Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

Two months of the year have passed already and our little B & B has been busy with back-to-back guests from all over the world.  Since the year began we have hosted folk from all over the UK, Australia, Sweden, Bulgaria,the US, Canada, Hawaii, China, Germany and the Isle of Man, plus of course Kiwi visitors to Wellington. Wellington has put on some great events this summer, including the spectacular Edinburgh Tattoo held at the Westpac Stadium, the wine and food festival, Chinese New Year celebrations and various music events. There are currently two cruise ships in the harbour and we have put on a spectacular day for them to enjoy the city .Some of them may end up at the Bordeaux Bakery for lunch, which is where we intend to go with family. They have the most eye watering selection of pastries in their cabinets as well as great cafe type food. The chef is a boulanger from Bordeaux who opened his cafe 20 years ago. Their selection of artisan breads and cakes is food for the soul.
Last night we had family from Auckland staying and I decided it was time I pulled a superb dessert out of the hat. My collection of recipe books and foodie magazines grows by the day and there is nothing I like better than a sit down with a cup of tea and a food magazine to browse. The recipe I decided to try was from 'Dish' magazine,(Issue 61, August 2015) the picture looked divine and it measured up in every way to expectations. It is a caramel base with a simple custard filling. It sliced beautifully into portions and was simple and quick to make. It is definitely on my list of favourites to make often. Here is the recipe:


Caramel:        2/3 cup caster sugar
                      1/3 cup water

Custard:        6 size 7 eggs
                                                                                     395ml sweetened condensed milk
                                                                                     375ml evaporated milk
                                                                                     1 cup cream
                                                                                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel:
Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Brush any stray sugar crystals off the side of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Bring to the boil  and cook, without stirring , until a dark caramel colour, swirling the pan to colour evenly. Quickly pour it into the base of a 20cm cake tin with a fixed base. Place a wet kitchen cloth on the base of a roasting pan and put the cake tin on top. Set aside to harden and set.

For the caramel:
Spray or grease the sides of the cake tin to prevent the custard from sticking.
Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl then stir in all the remaining ingredients until well combined.
Strain the custard into the cake tin. Cover the tin tightly with foil and add hot tap water to the roasting dish until it comes half way up the side of the cake tin.
Bake for about an hour, topping up the water during cooking until just set but still with a slight wobble in the centre. It will continue to warm up as it cools.
Carefully remove the tin from the roasting dish and leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight if possible.

To serve:
Loosen the sides of the custard by running a small palette knife around the edges. Place a serving dish over the top and turn upside down. Pour any caramel remaining in the tin over the top. Serve with softly whipped cream. Serves 8-10.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

High Tea, Hobbits and Waitangi Day holiday

I do love long weekends, and this is the second in a three week period for Wellington! The extra day's holiday is given to recognize the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, on the 6th February 1840. Whilst for many of us the day is just another holiday it carries great significance for many, especially Maori, and it brings out both those keen to celebrate it and also those eager to use it as a tool for protest. The sun has shone brilliantly, the wind has been relatively gentle (for Wellington!) and we have made the most of the extra day, driving out to Eastbourne, wandering around the Rona Gallery, enjoying an ice cream as we wandered. 
We celebrated a birthday earlier in the week with a delicious high tea at 'Louis Sergeant', an exclusive French patisserie in the city. ( The assortment of savoury and sweet morsels were delectable, a feast for the mind. There are several places that offer high tea in and around the city and we have tested them all! Their range of teas was interesting too and I dared to try something a little different from my usual Earl Grey or English Breakfast.
Later on we met up with some relatives who are cruising around New Zealand and were in port for the day. We drove out to Miramar to visit Weta Cave Workshop where the models for 'Lord of the Rings', 'The Hobbit', 'Avatar' etc were made. If you are a movie buff, or you just love the Hobbit like so many of our guests do the visit to Weta Cave is a great experience.You can book online at Our relatives came back here for a barbecue, butterflied lamb marinated with garlic, ginger, wholegrain mustard and oil, perfectly cooked by my Beloved. As usual I aim to feed the five thousand and had leftovers for at least a couple of meals. I was a bit desperate to disguise  it tonight so we ate the last of the meat, pumpkin salad and potatoes in an omelette, and delicious it was too! As with many of the meals I cook there is not necessarily a recipe as such, just more of a method, so the proportions and ingredients given here are fairly loose and can be altered to suit what you have in the fridge. The leftover pumpkin salad gave the omelette a piquant edge so I shall include it for reference.  There would have been about a cup and a half leftover to put into our omelette.


4 cups of mixed cubed pumpkin and kumara (sweet potato)
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 finely chopped red onion
200g cubed feta cheese
a handful of rocket leaves
torn basil to serve
dressing (see below)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Roast the pumpkin in a little oil, sprinkled with the garlic, cinnamon and seasoning until just tender, about 25 minutes. Cool then add the pumpkin seeds and red onion. When ready to serve toss with the rocket  and basil and pour over about a quarter of the dressing. The dressing recipe makes more than you need but it keeps in a screwtop jar for weeks. 
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper
Whisk all the ingredients in the food processor till well blended.


4 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
leftover pumpkin salad (greens removed)
leftover roasted barbecued lamb or alternative
1/4 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper

Chop the meat into small cubes and heat with the pumpkin salad in a non-stick frypan in a little olive oil.When thoroughly heated through remove from the frypan and wipe it out with kitchen paper and a little oil. Whisk the eggs with the cream,dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. Add the pumpkin mixture to the eggs with the cheese. Heat a little butter over a medium heat in the frypan and when it is sizzling pour in the egg mixture.Allow the egg to set , carefully drawing in the sides and swirling the pan a little until the bottom is cooked. Invert a dinner plate over the frypan and tip the omelette onto it, then carefully slide the omelette uncooked side down in to the pan.Allow the bottom to set and brown a little. Do not overcook it. Cut into wedges to serve with a little green salad. Nice with a spoonful of onion jam.


When the edges start to look like this the omelette is almost ready to flip over