)
  • smooth peanut butter
Grab a frying pan and heat over a hob on a temperature somewhere between low and medium. While that's happening, butter your two pieces of bread. Flip the slices over and spread thickly with peanut butter. Then spread one piece with a generous helping of grape jelly. Sandwich together with the buttered sides facing outwards. Place in your frying pan and brown first one side, then the other. Remove the pan from the heat, slip your toasted sandwich onto a plate and devour with a glass of milk. God bless America...and antacids.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Clearing Out the Fridge - Membrillo

I was cleaning out my fridge the other day (no treasures to be found, apart from a bottle of creaming soda mix for my Sodastream - w00t!) ) when I came across this, the last of the membrillo I made back in May. Membrillo, originating in Spain, is a firm sliceable paste made from quince, typically served with manchego. Other cheeses work just as well; when I made it, I was shovelling it down with some vintage gouda - delicious! It's still in excellent condition, thanks to its high sugar content and having lived in the fridge all this time.

While quince aren't in season until autumn, knowing how to make membrillo is a handy skill to have. Like lemons and grapefruit in this country, it's not uncommon to see quince languishing on trees and going to waste (a bugbear of mine), due to folk being unaware of their potential. Write this down and consider making it once they're available; quince paste ain't cheap to buy, plus it's immensely satisfying to make. Here's the recipe:

  • 1.8 kg of quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
  • lemon peel, 2 band-aid sized strips
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • sugar - keep it handy; the amount you'll need won't be determined until we start cooking
Place quince pieces in a large pot and cover with water. Add vanilla pod, seeds and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the quince pieces are soft, about half an hour.

Strain the water from the quince pieces. Discard the vanilla pod but keep the lemon peel with the quince. Blitz with a stick mixer or a food processor. Now weigh the quince - whatever amount you have, you'll need the equivalent amount in sugar eg, 5 cups of quince puree = 5 cups of sugar.

Return the quince to the pot. Heat to medium-low. Add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved - this step is important; if it does't dissolve properly, it won't gel. Once done, add the lemon juice.

Continue to cook over a low heat for 1 - 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. The paste will gradually thicken and turn an orangey pink colour.

Preheat oven to a low 55°C. Line an 18 cm x 22 cm pan with baking paper. Grease it with a thin coating of butter and pour in the paste. Using a knife, smooth out the paste so that it's evenly distributed, and place in the oven for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven to cool.
To serve, cut into cubes or wedges and pair with cheese, traditionally manchego. To store, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.

Handy links:

So what exactly is a quince? clickety

Things to do with quince paste clickety