the best late night pasta

serves 1

Happy Friday night! I thought I’d get a quick recipe from Coming Unstuck on the blog tonight for any of you heading out on the town who might return late with a bad case of the munchies – a super quick, utterly satisfying, classic Italian pasta loaded with garlic and chilli. It was actually apparently originally created for exactly the situation I just described – you only need a few ingredients, and it’s ready in a flash…and I know it is on regular rotation for a few owners of the book.

Crikey I have so much book-related news, but for the moment it will have to keep for another day. In the meantime, I have spent the day cooking and writing, singing and dancing in my seat while blasting Aretha Franklin on my computer. ‘Who’s Zooming Who’ was the soundtrack of my Swiss scholarship year at the tender age of 17 – and I love it just as much now as I did then. Aretha, the Queen of Soul, so sad to hear of her death…another reminder to make the most of every day we’re above ground!

Other than secret squirrel book news, it’s been a pretty regular week – an average showing at pub quiz night on Monday (actually pretty standard, but a total laugh as always), followed by a fabulous night at Bahrulo in Parnell with the uber-talented food editor of Dish, Claire Aldous, and Nici Wickes, both so inspirational. Last night it was all glamour and bubbles at the launch of Giorgio Armani makeup at Smith and Caughey’s in town – God I do love an excuse to get out and check out the beautiful people! So – tonight, it’s a quiet night in before the first Bledisloe rugby test tomorrow night, I have a team coming around for a feast of beef cheek ragu pasta bake and rhubarb crumble ice-cream with a few bottles of red on standby. Wishing you a fabulous weekend, take care, have fun and see you next week…

(…oh and before I forget this recipe serves one, but multiplies easily for whatever number you’re serving.)

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tomato baked eggs with prosciutto turkish toasts

Serves 4

Hungry? Can I make a suggestion for Sunday morning brunch (or easy dinner even) – eggs baked in a warming, spicy tomato sauce, rich and fragrant with the addition of salty feta and olives. To finish off the turkish toast fingers wrapped in crispy prosciutto made for dipping into the soft yellow yolks are bloody magic – frankly they’d make a great drinks nibble on a Sunday afternoon! This recipe is part of a ‘mediterranean brunch’ spread that I put together for my lovely friends at Dish magazine a while back, and it’s definitely a keeper – so easy to make and packed with flavour!

Right then, in other news Hoob is currently asleep in his room (hurrah) on a fleeting trip to Auckland. I only have him in my clutches for a little while but will be enjoying every minute! Meanwhile Henry is exploring the idyllic Greek island of Paros and in the last stage of his epic European adventure before beginning the journey back to New Zealand – it feels like he has been there for aaages. In my department it’s pretty much same ‘ole same ‘ole – lots of work on (shot my next Dish spread last week), and have a heap more lined up to get finished…but it’s all good though, I am incredibly lucky to love what I do, so for much of the time I lose myself in the creative flow and it doesn’t feel like work at all. Even so all work and no play makes me a dull girl (‘woman’ I should say, God who wants to be a middle-aged woman ‘girl’!?) and I have had some lovely catch ups with friends of late, including a night out when negronis were the celebratory drink of choice when the only cause for celebration was being in a great mood and getting out of the house! Tonight I am whipping up a wee Sunday night feast of chicken pie, kumara and potato mash and green beans for some of my dearest mates – a proper l’il homey Sunday night dinner. Right haha, am in bed as always and I need to get my walk done before Hoob wakes up – time to go! Have a great week ahead and see you soon…

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perfect steak with herb butter, cauliflower puree & french-style carrots

serves 2

Good morning all you loved-up l’il couples out there – this is a recipe for you…perfectly cooked (more on that) steak with creamy, addictive cauliflower puree and ‘French-style’ baby carrots. OK, first up the perfectness of the steak is obviously open to debate as some people like theirs still mooing (apologies to the lovely vegos), and others like them incinerated. This cooking method is designed for big fat (5-6cm thick at least) steaks, and will leave the steak with a caramelised, seared exterior and a uniformly pink just-cooked (not the wobbly texture of ‘blue’ meat) inside. This results in my favourite textures, and  if I am going to eat a steak (which is a rare (pun intended) thing indeed), this is the only way I want it cooked. They are then topped with flavour-packed, grunty herb butter and served alongside my favourite pillowy cauliflower puree and just-cooked thyme and garlicky, honey-buttery (so many adjectives this morning- whaaat?) baby carrots. It is a quickly prepared, indulgent dinner for two and I’d love to hear if you try it! If you have your own perfect method for cooking steak as you like it, obviously just do that, and give the herb butter and sides a whirl…

