When Things Go Wrong

Accidentally made your dish too salty? too spicy? You haven’t burnt it have you?

Today as I was salting my Red Wine and Garlic Lentil soup the lid came off the salt container and way too much salt poured in.

How do you reduce the saltiness?

  • Add Milk?
  • Add Potato?

I only had vague ideas but I knew the internet would save me. I found a wonderful article by Peter Martin called When Things Go Wrong: A Guide to Fixing Kitchen Disasters. Bookmark it and remove the guesswork from fixing cooking disasters.

I love the internet.

The Living Room, Auckland.

The other night we went to Living Room on Ponsonby Road for dinner and it was really very nice. Kim’s salmon fillet served on bruschetta was interestingly flavoured with wood smoke. While the components of the dish didn’t integrate that well, working more as a piece of grilled salmon with a bruschetta chaser, it was still generally delicious. I ordered the seafood chowder which was generously laden with mussels, whitefish, squid and cockles.

Both of these dishes were from the cheaper ‘light meals’ menu but were more than sufficient to ensure that eating the sides we ordered was more of an indulgence than a necessity. I hate to think how large the mains were.

~Thomas

The Joy of Travel: Treasure 2 – Orchards.

I love going into the road side fruit and veggie places. I remember the first time I had an apricot from an orchard, it was so warm, fresh and tasty. Prior to that experience I actually thought I didn’t like apricots.

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The other bonus in going to orchards is that there is often something different to try. On our visit to the Opoutere Valley Orchard we found an excellent Lime Honey homemade by Elizabeth.

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It’s a little more zingy than a traditional lemon honey, it certainly makes my taste buds wake up and take notice. Glorious.

$4.50 per jar, warning a jar doesn’t last very long ;-)

Experimental Baking

Edit: It turned out well, although not well enough to bother with again when there are so many wonderful cake recipes out there. What was really nice was the ginger and lemon icing!

Thomas and I are now living in Auckland. We have a new kitchen which is small but well set up.

I’m not sure why I decided to experiment with the first cake I’ve made in the new oven, especially as it’s Thomas’s birthday cake.

Here’s what I’ve done:

I took the standard banana cake recipe, removed bananas and added mashed canned pears, ginger, mixed spice and golden syrup. Well, there is a chance it will work right? : – )

Failure or success, place your bets ladies and gentlemen. I’ll report back later either way.

The good news is that I’m home all day today so I can make a back up cake as well.

The Joy of Travel: Treasure 1 – The Chilli Patch.

One of the things I really like about travel is trying new food, taking the best that a cuisine has to offer and integrating it into my own cooking repertoire. While travelling overseas it’s easy to find and try new foods, new and different is everywhere.

While travelling in NZ it’s a little harder, the familiar is everywhere but I have found a few little treasures. The first I want to share is Green Jalapeno Chilli Sauce from the Chilli Patch/Penray Gardens (South of Otaki on State Highway One).

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This is a medium intensity chilli with a sharp bite with a delicious and complex flavour. At the moment I’m a bit obsessed with it and I’m trying it with everything (well, everything savoury at least!). My recommendation: Try it on the side with a frittata, the sharpness really livens it up.

The best thing about finding food in your own country is that it’s easier to go back and get more. Next time I’m buying at least four bottles (they’re only $4.50 each). Nice.

Wednesday Night Dinner Report.

Ok, I admit the menu was a slight repeat on a previous occasion, but the company was new! Thanks to Wendy and Jonathan for joining us for what will be the last of the Wellington Wednesday dinners. (Depending on how things work out we might be starting an Auckland chapter soon).

Guests: Wendy, Jonathan, indoor Yeti and outdoor Igor

Appetiser: antipasto with feta, chilli olives and dolmathes

Main: broccoli pasta with super-size garlic bread

Dessert: peach … soggy crumble with cream

Words: armadillo, wasabi, tumescent

Training: advice on dogs

Peach crumble-gunge made a good warming breakfast after taking the dog for his morning walk in the painfully cold southerly. I miss my tuque.

