Pirongia, New Zealand: Hospitality and Recipe by da-AL

Vicky Apps (with her kitty) is a wonderful hostess!

We had less than a week to sample beautiful New Zealand. We’d landed in Auckland, spent a night in Rotorua, hiked a few hours in the Redwoods, strolled along Huka Falls, peered into Craters of the Moon and visited the Waitomo Glowworms Caves, and then river rafted in Taupo — then later Hamilton Gardens. (Eventually, in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited family and birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach and saw some wild things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.)

Pirongia was a lovely village (by the way, it was interesting to find that as far as I know, here in the U.S. we only use the term ‘city’, not ‘village’) to spend our final night before returning to Auckland. Short as our visit to Pirongia was, our hostess, Vicky Apps, made it memorable. If you’re ever in the area and need a cozy room at a reasonable price, I highly recommend emailing her at apps@xtra.co.nz

Vicky and her charming kitty, made us feel like family at her gorgeous, spacious home. We so enjoyed sitting in her flower-filled backyard and chatting with her. Moreover, she even washed (and folded!) my clothes at no charge. For breakfast, she shared delicious homemade jams and preserves, including one that was made from a guava type fruit found only in New Zealand. (By the way, New Zealand has its own variation of sweet potato too, which I regret not getting a chance to sample.)

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash.

When I much enjoyed some of Vicky’s Anzac biscuits, an immensely satisfying sort of oatmeal cookie that was devised for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I, she generously hand-wrote the recipe for me!…

Vicky’s recipe for Anzac biscuits, page 1.
Vicky’s recipe for Anzac biscuits, page 2.

Do you have a biscuit or cookie that’s special to where you live?

Easy! Yummy! Healthy! Brown Rice Corn Island with Seafood by K. Parsi

Healthy eating is fun with recipes that don’t require a lot of skill and time, yet can even wow guests. Famed chef Jacques Pépin inspired my husband to create this one…

Brown Rice and Corn Island with Seafood Stuffing
Healthy cooking can be simple.

Brown Rice and Corn Island with Seafood Stuffing

(serves about 8)

Read this recipe all the way through before you shop for ingredients and cook. It involves four cooking steps: a) rice, b) seafood, c) sauce, and d) plating.

Step A: Rice

1 medium diced onion

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 head (about 5 cloves) of diced garlic

3 cups brown rice

1 bunch (about 1 1/2 cup) chopped green onions

1 cup corn kernels

3 cups water

3 cups fish or chicken broth

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon saffron

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)

In a 5-quart pot, sauté onion in olive oil until lightly browned.

Add garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add brown rice and sauté until rice is covered with oil.

Add green onions to rice mixture, and sauté for another two minutes.

Add corn, water, broth, salt, pepper, and saffron.

Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring to avoid a crust forming on the bottom.

Reduce heat to simmer, add cheese, and cook for half an hour, or until rice softens.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Step B: Seafood Stuffing

1 medium julienned onion

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 head (about 5 cloves) of diced garlic

2 pounds mixed seafood (e.g., shrimp, calamari, and scallops)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1 cup white cooking wine

Using a medium saucepan, sauté onion in coconut oil, until lightly browned.

Add garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add seafood and sauté for 5 minutes. Add cooking wine, salt, pepper, and turmeric, and cook for five more minutes on medium heat.

Remove the seafood mixture with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Seafood will be used during plating, in Step D. Set aside juice for use in the sauce, which you’ll make next, during Step C.

Step C: Mushroom Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white flour

6 cups milk

6 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In the same saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour, stirring quickly to avoid lumps.

Whisk in milk.

Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil.

Take off heat and set aside for plating.

Tip: If you get flour lumps, you can put the mixture in a blender before adding the mushrooms.

Step D: Plating

Parsley or chives for garnish

Butter the sides of a bowl.

Add a few spoonfuls of rice mixture to fill about 1/3 of the bowl.

Press rice down into the sides, creating a cavity in the middle of the bowl.

Fill to 3/4 full with seafood.

Cover with more rice, and gently pack it down.

Place a plate over the bowl, and flip them quickly, to get the rice onto the plate. Carefully unmold the rice by removing the bowl.

If your guests are not ready, you can place all the dishes in a 180-degree oven to keep them warm. Dishes may be kept there for up to half an hour. Any longer and the food will start to get too dry.

When ready to serve, gently spoon sauce around the ‘rice island.’

Garnish with parsley or chives.

Tip: If you have enough bowls, you can leave them over the rice plates until you’re ready to add the sauce around.

Enjoy!