Right then, what else is news? I have just finished an epic week working at My Food Bag in Parnell – crikey, it was full on. I was filling in for a stylist away on holiday, so prepping and plating/styling dishes for photography. MFB is such a slick operation I loved seeing a big-budget business dealing with what I do, and now just have to figure out how my modest budget would allow for a version of their lighting set-up – it was super impressive. It was also bloody fun and a welcome change to be working surrounded by a team rather than my normal solo-endeavours, but this week (actually starting this weekend) I must crack on in my normal way with a load of work ready to be done. Due to the busy week (and the absence of a few of my besties) I didn’t have a lot of energy left over for any social life, but did manage to squeak in one drink with a dear girlfriend which was just enough to keep me sane! Meanwhile Hoob has roared into his final semester at uni ‘firing on all cylinders’, which is bloody fabulous, and Pog is still working in the idyllic surrounds of Markington Hall before heading off to Greece and the completion of his European sojourn. (Missing my lovelies after our gorgeous holiday, thank God for my ridiculous schedule to keep me occupied!). Right, I haven’t exercised all week so it’s time to haul arse before getting stuck into some work. Bye for now, have a great weekend – more recipes coming again soon…

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super green soup

serves 4

Happy Sunday morning to you! I thought I had better get my act together pronto after being away for the last two weeks, and this soup seems the perfect way to start – the intense iron-rich spinach is enhanced with sweet onion and leeks, then given a l’il kick with fresh mint, a hit of fire from cayenne pepper, and brightness from zingy lemon. It has a healthy yet comfy feel-good factor that works like magic for a Sunday night, easy dinner. The blue cheese, walnut sourdough toasts are a whole different thing – pure indulgent naughtiness – they’re bloody brilliant with the soup (or French onion, mushroom, cauliflower or chicken soups) but are equally good served as a snack with early evening drinks, seriously, let me know if you give them a try, you won’t regret it!

Right then, in other news, Rich and I arrived back from Rome late Wednesday night, he was back on a plane (complete with budding eye infection and a suitcase of rapidly washed and dried clothes) on Thursday. Then Friday morning I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (kind of to be fair – bloody woke at 4am so probs looked a bit knackered) at my latest freelance job – working alongside the brilliant team at My Food Bag, filling in for a food stylist heading off on holiday. God the set up is so slick in the kitchen/photography department I had a wee twinge of the green-eyed monster at the resources on hand! So next week I will be doing my thing in a nine-to-five capacity which makes a fun change, before getting back to shooting the next issue of Dish the following week. (Was seriously excited to return from Europe to see the current issue, with my first ever Dish cover recipe, styled and photographed by me…such a buzz). So, ha, no rest for the wicked.

Meanwhile Hoob is straight back into uni after being welcomed home by the gorgeous Raven, lucky man/boy, and working hard at Timberland in his ‘spare’ time. Pog has returned to England and is working at Markington Hall in North Yorkshire, as part of his wwoofing experience. It looks absolutely stunning, with beautiful gardens and a rich heritage (including being inherited by William Wilberforce, whose descendants still own it) and he is right at home gardening and whipping up floral arrangements for a weekend wedding. Right then – loads to do, so time to get up, (still writing these propped up in bed with a vat of tea), I have about a billion pics to edit from our trip, but once that’s done I’ll be posting a big ole blog post about Hvar, Dubrovnik, Florence and Rome…see you soon.

