Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lazy Sundays and Mexican food

Another VERY lazy Sunday, stayed in bed til around 10am reading a Jodi Piccoult novel..the rest of the day has been spent cooking, watching a movie and back to cooking.  We had a smoky scrambled duck egg dish with homemade bread, Kaitaia fire, fresh tomatoes and coriander for breakfast, chicken and homemade barbecue sauce quesadillas for lunch and now we come to dinner.  Al brown's chargrilled squid and chorizo on skordalia with red roast capsicum vinaigrette and I can make my own pita bread now!  It's a snap to make, you can find the recipe here followed by rhubarb and apple pudding with hokey pokey ice cream.  Utter gluttony.


I am so lucky to have such generous community around me, especially being a single income family. Quite often an aunt will pop in with oranges and sugar loaf cabbages from her garden, I'll swap carrots for broad beans with a fellow gardener at our community garden or like today, my cousin calls to say she has a pork shoulder roast we can share (but you have to cook it, she says... haha thanks)

Sharing is an important part of life, we learn it from a very young age and to share food with others is the best type of sharing, it makes us feel warm inside to nourish another.  Currently being processed through the government is the Food Bill.  The Food Bill could effect people like me and my community, community garden plots won't be allowed to share or barter surplus vegetables with anyone, farmers markets will be heavily controlled and roadside stalls of produce will be a distant memory.  Some people believe that this Bill will pave the way to a country similar to America where swat teams raid health stores, seed banks are eradicated and major corporations control what is grown for the public to eat by GE seeds.

Questions and answers regarding the Food Bill are here.  If you would like to sign a petition against it, click here.  More information is here.

Now I've had my rant, I'm going to cook my roast pork with home grown cavelo nero, broad beans and cabbage given to me by a friend.  To achieve optimum crackling, start this recipe a day ahead.

Roast pork shoulder with fennel and apple gravy + sauteed spring vegetables

1 pork shoulder
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp chilli flakes
4 tbsp flaky sea salt
2 apples, cut in half horizontally
1 bottle of cider
Olive oil
plain flour
500mls hot stock (chicken or beef) or 250ml stock, 250ml hot water
Sea salt
White pepper

Spring vegetables of your choice like;
Baby carrots
Cavelo Nero
Broad beans
Snow peas
sprig of thyme
sea salt and pepper

Take pork out of it's wrapping and pat dry with a paper towel.  Score the skin in long strokes and place on a plate uncovered in the fridge until ready to cook.  Ideally more than 4 hours.
Now prepare your seasoning, grind fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a mortar and pestle, until coarsely ground and fragrant.  Add the sea salt and stir together.
Once your pork has dried out, rub the seasoning into the scored skin, and all over the meat, use most of it, don't be scared of the salt!
Leave the pork out while your oven heats to the right temperature.  Turn oven to 230 degrees.  Pour a little olive oil into a large roasting pan, place pork on to pan and put in oven for 15-20 minutes to get the crackling going.  Then turn your oven down to 160 degrees, add the halved apples and about half the bottle of cider and slow cook for about 4 hours.  Drink the rest of the cider.
While your pork is cooking, prepare your vegetables, peeling, trimming etc
When the pork is done, take out and place aside on another warmed plate to rest.  Do not cover with tin foil, otherwise the crackling will go soft.   Put the roasting pan on to your stovetop element and set the two that are underneath to medium heat.  Once the fat and juices from the pan is hot, add enough flour to soak up the fat and juices, stirring to incorporate and to cook out the flour.  You are making a roux similar to a white sauce except no milk, instead stock.  Once you have done this for a minute or two, start adding your hot stock, a cup at a time, whisking or using a fork flat side down to smooth any lumps of flour.  Keep adding until you have a smooth, pouring gravy.  Turn the heat down and cook at a gentle heat for another couple of minutes, stirring the whole time.  Season with sea salt and white pepper.  Pour your gravy into a dish and set aside in a warm place.
Heat the butter in a large pan, add the vegetables that need the longest cooking time first, and saute your spring vegetables until tender.   Season and set aside.
Carve your pork, pour over the gravy and serve with the vegetables.

Fattening but who cares?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chocolate layer cake

As we are going away this weekend, I have spent my day baking and organising the family, baked heartbreak pies dreamboat slice to take to our friends to say thanks for having us, shortbread to send with my son to granny's so he doesn't eat her out of house and home, chocolate macarons to satisfy my macaron urge and finally a birthday cake for my aunts friends 40th.  It's been a blustery day out there and I've been feeling so melancholy lately so it feels good to bake!  Lucky two out of four things will be sent away with others or else I wouldn't be able to fit my wedding dress.

This cake is a mix and match from a couple of recipes I like...hope you enjoy making and eating it, it's super easy and looks like you slaved for hours in the kitchen.  Sorry I can't cut a piece to show you, you'll just have to make it!

Chocolate layer cake

170g softened butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 free range eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 c milk
2 1/4 c plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 c cocoa


250g dark chocolate melts
1/2 c cream


250g butter, softened
2 c icing sugar,sifted
1 c cocoa, sifted
4 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 160 degrees.  Line the base of a 22cm cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Dissolve the soda in the milk, then add to butter mixture with sifted flour, baking powder and cocoa.  Beat until combined.  Spoon into your lined tin and bake for about 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the ganache, put the cream into a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, heating until just before boiling point, when it's hot enough add the chocolate and take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.  Stir until it's all combined and smooth then place aside to cool at room temperature.  It should become nice and thick.

To make icing, beat butter with an electric mixer until very pale and creamy, add half the sifted together icing sugar and cocoa, then the milk, then remaining icing sugar/cocoa.  

When cooled, carefully slice in half horizontally and spread one side with ganache mixture, place one side back on then ice the whole cake with the icing mixture covering it completely.  You could use a piping bag if you wish or just a knife.  Decorate as you wish!  I had to do fondant martini glasses sprinkled with glitter in honour of her cocktail party theme.

Monday, September 12, 2011

oysters on saturday

I'm going to Al Brown's new restaurant Depot on Saturday which I am extremely excited about.  I've already decided what I'm ordering too.