Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Apologies, a Reminder and some more Reverb10

This is a cooking blog. Opps.
I've been a little lazy in terms of actually photographing anything I've made recently. In my defense, my parents arrived from France late last week, and it has all been a bit hectic since. I have made some lovely things.... a yummy Seasame Chicken Stir Fry the other night, and last night was Kung Pao Broccoli with Chinese 5 Spice Beef.

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

Relax. Nothing is so important that you stress yourself out over it. Take time to stop and think. Slow down.

We're 3 days away from Christmas here in NZ.... oh the benefits of being in the future..... and it's hectic out there. I went out this morning to get some new summer shorts, and it was insane. And I got to the mall as it opened in order to beat the crowds. People tend to forget at this time of year what it's really about. It's not about the presents (as much as I love them) - the purpose behind the presents is to show our love, not to buy as much as we can and bankrupt ourselves in the process.
It's not about drinking, or rushing, or going from one party to another.
Christmas is about family and friends. It's about relaxing and having fun. It's joy and laughter and a time to reflect. But most of all, it's about something else. Something that people often forget..... It's about the birth of Jesus. Christmas, would not be Christmas without Christ. Remember that.

And now? I bring you the most insanely cute, adorable and sweet video ever made:
(The nativity redone by St Pauls in Auckland City.... SO CUTE.)

Monday, December 20, 2010


I started off answering the Reverb10 prompts a week or two ago, and then just.... didn't. Blame the end of the school year, my laziness... and well, mostly my laziness. (And a slightly obsession with Glee, that may be taking up a fair bit of my holiday time in the form of Season 1 reruns.)

The first four can be found here.

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

An ex. Time to move on. He has... so moving on is what I needed to do. I'm getting there.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Christmas Brownies!!! There's not really anything Christmassy about them.... but they were requested along with the normal Christmas baking (Fruit Mince Meat Pies (mini) and Butter Tarts) so I guess that makes them Christmas Brownies. I used.... cocoa, butter, flour, baking powder, dark chocolate chips, eggs, sugar and a pinch of salt.
I would like to find some kind of crafty/arty thing to fill my time... but haven't quite got there yet.

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I became closer (in a sense) to my school community - the people I work with, the church we are part of... I think that I became closer and more in touch with my own faith, and with that which I am teaching. As for next year.... I would like to work even harder at becoming closer to my community of friends.  Taking more time to do nice things for them, spend time with them - especially those who it's harder to find the time for - and just generally be a better friend.

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I know that my sense of humor is what often draws people to me. I am funny. I can be very funny. I generally have a nice balance of funny and serious. I give good advice, but don't expect people to always take it. I'm a good friend - I listen. I can cook well. I think that I'm becoming a better teacher - I know that I care immensely about what happens to my students, how they achieve... and if they're having fun and engaging in what we're doing. I like my eyes. I like the way my eyes stand out when I use makeup. I like my hair on good days. I like my skin. I like the way that I've become a lot more careful about what I eat, and how much I eat. I like the fact that I'm becoming a better singer, and I'm becoming better and not resenting those who can sing. I like myself for what I believe, and I like that I'm not ashamed of my beliefs, that I'm willing to hear other peoples thoughts and sometimes, I'm willing to adjust my beliefs... I am proud of what I believe, but I also don't feel the need to shove them in others faces. I think that when I'm at my most beautiful, I am laughing with friends.

December 9 – Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans

The work Christmas party. It seriously rocked my socks off. I'm not going to say much on here - that's not fair to those who were there. All I will say is that I had the tim eof my life - I think it might be the best party I've ever been to. I had so much fun with a group of people that are awesome.

December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

To let go of my preconceptions of how my life should turn out, of the direction my feelings should take... to let go. I'll let you know how that all plays out for me.

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1. My weight. - I'm working on that right now. Eating less, eating better... I've started swimming more, and plan to swim everyday once we're at the beach for the summer. I used to.. I can do it again.
2. My insecurities - Say what I think and want to say... and not sit mulling it over again and again.
3. My ex. Done and dusted baby.
4. Laziness. Less sitting, more doing. Less dreaming, more acting.
5. Procrastination. If it has to get done, ithas to get done. May as well do it sooner, rather than later.
6. To much seriousness. Time to lighten up.
7. Worry. Life happens when you're busy living it. A friend told me that a few days ago - and she's right. Time to stop worrying and get on with it.
8. Spending - gotta get back to that budget. Spending is fun and all.. but saving is better.
9. People who drag me down - it'll be hard, because when you see someone all the time, and you're a pretty nice person... it can be hard to not be NICE all the time. But I need to take a step back and stop letting this person use me.
10. The way I think people are watching - nobody cares. If you want to dance, dance.No one is watching... and if they are, who cares?
11. Bitching - let's try to bring it down to once a week shall we?