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slow-cooked, italian beef cheek ragu on soft pappardelle

serves 8

Well hello there from the other side of the world! Before I tell you what I’ve been up to, let me just quickly introduce you to the most meltingly tender, slow-cooked beef cheeks, shredded in their luscious winey tomato sauce, spooned over just-cooked pappardelle (or soft polenta if you fancy), and sprinkled with lashings of Parmesan. This is not what I feel like eating right in this minute in the summer heat of Florence, but if I were here in winter (or at home in New Zealand) it would be just perfect! As in the old cooking TV shows – “this is one (a post) I prepared earlier” and it is my latest collab with the fabulous Smith & Caughey’s, featuring one of my all-time favourite brands, Le Creuset. I really am so lucky to be able to work with such great products, especially given they are ones I have used and loved for many years myself. I was gifted my first Le Creuset frying pan as a wedding present many moons ago, and over the years have managed to add a few more gems, like this gorgeous 26cm signature round casserole in the original ‘volcano’ colour, to my collection. (To check out one for yourself just pop to the website here ). For over 90 years Le Creuset have been creating stunning enameled cast iron cookware and stoneware, and more recently, stainless, silicone and more. As I was rummaging around the second floor at Smith & Caughey’s Queen St before I left, I seriously could have picked just about anything from the range – they are investment pieces that last beautifully for a lifetime.

Aaaaand what else can I tell you….as it happens I am finishing this post off sitting in the most magical spot in the world – in a roof-top cafe, over-looking the Ponte Vecchio spanning the Arno River in the heart of Florence. I have been so incredibly lucky to spend the last 10 days with Pog and Hoob, swimming in the crystal, deep azure sea in Hvar, eating outrgaeously delicious seafood and roaming the Old City walls in Dubrovnik, and now just with Hoob having an unscheduled, yet still somehow fun night in Munich (delayed flight=missed flight), followed by a day of shopping and sightseeing in beautiful Florence. It is impossible to believe that the time has gone so quickly that tomorrow we take the train to Rome for two more days before flying home. I have loads to share about our adventures, but will save that for a post where I have more time (and my office at home!), but in the meantime, I can say it has been one of the best experiences of my life to hang out with my men/boys, travel and meet so many wonderfully kind people along the way. Definitely have a bit of a glow on…see you when I get home!

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self-saucing choc coffee pudding

serves 8

Bloody hell – it is 3˚C as I write this (that’s 32˚F), which quite frankly is making the inclination to jump out of bed to go for my walk harder to muster…but I shall! Meanwhile today’s recipe is a self-saucing chocolate, coffee pudding, pretty much perfect for this freezing weather. I have also included a recipe for a dark chocolate coffee sauce – which you don’t strictly need as the pud makes it’s own sauce, it’s really just to be extra-decadent if you’re serving it up to guests, (and the sauce keeps well in the fridge for heating up to pour over ice cream). I’ve used ground almonds for the pudding, but hazelnut or walnut meal would also work well with the coffee/choc/liqueur combination.

Aaaand – crikey – this time next week I will be packed and ready to head away. I. Can’t. Wait. I feel like I have been hanging out for this holiday for at least six months – bring on the sunshine and the company of my men/boys. Henry has made a pit stop back home so I have had him here since Sunday which is such a bloody treat – he flies back to London on Friday, then Hoob and I follow next week together. He will have finished his exams and I will (she says) be up to date with my work, so we’ll both be primed to let loose! Other than that I have been enjoying my normal round of quiz nights and catching up with dear friends for drinks out and about, rugby, good food and whisky – fantastic! Oh – and I saw Ocean’s 8 the other day, and while the movie may not exactly be arthouse/rule-breaking, looking at the fashion is worth the ticket alone – particularly Cate Blanchett’s kick-arse style, can I please be her when I grow up? (Hahahahaha – might have missed that boat slightly…)

