On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

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A tasty little loaf recipe

Happy New Year!

BakedWe’ve been away on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland Australia) since Boxing Day. I can tell you there were a few days where it rained so hard we remained indoors, and to have been able to bake would have been lovely. While we had a full kitchen, there was nothing at all to bake with, plus no pantry staples. Even the usual buttermilk pancakes didn’t happen because it was too much of an ordeal to try and get flour, baking powder and baking soda.

It’s taken a day to unpack (well there’s still a few more things I need to find space for) so I don’t feel like I’ve been too shabby in getting myself back into the kitchen.

One of the ladies at work is going on Maternity leave this coming Friday (I presume she’s still at work, there’s a good chance she could deliver early) so I’ve been mixing colours into Royal Icing preparing myself to decorate some cookies. Thankfully I have quite a few undecorated cookies in the freezer from Christmas. So there’ll be no baby shapes, but I’ll decorate in a baby theme – at least that’s the plan.

Today I started out with a quick bread (there’s a Blueberry Tart to make too).  In New Zealand we’d just cut to the chase and call this a savoury loaf. Or we’d take the same ingredients and divide it amongst muffin tins and have, well, muffins.

The recipe I used was this one by The Kitchn.

Mix the wet into the dry ingredients

Mix the wet into the dry ingredients

I went for the Herb Sundried Tomato and Cheese loaf. The recipe didn’t say whether the Oregano and Thyme were fresh or dried. I used dried. I was worried that if the herbs were measured as fresh then the flavours would be too strong since dried herbs are more flavourful.

It looks really stodgy but it baked up beautifully.

It looks really stodgy but it baked up beautifully.

I also didn’t use buttermilk. My MIL had bought sweetened natural yoghurt for me so I’d have it available for breakfast Saturday morning (and at 1am when we arrived home I was mixing up my wet muesli ready for breakfast). It’s not the brand I prefer so in order not to waste it (and seem like a spoilt brat) I used that in the loaf. I did not add any sugar at all to the recipe.

Blog_110115-2All in all it turned out well, had good flavour, but I think I’d prefer it as a muffin. I don’t know, muffins just seem easier to handle. Or I should just wait a little longer so the slices aren’t so delicate to handle.

Always better with a proper spread of butter.

Always better with a proper spread of butter.

The crumb is nice and light despite the batter looking like it’s rather solid.

Ok, next up is the Blueberry tart recipe (once I’ve made and sampled of course) and a little write up on using Rainbow Dust Progels.



Father’s Day

Royal Icing Transfers. I need to work on getting the consistency of the RI right.

Royal Icing Transfers. I need to work on getting the consistency of the RI right.

My Dad isn’t really one for all the fluff of a “celebration cake”. In some ways that meant I had an easy job for making something for Father’s Day, but what? What would I make that still looked special but didn’t require chocolate (Dad isn’t a fan) and still looked well presented.

All glazed up. Oma's Apple Tart.

All glazed up. Oma’s Apple Tart.

Having recently received my Chelsea Winter cookbook, At My Table, (it arrived the day we flew out to Canada) I browsed the pages and found something that seemed very much the type of food my Dad would like.

I’m sure Dad would have been quite happy with a block of cheese, or liquorice, or pineapple lumps, instead he got Chelsea’s Oma’s Dutch Apple Cake.

Start with a thin layer of batter

Start with a thin layer of batter

Add the sliced apple. And I added in freeze dried blueberries and some sultanas for good measure. Dad loves sultanas.

Add the sliced apple. And I added in freeze dried blueberries and some sultanas for good measure. Dad loves sultanas.

All ready for baking.

All ready for baking.

While Chelsea has shared a large number of her recipes on her own website, this particular one isn’t one of those. If you search you’ll find someone else has shared the recipe, but for copyright purposes I won’t.

When I phoned Dad to see that he’d be free the Sunday afternoon I ended the call with “tell Ruth she doesn’t need to make anything, we’ll bring afternoon tea”, and I knew those words would mean nothing.

As expected Natalie and I turned up with afternoon tea and Ruth had a table laid out with savouries and slices.

With a good dollop of cream. Pesto and cheese scones in the background.

With a good dollop of cream. Pesto and cheese scones in the background.

All that food was way too much (no surprises there!) and there was a heap left over. I had made far too many cookies so I dished those out and I left the leftover tart with Dad and Ruth to have with their dinner (which was leftover afternoon tea).

Pie anyone?

Pie anyone?

