Picnic in the Park

I’ve been so busy the last week, I haven’t had any time to put up pictures of my Picnic in the Park, which I had last Saturday to say goodbye to Wellington!  I had a wonderful afternoon, with cakes, muffins, bread, cheese, crackers, wine, and of course, awesome friends!  In the morning it was all cloudy, but by the afternoon it had cleared up, and Wellington produced one of its famous “Good Days” (the saying is that you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, and how true it is!)

Here is the proof that it is spring – the trees in my (now ex) neighbours’ yard, they even have tamarillos!  Jealous…  Wish I had a tamarillo tree.  More about my garden produce tomorrow though…

For the picnic I made all sorts of goodies..

Pumpkin muffins (use any banana muffin recipe, substitute the banana for cooked mashed pumpkin, half the regular sugar for brown sugar, and add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the mix):

Lemon cake (recipe is in the Edmonds, but I use thick yoghurt in place of sour cream, and drizzle lemon juice mixed with melted honey over the finished product)

I also made a focaccia bread from the Pizza Dough recipe in the Edmond’s, but substituted half of the flour for wholemeal flour.  Here is me attempting to fly my $2 kite at the park:

What a delicious day.  The next day, I had High Tea at my friend Sarah’s house (check out that link for some pictures of it!) – it was such a fantastic weekend of fantastic food!  And on the Friday night I had teriyaki salmon with my other friend, I’ll put up a recipe for that some time soon!!!

Peanut Butter Hummus

At the moment I’m sitting at the table at home in Tauranga, having my morning cup of tea and a piece of toast.  I’ve been very busy the last week or so getting ready and packed up to leave Wellington – and finally I made it!  Last week, I went to my friend’s house for a movie and dinner, and made some more dip (see my Pumpkin Dip) to take.  Because I was moving out of my house, I didn’t want to buy any new ingredients, and wanted to use up what was in my cupboard.  I had a can of chickpeas, so I thought that I would make hummus…  Instead of tahini, I put in a few spoons of peanut butter (I know, not quite comparable), and it tasted great!  Here it is all ready to be carried up the hill to my friend’s house:

I put in it:

– One can of chickpeas, drained

– Garlic, finely chopped (not too much, it’s not being cooked, so it’s very garlicky!)

– Olive oil

– Few spoons of peanut butter (crunchy!)

You can add any other flavours you want to – basically just zizz up the chickpeas, and add enough oil to make it a nice consistency.  Keep adding bits and pieces and experimenting until you get the flavour you want.  I made focaccia bread to go with it, with sliced lemons, chopped olives, and cheese on top (using up all my food again, it made a nice combination!).

Asparagus and Potato Crustless Quiche

My flatmate described my dinner the other night as a crustless quiche, which was exactly what I had in mind when I was making it, as I didn’t have enough eggs to make both a quiche filling *and* a quiche crust.  So it’s sort of a crustless quiche/frittata/giant omelette.

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk (I use soy)
  • Onions and garlic
  • 1 can of asparagus spears, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 small potatoes, steamed or boiled
  • Cheese

Whip up the eggs and the soy milk, and add a bit of cheese.  Fry some onions and garlic in a cast iron pan (or a pan that is able to be put in the oven).  Add the potatoes and fry for a minute or two.  Pour in the egg mixture, add the asparagus, and distribute the asparagus and potatoes around the pan.  Cook for a while, until almost set, and the put the rest of the cheese on top, and grill until completely set.

Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese)

I know that Fern has already done a wee how to for this, but this one is especially for Emily, because I promised that I would try to keep up this blog for her…  Plus it gives me a chance to show off some lovely pictures of my cake mixer!

I originally saw this recipe on an episode of World Kitchen, which is a really neat cooking show.  Even though it’s sponsored  by Tegal, so most of the recipes have chicken in them, I quite like it because it’s a great combination of travel and yummy simple recipes.

This one is for Queso Fresco, or fresh cheese.  It’s really surprisingly easy!   All you need is:

  • 2 litres of full cream milk
  • 1 Lemon
  • Some kind of cloth (I used a new dishcloth)

1.  In a big pot, bring the milk to the boil.   Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring the whole time to stop the milk from burning on the bottom of the pot, and forming a skin on the top.

