Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Been there


Done that.

In contrast to the tropical picture of a few posts ago, this was not the warmest location. But a beautiful one.

The wind carried mist of the pounding surf and the desolate feel and colour of the day made a nip of Vecchia Romagna taste very good indeed. And given the coming forecast, perhaps a prerequisite!

Stay warm everyone!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sticky date pud

As the evening temperatures drop well into the single digits, my thoughts turn to pudding after a meal more than any other time of year. Comforting and warming, pudding also fills the house with the sweet scent of baking. It's as good a reason as any to have someone over and put the jug on..

This is a take on Nigella's sticky date pudding. It's a sort of self saucing version and since we are most keen on self saucing puds, I thought this would be interesting to try.

While not bad, not bad at all actually, I think I prefer to keep with my old recipe and make a separate sauce. Although I'll happily return to this when there is a crowd around and it will all be eaten the day it is made. The thing about the self saucing puds is that, while it still tastes good, the sauce soaks into any leftover cake.

"What's the problem with that??" I hear you ask..

Hmm.. Nothing, nothing at all actually.

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Self-saucing sticky date pud.
Adapted from Nigella Bites.

Cake:

100g dark brown sugar (the higher the molasses content the better)
175g self raising flour
125mL milk
1 size 7 egg (large)
50g butter, melted
1 tsp good vanilla extract
180g dates, pitted and chopped

Sauce:

200g dark brown sugar
1 heaped Tbsp butter
500mL boiling water

Combine sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Measure milk and add egg, vanilla and melted butter. Mix the liquid into the dry ingredients until just coming together and fold in the dates gently.

Spoon the mixture into a buttered 1.5L capacity baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the cake batter and dot with the remaining butter. Pour the boiling water over the lot and carefully place in the oven.

Bake at 190C for about 45 minutes. Cake will be golden and springy when done. Allow to cool slightly and serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired. A dollop of mascarpone or crème fraîche wouldn't be bad either.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So long and thanks for all the fish

Or pictures of fish anyway. Not to mention all the other good looking food photos that were posted in your 18 months on line.

Cheers Jean!

***
Photo credit: http://www.tastespotting.com/
Title credit: Douglas Adams, 1984

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In the pub.

Hmm. I'm having a moment.. looking back at some photographs of a recent road trip and thinking that it looks as if we've spent a disproportionate amount of time in the pub.
Now while we did visit many of my favourite and some iconic Kiwi watering holes on this trip (responsibly, of course), some might say that a pub is a pub and there are other places that one should frequent while on holiday. I'd argue in favour that a certain amount of time SHOULD be spent here.

Why?






Well, to start with, there is some great history, good value meals and friendly hospitality to be enjoyed in Kiwi pubs. Although everytown has one, I first became keenly interested after reading James McNeish's first book, Tavern in the Town (1957). The Book Council of NZ calls it "an almost formless series of anecdotes about New Zealand pubs, extensively researched and often of some historical interest, but with no acknowledgment of sources so that verification is difficult and reliability uncertain".

What can I say, it IS a book about pubs isn't it?

And they were all well worth stopping for. Recalling the Central Otago Rail Trail from last years adventure, there are certainly some memorable pubs through that way as with most of the South Island. Trying to summarise the trip in a best of list is near impossible.

And we haven't even got to the beer yet.






The Cardrona (est.1863)- Its THE Cardrona. Whet your whistle before (or after the Crown Ranges). Great outdoor area in warmer weather and big fireplace when it's cooler.

The Victoria Arms Hotel (est.1863) - a 'local' in old Cromwell township.

Carey's Bay Hotel (est.1874 as the Crescent Hotel) - Great beer (Emerson's Bookbinder on tap) and Dunedin's 'Who Ate all the Pies' pies are available after 3pm. The venison is a favourite.

The Bannockburn Hotel (est.1867 approx.) - AMAZING view from the dining room. Good range of local beer (Emerson's in bottles) and the Hereford prime is delicious.

The Hurunui (est. 1860)- Not the oldest of kiwi pubs but The Hurunui Hotel has the distinction of being the longest continually licenced establishment in New Zealand. You can even get a copy of the licence for your souvenir collection.


Cheers!

credit for info: http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/mcneishjames.html

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wanna share a Vailima?

A few short days ago, this was the view from my front doorstep (if you can say that an open beach fale actually has a doorstep). The waters edge was never more than 10 paces from where my feet first hit the floor every morning for a week. I so miss that.

Now while I didn't grow up in the tropics, the water was never far away and having it so close is still comforting to me. As a child growing up in a small town on the Northern Atlantic coast, the foghorn was, all too often, the last thing I heard as I drifted off to sleep. Not so here. The weather was nothing short of glorious and with the only things to worry about being 1) properly covered with suncream and 2) being able to consume a bottle of Vailima before it gets warm.. it was a welcome break indeed.

As much as I appreciate the warm weather, keeping warm is fun too. Prior to my migration toward the equator, I spent two weeks driving around my favourite place on earth, the South Island. While autumn is a cooler time of year to be travelling on the mainland, it can be spectacular.

Just like Samoa has spoiled my enjoyment of bananas FOREVER, the South Island has spoilt me for many things as well. The seafood, the local beer, the views, Central and Waipara wines and the experience of all these combined (in front of a warming fire) with good company, are the things that memories are made of.

More on my autumn travels to come.

Cheers!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Stracciatella

My stracciatella was a beautiful deep golden yellow thanks to saffron.. and as I promised yonks ago, you can find the recipe here, courtesy of AGT magazine. I used more cheese though and, although the recipe called for Parmigiano reggiano, I used Grana.

Grana padano is usually a much better bargain over the frightfully expensive Parmigiano Reggiano. I won't say they are one and the same but Grana will still give good flavourful results in cooking. If you're shaving it to top carpaccio or feature in an equally special dish, I'd splurge on the real thing. Just don't be tempted to use domestic parmesan. Domestic parmesan or 'grating cheese' is nothing like either Grana or Parmigiano and if there is a place for it to be used, it isn't in this soup.

Hope everyone is settling into late autumn and the co-requisite comfort food with abandon!