Sunday, June 20, 2010

And of course I own a few cookbooks, maybe a few more than a few, or in reality many more than a few.

And when we moved to our current house to my joy there were fitted bookshelves either side of the chimney in the downstairs lounge area, right next to the kitchen so my books would be close on hand.

Problem, though is that the space isn't big enough for the whole set so there's a stack of them tucked away in plastic boxes in our storage space under the rental house we own.

Never mind, the one's I either use the most or the ones I just like to wander through on occasion are here. Plus in the magazine stands in the hallway I have every single Cuisine magazine from No2 through to the current edition, with the notable exception of magazine No1 - I don't have it, I want it and can't find it, most are here in the stack, but having run our of space there the rest are now finding their way into a new stack in the lounge.
Today - time for a clean out and a redo of the where on the shelves each book sits, so hauled them all down  and then cleaned the shelves and then re-stacked them.

I'll bring a few of the stored books out into the light of day again sometime soon, it'll be interesting to see what I though I could do without a while back

Also on the shelves are a number of books involving food, travel and or food + travel, books I've brought to read prior to my trips to India or Italy, and others for places I've not got to and aren't likely to get to soon. I'll take a look through these soon and make some suggestions you may enjoy reading yourself.

I'll also start listing some of the odder books I have, shuddering stops at the sight or a sign reading 'garage sale' over the years mean I have a collection of old, add and different books that provide a view into the worlds and thoughts of wither the time of the publication or the people who've put the book together.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday night, Zoe's at home and the kids are not. Bryn's slinging plates at The Mexican Cafe ( a local mex place run by a Cambodian couple where we started eating at when Bryn was in a high chair) and Eve's some where else, presumably with the boyfriend.

So when Zoe suggests steak and spuds, as a simple end of week option - easy right!

You'd think so but, then I've had a day to forget so am looking for some redemption and outlet, so a salad of mixed lettuce, rocket, watercress and feta and red onions whipped up, small spuds are washed, boiled soft then crushed in hot garlic and chilli infused olive oil (my own) and tossed in a hot oven with many sprigs of rosemary.

Then what else? - a can of Italian cherry tomatoes tossed into a hot saucepan with crushed garlic and olive oil then simmered down to a warm syrupy mass to be drizzled across the steak - ah yes the steak, sirloin, fat on and just simply sprinkled with good Maldon sea salt to bring the juices to the surface, then laid gently into a cast iron pan over a low heat, then blasted to bring a firm crust forward and then set aside to rest in the pan to allow the juices to resettle.

oh - and a bag of 4 baby Bok Choy, simmered over a mix of water and sesame oil (nutty back notes) till soft and melting just for some green on the plate.

to go with - a bottle of Santa Cristina 2008 Toscana, a 90% / 10% blend of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes, and if that gets dry at the bottom, then a Villa Maria Merlot, 2009 vintage to soften the end game

Monday, June 7, 2010

Well that last post was all but The Last Post.

When I mentioned that Bryn was turning bananas into banana cake etc. what I completely forgot to say was for him to remove the beef and let it sit while he upped the heat etc.

Instead he moved to the bottom of the oven and turned the heat up to cook the cake, and then left the heat up. Bugger.

End result - a close to caramelised onion/vegetable base with a very dry piece of eye round perched on top like a fishing boat with the tide out. Good news was there was enough time to scoot down the road, grab two x corn fed chickens and present them side by side roasted up alongside crispy roast Agria spuds, golden kumara and buttered carrots.

(these are simple, peel slice and simmer for as long as you have, then add a knob of unsalted butter and a few grindings of black pepper, stir and drain and serve alongside)

Anyway, after the dust has settled Bryn and I attempted to salvage the eye round but to no avail, was way to dry and the onions etc. more burnt than caramelised so binned it was.

Zoe's been on the road (well sky) again, TMLP in Sydney over the first two days of the Queen's Birthday weekend but back at midnight last night so tonight it's a Weight Watchers dinner for us and the Tuia's.

Not sure what weight Zoe's lost but the boy has dropped over 3kg and is very happy with himself, he's really taken to counting up his daily points allocation and is noticing the difference especially out on the rugby field.

So when dinner was floated as an idea and the weather has been wet and cold all weekend (except for Saturday which out of the last 15 days was the one fine and sunny one) I went to Ribollita as a perfect solution, white beans - so canned ceci , fagiola bianch di spagna, and fagioli cannellini (chickpeas, butter beans, and white beans, one can of the canned cherry tomatoes,
two red onions, garlic, dried thyme and some thinly sliced ham, and a hunter sausage (finely diced) all went into the big red la creuset pot over a low heat, water to cover and all simmers away for an hour or so.

The whole thing will be served up in bowls and spoons - for those who choose no to this, the pumpkin soup livened up with assorted Moroccan spices will be option number two.

This one's really easy, slice the pumpkin (Crown or whatever you've chosen, works just as well with squash etc. or kumara) lay in a roasting pan and sprinkle with the spices then roast at a low heat until tender.

Let it all cool and while this is happening slice and gently cook sliced onions, garlic and a little added spice in a large stock pot.

Add the roast pumpkin (skin removed) to the onion mix - add chicken stock or water to cover and simmer.

Once all is cooked - I use a hand wand mixer to blend and then adjust spices, salt etc and simmer a while longer. I often find at this stage I need to add more stock or water to thin the soup down and on occasion have added Indian or Thai curry paste instead of the spice (roasted the pumpkin plain) and at the end blended in coconut cream for a slightly different option.

Also, while I was sorting this all out, Zoe and Bryn chose to make a WW recipe that they enjoyed one night last week while I was out, basically a big spanakopita so there's been spinach, feta, ricotta and filo pastry flying and that's all in the oven baking away - so for this time at least  he's answered the basic question.....