28 December 2011

So that was December

2011 is almost over.
I started this blog back in August.
I’ve had a few good moments of consistent writing.
Then I’d stop.
But I’d usually start back up again.
This month, however, I have been sufficiently useless and haven’t written a single thing.
Do I feel bad about this?
No, not really. 
It’s just that when I was busy I was really busy and didn’t have time to do such things.
And then when I haven’t been so busy, it has been quite nice to actually do nothing.

So here is a quick run-down on my life:
I went to my best friend's kitchen tea.
We ate this.
I made this.
We looked at this.
We went out for dinner and I ate this.
I ‘helped’ make cupcakes for the wedding.
Due to absolutely no skill of my own, they looked like this.
We had the wedding. I ate this.
I wore a purple (blue) dress.
I said a speech in which I called the grooms mother hideous.
They danced.
I jumped off a high pole.
I was attacked.
I saw some giant famous people.
I saw some not-so-giant famous people.
I ate an 8 course buffet lunch. 
Including this.
And this.
I made mozzarella and pesto stuffed schnitzel wrapped in bacon.
I made watercress aioli. 
Three times. 
1st attempt wasn’t worth capturing
2nd attempt is what you see on the right.
I made sushi.
I swung children around for no particular reason.
I made Christmas Day entrée.
I took a photo for no reason.
And then the next thing is to go camping.
Camping is something I do not particularly like.
But I can see the enjoyment in it.
So I am going.
That’s where my best friends will be.
And they have promised a good time.
I’m pretty sure I was promised good weather too.

Merry Christmas.
Seasons Greetings.
Happy New Year.

24 November 2011

What are you thankful for?

So I decided to make a Thanksgiving dinner on the same day America celebrates Thanksgiving.
Not at all.
100% planned.

I am very thankful for the fact that I spent a year in the USA and learnt about thanksgiving and met awesome people. I like Thanksgiving…it makes me realize how many things there are to be thankful for…like Thanksgiving Day. Who isn’t thankful for Thanksgiving?

Right…so I did the proper food blogger thing and took photos whilst making dinner rather than just the final result. So sit back, relax and…well, focus…

First of all…the stuffing…very simple, yet sneakily delicious.
First of all, melt a bunch of butter in a pan (the recipe said 55g, I used about 35g and it was sufficient).
Butter is good for you right? I’m pretty sure I read something about fat being healthy.

Then I threw in one chopped up onion and sautéed that for a few minutes.
Then two cups breadcrumbs, two tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and ½ tsp dried thyme were mixed in.
A beaten egg was lovingly mixed through, and then a certain amount of milk was added to create a moist concoction of wet oniony bread. And of course, season with salt and pepper.
I then stuffed my chicken (cause he was being mean to me) and tied the legs together (there will likely be too much to fit into the cavity, so the remainder can be kept to the side and then placed in the oven with the chicken for the last 15 minutes or so of cooking).
I rubbed butter all over (for good health) and into the oven at 180˚C (375˚F) it went.
Straight on to preparing the veggies…pumpkin, kumara (that is sweet potato, for my non-kiwi reader/s…whoever you may be), potato and carrot.
Cut them up into even sized chunks, place them in a large bowl, pour in a decent amount of olive oil and then spoon over another hefty drizzle (or three) of honey.
(action shot…very fancy)
Then throw this into another roasting pan, sprinkle with a few sprigs of thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and place in the oven with the chicken and keep ‘em roasting.
The chicken will take about 1 hour 15 minutes. Could be more. Could be less. You’ll figure it out. I believe in you.

After 30 minutes with the veggies, take the foil off and let them cook away into the sweet softness they used to dream of being when they were children. 
I have only now just realised how intriguingly off putting the placement of the extra stuffing is…
When the chicken is cooked take it out of the oven (because keeping it in there would be ridiculous) and let it rest (under foil) for about 15 minutes.
Finally, carve/slice/saw your way through the bird and serve it on a plate with a pile of the golden vegetables and, just for the sake of colour, throw in some sort of greenery.
And there you have it.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Oh, and keep your ears peeled and your eyes to the ground for the next ‘real food blogger’ installment…Fillet of beef on tomato fondue with basil and artichoke dressing. I’m not gonna lie…I’ve already done it, and it was a little bit yum. 

