23 June 2012

It’s as if we didn’t plan it at all

Has anything ever not gone quite right for you?
Get out.

This weekend is all about things not going quite to plan.
Part of the problem was the actual lack of planning to begin with…
…then there was just the little bit of bad luck…
…a small incy amount of stupidity (on my part)…
…and maybe a bit forgetfulness.

Despite the hiccups, another four ticks have been added to my list and we’re now at 20/62.

Here we go…
Saturday morning was very relaxed.
Shuffling about home.
Eating breakfast while reading the paper.
All good things.
My mother and I took the dog to the beach for a walk. It was all far too lovely really.
But then, suddenly, I realised the time. It was 2:00…we hadn’t had lunch and the deli I wanted to go to for something different was closing at 3:00. I didn’t know what time our lunch destination closed…but surely not as early as that deli?! There was no time to take Jed home. So I drove…not knowing the address…relying on mum to know despite knowing nothing.

We were looking for a place called Pyrenees Deli on Remuera Rd. I knew they also had a deli and café…but that was in Mt Albert. Remuera Rd is quite long. And we truly had no idea. I stopped three times and asked numerous people. I finally got an answer from a guy in another café…we’d driven past it. About four or five blocks back. We raced back. Parked. It was very hard not to laugh a little when we did get to it…
…I was driving on the opposite side of the road just searching for the word Pyrenees. You can hardly see it in this photo. I had no chance.
Anyway…we got there at 2:30. Turns out I got a few things wrong.
#1. THIS was the deli and café.
#2. THIS actually closed at 3:30.
#3. The deli (in Mt Albert…where I was really wanting to go) didn’t close till 6:00.
But I bought some cheese (which was all the list said to do) and we went on our way.

We then had to find our way to the Pukeko Bakery in Parnell. Mum navigated perfectly and we arrived (I knew the address for this one) at 2:55.

They were closing at 3:00. Meaning the cupboards were a little bare.

But we got a few goodies and went to the Domain to eat them. We had a croissant (which we ate with our comté cheese), blueberry custard pastry and chocolate brownie.

Despite everything tasting wonderfully delicious (the brownie being my highlight), there was a hint of resignation as I realised, once again, I had made a bit of a boo boo. I picked up my list as I was munching on some blueberry delight and realised I was supposed to buy some of their ‘homemade artisan bread’. In the rush of the afternoon and the enticing remains of their pastry selection, I forgot what I was actually doing. Which, let's be honest, is a little annoying. 

Although frustrated with the world (because my problems are clearly very important), my mood lifted slightly (although possible not visibly) when my iPod shuffled, and this happened…
…*slash* this didn’t really happen. But I was tapping my fingers on the steering wheel with more enthusiasm than what had previously been displayed.

I then spent the evening cooking a meal using a few strands of the saffron I bought way back when.
I found a recipe for lamb tagine…from the quick look I had before printing, it seemed pretty good. Now don’t get me wrong…it was yums…to quote my dad, “this is good”…*a few minutes past*…“mmm, yes this is good”.
But there were two issues I had with this recipe…laziness and lying.
First of all, never write ‘combine the first 8 ingredients’…there are some people who can’t count and end up mixing the first 9 ingredients together. It’s not fair on those people. Whoever they are.
And secondly, DO NOT call your recipe a tagine if you don’t intend to use a tagine to cook it in.
Me no understando.

It was yummy though. The saffron truly does do magical things.

Then, this morning was a much delayed birthday breakfast for Niki. We were all to meet at Queenies Lunchroom in Freemans Bay at 8:00. I had this dream (not whilst sleeping…an actually ‘I-really-hope-this-happens moment) as I was on my way (an even better reason for it to not be while I was sleeping) that as I entered the motorway both Nelly and Niki would pull up next to me and we would all drive in together. Amazingly, about a kilometre later half my dream came true when Nelly pulled up beside me near the Harbour Bridge. It was so romantic.

