Saturday, 26 March 2016

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Meat Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I love cabbage and mince is such an easy thing to cook so stuffed cabbage leaves is a no brainer for a cheap and cheerful meal. Takes only twenty minutes to prepare and forty minutes to cook and can be made well in advance.

Ingredients for three:

1 Savoy cabbage
1lb mince
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 can tomatoes
Stock cube
Herbs and spices
Salt and pepper
4 diced tomatoes and a spoonful of Worcestershire sauce
Handful chopped parsley to serve


Strip outer leaves, (I only used six), and save the left over cabbage for later
Steam leaves for a few minutes with a spoon of water in the microwave
Meanwhile chop onion and garlic and cook in a little oil
Add the mince and cook until browned
Add all other ingredients, (except diced tomatoes and sauce) and simmer until thickened
Set aside to cool

Spread the leaves on a tray to cool
Spoon one or two tablespoons of meat mixture onto the leaves and roll, securing with cocktail sticks

Place rolled cabbage with stuffing into a shallow dish and when ready to cook cover with four diced tomatoes with a spoonful of Worcestershire sauce, (or homemade salsa)
Cook for 40 minutes in a hot oven
Sprinkle with chopped parsley

Cover this with a tomato, garlic and onion sauce or salsa before cooking

This was a delicious meal with the baked cabbage rolls and colcannon potatoes, (with diced spring onions and mustard), and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

We have eaten ours this evening and the left over mince, (I actually bought a kilo), has been made into a cottage pie and covered with mashed potato mixed with carrot - another stand by meal to be served with the left over cabbage.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

No Knead Honey And Pumpkin Loaf

 No Knead Honey And Pumpkin Loaf

Acacia honey

I have been playing with the Mark Bittman recipe for No Knead Bread (see video below) and trying to make it a little different. I often add seeds to the top and this time decided to incorporate some honey too. I like the fact that this simple adaption allows a quicker loaf - about two hours from start to finish (the M.B. one takes a bit of planning and preparation - around twenty-four hours in total). I decided to add some seeds to the mixture as well as on the top to make it more crunchy. It worked well and was very moist and crunchy but probably would not keep as well as an ordinary loaf - not a problem if you eat it right away!

Finished loaf


10 fl oz hand-hot water
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp active dry yeast

4 cups  bread flour (I used country grain by Allison's with seeds)
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds - chopped

milk for brushing
1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds for topping

Pumpkin seeds

Country grain bread flour

Runny honey


Dissolve honey and yeast in jug of warm water.
Leave to stand in warm place for ten minutes until frothy.
Put flour and seeds and salt in a mixing bowl.
Gradually add frothy water and combine.
Mix to a stiff dough.
If too wet add more flour.
If too dry add more warm water.
***Grease a baking tray or bread tin.
Place dough in/on it, sprinkle with flour and cover with a damp cloth.
Leave in warm spot for around an hour or until doubled in size.

Brush top with milk and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
Bake in hot oven for 35/40 minutes.
Tap bottom for hollow sound when cooked.

*** As I cook in an Aga, (which is too hot for bread making), I cook mine in a preheated Dutch Oven in the main hot oven of the Aga. This allows it to cook through without burning the crust.

Eat and Enjoy

See the original Mark Bittman recipe here ...

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Macaroon Recipe.

I think I have fallen in love ... again ... only this time with the eye candy colours and sweet sumptuous taste of    Macaroons.   They have always been available in France in most patisseries but now seem to be available here in London in some of the more expensive food shops and cafes such as  The Laduree Café  in Harrods.  I think they may have taken over where cup cakes have left off and appear to be the new 'style food', as I am now seeing them everywhere. Unfortunately they are terribly expensive, costing anything from £2-£3 each and upwards,  so I thought that today I might just have a try at making some myself.

They Are Sold In All Colours And Flavours

I Can Just About Force Myself To Eat These

And These Are For Mr Whizz Kid

The simplest recipe that I have found seems to be this one ...

Multi Coloured And Multi Flavoured Macaroons


175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large free-range egg whites
75g caster sugar

For the filling

150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy. (At this point you can stir in flavour extract, such as peppermint or lemon, and corresponding colouring such as blue or yellow, to your meringue mixture, depending on what kind of macaroons you want.  Or divide the meringue among different bowls if you want to make more than one colour.)

3. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

5. Meanwhile, make the fillings. In a bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar. (You can now add flavouring or nuts, and colour ) Use to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.

6. I am making vanilla as I have no food colouring today.

 (I will post some pictures when they are ready (and very quickly before they get eaten by the friends and family!)

Made fourteen - just these left! There was quite a lot of puckering and cracks, which I think means that I did not let them sit long enough before the bake.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Gotland Sheep

The Black Sheep Of The Family

Photo stolen from Pinterest

Gotland Sheep are a rare breed named for the Swedish island of Gotland. While in NZ in December I first encountered them on the South Island during a drive from Nelson to Golden Bay along Highway 60. The drive is long and arduous, (about 70 miles), over the Takaka Hills also known as Marble Mountain. The whole family in convoy were about to spend a precious week together in a bach in this deserted beach side spot.

We stopped a while in the hills at a small café/farm and outside were these wonderful dark grey/black sheep. They are a breed with a dual purpose being very sought after for their fleece but also for the delicious taste of their flesh. They are an unusual appearance having no wool on their heads of legs. There was one tiny lamb in a pen, which had been abandoned by its mother, and my grandson was delighted to be able to bottle feed it, (and also try to get it to eat toast).

Two little sweeties

Before we laid eyes on Golden Bay, we enjoyed an amazingly scenic road journey. There are signposted lookouts along the way and the subterranean marvels of Harwoods Hole, and the Ngarua Caves should not be missed. These stops made the journey take a whole day.