When we arrived home I got stuck into make Chelsea’s Cream Chicken Vegetable Pie. It isn’t a difficult recipe, but it does take a fair amount of time to get it all together, and that despite having prepared the carrots, mushrooms (yuck!), garlic and leek (the first time I touched one of those – had to ask for help how to prepare it!) during the morning.

Big chunks of chicken. I promise I tried to shred the chicken into "bite size pieces"

Big chunks of chicken. I promise I tried to shred the chicken into “bite size pieces”

The pie however was well worth the effort. Despite Mr Fussy’s misgivings about leek (which he’d never had, but on principle that it was a vegetable he didn’t like it) he enjoyed the pie. We did suggest that we might make it without the mushrooms next time. Neither of us are a fan but my MIL likes them so I kept them in, this time.

Dehydrator trays filled with cookies.

Dehydrator trays filled with cookies.

Going back to my cookies, I bought a dehydrator on returning to Christchurch and this was my first time trying it out with the cookies. It certainly helped speed up the drying time, but it didn’t quite eliminate the possibility of craters. You can see a couple of the letters have the tell-tale sign of a crater wanting to break free.

Some of the cookies

Some of the cookies

It was a very busy weekend in the kitchen for me. I’ve made Mum’s birthday cakes, ganache and royal icing in preparation for more sugar cookies to come.

During the week several packages arrived with more cake/cookie decorating things. One of those was a book on using cocoa butter to paint on sugar. The book has a number of different methods of painting and I enjoyed reading it Friday night. Now I’m itching to start painting. I can see a few week nights practicing all these new ideas I have running around in my head. In fact I’ve got so many ideas I’m almost not sure where to start! Better find somewhere.

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Beer bread bites

I don’t know if you know who Chelsea Winter is, probably not if you’re not from New Zealand and don’t have an interest in all the cooking shows. Actually I’ve never watched Master Chef but I had stumbled across Chelsea’s Facebook page. I’ve mentioned her before. I love her down to earth banter with her followers (likers). She comes across as a really good sort.

Dripping with butterAnyway, many people have passed on favourable comments about a Beer Bread. I couldn’t find the recipe, or what I thought was the recipe they were all commenting on (and sharing photos of). Chelsea has lots of recipes on her website, pretty generous really. She also has a cook book out. Something I must get around to buying or borrowing from the library.

IngredientsI found a recipe for Marmite and Cheese Beer Bread Bites. I have to say I was pretty enthusiastic to give this recipe a try. It began with asking Mr Fussy whether I could use one of his bottles of beer. Mr Fussy informed me his beer was too good to be used. That left me with buying my own beer. As Julie pointed out on my Facebook page, cheap is more often found in a 6 pack. What would I do with 5 other beers that would be beneath Mr Fussy to consume?

I went beer shopping. Now what I know about Beer is close to zero. I don’t like it. And you’d be right in wondering why I’d want to bake/cook with it. I expected that like wine, the alcohol would be cooked out and you’d be left with a flavour. I merrily went on my way and put a 4 pack of Moa Pale Ale into my shopping basket. The other 3 would be going into Mr Fussy’s beer fridge, and since it was the “good stuff” he’d be more than happy to accommodate it.

Mixed and readyI’m going to cut to the chase. The recipe was dead simple to make. I added some cooked bacon since Mr Fussy tends to think all meals should include meat, and well, bacon makes everything (savoury) better. But, and it’s quite a big but, I ended up having crumpets for lunch. Why? Well the flavour of beer was so strong. Perhaps using the good stuff was my downfall. Would the flavour have been lessened with “cheap swill” as Mr Fussy put it.

Marmitey goodnessI also found trying to twist a teaspoon with marmite on it, through the centre of the muffin was near impossible. I only added marmite to 4 of them. Mr Fussy doesn’t like Marmite (I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s never tried it), instead favouring Bovril (which I’ll never try). Mr Fussy was very happy with the flavour of the muffins/bread bites and is happily having left overs (frozen) for lunch. He tells me that if you add pesto the flavour of the cheese comes through.

Melted and brownedSo there you go. If you’re keen on a nice beer flavoured savoury bite, then these will be right up your alley. Or there’s always crumpets for a quick fuss-free weekend lunch.

