Coming Unstuck – in stores now!

Woooooo hooooooo! It’s a done deal – Coming Unstuck is now officially launched and available all around New Zealand at good book and homewares stores…if your local doesn’t have it – feel free to ask them why not! Haha – and if they want to order it, they can contact me at stuckinthekitchen@icloud.com and I will point them in the right direction. Obviously the book is also available right here.

The absolute best thing about the books’s arrival has been having my lovely men/boys here with me – Henry and Will came all the way from Melbourne for the launch, and Rich dashed back up from Welly. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I am so unbelievably grateful for the love and support they have shown me over the last year and a half – I am incredibly lucky to have them. Now I get to enjoy their company for a few days, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate. We got together at the brilliant Coco’s Cantina in Ponsonby for the gathering, and I was over-the-moon to have a wonderful assortment of friends, family and colleagues in one room! We got stuck into a few aperol spritzes (and me a sneaky negroni), nibbled on polenta chips, cauliflower arancini and mushroom, gruyere and caramelised onion toasties (recipe from the book) and I managed to sign a few books and get my speech out moderately successfully. Thanks to Damaris from Coco’s for pulling it all together so smoothly without a hitch.

Anyhoooo – you don’t need to hear any more from me! If you want to have a look at what my mates at Dish have to say about the book you can pop on over here x

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welcome to the new look ‘from the kitchen’!

I am so unbelievably excited to welcome you to the brand new Stuck in the Kitchen website! Fear not, you have in fact made it to From the Kitchen – now renamed, re-jigged and looking pretty bloody awesome if I say so myself. First things first – let me show you around…Look at the top of the page – see those new headers? Right well if you click on the lovely BUY THE BOOK tab you will go immediately to purchase your very own (signed if you fancy) copy of Coming Unstuck – about time hey? Next try out the RECIPES tab – woah there, now each recipe can be viewed instantly with mini pics to entice you to click. One very important note here is that you must keep clicking the OLDER POSTS tab, as it appears I have amassed so many recipes there are way too many to take in, in one go. If you happen to be starved for entertainment feel free to click on the ABOUT ME post to come and say ‘hi’, and if you fancy working together, try out COLLABORATE.

As you can imagine I have been just a wee bit busy lately (my head is exploding), and you may find that in these early weeks of the new site that there may be a couple of formatting changes still to make (the odd weird gap here and there) – but I felt it way more important for you to be able to buy the book sooner rather than later, so I hope you will bear with me. Huge thanks to the fab Sea Change team and Phil for their hard work in getting this together on time. Right, I have so much to do, I’m not going to linger – but I hope you have fun poking around the site…and I will see you again here on Monday, the day after the official launch of Coming Unstuck!

 

PS – recipe print function coming soon!

 

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Coming Unstuck recipes to get you back on track – on sale September 19th

Alright, alright, alright (said exactly like Mathew McConaughey) here we go then – your very first peek inside the pages of Coming Unstuck – recipes to get you back on track! Holy sh*t balls I’ve made a cookbook!!! Soooo – as most of you know this is something that I have been working on for the last year, but let me tell you a little bit more about it.At the end of April 2016, a few months after Hoob had moved to Wellington for uni (Pog was already in Melbourne), my husband also left. As you may have gathered from this blog over the years, I am a real family-chick. So to go from being a wife and mother to single and alone in a few months really knocked the stuffing out of me. My husband and I had been together since I was sixteen years old…32 years (I turn 50 this year, falalalala), so when he left it was basically devastating. I came ‘unstuck’ (sounds better than unhinged), hence the name of my book and for anyone going ‘aha!’ you might also note that the title reflects my name’ S.Tuck’.

