Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas is here!

I have been very lazy with my blog over the last two weeks, which is sad because I keep saying to myself "you should post!!".  Part of the reason is that I received a recipe from a friend and have been waiting for permission to give it out.  What have I been doing while I've not been blogging?

Well, of course today I've been baking and cooking.  We've made mini (and by mini i mean huge individual ones!) pavlovas, prawns crumbed in panko and dukkah, chocolate truffles, and salad bowls.  I'll talk about that more in its own post once I can think about looking at the photos I took...  SO FULL.

Yesterday I dropped off the Christmas 'plum' pudding Mum and I made on Thursday (I mixed, she supervised the steaming) to my friend's house, and then got my hair cut (after a full year without cutting, it was horrible, but now it's supercute).  On Thursday the Landlord came around to fix the pump.  It had been going almost nonstop for two days and we were scared we had a leak - but apparently they have a bladder in them that is supposed to be pumped up every six months.  Three years later...  Anyhow, Wednesday I met a friend for coffee, and Tuesday I had a friend over for dinner.  I made German Onion Cake and Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (sans the chilli) for dinner.  Of course I'll post about that later too.  On Monday...  In fact, I can't remember what I've been doing before that.

No plans for the foreseeable future, except having the obligatory look at the Boxing Day Sales tomorrow, and taking back the $10 of chicken pieces that was off when we opened it today.  I hate supermarkets.  More about that in the Christmas food post.

Happy Christmas/Winter-or-Summer-festival-of-your-choice from Kim <3

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This appeals to the archaeologist and the cook in me

In China, under the site of a planned airport, was found a container of food that is 2,400 years old.  A short article about this find is at the BBC website.  They're doing tests to find out what was in it - I wonder what tests.  This is the thing with non-academic articles when you know something about (or have done 5 years worth of study on...) a subject.  I will have to keep on eye out for any other posts about it to find out more!

And on further inspection, io9 has done an article on this, that I will read tomorrow.  Here's the link though.

Blogs and Websites for Recipes pt 2

Continuing from the last post about internet resources for finding great recipes.

How could a list of places to find recipes be complete without the ubiquitous Martha?  For some reason, we don't have her show on free-to-air tv (or not any channel we get at my house) anymore, but her website is still there to educate and inspire.  Also, having access to the suggestions and recipes (as well as the crafty projects) without having to watch the interviews of people I haven't heard of (granted, often they are quite famous) and then the spectacle of making them cook/craft when they have no skill/interest in what they are doing..  well that's invaluable.  There are videos available if you need that kind of step-by-step visual, which I sometimes do.  She also has a newsletter, but unless you don't mind getting many adjacent emails to get to the interesting stuff, just use the search function on her site.

Totally self-explanatory.  Everything and anything cupcake - recipes are a little scarce, but, like my own blog, they link to a lot of places where you can find the recipes.  But the main draw is the pictures.  I subscribe to their feed and every time I open a new notification, there is a beautiful large picture of an incredibly beautiful cupcake.  This isn't just about yummy, it's about art.

Bakerella's main claim to fame (and it's a substantial one!) is the invention of cake pops.  What do you get if you combine a cake, shredded into crumbs, cream cheese, a lollipop stick, and some creative decorating?  These beautiful and quirky truffles.  The simple cake balls are on my list for Christmas sweets, but Mum's taking a bit of convincing - they do look impossibly rich, but whoever said that was a bad thing?  Bakerella isn't a one-hit-wonder, though - she has many other recipes that I haven't yet explored.  Well worth a look.

This website has SO many recipes, I doubt one could ever run out of new things to try.  These recipes are also accompanied by a history of the yummy and at least one picture of the finished product.  I have the black and whites, chocolate-craisen biscotti, and the candy cane cookies on my list to make.

After all of the baking, you might like to try one of Kalyn's Kitchen's recipes.  These are really healthy really really delicious-looking recipes.  Some vegetarian and meat recipes, all with a concerted effort to keep the GI values low and the nutrition value high.  Although there's a focus on the South Beach Diet, you don't need to follow it to enjoy the hearty recipes here.

There will be a third part and a bonus round for blogs/sites that are "closer to home".  They should be along in the next few days!


Everyone knows it's not Christmas without a pavlova.  But what's the best recipe?  I was under the impression there really was only one; the Edmond's Cook Book (30th ed) recipe:

3 egg whites
3 Tblsp cold water
1 c caster sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tsp cornflour
Beat egg whites until stiff, add cold water and beat again.  Add caster sugar very gradually while still beating.  Slow beater and add vinegar, vanilla, and cornflour.  Place on greased paper on a greased trayand bake at 150C (300 F) for 45 minutes, then leave to cool in the oven.