Easy! Yummy! Healthy! Veggie Black-Eyed Pea Appetizer Recipe by Khashayar Parsi

How do you make staying healthy easy? Focusing on what’s good to eat (rather than what isn’t) helps me. So does collecting wholesome recipes that are simple and delicious.

My husband welcomes challenges, nutritious cooking included. Here’s a favorite dish he’s come with that family and guests love…

vegetarian cooking
Hungry for something wonderful?

Veggie Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer

Ingredients

1 medium onion

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 zucchini

1 head garlic

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas

1 cup dried maitake mushrooms

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

4 cups water

1/2 cup white rice

salt and pepper to taste

olives

crackers

Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer garnished with olives
Olives brighten up Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop onion.
  2. In a medium sized pot, sauté in coconut oil until golden.
  3. Coarsely dice zucchini.
  4. Add zucchini to onions and sauté another five minutes on medium heat.
  5. Mince garlic.
  6. Add garlic to the pot with turmeric and sauté two minutes.
  7. Add black-eyed peas, mushrooms, walnuts, rice, cheese, and water. Bring to boil.
  8. Lower heat to medium and simmer for half an hour.
  9. Once fully cooked, coarsely grind with an immersion blender (which is a little easier to control) or mixer. Tip: if mixture overcooks and becomes too dry to blend, add water 1/4 cup at a time until it can be emulsified without becoming watery.
  10. Let cool.
  11. Spoon into large bowl.
  12. Garnish with Olives.
  13. Serve with crackers.
Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer is tasty on wholewheat crackers.
Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer is tasty on wholewheat crackers.

Serves 8-10 people.

Guest Blog Post: Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins by Roijoyeux

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins by Roijoyeux
Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffin by Roijoyeux

Most of the week, fellow blogger Roijoyeux blogs on heroic people bullied for being gay or bisexual. Sundays he reserves to torture us with photos and recipes from his latest mouthwatering healthy/delicious yummy. Another awesomeness about his site is that if you don’t read French, he’s installed a google translate widget…

Roijoyeux

Pour mon cher ami Tauche et son mari, je réalise presque chaque semaine des gâteaux à la fois sains et gourmands et j’ai décidé de vous faire profiter, joyeux visiteurs, de mes plus belles réussites…

Cette semaine, j’ai eu envie de tester la recette de muffins aux pépites de chocolat inscrite au dos des paquets de pépites de chocolat “Vahiné”, en l’adaptant pour mes amis; Tauche souhaitait un gâteau à la banane, il me restait un sachet de noisettes en poudre, voici donc les :

Ingrédients : (pour 9 muffins de diamètre 6 cm)

  • 125 g de farine de riz + 50 g de farine de sarrasin + 75 g de poudre de noisettes (au lieu de 250 g de farine)
  • 1/2 c à c bicarbonate (au lieu de 1 sachet de levure chimique)
  • 2 pincées de sel
  • 100 g de pépites de chocolat
  • 1 oeuf
  • 105 g de muscovado…

View original post 194 more words

Eggplant Roll Ups Recipe by Khashayar Parsi

Platter of eggplant rollups with yogurt dip.
Photos by da-AL

Happiness for the eyes and tummy is a platter of these easy and dramatic healthy veggie bites …

Eggplants – 2 large

Olive oil – 4 tablespoons

Soy sauce – 4 tablespoons

Persian cucumbers – 6 small

Carrots – 2 large

Walnuts – 1/4 cup

Yogurt – 2 cups

Slice each eggplant lengthwise to about 3/8” to 1/2” (or 6 to 8 slices).

Spread half the olive oil in a large oven pan over its entire surface.

Place the eggplant slices in the pan and bake in 400°F oven for 20 minutes. Turn them over and bake them for another 20 minutes or until browned on both sides, using the remaining olive oil.

Remove them from the oven and sprinkle the soy sauce evenly over the eggplants.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Julienned cucumbers and carrots with roasted eggplant slice.
Ready to roll!

Meanwhile, julienne the cucumbers and carrots, and divide them evenly per eggplant slices.

For each eggplant, place the julienned pieces on one end and roll the piece tightly.

Eggplant rollup before it's been cut in half.
Eggplant rollup before it’s been cut in half.

Cut each roll in half and stand each half on its flat side.

Sprinkle with ground walnuts and serve with yogurt.

Eggplant rollups cut in half.
As adorable as they are yummy!

Guest Blog Post: “Coconut Cardamom Tea Cake,” in Nithya’s exact words

Coconut cardamon tea cake by Devine Spice

Coconut + Cardamom + Tea + Cake = Mouthwatering Event! Food blogger Nithya tells us how…

DivineSpice

Isnt that romantic sitting by the window having a nice cuppa and enjoying the nature’s beautiful autumn colors on a chilly day😍 ? It will be a perfect indulgent treat when you are offered a delicious snack to accompany your tea. Yeah😎, I am gonna tell you about my secret recipe(cardamom coconut cake) that I ve tried for the first time ever and you know what, it turned out so delicious exactly how I imagined. If you are a fan of coconut and the aroma of cardamom, you must give this a go😊. I am sure that wont let you down. So here you go! Enjoy!