Anyhooo I felt like I no longer had any purpose in life, my darling babies were grown men and didn’t really need me much any more, and my husband preferred to explore a new life without me. So. I cried a lot. I didn’t eat much of anything (welcome back you 5 kilos, I would have been quite happy for you to be gone for good), drank a lot of whisky and tested the patience of my dearest friends and family with hours of crying, ranting, and general desperate self-centered-ness. This I must admit went on for at least three months (and frankly still happens now and again). Finally I managed to get my sh*t together enough to have the odd good day, and thought – God, I can’t be the only person who falls apart like this! I need a focus, I’ve always wanted to do a cookbook and I would love to help others – maybe I can combine the whole bloody lot…so I did.Coming Unstuck is the result – the chapters are slightly mad (no surprises there), with ‘start the day right’, ‘sad arse dinners for one’, ‘share the love’, ‘the sweet stuff’ and more. Basically the idea is there are dinners that you can make just for yourself (easy, quick and tasty), family-style meals, dinner party fare that isn’t a mission to prepare as well as breakfasts, nibbly bits, fridge/cupboard stuff, desserts and baking (scroll to the bottom of the pics for a screen grab of the contents page for more).
Not being one to shy away from a challenge I decided I would self-publish (also ‘cos I am a total creative control freak when it comes to my work), and I was bloody over the moon to have Pog (Henry) as lead designer on the book. I created a brief and his design was so spot-on it was like he could see inside my head – and I am so grateful to have had this chance to work with him (and the lovely Hattie who worked alongside him). Of course nothing is ever really a solo effort and all my fabulous team are mentioned at the end of the book – thanks guys!!!
So here we are, finally after a f*king huge amount of work, the book is all beautifully printed, bound and about to land in New Zealand. In anticipation of it’s arrival a few things will be happening – firstly this good old blog of mine is undergoing an overhaul and will be relaunching, fresh and invigorated on Friday 15th September – not only will it have a new look but also a new name, to tie in with the book I will be re-naming it Stuck in the Kitchen (actually the very original working title for the blog). At the same time there will be a shop page added to the blog so you will be able to buy the book directly from me, and from retailers around the country, who I will tell you about closer to the launch.

As you can imagine there will be a wee book giveaway competition around the launch, so tune back in for that, as well as a fabulous amount of media coverage which I will keep you posted on. But for now, I think that is more than enough words – scroll on down for a look at some of the pics, and a few of the pages in Coming Unstuck…and while I’m here thanks for visiting, and for being part of my other family – that of the blog. I really hope that this book brings many of you the solace it did for me in putting it together 🙂 Oh and one last word – you don’t have to be going through crap to enjoy the recipes – they are also perfect for people who already feel on top of the world!


Coming UnstuckSarah Tuck

COMING UNSTUCK – ON SALE SEPTEMBER 19th,  2017

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gingerbread pudding with salted caramel sauce & ginger fruit compote

Bloody hell this is good – moist gingery, cakey pudding topped with hot salted caramel sauce and with a luscious ginger fruit compote and generous scoop of mascarpone on the side (although if you can’t always be faffed with the compote, it won’t be the end of the world). I originally put this recipe together for my friends at Dish magazine, and thought it would be a good one to share for this rainy weekend, with the first Bledisloe Cup game on tonight – I can’t wait. I’m such a Kiwi chick, I do love watching a bit of rugby, and I’m particularly excited to watch tonight’s game as I’m heading over to Waiheke to stay with some dear friends – cue whisky, fire, rugby and non-stop laughter – hurrah. Then tomorrow I have the opportunity to tramp around my beloved island along the beaches and tracks…and come hell or high-water (or rain or full-tide) I’m doing it – rain jacket and cap are packed.Hmm – so what else is news? I am counting down the days until I can share some of my cookbook with you, I’m so tempted to do it now, but don’t want to spill the beans too early! I have had a full-on week with a night at the play The Pickle King at the Q Theatre with some gorgeous girlfriends (bloody hilarious and clever, both the play and the friends), drinks out with some great mates on Thursday night (oh my God, I can’t drink like I used to…) and an absolutely delicious dinner at Farang in Kingsland last night with some lovely like-minded foodies. I have to say, if you’re ever feeling a bit dusty Farang’s Thai food is the solution…those sticky pork belly buns and flaky roti with peanut sauce must be the ultimate hangover cure 🙂 So now it’s time to get busy (and back to work) before I escape to Waiheke tonight…can’t wait!

