Tuesday 24 August 2010

Leek & Potato Soup

Leeks are so cheap at the moment and I keep opening the vege bin to discover I still have more to cook!  So I read a few Leek & Potato soup recipes the other day and scrunched them altogether, took out the bacon (seriously - every single Leek & Pot. soup recipe I found online included bacon), and ended up with the following, which I served with a freshly cooked loaf of bread (thank you Edmonds for the whole-grain bread mix - too easy!)

1 large leek
3 medium potatoes
500ml chicken stock (I use Campbells)
pepper (& salt if you think you need it - I found there was plenty from the chicken stock)
1 C milk

Slice the leek into rings about 5mm wide.
Cook the potatoes in the chicken stock until tender.
Meanwhile, fry the leeks in the butter (or evoo if you prefer) until soft.
Don't drain the potatoes!  Use your potato masher and lightly crush them, while still in the stock.
Add the cooked leeks to the potato & stock mixture, season with pepper (again, add salt if it needs it, mine certainly didn't).
Add milk, reheat & serve.

Simple, easy, tasty.  What more could you ask for?

Cafe Review - Brunch at Lulu's Cafe - Ponsonby Road

We used Google Places on my phone recently to find somewhere new to try for brunch. We chose Lulu's Cafe on Ponsonby Road.

The cafe is quite small, homely and perhaps a little Italian and cosy in atmosphere - the cafe as a nice feel to it and I can imagine myself sipping coffee there and people-watching. They don't take credit cards - I mention this only because I think it's the first place I've come across in Auckland that doesn't!

Our meals were very generously sized, and the coffees were pretty good as I recall, although perhaps a litle weak (it was a few weeks ago I must confess!)

Simon had the pancakes with lashings of Maple Syrup and I went for an Omelette with fresh garden salad.  I'm always a little dubious about ordering salads as they're often the ubiquitous mesclun mix plopped on the plate and served.  This however was fresh, generous and absolutely delicious. The omelette was also great, and very filling!

Would we return? Yes, although we wouldn't call it a favourite.  But if you were thinking of visiting Lulu's, we'd certainly encourage you to give it a go.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Cornish Pasties

While visiting a friend for lunch the other day, we got to talking about what we were going to cook for dinner in our respective homes that night.  She shared the simplicity of making Cornish Pasties (her being from the region and all!) with me and I decided to make them for dinner a few nights later. Oh my word, how simple and delicious!  I am a convert. To the extent that I bought more ingredients during my grocery shop today in anticipation of a 2nd round!

I thought these were huge, but when I mentioned it to said friend yesterday, she said this is pretty normal. I did modify the recipe ever so slightly - I used flaky pastry instead of savoury short (and would do so again) and I used carrots instead of swede, but only because that's what I had in the house.  I'll list the recipe below as I intend to do it for my next batch.  I've served it above with some lightly steamed broccoli & a small bowl of my Dad's absolutely delicious tomato relish.

Recipe - Cornish Pasties (serves 2, with spare filling left over)

  • 1 Potato
  • Skirt steak (in whatever quantity you'd buy for 2 people. I think I got about 400g, but I had leftovers that didn't fit!)
  • 1 swede
  • 1 onion
  • salt & pepper
  • knob of butter
  • 2 sheets of flaky pastry (pre-rolled and frozen in my case - I don't mind making pastry, but I can't be bothered rolling it)
  • a little milk or egg wash (I used milk)

  1. Cube the potato, swede, onion and skirt steak into pieces about 1.5 - 2cm in size, or thereabouts. [Update: on subsequent runs through this I have concluded that I get a better result when I finely dice the onion, and cube everything else at about .5 to 1.0cm cubes rather than larger - especially when using skirt steak which can be a little chewy in bigger chunks]
  2. Mix in a bowl and season with salt & pepper. (nope, the meat does NOT get cooked before putting it in your pastie)
  3. Cut your pastry into a circle using a dinner plate or a bowl as a guide (get as big a circle as you can from the square)
  4. Pile the filling in the middle (I know there is often fierce debate over whether Cornish pasties should be sealed at the top or side - I went with what seemed easier which was the top)
  5. Add a knob of butter to the middle of the pile.
  6. Brush a little milk or egg-wash around the edge of the pastry (this helps with sealing it.
  7. Bring two sides up and seal into the traditional shape (usually tidier than I did above!!!)
  8. Optionally brush with milk or egg-wash
  9. Bake in a hot oven for 1 hour. (I went with 200°C)

Serve & enjoy!!!