We got to our destination and waited in Nelly’s car for Niki.
At 8:02 I txt Niki just to make sure she was all good and not lost. After some minutes has past and we had not heard back, nor had she turned up, we gave her a call.
The phone rang.
And then it rang some more.
Finally there seemed to be an answer.
Yet there was silence.
Then I heard a, “arhhh”
More silence.
That is all.
Very funny.
Happy Birthday Nicole!
We still ate…I had the Egyptian Kosheri (as the list said to) and it was wonderful, while Nelly had the smoked fish omelette.
Queenies is cute, delicious and full and hilarious amnesia-type memories.

And finally, back to the Pukeko Bakery debacle.
They have a stall up at the Glenfield Night Market so I just popped up there and got me some bread. Tick.

It’s as if we planned it this way

A few weeks ago, I was in a Facebook conversation with my good friends Niki and Nelly and we decided we should have a night of cooking the delights that are exposed in the little & friday cookbook (you’d think I was getting commission from them…but I’m not…although that is an excellent idea, thank you). Actually I take it back…Niki and I decided we should do this, and that it should happen at Nelly’s (and Alex’s) house. We then booked in a date and told Nelex what, when and where it was happening.
Lucky they like us.

Over the next weeks we remained in occasional contact about how the evening should play out. After some emails and an actual human to human conversation we chose to make four things…
Walnut pesto, caramelised leek, halloumi and roasted tomato galettes (Alex’s choice).
Orange & date scones (Please note: Both Niki and Nelly seemed reasonably excited about this choice)
Baked chocolate tart (it’s one of those ‘wow’ things)
Pistachio and cranberry biscotti (Nelly’s we-must-do-this-and-have-a-cup-of-tea-with-it choice)

So we met on after work on Friday, went to the supermarket and got our goods.

Headed back and had an incredibly enjoyable time cooking in a little kitchen on a friday.
I know.
You’d think we planned it that way.
But we were all amazed at the realization.
And then we took a photo.

Now we had to bake.
There were dishes, ingredients and people flying all over the place.

At times it seemed like pure mayhem. And surely mayhem couldn’t produce our desired results?
Surely with so many things happening at once, in such a small space, and with an oven which holds one small tray at a time and always requires longer cooking time than the recipe suggests, ridiculously delicious food could not be achieved?!

Well you skeptical wee thing…you’re wrong. Dead wrong.

The galettes were an outstanding success. Definitely my #1 of the night. A truly inspired concoction of genius.

Now to the story of the orange and date scones.
This is what happened.
Nelly and Niki took it upon themselves to make these.
They really did a brilliant job.
Nelly chopped the dates.
Niki zested the orange.
The mixture was combined.
The specially bought demerara sugar was sprinkled on top.
While they were in the oven Nelly commented on how excited she was about the scones…quote: “I’m actually so excited about the scones. I think I’m looking forward to them the most”
They came out of the oven.
Our two date & orange scone making queens are happy with their handiwork.
We sit down to eat beautifully fresh and crunchy hot scones.

First bites are had.
Mmmm mmmmm.
Then, as if to blow my mind with confusion, these words follows…
Nelly: “I don’t really like dates”
Niki: “Oh? I don’t really like orange”
Me: “WHAT!? But YOOUUU wanted to make these. YOOUUU were so excited.”
Nelly: “Nooooo”

Niki: “It wasn’t my idea”
Me: *stunned silence*
Nelly: “These would be really good if you liked dates and oranges”

Nelly's leftover scone bits
My brain physically hurts from what has just occurred.
I blame this hurt on the reason the following happened whilst playing Taboo…
Alex: “Umm…it crawls on the floor…it has six legs…”
Me: “Centipede”

Nelly & Niki: *constant laughter ensues*…all night.

Anyway, let us move on.

The next course was my kind of happiness in a sweet pastry shell. We cooked it for twice as long as the recipe stated (due to said oven), but it still did not seem quite right. It was very wobbly. We were told it would be wobbly but that it would set as it cooled.
We weren’t certain this was going to happen/were way too impatient to actually let it cool properly.
So when we dug in.
It was more of chocolate slop with gloriously crispy sweet pastry.
Thankfully I love slop.
Nelly & Alex struggled with the richness.
Niki and I licked our bowls.
Give me a mug of warm chocolate, butter and sugar any day.

The final course was probably all our least favourite. There was nothing wrong with the biscotti. But we were all very full and by this stage it was quarter to midnight…but with a cup of tea and a few more hours of conversation, we concluded the evening in fine fashion.

