All posts tagged: to do list

Make Tom Yum

I made this bowl of Tom Yum Gai for one at the Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand, so you’ll have to pay them a visit if you want the exact recipe. Tom Yum (or Tom Yam) soup is the hot and sour soup of Northern Thailand and Laos and I first got hooked on this spicy broth back in my student days. We were flatting on K Rd, with a pretty good Thai place just a few doors down at Lim Chhour Food Court. Cash poor but still wanting to eat something with punchy flavours and actual nutrition (instant Mee Goreng and Yum Yum noodles can only take a girl so far) Tom Yum with tofu and vegetables plus a box of steamed rice cost $7 all up. Tom Yum and many other Thai soups and dishes feature 8 fragrant ingredients: Lime juice Kaffir lime leaves Galangal (Thai ginger) Lemongrass Chili (Bird’s eye chili) Palm sugar Spring onion and coriander (cilantro) Fish sauce Fish sauce is a key ingredient in Thai …

Do Something With Eggplant

As well as attempting to try new beloved recipes this autumn, I put “Do something with eggplant” on my list of things to try. You can read more about my autumn list here. Eggplant is one of those vegetables I loathed as a child. Shiny and sinister looking, their heft is light beyond their size. Slimy and bitter and neither egg nor plant, this weird looking vegeta-fruit was not a friend of mine. I hated mushrooms – which I adore now, courgettes (zucchini) – which I also love now. Over the summer, eggplant made appearances at a few BBQ feasts and I let my guard down. Maybe it was time to be a grown-up and try eggplant again. I decided to cook with eggplant for the first time ever. Maybe I should have introduced it slowly, as a minor part of a meal, rather than diving in and making it the star of the show. We had two eggplants and ate them with an orzo salad. I picked yellow and red tomatoes and rosemary from …

Make A Chowder (Salmon Head and Mussel Chowder)

Salmon. I love it raw. I love it cooked. I love it smoked. I love it poached. I love it pan fried. I love it baked. I love it steamed. It is creamy, fishy and super rich. Everything I’ve read says that salmon makes too strong a stock. I’m not afraid of a strong fish stock, but if a strong stock makes you queasy, this recipe is not for you. I’ve wanted to make a chowder for the longest time and a quiet, Autumn weekend at home last month was a good time for it. You can easily spend too much on seafood for a chowder. Sure, it will be delicious, but what about making a delicious chowder using cheaper ingredients? I picked up 2 salmon heads for cheap at my local asian market. Fish heads are usually cheap and I’ve been eyeing these up for a while now, wondering what to do with them. To prepare, make sure the gills are removed – they usually are. Cut the fins off with a pair of …

Make Bacon

After reading the book Heat by Bill Buford, I’ve dreamed of curing my own pork. Curing meat uses salt to draw out the moisture and this allows the meat to last much longer. When the apocalypse that we’re all waiting for hits, we might need low tech techniques like these to make our food go further. Maybe. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with home made bacon just for fun. Traditionally, pig slaughter takes place in autumn, after a summer of fattening up and curing begins at this time of year too. The work is generally done outside and needs cooler temperatures to keep the meat happy. Winter is too cold in many parts of the world to work outdoors, so Autumn is the perfect season. Also, in the northern hemisphere, the holiday season follows soon after autumn and there is much appreciation of pork over the festive feast period. Christmas ham anyone? I’ve always loved the idea of curing/brining my own bacon. I wasn’t sure if I was going to smoke it too since I …

Experience a degustation

Celebrate The Koala and I have been together for 10 years, and we recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. As with any good relationship, good eating has been and will probably always a part of our relationship. To mark 3 years, we treated ourselves to a degustation dinner at Kermadec in the Viaduct. Two years ago, our first official anniversary dinner was unplanned. It ended up being at KFC in Hamilton. It was scoffed down, on the way home from a wonderful weekend in the Bay of Plenty, but we can’t help thinking of how far away a degustation in the Viaduct is from “Kaccas in The Tron”. Degustation A degustation is a tasting menu, designed by the chef. You get to sample a range of delights over many courses, and the number of dishes usually ranges from 6 courses up to 12. It’s considered the best way to sample a chef’s skill. Instead of choosing what you want to eat, you completely surrender your choice to the chef. Degustation can be matched with wine …