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indian-inspired dinner for 6

serves 6

Helloooo and happy Saturday! Another cold winter’s night rugby test and another curry night at home – which is just bloody perfect in my book. This time I am working in collaboration with the good people at Silver Fern Farms to create some Indian-inspired dishes to take you on a taste adventure, and which are perfect for entertaining friends, where all of the hard work (not that there is much) is done in advance. As you know I am very choosey when it comes to who I work with, so I am feeling very lucky to have been able to team up to create today’s recipes. First up we have Indian spiced pan-seared lamb fillets with mustard seed and chilli-spiked onions and cool herby yoghurt served on crunchy poppadum wedges to enjoy with a beer or pre-dinner cocktail, then it’s onto the main event of grunty venison meatballs served in a rich curry sauce with loads of fresh herbs, paratha and rice. The beauty of the cuts used is that both are lean and luscious, requiring minimum intervention (there is no need for slow-cooking here), with the lamb loins ready in under 10 minutes. (The way I have cooked them they’re designed to be served as nibbles, but they would also be great angle sliced on a winter salad of rocket, grilled eggplant and quinoa topped with the mustard onions and the yoghurt as a dressing). The venison is an ideal match for the rich curry, so easy to prepare and a little bit different (and special) for serving guests. They could also be offered as a cocktail nibble with the sauce for dipping and can be prepared the day before and stored, covered until ready to cook. If you make the kofte balls bigger (and squash them) they would also be fabulous in a burger with the onions and yoghurt (pinched from the lamb loins) and some bitter greens. Yum.

Aaand what else is there to report? It is now less than three weeks until my grand adventure with the men/boys and I am fairly well beside myself with excitement. As is typical I have a flurry of grooming preparation planned (hello fake-tan, thanks for the body-rescue), as well as a slightly scary amount of work to get done before take-off – deadlines don’t go on holiday when I do sadly. Basically I can’t wait to spend time with Pog and Hoob – there are so few opportunities for us to hang out as a family, (I am exploding with happy anticipation), and that it happens to be while exploring the beaches and towns in Hvar and Dubrovnik makes it all the  more special. Bring on crystal clear waters and a cocktail! (and some culture too obvs). So, the count down is on, but I will be back here again before I go, so keep an eye out, and in the meantime let me know if you give the recipes a go, and join me on my mid-winter taste adventure…

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honey roast pumpkin with prosciutto, sage, blue cheese & walnuts

serves 4-6

Good morning, and holy moly – check this out – the most fabulously indulgent sides for a roast dinner! Tender pumpkin wedges roasted with runny honey, sage, sea salt and black pepper, finished off with melting blue cheese, crispy prosciutto and a crumbling of crunchy walnuts. (Really bloody delicious if I say so myself.) Aaaand the all time classic creamed spinach with a whisper of garlic and freshly grated nutmeg – where a mountain of spinach is magically reduced to an intense, iron-rich and addictive side in minutes. In the pumpkin department if you don’t like blue cheese (!) you can swap it for feta and also play with other flavour and texture combinations using rosemary, pine nuts and olives and even a few chilli flakes to counteract the honey sweetness.

So – winter then (hence the roasty sides), and I am hanging out for my trip to Croatia and Italy with every fibre of my being – not least because I have just finished my second lot of antibiotics for a chest infection and consequently have been feeling a bit poo. Meanwhile what the hell is this about – every morning (and I use that term lightly) at about 3:30am two birds outside my window get together for a raucous old catch up, calling to each other and chatting cheerily and fulsomely until about 5am. I know they’re just lovely nature’s gift and all that but I don’t have much of a sense of humour at 3:30am…hahaha I sound like such a grumpy old woman! I have also been flat out with my normal round of work for Dish, Cuisine and Fairfax/Stuff with the odd collab thrown in for good measure. Despite the truly dreadful weather over the recent long weekend I hooned down (almost underwater at some points) to Whangapoua for a quick over-nighter with darling friends, with much card playing, whisky drinking (that might have been just me) and laughter. At the tail-end of my lurgy I whipped up a trio of curries to hook into with the rugby last weekend and had a hilarious time at pub quiz night on Monday (ridiculously excited to win a bowl of chips for my team – ah yes, the fun never stops)…so business as usual really. Poor old Hoob is also full of a cold in Welly and is head down bum up in preparation for uni exams (hurrah) while Pog is still in Italy being stung by bees, ‘attacked’ by ticks (well one embedded in his back any way) and on the permanent look our for snakes. So that’s it from me for today, I hope you give these a whirl, and if you do, let me know what you think…bye for now!

