July 12th 2014 · Read More · No Comments
What could be better on a rainy winter night than roast port belly, vegetables and crackling? And good crackling is so easy once you know the knack.
Start out with a piece of pork belly, ask your butcher to score the skin for you (or use a sharp knife to do it yourself). Preheat the oven as hot as you can, mine goes up to 220 degrees Celsius. Put the piece of pork into a roasting dish, season the bottom with salt and pepper, then flip it over and rub salt into the skin – I use flaky seasalt.
Put the pork into the hot oven and allow to start crackling. The salt and heat will help dry out the skin to give you good hard crackling.
Once the crackling has started, after about 30 minutes (depending on the size of your piece of port belly), add the vegetables. Use your favourite vegetables for roast – we use potatoes, yams, squash, carrots, beetroot and onions – remove the pork, add the vegetables into the pork fat and stir in, then add half a bottle of cider (either pear or apple is fine) and mix vegetables – this will help keep the vegetables and pork moist, and caramelise somewhat too. Put the pork back on top and put back into the hot oven.
Leave the oven up full until the crackling is cooked – you’ll be able to tell by ‘knocking’ on it with a spoon or tongs, it will sound hard. Then turn the oven down to about 180 degrees Celsius until the vegetables are cooked. If you want to add mushrooms and capsicum, do this at the end.
Take the pork out to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy your dinner!
March 29th 2014 · Read More · Comments(5)
One meal I love making, because it is so easy and there is always plenty left for sandwiches, is Beer Can Chicken. It can be done on the BBQ (one with a hood) or in the oven; with roasted veges or with salad and bread.
The basic concept is to steam the chicken from the inside with a can in the cavity, keeping the meat moist. While you can balance your chicken and can, it is much easier with a stand:
Put your stand into a tray to catch the juices during cooking, then add your can of beer, opened (and I usually wash mine first too), into the centre of the stand:
Rinse and dry your chicken, I like the flavour and ethics of free range chicken, then careful lower it, cavity first, onto the beer can and stand. This may be a little tight, so be firm but gentle.
Then put your chicken on the tray into the BBQ or oven at about 180-200 degrees.
At this point, you can add vegetables to the tray to roast. This is great for a winter dinner and the juices coming out of the chicken will keep the veges moist and help them cook with a lot of flavour.
Cook until the skin is crispy and chicken is cooked, about an hour and a half – a meat thermometer is an easy way to check. Carefully take the chicken off the can and stand and carve.
Serve with your roast veges in the winter, or a green salad and fresh bread on a hot summer evening. Then enjoy all the left overs on sandwiches or salad.
If you don’t want to use beer, you can use another can of drink – coke, lemonade, cider, or anything else you can think of.
I have one of these stands to give away, you can earn an entry by commenting on this post, by Liking my Facebook Page, or
a Rafflecopter giveaway
January 20th 2014 · Read More · Comment(1)
On Saturday I was invited to St Arnaud (about 100km from Blenheim) to do my wild food cooking demonstration, Nuisance to Nutritious. I’ve done a couple of these now, and they are always great fun, showing people how easy wild game is to cook and letting them taste some dishes. I had premade my Mrs McGregor’s Pie, Wild Pork Goulash and Goat Curry; I demonstrated Wild Pork and Venison Meatballs.
Mrs McGregor’s Pie was my entry into the Monteiths Wild Recipe Competition, in which I got second place . But I realised that I haven’t shared the recipe on here! So here is my award winning prize recipe:
Mrs McGregor’s Pie
1 onion finely chopped
600g wild rabbit loin chopped into 2cm cubes
1 leek thinly sliced
1 cup flour
Salt & pepper
10 button mushrooms quartered
1 cup wild rabbit stock or chicken stock
1 bottle Monteith’s Radler (or another light beer)
4 tbsp olive oil
Small handful fresh parsley and oregano, finely chopped
Mix flour with some salt and pepper
Toss rabbit in flour mix
Brown the coated rabbit with onion and olive oil
Slowly add the stock and beer while stirring
Add herbs and mushrooms and simmer to reduce and cook through, approximately 30-40 minutes
Line pie dish or single pie dishes with pastry and add mixture
Bake at 200°C until golden
Yield: 2 pies
You can easily freeze the pie filling when cooked, separate into individual servings or in half to make one pie
Replace the mushroom and/or leek with other vegetables
If you don’t have access to rabbit, you can use chicken breast or thigh
This is the picture of me that was in the local paper at the time, the Marlborough Express.
