Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Edition - Fruity Refreshment

Summer holiday edition today folks. I am currently surrounded by mango tree's in backyards and people that say 'heap's good' in their sentences like its normal spending my summer holidays with an old pal in the Sunshine coast of Aus. I've been buzzing about in my body seeing tree's with avocado's and paddocks with giant watermelons wallowing on the surface. Witnessing natures finest and sweetest joys so cheap and only a few steps away is making me pretty excited.

So today I have been steadily evaporating so felt the need to combine rehydration with fun. Newly known as "Fundration". When thinking of what to fundrate with I remembered sitting in the fridge was a giant Watermelon the size of 3 of my heads, 2 when my hairs boof in the morning. Along with the watermelon there were some juicy yellow peaches nestling on the bench. Add some fresh passion fruit and whiz together with ice in a blender . . . and there you have it.

Peach, Passionfruit and Watermelon Fundrator

Serves 1

1 C - of 2 or more fresh fruits (atleast one super juicy type, or you canjust add some other juice)
1/2 C - Ice

Blend together till smooth.

This can be substituted with whatever you have and where ever you are located. Pal's in south island NZ try raspberries, stone fruits, melons or orange with a dash of mint.

Where ever you've been this christmas I hope you had a fun time with close friends or family and truley stretched your tummie's. Thanks always for reading and stay safe. Will be updating with more on my return on the 8th. I'm sure the tomata's will be ready for a reveal by then if the flatties have remembered the watering.

Thanks always
Keep enjoying the Creator's sweet fruity treat's

Al xx

Sunday, December 23, 2012

4 Week Cake Challenge

After a few seconds of thought and a bank account showing $0.61. I realized the main predator in my weekly budget has been the not so humble anymore cake ingredients. Dutch cocoa. Marscapone Cream. Raspberries. Blueberries. Nectarines. Creme Fraiche. Hazelnut Flour. blah blah. But the amount of fun and satisfaction that these greedy little taste tantilizers have given me was most certainly worth it.
In an attempt to master the flavour, texture and appearance of this super awesome baked good I created a challenge to make a cake a week. I have not been short of weekly events to justify my obsession with these round lumps of deliciousness.

- Engagement's
- Sorrowful departures
- Birthdays
- Family fun

The theme was to embrace the summer seasons fruity goodies and create flavour combo's that no one except a diabetic could resist. Topped with fresh fruit, flavoured creams and fresh Hoon Hay flowers my cake pride inevitably grew. The journey will be long but cant wait for the next seasons inspiration and new ingredients.
I will be retiring as an amatuer caker over the summer in the hopes of still fitting into my togs but will keep you posted on any new revelations.

Nectarine and Blueberry layer cake with vanilla spiced marscapone

Bittersweet chocolate and hazelnut cake, gluten free

Honey roasted rhubarb cake with raspberry creme fraiche

Lemon Sourcream layer cake with lavender cream and blueberries

If you live in Christchurch and are ever interested in a cake for a special occasion I would be super stoked to help you and whip something up.

Have a happy and safe christmas with plenty of yum summer treats and laughs with family

Love Al x

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spring Sunshine in My Cup

So it's officially the beginning of Summer here in Christchurch and my Melanin cells are kickin into gear.

Elderflower is the my first thought when I think of Springs seasonal window. But to my despair in all my kitchen mayhem lately the elderflower cordial slipped off the production line. Yesterday I found my true appreciation for slow bloomers when I came across a newly opened elderflower bush. Swerving to the side of the road I clambered out of my car (currently my car door doesn't open and I have no front window) to retrieve some of the creamy white flowers. With a colour like my red haired sister's skin and a scent as wild as the Alps what better way to enjoy them than in a soda/elderflower twist.

Elderflower Cordial

Makes 1 large jar full

Ingredients -
About 25 elderflower heads
Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 2 orange, plus their juice
700g sugar
1 heaped tsp citric acid (optional)

You want to choose newly opened elder heads, with a pleasant scent. Warm early mornings are the best time for picking.

Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl .
Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil together with the orange and lemon zest and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a piece of muslin or fine sieve and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using).

Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a
5-10 minutes or until golden and like a fine syrup.

Pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles
with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks and store in the fridge once opened

Enjoy with soda water, mint and lemon or whatever your favourite mix is. Freeze if you want to keep for those sweltering summer afternoons

Happy brewing xx

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chai Spiced Cake With Honey Ginger Cream

Today I met Annabel Langbein. Well, she didn't really meet me, but I think you could say I met her. From behind the counter. We talked, I dithered as to whether or not I should run to the Addington Store while she was in my midst and get a signed copy of her new book 'Simple Pleasures' but in all my hesitation I chickened out. Maybe we will meet again and I'll be more on my game.
Despite this I have a recipe for you. A tried and tested, Babe'n Cake.
Its subtle and not too sweet unlike its Latte-version sibling. And the ginger honey cream is a dream. Next birthday cake you will have a winner.

Chai Spiced Cake With Honey Ginger Cream

Chai Spiced Cake
1 1/3 c (315 ml) milk
6 Tbsp loose black tea
15 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2" of ginger, peeled and grated

1 large star anise pod
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 c (390 g) flour
3/4 c sugar

1 c brown sugar
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (237 g) butter, room temp

250g firm cream cheese
100g softened butter
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger or as much as desired
grated rind of half and orange

Preheat oven to 180'C
Grease a cake tin 22cm or similar

Place the milk, tea, cardamom, star anise and ginger in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and let bubble for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let it cool and infuse for 5-10 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl pressing the grounds with a rubber spatula to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and 1/3 cup of the chai milk. 

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Combine well then add the butter and remaining chai milk. Beat on low speed to blend, then raise speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture slowly and keep scraping the edges.

Pour into cake tin and cook for around 40 mins or until the skewer comes out of the centre cleanly.

Honey ginger cream

With an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese and butter until soft. Then add remaining ingredients, beating continually and adding the icing sugar bit by bit until you have the desired texture.

Once the cake has cooled you can serve with cream on top, or cut in half and use the honey ginger cream on the inside and top. Use a hot wet knife to spread the cream to avoid the crumbs getting mixed in.

Top with freshly peeled pear or apple and dust with a little icing sugar.


enjoy xx

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wood fire BBQ

It seems that whenever the temperature in Chch hits the 20's the smoky smell of charcoal, sausages and onions dispurse their way down the streets. So on this rare and beautiful occasion the Muirson Manor decided to join in on the festivities. Only thing missing was the BBQ. Hence . . . this

Assemble the bricks under and around the tray, then build a teepee style fire inside the tray and get it roaring. Place the coals in there at this point or if you just sticking with wood get some biggones in there and let them burn down.
If you have a rosemary plant or bay tree place a few sprigs on top of the fire before placing the oven tray on there. The smokingly delicious possibilities are endless, mushrooms/kebabs/steak/lamb

Along with the mouth watering bbq'ed morsels was a colourful display of springs goodness. Pea and mint salad, northern african couscous and fresh mesclun salad with my signature dressing. I am thinking I will call it 'Midge's Mean Vinegrette' (midge being my nickname). Its fresh, spicy and light.
Recipe's to follow
Now before you start hating on the pea's. I've never been a fan, infact I've been more anti pea than anything, but when I saw the very few materials on hand for the nights salad's. I decided that on this occasion, Pea's would be yum. not at all mushy or flavourless.

Minted Pea Salad

serves 6
1/2 bag of frozen pea's
1 handle of fresh mint
2 cloves of garlic finely grated
3 Tbsp of olive oil
Blanch the pea's and then toss remaining ingredients through. Refrigerate for a couple hours until needed. Crisp, tasty and simple

1.Bring water to a boil.
2. Add frozen peas and allow to boil for about 1 minute.
3. Drain peas and immediately immerse them in a bowl of ice water.
4. Allow peas to completely cool.

Midge's Mean Vinegrette

1 Part balsamic vinegar (white or black)
3 Parts Olive oil
1 Part Lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove finely grated (max 2-3)
small handful of herbs from the garden if available. Mint/Coriander/Basil are awesome.

Combine all and shake well. Best served on.... Your favorite salad combo or just Mesclun mix.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you are having a blast. Enjoying creation, the best food on hand and the beautiful company you are blessed to have
Love Al x

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baked Lemon cheesecake

It Happened. Today Don gave me some lemons ! It all started at 9am with the discovery of 3 eggs in the nest. We already had plenty so I thought a neighbourly produce trade was due. With my tray of eggs and oversized gumboots I meandered over to Dons in the rain with my eyes set on the abundant tree. After 10 mins of catching up and discussing the best way to get the juice out of a 'not quite ripe to Don' lemon, he pottered out the back and skeptically plucked some off the tree. And there they were. 1/2 a dozen forbidden fruit in my clammy with excitement hands. I shuffled home, as fast as my size 11 gumboots would take me to create this . . .

