Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So it's been a busy little while since my last update, with work and general family life taking up more time than I had said I would devote to it at the start of the year, how easy it is to walk around and over the comitments we make.

Foodwise it's been a mixed bag with only half of the family here most nights (Eve waitresses at Strawberry Fare - a dessert restaurant famed for being on the site of an old mortuary - not much else) and Bryn now also working front of house at the Mexican Cafe in Newtown, the second only ever boy to work there (the first was the owners nephew)

I have to own up here, we have been eating there since Bryn was just old enough enough to sit in a high chair and throw up on their carpet when a corn chip got stuck halfway down his greedy throat, and Eve worked there in her first incarnation as a waitress, so he was a walk in when he got old enough.(he's now almost 15 and a half)

So for most of the week I find myself halving portion sizes or over catering and finding myself with lunch for the next day, not that bad really.

It's been a quick steak on the grill, pork chops and salad and then tonight Bryn and Zoe combined to produce Rosti, not bad at all except that Bryn grated the potato on a very small sized hole on the grater instead of using rhe mandoline so a touch more like a dense crispy potato pancake than a light air filled rosti, but tasty all the same.

Eating out has also been sporadic, Yum Cha at Golden century a week back (Saturday morning of the Sevens weekend so quiet) and that's been about it.

All fairly standard except the New Years rice cakes, very gelatinous, slightly caramelized surface as if pan fried after being set as a slab (like grilling or pan frying polenta perhaps?) but with a restrained sweet taste, something I find is rare with asian sweet meats as most are either hugely sweet or are strangely unsweet.

Will have to search my cookbook shelves and see if I have anything that offers a recipe for this.

We are in the end stage of re-decorating our main lounge upstairs, sounds grand but really our place is a slightly odd layout. Two bedrooms down, a kitchen that joins into a dining/lounge type area at the back of downstairs and a single bathroon, small study/office and a single bedroom upstairs. And then the room, the entire front of the upstairs facing North is a single room, flooded with sun year round and now completely redone (except for the carpet) and ready for bookshelves in the 'reading' corner. This will allow me to pull close to 200 cookbbooks out of storage and have these out and at my fingertips. I cannot wait.

In a later post I'll start to share the range of these, as I have been at times an avid garage sale haunt, and managed over a few years to obtain some older and rarer NZ originals;

I've listed a few below (and will over time share a few of the recipes contained within the pages of these pieces of history, especially those that deal with recession time cooking options), I have some already out and just pulled three down; these are,

The "Peace" Recipe Book, an effort by a returned soldiers wife (Veteran African War) Elsie G Harvey and published by N.Z Newspapers at the Star Office, Auckland. There is no publishing date but so perhaps  sometime soon after 1915? if that refernce is the 2nd Boer War?

Practical Home Cookery Chats and Recipes, written and selected by Katrine, Cookery Editress late "Weekly Press" printed in Christchurch in 1929 by Simpson and Williams Ltd

The Blue Triangle Cookery Book - published in Aid of the Funds of the Y.W.C. A., Wellington - again no publishing date.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Eating out - St John's Bar

So I manage to eat out on accasion, not often but often enough to be able to pick and choose between the where and when.

My most recent opportunity was at the St John's Bar, an old Ambulance station turned into a bar and restaurant, with a fantastic outside area that's full of tables and oversized bean bags in the summer.

I was meeting with a supplier and a colleague and just had time for a quick lunch. A short but sharp menu allowed me to select the roasted salmon fillet, with salad greens and a very simple balsamic dressing.

Coupled with a glass of Lorenz Pinot Gris it was simple and very well prepared and delivered, only issue I had was that the menu made no mention of bread or toasted bread and the salmon arrived sitting on four segments of toatsed sourdough.

Not a major issue but for someone fully celiac a probable major, simply lifted the salmon aside and handed it to my colleague to eat with his seafodd risotto. All in all in and out in less than 60 minutes with a very freindly waitress, good prompt service and a smile.

I didn't take any photos so can't offer any up, but can recommend the St John's Bar as a destination for both food and wine.


Monday, February 1, 2010

The Tuscan feast

Well I set up the menu here a while back, now I probably need to offer up some recipes and photos from last Friday  night. The below photo is the start point of the Pomodoro gratinati - gratineed tomatoes with herbs, garlic and cheese

of course before this the squid

This is prior to the BBQ treatment, a slight char grilling the into the marinade of olive oil, chillis, parsley and lemon juice.

I have to admit this was underwhelming if the exact recipe was followed. My critics commented rapidly that this was initally insipid so a rapid increase in lemon juice, Maldon sea salt and fresh ground black pepper helped big time.

I think next time I'll jazz it up with a blast of extra chilli or lemon or perhaps something like a Thai dipping sauce turned to a marinade solution.

This was the Verdure miste arrosto - mixed roasted vegetables before they went under the heat

and then the end result

+ the Tagliata con rucola ed aceto balsamico - grilled sirloin on rocket salad

a single sirloin piece that I sectioned so that I could could deliver rare, medium and well done portions across the rocket and parmesan salad and followed up, later by the end of the evening by the

Frutti col nocciolo arrostiti con il marscapone della vaniglia - roasted stonefruits with vanilla sugar marscapone. This was served with Brown Brthers Lexia and a perfect mix, of course by the time I served this up I was feeling little pain, a solution of Pinot Gris, Risling and of course the Lexia. 

the evening was an unmitigated success as only all evenings with friends can be - best times you can ever have.

The reborn card table

So one thing I haven't mentioned here so far is that the wife (Zoe) is something of a designer, having owned her own fabic design company (EONZ) and also having managed the decor all the various houses lived in over the years.

And as I have mentioned we glamp every summer so having the appropiate accessories are required. Last holiday the fold out table fell apart, it was about time I guess as it was a purchase at the Red Shed some time back.

So Zoe goes online to Trademe searching for a folding card table, this is what she found.
an old feltless card table for $5, a stunning buy.

Problem is that the seller was based in Palmerston North, 2 1/2 hours north of where we live, so how to get it to our place. Answer - Sara and Adrian live not that far way so a quick request and the deal was done, they deliver the talble and I'm pimped out to cook a meal, thus the Tuscan feast last Friday night.

A quick trip to the Spotlight store and voila

the end result, is a glamorous art deco style table, covered in white vinyl with black brad tacks for the contrast

End result the stunning photo above, a table that will not only become a central point for any possible card or board games we willhave at the campsite next time - but also a dinner table if required and whatever else we find it useful for.