December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present.

I'm going to be completely honest and lame here... but last night, when I lit the forth advent candle... I know there are proper prayers for advent and all, but being me... I have no idea what they are. I lit the candles and wandered into the kitchen to throw away the match.... and stood in the moonlight and just said my own little prayer. Definate body integration.

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

Swim everyday. Care more.

December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it.

My friends. By being nice to them? :)

December 15 – 5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

U2 concert - rocking under the stars and moon with a great friend, loud music and the wind blowing in my hair.
Christmas party - dancing with friends, not caring what people thought.
The look of joy on the faces of the kids in my class as we watched the music video we put together as our end of year project.

December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

To take certain things seriously, to let go of others. To know that life is what happens when you're busy living it. To let go, have fun and have a few drinks... the world won't end if you have fun.

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

That I am awesome. I will continue to be awesome. ;)

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

Admiting my feelings to the person I admire/love/adore.

December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Knowing that life goes on. Nothing is that bad. There are always worse things that could happen. Oh, totally drip by drip...

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Lost weight. It's an endless battle. I think I have the right motivation now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Homes Tour

So, I've observed Jen's (Jen on the Edge) Holiday Homes Tour the last year or so, and this year I decided to take part.
We don't really go all out at Christmas - mostly because we leave to go down to our family beach place on the Coromandel (the holiday haven of most North Islanders in NZ) on Boxing Day. (Something I've never been sure about.... I know that Boxing Day is a holiday in Canada, like in the UK, Australia and NZ... but is it one in the US?)

My parents arrive from France today, so the past few days (after schools let out for summer break on Wednesday.... best part about being a teacher!!) have been all about cleaning and tidying and sprucing.

So, let's get this thing started:

Welcome! This is my new Christmas wreath. The old one was looking a little... weathered. I'd love to have a go at making one someday, but at this point, work is just too busy leading up to this time of the year.Plus, bonus - this one only cost me $20 on sale.

This is the old wreath. I hung it in our dining room on the double windows. It doesn't look too bad there... (And out the window you can glimpse the greeness of NZ at Christmas..... though that might not last for long. It's been so hot here so far this summer (hot enough that it's March weather, not December) that most of the country has already been declared to be in a drought.)

As you come in from the front door and into the entry way, you'll see the nativity scene on the china cabinet, bells hanging from a painting, the (fake) mistletoe hanging above the door to the living room, and a glimpse of the (real) tree....

Close up of the nativity scene. Most of these pieces were bought at Trade Aid.

To the right of the living room door, the stairs head down to the bedrooms - it's an upside down house on a hill. The street entrance is on the upper level, so all the living areas are up there... and the bedrooms are downstairs. While trying not to put an pins in the walls, I came up with the idea of stringing the cards along the stair railings. I've actually added another upper level of cards.... the benefits of being a teacher. LOTS of cards. (And presents!!!)

In the kitchen I've put a poinsettia in a red bucket with a snowman... to remind myself that event hough it's not cold here, it is in other places.

Kitchen table, with red/Christmassy tablecloth and my Christmas basket - pinecones etc.... each year I sprinkle more cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, star anise and ginger on the basket. Always smells good :)

The tree. Bit of a disapointment this year. I didn't pick a good one....  Oh well!! No theme. There's never a theme... it's more of a 'put all the decorations you have on it', theme....

Voltives on top of the (very old) TV. I do believe I was watching The Biggest Loser Australia at the time.

Tree with lights in it :) Trying to make things festive.

Technically this is actually a photo I took for this blog (cooking) but you can see some of the lights strung up along the railing..... But really, this is a good picture, because it shows what a Kiwi Christmas is all about. Summer, BBQ's.... etc.

Ahhhh, here we go. Night time, lights on shot of the tree. Pretty!!! It was looking a little more alive in those days.

Advent Wreath. I've tried to stay traditional - I have a lovely one at school (I teach in a Catholic School) but yes... the only thing really missing is the evergreen part... but all good. We're up to three candles lit now. The last purple one will be lit tomorrow night (Sunday here in NZ) and then the Christ candle on Christmas day.

Anyway, I hope you've all enjoyed getting a glimpse of my Kiwi Christmas. I wish I had more summery pictures to put up.. but it's been raining for a few days (so much for that drought!! - though, probably not enough rain to do much) and it's been humid... 100% humidity some days. So no gorgeous sunny days to photograph.

