cooking

Gingerbread – winning warming flavour

A big slice of this is currently waiting on a plate beside me as I type.  It’s great stuff, the spicy flavour is just what you need on a wintery night.  I double this recipe, make two loaves and freeze one.  Perfect when your sister comes to visit, just like today, and you can whip the frozen one out and warm it though in the microwave, cut into thick wodges and slather with butter (or have with blue cheese if you like too, dried fruit is good, cream cheese – gingerbread goes with heaps of things).  If you wanted you could add some crystallised ginger to the mixture for extra spiciness. 

150g butter, 1 cup low fat milk, 1 cup golden syrup (or half golden syrup and half treacle), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 tsps ground ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves

Melt the butter, milk, golden syrup (and treacle), and brown sugar in the microwave.  Stir until all mixed together.  Heat until it is all bubbling hot.  While it is heating sive all the dry ingredients into a bowl with the exception of the baking soda. Take off the heat and then stir in the baking soda (it goes irritatingly lumpy so give it a decent beating).  When it is fizzing stir into the dry ingredients.  Mix until smooth.  Pour into loaf tins and bake at 180 degrees C until the sides shrink away from the sides and the centre is firm and springy.  Don’t tip it from the tin immediately, leave in for a good ten minutes and then tip  onto a wire rack.

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Spicy Green Dipping Sauce

In the last two weeks I’ve made this 4 times!  It is that good!  It has been served with spring rolls, corn fritters, crayfish and as a salad dressing.  Zingy, tangy and so easy to whip up as long as you have some palm sugar and some fresh herbs I think everyone should have this in the fridge for all occasions.  I’ve taken to having it sitting in a bowl handy.  It goes really well with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados too!

If there was ever an argument for getting yourself a very efficient, sharp microplane this is it.  Making it so much more efficient for grating the palm sugar.  If you didn’t have any palm sugar, which is in all the supermarkets I shop at, you could use brown sugar but properly brown sugar not the pale brownish sugar I see all the time.  Palm Sugar tastes like Russian Fudge, really, it does!  YUM.

40g of palm sugar, 2 tablespoons of lime juice (or lemon), 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, a spoon of out of the jar chilli, and some grated ginger (to taste) (out of the jar if you want), crushed garlic (out of the jar again or freshly mashed to a pulp with the side of a knife).  A handful of finely chopped coriander and an equal amount of finely chopped fresh mint.

Grate the palm sugar into the juice, then add the fish sauce and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the rest of the ingredients. Set aside for a little while for the flavours to blend nicely.

Corn fritters anointed with Spicy Green Sauce

Hearty Ginger Wine Casserole

This is in the oven at the moment, on a freezing Dunedin day it is always the best thing to put something in the oven which will warm your insides and your outsides in one swoop.

The interesting ingredient in here is Ginger Wine.  Stones for preference.  It also has some of the gorgeous smoked garlic you can buy at craft and food fairs here, but you don’t really need that as any garlic will do.  There is also some brown sugar in here because I want a caramelish taste and it makes a silkier texture.

As with all my casserole recipes this is a method rather than a recipe.  Use what you have in your cupboards and fridge, don’t panic if you don’t have any one particular item that I’ve used just make it up as you go along.

On reflection I decided that this would work with chicken or pork as well.  Maybe adjust the stock to match.Cut about 750g of chuck or blade steak into pieces (or chicken or pork if you are going that way).  Put into a bag with 2 heaped tablespoons of flour, a good grinding of black pepper and a big shake of salt and give it a good shake.  You can do it in two batches if necessary.  You want the meat well coated, no red bits showing.

Fry the meat, in batches so that there is only a single layer of meat at a time, in a mixture of oil (I use rice bran) and a knob of butter, until it is nicely sealed and golden brown.  This is actually the most important step in making a really good casserole, if you don’t do this properly you get a less rounded taste IMHO!  Remove from the pan and dump into a casserole dish which either has a lid or can be lidded with foil.  Add more oil and butter if you need to, some onions cut into 8ths lengthwise and some shallots if you have them and most importantly about 6 cloves of garlic (less if you aren’t a fan of that much garlic loveliness)

Into the casserole dish add:  2 carrots, 1 stick of celery and any other veg you have available. Chickpeas, zucchini, red or green pepper, some beans or whatever is lurking in the bottom of the fridge would be great.