Baked Lemon Cheesecake 

Serves 12

500g Digestive biscuits
150g butter melted

500g Cream cheese (hard block's of philadelphia if possible)
250g Sourcream
3/4 cup of caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Rind and juice of 3 lemons
Preheat oven to 180'C and place a  tray of water on the lower level of oven
In a food processor whizz up the digestive biscuits till they are even ground then add the melted butter and pulse till combined. Pour into an 18inch cake tin with the bottom lined with baking paper. Press so it evenly covers the bottom and comes 4-5 cm up the side. Pack firmly then place in the freezer while you make the filling.
Using an electric beater combine 1 packet of cream cheese and sour cream, beat until smooth then add remaining cream cheese and sugar. Then adding one egg at a time beat until smooth, don't overmix though. Fold through the vanilla essence and lemon juice and rind.
Pour into the chilled base and cook for around 40mins. It should be set when shaken but the centre slightly wobbly. At this point turn the oven off and leave in there for 1 hour. the centre should then be set. Cheesecakes dont like to go from hot to cold fast so make the cooling as gradual as possible. 
Once it's room temperature refridgerate for several hours then lightly dust with icing sugar,slice and serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt.

Breakfast Fantastic

So turns out those free rangers are sly ones. Just when we thought the ladies were getting a bit slack on the lay, a nest of 7 eggs appears. and the next day 5. Fantastic I thought. Well actually I was slightly overwhelmed. I looked like my 7 year old self after finding my chocolate easter egg stash after 40 minutes in the garden.


Not only do we have some up-and-coming consistent layers in the Muirson midst but the the seedlings are looking. fantastic. After a few corrections from 'Tamata' over the fence and redoing all the premature leeks our vege patch is finally looking vege patch-ish. We have Potatoes, Cauli's,rocket and lettuces, red onions, rhubarb, strawberries, pumpkins, beans, corn, carrots and some remaining prem leeks that I couldn't find the energy to pull out.

The tamata's are looking nice and stalky now. 

Abundance of wild straberries

All this work in the garden must make you pretty hungry your probably asking. Yes, but dont worry I have two more than averagely delicious breakfast or anytime of the day (if you like breakfast anytime of the day) recipes to keep your blood sugars up.

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf
1 ½ cup plain flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup caster sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 mashed bananas

Preheat the oven to 160'C
Combine flour, baking powder, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, oil and mashed banana.
Mix to combine. Pour into a lined 20cm x 10cm x 10cm loaf tin.Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Enjoy toasted and generously spread with butter or fresh.

This next recipe is the Muirson Flat's staple. Breakfast lunch and tea. It is made up of whatever treaties have made their way from Lincoln Rd's 'Bin Inn' to our pantry. Super cheap and healthy and taste's, fantastic.

Muirson Muesli

Make's one large container full (is that even helpful?)
400g Wholegrain Oats
500g Porridge oats
1 cup of Wheat germ
1/2 cup of mixed seeds/nuts, I recommend sesame, sunflower, linseed,sliced almonds, cashews or whatevers going cheap at your local.
1/2 cup of bran or bran flakes or you can go without the bran
1 cup of threaded or flaked coconut
1/2 cup of dried fruit I recommend dried pears. the bomb.  or dried cranberries

1 cup of vegetable oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp of cinnamon (or your favourite spice)

Preheat the oven to 130'C
Combine all the dry ingredients except the coconut, bran and fruit and mix well in a metal tray or tin. In a small saucepan add all the wet ingredients and stir over medium heat until well combined.
Stir the honey/oil through the oats thoroughly then pop in the oven for around 1.5 hours (give or take 15mins)

I stir the muesli every 30 mins or so to give an even toasting but if your using a shallow tray cook for less time and stir every 20 mins.

Once the muesli looks golden brown and is crisp remove from heat and add the coconut, bran and fruit. Let it cool then store in an airtight container.

Serve with greek yoghurt and your favourite seasonal fruit

Best thing about this recipe is you can chop and change anything. From adding leftover apple crumble or depending on dietery requirements adding nuts/fruits with added vitamins/nutrients specific to your needs.Yay.

Happy breakfast eating readers. Love to you all

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fudging Delicious Fudge

Theres only one or 2 things I like more than chocolate. Fudge and fruit.It's is one of those things where no matter how sick you feel, you could always go for another piece. So on a recent fudge friendly day (raining) my flat mate and I deceided to pop out 2 of the best fudges you'll ever taste inspired from the 2 baking heart-throbs, Nigella and Jo Seagar. And I know that God wanted me to make it kos Lindt was on special at 2 for $5.00.