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roast broccoli & freekeh salad

serves 6

It feels like it’s been a wee while ‘between drinks’ as I’ve been running around like a mad woman just lately – but finally I have a new recipe for you! I have been wanting to post a roast broccoli salad for ages now, since Henry and I enjoyed many versions of it while he was here before jetting off to Italy. I found the perfect prompt last week while  at Smith & Caughey’s Queen St store poking around the gorgeous homewares department looking for my next collab item to feature. Check out the stunning Rosenthal Junto stoneware plate in the pic above, in a beautiful rich, matt coppery black which seems to change colour depending on the way the light catches it. Obviously in my job I am always on the lookout for prop plates to shoot food on which will bring the recipes to life, but the same is true for serving guests at dinner parties. Sometimes I find coloured plates distracting, but not these. They are both rich and subtle, showcasing the food rather than dominating it – just bloody stunning really, and an easy to way to go from every-night dinner to dinner-party-fancy! To check out the full range pop in here and while you’re about it I would totally recommend the Riedel O wine glassware – I use tumblers like this all the time, not just for wine, but for serving Negronis or other cocktails (like gin and tonics garnished with lemon slices, and herbs) in a modern way. They’re also the perfect vessel for a sophisticated moussey dessert if you fill them about a third of the way, then top with beautiful fresh or roasted fruit. The glasses are grape varietal specific in their design, pictured is the Cabernet/Merlot style, so if you are using them for their designed purpose you will be optimising the bouquet and flavour of your favourite drop – excellent!

Meanwhile the roasty broccoli salad is the perfect winter side – with the pleasing texture of nubbly freekeh, earthy cumin-seed-roasted brassicas (you could add in cauliflower here too if you felt inclined), some fresh greens, little surprise pops of sweetness from currants, salty feta and crunchy pumpkin seeds drizzled in an addictive dressing of lemon, Greek yoghurt and tahini. If you come here often you’ll know I love it when food that looks and tastes so good is also good for you – bonus points.

Aaaand in other news – I had my darling nephew Rupert staying last week while my sister and her hubby were sunning themselves in Fiji. Poor old Rue had a chest infection for most of the time so was been fussed over by his aunty in typical fashion (I make him sound like a toddler, but he’s almost 18). Meanwhile Henry had an amazing time with his first wwoof family in Ostunia, less of an amazing time in Palermo with the second hosts, (long story involving tantrum performing children and stressful family dynamics), and is now filling in time drinking Negronis and lying on the beach which sounds pretty damned perfect to me) before heading to Naples. Poor old Hoob has a lurgy now too, and tells me it is basically snowing in Welly (well on the hills any way) – which of course makes me want to rush down-country, laden with thermoses full of vegetable soup and a suitcase full of hand-knitted jumpers…but actually I have a bit of a lurgy myself! Last Saturday night I had a fab time out at Cottos (in Ponsonby) for dinner with great friends, but since then have succumbed to a rotten energy-sapping cold which has me longing for a hot bath and bed at midday…ah well I suspect some medicinal whisky may be on the cards tonight…

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simple mushroom gnocchi

 serves 4-6

Gah  – Wednesday again…where do the days go? Today’s recipe is super simple and quick to make (especially if you already have caramelised onions, or use store bought). I have been whipping up variations of this dish non-stop as it is so speedy to make but full of nurturing autumn vibes. The rich earthy mushrooms are coated in a little creamy, wine sauce, teamed with sweet caramelised onions, a little salty feta, crunchy pine nuts and soft pillowy gnocchi – seriously every mouthful is just a perfect little combo of comforting flavours and textures.

