1 pâté, 18 cheeses and 3 soups

Cheesey leftovers

We had quite the cheese fest in the weekend and ended up with 7 different kinds of cheese leftover.

Leftover cheese!? What is that? I hear you ask. I know, it sounds strange to be the owner of leftover cheese. To be fair, we sampled 18 different kinds of cheese and most of them were finished. I’ll be posting more about the cheese fest later.

We had a shit ton of crackers, baguettes and antipasto bits and pieces. I made 3 cups of chicken liver pâté for the occasion and have a little leftover. It is amazing spread on hot toast. If you’ve never eaten pâté on hot toast before, you are missing out. The moment that buttery goodness touches heat, it starts melting. It’s amazing.

The Honest Truth

This week The Honesty Box delivered spuds, kumara (sweet potato) and a big pumpkin among other goodies. This all screams SOUP to me. Since we had no soup last week, this week we’re having 3 kinds of soup! I’m cutting down on gluten for my Graves’ Disease diet so the carb component is mostly for The Koala’s enjoyment, I’ll probably just be having soup on its own.

I bought The Koala this great Thermos food jar (which actually ticks off bucket list item number 4) to keep his lunch nice and hot. He is on the road all day and winter can a little bit cosier with a hot lunch.

Eats

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

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What are you eating this week? Do you think 3 soups in a week is too much?

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Monday Bunday: Hopping Hare

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Badger beers had a brand-wide redesign by starting with their Hopping Hare beer. The result is fresh while still being very English countryside. The typography is very playful with strong illustrated elements.

This redesign was done by UK advertising agency Brand Opus.

Check out this and more of Brand Opus’s portfolio here: www.brandopus.com

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Crispy Roast Pork: Cantonese style

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage bloggers to try new food related things. Ash from Organic Ash is the host for this month’s event.

If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join. More information here.

 

Crispy roast pork (siu yuk) can be found hanging among roast ducks and slabs of shiny red BBQ pork in the windows of Cantonese BBQ restaurants everywhere. Traditionally, pork is roasted with seasoning in a charcoal furnace and is served as an appetiser* with your choice of dipping sauce. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce are popular but I love it dipped in mustard. Served with a bowl of rice and some Chinese greens, it’s a simple and delicious dinner.

It’s interesting to note that the words “siu yuk” directly translates to roast meat, not roast pork. I guess pork is so ubiquitous in Cantonese cuisine that meat equals pork by default.

While I have made English-style roast pork on many occasions, I’d never considered cooking the Chinese version, even though I’ve eaten siu yuk all my life. Both The Koala and I love siu yuk so I figured it was time to try to make it at home.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times in the last few weeks, tweaking the recipe a little as I go. I hope you enjoy this as much as we have.

Pork shrinks on cooking and this recipe may sound like a lot of pork, but trust me, you will be happy with the generous quantities!

Crispy Roast Pork Belly

Serves 2 with rice and greens for dinner or 4 as an appetiser*

Ingredients

  • 1 piece of boneless pork belly 700g to 1kg (about 2lb)
  • 1 teaspoon 5 spice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake or Chinese cooking wine (optional)
  • Coarse sea salt

Preparation

  1. Take a large saute pan and half fill with hot water. Bring to the boil and add all the seasonings except for the sea salt. Carefully add the pork belly, skin side up. The pork should be completely submerged. Add more water if required.
  2. Simmer for 15 minutes until pork is cooked.
  3. Remove pan from heat, drain and discard cooking liquid and allow pork to dry in a colander. The heat of the pork will help the drying process.
  4. Once cool enough to handle, prick the pork skin all over using a bamboo or metal skewer. This will allow the fat to crispy up nicely, similar to the method of scoring English style roast pork. You can also score the skin if you wish (my pork was already scored by the butcher).
  5. Place pork on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day, remove the pork from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 200°C.
  7. Place a layer of foil on a roasting tray (for easy clean up) and add the pork belly, skin side up. Generously sprinkle and rub the pork skin with seasalt.
  8. Roast at 200°C for 20 minutes, then turn down to 180°C and roast for a further 20 minutes.
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  9. Remove pork belly from oven and place onto a chopping board, once cool enough to to cut without burning yourself (when it’s stopped sizzling), cut into bite sized cubes and serve immediately or at room temperature with your choice of sauce. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce are typical, I prefer mustard.

*Please note: appetiser means starter or entrée, which is a small course served before the main course.