PS. Just discovered one of the dogs has done a big wee on my bed…yes indeed a night off without them is just what the doctor ordered!!!

Ginger fruit compote:

12 dried figs, stalks removed
1 cup prunes
12 dried pears halves
1 cup golden raisins
3 cups apple cider
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 thumb ginger, peeled and sliced lengthways
400grams mascarpone to serve

Halve the figs, prunes and pear halves. Put the apple cider in a saucepan with the sugar, golden syrup and ground ginger. Whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Add the ginger slices, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, add the dried fruit and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow fruit to cool in the syrup. (The slices of ginger can be removed before serving if desired as they are for flavouring, not for eating).

Salted caramel ginger sauce:

1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 ¼ cups cream
2 tablespoon butter

1 heaped teaspoon sea salt

Put the caster sugar in a clean pot with 1/3 cup of water and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the sugar then don’t stir again. Heat the cream separately until just hot, not boiling (either in the microwave or another pot is fine). Use a small pastry brush to wipe down any excess sugar from the sides of the saucepan and continue heating until the sugar first becomes white and crystallised, then starts to turn a light amber. To combine the sugar and encourage even caramelisation, give the pot a gentle swirl. As soon as it is an even light golden, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the hot cream ¼ cup at a time. It will froth up madly, but keep whisking and it will settle down. Add the butter and sea salt and whisk until smooth. Pour into a clean jar and store in the fridge until ready to use. Reheat by microwaving briefly or on the stove top. Makes about 1 ½  cups.

Gingerbread:

120grams softened butter
1 cup golden syrup
1 ½ cups plain flour
½ cup self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170˚C and grease and line a 25cm x 31cm deep baking dish (I used a roasting pan) with baking paper. Heat the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Sift the flours, baking soda and spices into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk together then add with the butter and golden syrup to the dry ingredients. Fold all together and pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until the middle bounces back when lightly pressed. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out. Slice into 12-16 pieces to serve, drizzled in salted caramel sauce, with a scoop of mascarpone and ginger fruit compote on the side.

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Mushroom, chicken & camambert frittata with caramelised onions

As I sit here (post yoga glow on) it is hosing down outside my window, with thunderstorms on the way – ah yessss, Auckland in the spring-time! So, basically great timing for this simple comfort-food frittata recipe. If by some miracle the weather clears, it also makes a great picnic lunch, but assuming it stays the same, you can hunker down and tuck into it’s cheesy depths, loaded with sweet caramelised onions, chicken, earthy mushrooms, nutty Gruyere and rich Camembert. It is incredibly easy to make, and although perfect for a quick mid-week dinner, also makes a brilliant weekend brunch or lunch.
Right, oh my God, why am I still sitting here I have so much to do! I have to pick up the (stupid) lawnmower from the repair shop, get back in time to meet the knife-sharpener man (mine are dire), and get all of my recipes prepped and ready for a Cuisine shoot tomorrow. At the same time there is the cookbook launch to coordinate, new website to finish off, preparation for the arrival of the men/boys from Melbourne and Welly (hurrah!!!), and somewhere in there trying to get to a hairdresser so that I can pretend to look poised, polished and in control…bahahahaha. Stay dry :)

Caramelised Onions:

¼ cup olive oil
5 medium red onions, peeled and sliced  – aim for thin slices
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons caster sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
small pinch chilli flakes, optional 
Heat olive oil in a big heavy based pot. Add onions and salt and cook over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until nice and soft, stirring every once in a while so that they don’t catch on the bottom. In between stirring, half cover with the pot lid – I always rest it on the wooden spoon laid across the top of the pot, so it is mostly covered, but not completely. After half an hour add balsamic vinegar and sugar, remove lid completely and cook a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like a little heat, throw the chilli flakes in now too. Once you add the sugar the onions will brown up more and go more caramelisey – if your heat is a little low, you might want to increase it a bit now. If the onions seem a little dry add an extra tablespoon of olive oil and stir through then season with salt and black pepper. Leave to cool then spoon into a sealable jar or container. Makes 1 1/2 cups