20 November 2011

Miniature Sweet Delight

For quite some time now I've been wanting to experiment with a mini lemon meringue dessert. I think I must have seen something similar on Master Chef and decided it looked wonderfully simple.

So what better chance to test it out than on 35 guests at my aunty and uncles 40th wedding anniversary. With Chinese spoons at the ready, all I needed was lemon honey, meringue and fire.

The lemon honey recipe was simple enough (courtesy of ‘Ladies, a plate’) …

4 lemons, finely grated rind and juice
340g caster sugar
170g butter
4 eggs, well beaten

1.       Combine the lemon rind and juice, caster sugar and butter in the top of a double boiler with the water simmering underneath.
2.       Stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
3.       Pour a little of the hot liquid in with the beaten eggs, stirring constantly.
4.       Pour the egg mixture in with the rest of the hot liquid in the double boiler.
5.       Stir over the simmering water until the mixture thickens (original recipe said 5-6 minutes but I was using quite a small double boiler and it took about 15-20 minutes). Do not let it boil.
6.       Pour the lemon honey through a sieve to ensure there are no lumps and allow to cool (it will thicken further).
      [This makes quite a lot, so if you aren't catering for many it can easily be halved. Although, I'm not sure having too much lemon honey is going to be a problem]

I sharn’t be passing on any meringue recipes because it’s just meringue. Whip it up till stiff and glossy and you’ll be sorted.

Then place a teaspoonful of the lemon honey onto each spoon, top it with a generous swirl of the meringue, and just before serving blast it (gently) with a torch (the same one used for crème brûlées).

The result is a simple, tasty and classy miniature sweet delight. Doooo it.

Oh, and also…while you’re here…
As I said in my previous blog, I did jump out of a plane.
And it was awesome. 

08 November 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 – The World’s Here To Play

Just thought I’d give you a quick run-through of my Rugby World Cup 2011 experience…

Opening Night…Eden Park…Sit and watch the opening ceremony.

Sitting. Staying. And watching the opening game (All Blacks vs. Tonga...AB's win).
See Dan Carter (not realising how little we were going to be seeing of him).

North Harbour Stadium…Australia vs. Italy.
Australia win.

At ‘The Cloud’ to see Wales beat Samoa.

Watch USA be annihilated by Australia…but rejoice in USA’s participation.

Eden Park…NZ vs. France.
France coach says something along the lines of “we just can’t beat the All Blacks”. He was right.

Eden Park…Samoa vs. Fiji.
Watch the Battle of the Islands from the highest vantage point available.
Samoa wins (if my memory serves me correctly).

Back at The Cloud for Samoa vs. South Africa.
We (me and my Polynesian brothers) lose. But are hearts and our minds stay strong.

Eden Park…Scotland vs. England.
We (me and my Scottish cousins) lose in a heartbreaking last minute try by those English folk.

Eden Park…Wales vs. France.
A rather disappointingly boring semi-final with the French taking it out.

Watching NZ vs. Australia semi-final amongst good friends and strong All Blacks supporters (except for one Saffa who chose to purposefully betray us).
We won. So there.

Head to the North Shore Fan Zone for the Bronze Final…Australia vs. Wales.
On an unexpectedly freezing night…we picnicked.
With friends affiliating themselves with Wales. I was a good neighbour and supported Australia.
They won. Which is good.

Eden Park…Grand Final…All Blacks vs. France.
Packed stadium. International guests. Amazing atmosphere.

And yes…

Downtown Auckland…The Boys…The Trophy…and 250,000 fans. Awesome.

Right, well I best be off…got me some packing/organising to do before I jump from a plane which plans on being 12,000ft in the air on Saturday.
All going to plan, there will be a lovely person attached to me whom has great ability to pull cords with success.
All not going to plan, and there are a huge array of possibilities…some have been quoted as saying, “Ok well, good luck!” and “Oh my! Don’t die”. And I’ve even had, “I hope that when you land the metal in your knee doesn’t push up straight into your groin”.
I’ll do my best.