Saturday, 25 August 2012

Dreams of Exotic Places...

I'm lying in bed, on a bleak Sunday morning, full of germs and missing my voice. Ahhh what better time to update my blog. Yes well, it seemed like a great idea, only Chester, my son and his partner's 5 month old kitten has decided that my tummy/chest is a good place to snuggle up - so typing is rather tricky. He's a rather adorable young man, but insists on taking on my 3 cats...incessantly, so it wasn't a huge surprise to find, upon visiting the vet yesterday, he's been brewing an abscess or several from claw and bite marks (you'd think he might reflect on the pain and work out what's causing it - wouldn't you?). Looking at him in the pic,  butter would melt in his mouth!?

Usually, on a Sunday morning, I spend time going through the latest culinary delights on Stuff Recipes. My list of bookmarked recipes I 'must try', is growing faster than my ability or perhaps time available to give them a go. Today, there was a delicious sounding Lamb and Kumara Tagine (sweet potato), which I'm determined to make tonight.

I have two tagines, one that's perfect for one or two, and a bigger one, I could possibly use to serve 4-6.  I don't usually follow a recipe as I have some awesome spice mixes from The Best Ever company...only problem is they only sell at fairs and don't have a I have to stock up and use them sparingly. My favourites are the Ras El Hanout, Persian Mix and the all time fav...Baharrat. Sprinkled over chicken, fish, any meat, they give a wonderful exotic flavour, add onions, potatoes and any other vegetables, bake on a low heat for 1 and a half hours (or longer), and the meat is divinely tender and moist. The beauty of tagines is that the design causes the steam to condense in the lid and run back into the dish - so no drying out. I do the same just with vegetables, always adding the greens such as broccoli towards the end so they don't go soggy.

The tagine is great for me, being somewhat disorganised - I never quite manage to get the slow cooker organised, so that I come home to a house filled with delicious aromas and dinner waiting to be served. It's so simple to prepare tagine cooking, the dish can be used on the element/gas for browning, then transfered straight into the oven. So if I'm home by 5pm, we can still have the delicious aromas AND a dinner waiting to be served by 6.30ish. They can be somewhat expensive to buy though...I watched Peta Mathias Peta Mathias Culinary Adventures in Marrakech with envy, as she went to markets and was faced with piles and literally piles of terracotta tagines - presumably a far cry from our $NZ100++.

Ah well, I guess tagine envy will get me nowhere!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Gosh, it's such a long time since I've blogged. Well actually, I've blogged weekly on another site for my class...but I do admit to neglecting my own thoughts and more!

This year has been an amazing journey. I'm now teaching way out in the country and WHAT a revelation. I now know that John Deere tractors are green, New Hollands are blue and there is a tractor called Deutz Fahr and it's spelt...Deutz Fahr. I know that wearing shoes to school is an optional extra, even in the middle of winter...and polar fleeces are not necessary even in a 5 degree frost. Gum boots (Wellies) are essential and Gypsy Day is when people and cows in rural communities are on the move.

I've learnt loads about our community. At Cross Country (when the kids actually run across the country), I mentioned that I needed some firewood. within a couple of hours, it had been sorted for me and a few days later, a huge load of wood arrived in my backyard. When we go on trips...parents arrive in their 4 x 4s and people take our children wherever they need to need for buses out there. 

I've been on holiday for 2 weeks...I haven't really done much at all - and that's been great. I've watched loads of Foodtv...and tried a few things. Darren, my son (who is a trained chef) moves in with me tomorrow as he's now a qualified teacher and has scored a job at my school. I'm hoping that I can get my passion for cooking back now that it's not just me to eat my creations. So last night I made a wonderful potato dish I found on I encourage you to look at it, then adapt it to the ingredients you have in your fridge. I didn't buy expensive cheese, rather, I used bits and piece I had in my fridge, Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
50 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
100 g. lightly smoked bacon cut into matchsticks
125 ml dry white wine
6 waxy potatoes, such as desiree, cut into small cubes (leaving skin on)
100 ml pouring cream
250 g. Reblochon or any other washed-rind cheese

Fresh thyme, for decoration (optional

1.Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat oil in large deep-sided frying pan, add onion and bacon and cook over low heat until onion is soft (5-10 minutes), add wine and cook until evaporated (2-3 minutes). Add potato and cook until tender (10-15 minutes), then season to taste. Add cream, cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. 

2.Lay half the potato mixture in an 8 cup-capacity casserole or two 4 cup-capacity baking dishes, scatter over half the cheese, then repeat with remaining potato mixture and cheese. Bake until dish is golden and bubbling and potato is tender (30-45 minutes). Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread. 

If you have you own potato recipes, share them here!