Frittata:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
350grams mixed mushrooms, large ones sliced, smaller ones halved
250grams cooked chicken, shredded
¾ cup caramelised onion (use store bought or see recipe above)
8 eggs
1/3 cup cream
½ cup grated Colby, Gruyere or Edam cheese
100grams Camembert, sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons parsley leaves to garnish
Tomato chutney to serve

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter with the oil in a deep 25cm heavy based frying pan that is suitable to go in the oven. Add the mushrooms, season well with salt and pepper and cook over a medium/high heat for 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and caramelised onions to the pan, and stir gently to combine. Whisk the eggs with the grated cheese and cream and pour into the frying pan over the mushrooms, chicken and onion. Cook over a medium heat for five minutes until the egg is just setting around the outside edges, lay the camembert slices on top then transfer to the oven and cook a further 20 minutes until the frittata is puffy and golden. Serve garnished with parsley, sliced in wedges with a small green salad and your favourite tomato chutney. Serves 6-8

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Kylie Kwong’s sung choi bao of vegetables

Some days I really love my job – case in point, the end of last week when I was invited to attend a Furi knife event hosted by the super-talented and down-to-earth Kylie Kwong. I have always been a massive fan of hers, especially since I saw her a few years ago, cooking at a local Sydney food market – she mans the stand there every weekend with her team, making sure she stays connected to her community, advocating for the use of the best and freshest local ingredients. That is pretty bloody cool. Any way she is also an ambassador for Furi knives which she explained are ergonomically designed to fit beautifully in your hand, and all made from one piece of steel – so no seams or joins to erode. Anyhoo – we were treated to a demo by Kylie then split into teams to recreate the dish she had just made, putting our knife skills (in my case basically entry-level) to the test using the beautiful knives provided. We made the vegetable sung choi bao of vegetables, with much chat and laughter, after which Kylie judged our efforts. The conclusion was a draw, but our team did manage to get a special mention for our outrageous iceberg lettuce tower, so we’ll just savour that! So on days when I am up and cooking at 7am and shooting in my trackies and home-knitted jumper in my little studio all day, I will remember the other days when I manage to get out of the quarry (I live in an old quarry – long story) and feel super-lucky indeed.
Aaaand in book news – bloody hell – I did two trips in my little mini to pick up some of the first boxes of books yesterday, so that I can start sending advanced copies out to the lucky competition winners from Facebook and Instagram (well done Kirsty and Gillian!) and in preparation for a flood (haha) of sales. It was insane seeing those piles of cartons in the warehouse, all ready to send out around to the retailers. So far I am happy to say the books will be available in Whitcoulls, selected Paper Plus stores, Millys, Moore Wilsons and lots of other retailers around the country – and here on the website too :) If you’re keen to buy a book – by all means go into your local book seller/homewares/general little cool shop and ask them if they’ve ordered it – and if not they can get in touch with me and I’ll point them in the right direction!
Finally, before I get on with work (classic weekend…) it was so bloody fantastic having Hoob here last week! We had so much fun going to a fashion week show, making vege curry and watching the first leaders debate, and just generally hanging out…such a treat. And now he is already back in Welly dammit, but will be returning in a few weeks (oh my God) for the actual book launch. Henry and Will will also be heading over so it will be a wonderful full house – and I will be the happiest of pigs in mud :) Right, gah, stuff to do – this was delicious, quick, easy and healthy…highly recommended. Kylie’s recipe is detailed below.