Merry Christmas!!!!! 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marinated Beef with Garlic and Chilli Bok Choy

(And the worlds most awesome Ice Cream Sundae.)

And so we start the second week of Advent. How on earth did we get this far into the year?!

With Christmas approaching (and my parents returning from their 4 months overseas... and therefore claiming back the kitchen... I really MUST start house hunting...) I've been having fun doing a bit more cooking. As busy as the last few weeks of school are - it's really just busy AT school (and of course the after school events) but theres not much take home work. Which is brilliant. And helpful when one wants to spend the weekend lounging in/beside the pool and in the kitchen baking.

So this weekend I baked an awesome Spiced Apple Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing... and took no photos. But I promise you it was awesome. And I am taking most of it into school tomorrow for staff morning tea.
I also made Buckeyes. (Peanut Butter balls covered in chocolate. They are like Reeses Pieces. But cheaper. And in bulk.) I will blog about those... with photos.

Tonight, I made Marinated Beef with Garlic and Chilli Bok Choy.... which so does not accurately describe how awesome it is.
It's there slices of tender as hell sirloin steak basted in this mouthwatering paste made with ground toasted sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and palm sugar. Maybe theres something in there that tenderises the steak more.. because it was melt in the mouth tender.

The bok choy is done with chilli and garlic - as the name suggests.... and is awesome. I added udon noddles to my dish, simply because I felt that it'd need something to nutralise the flavor a little bit. (I bought some easy and quick organic dried udon noodles at my local vege shop and few weeks ago and this was the perfect time to try them out.)
I'll copy the recipe at the bottom of this post.

I also (over the weekend) made the worlds BEST ice cream sundaes.
Tip Tops new Caramel ice cream, Hersheys hot fudge sauce and home made strawberry sauce. (Strawberries, Sugar, a dash of water and a little bit of vanilla. AWESOME.)

Not an awesome photo. Or one that displays how good those things taste together.

Marinated beef with garlic and chilli bok choy
Serves 4.
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp sesame seeds - toasted and ground
2 cloves of garlic, smashed, sliced
3cm knob fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp palm sugar, grated
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
4 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
The beef:
600g beef sirloin steak, thin sliced
3 spring onions, sliced on angle
2 Tbsp peanut oil
Bok choy
1 Tbsp peanut oil
3 bok choy, sliced into quarters
1 red chilli, sliced on angle
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
Use a mortar and pestle to grind the sesame seeds into a fine powder. Add the remaining marinade ingredients and work into a paste.
Place beef into a shallow glass dish and sprinkle over spring onions, reserving some for garnish.
Add the marinade and massage it into the meat. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Heat your wok over high heat. When hot add the oil then beef with marinade and quickly stir fry. It should only take about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside to rest.
Rinse wok and return to the heat.
Add the oil and when shimmering add the garlic. Stir fry for about 30 seconds then add the chilli and bok choy and stir to combine. Add the water then soy and continue to stir fry until the bok choy has softened but keeps its colour. Remove from heat.
To serve, arrange the bok choy in a circle in the centre of a plate.
Spoon the beef into the centre and sprinkle with the remaining spring onions. Pour over some of the remaining juice from the bok choy and serve.

(Can also serve with udon noodles)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A little bit of Fun for the Holiday Season

(I'm not sure what prompted the use of random capital letters in my heading up there......)
I'll be back later today to post about the worlds msot awesome ice cream sunday..... but for now I thought it'd be fun to post something non-cooking related. I thought it might give people a better insight into me..... all two of those people reading my blog. One of whom is on my facebook anyway, so probably already knows a few things about me.... ah well.
I'm going to do the first 5 days of this at once, as it's the 5th of December today and I haven't done any... but after this I'll try to post one a day.


December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

It's funny, I read the second half of the question first, and thought that success would be a word that I hope will capture 2011 for me.... but really, 2010 has been incredibly successful for me. It's the end of my second year of teaching, and I am now a fully qualified, fully registered teacher. (For those of you outside of NZ, you do a three year degree, and then have to teach for two years and be  passed by a qualifications board before you can be fully registered.)
This has been a good year. I've worked hard. I've been tired. I've been exhausted and stressed. But I've been happy. Success. My class has worked hard. They have achieved great things. Especially some of them. Success.

2011? I guess..... Security. I'm looking to put a depositi down on buying my own place in the coming year...... so Security.