Right then – it’s been a super stressful week trying to work out what to do about poor little Dougie (13 year old Border Terrier) who needs another operation (cruciate ligament on back leg). He is at an age when most of my friends think I’m mad to keep him around, but every time I look in his anxious little-old-man eyes I feel likes he isn’t ready to go yet and basically I just bawl my eyes out. Borders can live in excess of 15 years and the vet assures me he is otherwise very healthy – so operation it is then…

Other than that I have been running around to a serious  amount of work events lately – the Whittaker’s Caramel launch at Culprit (yum, obviously), the Steinlager Black launch (I’m not really a beer-girl, but also yum apparently) and Masu restaurant to learn all about styles and flavours of sake with Fumi Nakatani (absolutely fascinating – which you can do too – details here). So once you add Monday quiz night (bloody hilarious as always), evenings have been very busy indeed, while during the day I have been flat out working on my next Dish spread. Meanwhile Hoob is grinding his way through his last year at Vic like a trooper, but still found time to shoot a short film with some of his mates, for the 48-hours film festival in Wellington last weekend. A tight little tech-psycho-thriller with Hoob as the actor – proud mama indeed! On the other side of the world all is going well for Pog in Ostuni as he wields his scythe every morning (apparently on dewy grass is best), and is now helping to build a cob wall (made from sub soil, straw and stuff!). He is really enjoying the company of his first wwoof hosts and has also managed to nip away for day trips to places like the gorgeous Lecce so when the man/boys are happy, I am happy (apart from the Dougie situation obvs).

Right time to get up (posting this from bed with enormous mug of tea as always), loads to do – I hope you give this a whirl, it really is utterly delicious.

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dreamy dark orange, chilli, chocolate sauce

serves 4

Hellooo – and happy Wednesday! I’m getting a bit obsessed with Smith & Caughey’s Queen St store at the moment, and have taken to spending an inordinate amount of time fossicking around on the first floor – that’s where all the food, kitchenware and fancy dinner plates are. Last week I popped back and found some incredible Willie’s Cacao chocolate (famous for their ‘bean to bar’ philosophy) for this month’s collaboration. As you can imagine, I was literally like a kid in a candy shop, surrounded by the most luscious, luxury food items! When I have a couple of friends over for dinner, even if it is a super casual, last minute affair, I still like to be able to offer something naughty for dessert. This is one of my go-to solutions using a quick, rich, dark chocolate sauce which I pour generously over vanilla bean ice cream. I realise that this sounds almost too simple – but the key is in the quality of the ingredients which elevate the every-day to the extraordinary. In this instance the chocolate is 100% natural and pure, using raw sugar cane, unrefined cocoa butter and organic fruit essences so the result isn’t sweet and cloying – rather it is rich, elegant and intense. Today I have used Willie’s Cacao Luscious Orange version made with chocolate from the eastern tip of Cuba (which you can find at the Smith & Caughey’s website here) to create an intensely flavoured chocolate sauce – given a complementary hit of orange zest and runny honey then a little fiery kick with a pinch of chilli. Paired with cool creamy ice cream and lightly toasted flaked almonds it is ridiculously pleasing. If I have a bit more time, I will often soften the ice cream a little then pour cooled sauce and a sprinkling of nuts directly into pockets I make in the ice cream with the back of a spoon. Then I just swirl it together, prettify with a few more nuts and re-freeze. I serve it with a little more sauce to finish…bloody delicious! There are also loads of other flavour combinations you can play with for this sauce – for example Willie’s Cacao Rio Caribe Gold from Venezuela with a shot of ristretto coffee, or Los Llanos Gold from Colombia sauce served with ice cream and flash-roasted plums.

Aaaand what else? I expected to feel totally bereft after Henry left, and although I did, and miss him terribly after his visit – I still feel invigorated by his stay. Any time I spend with my darling men/boys leaves me feeling so much lighter and happier, so yup I expect the the buzz to be lingering for a wee while yet. Since heading off he has been in touch every day, keeping me updated with his adventures as they happen. After arriving in Rome as fresh as can be expected after 24 hours of travel he spent several days roaming the city (walking up to 33km in one day!), checking out the sites and sampling local fare such as the famous Roman fried artichokes. He found some of the local restaurant staff fairly abrupt and unaccommodating (big cities – watcha gonna do?), but was surprised at how many of the sights he managed to cover off in just a few days. Yesterday he arrived in the outrageously picturesque town of Ostuni where he will be helping out a family who are converting their olive grove to a productive farm. I am keeping my fingers crossed for him that the experience turns out to be everything he hoped for, and yet somehow the very nature of travel is that the unexpected happens, and those are often the things which make the trip more memorable.