1 small ice berg lettuce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp malt vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 large thumb ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
80grams green beans, trimmed and finely sliced
2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely sliced
2 tbs shao hsing wine or dry sherry
1 Chinese cabbage leaf, finely shredded
1 small carrot, cut into fine julienne strips
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 bunch garlic chives, cut into 5cm lengths
sliced large red chilli to serve, optional
Cut out and discard the core of the lettuce, then soak the entire lettuce in cold water for 1 hour (this will make it easier to pull apart the leaves. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Combine soy sauce, vinegar sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl and set aside. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add ginger, garlic, onion and mushroom and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add beans and celery and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add wine or sherry and cook for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Add cabbage, carrot, bean sprouts and garlic chives and stir to combine. Remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetable mixture from wok, draining well so that any juices are left in the wok. Serve in a bowl set on a large platter accompanied with lettuce-leaf cups. To eat, simple spoon vegetable mixture into lettuce cups, roll up to enclose and eat with your fingers. Serve with sliced chilli, if you like.

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Portuguese-style custard tarts

I have always wanted to make my own Portuguese tarts and was actually excited when Kapiti approached me to see if I would be interested in creating a recipe to match with their single farm, organic milk – here was my chance. I faffed around with the recipe for ages having done a fair amount of research to discover the basics. The first lot I made were almost there, but I found them a little lacking in flavour and too stodgy in the custard department, so I redeveloped them to give you a recipe with a more orange-scented, softer custard, which I think pairs perfectly with the flaky, buttery pastry. Frankly they are pretty bloody delicious. The milk I used is from the new range by Kapiti – Single Farm Organic milk which comes from the Flipp family farm in Manawatu, where they take great pride in their cows and producing an organic product. I love the idea of knowing where my food is produced, I buy only organic, free-range chicken, egg and pork products, so it is a treat to be able to buy milk in the same way. 
Yay, Hoob arrived from Welly last night…fresh sheets are on the bed, I’ve aired out his room and stocked the fridge with comfort-food, vego meals. Bring on dinners tucked up on the couch watching QI :) It is such a treat to see him – every time I get a shock at how tall, lean and lovely he is, with a bloody fabulous sense of humour and amazing taste in music. Meanwhile Henry is rocking a new haircut (and some incredible brand new tattoos) and is beautifully settled at the moment. It is so good to know that work is going well and that he is snuggled up in the gorgeous apartment in Melbourne with Will, having had three grotty apartments in a year, this one is such a relief! And me? I had an over-night trip to Waiheke to stay with gorgeous friends last weekend – it is such a weird thing going to the island now, I love it just as much as ever but it makes me sad too. I suppose that is to be expected. Then of course there is the cookbook launch coming up, mwahaha, the first little sneak peek will be on the blog this weekend…!


2/3 cup caster sugar

2/3 cup water
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
peel of 1 orange (or lemon)
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp cornflour
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used Kapiti Single Farm Organic)
375g sheet butter puff pastry ( I used Paneton flaky puff pastry)

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and spray a 12-hole muffin tin lightly with baking spray.  Put the sugar, water, cinnamon stick, orange peel and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil for 4 minutes then remove from the heat and take out the cinnamon stick. Put the cornflour and ½ cup of the milk in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg yolks and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining milk, remove the peel and cinnamon stick from the syrup, pour it into the milk mixture and whisk until combined. Pour into a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, whisking continuously, for about 4 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, then cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.
Trim the pastry to 28cm x 28cm, then cut into two 28cm x 14cm pieces. Layer the halved pastry sheets on top of each other. Starting at the long end of the pastry, tightly roll into a log. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes, then trim the ends and cut into 12 small fat rounds. One by one squash the pastry rounds with the heel of your hand and roll out to about an 11cm circle – repeat with the remaining pastry. Press the pastry rounds into the prepared muffin tin and pop in the freezer for 5 minutes. Divide the chilled custard between the pastry cases and bake for 25–30 minutes or until the custard is just starting to blister on top. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. The tarts can be served warm for dessert with a little vanilla bean ice cream, or at room temperature for morning or afternoon tea with a coffee, tea or a cold glass of milk.

Kapiti Single Farm Organic milk is available in two sizes:
1.25L Homogenised/Non Homogenised RRP $5.49
750ml Homogenised / Non Homogenised RRP $3.50

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Coming Unstuck – on sale September 19th

Coming un stuck

Alright, alright, alright (said exactly like Mathew McConaughey) here we go then – your very first peek inside the pages of Coming Unstuck – recipes to get you back on track! Holy sh*t balls I’ve made a cookbook!!! Soooo – as most of you know this is something that I have been working on for the last year, but let me tell you a little bit more about it.

