Prawns are such a yummy ingredient…

So tonight I am making Basil, Lemon & Prawn Pasta.

Oh yes I am…

Now we all know that recipes are difficult…so have some patience with me please.

This one is just for one person.

Ingredients.

  1. A handful of pasta. I quite like the spinach fettuccine, but folks anything you fancy goes.
  2. Prawns. De-veined. I like them with tails on, which I chuck off once cooked. Now really I am kinda crazy about prawns…so I like a lot. 2015-09-24 17.43.33You may like less. Figure it out how many you feel like !!!
  3. A handful of chopped basil.2015-09-24 17.43.03
  4. A handful of drained capers.
  5. A tablespoon lemon juice.
  6. A tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Enough baby spinach leaves to cover your plate.2015-09-24 17.41.26

And here we go…

Cook the pasta until almost al dente. Then throw in your prawns for about three minutes. While all this is cooking wash and lay out your spinach leaves on the plate. Chop the basil. Me personally…I have so many lemons I squeezed the lemons while I waited.

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Once the pasta and prawns are cooked…throw them in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, capers, basil & olive oil. Toss your little old heart out.

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Then place them on top of the baby spinach leaves.

2015-09-24 18.02.10

Add salt & pepper to taste…and away you go.

Heaven for your tummy !!!!

Pets, Friends, Fresh Fruit & Preserving

Although we are heading in to winter here in New Zealand there is still loads of fruit around. Kiwifruit season has started.

Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don't think it is 'real' kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.
Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don’t think it is ‘real’ kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.

At the moment I have a couple staying with me from China who are on a year long trip around New Zealand. Sophie & Bob are very sweet and I am really enjoying the cultural exchanges that happen when you have people from another country staying with you.

Bob & Sophie checking out the local 'old' car show.
Bob & Sophie checking out the local ‘old’ car show.

The fur babies are a hit. They are loving all the attention they are getting from two extra people. Which is good news as a few of them have had incidences in the recent past. Charlie in particular has been propping up the vet’s bank account though Jackie has done her fair share to keep up.

Jackie in her 'happy' place.
Jackie in her ‘happy’ place.

Recently she took to hiding under my bed. Warning signals flashed when she began to refuse to come out for two days. When we visited the vet it turned out three of her teeth were infected. I felt like the worst fur baby mama ever. The vet was a little shocked as only a few months ago she had her regular check up and though there was some tartar it was not enough to worry about. Apparently that can change quickly. We had to have the teeth taken out and for a week or more I had one very unhappy pussy cat. Sophie & Bob were sure I only had the one cat, as she was not at all social. Though under the bed still seems to be her ‘happy’ place, at least these days she is back to eating normal food and seems quite happy to venture out again. Now the baby of the family [Charlie] thinks he needs to make sure that other cats in the area know he is man. When the neighbours recently had family staying which also added three new cats to the mix, things got a little hairy. A trip to the vets was in order when he came home barely able to walk. The pads on his feet were in a terrible state and he had had a knock around his shoulder as well as scratches to his neck. We are still unsure what happened but either he tried to take on the whole neighbourhood’s cat population or possible a dog got hold of him. Seems that wasn’t enough of a deterrent. Last Friday evening he again came home in a sorry state. Does anyone else notice pets seem to get in to strife when the vets are closed ????? Great gouges out of his eyelid and nose, as well as one very sore left shoulder area. He was lucky though that the claw that did the damage missed his eyeball. I was lucky [financially] that the tear in his lid does not require surgery to stop it irritating the eye in future. Today is the first day he has been allowed outside since the incident. We have had to listen to a rather loud ongoing vocal disapproval of being confined indoors. I wondered if he was going to fly this morning when I opened the door for him, he took off so fast his feet seemed airborne.

The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.
The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.