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

Nothing? Because writing isn't the msot important thing to me. I used to think it was, I used to write everyday - blogs, stories, poems, song lyrics.... but times change.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). 

That's easy. Standing on the stands amongst thousands and thousands of people at the U2 concert last week.... under the stars with the breeze blowing..... the stands shaking from the crowds excitement... and Sunday Bloody Sunday blasting..... I felt more alive in that moment than I have in... forever.

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I've always tried to cultivate a sense of wonder. I think it's important to see things through a childs eyes.... I guess I get that easily being a teacher. You've got get excited, and keep things fresh. If everything has been seen before... well then life is boring. Stay wide eyed I say.

Turns out, I can't do up until the 5th, because seeing as it isn't the 5th yet in the US, they haven't posted the prompt for the 5th yet. I guess I'll be posting a day behind :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BBQ Chermoula Prawns w/ Tropical Salsa

Opps. It may have been a week or two since I last posted. Blame my legs, portfolios, and the fact that it's coming up to the last two weeks of school for the year. Busy busy times.
Anyway. Yesterday I was craving something prawny... yet summery. And I came across the perfect recipe on the Cuisine website. (My go to, when I know I'm craving something, and I know the main ingredient...)

Barbecued Chermoula Prawns with Tropical Salsa.

I served mine with a bit of grilled (on the bbq!!!! - it's new, still a novelty - old one rusted into pieces) bread rubbed with a garlic clove.

1/4 cup firmly packed parsley
3 table spoons firmly packed coriander
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander
1/4 teaspoons cayenne (I've run out, so I used cajun spice mix.... becuase it was the closest thing I had)
1 table spoon lemon juice.
2 table spoons olive oil, plus extra for cooking
30 prawns (I used 6 large king prawns.... and could have fit more in the amount of marinade, but had no reason to do so.) - heads and shells removed, tails left on
sea salt
10 - 15 lime wedges for serving (not strictly needed - I didn't have any... so didn't use any.)

1/2 ripe pineapople, peeled, decored, sliced and diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red chilli, finely diced (didn't have, so didn't use)
1/2 cup of sliced mint leaves (again, didn't have... but I imagine it's be a nice addition)
3 table spoons of firmly packed sliced coriander

 Ok... so basically, you chuck all the marinade ingredients (which is everything in the prawns list, except well.. the prawns) into a food processer... and blend. And it creates this gorgeously fragrant paste. Then... chuck the prawns in. Look at my prawns!!!!!

 Toss them in the marinade/paste, and leave them to sit while you make the salsa.

Umm.... for the salsa, chop everything and mix it together. I know, it's hard.

And now... it's time to barbeque!!!! Wipe/spray some olive oil onto your grill... it's fun to watch the flames come shooting up when you spray on oil.... heh.
Grill your prawns... they'll take a minute or two on each side. Longer if they're bigger. They will smell fantastic. As in, my mouth is watering, and it's the day after.

Enjoy! I loved this recipe, and I know my sister (who came home at 4.30 this morning and ate my leftovers) also enjoyed it. It's the taste of summer, fresh from the sea, sweet like all the tropical fruit at this time of year, and smokey and charred from the grill. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

7 Reasons you should not (under any circumstances) double recipes (unless you've done so successfully before)

1. The mixture will not thicken properly
2. When you put it in the oven it will repeatedly overflow the tin for 20 of the 25 minutes it's in there
3. Every drop that overflows will hit the oven floor and create a cloud of black smoke
4. You will have to open the oven every 5 minutes to release the clouds of black smoke in the hopes that your lemon cakes will not taste like BBQ. (unsuccessful in the case of 1 cake)
5. Your neighbours will knock on the door and ask if everything is okay, because there is black smoke pouring out your kitchen window...
6. Your cakes will refuse to be fluffy and light (like they were the first time you used the recipe... without doubling it) and will be stodgey, sticky, and tasting a little bit like BBQ sauce.
7. You will spend the next week finding bits of blackened cake on the bottom of the oven.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Haven't had a lot of time to cook these past fews days, as I've been finishing off my portfolios.... and has a little accident yesterday.
I was coming up the front steps of my house (carrying a box of alcohol and stuff for a party we had here last night for a friends 30th) and one foot slipped, the box pulled me over... and my right leg landed on the sharp tiled corner of a step.... and it punctured down to the bone. And my left leg hit the edge of the tile.. and I have this MASSIVE bruise/lump on my leg.
So yesterday involved several hours at the accident and emergency.... etc. Anyway...... it's a rather large puncture wound (triangular... the scar is going to be interesting) that goes down to the bone......
Limping on two legs is hard.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hot Smoked Salmon Potato Salad

I invented this dish on the way home from school. I knew that after a full on day at school (portfolios, portfolios, portfolios.... coaching cheerleading at lunch, etc etc) with no lunch, that I needed something substaintial... but summery. And something with masses of veges...... And I wanted something involving either fish or crab. And since real crabmeat is hellishly hard to get hold of here... without a trip to the fish markets... well fish it was.