Te Waikoropupu Springs, (also known as Pupu Springs), is on the other side of the hill, near the town of Takaka a true hippy paradise like something out of a wild west movie. The springs are a 'wahi tapu' - sacred place - to the local Maori tribe. We took a stroll around the walkways and read the interpretive panels along the way -  it was truly amazing - a beautiful spot.

As the road led west, fabulous views of Golden Bay kept us entertained. The huge, sandy bay is famous for its scallops. Collingwood is the final settlement of any size before Farewell Spit, a lengthy sandspit that wraps itself around the upper reaches of the bay. The sandspit is a bird sanctuary - too long to walk, so you might want to catch a guided safari to see the lighthouse and birds there.

On the Tasman Sea side of Cape Farewell is Warariki Beach - a wild, beautiful place where wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. The ultimate Wharariki experience is a horse trek, again another thing that the whole family did on a stunning sunny morning.

Lots of our time was spent at The Mussel Inn, Onekaka, which is the only place to eat for miles around. It was a charming rustic pub/café/brewery with live music and lots of hippie visitors to admire.

I was reminded of this wonderful trip and of the unusual breed of sheep when visiting the charming kilt maker yesterday when he produced a skein of the rare wool of a Gotland Sheep. It was soft and fluffy and a delightful shade of deep grey/black with a hint of silver.

The wool can be grey to silver to charcoal 

NZ Beauty

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Kilts Of Paul Henry

A Visit To A Master Craftsman

Photo courtesy of Paul Henry  Kilts

Today I had the pleasure of a visit to a renowned kilt maker. (Paul Henry). Now I know absolutely nothing about kilts but have always found them to be very attractive and unusual. My immediate neighbour belongs to the clan Macfarlane Hunting and occasionally he can be seen in his full attire off to attend some important event. He looks magnificent. Looking at the website of Paul Henry, I can see that lots of men look wonderful in kilts too - sadly I shall never be able to persuade Mr Whizz Kid to join into this sartorial elegant fashion seen here in all its glory.

Stolen from the Internet

A friend has now introduced me to this marvellous man, who not only makes the most inspiring kilts but is also expert in wool dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting, book binding, (phew!) and probably another million crafts as well. He agreed to give me some information regarding weaving - but not only was that so very worthwhile but he enthused me with so much more besides.

Photo courtesy of Paul Henry Kilts

His workroom was full to bursting with samples, wools, kilts, and the tiniest sample loom, (the much bigger ones are housed elsewhere). Here are a few photos to give you a taste of the organised chaos in which he turns out the most beautiful garments. I just love to see workrooms that look like the people who own them actually do some work!

Some tartan samples
Glimpse of  a tartan scarf
Everywhere I looked - tartan
That beautiful scarf again
Tools of the trade

Learning how to 'twiddle' a fringe

A glimpse of genius
Isle of Skye pleated
Photo courtesy of Paul Henry Kilts

I feel so in awe of this wonderful man who makes the most beautiful kilts and clothing and, I am told by a friend, is an expert cook too! What more could one want of a man?
Photo courtesy of Paul Henry Kilts
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 2006

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Aloo Gobi

Potato and Cauliflower Curry

I have only recently taken to curry. I have always enjoyed it while eating out but did not feel confident about cooking it myself. Recently I have been experimenting by trying one of two dishes a week and adding them to shop bought microwave meals to make a passable curry night. (Cheating).

Aloo Gobi has become a favourite and today I have tried to tweak an old recipe for it. This is it ... do not be alarmed by the extent of the spices - more or less can be added and it does not appear to materially change the finished taste ... go on ... experiment with what you have!

Aloo Gobi.

1 cauliflower broken into florets
2 huge potatoes diced in 1" cubes
1 onion sliced finely
1 red pepper sliced finely
2 cloves garlic minced
1 inch fresh ginger diced finely
1 can chopped tomatoes
handful frozen peas
pepper and salt

1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cardoman seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. paprika powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Bunch of coriander

Cook the potatoes and cauliflower in the microwave until barely cooked
Fry all the spices in butter and oil along with the garlic, and ginger, until the delicious aromas are tempting you to eat them then and there
Add the cooked cauliflower, potato, peas, sliced raw onion and raw pepper and coat thoroughly with the spicy mixture
Add the chopped tomatoes and season
Serve piping hot with chopped coriander leaves and yogurt to taste

Sounds difficult but takes less than half an hour and is quite delicious. We are eating ours with lamb chops but it is traditional to serve this with a curry.
Waiting to be reheated and dressed with the coriander topping and peas to be added
Lamb chops waiting to be grilled
The last of the coriander

Rare lamb chops

Almost ready

On the table
 That was delicious

Monday, 14 March 2016

Blueberry Yogurt Cake

A Yummy Cake For Tea

This recipe is wonderful. It is a favourite in my family and never goes wrong. It is so easy to prepare: just one bowl and very little attention. Sadly I forgot to take photos along the way but here is the finished cake along with a very detailed recipe that I always use. It can be made with any fruit but raspberries or blueberries seem to work the very best. Today I am going with blueberries. There are several similar recipes on the Internet and this one has been tweaked to my liking - not sure which original one I used.

1 cup Greek yogurt (I use the one with added honey)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup olive oil
2 cups self raising flour
1 carton blueberries

Put all the ingredients (except the blueberries) into a mixing bowl and beat gently.
Add the blueberries (or raspberries) and gently fold in.
Grease and line an 8inch tin and put the mixture in it.

Cook at 170 degrees for one hour. Test until a skewer comes out dry - may need another five minutes.

The cake needs to be eaten very quickly as with its high yogurt content it can quickly go mouldy - this really shouldn't be a problem as it is so very good! I love it with a dollop of yogurt.

Finished cake here - now doesn't that look wonderful?