 

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Some tips:

  • Always score pork skin immediately after blanching. If you score prior to blanching or after refrigerating, the skin will be tough and make your job more difficult.
  • When pricking the pork skin, you can tie several skewers together to save time.
  • The pork skin must be very dry before roasting. If you don’t have time to refrigerate overnight (which dries out the skin), you may use a hairdryer to dry the skin.
  • Oven must be very hot so make sure you pre-heat properly.
  • Some people add butter or oil to the skin but I have found it is not neccessary. Pork belly is fatty enough. Butter does add a lovely flavour though.
  • Rub salt into the skin. Plenty of salt. Don’t be shy. You won’t be salting the rest of the meat, so the skin will hold all the seasoning. Don’t worry, it won’t be too salty.
  • The pork belly will spit and hiss in the oven so place it on the middle of the oven (not too close to the top elements) and use a roasting tray that is generous in size so that it can spit and hiss onto the foil and not onto your oven.
  • The Cook’s Treat: The cook is legally obliged to eat any odd shaped pieces of crispy roast pork prior to plating.

This week’s menu

“Mmmmm…millet!”

Yes, this has been uttered by me on more than one occasion. No, I’m not a hippy, tree-hugging, health freak. I’m also not a bird. I love millet, almost as much as I love rice and I’m a bit baffled why millet isn’t more common. This week I’m making a millet pilaf and stirring through fried sausage, pesto, toasted cashews and lemon zest. I’m going have leftovers the next day for lunch and I’ll probably be thinking about it all morning prior to eating it.

If you’ve never tried millet, please give it a go. I tried it for the first time last year with this roast vegetable and millet salad and now millet is a staple in my kitchen.

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Millet is gluten free, cheap and a great substitute for rice, couscous, pasta etc. It’s quick and easy to cook (similar to rice, a bit more forgiving). It’s good hot or cold, though I prefer it hot in this weather and tends to be quite liquid hungry so will soak up any flavours and sauces that you add to it after cooking.

As it is a seed and not a grain, it’s quite nutritious too.  Check out the nutrition profile over on www.whfoods.com. Millet can be found in health food shops or bulk bin shops. I don’t think our local supermarkets sell it yet. It’s a shame.

Eats

Here’s what else we’re eating this week. We went to Westmere Butchery in the weekend so have plenty of free range meat to eat.

Most of these dishes will feed us for lunch the next day as leftovers “as is” or translated into lunches.

For example, I’m quite looking forward to corned beef, cheese and kimchi toasties while I’m sure The Koala will enjoy his corned beef, mustard and pickle sandwiches.

Let me know what day you’re coming for dinner :)

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Pop Up Macarons

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This is not a sponsored post. Sweet treats within!

Last weekend, a couple of friends and I checked out the J’aime Les Macarons’ pop up shop at Bloc in Mt Eden.

The Bloc is a design retail hub with stores such as BoCocept, Citta Design, World Beauty, Collected by LeeAnn Yare and Douglas and Bec. Swoon-worthy stuff and reasonable prices. My go-to stop when ever I want to buy a gift, though I haven’t actually bought anything for myself there…until now.

J’aime Les Macarons means I love macarons in French. A pop up shop a temporary shop and a great way for new businesses to get feedback in unfamiliar waters. Amanda Marchant and Bridget O’Sullivan are in charge and are two passionate, creative foodies with an eye and palate for some stunning flavour combinations.

J’aime Les Macarons currently have two stores in Christchurch as well as stockists scattered around the country. If you prefer, you can buy a box of 12 from their website and they also do cakes, weddings and corporate events.

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They have a range of 6 classic flavours and their Winter collection is a further 12 flavours making for a total of 18 plus an extra special flavour just for their pop up shops. J’aime Les Macarons also have a few complementing products such as their peanut brittle and a salted caramel sauce.

Between us, we bought 18 macarons and tasted over half of the flavours. If we had been better organised, we might have selected 1 of each flavour but we wanted to choose 6 of our own. My favourite was the Salted butter caramel, though I also loved the Coffee macaron.

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I like how they pair spices with sweets.

Some of their more unusual flavours include:

  • Rhubarb & pink peppercorn
  • Chilli Chocolate
  • Wasabi & Grapefruit

…and their pop up store special flavour: 

  • Pineapple Lime & Anise.

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These macarons are a little more generous than the classic macaron and the bite is a perfect combination of crisp outer, slightly chewy inner and creamy filling.

I have to make a confession now. I thought I didn’t like macarons for the longest time.Not because I was resistant to the macaron craze (hey, I’m not a hater), but because I dislike almond extract and I had some truly awful fake tasting macarons when the fad first hit.  I must have had some cheap ass macarons because a little research suggests that some people use almond extract in place of ground almonds (the main component). The results are disgusting.

I’m glad to say that J’aime Les Macarons make good macarons with real ground almonds that taste lovely, subtly nutty and sweet. I’m already thinking of my next excuse to eat them!

Find out more on their website here: www.jaimelesmacarons.co.nz

 

Tofu Tuesday: King size bed

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Tofu has been sleeping on our bed lately.

