Christmas Trifle with Chianti & Berry Sago

A trifle can be as time-consuming or quick as time permits.  If, as I used to be, you have all day to create, cook and enjoy time in the kitchen then make each element of this dessert yourself. I haven’t provided recipes for sponge cake, custard or meringues as mostly likely you’ll have a go-to recipe tucked away.  And if, as I am now, you work full time and try to squeeze as much in to the time before work and the time after work, then the quick option is just as good. Continue reading

Golden Raisin, White Chocolate & Madeira Cake

Christmas cake: some love it (its cake so what’s not to like?) but some people hate fruit cake of any kind.  This light cake might just change their minds about fruit cakes; it has just enough raisins to add texture and a subtle flavour.

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Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins

I haven’t baked in a while (like a couple of weeks) and it is shows.  I got my muffin mixture all spooned out into the muffin papers and ready for the oven when I noticed my bowl of soaked sultanas was still on the bench. Oh well, my Sultana, Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins just morphed into Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins. Continue reading

Cookbook Review: Scrumptious

Scrumptious by Chelsea Winter

scrumptious-2

This is the fourth cookbook from Chelsea Winter, following on from the very well received At My Table, Everyday Delicious and Homemade Happiness.  And once again, this book is full of mouth watering recipes that don’t seem too challenging.

Scrumptious has food that is perfect for dinner inspiration whether it is weeknight or weekend.  There is also a chapter on special occasion food such as Christmas family gatherings – yummy stuff like Christmas Truffles and Chelsea Bunny Easter Scrolls.

For us here in NZ, Chelsea probably doesn’t need much introduction as we know her from MasterChef NZ and her recent collaboration with Lewis Road Creamery to produce a double caramel flavoured milk got a lot of press time.  Chelsea also has a strong online presence in social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – as Chelsea says herself on her website – she is everywhere.

Her food is simple without being boring, accessible to most cooks and home kitchens.  We’ve had Savoury Mince on Toast for our Friday night Fake-aways – adding a perfectly poached egg on top of a delicious mix of mince and vegetables is an inspired idea that makes the meal a bit more substantial.  The Sausage, Bacon & Bean Hotpot also gets a big tick from our family, although I can serve them a simple pan-fried sausage and they’re also happy as.  These two recipes are good examples of Chelsea’s recipes – mince, sausages, chicken, lamb shoulder – regular inexpensive food for the everyday eater.  Divided into lunches & dinners, on the side, salads, Christmas and sweets, the recipes range from everyday classics such as the perfect roast chicken or poached eggs on toast through to more exotic Rogan josh or slow lamb puttanesca.  Chelsea’s humour and sunny nature show through in the recipe head notes and often the titles themselves (Chelly con Carne or Spaghetti Chel-fredo).

I had wanted to bake the Caramel Apple Cake before posting this review but time has not been my friend this month.  As the light at the end of the tunnel is still pin-prick size, I’ve decided to box on with the post without the cake.  Stay tuned though as I am sure the cake will turn up at some point – I am quite ambitiously considering making it dairy-free which will be a challenge as it has butter, milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream and more butter to find replacements for.

Anzac Biscuits (Dairy-Free)

Anzac Biscuits (Dairy-Free)
Anzac biscuits are a well-known and equally well-loved biscuit (cookie) that we share with our cousins over the ditch in Australia.  There are heaps and heaps of recipes out in cyber-space, most of which have rolled oats, coconut and golden syrup.  Some add spices, nuts, dried fruit or even chocolate: Dean Brettschneider has a delicious fruity Anzac biscuit here that includes sunflower seeds, dried figs and dried apricots.  Chelsea Sugar have a delicious version with chocolate chips and dried apricots.  And I have created a version (with apple syrup instead of golden syrup) that are studded with golden chunks of dried apple that I call Applezacs.  As an aside there is also an interesting history about the Anzac biscuits that can be read on the National Army Museum website here.
Anzac Biscuits (Dairy-Free)
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Fig, Cinnamon & Vanilla Muesli

