Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hot Smoked Salmon Quiche

For a 20 cm Quiche, you'll need:
1 cup Chopped Broccoli Florets
2 cups Chopped Spinach
1/2 Onion, Chopped (or Chopped Leek - only white part, about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon Butter
200 grams Hot Smoked Salmon, broken into chunks, skin removed
1/2 cup Grated Cheddar
1/2 cup Cream
3 large Eggs (or 4 if small)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoon of finely chopped spring onion and coriander
A few scratches of lime zest

1 and 1/4 sheets of frozen Short Pastry

Pre heat the oven to 210 degrees C

Grease a flan tin (I use 20 cm Spring Form) and line with thawed pastry, work gently to the side. Trim the excess and patch up the side to about 3-4 cm high. Prick the pastry with fork several times and put the whole pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Cover base with baking paper and weight down with pie weight of clean garden pebbles and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the weight and paper and brush the base with beaten egg and bake for 4 or 5 minutes further until lightly golden brown. Set aside and reduce the oven to 180 degrees C.

On medium high heat, fry onion with butter until soft. add chopped vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes to get red of excess water. Season with salt and pepper - do't be too heavy handed - salmon is star of the show and smoked salmon normally comes seasoned. Line the case with vegetables and hot smoked salmon pieces. In a jug, beat the eggs, add cream and cheddar. Pour the mixture into the case. Sprinkle the quiche with lime zest, chopped coriander and spring onion and a few rounds of freshly milled black pepper. Bake for 40 minutes.

When the quiche is cooked, rest to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to the plate. Serve warm or cold with Tomato Salsa.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reflection of My Life: Living with Kitten

The first day we brought Hobie home, life has not been the same for our dog, Bonnie. True, she has been living with cats for most of her life, but they were older cats that did not want anything to do with her. Bonnie tried to make friend with Pipi but she was not interested. Spike was even worse- he's almost a recluse.

But, Hobie - man, is a totally different story. She's a live wire kitten and she definitely is interested in Bonnie. She adores Bonnie and often follows her around. The dog was not quite sure how to handle this little meow to start with.

However, one morning while they were basking in the sun in the living room, Hobie went a step too far and played with Bonnie's tail with a bit of claws and the dog snapped and growled. Hobie seemed to get the message, she stopped but didn't run away. Since then, Bonnie has been much happier and still is - she can tell Hobie off from time to time and their relationship improves (or at least on Bonnie's side).
We also indulged Bonnie more than we should have with guilt treats here and there the first few weeks we've got Hobie and when we took her to the vet we were told that Bonnie was a little bit too chubby. So we are putting her on diet again. As the dog and the kitten get along quite well we do not have to worry. Bonnie has confidence in dealing with Hobie to the relief of the parents!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Salted Coconut Cream Caramel

This pudding sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 2 days. It is good on cake, oat porridge and baked bananas (I made the baked bananas with this sauce last Saturday as an easy pudding for friends, they polished their plates and didn't complain. Since they are foodies, I take the empty plate as a compliment, he,he..)

You'll need:
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Sugar
100 mil Coconut Cream (not Milk)
2 tablespoons Cream
A big pinch of salt

Place sugar, butter and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil without stirring. Swirl the saucepan from time to time and let the mixture change colour into golden brown (about 10-12 minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully add coconut  cream and cream. Keep stirring and return the saucepan to the heat - simmer gently for 5 more minutes until the sauce thickened. Remove from heat - serve warm with baked bananas (whole bananas baked in 180 degrees C oven for 15 minutes) and whipped cream and toast pine nuts.

This portion will make about a cup of sauce.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hobie's Diary: 17-18 Weeks

The first week that Hobie has been with us, she still ate all her food in one sitting. But after awhile she seems to realise that there are no other cats to nick her food so she starts grazing and each meal extends to a couple of hours. We initially fed her in the shower compartment and left the gap between the door just big enough for her to get in and out (and that Bonnie would not take the advantage of the situation). She used to put one paw on her bowl as if to protect it but not any more.

I tried to change her food from Whiskas to Excellence and did it gradually but the regime did not seem to agree with her - she had upset tummy, she vomited and was off food for a couple of days. I almost cried and was much worried as having no experience in raising kitten - and she was only a tiny meow! And there is so much information on the Internet about food and kittens and sickness. Bob said moving house and changing food at the same time might be a bit too much for her and we should keep her on Whiskas (that she used to be fed at her foster home) until she's a bit older to give her some time to settle in.

We bought her a small cat tree to start with and kept her in the bathroom downstairs with the door closed for a couple of days. On the third day we left the door opened from time to time but keep it closed at night for her own safety. By the end of the first week, the door would be closed only at night while she slept. We gave her Pipi's old bed with sheepskin lining and hot water bottle to keep her warm and the heated towel rail switched on at all time.

By the end of the second week Hobie started roaming freely in our house. We also bought her a bigger and taller cat tree as she has shown many characteristics of a tree cat. We put this in the living room and she has never gone back to the bathroom to sleep or take a nap since. Instead, she just comes upstairs on her own accord to sleep with us and Bonnie. She dines and lounges on her new cat tree, She still goes into the bathroom for the litter tray (thanks to Franklin Cat Rescue for toilet training her well). At this time, her litter tray has been upgraded to the normal size not a kitty size any more - she is getting longer and heavier. She also gets on well with Bonnie and has developed some sisterly bonding. She's a smart cat she figures it should be safe to be wherever Bonnie is so she often sticks close to Bonnie apart from when it's her meal time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Baked Chicken

The seasoning mix for this baked chicken dish is similar to Cajun seasoning mix with a little bit of Oriental twist - the idea that I steal from Alison Holst's.