None of my measurements are well.. measurements.. it really depends on how much you're making. I made enough for dinner and lunch.

Red Potatoes (not sure of the variety....) approx 5 small
Mayo (I got some of that yummy fresh, egg mayo at a deli) ehhh.. however much you want on your salad
Sour Cream - about a table spoon
Hot Smoked Salmon
Cherry Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper


Cook the potatoes, skin on... I chucked mine in the microwave for a few rounds of 'potato'..... Cut into chucks and pop in the fridge to cool.
Grill asparagus - I only added this because I had some wilting stalks in the fridge
Dice up cucumber, carrot, avo (I tossed mine in a bit of lemon juice)
Mix up dressing - mayo, sour cream, mustard, S&P, chop up dill and chives and add. Add a grate or two of lemon zest and the juice of one half...
Mix potatoes, asparagus, carrot and dressing up. Toss in cucumber, avo,cherry tomatoes. Taste and season if more is needed.
Add in crumbled hot smoked salmon.

I put mine on top of a bed of rocket. All the flavours worked well together. I almost bought a safron and dill mayo... which I think would have gone well, as safron works well with fish.. as does dill, obviously.... but I wanted the mayo for a party this weekend, and wanted plain...

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sesame Prawn Toast

Hands up if you used to love those little squares of Prawn Toast that came in the frozen boxes of dim sum, spring rolls and well... prawn toast?
Me me me!!! It was always the favourite in the family unfortunatly, so we only ever got a tiny amount... but everytime I see it on the menu at a Chinese restaurant I get it... and tonight, I attempted to make it myself. The result wasn't bad... not identical, but not bad.

(Please do ignore 1. my awesome yet vaguely humiliating iBite t-shirt, and 2. the crappiness of the photo, yet again.)


24 ( I only used 160 grams of prawns, and had to add panko bread crumbs to thicken the mixture a bit.. and it made enough to cover 4 slices of bread. Enough for my sister and I for dinner)


  • 6 slices day-old white bread
  • 500g green prawns, peeled, deveined
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2cm piece ginger, peeled, grated
  • 1 eggwhite
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • peanut oil, for frying


  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Remove bread crusts. Cut each slice into 4 triangles.
  2. Pat prawns dry with paper towel. Place in a food processor with onion, ginger, eggwhite, cornflour, soy sauce and salt and white pepper. Process until smooth.
  3. Spread 2 teaspoons prawn mixture over each bread triangle. Sprinkle sesame seeds onto a plate. Dip bread, prawn side down, into sesame seeds.
  4. Pour oil into a wok until one-third full. Heat until a small piece of bread dropped into oil sizzles. Cook toasts, in batches, prawn side down, for 1 minute. Turn and cook for a further 15 to 30 seconds or until golden. Remove to a wire rack over a baking tray. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining prawn toasts.
Verdict? Yummy. Not exactly right..... but not bad.

Penne with Tomato Butter and Prawns

Yet again, I will apologise for the photo quality. My phone and camera are still downstairs.... and I haven't been down there since this morning, as I've been camped out on the couch all ay marking portfolio samples and the sort.
I kind of made up tonights dinner - it's actually a combination of two dishes.

Ingredients: ( for 1 serving)
half a cup of Penne (or however much you like to eat)
half a cup of prawns - I used cooked frozen prawns
1 garlic clove
a few slices of red chilli
1 fresh tomato
10 - 15 grams of butter
a teaspoon of tomato pasta
a scattering of basil leaves
parmesan to top


Star of by putting a pot of salted water on to boil.
On to the tomato butter - I used a stick blender to make mine, because my butter was still semi frozen... but in the past I've used a hand held mixer. Pop the butter and tomato pasta into a bowl and whizz up. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Crush garlic and dice up chilli finely, and put in a frying pan with a dash of oil. Throw in prawns - the great thing about frozen prawns is that you can put them in from frozen - to thaw and heat if they're already cooked, or just to thaw and cook if they're raw. Put in half your basil leaves.

