Tuesday, 26 May 2015

What do you call a mixture of peas and corn....

Spice of the Month - Nutmeg

Nutmeg has been known in the West for a long time.  Nutmeg is a real favourite of mine.  It has a subtle warm flavour and a lovely smell.  Nutmeg comes from the same tree as mace.  It is a little sweeter than mace.

A classic childhood memory for me is of custard tarts with ground nutmeg on top.

In medieval times it was believed that nutmeg could ward off the plague! Nutmeg oil was also used as a cure for insomnia.
In olden days nutmeg graters were made out of silver and worn like a necklace.

Nutmeg is used in sweet puddings, custards and cakes but I use it mostly in savoury dishes – pumpkin, lamb casseroles and especially on spinach or silverbeet.

The English use nutmeg in Christmas cakes.  It can be used in banana bread, doughnuts, cookies, pumpkin pies and chocolate dishes.

Try grating nutmeg over vanilla ice cream.  Also try adding it to mashed potatoes.  And with carrots. Nutmeg goes particularly well with parmesan. Try adding some nutmeg into soups made from split peas. 

Don't buy ground nutmeg – get the whole ones and grate them yourself as required on a microplane.

Important: Don't use more than half a nutmeg at a time – it becomes toxic if you eat it in large quantities – some say just 2 whole nutmegs will make you very sick – not something I want to try out!

BIBLIOGRAPHY - with thanks to Auckland Libraries

Cook's Encyclopaedia of Spices by Sallie Morris & Lesley Mackley
Discovering Vegetables, Herbs & Spices by Susanna Lyle
Spice Market by Jane Lawson
Spicery by Ian & Elizabeth Hemphill
Spices & Natural Flavourings by Jennifer Mulherin
Spices by Sophie Grigson
Spices Condiments and Seasonings by Kenneth T Farrell
Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen by Elizabeth David
The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander

Monday, 25 May 2015

Quiz - Oscar Winners

Here's another monthly quiz – especially for Carmen.  I hope you enjoy it!

As before the answers are below each question – you just need to highlight them with your mouse to see them. 

1             Who has the most wins for Best Actress, with four?
Katherine Hepburn

2             What was the first fantasy film to win Best Picture?
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

3             A 10-year old won Best Supporting Actress in 1973 and is still the youngest winner of an acting award.  Who is she?
Tatum O'Neal

4             Starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, which is the only X-rated film to win Best Picture?

Midnight Cowboy

5             Four musicals won Best Picture in the 1960s:  name 2 of them
West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins and Oliver

6             Which two films did Tom Hanks win back to back Oscars for in 1993 and 1994?

Philadelphia and Forrest Gump

7             What 1977 Woody Allen film is the last comedy to win Best Picture?
Annie Hall

8             Which western won Best Picture and Best Director in 1992 and also saw its director nominated for Best Actor?

9             Who was nominated eight times for Best Actor between 1962 and 2006, without winning?
Peter O'Toole

10          In which decade did the first Oscars ceremony take place?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

There's a song isnt' there???

Salmon Pizza – simple but very good!

Carole's Chatter: Salmon Pizza

Now, this salmon pizza is not authentic because I didn't make any pizza dough or even a prepared bought pizza base.  I used some Mediterranean flat bread – which I keep in the freezer for situations where I need to scrabble together a meal.  I put the toppings on it while it is still frozen.  It crisps up a treat in the oven and I think it is every bit as good as a thin crust pizza.

I did make my own pizza sauce though!  I made it a couple of hours ahead and let it cool before using it.  First I sautéed the onion and spices for about 5 minutes in olive oil.

Onion and spices
1 onion (chopped as finely as you can be bothered)
Garlic – I used about 5 cloves but we like garlic a lot
Pinch of dried oregano
Small pinch of fennel seeds
Bay leaf (don't forget to take this out at the end)
Good grind of black pepper
Pince of salt and sugar
Dash of chilli flakes

Then I added the wet ingredients:

Can of Italian Pomodoro tomatoes (chop them up if they are whole)
Tomato paste (say 1 tblsp)
Tomato sauce or ketchup (say ¼ cup)

Simmer this away for at least half an hour.  I did 40 minutes and the sauce got nice and gluggy without sticking to the pan at all.

To make the pizza

Heat the oven up high
Have your oven rack up towards the top and put your baking sheet in to the oven at that stage so it is really hot when you put the pizza on it.

When the oven is hot enough take your flat bread out of the freezer
Brush with olive oil and turn it over so it is on the bottom
Smear your pizza sauce over the top, getting out to the edges
Sprinkle over your preferred mix of grated cheese – I used grated Egmont cheese (which is a variety of Colby) and parmesan.  I prefer a thinnish layer of cheese.

I then put some thin slices of red capsicum (bell pepper) on top.

I put the pizza onto some baking paper on top of a little wooden chopping board so that it is easy to transfer to the baking sheet in the oven.

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and going golden brown.

Finish your pizza by adding these on top:

Smoked salmon pieces – I used fresh wood roasted salmon – I wouldn't use canned salmon, let it come to room temperature before putting it on.
Fresh dill
Drizzle of chilli relish here and there
Light sprinkling of cayenne pepper (or paprika)

The heat of the cheese just gently warms the salmon and makes it yummy.

Carole's Chatter: Salmon Pizza

I did 2 slightly different versions.  Here is the second one – slightly more rustic