BUT, on Campbell Live last night, they showed the judging of a pavlova competition (noone asked me if I wanted to enter, where was this advertised?!) and the winning recipe was begrudgingly released to the media.  This is what the Campbell Live website said:

Heather Hamilton from St John’s, Auckland, is the proud winner of the second annual Nosh Pavlova Competition.

She has been using this pavlova recipe for over 40 years - her tried and true and family-famous recipe that she swears by – with a few crucial tips to ensure success!
350g egg whites (approx. 8-9 eggs depending on size)
35g hot water
400g-450g sugar – depending on the weather
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

• Put egg whites in bowl and add hot water
• Begin beating, gradually adding sugar while beating
• Add vinegar and vanilla towards the end of the sugar, and finish beating in the remaining sugar
• Ensure mixture is thoroughly whisked before piling onto oven tray
• Bake at between 160-180 – depending on your over

Heather’s success secrets:
• Sugar quantity is subjective – I use less sugar in my pav which makes it marshmallowier, however you won’t get a very crusty edge which some people prefer
• Know your oven – every oven is different and you have to adapt to your oven to make a pav work. If the pav starts ballooning it means the oven is too hot – and what goes up must come down!
• Avoid cooking pavlova when humid
• It’s best to beat the egg whites when at room temperature – which is why the hot water helps

I chose to reproduce the article here because as the Campbell Live site is not a cooking site, I don't know how long this will be up.  I'm not too trusting in their archiving procedures.

Nigella has a couple of pavlova recipes, here, here, and here, as well as a 'toffee pavlova cake'.

Food in a Minute has one too.  An Australian recipe in the comments of Chocolate and Zucchini, here. has a few here too.  Even epicurious has 13, and Martha has more than 10!

Most of the differences between these pavlova recipes seem to be in either the topping (traditional cream, kiwi fruit, strawberry, and passionfruit, or exotic pomegranate, topped with white chocolate, or maple caramelised plums), or in an effort to flavour the pavlova itself (like with cocoa to make it chocolate), however, there do seem to be a few small variations in the ratios, and some substitutions in the ingredients.  I guess it's all about experimenting to find the one you like.

However, I know which one I like best already without even trying the rest - my Mum's!

Monday, December 13, 2010


I made some cupcakes!  I'm so pleased with how they turned out.  I got the recipe from one of Nigella's dvds.  I'd tell you which one, but Mum returned it to the library before I could write down the title, and also before I could get any of the recipes I liked the look of written down.  Luckily, her website has the recipe here.  Unfortunately, the website didn't have the recipe for royal icing that she used in the dvd to top the cupcakes.  Luckily I found pretty much the exact same recipe here.  These cupcakes were really insanely easy and they are also amazingly good.  And, as promised, here are some photos!!

Right out of the oven and cooling:

And then generously iced:
You can't really tell, but the icing is a lovely shade of lavender.  I added a little red and a little blue food colouring.  Half of them have coconut on top too.  We have this awesome dessicated coconut that's not those little shredded pieces that get stuck in my teeth, but instead are long threads of pretty yumminess.  I'll work on the photos - now you can see why I don't publish my photos!

Yummy warm noodle salad

As I will talk about soon, I've been watching two series of Nigella's tv shows on dvd.  Last night just as we were about to make dinner, Nigella was making a shrimp noodle salad (I think...) and we had just been saying we have noodles and left over chicken to eat.  I decided to make a noodle salad with whatever there was handy, and this is what we ended up with.

Noodles (wide Asian-style)
Cabbage (green)
Sunflower Seeds
Cumin Seeds
Soy sauce
Little oil

Cook the noodles, drain, toss with some oil, set aside.  Boil half of the spinach for about 2 minutes and then douse with cold water.  Rip up the rest of the leaves into mixable pieces.  Cook the broccoli so that it's just softened.  Cook the cabbage in the usual way with butter and pepper.  Heat a frying pan, add cashews, sunflower and cumin seeds and dry roast them (or in my case almost burn them) then add a little soy sauce and a pinch of tumeric, then a squeeze of honey and mix all together and turn off the heat.  Lazily shred the chicken.  Toss all ingredients together.  By the time you do all of it, the hot stuff will be warm, the cold stuff will be at room temperature and you will end up with a slightly warm salad that is really yummy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It occurs to me that the title of this blog is the user name I use for most everything on the internet except facebook and hotmail where I use my name.  It doesn't cry out as the title of a food blog, now does it?  Perhaps I would receive more traffic with food-inspired title.  Obviously, traffic isn't the reason I turned this blog foody, it was totally about getting excited and making things.   So I'm thinking about making another blog (which I will probably never use) using this name, and giving this blog a much more appropriate title.  That is, if I can do that at all...  I haven't even tried.  Anyway, suggestions please.  Double points if it related to the title page picture and/or forensic anthropology as well as cooking!