He comes into our room sometime between midnight and dawn, long after we’ve gone to bed. I guess that is when the temperature drops. He sleeps on top of our blankets, snuggled between our feet.

In the morning, he can be found perfectly positioned on that patch of blanket directly on top of a hot water bottle, enjoying the residual heat through 2 layers of blanket. He dozes there for hours while I get up, work out, shower, dress, pack my lunch, check what’s new with the internet etc. He usually hops off the bed (in search for food) by the time I leave for work. Life is pretty sweet.

In winter, if a rabbit has the choice, he would choose to snuggle with a hot water bottle and/or between his humans.

It makes me wonder how pet rabbits who live their entire lives in outdoor hutches can survive even our mild Auckland winters? It doesn’t snow in Auckland, but it can get close to 0°C at night yet house rabbits are relatively uncommon. Yes, bunnies adapt but is that how cold they want to be? Bunnies in the wild live in burrows with narrow entrances that keep warmth in. Most hutches have no insulation and have gaps or netting which do not keep wind out or warmth in. If you have an outdoor bunny, please consider bringing him or her inside over winter.

 

Monday Bunday: Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale

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I’m quite fond of the branding for Shiner’s Wild Hare Pale Ale. The copy was clearly written by advanced lagomorph experts.

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Lepus texianus hopus aleicus

STYLE: Classic American Pale Ale  ABV: 5.5%  IBU: 32

A mature individual stands 9.5 inches tall and weighs 12.0001 ounces. Renowned for its assertive temperament and hoppy characteristics. It has a distinguished heritage, being the product of high alpha Bravo and U.S. Golding hops, as well as two-row barley malt with a blend of Munich and caramel malts. Note the Wild Hare’s handsome red pelt and distinctive neck band, which helps distinguish it from others out in the wild. The beer enthusiast is its only known predator.

More info on their website here: www.shiner.com/beer/wild-hare

 

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Dinner and a Movie: NZIFF Food Matches

The New Zealand International Film Festival is currently on in Auckland. Next week it will start in Wellington and Christchurch will follow that. The Koala and I LOVE watching movies. Like, love it to bits. We have varied tastes in what we look for in a movie but we can usually both recognise a good movie, even if it’s not our favourite genre. I like anything thought provoking or whimsical and The Koala likes anything with action. We both enjoy thrillers and scares.

Recently, we invited a group of friends to watch the cult classic Tampopo. It is a 1985 Japanese film about a woman, her ramen (noodle) shop and her search to make the perfect bowl of ramen. A foodie action comedy with some very innocent characters who contrast with some freaky food erotica. Naturally, we followed the movie by feasting at our local ramen shop. Sorry, we didn’t partake in food erotica.

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That pairing may have been obvious, but I like to pair food with activities. It’s like wearing shoes that match your bag. A little bit fancy.

I thought it might be fitting to post my top NZIFF picks with a food match and restaurant for those who do the whole “dinner and movie” thing (or if you prefer, “movie and dinner”). Please note, these movies are not specifically food movies.

Here are my top 5 film picks and matching foods:

NZIFF-PICKS

The Double

By director and actor Richard Ayoade famous for awkward indie teen romance: Submarine and acting in the comedy series: The IT Crowd.

An intriguing thriller about a shy, awkward clerk who meets his doppelganger who is charismatic and good with the ladies.

Food match: Double cheeseburgers
Recommended restaurant: Better Burger

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Congress

By director Ari Folman famous for epic animated doco: Waltz with Bashir.

Hollywood actress gets pulled into the future: a surreal, rainbow world of animation, colour, drugs, happiness and suffering. Trippy stuff. Thought-provoking and unique.

Food match: Rainbow delights
Recommended restaurant: Milse

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The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Documentary on Hayao Miyazaki and his animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Enter the world of the animation genius.

Hayao Miyazaki’s films are well known for their extravagant food scenes and he is a fan of noodles. Any Japanese would have worked here but since it is winter and since Hayao once cooked up a big ramen dinner for his animation studio workers, It’s got to be…

Food match: Ramen
Recommended restaurant: Ramen Do

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Snowpiercer

By director Bong Joon-ho famous for Korean monster movie: The Host.

In the not too distant future, the world is reduced to the inhabitants of a giant train that loops around the globe. This is the story of the revolution of the train’s class system. There are a few foodie scenes for those that are looking for them as the poor eat anything to survive and the elite eat very well. Highlight of the movie: Chris Evan’s beard.

Food match: Sushi train
Recommended restaurant: Sushi Factory

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The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet

By director Jean-Pierre Jeunet famous for cult classics: Amelie and Delicatessen.

A ten-year-old cartographer secretly leaves his family’s ranch in Montana and travels aboard a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Whimsical and feel good.

Food match: All American Redneck Ribs
Recommended restaurant: Lone Star

NZIFF Auckland is running until the 5th August 2014.