Nuisance to Nutritious
December 21st 2013 · Read More · No Comments
I wanted to make a small gift for some of my friends, and when I found this recipe I knew it was exactly what I needed. It was a quick and easy recipe to make, and came from Wendy’s Kitchen Table
- 150ml Baileys
- 50ml milk
- 30gm butter
- 350gm caster sugar
- 300gm white chocolate (I used Chocolate Melts)
- Line a square 20cm cake tin or baking dish with baking paper – I find if you spray with an oil spray first the baking paper sticks to the dish.
- Measure out 125ml of Baileys and pour into the saucepan.
- Add the milk, butter and caster sugar and put the pan over a low heat. Stir occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted (this takes about 10 min).
- Turn up the heat to medium and stir while the mixture gently simmers. You want the bubbles to be calmly breaking the surface for 10 min. Remove pan from the heat and stir in chocolate and the last 25 ml baileys. Keep stirring until chocolate has melted and you have a smooth consistency. If the chocolate is slow to melt, put the pan over a low heat and stir until smooth.
- Transfer to the tin and chill for at least two hours. I had to leave it out to cool before putting in the fridge.
- Cut into small squares, keep chilled.
I made some little pillow boxes for packaging, you can check out my Papercrafts Blog for how I made these.
July 2nd 2013 · Read More · Comment(1)
I’ve been reading a lovely book called Friendship Bread by Darien Gee, based around baking Amish Friendship Bread and how it brings people together. So I was inspired to try it. I made my own starter using a recipe in the back of the book, and for 10 days of carefully tended to my starter. Rather than keeping it in the usual bag, I bought a plastic container to keep the starter in so it was easy to give it a shake daily.
After the 10 days, I decided to start with the basic bread loaves, so followed the recipe (also in the book) to create two wonderful smelling loaves.
And of course, I had to have a slice!
The hardest part of this was waiting the 10 days for the starter to be ready, but now it is I can bake more often. This is a sweet sourdough, and so can be treated as such, being used and fed. And if you want to give it away then it can be fed more. I was able to give away some of my starter today – some bread, some starter, and my instructions (download here: Amish Friendship Bread).
You can also check out www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com for the recipes, for over 250 other recipes that you can use your starter for, and for a community based around this amazing food. Oh, and if you want a starter, then let me know…I’ve got one that is looking beautiful!
April 24th 2013 · Read More · Comment(1)
Strawberries are one of my favourite fruits, and with rhubarb it is a perfect match!
A while ago, while making a crumble, I made a lot of the crumble topping and froze it in ‘small crumble’ lots:
My recipe is:
- 15o gm white flour
- 50 gm white sugar
- 50 gm butter
Mix the flour and sugar together. Rub in the butter until like fine breadcrumbs – or use your mixer to do this! Sprinkle onto fruit mix, or freeze until required.
We got some rhubarb out of the garden, so I washed it and chopped into small pieces and put into a pot with some orange juice and a sprinkle of sugar. Once it had softened, I added frozen strawberries, letting the heat in the rhubarb melt the strawberries. I tasted to make sure the sweetness was right, then put it into my dish.
Then sprinkled over the crumble mix and put in the oven at about 180 degrees until golden and bubbling. It was so good!
March 29th 2013 · Read More · No Comments
For us, one of the joys of Easter is Hot Cross Buns, and this year I got out my Mum’s Hot Cross Bun recipe – my copy is quite old (dated 1993!) but some things just don’t date. Mum posted this recipe on her website this year too, check out her version here.
This is my twist on her basic recipe.