At the end of April 2016, a few months after Hoob had moved to Wellington for uni (Pog was already in Melbourne), my husband also left. As you may have gathered from this blog over the years, I am a real family-chick. So to go from being a wife and mother to single and alone in a few months really knocked the stuffing out of me. My husband and I had been together since I was sixteen years old…32 years (I turn 50 this year, falalala), so when he left it was basically devastating. I came ‘unstuck’ (sounds better than unhinged), hence the name of my book and for anyone going ‘aha!’ you might also note that the title reflects my name’ S.Tuck’.

Anyhooo I felt like I no longer had any purpose in life, my darling babies were grown men and didn’t really need me much any more, and my husband preferred to explore a new life without me. So. I cried a lot. I didn’t eat much of anything (welcome back you 5 kilos, I would have been quite happy for you to be gone for good), drank a lot of whiskey and tested the patience of my dearest friends and family with hours of crying, ranting, and general desperate self-centered-ness. This I must admit went on for at least three months (and frankly still happens now and again). Finally I managed to get my sh*t together enough to have the odd good day, and thought – God, I can’t be the only person who falls apart like this! I need a focus, I’ve always wanted to do a cookbook and I would love to help others – maybe I can combine the whole bloody lot…so I did.

Coming Unstuck is the result – the chapters are slightly mad (no surprises there), with ‘start the day right’, ‘sad arse dinners for one’, ‘share the love’, ‘the sweet stuff’ and more. Basically the idea is there are dinners that you can make just for yourself (easy, quick and tasty), dinner party fare that isn’t a mission to prepare as well as breakfasts, nibbly bits, fridge/cupboard stuff and desserts/baking (scroll to the bottom of the pics for a screen grab of the contents page for more).

Not being one to shy away from a challenge I decided I would self-publish (also ‘cos I am a total creative control freak when it comes to my work), and I was bloody over the moon to have Pog (Henry) as lead designer on the book. I created a brief and his design was so spot-on it was like he could see inside my head – and I am so grateful to have had this chance to work with him (and the lovely Hattie who worked alongside him). Of course nothing is ever really a solo effort and all my lovey team are mentioned at the end of the book – thanks guys!!!
So here we are, finally after a f*king huge amount of work, the book is all beautifully printed, bound and about to land in New Zealand. In anticipation of it’s arrival a few things will be happening – firstly this good old blog of mine is undergoing an overhaul and will be relaunching, fresh and invigorated on Friday 15th September – not only will it have a new look but also a new name, to tie in with the book I will be re-naming it Stuck in the Kitchen (actually the very original working title for the blog). At the same time there will be a shop page added to the blog so you will be able to buy the book directly from me, and from retailers around the country, who I will tell you about closer to the launch.
As you can imagine there will be a wee book giveaway competition around the launch, so tune back in for that, as well as a fabulous amount of media coverage which I will keep you posted on. But for now, I think that is more than enough words – scroll on down for a look at some of the pics, and a few of the pages in Coming Unstuck…and while I’m here thanks for visiting, and for being part of my other family – that of the blog. I really hope that this book brings many of you the solace it did for me in putting it together :)

Oh and one last word – you don’t have to be going through crap to enjoy the recipes – they are also perfect for people who already feel on top of the world!