Meanwhile dear old Hoob is still plugging away in Welly. He had his first basketball team trial the other night, and even though he gave it everything he’s got is still unsure whether he made it through (so two lots of crossed fingers from me then!). As always I love hearing about his flat antics, which are decidedly varied with everything from ‘at home’ gigs (band members living on site and the drum kit permanently set up in the kitchen) to flat movie nights (last week to see Isle of Dogs) followed by Rich whipping up a pad thai. It is so cool that they all take turns cooking and generally eat together 6 nights out of 7, and when Rich is on duty that means vegetarian for dinner. Haha that reminds me I was checking out restaurants in Croatia last week, in anticipation of our upcoming trip – with both Pog and Hoob being vego I feel quite a bit more research might be required!

And me? I have puddled along to a couple of comedy festival gigs, had a beautiful (as always) dinner at Barhulo in Parnell, and have been flat out catching up on all of the work I set to one side during Henry’s visit. Speaking of which…much to do, back to it, and I’ll see you here again soon.

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riz au lait (french rice pudding)

serves 4-6

Happy Wednesday! Today’s recipe is a real favourite, which I was lucky enough to eat for the first time in Paris with my lovely Pog several years ago. You know the whole thing with that book ‘French women don’t get fat’? Well apparently (please correct me if I’m wrong) traditionally French women tend to feed their children a lovely well-rounded diet using smallish portion sizes, and low on ‘naughty’ treats. So the kids grow up (the men apparently more so – no idea why) with a passion for one of the few comforting desserts on offer ‘riz au lait’ (rice with milk). Whether true or not, I love this version of rice pudding made with risotto rice for extra creaminess, flavoured with fragrant vanilla bean and served luscious and creamy with a topping of crunchy golden praline walnuts and sweet salty caramel sauce…it is basically like a big squishy hug in a bowl. It is also, equally good served hot or cold – but if you serve it cold, fold through the whipped cream before refrigerating to stop it setting like a rock, and remove from the fridge 15 minutes before serving.

Annnd, oh my God I feel so incredibly lucky to have had Henry staying for the last week before flying out yesterday to begin his grand adventure in Italy. (42 minutes until he arrives in Doha en route to Italy according to Mr Flight-tracker). I feel so invigorated by his visit – we had a huge amount of fun eating out and at home, heading to the Comedy Festival, poking around the shops in our favourite spots, hitting the mat at yoga and, hilariously, the games arcade in town where we laughed ’til we cried. I am so proud of him and incredibly grateful for his love and friendship – I know this trip will be a wonderful experience – woofing (organic farming) through Italy and England, meeting up with Rich and I in Croatia (more on that later), then culminating with several weeks of romance, sunshine and azure seas with the gorgeous Will in Greece…I’ll keep you posted along the way, but if you’re keen to see what he is up to ‘in person’ you can follow his adventures via instagram here. 

My other big recent treat was a flying visit to see my lovely Hoob in Welly – and to visit the war museum exhibition created by the renowned Peter Jackson. Visitors are taken to the trenches at Quinn’s post through a physical recreation of their environment and cleverly incorporated films which appear like holograms, where the soldiers interact, tell tales and urge you onwards. Look out for one of the first strapping young soldiers, bare-chested and gorgeous, getting rid of bugs from his shirt with the tip of  lit cigarette…that’s my Rich!!! If you’re heading to Welly it is definitely worth a visit – and the details are here. As always it was so bloody wonderful to see him, albeit briefly, working hard, recovering from his basketball ankle injury, beleaguered with a rotten cold unfortunately but still dishing out bear-hugs and big smiles.

Right then, I can’t linger in bed any longer – stuff to do! Have a great day, and I hope you have the opportunity to give this luxurious rice pudding a whirl – it truly is delicious, and nothing like grandma used to make, unless grandma was French of course…

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