 1478393142511

Serves 5 to 7

Ingredients

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 75g or 100g sugar ( according to Your taste )
  • 7 to 8tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk

View original post 224 more words

Dear Cousin Diana’s Tiramisu by da-AL

Crunchy + Soft + Airy + Bitter + Creamy + Sweet = Diana’s Tiramisu Bliss

If angels exist in everyday life, my cousin Diana was one. Her life was far too short, but such is the case with angels.

Cousin Diana
I’m fortunate to have known her.

These photos are generously provided by Stefano Ruberti, my first cousin and Diana’s son. She was born in Argentina. Recipes are a wonderful way to remember good times with loved ones.

Recipes are wonderful memories.

From Diana’s teens on, she resided in Italy with her family. Then with her husband and their three children.

When my husband and I visited some years ago, she made a fantastic multi-course meal that ended with the amazing tiramisu here. As soon as my husband tasted the dessert, he asked Diana to teach me how to replicate it.

Making tiramisu is as much art as it is technique. It took several phone calls to work out the variances of ingredients across the seas and much trial and error to get it just right.

Tiramisu Recipe

  • Makes 9-12 servings
  • 8” x 8” x 2” pan
  • 3 eggs: Find the freshest ones, keep them cold, and use them quickly.
  • 2 cups strong coffee: regular or decaf, lukewarm or cold. Instant works great.
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules to stir into pudding
  • 24 regular-sized ladyfingers: Experiment with finding the perfect ones, neither too stiff nor too soggy. I tried making my own but had no luck. A box of Trader Joes’ works magic for me. The local grocery chain (which is as known for its quality and great prices as it is for its fair treatment of employees) carries them only during the winter holidays, so I stock up for the year.
  • 8 ounce mascarpone
  • 3.5 ounce bittersweet chocolate bits: Anywhere from 72% to 99%. Graters and food processors work fine. I prefer the uneven chunkiness from chopping it with a knife or putting the squares into a bag and whacking them with a wooden mallet until they’re a mouth-pleasing combination of small chunks and powder.

Optional Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 1 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • unsweetened cocoa powder to dust over the final layer

Before You Begin

  • It takes roughly an hour to assemble, especially when you’re just learning.
  • Add another six to twelve hours for tiramisu to set before serving. I prepare the night before, then serve it the following afternoon. Pairs nicely with milk, coffee, or wine.
  • Review everything entire recipe and visualize the most efficient way to organize everything for yourself. The recipe calls for raw eggs and chocolate melts when it’s manipulated too much, so I like to keep things cold and work relatively fast.
  1. Lay out all ingredients and tools, including bowls, pan, whisk or mixer, whatever you’ll use to grate chocolate, etc. Unwrap ladyfingers and put them into a separate bowl.
  2. Prepare chocolate as described in the ingredients list above.
  3. Crack eggs: egg whites into one bowl, egg yolks into another.
  4. Whip egg whites until stiff.
  5. In a bowl with only yolks: beat in 1/2 teaspoon instant granulated coffee, mascarpone, and sugar. If preferred, now add anything listed under ‘optional ingredients.’
  6. Into the bowl with fluffy egg whites, fold in yolk mixture.
  7. Layering tiramisu into a pan – two layers:
  • 1st Layer: One by one, dip ladyfingers and line bottom of the pan. Careful: dip them too quickly and cookies won’t soften up enough — dip too slow and they’ll make the desert too liquid.
  • Spread half of the egg and mascarpone mixture over the cookie layer.
  • Sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the cookies and pudding.
  • 2nd Layer: dunk and layer another twelve cookies, all in the same direction as the first layer.
  • Fold any loose sugar from the cookies into the egg and mascarpone mixture, then spread mixture over the second cookie layer.
  • Sprinkle what’s left of the chocolate evenly over the top. If desired, add a final dusting of unsweetened chocolate powder to even out any gaps.

Cover and refrigerate at least four hours (longer is better).

Serving

a) The remaining liquid is super yummy. Spoon it over sliced pieces.

b) Raw eggs must be handled carefully. Keep the tiramisu cold and either eat the whole thing within three days or freeze it. It freezes wonderfully and tastes heavenly frozen or thawed too!

* Scroll over photos or tap them. *

Voila!

Diana was a loving mother, wife, and cousin.

Do you have special recipes that remind you of loved ones?