Make a feijoa preserve

The first fruit to drop from our feijoa tree went unnoticed by us, but Tofu the bunny sniffed it out and ate half of it before I caught him. Considering Tofu is blind, that is top marks to the  bunny. Tofu loves feijoa and we have to check the backyard daily to clean up all the fallen feijoa or else he will eat more than is good for him. For those outside the loop, feijoa (Pronounced fee-JO-ah) are a guava with a perfumey, tart flavour and a grainy texture similar to pear. The originated in South America and I’m not how they found their way to Auckland, New Zealand, but the feijoa season here is short, intense and adored by many. We count our lucky stars that our rental has a thriving feijoa tree in the backyard. I have fond memories of feijoa season, we would sit around the table, eating feijoa and stacking up the emptied cups as we ate until the towers bent and swayed. In Cantonese, we call them “FEE-jo. To eat a feijoa, …

Make Cornbread – Savoury and sweet

Cornbread. Southern States. The Green Mile. Comfort food. Wholesome. The word cornbread just feels round and nice in your mouth. You say it with warm, drawn-out Rrrr sounds. Southern States remember? I think of the movie The Green Mile and how cornbread was presented as a heartwarming thank you present. John Coffey: I’m smellin’ me some cornbread. Paul Edgecomb: It’s from my missus. She wanted to thank you. John Coffey: Thank me for what? Paul Edgecomb: Well, you know… Paul Edgecomb: For a helping me. John Coffey: Helping you with what? Paul Edgecomb: You know. John Coffey: Ohh. Was your missus pleased? Paul Edgecomb: Several times. We don’t eat cornbread here in New Zealand but they talk about it so much in the movies that I’ve always wanted to try it. I always assumed it was a bread eaten in place of a bread roll for hearty meals. But now I see that it has more of a cake texture. I used the basic cornbread recipe over at The Fresh Loaf only I used polenta …

Make a big pot of chili

I’ve made various short-cut variations of chili over the years, always in a frying pan, always just enough for two and always with a minimum of fuss. I wanted to make a bit ‘ol pot of the stuff so we could eat our way through it for as long as we could bear. Chili con carne literally translates to “chili with meat”. You know, carne, as in carnivore. Looking online, there are many variations and I was quite surprised that beans in chili is not regarded as authentic. Chili always appears with beans around here and I’ve never had chili without beans. It seems that in poorer areas, beans were added to make the dish go further and it became more common. A chili purist’s proverb goes “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans”. My chili is mild and includes beans. Add more hot sauce or chili if you prefer something with more kick. A Big Pot of Chili Makes about 3 litres or 12 cups. A serving is …

Hello Autumn, my good friend.

The first weekend of Autumn is here and it’s certainly starting to chill. That humid, sticky-air feeling is giving way to a bite and the wind is almost unbearable. I haven’t succumbed to wearing a jacket yet, but I had to give into a scarf last night. Denial is fun. Autumn is my favourite season. Autumn in Auckland is usually warm enough still to do things, but not so hot as to need to shower or swim afterwards. I usually relish in Autumn after a long hot summer. We’re just not ready for it yet. I was reluctant to make a to list this season as we’ve got some big events planned which will take me away from my kitchen, but once I got started on my list, I was away. I managed to stop at 10. Probably overly ambitious as usual but I don’t know what I could cull. I’ve yet to complete any of my lists so far, but I’m a dreamer. I don’t need the smug satisfaction of reaching all my goals. Most …

