Sunday 29 June 2014

A snack in a hurry - Cheese Puffs

After just a little too much of a sleep in yesterday, I needed a super quick and tasty baking solution to gift as a small token of appreciation. With only half an hour on the clock before we needed to leave the house these were perfect. 

Cheese Puffs

2 cups grated cheese
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
a good handful of parsley - finely chopped
2 eggs
5 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 210deg. C and line a large tray with baking paper.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the grated cheese and finely chopped parsley.

Stir the milk and eggs together using a fork. 

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and eggs. 

Stir together using a table knife. 

Place tablespoon lots of the mixture onto the lined tray. 

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and puffy. 

These tasty little morsels are at their most delicious eaten straight from the oven. 

Sunday 22 June 2014

Hand Made Kids Clothing Swap 2014

This is the first time I've taken part in a blog swap, and what a great thing its been. Thanks to Jen at Mend and Make New for organising and coordinating the whole thing. I wasn't out of my comfort zone with my swap partner Anne's girls being a similar age to our little blossom. Having a month to make my item also made it more achievable. With two girls, I wanted to make something big enough to fit the oldest now and the younger one later. I didn't want any disappointment when the parcel arrived. I used a Burda pattern made in a size 6 and trimmed the dress with ruffles, zig zag stitching and buttons.

In return Anne made our Little Miss a beautiful bag. LM just loves bags of all shape and description; I think it's because she loves dragging huge amounts of stuff around wherever she goes. Anne told me the pattern is from one of her favourite sewing books: Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson (Oliver & S). Just like Anne and her children, we also call it the 'sparkle forest bag'. It's just lovely. Thanks so much Anne for making it for us.

We took it out with us to coffee in the weekend. LM was stoked to discover that it is the perfect fit for her ipad: which she sneaked out with us! And it also has plenty of little pockets for all those little girlie essentials.

Here is the lovely photos Anne sent to me. She said her girls were thrilled with the dress. I deliberately made it 'ice blue' following the generally safe assumption that all small girls are mad about Disney's Frozen. Little Miss was equally thrilled with the colour of her bag now that blue is her new favourite colour.
It is great to receive these lovely pics of two happy girls modelling their new dress. 

Hope you have all had a great weekend!

Sunday 15 June 2014

The last of the Feijoas: Sticky Roly Poly Pudding

 We had some great friends over for tea yesterday. As is the custom in our house, I was responsible for the dessert offering. I wanted to make something seasonally appropriate for a cold winter's night. With the last of the feijoas starting to sag in the fruit bowl, I came up with this lovely warming and wintry creation. Taking inspiration from the old fashioned roly poly pudding I combined the feijoas with granny smith apples and cinnamon. 

Feijoa and Apple Roly Poly Pudding

1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced feijoa flesh 
1 granny smith apple, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons caster sugar
the juice of 1 lemon

3 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
200g chilled butter
300ml cream
a dusting of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup apple juice
3/4 cup caster sugar
the juice of 1 lemon

Butter a 25cm round oven dish and line the bottom with baking paper if you intend to turn the pudding out to serve.

Start with the fruit: Place the prepared fruit, first measure of caster sugar, and juice of 1 lemon into a small pot. Cook over a medium-high heat stirring constantly until the fruit is cooked, pulpy and thickened. Set aside to cool.

Now prepare the dough: Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs. 

Make a well in the centre and pour in the cream. Using a table knife, fold the mixture together, taking care not to over-mix. 

Turn the mixture out onto a large sheet of baking paper. 

Place another sheet over the top and roll the dough out to measure approximately 25 x 40cm. Place into the fridge and chill for about 10 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C.

Prepare the syrup: Combine the apple juice, second measure of caster sugar and juice from the second lemon in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes.

Assemble the pudding: Take the dough from the fridge and spread the cooled fruit mixture evenly over it. 

Sprinkle with cinnamon and roll from the long edge. 

Cut into 5 cm slices and place, cut side up, into the buttered oven dish. 

Leave small gaps in between the rolls to allow for rising. 

Pour the hot syrup over the pudding and bake for 50 minutes until the dough is well risen and the pudding is golden brown. 

Once cooked leave the pudding to rest for 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving dish. I browned the top using a blow torch. The pudding can be served in the baking dish if you prefer. We served ours with vanilla ice cream. 

Friday 13 June 2014

Cheesy French Stick Melts

A great friend and colleague brought a bag of French bread flutes into school the other day. We had some left over, so I whipped up these tasty cheesy melts using a few ingredients that were lying around the fridge.

Cheesy French Stick Melts

2 small French bread stick flutes
1 cup grated tasty cheese 
4 tablespoons tomato and capsicum chutney
1/2 onion
a handful of basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt 
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C.

Finely chop the onion and basil leaves, and grate the cheese. 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. 

Cut the flutes length wise and fold open. 

Spoon half the filling into each flute, spreading evenly.

Place onto a lined oven tray and bake for 15 minutes until crisp, golden and bubbly. 
Cut into diagonal slices and serve to the masses. Happy cooking!

Saturday 7 June 2014

Beautiful Cable Knit Scarf Pattern

It's not too late to knit yourself this stylish and practical winter scarf. Knitted on just 20 stitches using 12mm knitting needles and a simple cable sequence, it wont take too many nights in front of the fire to complete. 

