Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I spoke to my Dad tonight on the phone. He told me he does not want to read about any potential relationship status updates on my blog and has advised, with only a hint of slight worry in his voice, that I "stick to food". He should know by now that my reply would most likely be "you don't have to read it!" or something like "It's my blog and I'll write what I want!"
He should also be aware that I never got him back for the time when I was in my second year at University, and like a dutiful daughter living out of town I called home one night. He answered. "It's your favourite daughter" I said. "Hi love" he returned. The conversation continued for about 30 seconds, and when I mentioned something about Wellington he said "ohhhh it's you". He'd thought up until that point that it was my then-Sydney-residing older sibling. Apparently we sound remarkably similar on the phone. It did not go down well.
However, as instructed, in honour of my dear Dad, a blog post herewith dedicated only to food. Without a single mention of multiple hangovers, coffee dates, funnelling Double Brown, wrestling, or kebabs. Just flour and butter and milk and sugar. With love x
(Seriously, these are ridiculously easy. I made them for a work morning tea a couple of weeks ago at a colleague's request, and they are cheap, easy, quick and totally dreamy. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea mid-morning, hot out of the oven. I googled "cinnamon scrolls" and "pinwheel scones" amongst other things, and essentially made up the recipe from a combination of a whole lot of stuff I read. Enjoy!)
2 cups self-raising flour
2/3 cup milk
100g soft butter
2 tblsp soft brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200*C
Put flour and salt in a bowl. Chop butter into chunks and rub through the flour until well mixed in.
Make a well in the centre and add milk. Mix it together with a butter knife, with a cutting-through type motion.
Knead briefly on a floured surface until smooth.
Roll out into a rectangle (approximately 25cm x 40cm).
For the filling - mix all ingredients in a bowl, and spread all over the dough.
Roll up the dough along the longest edge. Slice into approximately 3cm slices. Lay on a greased tray cut side up.
Bake for 12 minutes until golden.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Mid morning on Monday saw me hit a wall. A deep lull set in and I found myself staring out the window contemplating my existence. I was overwhelmed with everything; I felt like I was having a life dilemma. This afternoon and the same thing: What's the point of it all? What's the meaning of this terrifying, busy and exciting thing we call life? WHY ARE WE ALL HERE?
I stopped that though. I calmed down. I regained my equilibrium (as my Mother would say). I clicked. I was extremely tired because I had spent the previous four nights on the "not" end of the sober-spectrum. Day by day the memories returned and it all, sort of, started to make sense.
I rediscovered my love of Central Otago Pinot Noir with one friend before meeting another at Duke Carvell's. We talked and talked over a bottle of Riesling and delicious tapas which included a flaming ouzo cheese (not actually that delicious - too salty, and a hefty $17) and amazing gnocchi (full of cheese, and $9). I found the menu smaller and not as great and more expensive than last time I was there in December, but it was still a really fun night and I still rate it as a place to visit.
After work, I drank lots of beer and ate lots of extremely spicy chicken wings and stumbled all the way home making drunken phone calls.
My flatmates and I went to a fancy dress flat warming in matching polar fleece pink heart covered onesies, amongst other things. Wine, gin and beer were obviously required.
And on Sunday:
Three out of four of us cooks were hungover for Pasta Sunday; luckily the talented Mr Stanley, who was at the kitchen-helm, was the one who restrained himself the night before. It was a grey, cold and drizzly Wellington Sunday, and we busted open the first bottle of red at about 3pm. We fed 16 people five courses of amazing fresh pasta, and had a few cheeky mugs of Mulled Wine.
With this film reel of hazy memories rolling back through my mind, it dawned on me that it was no bloody wonder I was feeling a bit blah and was too tired to get excited and was contemplating the meaning of life in a very melancholy kind of way.
To remedy my situation? Well, I've been to two kickboxing-type gym classes in the last day and a half. I've rewritten my list of current goals. After buying too many groceries to comfortably walk home with, I sweated up a storm overloaded like a pack horse before making myself crispy-skinned salmon and sesame soba noodles with a bucket load of vegetables for dinner. I've got friend after friend after friend visiting over the next few weeks when there'll be plenty of fun to be had.