A Cheated Summer In Review

Summer is officially over. It has rained heaps this summer. Tomatoes have loved it. The rest of us have grumbled. Still we made the most of what we had and I managed to ticked off 7 out of 10 items on my Summer To Do list. Here’s a the summer summary of my to do list: 1. Have a picnic at the beach It wasn’t the picnic to beat all picnics, but hey, it was a picnic at the beach, a marine reserve in fact. There was still hot free range roast chicken, salads and breads before and after snorkeling. Like a comforting farmhouse meal only at the beach. Read about it here. There were no other picnics in our summer, but we did have plenty of BBQs in our backyard. So many that we ran out of gas. Must remember to refill that thing… With the funny weather we are having, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are able to squeeze in a picnic or two before the end of April. 2. Grow mint …

Roll Sushi

In the very early ’90s, sushi became popular in New Zealand and I found out the sushi that I already loved, wasn’t cherished among my peers. Not then anyway. Before this discovery, my sister and I had been happily enjoying raw fish sushi in uncool bliss. At school, instead of bags of chips, we snacked on small packs of dried seaweed. When The Koala and I visited Osaka, Japan in 2008, we were surprised to find sushi we are familiar with here in NZ, is quite different to Japanese sushi. Like so many imports, sushi has morphed away from tradition. Tried and true is great, but weird reproductions can be great too. NZ was not ready for raw fish in early ’90s. There had to be another way. Chicken sushi, which is novelty in Japan, converted hoards of New Zealanders to sushi and it’s unlikely you’ll find a sushi joint in NZ that doesn’t offer it. Where would we be without wacky combinations to humour our palates? Some less than authentic sushi I’ve enjoyed over …

Do something with rhubarb

“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” – Brian O’Driscoll I think you can consider a rhubarb as a vegetable in the same way that a tomato is a fruit. Rhubarb is completely alien to me. I recognise the word, but I I can’t say I have eaten rhubarb before. If I have, I mustn’t have been paying attention or maybe it was cooked with fruit and I wasn’t sure where the fruit ended and the rhubarb began. I was determined to do something with rhubarb this summer, and to know for sure what it was (and if I liked it). It’s a bit embarrassing that I wasn’t  sure what rhubarb looked like. I couldn’t identify it in the wild, although I’m generally pretty good at identifying edibles in the ground. I thought maybe it looked like silverbeet or celery only bright red. I was on the right track. I even claimed that I’d never seen rhubarb in any shops. Surely if I …

2012 More and Less

I really liked Amber from Code For Something’s More/Less resolutions. So I drew some bunnies and figured out 5 each of my own. Just to prove that I mean this list, I got the first haircut of the year yesterday and went to the library and got out 2 books. They’re both food related so expect some more book reviews coming up in the mix.

Have a picnic at the beach

We just got home this week from a holiday in Tairua in the Coromandel. The weather wasn’t the best, but we made the best of what we had. We had a well stocked fridge and BBQs just about every day. Heaven is day after day of epic feasts with friends. We are back to work next week, so being the last weekday of the holidays, we decided to head to the beach one more time. Today we went out to Goat Island which is just over an hour north of Auckland and worked up an appetite by swimming and snorkeling at the marine reserve. Sometimes, the best picnics are the ones where not a single thing is prepared at home, but instead, collected from your local supermarket, assembled and enjoyed somewhere beautiful with friends. A hot roast free range chicken, cheesy buns, fancy bread, salads, chips, crackers, cheese, stick shaped vegetables and loads of dips. Dig in.

Make an edible gift

Fudge When my sister and I were kids, we used to go to the Takapuna Flea Markets and 50 cents would buy us a small paper bag of russian fudge to share. It was buttery, sweet and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I never knew russian fudge actually contained butter until I decided to make it this Christmas as an edible gift. Plan A I used the classic Edmonds Cook Book recipe, but tried and true it may be, after over 24 hours, including some freezer time, it just wouldn’t set for me. Big fail! What to do with squishy russian fudge? Well, of course, there was always ice cream or sauce. But what about using it as a spread? A few ticks later, I devised a Plan B. Plan B I cut out puff pastry shapes using cookie cutters, sprinkled with raw sugar, baked at 170°C for  10 minutes until just done, cooled for a bit, cut in half and filled with the still soft russian fudge. Serve with coffee for Christmas afternoon treat or with Christmas breakfast. …

Prepare Ika Mata (Cook Islands raw fish salad)