Next week I’ll post the cheesecake recipes I’ve been baking. It’s Randall (my brother) and Kade’s wedding this Saturday and my sisters (Natalie and Bee) and I are making some individual cheesecakes as part of their dessert table. The baking has been more testing recipes and flavours. All will be revealed sometime after the weekend. Celebrations commence on Friday with us heading to Timaru just as soon as the cheesecakes have baked and cooled, and don’t end until after some jet-boat activities Sunday afternoon.

Till then …


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Cheesy Herb (Quick Bread) Muffins

Last post from this weekend.

Herb and Cheese QuickbreadI remember a post Heidi from 100 Cookbooks wrote about her experience visiting Australia and finding that most café’s served Muffins.

It was clear Muffins were not commonplace in America. I’ve thought that strange. I suppose I guessed most things migrated this side of the word. We do seem to be a follower in many things that it’s hard to imagine we had something “new” to offer.

Anyway, last weekend (yes last weekend, not this weekend) I made this recipe from Averie’s website. It’s a “quick bread”. I didn’t know what a quick bread was, but it sounded good and I was looking forward to it.

After it had baked (and it took much longer than it took Averie) I realised the texture was so much like a savoury muffin.

So I reckon the American’s eat a food that, if it were spooned into muffin liners would be, well muffins.

IngredientsThis weekend I searched out other quick bread recipes and found one that sounded right up my alley and instead of baking it in a loaf pan, I spooned the mixture into muffin liners.

Here’s a link to the Quick Bread/Savoury Muffin that I made.

Yes, I changed a little of the recipe.

  • I added 1/2 a shallot, cooked
  • I weighed the flour at 140gm per cup. I think next time I might add 125gm weight per cup
  • I melted the butter and allowed it to cool before adding it to the other wet ingredients
  • And as per usual, the amount of cheese called for ended up being and exaggerated  measurement

The mixture was much stiffer than any I’ve mixed before. I wasn’t convinced the muffins would turn out nice and fluffy, but they did.

Stiff batterI baked these for 18 minutes at 200deg Celsius.

I didn’t have any Sage (I thought I did). The thyme added a really different flavour, it was quite obvious to me, but then we don’t often have thyme in many of our dinners so the flavour was probably more distinctive to us.

We all enjoyed the muffins. Two was enough, which reminds me, there’s 3 left. I got 9 big muffins from the mixture.

Butter butter butterThere’s always one last thing to mention. The last few batches of muffins I’ve made have stuck to the liners. I realised the liners I bought were from the supermarket and weren’t “greaseproof”. Next time I was in Stevens I found Mrs Rogers greaseproof Tulip liners and bought them. These muffins were baked in those liners and they were a bust. The muffins stuck to them just like the non-greaseproof liners. I’m a bit ticked off about that.

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Oven Roasted Tomato Risotto

I’m make an effort to go back through my Pinterest boards and tick off a few recipes that I’ve pinned.

Creamy rissotoThis recipe was one of the early pins. What caught my eye was, first it was a Rissoto and second it had roasted cherry tomatos. Could there be anything better (other than caramel, orange chocolate and Neenish Tarts)?

Slow roasted tomatosI’m still fairly new to making Rissoto. I’ve made one from Jamie Oliver a couple of times, and also the Saffron Risotto from Annabel Langbein’s book. I had better success with the Saffron Risotto.

I used a different rice which I picked up from Mercato. The liquid absorbed really easily into this rice.

I altered the recipe, as I often do. I’ll post the link below and explain the changes I made.

  • I made only ½ the recipe
  • Of the stock, which I used chicken, I replaced ¼ cup (1/2 if you’re making the full recipe) of stock for ¼ cup of dry white wine
  • I added the wine first and once this was absorbed began to add stock
  • I added the tasty cheese (I used Barry’s Bay) at the end of the cooking along with the butter
  • I added the stock a ladle full at a time and then gently stirred until most of the liquid had been absorbed
  • I had a few chicken tenderloins left over from Saturday’s nights dinner. I cut that up and added it the pot with about 5 minutes left
  • I found one part of the recipe a little confusing. It talks about 6 tablespoons of oil. It never says it’s “divided” but I think it is. There’s 4 tablespoons used in the balsamic vinegar “dressing” used on the cherry tomatos, so that leaves 2 tablespoons, but the recipe for the Risotto doesn’t clarify that the oil you add to the pot is the remaining 2 tablespoons, but that’s what I stuck to (1 Tbls for me, making ½ the recipe).

Oven Roasted Tomato Risotto by Pham Fatale

Bowl full of yumI was lucky enough to have some left over. I had to put some of my tomatos into it since I’d managed to scoop all of them into our portions for dinner. I can say that it still tasted as good today, but I should have added a little boiling water before re-heating it.