As for Chevvy…luckily for me she is behaving at the moment. Though a wee while ago she also got in to a scrap which saw her eye and paws in a sorry state. I am thinking of arranging an extra mortgage just to keep up with the vets bills. We have managed to fix the fence problem. For a small dog she sure can scale things, but these days she no longer escapes the minute my back is turned. She does enjoy a good bone on the lawn as a reward.

The bone is almost as big as the dog.
The bone is almost as big as the dog.

I have taken to soothing my nerves with cooking. I recently raided a few friends’ gardens and came home with bags full of bounty. From one friend I came home with enough Red Cherry Guavas to make 13 jars of guava jelly.

Red Cherry Guavas
Red Cherry Guavas

This is the cookbook I got the recipe from…isn’t it beautiful ??

Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.
Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.

This was my second attempt at the jelly and I am thrilled with the results. This recipe makes it hard to go wrong…I did add a little extra pectin. I also had to look up how many cups a quart is. 2015-04-21 10.37.39I have become a bit of an addict when it comes to guava jelly.

Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.
Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.

From another friend I scored two bags of feijoas and some Chilean Guavas.

Chilean Guavas...tiny yes but sooo delicious.
Chilean Guavas…tiny yes but sooo delicious.

By crikey, I think my love affair with guavas has become a permanent relationship. I might try my hand at feijoa jam next. I will keep you updated.

Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.
Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.

Although I have been advised that feijoa chutney is pretty good too. My next stop saw me bag a whole lot of apples. They reminded me of growing up. These days in the supermarket the only fruit you see is shiny and there is never a mark to be seen. Of course this all comes about because of pesticide use. Growing up, fruit was never perfect, but it was still delicious and pesticide free. Those apples took me back to a time when you either cut out the bad bits…or you just ate them anyway.

Pesticide free apples.
Pesticide free apples.

I picked what may well be the last of the chillies from my garden yesterday.

There is something so tempting about red food.
There is something so tempting about red food.

Later today I am attempting to make Chilli & Apple Jelly. This could be interesting. I have already a jar of chilli sauce fermenting in my pantry. Yes I did say fermenting. I am in to fermenting these days. Even made a batch of Zuurkool the other day.

Zuurkool ready to eat.
Zuurkool ready to eat.

That is the Dutch name for Sauerkraut. I haven’t made it in years and feel that perhaps I added too much salt. But we live and we learn, and after a good rinse it was very yummy. To finish off what was a rather long winding post I thought I would leave you with a video of Chevvy…doing what Chevvy does best…being cute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2RJZYvlwmQ

Moist Orange Poached Egg Cakes

This is my version of a recipe that was adapted from another version by a chef at the Auckland Heritage Hotel. It tasted amazing. I did not have a straight up muffin tin so they were not as high I think. Next time I might investigate using baking paper in the tins and making them higher. I also want to try making them with lemons, limes or grapefruit.

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange
  • 1/4 cup of castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 8 free range eggs
  • 200-220g of ground almonds
  • 185g of castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

First off you have to put the orange in a pot and cover it with cold water. This was interesting as the orange kept floating higher and higher in the pot. Eventually I gave up and just hoped for the best. Then stir in the 1/4 cup castor sugar and slowly bring it to the boil. Cover the pot and leave it to simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours, turning the orange occasionally.

IMG_8634 copy
See…I told you it kept floating !

Then go and have a nice glass of wine with a friend while you chat and wait for the 1 1/2 hours to pass. Or you could watch a good movie together.

I'm on the telly !!!!
I’m on the telly !!!!

Now it is time to take the orange out and let it cool. Once cooled chop the orange in to segments and get rid of any pips.

Make sure you have an audience who will cheer you on as you continue to make this masterpiece.

Please, please drop something, why don't you !!!
Please, please drop something, why don’t you !!!

Get a frypan, add water and bring it to a simmer. Add the apple cider vinegar. Now crack open three of the eggs and poach until they are just cooked. Don’t ask me what that means. I like mine a little runny still.