Raw fish is delish I fell in love with Ika Mata during our honeymoon in Rarotonga a couple of years ago. This raw fish and coconut cream salad is “cooked” in lemon juice and confettied with diced vegetables. I’ve eaten it a couple times in New Zealand, but never had the guts to make it at home until now. It’s absolutely a summertime dish and I’m glad to be able to cross it off this summer’s to do list. It was much easier than I anticipated. I don’t know what I haven’t made it sooner. Some raw fish dishes from around the world (alpha): Crudo, Italy Ceviche, South America Ika Mata, Cook Islands Kelaguen, Mariana Islands (Micronesia) Kinilaw, Philippines Kokoda, Fiji Ota ‘ika or Oka i’a, Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa Poisson Cru or E’ia Ota, Tahiti Poke, Hawaii Tiradito, Peru This recipe uses yellowfin tuna because it happens to be on special this week at Nosh, but you can use firm white fish such as kahawai or gurnard if the price is right. This is good eating, but can feel on the light side. If you are like …

Cook Ribs

Ribs The ribs at Al Brown’s new restaurant, Depot are incredible. Lamb ribs with harissa sauce sounded great and I liked the inclusion of roasted capsicum. Al’s recipe can be found on his restaurant website for those that live outside of Auckland or just want to be able to make the dish at home. What a giver! I also have a soft spot for Lonestar ribs. It’s the only thing we go to Lonestar for these days. Ribs shouldn’t be a special occasion food, so I figured that was time to attempt to cook ribs at home. I put together this recipe after reading a bunch of recipes online and also incorporating some flavours that would work well with pork. Roasted capsicum is easy to do. Just cut a capsicum into quarters, remove the seeds, smear with a little oil and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes. In hindsight, this sauce would be badass with a slow cooked hunk of pork. Think pulled pork with coleslaw, potato salad and fresh buns. Oh boy. Kaitaia Fire Kaitaia Fire is …

Happy December!

Summer’s here. It’s really here. There’s so many things to love about summer and it seems that the weather naturally puts people in a great mood. The start of summer in Auckland is lovely – before it gets too humid. I love the late sunsets, coming home in the afternoon and enjoying a drink on the deck, summer festivals, late nights, camping, baches, local beach missions after work, weekend further afield beach adventures…It’s not quite warm enough to swim yet, but give it a couple of weeks. I have been caught off-guard by the fierce sun already. One afternoon in the sun a week ago and my shoulders are peeling. No doubt there will be many feasts over the summer with outdoor barbecues, picnics as well as Christmas parties galore. We’ve got company Christmas party to look forward tonight complete with Christmas buffet and 2 hour comedy show. I think it’s nice to get Christmas parties done early and out of the way. No doubt we will be invited to other Christmas parties and events this month. …

Sayonara Spring

Today is officially the last day of Spring before summer hits us tomorrow. I wrote a Spring To Do List at the start of September and managed to cross off 7 out of 10 items. The aim of the list is to tend to my growing edge. Your growing edge is the part of you that is still learning, trying new things and experimenting. It’s the area of your life that you are improving and working on. It’s often too easy to keep cooking your favourite tried and true dishes and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I feel like there’s so many delicious things to eat and and so little time so I need to push forward to get anywhere. I first started writing a seasonal list this winter (mid 2011) and you can read my winter summary here. Not only can you learn new things, but the unfamiliar or things that you shrink away from can become familiar to you with practice. It’s the initial leap that is the hardest. A couple on …

Prepare a raw meal

One of my “To Do” activities this spring was to prepare a raw meal. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up hot meals just yet, I just thought it would be interesting and a challenge this spring to make something that was raw, good looking and edible. So I gave it a go. It was harder than I thought even without cooking involved. I picked ingredients based on flavour and colour. I used a few questionable ingredients that have been processed/fermented/pasturised like oil, soy sauce and milk. You can get raw versions of these things apparently. I didn’t for this experiment, but you could. I used gurnard and salmon and squeezed fresh orange and fresh lemon onto the lot. A happy ending via a strawberry smoothie.