I think this is by far one of the nicer risotto recipes. I’m aware that it’s those roasted tomatos that packed it full of flavour. Love me some roasted tomatos.

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Hawaiian Glazed Chicken Thighs – by Chelsea Winter

Here’s another recipe I tried this weekend from a New Zealand site. This time it’s a Chelsea Winter recipe. This recipe is on Chelsea’s website.

This is Chelsea’s Hawaiian Glazed Chicken Thighs.

Dinner is served

Sadly I misread one of the instructions so my glaze looks watery and lacking in substance. I spent more than 45 minutes simmering the ingredients for the glaze and while it had thickened, I failed to read properly the instructions about the liquid reducing by ¾. I read it to be that it should reduce to ¾.


I hadn’t realised my mistake at the time I poured some over the chicken and popped it into the oven. I sort of expected that during cooking it would thicken up. But after having reapplied the glaze twice during cooking I knew it wasn’t going to thicken, and at that point I checked the recipe to see where I’d gone wrong.

1311_Making the glaze-2-2

Never mind, it still baked nicely and it earned a “yummy” approval from Mr Fussy. However while we were eating dinner I returned the remaining glaze to the element and let it boil away while we ate. It took more than 15 minutes more to reduce to the point where I now considered it would more or less stay on the chicken as it baked. Now we have some left for another meal this week.

1311_Preparing the chicken-2-2

I sampled the thickened glaze and have to say it has a more intense flavour than what tonight’s dinner had. It really packed a punch, but it wasn’t overpowering, it just had a nice savoury hit which I liked.

1311_Proper glaze-2-2

I never watched Masterchef so I didn’t actually know who Chelsea Winter was a few weeks back. Yeah I know, where have I been? What right do I have to blog about food when I don’t even know the food celebrities from my own country 😉

What strikes me most about Chelsea is how down to earth she is. Her Facebook page is where I came across her and she is as Kiwi as you can get. She’s not in the slightest bit pretentious, and she is so open about her food and recipes and shares them on her blog. And what’s more she encourages people to share photos of the food they make from her blog or book. She’s said she doesn’t care if it didn’t turn out, or if it’s half eaten or the lighting is bad or it’s not “presented”. But for all that I wont be showing off this photo 😉

So good on ya Chelsea, you get a thumbs up from me for getting Kiwis in the kitchen trying out new recipes.  And I’m afraid I’ve got one of Chelsea’s latest words “stodge” on my mind and have since used it several times (not to describe my food mind you ;-)) I read it (stodge) on Chelsea’s Facebook page as she described the food she’s been eating while in the States the past month.

Hope we don’t get suckered into the same “stodge” when we’re there a few days next year. I’m thinking more Italian food.  Oh and Cronuts. By then there’ll be another craze, but it’ll probably be the first time I get to try a Cronut.  Have you had one?



Braided Pesto Bread

I’ve had a recipe pinned for a pesto bread for ages. You can see the original recipe here.

Basil Pesto Bread

In the end I didn’t use the recipe at all, rather just the method to achieve the braid.

Instead I used the bread dough recipe from the Craftsy class I purchased, as well as using the Pesto recipe from the Perfect Pizza at Home class. The Perfect Pizza at Home class is free! If you like pizza then I thoroughly recommend enrolling. It wont cost a cent, and you get to see some of the different techniques used to knead the dough. That’s the Stretch and Fold technique I’ve previously mentioned and shared a YouTube video of Peter Reinhart demonstrating it.

Basil Pesto Ingredients

The pesto recipe is in the class materials and it was my first time making pesto. I only made half the recipe because I didn’t have enough basil, but then the half recipe was more than ample and I ended up dividing the left over into two small freezer bags. One of which I used for the braided pesto bread.

Basil Pesto

I wasn’t 100% sure about the bread recipe I chose. It was to make baguettes not a filled bread, but I felt that most bread doughs can be adapted easily enough and when compared to the dough recipe in the original Braided Pesto Bread, I didn’t think there was a huge difference that it would matter.

I love the simplicity of the bread doughs in the Artisan Bread Craftsy class. I used the Marbled Rye bread recipe before, a type of bread I’ve never made but it tuned out great. Other than the fact I learnt I don’t like caraway seeds and it put me off eating the bread.

But this braided pesto bread? Fabulous. Loved it. Will make it again. So simple but full of great flavours, and the bread itself was lovely and soft in the centre with a crunchy outer shell.