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Pune & port chocolate cake with port-poached prunes

Hello from my snuggy bed, cup of tea in hand. What a gorgeous morning – I can’t wait to head out into the freezing air for my walk shortly (alternating walking and yoga at the moment), but first I wanted to share this recipe I put together for Fairfax – prune and port chocolate cake with rich chocolate ganache and port poached prunes…yup, it’s bloody good. The cake is quite dense and moist, (a bit dessert-y,) the ganache is spiked with port and the plump prunes have a hit of orange, star anise and cinnamon. You can serve everything warm or cold with mascarpone, whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream, and the prunes are also great on warm rice pudding, porridge, or baked in a clafoutis like this :) 
Hmm, what else to report? It is a weird old feeling having finished the book and being in limbo before the launch…it was such a bloody relief to have the focus of constantly working for the last year, and although I’m still working all the time, it’s a bit different without that massive goal to be achieved. I have been intrigued with the PR process and have been merrily interviewing with a range of media, I could talk all day…but the accompanying photo shoots. Argggh, sh*t I hate having my photo taken and am spectacularly bad at it. The only way I look half decent is if I’m laughing my head off, but those shots aren’t used so much as it’s just my face and a lot of teeth…! This weekend I am going to be sharing a sneak-peek inside the book, so I hope you’ll come back for a squiz at the pics and to read a little more about it. Meanwhile – stay warm, eat cake.
(Oh I totally forgot the pic below – isn’t she lovely, found in a gallery in the Netherlands, love me a bit of Dutch portrait-action).


Port poached prunes:

1/2 cup port
250grams prunes
½ star anise
peel of one orange
1 cinamon stick
4 whole cloves
3 tablespoons caster sugar

Put port in a medium saucepan with ½ cup water and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar,  for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and stir in remaining port. Leave to cool then store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Makes 1 1/2 cups
Prune & port chocolate cake:
1 cup prunes
1/3 cup port
200grams butter, chopped
1/3 cup Dutch cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 11/2 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
½ cup mascarpone (or sour cream)
Put prunes and port into a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes then add butter and cocoa. Stir until the butter is melted then remove from the heat and add baking soda. Leave to cool for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 170˚C and spray a bundt or ring tin lightly with baking oil. Put prune mixture into a food processor and whiz to a smooth-ish paste. Add the sugar and eggs and whiz again to combine. Add the flour and pulse once or twice then add the mascarpone and pulse again until the mixture is combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before tipping out onto a cooling rack. Once cool drizzle with half of the ganache, then serve with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream, poached prunes and remaining ganache. Serves 8-10
Chocolate & port ganache:
200 grams dark 50-70% chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons port

Put chopped chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water on the stove top. Stir until melted then remove from the heat and wisk until smooth. Add the port and whisk again. Leave to cool in the fridge for 45 minutes before pouring over the cake. Makes 1 1/4 cups

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Gingerbread pudding with salted caramel sauce & ginger fruit compote

Bloody hell this is good – moist gingery, cakey pudding topped with hot salted caramel sauce and with a luscious ginger fruit compote and generous scoop of mascarpone on the side (although if you can’t always be faffed with the compote, it won’t be the end of the world). I originally put this recipe together for my dear friends at Dish magazine, and thought it would be a good one to share for this rainy weekend, with the first Bledisloe Cup game on tonight – I can’t wait. I’m such a Kiwi chick, I do love watching a bit of rugby, and I’m particularly excited to watch tonight’s game as I’m heading over to Waiheke to stay with some dear friends – cue whisky, fire, rugby and non-stop laughter – hurrah. Then tomorrow I have the opportunity to tramp around my beloved island along the beaches and tracks…and come hell or high-water (or rain or full-tide) I’m doing it – rain jacket and cap are packed!
Ginger fruit compote:
12 dried figs, stalks removed
1 cup prunes
12 dried pears halves
1 cup golden raisins
3 cups apple cider
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 thumb ginger, peeled and sliced lengthways
400grams mascarpone to serve