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Fudge or with sea salt or whatever you like really

 makes 64 pieces

350 g of dark chocolate (I used 85% but the whittakers dark ghana would work well too)

1x 400g can of sweetened condensed milk

30g Butter

pinch of salt

either a handful of chopped and roasted, flakey sea salt or your choosen treat.

Place chopped chocolate, condensed milk, chopped butter and a pinch of salt in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted.
Add the chopped nuts and combine
Pour into a foil or baking paper lined fudge tray. Refrigerate until set, slice into small pieces and eat until your tummies content. If your wanting to use the flakey sea salt (defs recommend) then sprinkle over just before serving.

Next, A love handle classic.
Russian Fudge

makes 60 pieces

2x 400g cans of sweetened condensed milk
2 Cups of firmly packed brown sugar
250g Butter
100ml glucose syrup (you can find in supermarket or just use a little extra golden syrup)
3 Tablespoons of golden syrup
400g white chocolate chopped
1 tsp vanilla essence

Line a 20cmx30cm tray atleast 4 cm deep

Place all the ingredients except the chocolate and vanilla in a heavy based saucepan and stir over low heat until the butters melted and sugar is dissolved. Then bring to the boil, and boil gently until the mixture becomes thick and a dark caramel shade. Approx 6 mins. I use a silicon spatula to stir and constantly stir to prevent any catching on the bottom. When the fudge has reached the dark caramel colour, remove from heat and wait for bubbles to subside. Then add the chocolate and vanilla and stir till all combined. Pour into the fudge tray and let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
slice into bite size pieces and enjoy.

I take full responsibility in ruining any recent goals of achieving the 2012 summer bod.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Springs in Swing

Springs in full swing people ! the eggs are layin' and the seeds are sproutin' almost as fast as a greek adolescents chest. It seems the sporatic 20 degree spring days have taken their effect on the seeds. The lettuces are ready for planting and the rest of the seedlings are looking pretty darn dandy. It is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while, watching a plant take form from what was a tiny seed a weeks ago. A simple yet mindblowing appreciation has occured in my brain.

Not only are the seedlings looking spunky but our friendly neighbour Don, nicknamed 'tamata' gave us 15 tomato plants. These beaut's were planted in the glass house today now that the risk of any hard frosts are gone. His gardening expertise, loyal kiwi accent and willingness to help us out is awesome. After our cup of Tea he showed us round his vege turf. His perfect edges and straighly sown lines were something. but his lemon tree was something else. My casual hints of a few lemons being tossed our way for Si's mexican night seemed to go amiss with him. With only Don and Marcy to pluck off the tree there'd surely enough citric acid on those branches to break through Gringotts vault. Never have I seen such a babin' lemon tree. Despite the absence of lemons in our kitchen Don kindly gave us a bunch of his rainbow beet. Looks like silverbeet coloured in with highlighters. mega cool.
Not sure what recipe these will feature in but I will be sure to keep you updated.

Sorry for my recent absence, but the springtime flu has caught me so feeding the chickens has been my most exciting contact with the backyard world, but hold tight because there will be more recipes to come.

glorious 'tamata's' looking junglesk

The boys chicken fence construction. latch and all.

don in his element

Rainbow beet's

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New York Bagels

Bagels are definately a favourite treat of mine but they are so darn expensive. When I eat them I feel empowered as if I'm in New York walking fast.  
so many toppings.
so many combo's.
a decidophobic's worst breakfast.
So to make bagels more accessible to the everyday non Brooklyn'r I have discovered a recipe that takes not too much time and not too much prep. And barely even touches the wallet.

2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ½ cups of warm water
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour (will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt


1 egg
poppy,pumpkin or sesame seeds for topping

In ½ cup of the warm water, add the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes.
Then add the remaining cup of water and stir to dissolve

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture.
Mix into a moist and firm dough.

On a floured countertop knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Continually working in more flour.

Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough  in it to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel or gladrap. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes
Dvide the dough into 8 pieces, and gently form into balls. (try not to push the air out)

Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Allow to rest for 10 mins while you preheat oven to 220'C

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Lower the bagels into the water (as many that will fit) and allow 1 min on each side, or longer if you like them chewier.

Place them back on the tray to give them an egg wash and cover with toppings, Or plain flour is fine.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown

Toast and generously coat in cream cheese and your favourite topping. Good.

Alice x