First start out with getting your yeast going. Put about 1 tablespoon of honey into a heat proof jug or bowl and melt with 150ml of hot water; then add 150ml of cold milk. Your liquid should now be about body temperature, I put my little finger in to check (if it is too hot it will kill the yeast). Sprinkle 3 teaspoons of active yeast over the top and put in a warm spot to get going – I like using the windowsill on a sunny day. You’ll know it is ready once it is frothy on top, like this:
While you are waiting for the yeast to do its thing, start measuring out your dry ingredients:
- 300gm High Grade white flour
- 170gm Wholewheat flour (if you don’t like this, replace with more High Grade flour)
- 30gm Gluten flour - the gluten in the flour is what makes the ‘framework’ when the dough rises, so this helps it along
- 1 tsp salt
- 150-300gm dried fruit mixed – I prefer my hot cross buns to be more fruity so I add quite a lot, and it is just a mixture of what you like, this year I’ve been using raisins, sultanas, mixed peel and chopped dried apricots
- 1 tbsp mixed spice
- 2 tbsp sugar, rounded
Once the yeast is nice and frothy, add to the dried ingredients with one egg, slightly beaten, and approximately 1 tablespoon of neutral oil (I use Rice Bran).
Now mix the ingredients together to form a dough, adding more High Grade flour as required so it isn’t too sticky. Once the dough is formed it needs to be kneaded for about 10 minutes. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, you can use this to mix and knead the dough, it will take about 3 minutes of kneading in a mixer. You will be able to tell if it is kneaded enough by giving it a gentle press and it should bounce right back.
Leave in a warm spot for 15 to 30 minutes depending on how warm it is, it should start to rise. Then knock it down with a little more kneading, spilt into 12 equal parts and shape your buns. Put them on a tray, about a finger width apart, and leave to rise for about an hour – they need to be touching each other to be ready for baking.
Once they are ready for baking, you need to add the crosses. Mix together 2 tablespoon cornflour, 2 tablespoon white flour, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons of milk. This should make a thick paste that can be piped onto your buns with either a piping bag or a small clean plastic bag with the corner cut off.
Once you have crosses on your buns it is time to make them hot! Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until they are golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven the need to have their glaze: mix together 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of hot water, and brush over they hot cross buns.
Leave them to cool for a short time (so you don’t burn your tongue), and then enjoy! Happy Easter everyone.
March 3rd 2013 · Read More · Comment(1)
I love roasted tomatoes with baked salmon, with steak, with mashed potatoes, pretty much everything, especially on cool evening. For some reason the weather here in Blenheim hasn’t been great this weekend, so we had salmon with mash for dinner, and I added roasted tomatoes with mine (The Soux Chef had peas, which I don’t like).
Today I had traffic light tomatoes! I had green and orange tomatoes out of my garden, and some purchased red ones.
After cutting them in half, I sprayed them with olive oil and put on salt and pepper, then into the oven with the salmon.
They were juicy and sweet, and a perfect side dish.
February 20th 2013 · Read More · No Comments
As as child, my mum regularly made fresh bread for our family – I have many memories of making bread shapes to be cooked and eaten for lunch. I recently decided to make a sourdough starter and start making my own bread.
A sourdough starter needs to be made at least 4 or 5 days before it can be used, and it needs to be stirred daily.
Then it replaces some of the yeast in the bread dough – I still add some yeast to help it along, as well as some gluten flour to assist the rising.
And I ended up with a beautiful loaf for dinner, which also made fantastic sandwhiches for lunch!
February 15th 2013 · Read More · No Comments
Last weekend was the Marlbrough Wine & Food Festival, this year there was a greater focus on food with a Culinary Pavilion, part of which was cooking demos. The first one we saw was the three Masterchef winners: Brett McGregor, Nadia Lim, and Chelsea Winter making recipes from Regal Salmon. They all looked and smelt fantastic, and the taste we had of Chelsea’s Regal Salmon Tartare with Lime Mayonnaise was so good.
After watching this demo (in the hot tent!) we went off to find some lunch, our Food & Wine Match choice was from Cloudy Bay & Figaros Cafe: “A taste of two porks”. Braised pork and puha rice pepper roll, and crispy muso pork belly with a apple and haropito salsa. Matched with Cloudy Bay Blanc de Blanc. Very tasty.
The second demo we saw was Al Brown cooking with Cloudy Bay Clams, he did some raw ones as well as some fresh clams on the BBQ, Char Grilled Tuatuas with Horseradish and Fresh Herb Butter. Another recipe for me to try.
It was a great festival, and I feel inspired to try these new recipes – and be assured I will blog about them.