Are you looking forward to any of these movies? Have you seen any of the already?

Do you ever pair movies with a matching restaurant or is it just me?

 

Getting back on track menu

Results

I had a blood test on Saturday and the results weren’t so flash. I hadn’t been feeling quite normal lately and I should have guessed that I was back to being hyperthyroidic.

My last few blood tests had been great so this setback feels like a slap in the face. The pendulum swings both ways, so let’s hope it swings back in my favour with adjusted meds and diet.

I haven’t done a menu plan for a few weeks and as a result, maybe I’ve been slacking off on my self-imposed diet. There is controversy about diet and auto-immune diseases. My endocrinologist (frustratingly) says diet has no influence on my condition. But I think eating better makes sense and surely it cannot hurt. I guess being able to control at least one aspect of my life helps.

Diet

I’m going mostly gluten-free and eating lots of whole foods. Proteins, vegetables, dairy are up. More juicing. Minimal alcohol and refined sugar.

I’ll allow myself 1 glass of wine per week (medicinal purposes) and use honey in my hot drinks. I’m going to invest in a second jar of honey so I can stick to this plan in the office as well as at home. No more coffee for a while. I dislike reading about other people’s restricted diets but hopefully my diet isn’t so restrictive you cannot relate.

Eats

We have a bunch of wintery produce delivered from The Honesty Box this week and my version of a restricted diet using up the produce looks pretty good on paper (or chalkboard).

Here’s a rough guide to what I plan on cooking this week (most of which will end up being leftovers for lunch the next day)…

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I think The Koala will be pleased with this dinner menu as some of his favourites feature here.

Can you guess which ones they are?

Tofu Tuesday: Good Side

Photo taken from Tofu’s “good side”.

I keep apologising for the way that Tofu looks at the moment. Our neighbours who share our back yard were happy to see Tofu in the garden again and went down to greet him. I couldn’t help but pipe up a warning. I’m used to the way he looks now but his other side can be a shock if you’re not expecting half a shaved head and stitches in place of an eye.

I still think he is the handsomest bunny.

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And he is king of the house once more. Yesterday he spent all morning on the couch (which was covered in a big puffy blanket). I arranged snacks around him so he wouldn’t have to leave his warm nest for food. I believe the term is morph* whipped.

Click here to see more of Tofu the blind, eyed rabbit.

* Lagomorph is to bunnies what felines is to cats.

 

Monday Bunday: Mark Hearld’s Harvest Hare

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Check out this linocut design by artist Mark Hearld for St Jude.

The design is called “Harvest Hare” and the wallpaper is printed in the UK using water-based inks and paper from sustained forests. Available in blue slate, corn and chalk white. Also available in other colours as cushion covers and fabric.

More info on Mark Hearld’s printmaking here: www.stjudesfabrics.co.uk/collections/mark-hearld

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Our Growing Edge July Intro

 

 

 

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Phuong of My Kitchen of Love who is currently in Vietnam has just posted the round up for June’s edition of Our Growing Edge. Check out the sumptuous 13 item feast here.

 

July’s edition is being hosted by Ash from Organic Ash.

 

Our Growing Edge is the part of us that is still learning and experimenting. It’s the part that you regularly grow and improve, be it from real passion or a conscious effort. This monthly event aims to connect and inspire us to try new things and to compile a monthly snapshot of what food bloggers are getting up to.

If you have a blog and are trying something new with food this month, come and join us!

Tofu Tuesday: Off meds, weight up

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We went back to the vet for a re-visit on Saturday. Tofu has gained a whopping 100 grams in just one week so we are pleased he is eating normally and gaining weight. If he keeps this weight on it will be good. Tofu is now off all his meds so this is great news for his post-operative healing.

Tofu has jumped onto our bed once since surgery and come begging for food in the kitchen a couple of times. He also jumped onto the couch last week and again last night for snuggles. I wish you could see him jump up onto the couch. Being completely blind, he gives it everything he’s got, sailing above the couch (and above me), but landing softly on the blankets on the couch.

We’re not at the stage where he’s spending all day free range outside (with weather and fencing issues) but he can have some supervised time in the yard. The Koala hopes to let Tofu be roam free again, but I’m not quite comfortable with that yet so yesterday after work, I gave Tofu half an hour in the yard as it got dark. Darkness doesn’t bother Tofu, but I want to be able to stop him in case he goes ferreting under the house or tries to make an escape.

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Monday Bunday: Ragbit

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Ragbit is an Indonesian clothing label with designs by Riayu Putri Narindra from Bandung, Indonesia.

I like the juxtaposition of old style illustration with contemporary geometric fonts and shapes.

You can see this project and others on Riayu’s Behance page here: www.behance.net/riayuputri 

Please do, she has some great food related designs.