IMG_8644 copyThen take the eggs out and allow them to cool down. If you like them a little runny like me…for God’s sake…don’t drop any. At least try not to. However, if you do stay calm. Do not let the BIG GREEN monster out. You will regret it.

441287de56f147383Next step…have another glass of wine. Especially if you dropped one of the poached eggs.

Day 104 - 14.4.2013Now we get to the serious part…preheat your oven. About 160%C. Lightly grease your muffin tin [a 12 muffin muffin tin]. Make sure the Muffin Man has left home first.

Put the ground almonds and sugar in a nice BIG bowl. Yes people, you need a BIG bowl. Take it from me who spent a lot of time wiping down benches and clothing from NOT using a BIG bowl.

IMG_0270Add the chopped orange segments, the remaining five eggs and the three [hopefully you still have three] poached eggs.

IMG_8645 copyTurn on the beater and go for it. Do not worry if there is any heckling in the front rows.

IMG_8637 copyI told you you need a BIG bowl. I am NOT kidding.

m3yqe5Ihnx9PazUjyJBdvwYou have to beat the mixture until the mixture becomes smooth. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin holes.

IMG_8647 copyBake for 40 minutes.

IMG_8648 copyIt is now time to have glass of wine number three. A bold full bodied one is recommended here.

L4CzEth68HcyMpJpQ_KczQTake a wooden skewer and test the muffins.

IMG_8649 copyIf it comes out clean you are done. Turn out on to a wire rack and cool. This is the time to take a rest.

PhotoFunia-43316d0.1This is great if you top it with one of the following.

  • Thick yoghurt
  • Whipped cream
  • Mascarpone

Then grate either some orange peel or dark chocolate over.

Last step…pour another glass of wine and eat. And remember you are a super hero…

PhotoFunia-4323983Now…just because this is funny…hamsters are insanely good at falling over ‘dead’, but OMG…the parrot at 50 seconds in, I nearly wet my pants laughing !!!!

Travel Theme: Tempting

There is nothing that tempts me out of my comfortable bed more than knowing someone is cooking me breakfast. When The Daughter was home for a visit she made me her staple brekkie for Sunday brunch.

Mine consisted of fried eggs on toast, chilli beans, avocado and fried tomato !! To hers was added some crispy fried bacon.

All washed down with coffee.

A new treat she turned me on to is COLD COFFEE.

Made in the plunger and later left to drip through a coffee filter. Then it is left for 24 hours. When the 24 hours is up you add some sugar to boiling water, let cool a little, pour coffee and add the sugar mix.

I likee…I likee a lot !!!!!!

Related Post: Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme: Tempting

Italian Black Rice Nasi Goreng with Cashew Sauce.

My friend Michell is a bundle of all sorts of great things. She was actually the person who got me online and blogging. She goes with me to protest marches, beach hops, dries my tears when I am sad and giggles with me when I am being a bit of a nong.

woman's portrait
She is giving me that “OMG…what has she come up with now” look !!

She is also Misty’s Mum.

American Ragdoll CatThe other day she introduced me to Italian Black Rice.

THANK YOU MICHELLE !!!!

I used it last night to make my own version of Nasi Goreng.

Success !!!!!

I cooked the rice for twenty minutes then let it sit for ten. After this I rinsed and drained it well. In the meantime I sautéed the prawn cutlets until nicely brown, then added diced veges, For this one I used peas, carrots, corn and some sliced chilli. You could use anything that you want really. Next time I might add some sliced beans and broccoli to it. Once they were cooked [but still crunchy…I hate soggy veges] I added the rice. The rice should be cold and as dry as you can get it when you add it. Then I cheated and used a packet Nasi Goreng paste mix I love that contains none of the foods that are off my list for now. I mixed that in well and fried on a reasonably moderate heat for about twenty minutes.

During that time I blended about 1 cup of coconut milk with about 150 grams of cashews and a clove of garlic, blending it really well after my last experience. This I then put in a pan and added a teaspoon of gluten free flour and thickened it slowly.