I've also just taken two beautiful banana cakes out of the oven, having unashamedly licked the bowl clean. It's this recipe from this lovely blog and the very ripe bananas were from a box labelled "Free Bananas - Help yourself!" at Lambton Goods (a small mini-mart on Lambton Quay, where you'll often be served by a guy whose babies my friend wants to have). The cakes smell delicious; one will be taken up the country with my flatmate's little brother who is on uni holidays, and the other I will try and avoid eating at all costs.
I'm feeling much better. I've chilled out, and reminded myself I can do it all, I don't have to decide anything right now except whether to ice the cakes with chocolate or lemon icing, and in the meantime I'm taking the advice of the blackboard at Aro Cafe.
Happy Tuesday. And, whilst not putting any unnecessary pressure on myself, fresh pasta feast will be blogged next. Promise x
Sunday, June 19, 2011
This weekend has been the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night, and which means - I think - that it will be getting brighter in the mornings and maybe it'll be easier for me to get up before 7.30am from now on.
Growing up, our family and two others used to get together every year on Solstice weekend. We went from all being in Auckland, to one in Wellington, then the other in Palmerston North, Rotorua and others. Each year we would load up the car, deal with sisterly fights over music and the middle seat, and battle car-sickness to all get together. Each family has three kids and one thing was constant wherever the location, and that was mulled wine (for the adults!). Whatever we did during the day, the mulled wine would have been in the slow-cooker all day for the parents to enjoy on the Saturday night. With 9 kids between us we always found ourselves entertained, and these family traditions are pretty funny to look back on. We ended up seeing a lot of the country over the years, and lots of fun was had.
This year I decided that in honour of this history I would make mulled wine for Solstice weekend. I made it for the first time a couple of years ago with my friend Rachel. We'd spent the day getting chilled to the bone watching our mates play soccer, and had gone home to our flat and made a huge batch of spicy pumpkin soup and mulled wine. That time we got the quantities wrong - mixing into a pot 2 bottles of cheap red with the better part of a bottle of brandy. Recapping the recipe the next day with a very hazy head I realised the correct quantities are about 2 tablespoons of brandy to a bottle of red. Tonight I was a little more liberal than Mum's recipe, adding a glug of brandy and a litttle rum (since it was what was in the cupboard) to a cask of soft red. It was spicily, warmly delicious and went exceptionally well alongside 5 amazing fresh pasta courses. They'll be blogged when I'm not quite under the influence of mug after mug. Happy Solstice!
1 cask of soft red wine (or two cheap bottles of red)
A decent glug of brandy or rum (or if it's Saturday night, the better part of a bottle)
An orange or two, stuffed with whole cloves
A cinnamon stick
A splash of orange juice
A sprinkle of brown sugar
A pinch of mixed spice
Put all ingredients in a large pot, or a slow cooker. Bring to heat and allow to infuse. Enjoy in mugs with a group of friends.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Bemoaning my lack of blogspiration, yet again, the other night over a cup of tea and a slightly disasterous but still tasty rhubarb, honey and banana muffin, my flatmate likened me to those artists whose really good work only comes when they're at rock bottom. I'm in this happy grey sunshiney bubble, and whilst that's all well and good, whinging seems to make the best blog-fodder. He reckoned you need those extreme blacks and whites rather than greys to get the best work. Maybe it's because I'm teetering on the edge of something exciting. Maybe I'm happy just chugging along. Maybe I'm just insanely busy, or, too busy receiving text messages that leave me beaming while walking down the street to have a big whinge. Maybe it's about time I got drunk and did something embarrassing. Maybe it's time for a recipe!
Last weekend, unhungover on Saturday, I went out to Lyall Bay and paid a visit to one of my favourite cafes before having a wander along the beach. I had a couple of Havana coffees and a peach oaty. Sunday saw me stop by another favourite, Deluxe on Kent Terrace, and the same oaty was in the cabinet. I cheekily asked the baker, who was tucked behind the well stocked and beautifully filled cabinet, what was in it. She let me in on the ingredients list, but not the quantities. She also said "spices" and "nuts and seeds" so I just went with what was in my cupboard. I gave it a go and the result was pretty goddamn delicious. I love their food!