2.  After 10 minutes, add the juice of one lemon.  Your milk will curdle, and look something like this:

3.  Now, you need to drain the whey, you’re left with the curds, which will make your cheese!  I used my cake mixer bowl with a sieve, like this, to make it a bit easier (I only have two hands, after all).

4.  Finally, squeeze some of the liquid off your cheese, and leave it to drip out.  How long you leave it, and how much liquid you squeeze out depends on how hard/soft you want your cheese.  The less liquid, the harder the cheese.  Now comes the picture of my cake mixer, which doubles nicely as a cheese dripper machine…

Unfortunately, in my haste to eat my lovely cheese, I completely forgot to take a photo of the finished product!  I finished it off by sprinkling some salt on the outside, because the flavour of this cheese is quite mild.  If you’re a salty-tooth you may also want to add some salt at the stage when you are draining the whey off.

I used this cheese to garnish a tomato soup type thing, which was yummy indeed!  Fern used it on some pizza bread – yum.  It keeps for a little while in the fridge, keep it in an airtight container, and just give it a sniff to see whether it’s still good.  That’s always my strategy, I hardly ever look at use by dates…

Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Caramelised Onion, Feta and Cashew Dip

I am sitting outside this lovely Sunday morning.  It seems that it’s been raining, because the deck is wet, and there are stormy clouds in the sky.  But!  It’s warm!  It’s actually warm!  Even though the sun isn’t out, there is a definite warmth to the air, which means that spring is well underway!  How exciting.

Last night I went to my friend’s house for dinner, and as we both agreed that chips and dip are a good group, I was tasked to be in charge of that.  My sister had sent me an email a wee while back with a description of what she had made and was eating (not unusual).  She had made a pumpkin dip.  I’d never even really thought of making my own dips, but how easy!  Also a great way to use up bits and pieces of ingredients.  I am just going to put approximate quantities, since really I just made it up as I went along.  The base, of course, is pumpkins.

  • Pumpkin, about 1/8 th of one
  • 1/3 cup of well cooked brown rice (Fern’s idea to make it a good dippy consistancy)
  • 2 smallish onions
  • Brown sugar, a few tablespoons
  • Small amount of vinegar (balsamic would be best, although i used wine vinegar because I didn’t have any balsamic)
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Feta cheese
  • about 1/2 a cup of cashew nuts
  • salt

Cook the brown rice – go for overcooked rather than still al dente.

Roast the pumpkin in the oven with some olive oil, and any herbs and spices that you might like to add.  I just left the skins on the pumpkin, since they go quite soft, and everything is going to be zizzed up anyway.

Caramelise the finely chopped onions in a pan – fry until soft and then add brown sugar and a splash of vinegar.  Continue cooking until they are really quite soft.  Add the brown rice and some garlic into the pan, and mix it all up (leave some garlic aside to add raw).  Cool, and put into a blender (I have my sister’s stick mixer, which is amazing).  Zizz up until it’s quite smooth, but this doesn’t matter too much.  It depends on how textured you want your dip to be.  Add the cooled pumpkin, crumbled feta, some raw garlic and zizz some more!  Add some salt to taste, if you want.

Transfer the pumpkin mixture to another bowl, and then zizz up the cashew nuts in the blender, or whatever you are using (I guess you could do this by hand, finely chopping/mashing everything).  I used salted cashews, because it was what I had, but in the end it’s a very “go by taste” recipe, so add anything in that you think would work for you.

Finally, mix the cashew nuts in with the pumpkin mixture, and you’ve got one mighty tasty dip.  Just on a side note, Doritos, though they taste amazing, do not work well with this dip, they don’t hold up to the thickness of it.  Make sure you get a corn chip that can handle your dip…  Mine is garnished with paprika and coriander.

And just for another pretty picture, I discovered that we have a big lavender bush in our back yard (or what passes for a back yard anyway) when I was checking out my vege garden yesterday.  My vege garden is going well, although I leave Wellington in a few weeks, so I’m not sure I’ll get to enjoy the vegetables of my labour…  Maybe a miniature salad with lettuce, spinach, and teeny tiny carrots?