Halve the figs, prunes and pear halves. Put the apple cider in a saucepan with the sugar, golden syrup and ground ginger. Whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Add the ginger slices, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, add the dried fruit and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow fruit to cool in the syrup. (The slices of ginger can be removed before serving if desired as they are for flavouring, not for eating).
Salted caramel ginger sauce:
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 ¼ cups cream
2 tablespoon butter
1 heaped teaspoon sea salt
Put the caster sugar in a clean pot with 1/3 cup of water and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer, whisking to dissolve the sugar then don’t stir again. Heat the cream separately until just hot, not boiling (either in the microwave or another pot is fine). Use a small pastry brush to wipe down any excess sugar from the sides of the saucepan and continue heating until the sugar first becomes white and crystallised, then starts to turn a light amber. To combine the sugar and encourage even caramelisation, give the pot a gentle swirl. As soon as it is an even light golden, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the hot cream ¼ cup at a time. It will froth up madly, but keep whisking and it will settle down. Add the butter and sea salt and whisk until smooth. Pour into a clean jar and store in the fridge until ready to use. Reheat by microwaving briefly or on the stove top. Makes about 1 ½  cups.
Gingerbread:
120grams softened butter
1 cup golden syrup
1 ½ cups plain flour
½ cup self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 170˚C and grease and line a 25cm x 31cm deep baking dish (I used a roasting pan) with baking paper. Heat the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Sift the flours, baking soda and spices into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk together then add with the butter and golden syrup to the dry ingredients. Fold all together and pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until the middle bounces back when lightly pressed. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out. Slice into 12-16 pieces to serve, drizzled in salted caramel sauce, with a scoop of mascarpone and ginger fruit compote on the side.

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Old-school tomato soup with cheese, olive, onion & rosemary toasties

‘Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory…’ and yes Annie is quite right, apparently the weather is about turn to mega-rainy-crap all throughout the country from today. (Actually I have gotten to know Annie very well over the last fifteen months – she has kindly sung while I’ve been shooting, cooking, editing, and (very loudly) enjoying a whisky in the evening). So, it feels like we’re allowed to make the most of wintry dishes for a little while longer, and this old-school tomato soup is a great, simple, satisfying dish. It is incredibly easy to make – essentially you just cook the onions for a bit then throw everything else in the pot for half an hour, then give it a whiz – but the depth of flavour is fabulously satisfying. Having cheesy toasties with tomato soup seems pretty much non-negotiable, and these ones crammed with caramelised onions, salty black olives and fresh rosemary are – can I say ‘next level’ – I don’t want to because I bloody hate that phrase, but they really are.
Soooo, in other news, my darling Pog celebrated his 22nd birthday in Melbourne yesterday. God, I do miss my lovelies, and never more so than on special occasions. Thank God for the gorgeous Will who spoilt Henry rotten with lovely gifts and a flash dinner out. I am so proud of how he has settled into his new job, but also that he has had the chance to let his hair down on occasion too – we all need a bit of balance! Excellent. Meanwhile Hoob is still hard at it at uni and with sidelines at work, enticing people to vote (he is outrageously well informed with regard to politics), and a hilarious audition yesterday for a TV commercial…more on that if he gets the job, I hope he does, he would be fabulous. He will be heading up at uni break so I will be in a state of high anticipation next week. The thought that both boys/men will be here, and Will too, for the book launch is about the most exciting thing I can imagine just now – the four of us haven’t been in the same room for a year…too long for me!!!
Anyhoo, I will stop blathering on and get back to work. This soup – easy, delicious, and perfect for gloomy, rainy weather.

Old-school tomato soup:

1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins finely chopped tomatoes
2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream
chopped parsley to garnish
1/4 cup Greek natural yoghurt to garnish
Cheese, onion, olive & rosemary toasties
3 tbsp butter
4 slices wholemeal, grainy bread
2/3 cup grated colby cheese
1/2 cup caramelised onions
10 black olives, pitted & roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
For the soup – heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion, season well with salt and pepper and cook over a medium low heat for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add garlic, tomatoes, sugar, chilli, rosemary, tomato paste, stock and 1/4 cup cream and cook for 35 minutes. Use a stick whiz to blend or transfer to a food processor to puree. Loosen yoghurt with remaining cream and drizzle over soup and sprinkle with parsley to serve. Serves 2-3
For the toasties – butter one side of the four slices of bread. Divide cheese between two slices of bread (the unbuttered sides) and top with onions, olives, rosemary and bread ‘lids’. Cook in a frying pan over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes each side until golden, and the cheese is melted. Makes 2

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