A valiant attempt at Deluxe/Maranui/Queen Sally's Fruit Oaty slice! (with thanks to the Deluxe baker-lady who let me in, roughly, on the ingredients. Also, it's Gluten Free and Dairy Free. Huzzah!)
1 cup Rolled Oats
3/4 cup rice flour (Deluxe uses spelt flour aswell as rice flour)
2/3 cup ground almonds
a sprinkle of sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup thread coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup rice bran oil
A tin of peaches, or whatever fruit you fancy
A sprinkle of mixed spice
Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add honey (I microwaved it because I used clover honey) and oil and mix to combine with a wooden spoon.
Grease a rectangular brownie pan or slice tin and line with baking paper. Press in half the mixture. Drain peaches and lay over the mixture. Crumble over the rest of the mixture.
Bake in a 180*C oven for about 25 minutes until golden. Serve slathered in yoghurt if you want the true Deluxe experience. Enjoy!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Pre-coffee on Monday morning (and therefore somewhat dangerous) I received an email (from the night before) which started off well and good and entertaining enough, but which finished with: PS - I can't believe you wasted today wallowing in domesticity.
To clarify - my Sunday was not wasted wallowing in anything, thank you very much. As well as dishes and vacuuming and whipping up tasty fruit based vodka drinks, I managed to fill my Sunday (and Saturday for that matter) with all sorts of other things - which included (but was in no way limited to) caramel walnut tarts and coffee with fellow foodies at Floriditas, a trip to Lyall Bay, scrambled eggs (accompaniments of choice currently standing at Vogels toast, parmesan cheese and Anathoth tomato relish), and downing a bottle of cheap red while watching some friends Iguana Wrestle. Don't ask.
I'm standing by my decision to get domestic - cleaning the house whilst watching the Silver Ferns win was time well spent. I was especially grateful when I got home exhausted on Monday night after my return to the gym following recent carb-on-carb shenanigans (and while we're on the topic, for a classier take on carb-on-carbs, how good does this pecorino potato and mint ravioli look?!).
Anyway! Last night I had the pleasure of attending the media launch for the third annual Wellington on a Plate culinary festival. It's on from 5-21 August 2011 here in the windy city - 17 days of set menus at fancy restaurants for cheap, events involving truffles, cupcakes, blindfolds and martinis to name but a few, specialty burgers, and needless to say, lots and lots of eating.
I judge events/weddings/parties/anything-that-requires-schmoozing by the finger food - I love finger food - and the fancy high tea and bubbles theme was pulled of a treat on Tuesday evening by the organisers and Ruth Pretty catering. Mini pies of snapper with a parmesan crumb, traditional pork with a tasty tasty relish, and fancy potato top were highlights. That was alongside little salmon sammys and before baby macarons and neenish tarts. It was all washed down with delicious bubbles from Palliser Estate. I was also lucky enough to push through those internet/flesh boundaries and meet for real Rosa aka Mrs Cake, Laura from Hungry and Frozen, and Jo from the Wellingtonista. We went for a wine afterwards at my new favourite bar Cuckoo Cocktail Emporium. They now do daytime coffee too! My friend and I had a goss-swap coffee date on their outdoor couches in the sun the other day at lunch time. It was lovely.
It is shaping up to be a food filled August, and as well as a great excuse to catch up with as many friends as possible over swanky lunches I normally couldn't afford, I'll also try and get to some of the events. And maybe, just maybe, if I play my cards right, I'll even get taken out on a dinner date or two - it is my birthday month after all. There appears to be something for most budgets; I know I'll be embracing burgers at restaurants I've always wanted to go to - starting with Martin Bosley's! There's also a baking competition, so if you love your butter and sugar creaming there are some pretty sweet prizes to be won. The program came out today, so get reading and watch this space!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
If your Sunday afternoon has been spent embracing domesticity, might I suggest you take 5 minutes to prepare yourself a tasty beverage to help you through the remainder of the evening. This will work especially well if you have the house to yourself, with lamb shanks slow cooking in your oven, and an entire weekend's worth of dishes sitting on your bench, looming on the horizon like a dark cloud. Ideally you've already done loads of washing, changed your sheets, and extensively vacuumed the whole house's living area. Grab a glass, put Lady Gaga's new single on full volume, and enjoy! (Note: if you're like I was until very recently, and cannot forgive Gaga's lack of pants-wearing, try this song by Arcade Fire instead. I've been cranking them all weekend; they are awesome).
