Eight Bells

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mushroom Tarts with Duck Breast and Cherry Relish

We've been looking at this recipe for about a month but with cherries at around $25 a kilogram it was a little on the expensive side. We found 1kg boxes of cherries at the Asian vege market at Five Crossroads for $9.95 and used half for the cherry relish and half for pickled cherries.
This recipe is taken from the Dec 07-Jan 08 edition of 'Dish' magazine and is attributed to Al Brown of Logan Brown Restaurant in Wellington. The cherry relish is made exactly as described in the magazine, the mushroom tarts are based on the recipe in the magazine but are not made in exactly the same way. We made the cherry relish about five days before we needed it. The dish is incredibly simple and quick to make and the results are delicious.

Cherry Relish
500g of cherries, halved and pips removed
1/3 of a cup of sugar
1/4 of a cup of sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
1/4 of a cup of finely chopped shallots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about one hour, until the mixture is almost jam like in consistency. Season, cool and refrigerate in a sealed container or jar.

Mushroom Tarts
4 large Portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Puff pastry sheets
Egg wash (one egg beaten with a teaspoon of cold water)

Fry the mushrooms in the butter till just done, season with salt and pepper then leave to cool. Put baking paper on a baking tray and lay the pastry out on the paper. For the tarts (the recipe above makes two) I used two bowls with very thin rims, one about 15cm across and the other about 10cm across. Use the 15cm bowl to cut pastry circles and then use the smaller bowl to impress a thin circle into the pastry (don't cut right through the pastry). Place your cooled mushrooms within the border of the smaller circle and then brush your egg wash aroung the outside. Place in a preheated oven at 200C and cook for around 15 minutes until golden brown.

Use 1 large duck breast for two people
With a sharp knife score the skin on each duck breast in a criss cross pattern and season each breast very well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook skin side down in a medium-hot pan for around 8 minutes or until the skin is golden and starting to turn brown. Pour the excess duck fat from the pan, turn the breasts and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove the duck from the pan, cover with foil and a tea towel and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve with the mushroom tarts, reheated cherry relish and green beans.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Summer Chicken

Here's a nice little experimental chicken recipe courtesy of Julia. Thank you Jules it was delicious.

8-10 chicken drum sticks
1 tablespoon of oil
1 large red onion
12 kalamata olives
6 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon of green peppercorns
1 large lemon
1 1/2 cups of reduced salt chicken stock
6-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed a bit

Pre heat oven to 160C.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the chicken until lightly golden. At the same time put the stock into a small saucepan and heat gently until hot.
Cut the lemon and the onion into eighths and mix the lemon, onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme and olives together in a bowl.
Put the chicken legs into a medium sized roasting dish and add the mixture in the bowl, distribute the contents of the bowl evenly throughout the dish. Pour over the hot stock and place uncovered in the middle of the oven for approximately 2 hours.
Check after 40 minutes and turn chicken, check after a further 40 minutes and baste.
The sauce will be salty but the chicken will not be, do not reduce the sauce too much or it will be too salty too eat. Serve with whatever.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Time to try something a little different with our new toy. This focaccia recipe was provided by Julia's mother, Shona. Thank you.

300 ml of tepid water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of milk powder
2 teaspoons of Surebake yeast
450g of white flour

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of rock salt
Black olives, chopped

Place the ingredients in your breadmaker in the order above. Set the breadmaker to the 'dough' setting and press start.
Prepare an oven tray with a sheet of baking paper and when the dough is ready turn out on to your tray.
Mix the olive oil, herbs and salt in a bowl and rub on to the dough. place pieces of sliced olive on to the dough and then bake in a 200C oven for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Toy and Lunch

Just a quick entry to show off our new toy. We have been talking about making more of our own bread for some time and Julia's parents very kindly bought us a breadmaker for Christmas. We originally chose a Tefal OW3001, do not purchase this model. Sorry Tefal but although your toasters are fantastic you have really missed the mark with this breadmaker. The breadmaker is far too light and unstable and in fact about 20 minutes into the first loaf the machine 'walked' off the kitchen bench and crashed to the floor, not impressed. We took the machine back to Heathcote Appliances and instead purchased a Breville 'Ultimate Baker's Oven'. The Breville is $250 as opposed to the Tefal which is $170 but well worth the extra cash. The Breville is a much heavier machine, more solidly constructed and has a better recipe book. There is no measuring spoon included with the Breville and the book uses the Australian 20ml tablespoon measure which is especially annoying given that Breville knows the breadmaker it is being sold in New Zealand and could easily have included a plastic 20ml measure, grrrr.

The machine

The first loaf. SUCCESS!

Lunch Platter
No recipe for this just a list of what's on the plate for a little inspiration perhaps?

Marinated artichoke hearts
Fig jam
Blue cheese
Fresh apricots
Aged cheddar
Black olive tapenade
Olive bruschetta
Marinated red capsicum
Smoked salmon
Salmon paté

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

It has been a very long time between blog entries, so long in fact that it's a whole new year! I apologise to all my many thousands of readers, your suffering is over. I hope you all had great Christmas breaks and are ready to keep all those new year's resolutions (at least for a couple of weeks).
This is New Year's Eve dinner. The weather has been absolutely scorchio for the past week and today is another beauty. It's definitely bbq weather so I whipped out the Weber and cooked two of the biggest steaks I have ever seen along with some fantastic salads (courtesy of Julia).

Potato salad is just potato salad but this is a new take on the dressing and is a huge improvement over just dumping half a cup of mayonaise in to a bowl of spuds and serving.

Potato Salad
1kg of small new potatoes, boiled until just cooked and then drained and left to cool
2/3 of a cup of unsweetened Greek yoghurt
1/3 of a cup of lite mayonaise (we used ETA 98% fat free)
Chopped parsley
6 finely chopped garlic chives (available at most asian vegetable shops)
The juice of 1 lemon
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients, coat the potatoes thickly with the dressing and serve cold.

Green Salad
1/2 an iceberg lettuce, broken up
3-4 inches of cucumber, sliced thickly
18 snow peas (or sugar snaps) trimmed and cut in half
1 or 2 avocados
The juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the vegetables and squeeze lemon juice over the avocado. Carefully mix all the salad vegetables together in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and dress with lemon juice.

We had a lovely Christms Eve dinnner at a friend's house and this is our take on something similar that we were served that night.

Kate's Salad
1 red onion , finely sliced thickly
The juice of 1 lemon
20 kalamata olives, stoned
2-3 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 a large red or yellow capsicum, sliced
100g of mild feta (try to find a cow's milk feta for this salad)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
A handful of flat leafed Italian parsley, chopped

Keep all of the ingredients seperate until just before serving. Finely slice the onion and place in a bowl with the lemon juice, leave for at least 30 minutes.
To assemble combine onion, capsicum, tomatoes and olives in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper, add parsley and the lemon juice that the onions were marinating in. Mix ingredients gently, serve on to plates and then sprinkle feta on top or combine the feta with the other ingredients and serve immediately.

Find the biggest T-bone steak you can and char grill it on your Weber, serve with lot's of ice cold Steinlager or maybe with my L.A. friend Brian's favourite beer, Corona.