Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Desserts: Trifle and Ambrosia

For me Christmas day began with food - I had a trifle and a bowl of ambrosia to make, both of which are really great summer desserts for the beautiful, blue-skied day that we had here in Invercargill. Trifle is a pretty classic dessert that is probably made in a million different ways by various families and individuals. My family's version is somewhat different to any I have seen before and my own adaptation of it is what I am posting below. Traditionally the dessert consists of layers of sponge, jelly or jam, fruit and custard. My trifle, on the other hand, uses rasberry fizzy drink. Ambrosia is also quite well known, here in New Zealand at least. It is a dessert that consists of cream, yoghurt, berries, marshmallows and chocolate. When I made it in Ireland nobody had heard of it before and everybody loved it, so I guess it's not just us Kiwi's that think it's good.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Horrifyingly Good Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Why is it horrifying? Because it is so good, so amazingly rich and fudgy, that it just shouldn't be allowed. This was my pre-christmas treat; a few days ago my travels took me to the house of a friend, where I was allowed to indulge my food obsession by cooking and baking for her. The recipe comes from a friend, who himself has just begun a food blog that caters to gluten-free baked goods, called Spade & Spatula. After seeing (and tasting) how amazing this brownie was I had to try it for myself. The recipe I have written below uses normal flour, but the gluten-free version simply uses a pre-mixed gluten-free all purpose flour. For me, the brownie included chopped walnuts and was served with vanilla ice-cream - this dessert followed on from a main course of spaghetti, a recipe that I fall back on constantly because it's really amazingly yummy. So all in all, it was a really satisfying pre-christmas treat. It was just as satisfying the next evening, when more brownie was served for dessert after a main of stuffed chicken breasts and new potatoes with garlic butter, and was still good on the third day as picnic food at the beach (despite the sand). I must say, however, that I really don't much like walnuts, and while a bit of crunch is great I think I will go for some other nut the next time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Potato Salad, Kiwi Style

Over the last week or so I have been travelling through New Zealand, attempting to be a summer tourist in my own country, but the weather has different plans. So oddly enough, it was warmer way down south than it is up north right now, where I am followed from place to place by grey clouds and rain. I have barely begun to delve back into all of the amazing food that is just a matter of course for those living here, but while still in Invercargill I did have the chance to make a big bowl of potato salad, proper kiwi style, which is very different to the Irish version (which is really mashed potato, served cold) and the German version. Ours is delicious, but what I've written below is my own slight adaptation on account of using up the ingredients I had to hand. You can either use new potatoes or old, new are yummiest but all potatoes are good!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fudge cooking challenge

It's that time of the month again ... cooking challenge time! This month the challenge is fudge and I wanted something unusual, but it can't be something you invent yourself. So during my forays into blog-land I finally came across something that sounded somewhat unusual yet appealing: red velvet fudge. I like the idea of red velvet cake and red is a Christmas colour so I figured it would be fitting. In preparing for the challenge I first brought a thermometer because recipe I read said that you really cannot accurately estimate the right point at which the fudge is ready. Then I made my first successful fudge ever, and even though it was really sweet and rich, the texture was good so I have been using the proportions of that recipe for everything that I have later tried. The first fudge I tried was a butterscotch-like brown sugar fudge, and the second was a vanilla cookies and cream fudge. They were both really good. This one was good too, and I really can't decide what was best, but I'm sure I will have a whole lot of new fudge ideas to try after the cooking challenge is completed!

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Arabic food

Over the next few weeks these food-filled posts may get a little sporadic because I am on holiday in NZ, but I'll probably have time to write and plenty to say about food. Before I left I had the chance to make one last dinner for myself and my housemate and I went for Arabic flavours, because sometimes I miss that sort of food. Now that I will be back in New Zealand maybe I should try make some for my friends there, whose Middle Eastern cuisine is possible limited to hummus. Below is my own recipe for something like kofta, though I doubt it's really proper kofta. Basically, it's lamb meatballs with eastern-style spices. Only mine turned out rather dry, I left them cooking too long. Funnily enough, I always found ground-meat dishes, such as kofta, too dry when in Abu Dhabi - over there we generally stuck to a vegetarian diet. They were OK though, especially when served with a creamy dressing. I had no tahini so settled for yoghurt with a bit of crushed garlic and lemon mixed in. Served with hummus (recipe to come soon) and stuffed peppers it made a meal to remind me of the time I spent in the UAE.