Once the rice was cooked and had a bit of crunch to it, I served it up, added sliced tomatoes, the cashew sauce and dug in. Next time I hope not to forget to slice and throw on some spring onion with the tomato. Which will be tonight as there are leftovers.

Vegan Nasi Goreng with Cashew SauceYIPPEE…because it was amazing. Yummy, yummy, yummy !!!!!!!

Vegan Nasi GorengCan’t wait for dinner tonight !!

Penne pasta with mushrooms and vegan alfredo sauce.

So…day 3 has almost passed and it is going okay. The smoothies are a delight. Today I purchased a couple of mangoes for tomorrow morning’s one.

For dinner I am attempting something new. Oh boy !!! Now this is my own recipe. I looked up a few sites trying to find something interesting to make and learned quite a lot about vegan/gluten free cooking. Naturally I also have to ditch sugar and soy…so it is time to do some reinventing.

Recipe for Jo’s penne pasta with mushrooms and vegan alfredo sauce.

  • coconut oil
  • 500 grams of mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of cashews
  • 200-250 ml of coconut milk
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • mustard
  • lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • fine Himalayan pink salt and black pepper
  • Italian herbs
  • 100 grams gluten free pasta

mushroomsOne thing I learned from watching Julie & Julia was that when browning mushrooms you mustn’t crowd them or they won’t brown nicely. Thank you Hollywood !

If you have fur babies feed the wee beasties beforehand.

catOr maybe not. That way if you drop anything on the floor they suck it up. Just be careful what you drop is not poisonous to them.

fox terrierChevvy is my own wee vacuum cleaner.

It is best to prepare the sauce first. To your blender add the coconut milk, garlic, lemon juice and mustard. I added about a 1/3 of a teaspoon of Hot English Mustard and 4 cloves of garlic. You could use another milder mustard if you don’t like heat. I suggest adding small amounts of both the mustard and the garlic and tasting as you go along until it suits your palette. If you’re not a real garlic fan you could roast it before.

Blend this well until smooth. Then add the cashews and blend again. I like to leave them a little crunchy but if you prefer smooth just keep going. I made the mistake of blending it all at once…which didn’t quite get all the garlic smooth, something I found out when crunching in to what I thought was a cashew.

IMG_0270Even for a garlic lover it was a bit much.

Chop up your Italian herbs…anything will do. It is winter here and herbs are in short supply so I cheated and used dried herbs…an Italian mix.

Boil the water and add the gluten free pasta when it is boiling. Some people like to add salt…personally there is enough flavour in the sauce to not be necessary. I used penne pasta for this, and it worked for me brilliantly.

IMG_0267Now add some coconut oil to a fry pan. Just enough to coat the pan. And then place the mushrooms in so they all have their own space to do what they should…brown.

mushroomsHeat the oven and as you take the mushrooms out [and add more], put them in the oven to stay warm.

Once the mushrooms are cooked and the pasta al dente, drain the pasta. Add it back to the pan and add the sauce and mushrooms. Place it back on the heat and warm. If using dried herbs I suggest adding them before heating. Fresh herbs might be nicer if left until just before serving.

vegan pasta alfredoNow…bon appétit

vegan pasta alfredoThis was enough for dinner for me and I have some left over for lunch tomorrow. You could add more pasta to bulk it up, without detracting from the dish, if making it for two.

30 days to a perkier me.

Well that is what I am hoping for. I [with two other friends] have started doing a 30 day detox. What I like about this detox is that it involves food. I do have to give up a few things for the 30 days…such as

  • dairy and eggs
  • gluten and wheat
  • processed sugar
  • soy
  • coffee, soda, alcohol
  • beef and pork [well that’s easy as a vegetarian]
  • creamed vegetables and peanuts
  • corn oil [never use the stuff]
  • whey protein [never use it either…that I know of]

I am supposed to eat the following…

  • whole vegetables, leafy greens
  • brown rice, non-gluten grains
  • stevia [we will see if we really need that]
  • beans, lentils
  • green tea, apple cider vinegar
  • wild fish, organic chicken and turkey [hmmmm…the fowl won’t be included]
  • coconut oil and milk
  • plant based protein powder
  • lemon water

The second list is not a hard one. Almost all are already in my diet.

