Finally applying myself to writing blog post number 3. I've been searching for inspiration and direction, not only for blog writing but in life in general. The last few weeks have been overflowing with long discussions, soul searching and multiple attempts to get over the fear of making a wrong decision. Then somebody told me that there are no wrong decisions - you make the choice and deal with the consequences. Of course I already knew that this was how things worked in theory but putting that into practice proved difficult.
In addition to the decision debacle, I had a visit to the doctor and some tests which are indicating the presence of gallstones. I haven't had much of an appetite for the past few weeks because of the pain and nausea but I'm starting to get over the worst of it now. I have had to be careful with my food choices though and have reduced my caffeine intake.
Now, back to the present. I enjoyed a day off yesterday for Waitangi Day. I wanted to go to the local Kai (food) Festival yesterday but was afraid that it would be a predominantly Maori presence and that I might not be welcomed there. I later discovered that I would have most definitely been welcomed so I regret that I didn't go. Will have to wait until next year.
The last few weeks have been fantastically warm and sunny with highs of 27 and 28 degrees celcius. This has meant lots of trips to the beach and lots of coffees near the water. I have been back to Jellyfish in Mapua again, this time just for coffee and I got the most wonderful surprise when my cappucino arrived at the table...
I have also enjoyed brunch and the wonderful views at the Boat Shed Cafe. I really am quite spoiled and love having some really cool places pretty much on the doorstep.
I had recently enjoyed a lentil dahl at a local vegetarian recipe here in Nelson called East Street. The restaurant itself is a little gem of a place but I might talk about that in a later blog. I was quite taken with the flavours and had never had that dish before so decided to give it a go at home. I worked from a Jamie Oliver recipe (http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/lentils-and-basic-tarka-dhal-recipe/#P5rpOYP0MKhluzuk.97). Rather than serve my dahl with poppadoms as I had at East Street, I decided to make some flat breads which were delicious. These easy flatbreads are very versatile and I have also made them with lamb meatballs and tzatziki.
The recipe for these lovely flatbreads is below (2-4 people).
200g self raising flour
200g plain natural yoghurt
pinch of baking powder
handful chopped fresh corriander
salt and pepper to season
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and yoghurt in a large bowl.
2. Season with salt and pepper and add the corriander.
3. Mix together until you get a soft dough.
4. Make balls out of the dough about the size of a tennis ball and flatten between the palms of your hands. I pull the edges a bit too to get almost an oval shape.
5. Heat a griddle pan on the stove pop and, once hot, grill the breads on both sides until the dough is
cooked through. They will puff up a bit too.
The temperatures have dropped back a little over the past week (20-22c) which has paved the way for some comfort food instead of the bbq meat and salads I have been enjoying of late.I made a ham, pea and lemon risotto on Thursday. The lemon reminded me that it was actually still summer whilst the warm, creamy risotto made me feel like I was snuggled up under a blanket. It's funny how just a mouthful of good food has the ability to transport you somewhere like that as though you have just stepped into a Tardis.
Speaking of being transported places, I have just booked flights home for my brother's wedding in April and, not to take away from the wedding too much, a week in the Gold Coast on the way back to NZ. I will be in Australia for my 30th birthday which is very exciting and I hope to enjoy some of the food markets there and find some more blog inspiration. That's a bit of a way off yet though.
The other recipe I want to share with you in this blog is a recipe that was tried and tested in our house this week - Banoffee blondies. This is based on a Rachel Allen recipe and I must say that I am not always convinced by Rachel's recipes. There are a few things I have tried that haven't worked out too well despite my endeavours to strictly follow the instructions. This one has been testsed and works and, although there is a bit of work involved, they are really worth the love and attention.
Ingredients: (makes 16 squares)
225g white chocolate drops
170g soft brown sugar
1 beaten egg
2 very ripe bananas mashed
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
and for the almond praline:
100g caster sugar
100g whole almonds
1. Make the almond praline by putting the caster sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan and scatter the
almonds over the top. Cook on a medium heat until you get a golden caramel. Don't stir the
mixture! Once the caramel has formed, tip the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking
paper/parchment and allow it to cool and set. Once, this has set, pulse in a food mixer until it looks
like coarse breadcrumbs. This may seem like a pointless exercise but it is worth it for the end
product - trust me!
2. Preheat oven to 180c and grease and line a brownie pan or baking tray.
3. Place the butter and white chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate has melted.
4. Add the butter mixture to a large bowl and add in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bananas beating as
5. Stir in the almond praline, sift in the remaining ingredients and fold to combine.
6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and it has a
springy texture (just set). Allow to cool.
7. Once cool, you can cut into squares for serving.
I got a voucher for an antipasto platter at the Playhouse Cafe so we are booked in for lunch tomorrow, Will let you know how that one goes.
In the meantime, I've just been informed that its fish tacos for dinner tonight so I'm headed to the grocers and supermarket to get some ingredients.
Until next time (as Ellen would say) be good to one another.