As you have probably gathered from my previous posts I only knit New Zealand wool that's manufactured on-shore. For this project I chose to use Crucci's new Natural Wonder Chunky 100% wool yarn. This colour is called Silver, but it also comes in Charcoal, Dark Brown, Cream and Oatmeal. I purchased mine from The Main Skein, a little independent wool store located at Bush Inn Centre, but its also available on-line and nationwide from Knit World. If you're looking for brighter colours, Skeinz new Texas yarn is a great alternative -it's also a New Zealand product, 70% wool, 30% alpaca and really beautiful. You will require 4 balls of Texas though. Skeinz also has a great on-line ordering system. Just be prepared to get tempted by all the other yarns in their range!

Chunky Cable Knit Scarf

What you need:
- 3 balls of Crucci Natural Wonder Chunky Yarn, or a similar chunky knit yarn. 4 balls if you're using Skeinz Texas.
- a pair 12mm knitting needles - I got wooden ones as they are much nicer to use than plastic.
- 1 cable needles in the biggest size you can get. A V-notched needle is easier to keep in place if you can't fine a chunky enough one. 
- 1 large darning needle to weave the loose ends in.

Using the 12mm needles cast on 20 stitches. Start straight into the pattern.
1st row: knit (k) 3, purl (p) 6, k2, p6, k3
2nd row: p3, k6, p2, k6, p3
3rd row: k3, p6, k2, p6, k3
4th row: same as 1st row
5th row: same as 2nd row
6th row: Cable row: p3, slip 3 onto the cable needle and place at back of work, k3, k3 from the cable needle, p2, slip 3 onto the cable needle and place at back of work, p3.
These 6 rows form the pattern. Repeat until desired length is reached or until all 3 balls have been worked. Allow a couple of metres of yarn to cast off with. 
Using the darning needle, work the loose ends into the scarf. Give the scarf a press with a warm steam iron, concentrating on the edges.

If you want a wider scarf, just cast on another 8 stitches (28 in total) and work 3 cable rows: the first row would be p3, k6, p2, k6, p2, k6, p3. Thus giving three cables. Obviously you will need at least another ball of wool to get the desired length. 

If all this seems too much, or you're just too time poor to think about this right now, you can find my scarves for sale at Charmaine Reveley and Co in Dunedin. 

Happy knitting xx   

Monday 2 June 2014

Birthday Dinner - Moroccan Inspired Chicken and Cous Cous

On Friday night it was my very great pleasure to cook a birthday dinner for my man-of-the-house. With both of us busy at work at the moment and our Little Miss not needing any more late nights this week, we decided to celebrate this birthday at home. Since my darling man does most of our cooking, it's somewhat of a novelty for me to be cooking a dinner party. 

In the interest of variety I decided to spurn the traditional roast or braise in favour of a little ethnic Moroccan inspired dish served with some seasonal vegetables. I didn't take many photos as coming straight from work, time was short!

Moroccan Inspired Chicken and Cous Cous
serves 6-8 

For the Marinade:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt
3 cloves garlic - crushed
juice of 1 lemon

12 skin on boneless chicken thighs

Combine the marinade ingredients and place in a bag with the chicken. Return to the fridge and marinate for a few hours.

For the Cous Cous:
1 red onion
1/2 preserved lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups boiling water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons liquid chicken stock concentrate - check the salt level before adding the additional salt to the liquid, as stock concentrate can contain a lot of salt.
3 cups instant cous cous

100g butter
20 large green olives 
1 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil - drained
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

To Serve:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup Greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C and line a large roasting dish with cooking foil. 
Once the oven reaches temperature, place the marinated chicken into the tray, making sure to leave a gap between each piece. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and the internal temperature has reached 75deg. C.

While the chicken is cooking, make the cous cous and prepare the walnuts and yoghurt:
In separate dishes, toast the walnuts and pumpkin seeds until golden. Be careful as they easily burn. Set these aside until needed.

Line a sieve with a clean, fine kitchen cloth. Place over a bowl and add the yoghurt. This will drain the extra liquid from the yoghurt and make it much thicker. Place a large serving platter into the warming draw.

To make the cous cous: In a large saucepan, fry the finely diced onion in the olive oil until soft. Slice the preserved lemon into small pieces and add with the water or stock, and the stock concentrate. Bring back to the boil and check the seasoning before adding the additional salt. Take from the heat, tip in the dry cous cous and stir. Place a tightly fitting lid on the pot and leave for 10 minutes to swell. 
Prepare the olives by pitting and slicing into chunks. Chop the sun dried tomatoes into thin slices. Once the cous cous is ready, fluff it with a fork and stir in the olives, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and butter.

To assemble the dish:
The chicken and cous cous should be ready at about the same time. Spread the thick Greek yoghurt onto the warmed, large serving platter. Pile the cous cous onto the platter. Arrange the cooked chicken thighs around the top of the cous cous. Then top with a sprinkling of the toasted walnuts.

I served this with butternut pumpkin wedges, whole carrots and beetroot halves roasted in olive oil.

We had Apple Crumble with Icecream for pudding.

Happy birthday my darling! Nothing better than a good time spent with family and friends.