Askerne Noble Semillon 2006, Hawke’s Bay

06 NS This gold coloured dessert wine from Askerne in the Hawke’s Bay has a beautiful aroma of raisin and honey.  The aromas follow through to the palate where it is sweet, a little syrupy but not too heavy.  The flavours linger in the mouth.  This is a very enjoyable drop to drink.

Friday 13 August 2010

Coopers Creek SV “Gibsons Run” Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006

This wine has a lovely right red hue and a magnificent berry and plum aroma that follows through to the palate of this very smooth wine.  It is reasonably dry with medium body, a hint of acid and a medium lingering flavour.  It’s easy enough to drink and well balanced, but I find that it does not exhibit a wow factor.  I will however happily finish the remainder of the bottle so it does still have something, but I almost feel like it's holding something back.

Blue Elephant Thai Restaurant, Parnell

Last night we had a lovely meal out at the Blue Elephant Thai Restaurant in Parnell with a group of about 10 people.  The restaurant is 6 weeks old and we were glad to see a menu that contained a number of different dishes.

We started with a selection of entrees, of which I particularly enjoyed the Thai Curry Puffs.  There were also some quite bizarre green balls that we had that were quite chewy but I think I enjoyed.

For my main I had the “Steamed Spicy Seafood” and this had a nice level of heat that was well balanced with the seafood.  Jane had the “Spicy Scallops” which she enjoyed, and would order again. Some others at the table had the “Blue Elephant Friends” dish and this looked particularly spectacular.

The mains did arrive in a staggered fashion, but this may have been due to the size of our group.  All dishes were beautifully presented.

The restaurant had a lovely vibe, is not large and is far enough away from the road to be very relaxing.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Johner Estate (Gladstone, Wairarapa) Wine Tasting

We attended a wine tasting with Johner Estate from Gladstone in the Wairarapa this evening at the North Shore Wine & Food Society.

We started with the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Sur Lie which was lemon flavoured and I thought was more akin to a Riesling from Central Otago.  I actually enjoyed this wine however it is not a typical New Zealand  Sauvignon Blanc (and nor is it supposed to be with the vineyard having a more German style).

The 2009 Chardonnay Wairarapa was our second wine for the evening.  The grapes for this were picked whilst very ripe and hence this is a very different Chardonnay.  In fact, if I was doing a blind taste test I doubt I would have picked it as a Chardonnay.  It had a sweetness to it and lacked intensity, however I enjoyed it for being that something a little bit different.

I know Martinborough/Gladstone is known for its Pinot Noir, however tonight I'm sorry to say the three Pinot Noirs I tasted weren't doing it for me.

The 2007 Carbernet, Merlot & Malbec was my favourite red of the evening with strong blackcurrant flavours and quite tannic however it wasn't a wine I would rush out to buy and I also thought it was overpriced.

My highlight of the night was in fact the 2009 Noble Sauvignon Blanc.  This is a dessert wine that has very strong passionfruit flavours.  I can imagine this being a magnificent wine with Pavlova.

The 2009 Noble Pinot Noir was a nice dessert wine too, however it didn't have any wow factor.

Monday 9 August 2010

Main Divide Chardonnay 2005, Waipara Valley

I really must get to the vineyards in Waipara Valley one day; it is possibly the only region in New Zealand I have not been around the vineyards.

With light kerosene and butter to the nose, I was initially unsure if it was a bit too big by the nose alone, but upon tasting was pleasantly surprised by its soft nicely balanced characteristics. This light gold coloured wine from Main Divide is big, bold and soft with nice toasty butter notes.

Drinking well now.

Friday 6 August 2010

Alien Urine Cocktail

AlienUrine We felt like a cocktail before dinner and came across Alien Urine and mostly followed the recipe.

I used the following proportions and ingredients for 2 people:

  • 80ml Midori melon liqueur
  • 80ml Peach schnapps
  • 160ml Coconut rum
  • 160ml Orange juice
  • 1 fresh small lime

I put all ingredients into a shaker with a little bit of ice (which was then quite full), shook, then poured into a glass of ice.

It has a nice flavour and is well balanced.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Starvedog Lane 2005 Shiraz Viognier, Adelaide Hills

Lamb Shanks are in the oven and I needed some red wine to accompany them (both in and out of the oven) as they cooked, so chose a Starvedog Lane 2005 Shiraz Viognier from Adelaide Hills.

This is a very deep red wine with pepper to the nose.  To taste, it is quite tannic, soft and dry with an underlying plum flavour.  It is a full-bodied wine with a long tail.  It started off tasting a bit acidic but this subsided once aired.  It's an okay wine to drink, but not one I would be rushing out to buy again.

As for the lamb shanks, they are smelling great.