Fig, Cinnamon & Vanilla Muesli

After baking, my next favourite “thing” to make in the kitchen is muesli or granola.  The flavour combinations are endless and almost everyone in our family has a different preference.  Mopp & Miss M fall into raptures over a bowl of Berry Berry Muesli while Mr M happily scoffs the Date & Vanilla Muesli all by himself.  The Anster, Mr L and myself have whatever is in the cereal container at the time.  This fig muesli is one of my favourites. Figs are a polarising fruit – some people melt at a mere mention of a fresh fig but others think they’re seedy, gritty and bland. I’m not so fond of them raw but cooked or in jam, I’m in the first category. Continue reading

Apples we are drinking: Old Testament Cider

Sparkling Apple Cider
I picked up this cider during a quick trip to the supermarket – one of those ones where you have no list because you only need a few things but you end up with a trolley load of other stuff you don’t need.  It wasn’t until I got home that I discovered it is made right here in our fair city.

We’re lucky to have a Cidery right here in town – they have a shop that not only sells their cider but also some lovely bacon salt from Ma Prenzel as well as highly perfumed candles set into old tea cups.  I’m fairly sure I bought a bottle of olive oil that had something to do with garlic but I seem to have mislaid it …… my new pantry doesn’t seem to be as organised as it “should” be.
Sparkling Apple Cider
But back to the cider – here in NZ cider means hard cider or alcoholic cider as opposed to fresh unfiltered apple juice.  Cider has had a resurgence of sorts over the last five years or more – new cider varieties appear on my apple radar with regular occurence. And we’d much prefer to sit down to a cold cider than to beer or wine.
Sparkling Apple Cider
With so many New Zealand produced cider’s available, the imported name brands are relegated to the ‘meh’ pile.  Thomas & Rose Fine Fruit Cider, also produced by Harvest Cider here in Gisborne is one of my favourite.  I do a real good frownie face when the Mopp comes home with non-NZ made cider but he hasn’t cottoned on as yet.

I’m not real fond of plastic bottles, I much prefer glass.  However, in the interests of trying this sparkling apple cider, I pushed aside my niggles and popped the bottle into my trolley.  I’m glad I did as this cider is fresh, fruity, crisp and very good to drink.  The apple taste really shines through which may be a dumb thing to say but some apple cider doesn’t much taste of apples.
Sparkling Apple Cider
I enjoyed my glass of cider while sitting on the deck covered in fallen apple blossoms.  I also found that one can buy a “proper” cider glass rather than just any old glass  – there is an interesting article over at the Cider Journal.  And to correctly compare one cider to another, then the correct glass is imperative.  Oops – I do have a wine glass somewhere but we drink wine so seldom, the glasses are in a box buried in the back of the china cabinet cupboard and it was much to difficult to dig them out.  My recycled glass did just fine.

White Chocolate & Lime Syrup Cake

White Chocolate & Lime Syrup Cake
Two cakes in a row…. but cake is a good thing particularly when paired with a nice hot coffee and a good book. Continue reading

Double Chocolate Banana and Milk Kefir Cake

Double Chocolate Banana & Milk Kefir Cake
A few years ago I hopped onto the fermenting wagon with enthusiasm.  Perhaps too much enthusiasm as bottles of water kefir and kombucha took over the fridge followed by milk kefir and kimchi.  Production far outstripped demand and we ended up having way too much so I have scaled back my efforts.  Currently I am only making milk kefir as it is a wonderful product to have on hand for baking.  I use it in place of yoghurt, sour cream or buttermilk.  I do have yoghurt, sour cream and sometimes buttermilk in the fridge but they are “earmarked” for other things and I can always rely on having milk kefir to use up. Continue reading

Smoked Salmon Dip & Bagel Chips

Salmon of almost any kind (even tinned salmon) is very high on my list of favourite things.  While tinned salmon is good and useful in lots of different ways, it is not quite on the same level as fresh salmon and smoked salmon.  If I am out to dinner, lunch or brunch; I find it hard to bypass the salmon.
Smoked Salmon Dip & Bagel Chips
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