19 May 2011

New blog up and running!

Well I've had a heap of fun learning about the blogging world with Relentless Fooding but I've started something very different in my life and I felt I needed a new blog. I've started culinary school and I can't wait to start blogging about it! I've made so many friends through Relentless Fooding and things over at miripoix won't be that different so I hope I'll see y'all over at!

19 February 2011

daring cook: cold soba salad (success!) and tempura (fail)

Blog-checking lines: The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

adding dried noodles to boiling water a handful at a time
as I added more noodles to the saucepan, I used them to move already
cooking noodles to keep them from sticking
using a fork to separate last noodles added to saucepan

Horrifically late Daring Cook post this month tee hee! I made everything last week but because of moving to another town I've been running around getting my car sorted, seeing friends etc. etc.

bringing noodles to boil, adding cold water, and bringing to boil again
until noodles are cooked

The soba salad was delicious and my little brother even liked it! Because Japanese food is always presented beautifully with everything sliced and diced to perfection I think I'll be using Japanese cuisine to work on my knife skills this year!

removing starch from noodles to prevent them from sticking together

The salad was very easy and quick to prepare and because there wasn't much 'real' cooking, it was also very relaxing to prepare.

making spicy dipping sauce - very good!

The flavours of the spicy (mustard spicy) dressing were lovely with the nutty noodles and even though I thought the crisp texture of the veges would be lovely with the soft noodles, my favourite accompiament was actually the slices of creamy avocado (though a little harder to eat with chopsticks!).

Mum very much enjoyed this. She is wearing a hideous that I
haven't managed to get rid of it yet.
directions for eating: put vege in dipping sauce bowl, add noodles,
mix them both a bit in the sauce then slurp up!

Now, here are my sad excuses for failing with my tempura vegetables: first time ever deep frying anything, stovetop elements not working properly causing the temperature to rise and drop dramatically, didn't realise the cornflour in the tempura batter had clumped together and dropped to the bottom of the bowl resulting in vegetables pretty much being dipped in a batter of water. Ok, I'm done complaining now. Next time I'll be a tempura pro!!

I nearly made an egg tempura!

I made another Japanese meal, tendon, out of the other component of this month's challenge, the tempura vegetables. My version consisted of bowls of warm brown rice topped with tempura veges and a simple dressing called tentsuyu.

crappily 'tempura-ed' zucchini, capsicum, potato, kumara

And here is why I didn't do a lot of cooking beginning of February. I scraped the crap off both my palms going for a run. Owwwwweeeee!

but I didn't cry!

What a depressing and excuses-filled post this has been! Next week I'm starting my culinary course - exciting food times are just beginning!!

Cold Soba Salad
Recipe was brought to the Daring Kitchen by Lisa of Blueberry Girl and can be found here.

You can find other soba noodle salads and successful tempura veges from my fellow Daring Kitchen members here.

14 February 2011

bye bye blue bird

Seven years ago I brought home a new man. He was blue and tiny and he thought he was a human. I called him Elmer and he loved anyone and everyone, freaking out visitors by launching himself at their heads as soon as they walked through the door.

Elmer loved sounds and adored people talking to him. We didn't train him to speak but he knew his name and would say it and 'hello!' (always with an exclamation mark) back to us. I think these words and an indecipherable chatter he picked up from listening to talk back radio kept him feeling like he was just like his human family. 

amount of cheesecake used for our smoothies

Elmer had free reign of the house and he loved his huge bachelor pad (aka his cage). He spent the majority of his time outside of his cage riding around on our shoulders and he would do this indescribably cute thing where he'd climb on top of my head, lean all the way over my forehead to look into my eyes and then 'talk' very softly to me.

He loved kisses from my mum and my little brother was the only person who was allowed to scratch under his chin. 

why does this look even yummier!?!?!

It wasn't all pretty though - because I never brought a girlfriend home for him, he went through a horrible phase where he would constantly try to put the moves on my hand. Never a pleasant experience.

He was getting on years and in recent months we'd taken to calling out to him every morning before lifting his cage cover just to make sure we wouldn't get a horrible shock. 

Then, he flew away. I can't write 'escape' because it wouldn't have been an escape for him. When he had found himself outside, he'd freak out and fly straight back to us. I know he would've been really scared those days he wasn't with us. We didn't find him for three days and when we did, he'd obviously been hit by a car. Poor little thing. We had a little funeral service and buried him in our garden with his favourite bells.

So there we were, all down in the dumps when Mum came across a recipe in Jill O'Connor's book, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey prescribed for the depressed (aka the newly single and people who hate their jobs). Well we certainly needed cheering up and this milkshake hit the spot. We weren't exactly cheery afterwards but it's just so ridiculously indulgent and satisfyingly quick to make that I think it may become my go-to anti-depressive. I think it'll always remind me a little of Elmer though :)

This milkshake needs to be drunken quickly and with no thought to what it, or more importantly, you the drinker looks like. If it's all getting crazy and you need something guilty that doesn't require the energy even to chew, then this is the meal* for you.  Make it, flop down somewhere and focus on this cheesecake in a glass...