When your pasta is done, don't drain and throw away the water!!!! When I'm cooking for one, I don't bother to even use a strainer, I just use a slotted spoon. So spoon it into the frying pan with the prawns - it's okay, infact it's good, if a little pasta water comes with the pasta. Chuck in the tomato butter and stir through - heat on low.

Dice up the tomato and chuck in.... Dish up, scatter left over basil leaves and grate parmesan over the top.
Highly fattening, not much nutritional value... but damn comforting after a long day of school work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flapjacks, Bacon and Banana with Maple Syrup

So, due to my need for an early bedtime last night (Friday night, long week, etc) I woke up at 8.30, ready to get things done! It's portfolio (reports on steriods) season at school, and there's a LOT of paperwork to be done - comments to be written, tests to be marked etc. I brought home two files boxes of neatly pegged stacks of work samples with me, and thought that an early start was the perfect idea.... of course, by the time I'd hung out a load of washing, put another load on, re-made my bed, swept the kitchen floor, unloaded the dishwasher, and washed the leftover dishes by hand... well, it was 10am and I hadn't even had breakfast yet!
And since it's Saturday, and I figured that I needed lots of extra energy for all the marking I had (have) to do.... pancakes!!!

This is an awesome recipe. Not as awesome as the recipe I use for Ricotta pancakes. Nothing beats those. But these 'flapjacks' come out fluffy and perfectly round.

Ignore the shockingly bad photo that I used the webcam on my laptop to take - too lazy to go downstairs and get my phone or camera.... so there you have it. I'm still wearing my pjs... and that is my CANUKS t-shirt you can see in the background. Very apt considering there's a bottle of Turkey Farm Maple Syrup behind the plate... got that (and the t-shirt) in Canada last Christmas.


all purpose flour
1 1/2
baking powder


Sift the dry ingredients together, add the egg and mix it in until it is almost absorbed. Add the milk and mix until semi-smooth. Mix in the melted butter/margarine.
It should make about 5 pancakes 7 inches in diameter. Use less sugar if you like to use a lot of syrup. ( I only used 2 TB in mine.)

Seriously good stuff guys. There is no need for lunch any time soon..... more to the fact, there IS  a need to get on with my work.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuscan Cranberry Rack of Lamb, Roast Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus

My sister and I had her ex-boyfriend over for dinner last night (he's still a good friend - of both of us) and because I had two racks of lamb in the freezer, I figured I'd try a recipe that a friend of mine had for me once. It's a favourite of hers and she cooks it well  better than me I'll admit.

This was my first time cooking rack of lamb, as I've never really bee a lamb chop kind of person.. but having enjoyed it when Robyn made it....well it's a nice meal.

Basically, you slather your racks of lamb in cranberry sauce. Pretty much an entire jars worth. And then you 'sprinkle' half a jars worth of Tuscan Seasoning on top. Yup. Don't do it too far in advance, because there's a fair bit of salt in that seasoning... and we all know what too much salt on meat does when you let it rest.

I precook my potatoes in the microwave - I used to parboil them in a pot, but you loose most of the nutrients in the water - which is fine if you're making gravy and use the potato water - besides, I like my roast potatoes with the skin on, and it's easier and faster to just slap them in the microwave.
Chop 'em up. Pop them in a baking dish with a dash of oil, a sprinkle of salt and a few cloves of garlic. I sometimes add things like rosemary... but they didn't need it with this dish. I roasted mine in a seperate dish in the beginning. I like my roast potatoes all crunchy on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside, and while it does depend on the type of potato what sort of result you'll get, it also depends on how long you leave them in. Last nights were in for over an hour... hour and a half I think. I chucked them in with the rack of lamb when it went it. Mostly because I needed the bottom shelf to roast my cherry tomatoes. But the result was worth it. Some of the potatoes that fell into the lamby cranberry juice went all sticky and yummy.

 Meanwhile, I put together a plate of bread and dips. I put some  sliced up day/2 day old ciabatta rolls under the grill, rubbed a garlic clover lightly over them, and served them with aioli, and a balsamic/olive oil dip (with basil scattered in it). It's not home made bread, nor is it fresh... but it worked damn well toasted.

All my pretty asparagus lined up ready to be cooked. Pretty pretties. Notice the aioli still out. (I've made my own before, and the difference is noticeable... but the time and effort was something I just didn't have time for... plus I used all my eggs the day before on the cupcakes.)That aioli came in handy when I found this adorable aspargus sprout in among the others.....

And damn was it good grilled and dipped in aioli.

