Wednesday, January 26

Bon Anniversaire Peter Peril!

Mr R has high-tailed it to Berlin for a week. But not before a huge feast was given in honour of our dear friend Peter Peril's* anniversaire. If I’m honest Dear Reader, we were quite unaware of Peter’s special status prior to the poor bloke turning up with his own champagne and cigars. Facebook soon confirmed that he had it right, it was his birthday! And so the celebrations began…

I Forgot To Take Photos But This Captures The General Vibe
The theme was ‘modern barbecue’ and commenced with a yoghurt and chickpea dip accompanied by grissini. It was supposed to be a cannellini bean and artichoke dip but in my haste I picked up the wrong tin at the supermarket and for once instead of flinging the impostor ingredient across the kitchen and sobbing until Mr R offered to go and find a replacement, I made do and mended. A bit of lemon juice, some cumin and fresh coriander soon perked it up and no-one was any the wiser.

The main course consisted of several salads including a cos lettuce, cucumber and feta number and an heirloom tomato and basil mix. The unexpected victor though was a cheeky little beetroot salsa which I prepared by roasting some fresh beetroot then mixing it with mint, coriander, grated red onion and olive oil. Just before serving I added a couple of capfuls of precious rosewater. Sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it did. It did! The carnivores amongst us ate fancy red wine sausages, the herbivores vegetarian sausage delights, and the hypocrites chomped on ocean trout fillets that I had marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, capers and dill. There were chunks of award-winning sour dough with which to mop up the juices and an array of pickles and sauces with which to disguise the taste of anything one didn’t fancy.

The triumph though, the piece de resistance was dessert. Chocolate meringues straight from Annabel Langein’s book Eat Fresh are indeed quite delicious, (and that’s coming from someone who pretends not to like puddings). Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America, with its earliest documented use around 1100 BC. The presence of theobromine renders chocolate toxic to some animals, especially dogs and cats. Not to these cool cats though, one guest had three (3) helpings!

Chocolate Cats On Sticks
To whip them up I preheated the oven to 160 and lined two baking trays with paper. Then using an electric mixer I beat six egg whites to soft peaks before slowly adding one and a quarter cups of caster sugar. I continued mixing for another ten minutes (until thick and glossy) and then whisked in two teaspoons of cornflour and one teaspoon of white vinegar. Into this I folded 130 grams of melted and cooled dark chocolate (I used the 85% cocoa version) and carefully swirled it through for a marbled effect. Then it was simply a matter of dolloping the mixture onto the trays in even amounts and tidying up any particularly unruly mounds. Into the oven they went for three minutes before it was turned down to 120. They cooked for one hour before I turned the oven off leaving the meringues in there to cool completely, after which time they can be stored in an airtight container for several days. I served them with whipped cream and mixed berries. I think. It was almost midnight by then.

The Closest Resemblence To My Meringues The Interweb Can Come Up With

Back in the day my Dad loved Berlin.  And Mr R is in Berlin.  See they do have something in common!
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent

Tuesday, January 18

Slice Slice Baby

Too busy gardening to cook. Who would have thought! And who would have thought it such a dangerous pastime. Yesterday one was rather absentmindedly rooting about amongst the courgettes, hummin’ a happy tune, when a squadron of apple-wielding cockatoos descended and attempted to fruit bomb me from on high! Luckily no one was hurt but from now on I shall have to add a bicycle helmet to my already quite unwieldy snake-proof suit.

Speaking of being busy, and of courgettes, or zucchini as they are called in this neck of the woods, in times of acute activity the Robertson boys are always treated to several nights in a row of the old Kiwi Favourite, Zucchini Slice. Or Cheese and Egg Slice as I have renamed it (on account of the fact they both claim to loathe zucchini).

Zucchinis in Space

The zucchini or courgette is a popularly cultivated summer squash which often grows to nearly a metre in length, but which are usually harvested at half that size or less. In a culinary context, zucchini is treated as a vegetable, which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. (A fact I was previously unaware of. And that’s coming from someone who came second in a recent game of Trivial Pursuit!)

Having long since lost the recipe, and unable to remove all the soil from under my nails I set about grating two rather generously sized zucchini. I always do this over a clean teatowel so that one can wring out the excessive juice. Then I grated a large carrot, half a huge kumara and a big cup of tasty cheese. Also into the bowl I added a chopped red pepper and a finely chopped red onion. (Usually I pop in some sliced vegie bacon but on this occasion I was fresh out.)  Next I mixed through a cup of self-raising flour to which I added six beaten eggs, quarter of a cup of vegetable oil and some salt and pepper. Combine well, then it’s straight into a greased dish and into the oven for about 30 – 35 minutes (or until set and Golden-Of-Top). Very tasty both hot and cold, (great for picnics!) accompanied by a dollop of spicy homemade relish and lashings of ginger beer. Or every night until they’ve bloody well finished it accompanied by tinned beetroot and lashings of Heinz Big Red.

The tune I was happily hummin' (because it's how we live now). 

Friday, January 14

Get Ready For This!

Mr R announced last night that he "felt more warmth" toward me when I was a-blogging and revelling in the glory that only 31 followers can bring. So for the sake of getting some and because we are back from our adventures abroad and sort of settled in to country life, I shall resume. Pretty, pretty soon.

I have been toying with the idea of jazzing things up a bit but have decided to leave the watermelons firmly in place and continue with the crap photography and choice tunes. What may change though is that Mrs R will henceforth present other titbits from country life. Adventures at the CWA, fungal infections in poultry, battling blue-fly on my beans, that sort of thing. But mostly it will still be me cooking vegetables and pretending that I do it like that all the time…