And in the words of Nello, “Four recipes in one night and feeling little & friday’d out, let’s do it all over again.”

16 June 2012

The Picnic, The Fish and The Dentist

Remember during Queens Birthday weekend how I ticked a whole bunch of things off my list, and you were amazed? Yea that was fun ay.
Anyway, I wrote that before the weekend was through, and I wasn't quite finished.

On a classically temperamental Auckland day, I was hoping the sun would give us it's love for long enough to enjoy a 'picnic in winter at the Auckland Domain'. The food of choice was Wisconsin Burger...but sometimes what you want doesn't matter, as for some peculiar reason they thought giving their staff the day off on a public holiday was appropriate.

So while Sarah had a mini breakdown, Naomi, Christie and I went about deciding what to do. We ended up grabbing cabinet food from the Coffee Club...let's just say, I'm glad the company was fabulous.
There we were...sitting on a blanket...eating food...at the Auckland Domain...in the winter. Tick.

And then just the other night, I convinced my mother and sister to join me for Thursday Night Live at the Auckland Fish Market. For $15.99 you can get a specified meal and glass of the house wine + live entertainment. Katie and I got that special and were very happy with our decision...I forgot to take note of what exactly it was, but I'm gonna call it delicious salmon on delicious spaghetti with delicious stuff.

Mum asked whether we thought she should get the entree or main size. After some consultation, Katie and I concluded that a main was indeed the best decision. And as that giant mound of salt & pepper squid arrived at the table, our hearts were aflutter at the realization that mother would need our support in the act of ensuring-food-is-not-wasted.

We then partook in a slice of dessert. And by slice I mean epic plate of yum.
The picture says all that needs to be said…but just in case you’re interested…it is:
Banana fritters + ice cream.
Warm chocolate brownie + ice cream.
Chocolate sauce.
Kit Kats.

Just before you go, I would like for you to imagine this scenario...remembering it is 100% hypothetical and absolutely did not happen to me.
You're at the dentist.
They inject your face with numbing liquid.
A tooth gets filled.
All is well.
The dentist hands you a cup of water to rinse out your mouth.
He tells you to take care as the numb part of your face won't be able to control the usual water-holding mechanism which comes naturally.
This amuses you as you can’t quite believe what he’s saying.
It then amuses you much much more as you realize he was so right as water flows from what you believed to be well sealed lips.
However, your head is placed square over the sink so there is nothing to fear.
Except increasing amusement.
And as the humour of the whole situation overcomes you…
…you drop the cup.
Water water everywhere.

I can’t believe you did that. What a crazy.

08 June 2012

The Big Wide World of Food Blogging

So I was just reading one of the blogs I follow...heartbreak pie...which lead me to this "blogger event thingee" called We Should Cocoa (which was created by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot)...which in turn lead me to the excitement of the fact that I could contribute to something food blogger-ish.
Cool story ay?

So each month food bloggers can submit a chocolate recipe (via their own blog...hence this post) which must use the special ingredient in it (which is specified by a food blogger somewhere out there). This month (June), that special ingredient is coffee.

So here I am...submitting a chocolate recipe using coffee in the month of June.

This recipe came from when I was living in America as an Au Pair. 'My youngest' found this recipe and, due to his great obsession with these cookies (he dressed up as one for Halloween), we made them immediately. Enjoy.


1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar                       
170g butter                                        
1 tsp salt                                             
1 tsp espresso powder
1 egg                                                    
1 Tbsp water                                        
1 tsp vanilla essence                       
1½ cups flour                           
¾ cup cocoa                                    
3 Tbsp sugar                                     
3 Tbsp cocoa                                                                        

1. Beat together sugar, butter, salt and espresso powder.
2. Beat in egg, water and vanilla, then flour and cocoa.
3. Roll dough (it will be very stiff) into even sized balls.
4. Combine the extra sugar and extra cocoa together, and then roll each ball of dough in it to gently coat.
5. Place balls on a lined and greased baking sheet and flatten with a flat bottomed glass (to ⅓ cm thick).
6. Bake at 165C for about 18 minutes (careful not to burn). Allow to cool completely.
7. Place a teaspoon of Oreo filling (below) in the centre of one cookie and gently squeeze another cookie on top to distribute evenly.
8. Repeat for all remaining cookies.