Back to the meal. After the potatoes had been in for about an hour, I got my roasting pan all nice and hot on the top element, and browned my racks of lamb and then put them into the oven with the potatoes. I did over cook mine slightly. I took them out perfect, but the resting time left them a vague pink colour, where I would have prefered a much for medium/medium rare yummyness. Never mind.
I grilled the asparagus, took my cherry tomatoes out, and attempted to serve it up in a slightly pretty manner. Normally I'd serve less potatoes... but Tom is a big eater. So there we have it. Tuscan Cranberry Rack of Lamb, Roast Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus.

(I also dashed a quick line of reduced balsamic vinegar across the lamb. Twas yummy.)


Lemon, Lemon, Lemon Cupcakes

Again, I have 'stolen' this recipe. After all, often the best recipes have already been altered and fixed by others. I'm going to link you to the actual recipe at ChocolateSuzes.
However, since Martyna came over to help me out with the baking (that went directly to the staffroom for morning tea today) we did take heaps of photos... so I'll go through the recipe with you, without actually 'giving' it to you.

These cupcakes received rave reviews at school today - and I guarantee that it had nothing to do with me - the recipe is AWESOME. They're lemon cupcakes, filled with lemon curd, and topped with lemon cream cheese icing.

It's a very easy, basic recipe... but like Suze said - it uses a hell of a lot of dishes.

You start off with making up the cupcake batter. Simple mix - except it uses cream instead of butter - and that cream gives the mix the most amazing consistency when you mix it in a stand mixer. It was like thick whipped cream. And very easy to dollap into the cases.

(to make this many, I doubled the recipe... remember, these are to keep hungry teachers happy... I wouldn't dare not bake enough!!!)

They bake in 15 or so minutes, time which you can use to make the curd. Or not - Martyna and I used that time to watch a bit of Serenity.
The curd is easy. Melt butter and lemon juice in a pan. Put in stand mixer. Add egg yolks and eggs in slowly and leave it to thicken in the mixer - on slow.
It's like a lemon explosion. The taste of summer.

The icing is... well, apparently several of the teachers I work with want to take a vat of it home and bathe in it. I was quite stunned by the enthusiastic response to the cupcakes... but the icing alone.... haha.

(It disapointed me that this is the only photo I have of the finished product - and these weren't even the best ones. But sadly I only remembered to take a hurried photo this morning before leaving for work... a blurred photo. However, if you want AWESOME photos... check out ChocolateSuzes)

I did exactly as Suze did - chucked little slices of fresh lemon on top. I attempted to candy some...but failed miserably.

The moral of this stroy (recipe) is that lemon is an awesome flavour, and as long as it's used right.. and in varying levels of awesomeness, it is mind blowing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fettuccine with Roasted Red Pepper and Prawns

I'm not going to lie. I totally snagged this recipe from the Cuisine magazine website. (The wonderous archive of recipes that it is...)
Harking back to the glorious weekend of sun that we just had in Auckland........
I felt like a summery pasta dish, so searched site for 'pasta' in the Spring/Summer section, and came across this yummy treat.
I'm not going to just copy and paste the recipe here... that's not fair. But I am going to direct you over there to it.
Fettuccine with Roasted Red Pepper and Prawns

I changed the recipe a little bit - I swapped out Fettuccine for a smaller, cylindrical pasta because I had not fettuccine.... and I added in the leftovers of a tin of tomatoes I had in the fridge. It was probaby around two tomatoes.

Basically, it involvs roasting the red pepper - I charred mine on the BBQ outside, turning occasionally until it was blackened, and then popped it in a plastic bag, tied up, until the skin loosened enough to jsut rub off with a paper towel.

Toss some prawns (it says raw, but I had some frozen cooked, so after thawing I just chucked them in the pan for less time than cooking from raw) with the garlic in a pan.
Chop up the pepper and toss in the pan - (I also added in a roasted red pepper and red onion paste that I made a few weeks ago)... heat... stir... stir.... put in basil and parsley.... stir.... put in cream.....

Meanwhile, cook pasta....

Mix.... shave parmesan over, chuck some yummy baby basil leaves on top, and enjoy.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bonus Recipe: Sundowner Cocktails

What better way to end a hot, summery long weekend, than with cocktails inthe evening sun with friends?

A friend of mine taught me something new this weekend. Apparently if you drink anything alcoholic on a boat in the evening, it's called a sundowner. So I thought 'why not invent a drink that is specifically called a Sundowner?'

(Makes 1 wine bottles worth of mix - to dilute with sprite)

2 shots (90ml) of Malibu
2 shots of Vodka (42 Below!!)
100 ml of ginger beer (pref. Bunderburg)
a couple of dashes of lime juice
Fill the bottle to the tippy top with Passionfruit and Mandarin Just Juice (or any other juice of choice... try to keep it tropical though!)