Start date = TODAY

This was breakfast…

  • 1 banana
  • 1 kiwifruit
  • heaped tablespoon protein powder
  • heaped tablespoon LSA
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water [boiled and cooled…my filter is on the blink]
  • 1 cup berries

Then blend away.

Oh my God…it was soooooo yummy.

I shall keep you posted during the month. My main reason is to get my energy levels back up…they have been flagging a little lately. I shall need more energy to learn how to operate my newest addition to the family. She took those amazing sunrise photos for me the other day.

20130721_081010

Now I need to decide what lunch will be.

Sunday Post: Delicious

I love soup. I mean really love soup. So I have decided to share with you a recipe for one of my favourites. I was introduced to a similar recipe for this by a friend, and have been adapting and experimenting until I got it exactly the way I like it. Try it and I dare you to tell me it isn’t good !!!!!!!

There are alternatives for people who don’t like seafood or chicken…just scroll down.

I made this today just for this post [and took a few photos while cooking – this was MY dinner tonight] – had some fresh bok choy from the Farmer’s market at hand.

Dinner was YUMMY !!!!!!

Jo’s Spicy Bok Choy Soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil,
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno peppers [I also use home grown chillies in place of these in the summer when I can pick them from my garden – depending on their strength and your tastes this is a little bit at a time method until you get it right. I like spicy so I use a tablespoon of hot chillies]

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped [sometimes I cheat and use the stuff in a jar – about four heaped teaspoons]
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped pickled ginger

  • a couple of cups of mushrooms, sliced thickly [any kind will do]

  • 2 medium bok choy, trimmed and cut into slices about 2cms/1inch thick

  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 300 grams medium peeled and deveined shrimp [you can cheat and use frozen shrimp – toss them in frozen. Not a seafood lover – try chicken pieces – vegetarian – try diced fried tofu]

  • 2 blocks of egg noodles [break them up, it makes the eating a lot easier] Vegetarian – vermicelli pasta makes a good alternative.

  • 1 onion chopped

Directions

Heat a medium pot over medium/high heat. Add the olive oil,  then toss in the onion, jalapeno peppers, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and bok choy, season with salt and pepper. Stir fry for about 1 minute.

Then add your vegetable stock. Put the lid on the pot and bring ingredients to the boil.

Now you can add the shrimp and noodles and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste and serve.

Enjoy !!!

I’d really love to hear what you think of this one.

I have a few more yummy posts if you want to check out my recipes.

For more Delicious pop on the flying dragon and head over to Jake’s place.

Sunday Post: Recipe

Some years back when doing the round of local garage sales I came across a book.

Isn’t that the most beautiful book ??

It has everything. Menus planning company dinners to lunch box menus. How to lay your table including where everything goes on the carving cloth. Until I got this book I had never heard of a carving cloth. There are hints on how to clear the table, washing dishes, caring for silver, making soap, removing stains, infant feeding, where to find what vitamins in foods, economical buying and utilization of food, and what you need to stock your kitchen.

I adore this book…in a completely creepy, over-the-top, hero worshipping kind of way. My revised and enlarged edition was printed in 1954. The book was originally compiled by Mrs Simon Kander (her name was actually Lizzie Black Kander but she published the book under her husband’s name).

Born in 1858 Lizzie was involved with the Progressive reform movements that sought to Americanize immigrants. She was head of the Milwaukee Jewish Mission, and Lizzie believed that by educating women in the domestic sector these women would keep their families out of poverty and make a success of their lives in America.