1⅓ tsp gelatin
2 Tbso cold water
120g  butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
2½ cups icing sugar

1. Soften gelatin in a cup with the cold water.
2. Place the cup in a larger dish with hot water and leave it there, stirring occasionally, while gelatin dissolves.
3. Meanwhile, beat together butter, vanilla and icing sugar (it will be very dry at first, but it will eventually clump together).
4. Add gelatin mixture and beat until smooth.

03 June 2012

The Greatest Blog of ALL Time

I know! Isn’t it amazing that this is the greatest blog of ALL time!? Don’t you just feel ridiculously privileged to be reading the greatest blog EVER?

In all truth, I just wrote that to see how many people would click onto it. Shame.

Anyway, I do have something to say. So feel free to read on if you’re not too angry at me with the trick tactics I used to get you here.

First of all, hi – it’s been a while.
I was starting to feel like this list thing just wasn’t going to happen. This whole going-to-Melbourne-for-a-couple-of-months thing threw in a bit of a spanner where I didn’t expect it. And I’ve been far too lazy to actually look at my list and go do something. But on Saturday, I awoke with great enthusiasm and great ideas for the day ahead. This day was going to be truly great. The greatest day of ALL time you might say.

It started off the way any great day should…sunshine and morning tea with stunning friends in the greatest café of ALL time.

This time we were at the Newmarket location of little & friday…not quite the same feel as the Belmont one…it’s still very cool and very unique, but the Shore is where it’s at. Nevertheless, I had to come here (and force my friends to also) in order to tick it off my list. And a doughnut was on the cards once again…this time, the classic cinnamon sugar glory.

Imagine the best cinnamon doughnut you’ve ever had…
…and then laugh in its face.
That’s right.

Niki had the rhubarb tart, I had me some bliss and Nelly had a risotto cake. I can tell you from previous experience that the tart is a true delight (not a sentence I had planned) and, from sampling on the day, the risotto cake was absolutely marvelous.
So yes, if you haven’t been to little & friday yet, you definitely should do something to change that. And you should almost certainly take me with you.

The list ticking was not over however. Not by a long shot.
I got home, quickly sorted out my life, and then headed to…the…LIBRARY.
As #3 of my list states, ‘go to the local library and spend a lazy Saturday morning perusing cookery books and get some inspiration for free before hitting the shops’. I may have cheated slightly…with not so much ‘perusing’, and was more ‘quietly rushing’. But I got in, took a photo of myself with chosen books (sunglasses make me unrecognizable, clearly, hence taking photo of oneself in library is less embarrassing)…
…and I got out before the clock struck midday. Saturday morning in a library looking at cookbooks – done.

This was then followed by a shop for the ingredients in which to cook for dinner. I also decided that it would be a grand time to buy some saffron and Heilala vanilla essence (also on my list). Pak ‘n’ Save provided the saffron and I E Produce supplied the vanilla. Now when I say ‘provided’ and ‘supplied’, I mean that I paid for them. And by ‘paying for them’, I mean I took out a mortgage.
Shelter is overrated anyway.

Once home, my talents were severely challenged when the smoker I borrowed off the wonderful Honores didn’t work. And by ‘didn’t work’, I mean Jo’s an idiot. As you can see, I can make fire. But fire is not smoke. And my list clearly states that I must smoke my own salmon, mussels, chicken and veggies.

A couple of hours later J-man rang to my rescue and informed me that those pans of fire need to go under the smoker in order to create smoke. It worked a charm. Almost too well in fact…my chicken cooked in about 10 minutes (not really the idea). Anyway, I smoked. I ate. I ticked my list.

Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Wow Jo, you’re so amazing…so many things in one day.’
Let me put a stop to that this instance. I’m not amazing.

I also made chocolate chunk cookies (from the little & friday cookbook, using Heilala vanilla)...it uses a wonderful amount of butter, sugar and chocolate (I had peanut butter chocolate on hand so figured it would be as good as any. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts. Then it would be very very bad).

They were easy to throw together.

And perfect with a cuppa (yes, I said it).
I’m not amazing…
…I’m incredible.
And you are more beautiful than words.