Blogs and Websites for Recipes pt 1

I've been collecting cooking websites and blogs that I read every time there's a new post.  So, because so many of them are linked here when I try the recipes or promise myself I will eventually try them, I thought I would do a roll-call in its own post. posts.  This will be part one of a few posts because I really had no idea how many sites I go to!  Part two will hopefully be up tomorrow.

I found this website through the book, though I'm sure I knew of the blog when I first saw the book, and that's what made me pick it up in the library.  Clotilde Dusoulier is French, but has spent many years living in America, so her English is superb, as are her recipes.  You may remember that I tried a few of the recipes from the book - the yoghurt cake, the chocolate and berry cake, and the chocolate and caramel pie.  This is also where the chocolate starter bread recipe came from (notice the trend here?) and also the sourdough baguettes.

Yes, I know, she needs no introduction.  But who knew that one could access a large number of her recipes at her website?  She also has a twitter feed that only posts three-ish times a day - one recipe link, one query answer, and sometimes a promotional thing for a book or tv show.

I love the name of this site, so so pretty, I wish I could steal it.   The site is also very pretty - so clean and simple.  I haven't been following this feed for very long, but have already starred three recipes - grape focaccia with rosemary, apple latkes, and upside-down cranberry cake.  The former two I will be making, hopefully while Mum has two weeks off over Christmas-New-Year, but the latter I'm not sure about.  I really want to make it, but I have no idea if we can get fresh cranberries or even tinned cranberries in NZ, even when they would be in season.  Still love the fresh and very home-made recipes at this site.

I tried the overnight sourdough from this site and failed miserably.  The mix was very very dry when I first mixed it, and I decided to add more water.  That would have been fine, but I thought I had better add a bit more starter to make up for the additional water.  As soon as I had done it I realised I'd made a mistake.  And the bread was totally inedible!  Mum wouldn't even feed it to the birds...  Anyhow, I don't blame the recipe - I should be used to the fact that NZ flour (or the brand I buy anyway [which is just usually the cheapest at the supermarket that day]) tends to need additional moisture.  There are a few recipes here I would like to try, not least of all the soft pretzels.

Where do I find these sites?  It usually starts with a book/tv show, or my googling a specific recipe.  Once I've had an explore at the website and decide I like what they're up to, I bookmark it or subscribe to the rss feed or to emails.  Then they will mention a site and I will go and have a look, and so on.  I even picked one up today on twitter (from a geek/actor twitterer rather than a food twitterer).  That's what I'd love for anyone who reads this to get out of it too - not so much a place to look at what I've been cooking, but as a place to reference the awesome places I find my recipes.

Christmas time

This year we have decided to go really really easy on the presents and instead focus on yummy things to eat.  Yesterday we finally came up with, well not a theme exactly, but a type (?) of food for our Christmas lunch.  We're doing finger food!  We'll be doing mini savoury muffins, empanadas (if I can find a good recipe), mini savory vege tarts, homemade crustini (with the sourdough baguettes), haloumi, and some chicken nuggets ah la Nigella.  For sweet/desserts we'll have candycane biscuits, forgotten cookies, and hopefully some Christmas cupcakes that look like this, this, this, or this (or?  perhaps and is more appropriate), and individual pavlovas.  I'm semi-obsessed with cupcakes this weekend.  I can't be bothered cooking (I know, that's a bit unlike me), I think because of the effort I've put in the last couple of weekends for the starter breads I've tried, and because my energy is being used elsewhere (if you could see the junk covering the floor and table in our dining room you'd see where), but I'm still reading and looking at pretty pictures and have added a few more food blogs/sites to my feeds.  I've also realised I should be illustrating this blog, but I've been far too happy with my creations to remember to take photos.  So I will add them as I remake things, and get my a- into g- to put the photos I do have up on here.  But for now, enjoy the promise of pretty things for the future.

(PS:  Honourable mention goes to these cupcakes, for their unabashed geekiness, and to these for their gorgeousness [and also because Kellie has to love them])

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Starter Bread

This weekend I finally made the bread that started my whole adventure into sourdough starters - Chocolate and Zucchini's Chocolate Starter Bread.  It was really nice (and by was, yes I mean it's gone - except for the loaf I put in the freezer).  However, I made the loaves with Whittaker's Dark Ghana (72%), which didn't supply much sweetness.  The loaf has cocoa and no sugar, so it needs the sweetness from the chocolate.  Next time I will try it with the 62% and see what happens.  I loved the texture - the crust is rock hard wonderfully crunchy, and the crumb was on the cakey side of bread (that is bready but dense).  We ate it with butter(y spread) when it was warm, and plum/raspberry/strawberry jam when cooler.  I think it was slightly better when cold.  Anyhow, much better than a cake on the sugar front, so definitely a must-try if you have a starter.


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