On top of the veg  throw in, a generous sloshing of green ginger wine, a generous slosh of dirty red wine, 1 dessertspoon of brown sugar, a small dollop of tomato sauce or ketchup. Add one or two stock cubes or the new concentrated stock which is more like a jelly and far more delicious (depending on the meat you are using, beef or chicken).  Add some thyme, I have fresh in the garden and I like a generous amount but you decide how thymey you want it to be. Add a good grind of pepper.  Stir around, taste, adjust to your preference adding more salt if you think it needs it.

Cover and bung it in the oven at 200 for 10 minutes or until it is really hot, and then reduce the heat to 160 for ages.  Chuck steak likes long slow cooking so be prepared for a long wait while it gets all melt in your mouth and yum.  If you are using chicken or pork it would take less time to cook.

I’m serving mine with some balsamic potatoes but you could just as well serve it with rice, couscous, mashed potato or another starch of your choice.  Hunker down and wait for the weather to improve.

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Pear Ginger Muffins

Autumn means pears!  Lovely juicy and dripping with sweetness.  I love pears.  So I made up this muffin recipe, well I should probably say I adapted a muffin recipe lurking in my folder.  I have always loved the combination of pears and ginger, I remember going to my grandmothers place when she had made pear ginger jam and thinking she was incredibly clever to have made something so lovely.  Must find out if an aunty has the recipe actually.  Here is a quick easy way to use up the pears which are getting overripe in the fruit bowl.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger (more if you like)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 small pears, peeled and chopped finely
1 egg
1/2 cup yoghurt, plain (or use milk if you must)
1/2 cup butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl

Mix together egg, yoghurt, vanilla and melted butter, add the chopped pear.  Stir into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over-mix or your muffins will get all peaky and tough and holey!  Put into greased muffin tin or in my case little loaves tin.

I think you could add walnuts if you wanted a little bit of extra crunch or crystallised ginger if you want a bit of extra bite.

Cheese Puffs – the partygoers friend

Cheese Puffs with Cream Cheese and Pink Peppercorn spread

These are easy, yummy and very quick to make.  For those holding their own parties or even those with household members prone to snaffling things straight out of the oven you should double the recipe.

Serve them just by themselves as little pop in your mouth treats or serve them with the Cream Cheese and Pink Peppercorn dip – click here for the recipe.

They are going to get your food processor dirty and sticky but it is worth the horrible washing up procedure because they are just so good.

The original recipe comes from I Hate To Cook by Jill Dupleix which is just the coolest book and somewhat of a mainstay around my kitchen, even though I quite like to cook.

The Recipe

1 cup water, 3 tblsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup plain flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of grated cheese (you can use any sort you like, I’m partial to feta but it really doesn’t matter, stronger tasting is better though), a little mustard is a good addition.

Heat the water, butter and salt until it is boiling and the butter is all melted.  Add all the flour at once and turn down the heat.  Beat like a crazy thing with a wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the pot and forms a ball.  Keep cooking and stirring for a couple of minutes.

Transfer the gluggy mixture to the food processor and process while you count to 15, add the eggs and beat for 45 seconds.  Throw in the cheese and pulse a little until it is all mixed through.

Put teaspoons of this mixture onto a baking tray and bake in an oven of about 200 degrees C.  Don’t undercook or they will be gluggy inside, they should be goldeny delicious.

 

 

Apricot Marmalade

This recipe is one of those good old Central Otago ones that has been around for years.  The copy I have of it is from the Central Otago News (otherwise known as The Two Minutes Silence – I actually thought that was the name of the paper when I was a kid!)  it came from someone called Peg Mullen but my Mum tells me it has been around for a long long time.  It is lovely, the pineapple and citrus flavours go beautifully with the apricot, and best of all you don’t need a mountain of apricots to make it.

1.350 kg of apriots, 1 large tin of crushed pineapple, 2 oranges, 2 lemons, 2.250 kg sugar

Cut up the apricots and put in saucepan with pineapple.  Cut up rind and flesh of oranges and lemons.  If you have a kitchen whizz you may like to whizz all the fruit.  Bring all the frui to the boil and boil for four minutes.  Add the sugar and boil for a further 0 minutes.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars.

See – simple as.  Looks gorgeous.  I am preempting myself because I made apricot sauce with the glut of apricots I had the other weekend instead of this, but I have just been told of the best place to acquire cheap apricots so will go and get some to make this next week. Mmmmm.