Basil Pesto (full recipe)


  • 8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped and tossed in 2 tablespoons (30 g) of olive oil
  • 2 cups (437 g) fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed, and tightly packed into a measuring cup
  • 3⁄4 cup (177 g) grated Parmesan or other dry aged cheese
  • 1 cup (237 g) pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toast- ed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (237 g) extra virgin olive oil


  • Heat a frypan or skillet over medium heat.
  • When the frypan is hot, add the chopped garlic/olive oil mixture. Stir for 15 seconds and then remove the pan from the heat. (You only want to heat and “sweat” the garlic, not brown it.)
  • Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor and add the heated garlic/oil mixture.
  • Pulse the mixture until all the basil is broken down and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Run the food processor for an additional 5 to 10 seconds to make a bright green, pebbly-textured sauce, thin enough to spread easily but not so thin as to be runny.
  • Add more olive oil if it’s too thick, or more grated cheese if it’s too thin.
  • Transfer the pesto to a container that can be covered with a lid to minimise oxidation.
  • Keep the pesto refrigerated for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to three months.


White bread (full recipe)


  • 567gm bread flour (I used High Grade flour)
  • 11g (1.5tsp) salt
  • 3.5gm  (1tsp) instant yeast (I used the prepackaged sachets of Edmonds yeast)
  • 385gm water at room temperature


  • In mixer mix all ingredients on slow speed with the paddle for 1 minute.
  • Increase
 to medium slow (no. 2 on the KitchenAid) and mix for 1 more minute. The dough will be soft and sticky.
  • Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Mix on medium low (no. 3 on the KitchenAid) for an additional 30 seconds. The dough will form a soft, slightly sticky ball.
  • Lightly oil the surface of your bench. Use your fingers to spread the oil around the surface where you’ll tip the dough onto.
  • Tip the dough onto the oiled bench and complete the first stretch and fold.
  • Cover the dough with a large bowl and wait 20 minutes before proceeding with the 2nd (of 4) stretch and folds.
  • Re-oil the bench as needed.
  • Once 4 stretch and folds have been completed (with 20 minutes rest before the next stretch and fold) the dough is ready to rest until it doubles in size, this will take around 60-90 minutes depending on how warm or cold the room is. Remember to cover the dough with a large upturned bowl.

1309_Pesto and Parmasen

1309_Cutting and shaping

To make the braided bread

  • Re-oil the surface of the bench ready to roll the dough into a rectangle.
  • Press the dough into a rectangle and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until is roughly 9 x 13” in size.
  • Spread the pesto over the surface leaving a 1cm gap all the way around.
  • Grate some Parmesan cheese over the pesto, I’m not saying how much you need, just as much or as little as you want, but generally if you’ve covered the pesto you’re good to go.
  • Starting with the long end of the dough, roll the dough, tightly, toward you.
  • Pinch the end to seal it then roll the dough so the sealed end is underneath.
  • Get a large baking sheet around 9 x 13” in size and line it with baking paper.
  • Transfer your rolled up dough to the baking sheet and using a sharp knife cut the dough from top to bottom. Now you have two separate pieces.
  • Pinch the top two ends together and begin to braid by placing one side over the other. I started with the left side over the right meaning the right was on the left side. Keep repeating until you’ve braided the length of the bread.
  • You want to work the braid so the cut side is facing up where you can see all the bright green pesto peeking out.
  • Pinch the bottom ends together and then join the two ends (top and bottom pinched ends) together so you’ve formed a circle of dough.
  • Lightly cover the circle of dough with Gladwrap and let it rest for 30 minutes while the oven is heating.
  • Heat the oven to 240deg Celsius and if you’ve got one, place a pizza stone on the lowest shelf.
  • Remove the Gladwrap and grate a bit more Parmesan cheese over the top of the dough.
  • Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Sometimes when I write up a baking experience several days after I’ve made the recipe (and this was made Sunday last week) it makes me really hunger for more of the same.

I enjoyed making the bread. I had plenty of time in between the stretch and folds and resting times to get stuck into other things (I was making gumpaste from the left over ombre pink fondant from Mum’s birthday cake). The bread was easy to make, I don’t know why people have a fear of baking bread. This recipe and method is so straight forward, and since you don’t have to knead for long periods in your mixer, or by hand, there’s nothing stopping a bread-baking novice giving this recipe a go. You’ll be glad you did.

1309_Baked and served