Well, there are a few Cooking Class posts banking up, but it’s been too busy to get them online. With any kind of luck I should find time away from the stuff that makes up our busy evenings sometime soon. Maybe. I’m not making any promises. The main problem is discovering Dowtown Abbey and Second Chef wanting to watch MOAR EPISODES.

Ah well.

Around here there have been some useful advances in suburban farming, with the garden giving up a pretty good supply of garlic this year, a kg of beetroots being turned into relish, the leeks coming along nicely, we have a few surprise self-seeding pumpkins coming along, and plenty of rhubarb, lettuce, bok choy, herbs and a HUGE crop of coriander seeds (the potatoes were woeful, the peach tree only produced one edible peach, the tomatoes failed, and the onions were put in too late). The coriander is really fragrant, so I’m very much looking forward to using them in cooking.

Also, a few weeks back I noticed that a friend on twitter was growing her own mushrooms in buckets. A bit of quick inquiry and a reference turned up these guys. Parkvale mushrooms will send you two buckets of pre-prepared mushroom mycelium for$NZ42.50. I followed the instructions, watered the compost, and put them in the sunroom under black polythene for a week or so, then parked them in the basement. Within another week I’m taking about 1.5kg of flat brown mushrooms off the buckets in the first flourish. Looking at the growth that still happening there I reckon we’d have at least that left to grow out. Based on an average price of about $NZ15kg for gourmet mushrooms I’d say we’d be pretty close to breaking even by next weekend, and they say that each bucket will flourish at least three times! And, they’re delicious.

Although, anyone with recommendations for mushroom recipes? They’ll be gladly accepted.

The further news is that the spent mushroom compost is excellent for the garden. With that and the chicken straw-poo the neighbour dropped around we should be well on the way to a big improvement in the former-packed-clay-garden next year. So all in all, pretty good.


Well, this was another of the recipes I was pretty sure I’d absolutely have to make before any steam on this project ran out, and it was a good choice (we are still taking photos, but bloggage has been slow due to a multitude of other need-to-dos). The photo in the book is particularly awesome – but we just had ours with maple and/or golden syrup.

Americans like waffles for breakfast with honey or maple syrup – perhaps an acquired taste early in the day [ed: perhaps the author here was your typical late colonial marmalade on dry toast eater…]. We serve them for a delicious desert, topped with ice cream and caramel sauce, bought or home made. And it is such an easy recipe – everyone can make their own waffles

The ingredients for this one are pretty simple. It’s essentially a batter. You mix it up, then put onto the waffle iron. And therein lies the rub. If you don’t have a waffle iron you’re going to be looking at crepes instead. In this case TradeMe was my friend.

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 2 tbsp cold water

We made the recipe this way initially, but have since swapped out the dry ingredients for a gluten-free cake or bread mix. It’s a bit easier on Dad’s stomach.


Of all the pictures in the Cooking Class there were two that stayed with me. The first was the brandy snaps. I still have a soft spot for them despite knowing they’re basically just cream wrapped in sugar (what’s not to like, right?). The other was the waffles. The shot is a waffle being smothered in what looks like a caramel sauce.

So, after a little hunting about on TradeMe I snaffled a waffle iron, and set to! (more…)

Well, I think the title about says it all.

All countries have their food specialities. But this beef dish from those commies in Russia has become famous on an international scale. It is excellent food to include in your menu if you’re giving a party: noodles or rice are usual accompaniments.

To be honest I was holding out hope for this one.

Here’s what you need:

  • 750g fillet steak (I used some weiner schnitzel)
  • 125g butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 500g small (button) mushrooms
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 beef stock cubes (I swapped this and the water for 1/2 cup beef stock)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 1tsp cornflour

And that’s all she wrote. This recipe is a doddle, so let’s get into it. (more…)

The Vanilla Slice, also known more commonly as the custard square or the “snot block” is a tuck shop classic here in good old New Zealand. A conversation with a workmate the other day revealled that her mum used to substitute the traditional puff pastry with Huntley and Palmers cream crackers. The luck coincidence of my having to partially cater a morning tea, and this being a recipe in the Cooking Class Cookbook meant I had the opportunity to share this wonderful recipe with you, dear readers.

With a delicious filling of rich vanilla custard, these are the most popular of all slices. The slices are made with packaged puff pastry and topped with passionfruit-flavoured icing.

Actually… I didn’t have and passionfruit. Also, these were indeed extremely popular, with some people coming back for a second slice. Unfortunately though the recipe is made with a boatload of starches, so half the floor had to go out for a walk at lunch to wake themselves up! I was therefore responsible for a marked decline in productivity…

For the slice you will need:

  • 1 packet of Huntley and Palmers cream crackers
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1/2 cup custard powder
  • 1 litre milk
  • 60g butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

For the icing you’ll need:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon of jam, or, a passionfruit
  • 1 tsp of water

This is a straightforward recipe, with the only real trick being the mixing of the custard – it needs to be as stiff as possible to stop the squares from schmooshing everywhere when you try to eat it. (more…)

Well, this is an interesting one.

“Chasseur” means a sauce containing mushrooms and shallots. it can be a sauce for many meats. Here we have allied it to chicken for a dish with rich, superb flavour. Serve with hot rice or mashed potatoes, crusty bread and separate green salad. Serves four.

In French chasseur means ‘hunter’, and this makes sense when the most important ingredient in this dish is actually mushrooms. I think that means you could likely make a vegetarian version by dropping the meat and adding beans, or perhaps paneer.

Anyhow, the list!

  • 1.5kg chicken or similar
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon tarragon (I had none, so substituted sage from the garden)
  • 2 large ripe tomato (I used a tin of Italian tomatoes)
  • 6 shallots (or use the pre-prepared fried Asian ones, they’re pretty good)
  • 2 tbsps chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsps tomato paste

For the brown sauce

  • 125g butter(!!)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 chicken stock cubes (I just used 3 cups of chicken stock for this and the previous ingredient)
  • salt, pepper.

We made an executive decision after the tedium of the Beggars’ Chicken to get a little creative with the ingredients. I’m trying to stay true to the recipes in the book, but we need to actually be able to eat these things! I’ll admit that this may also have been prompted by Second Chef asking, “Why are all these recipes soooo boring?”


Masala potatoes are a dish I’m making a lot these days to accompany a curry I take to work for lunch. I had to cut bread out of my diet, and needed something starchy, but not too starchy to keep me awake during the afternoon. These are basically just ghee, spices, and par-boiled spuds, so they’re an easy something to whip up on sunday night before the week starts.

So, you’ll need:

  • some parboiled small or new season spuds
  • a couple of tablespoons of ghee (or just plain old butter if it’s all you have)
  • tbsp of tumeric
  • 2-3cm of ginger
  • tbsp-ish of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of chilli powder, or a couple of fresh chillis
  • a pinch of asafoetida

From here it’s easy (more…)

Next Page »