This is kind of a weird post because everything I've written has been about my budgie but the photos are of a milkshake - I've never really taken many photos of my pets and the one I've posted here is actually the last photo we ever took of him.

you can see I couldn't wait to take a photo before trying it!

Cheesecake Milkshakes for Two Emotional People
Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

You can put anything you blimmen well want to in milkshakes and no one will know the difference because everything's all mixed together. Our cheesecake was strawberry flavoured so we didn't add strawberries. Next time I'll be breaking out the chocolate though.

2 wedges of plain cheesecake, 4 to 6 ounces/115 to 170 grams each
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 pints/0.5 to 1 litre vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup whole milk, plus more if desired
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (optional)
Put the cheesecake, vanilla extract and ice cream in a food processor and pulverize it until the ice cream has broken down a lot. Add the milk (preferably while the processor is running) and blend until thoroughly blended. Add enough milk to get a desired thickness of milkshake. It's actually supposed to be quite thick; thick enough to be eaten with a spoon if you feel like it! Pour into two glasses and enjoy.

*No one will judge you, not even if you have this for breakfast.

20 January 2011

pumpkin fondue

Fondue. Pumpkin. Cheese. Melted cheese inside a roasted pumpkin.

Mum and I made this as a side for Christmas dinner.

It may be Summer in New Zealand but because my Mum is super thrifty she stores pumpkins under the house that she's saved from Winter. 

We got a little excited and pretended we were working in a professional kitchen. 

AKA Mum and I screamed 'YES, CHEF!!' at each other after anything we said.

I am so prepared for culinary school.

The original recipe calls for a mix of Gruyere and Emmental cheeses but my mother doesn't like those cheeses so out they went. 

I was a little bummed but the fondue was divine and anyway, have you seen how much those cheeses cost?

Pumpkin Fondue
Adapted from Gourmet

The pumpkin Mum and I used had, to us, a normal amount of flesh but we couldn't help but wish there was more fondue to go with the pumpkin. to get the right proportions, I think a little of the flesh must be left behind :(. Also, this is a very relaxed dish in that you can use whatever size pumpkin you like, using more or less baguette and cheese mixture appropriately. We used a 5lb pumpkin so my other ingredient amounts have been calculated accordingly!

We oiled a large roasting dish and where the pumpkin didn't cover the oil, it started to smoke like crazy! So, make sure to only oil a roasting dish where the pumpkin will be sitting.

3/4 of a baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 1/2 kilo orange pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup reduced-salt chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups grated Edam cheese
1 cup feta cheese
Olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 450F/225C with rack in lower third. Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking tray and toast them in the oven until tops are crisp even though the bread will still be pale, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make a hole in the top of the pumpkin by cutting a circle (3 inches in diameter) around the stem. Use a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds and any loose fibres, including the top of the pumpkin. Sprinkle/press 1/2 teaspoon of salt onto the inside of the pumpkin.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In another medium bowl, stir together the cheeses.

Put a layer of toasted baguette in bottom of pumpkin, then cover with 1/2 cup of cheese and about 1/4 cup cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2 inch from top, making sure to use all of the cream mixture (you may have some cheese and baguette left over). Pop the pumpkin's top back on.

Oil a roasting dish where the pumpkin will be sitting (too much oil exposed to the high temperature and it will smoke!) and position the pumpkin on it. Brush all over the pumpkin with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Note: Pumpkin can be filled (and chilled) 2 hours before baking.

06 January 2011

SUCCESS: dried fruit compote

I made this compote ages ago but never got around to posting it because I didn't like the pictures. I've been in the middle of holidaying/moving house so decided I needed to get over myself and just post it! It may be brown but it tastes like a double rainbow.

21 December 2010

cake slice bakers: cranberry cake

The first fresh cranberry I ever ate wasn't ripe. I did not know this. In my defence I'd never seen a fresh cranberry in the flesh let alone eaten one. Needless to say I was not impressed. My mouth went dry, my face must've puckered and I quickly surmised that cranberries were obviously like rhubarb in that they're inedible fresh and can only be eaten dried or cooked! Disappointed but not about to waste anything, I threw my bag of cranberries into the fridge and promptly forgot about them. About a month later they resurfaced (now ripe) and I was brave enough to discover the true taste of a ripe cranberry.

mystery box cupcake: chocolate licorice peach cupcakes

Last New Year, my flatmate, Fran,  and her equally competitive sister challenged each other to go without chocolate for a whole year. I can understand the sibling rivalry/dare thing (I've got a date with my little brother to see who can eat a tub of ice cream the fastest) but chocolate? A whole year? It did not compute. Thankfully they had a clause in their contract* whereby they could eat chocolate if it was covering licorice.