The Vodka Plum Citrus Tart
Fill a glass with ice. Pour in a shot of vodka (if you're lucky, the vodka was left by a friend of your flatmate's the last time they had pre-concert drinks, and it's Ruby Red Absolut).
Add 3 tablespoons of plum syrup or plum juice (ideally, this was leftover from the tin of black doris plums you were going to make a plum cake or plum meringues with, but you instead just ate, slowly but surely over the weekend).
Squeeze in the juice of half a large mandarin (if mandarins happen to be the only current fruit in your fruit bowl. If you're blessed with oranges, feel free to go ahead and use them instead).
Top with soda water. Enjoy, safe in the knowledge that one: you are a domestic goddess two: your lamb shanks are nearly ready and three: your flatmates will love you for cleaning. Happy Sunday!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The chip butty, according to wikipedia, is a sandwich made with bread and french fries, often with some sort of sauce such as tomato sauce (ie ketchup) or brown sauce. It was originally considered a working-class meal and was served in pubs.
The chip butty, according to me, is a sandwich made with one folded slice of white bread (slightly grainy is acceptable if the only dairy dictates it), buttered (or margarined), loaded to the brim with hot chips from a fish and chip shop near a beach, slathered in tomato sauce. They are particularly enjoyable at about 5pm, if hungover, washed down with some sort of soft drink, as a precursor to a night on the gins, beers, Cranium (where the girls beat the boys) and 500, by a fire with a ramshackle group of friends on the Sunday night of a long weekend.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
1. On Mugs
I'm a recovering mug snob. I've slowly but surely had my snobbery exposed and beaten out of me by my male house mates. We're an even gender-split in our home of four, and I was told this evening all I brought to the table was theft (one of them lost his camera cord; I of course stole it) and feminism (after getting taunted with this article and rolling my eyes in a classic "don't get me started" kind of way). "Oh and you can bake alright too" one of them added for effect.
I used to really only like drinking my tea out of one of a set of four Country Road mugs I'd been given for my birthday a few years ago. One male flatmate recently took to purposely making my tea not in my mug of choice, knowing how much it grated me. We had a purge recently of surplus crockery - to the brown box they were banished - and my neuroses around mug usage were laid bare. I love mismatched plates, and I really enjoyed reading about Joy the Baker's plate collection a couple of days ago, but mugs I'm just a little bit funny about.
And so I'm making a concerted effort to love the other mugs the boys insist on keeping on the shelf. All different shapes and everything. One of them returned recently from a brief sojourn in Europe and on purpose returned with a souvenir mug that's actually very cute. I've learnt to love it; it's amazing how good two mismatched mugs can look side by side, full of fresh morning coffee, on top of the Sunday paper, whilst lazing on the couch, Band of Horses playing, pre-winter sunshine pouring in.
2. On Scones
I'm cooking again on Good Morning this Tuesday, post long-weekend shenanigans. I made these savoury pumpkin scones for my workmates bright and early yesterday morning, and they're going to feature on the show. They didn't rise as intended, but I think I know why and have altered the recipe and technique accordingly. And if not, then I'll just look silly on national television. Again. Remember the disastrous cauliflower soup? (it is actually delicious, and it is soup season, so don't let my technological incompetence put you off trying it!)
3. On the Weekend ahead
The fridge is stocked full of tasty ingredients, all ready to come away with us for a long weekend with a bunch of mates at the beach. I'll be off to the mighty Wairarapa after work tomorrow and culinary features of a bach holiday will include banana bread, homemade burgers, that bread, tasty salads and along with board games and good music, lots and lots of cheap red wine. Wherever you are and whatever you're up to, enjoy!