For 2 you will need:
Cajun Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Salt (or Chicken Stock Powder)
2 tsps Paprika
¼ tsp Chilli powder (hot)
¼ tsp Dried Oregano
Pinch of sugar
Black pepper
1 tsp Curry Powder - you can cut down on Chilli Powder if you don't like it too spicy
2 tsps Flour

4 pieces of Chicken thighs, boneless with excess skin and fat trimmed
2 tbsps Butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C

Mix the dry ingredient into a shaker. Brush non-stick baking tray with a little bit of oil and line it with chicken skin-side down. Brush the chicken pieces with melted butter, shake the seasoning on to the chicken evenly. Turn the chicken and do the same on the skin side. Baked for 35-40 minutes, turning half way through.

Serve warm with roast vegetables - I shake the seasoning on my vegetables too. You can also make gravy from the chicken juice in the baking pan and add some more stock.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Samoa - Finale (For Now)

Now that the All Blacks have been in Samoa for the test match with Manu Samoa - it might be an inspiration for many people to visit this small island country. When we were there in May, Samoans were all excited about this match. Although they lost the game, I do not think they care much. They would be happy enough that the All Blacks were there. They might not win the battle but they'll win the hearts of many, many visitors.

One of the best charms of Samoa is its people. The first day that we explored Apia, we were neutral about the place. We could not help compare it to Denarau in Fiji but it is not a fair comparison. Denarua is manufactured and equipped with 4 star plus resorts and facilities. It is almost a gated tourist community, safe, plush, and convenient.

Although many things are not that neat and might be a bit broken here and there in Samoa: roads are not all paved, small garages run out of petrol or only the door on the passenger side on rental cars can be open, the whole place still cruises along with a smile. And Samoa has definitely grown on us. When we dined in Samoa, quite often there would be locals seated at several tables around us - no tension and most seemed to be happy. Locals are willing to help if you need help or get lost, sometimes with machete in their hands but it means they just stop working to come to see you to offer assistant.
Every village seems to have at least one church. Some are more opulent than others. These villages seem to give the villagers a sense of community and togetherness, a place where they belong and have activities together. Kids play volleyball and rugby in the same field most afternoons.They go to church together on Sundays in their best whites. They feast together in the communal hall. The guy at AquaSamoa  where we frequented and took the Hobie cat out a few times while staying at the Sheraton told us that Samoans are happy people and we couldn't agree more.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Samoan Style Chop Suey (Sapasui)

Another dish inspired by our trip to Samoa. This one has loads of Asian influence - so it's not foreign to me..he..he....

You will need:
2 small bunches of Bean Vermicelli (about 100 grams), soaked in warm water for a few hours and drained
250 grams chicken meat, cut into small strips
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
2 small bunches of spinach, chopped
1/4 head of Chinese cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Japanese Soy Sauce ( I used Kikkoman sauce)
2 teaspoons Kejap Manis
Oil for frying

Marinate chicken in oyster sauce and set a side. Add oil in a wok over medium high heat, fry onion and garlic until fragrant. Add chicken, stir well until cooked, add carrot and fry further for a minute. Add cabbage and spinach, turn quickly until wilted then add vermicelli. Season with soy sauce and Kejap Manis, stir well. Fry until soft and cooked through. I like my vermicelli well cooked so that it will not give me indigestion. Add a round of freshly milled white pepper and serve warm. Yum, yum.

Note: This portion is enough for 2 if you have more than 1 dish.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Samoa - Part 3

Favourite Places
There are still many places that we have yet to visit in Samoa. We still want to see Savai'i and explore the south eastern coast of Upolu. But for what we have visited and seen, the following are our favourites.
Apia: Apia Harbour look amazing from Beach Road on the wharf side. There are many places worth looking around Apia, one of them is Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, a few kilometres up the hill on Cross Island Road. They charge entry fee - but it's worth every cent; the guide was marvelous and explained well. We learned a lot about the man and his tie to Samoa. Some of the artifacts are original.
Cross Island Road (from Apia Southbound): If you take the Cross Island Road from Apia to the south coast, there are Baha'i Temple and the Church of Three Hearts along the way. The ground of Baha'i is very nice and well kept. The place itself is welcoming - peaceful and clean. The ocean view from Church of Three Hearts is breathtaking. Papapapaitai Waterfalls situate along the route to the south. The sight of water falling into the gorge is so awesome.

West Coast: The best place to see sunset is on the West Coast especially at LeVasa Resort. The setting of this resort is wonderful and the views are stunning. We were there on the evening they were about to have photo shoot for their website and they placed loads of candles in the sand and the whole place was enchanting.
South/ South Western Coast: The road along the coast is a bit challenging at some places but this route is quite scenic. We love Return to Paradise Beach - the sea is quite wild and awesome. The best place to enjoy the view is from the Cabana at Return to Paradise Resort with a glass of cocktail or two.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Broccoli Soup

This soup is perfect for dinner on the cold evening - it's more filling than you might have thought and do comforting.

For two, you'll need :

1 Whole head of broccoli, using the florets and some peeled stem
2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
200 grams Bacon, chopped
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 Cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 cups, Chicken Stock
Salt & peeper to taste
4 tablespoons Full Cream to garnish

Fry bacon pieces in a casserole over medium high heat, when they start to brown, lower the heat. Remove from heat when they are crispy. In the same casserole, increase the heat and fry onion and garlic in bacon fat until soft and fragrant - add potatoes and broccoli, add 3/4 of the bacon and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, cover with lid and lower the heat to simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are cooked. Remove the casserole from heat - let the content cool down and blitz. Return the soup to the casserole, season with salt and pepper and add more water if needed. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for a few minutes. Garnish with cream and crispy bacon and serve hot with warm bread or toast.