While Lizzie was in charge, the Jewish Mission was merged with the Sisterhood of Personal Service and the very first settlement house in Milwaukee was born. Lizzie ran cooking classes that were highly popular, and the Settlement was the only public kosher kitchen that existed at the time outside of New York City.

Lizzie decided it was time to put out a recipe book. With funding from local business, in 1901 the first edition of The Settlement Cookbook (174 glorious pages) was published and within one year a thousand copies of the book had been sold. The entire edition.

It has since been revised, enlarged, improved, and a copy found its way to my home and my heart…and much of its product in to my kiddywinkles tummies.

You can still get this treasure at various places online.

Now, about its recipes…wonderful, wonderful recipes.

The waffles recipe in this book has become a family favourite. After the book moved in, Sunday mornings always smelled of flour and eggs, bacon, and maple syrup.

When the kiddywinkles come home these days, the waffles from this book are ALWAYS on the menu.

But…that is not the recipe I am intending to share with you…not yet at least.

One of the best things about living in a small rural town is its people.

They share. One has too many avocados, so she hands them around, another too many beans.

Oh how I love all this swapping.

Recently I was given a large bucket of apricots.

These beauties were kept for snacking.

These darlings were headed for another destination.

Page 571 of Lizzie’s book has this recipe. APRICOT JAM (FRESH)

So armed with page 571, a bucket of apricots and an equal amount of sugar I set about making JAM.

The waffles never fail and other recipes have been successes so how could I go wrong right !!

WRONG

I washed and pitted and sliced the apricots. I added an equal weight of sugar and left the mix overnight – as per Lizzie’s instructions – to stand.

The following morning I dragged out these guys (and quite a few more to boot), also given to me by friends.

I boiled them.

Then (on a tip from a friend) I popped them in to the oven at 100% celsius to dry the jars hygienically.

And I turned on the stove to start gently cooking my apricots for 20 to 25 minutes.

It would appear that Lizzie is NOT infallible.

I tried reboiling it.

I tried adding pectin.

I tried earnest begging sessions with the pot.

It looked…well…not good !!

Two days later – the jam (my first attempt at apricot jam) was still not set. I was getting ready to portion it out and freeze it for sauce when I came across this tip while searching frantically for help on the web.

Apricot jam should only be made in small quantities of never more than 4 – 6 cups at a time or it will NOT set.

So back to the stove I went.

One thing – if you know me at all – you know I hate giving up.

I divided the pot into three portions.

And I ended up with eleven of these babies.

SUCCESS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ten of them have been shared around the town…

***

For more Sunday Posts head over to Jake’s: Recipe Post

Fresh Homemade Curry Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of canola oil (if you use another oil it should have a high smoking point like canola, this way you don’t change the taste of your other ingredients)

2 red or green chillies (diced – whether you seed them is up to you – the seeds contain a lot of heat – I like seeds in mine, but then I like spicy)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 red onion (medium)

2cm piece of ginger – peeled and diced (paste is okay if you can’t use fresh – definitely not pre-sliced or powdered or pickled).

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon coriander powder

½ a teaspoon of chilli powder (you can use pepper – cayenne instead)

½ teaspoon turmeric

400 grams of tomatoes peeled and chopped or when you feel lazy a 400gm can of crushed tomatoes

2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped and diced.

Preparation

Heat the canola oil until really hot (hence the need for a high smoking point).

Add the cumin seeds, fry until brown.

Add onion.

When the onion is translucent add the garlic, chillies and the ginger to the pan and fry until the garlic starts to brown.

Add your spices (cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, and turmeric) stir for a couple of minutes.

Add tomatoes and let simmer on a low heat until the water from the tomatoes evaporates and you are left with a thicker paste.

When adding this for the first time to a dish – add a tablespoon at a time until you have the right amount for you.

You can freeze the leftover paste once you work out portions. I place it in zip lock bags. Then when I want some I just open a bag and toss it in the dish.

For a great recipe to try it with here is my Bean and Vegetable Curry – so yummy on a cold winter day.