Other dinner parties this week: The Amateur Gourment cooks and presents the Big Pot of Food and a Dessert Theory of Dinner Parties. We’d probably alter that to “Snacky Things, A Big Pot of Food and a Dessert”.

Thomas.

Pick of Places to Eat – Wellington, NZ

I’m in Wellington one more week before my contract expires and then I’m off to contract in Auckland. So, as a farewell to Wellington here is a list of my top places to eat.

Best Brunch

Finc, 122 Wakefield Street, Central Wellington.
My pick: ciabatta, scrambled eggs and herbed potato cakes for $11.

Best Mezes

Moyses Taverna, 382 Broadway, Miramar, Wellington, Ph: 04-380 7005

My picks: halloumi, moussaka, baklava.

Best Pizza

Mediterranean Food Warehouse, 42 Constable Street, Newtown, Wellington.

My picks: vegetarian mediterranean pizza, vegetarian mediterranean calzone.

Best Malaysian

KK, 54 Ghuznee Street, Wellington Central, 04 385 6698

My pick: Seafood Mee Goreng for $9.

Best Fine Dining

Boulcott Street Bistro, 99 Boulcott Street, Wellington Central, 04 499 4199

My pick: Anything, trust the chef.

Best Hang Out Cafe

Fidels, 234 Cuba Street, Wellington Central.

My pick: Pizza and two beers for $20 (between 5pm-7pm).

Best Fast Food Burgers

Burger Fuel, 101 Courtenay Place Under Saatchi & Saatchi, Wellington, 04 801 9222

My pick: beetnik for $7.50

Best Fish n Chips

Wellington Trawlers, 220 Cuba Street.

My pick: Fish and Chips!

I’m in Wellington for one more week, Lots of eating out can happen in a week so if you have any must eats in Wellington please let me know and I’ll try my best!

Also, tips on good places to eat in Auckland very welcome.

Sesame Seed Drink/Breakfast

Ying, a lovely woman that I work with (from China) often drinks a dark liquid drink in the mornings at work. We played a guessing game as to what it was. I suggested Mushroom soup.

Bzzzzt. Wrong.

It was a traditional Chinese breakfast drink made up of black sesame, black rice, walnut and sugar.

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She brought a packet into work for me. I tried it as instructed (stirred in boiling water) it was nice although slightly too sweet for me. Being from the land of dairy I tried it again the next day for breakfast with milk instead. I also used only half the amount of recommended sesame seed paste. It was really sweet, rich and satisfying, the kind of drink I’d love to have on a cold night just before bed.

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It’s marketed as a health drink although I’m not convinced as sugar is the largest ingredient. On the plus side one serving contains 16% of your recommended daily intake of iron.

During the discussion at work about breakfast cereals we found out that Ying had never tried Weet Bix. I left this on her desk (with instructions!).

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The next day I found her dipping them into her milo : – )

The Silver Spoon – Spaghetti with Broccoli

The Silver Spoon provided us with this treasure.

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We cooked Spaghetti with Broccoli as the main for our weekly dinner party and it was so, so, good!

Spaghetti with Broccoli

  • 500g of broccoli
  • 3 tables spoons of olive oil
  • 25g of margerine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashews soaked for half an hour then blended
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 25g vegan parmesan(optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • Parboil the broccoli in salted water for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the oil and butter in frying pan.
  • Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Drain the broccoli, add to the skillet and mix well
  • Stir in the cashew cream and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process to a puree.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted, boiling water until al dente, then drain, toss with broccoli mixture.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan if using and serve.

Mango Salsa

I tend to avoid fruit with savoury foods. When people put sultanas in salads I consider them ruined.

Marie from Traits sent me a recipe for Pumpkin and Ginger Felafels (recipe soon) which is served with a mango salsa. She assured me that she too generally avoids fruit in savoury food but that the mango salsa works “oh so very well”.

Keen but still a little doubtful I made the salsa as a dipping sauce to serve with samosas.

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My conclusion:

It works so very well. Yum. Thanks Marie!


Ingredients

  • 425 gm can mangoes. Drained and chopped
  • 2 spring onions (white and green) cut finely
  • 2 red chillies de-seeded and sliced finely

Combine ingredients. Done.