Sprite to top up glasses
Strawberries and paper umbrellas for decoration

Optional: I chucked in some fresh coconut milk out of a newly opened coconut - simply because I had it, having made coconut ice cream earlier that day

Basically, I had a few empty, thoroughly washed out, de-labeled wine bottles... and I chucked everything in them, minus the sprite. Give them a good shake... or stir if you're using a jug, and then pour into glasses. I'd say fill them to about 3/4 fill, or just over, and then top up with sprite.
Leave room for ice if it's hot out, and a bit of room for 1/4'd strawberries.
I chucked a few of the berries onto the stick of the umbrella just so that it'd balance.


(This drink isn't intended to be a highly alcoholic drink...... use your judgement. If you want it stronger, up the alcohol measurement.... but it's supposed to be a summery cocktail shared with friends. A wine bottles worth should fill about 5-6 glasses (when they're topped up with sprite) so that's not a lot of alcohol split among you all.... unless it's jsut you drinking it... but even then..)

Mango Sorbet with Strawberry Coulis

Despite the fact that it's now....11pm, and it's a school night (Only 3 days left in the week baby!!! Thank God for 3 day weekend!!!) I thought that I better kick off this blog with an actual foodie post.

It was a scorcher in Auckland this weekend (brilliant start to summer!!) as evidenced by the god awful sunburn on my back. No really, ouch. You have no idea.
However, before the sunburn occured, it was still awfully hot... and I had a ripe mango in the fruit bowl, and a need for something cold and fruity... so mango sorbet it was.

I wish I'd taken photos of the process. I'll get better at that. You might have to put up with iPhone photos for a while, because I never have my actual camera with me when I need it. But iPhone photos are better than no photos right?

I'll start you off with a photo of the finished product:

It was damn good to. Refreshing.

Mango Sorbet:

1 large ripe mango
1 tin of mango slices

I started off with a whole ripe mango and instead of doing it the right way and peeling it before cutting... or managing to just peel the skin off, I stupidly cut it up before getting rid of the skin... a process which involved a sharp knife and an extra ten minutes.
I chucked mango cubes (around 1 inch in size) into a large shallow dish with a tin of mango pieces (1 mango didn't really give me enough) and put the whole thing in the freezer... I wouldn't leave it in there for too long... I'd say it was about an hour. Maybe less. During this time, I got sunburnt. Ow.

I took the mango out, and put it in batches into the cup that comes with my handheld blender/whizzy up stick thing, and well.... whizzed it up. It came churning out the top of the stick blender (not out the top of the cup though!!!) in the form of a creamy, gelato like textured yummyness.
To store, I popped it into an old ice cream container and back into the freezer. I'll warn you - it freezes like a rock in there.... but leave it out ont he counter for a few minutes and it quickly softens enough to scoop.

Strawberry Coulis:

1 cup of Strawberries
1 tsp of icing sugar
1 tsp of lemon juice

Same deal, minus the freezing. Chuck it all into the blender, or use the stick blender on it.... hey presto, strawberry coulis. Delightful with the mango. It cuts through the sweetness with a tarty tang.


I'll start off by introducing myself.
I'm Cate: a 27 year old New Zealand primary school teacher. I started my adult working life in the Hospitality Industry (after completely a Diploma in Hospitality Management)... turns out, it's not all it's cracked up to be..... and I REALLY wasn't enjoying working in that industry. I've found my true place in life, in teaching. I love it.
BUT.... I also love cooking. (Enough to consider opening up my own place one day... in the distant future.)
So I teach all day, and then I come home and cook. And bake. I spend my weekends trying out new recipes, and my holidays absorbed in the more complicated, time consuming things that don't fit in during term time.
I'm not sure how brilliant I'm going to be at updating this often... hell, I'm not even sure how brilliant I'm going to be at writing, fullstop.
I'm not all that comfortable with the idea of eating out at places and taking photos of the food..... but I'm going to try my darndest to remember to take photos of what I'm cooking...... which is what I'm good at. (And on a teachers salary, I can't really afford to eat out anyway.)

So sit back.... and hopefully you'll enjoy the ride.

- Cate

P.S. - The title? Along with cracking me up, it's also a bit of a thing for me... cooking is my therapy. Really. There have been times when the freezer has been chock-a-clock full of pasta sauce, because I'm that stressed that I need to cook... and cook... and cook. So Keep Calm, and Carry On Cooking is my motto.