Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Zealand

Tom and I collectively have had many friends who have visited and worked in New Zealand through the years. However, this meal celebrated the departure of two of our friends, Stacy and Nick, going off to this picturesque country to see what seeds they could sow. Luckily, they are both doing well there today and we were happy to send them off with a taste of what was to come.

New Zealand today is full of sheep and Lord of the Rings tourism. Of course there is much more to this prosperous land than hobbits, but seriously, it's hard not to think of Elijah Wood when looking at the landscape. Much like our Australian meal, we had to kind of make up vegetable dishes that we thought Kiwis might eat. It's not that they don't eat vegetables, but either they eat ingredients we cannot get in the U.S. or they do not have a concrete recipe for a dish without meat. We hope we did it justice.

iSnack 2.0 and New Zealand Cheddar with Rye Bread

Okay, you are probably wondering first of all about the name of iSnack 2.0. Well, my friend, Jodie (she's from Australia), gave me this gift the last time she visited the states and apparently, the iSnack 2.0 name caused quite a stir down under, mainly because it's silly. It is now called Cheesybite and it's like Vegemite except Americans are supposed to like it more. The thing that a lot of people can't get over about Vegemite and the like is that you are supposed to spread it super thin on bread, but we tend to lather it on too thickly. Like Australians, Kiwis also enjoy their yeasty spreads. Like most Americans, I am not totally sold, but I do think the iSnack tastes better than original Vegemite. We put this out with some lovely New Zealand cheddar and bread for an amuse bouche.

Broccoli and New Zealand Cheddar Salad

Alright, on with the sort of bullshit vegetable dish! It did turn out quite tasty and a nice, lighter side to go with all of the other heavy food. We also used the New Zealand cheddar again, because it is just so pleasant with everything. I would be proud to bring this along to any Midwestern picnic.

2lbs broccoli cut into bite sized florets
1 cup shredded new zealand cheddar or other white cheddar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup shaved almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Blanche the broccoli for two minutes drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. In a large bowl mix everything together and serve.

Turnip and Rutabaga Gratin

Tom and I both love our root vegetables and rutabaga is one of those special winter treats that if you have not tried you should really get with it. Both rutabaga and turnips are super cheap, delicious and feed a lot of people, plus you can dress them up or down. It doesn't matter, they will still be enjoyable.

By the way, about 5 minutes after we took this picture, our lovely blue baking dish cracked off and there was gratin all over the place. Just one of those mishaps that seem to happen to us when a lot of people are over. Dinners aren't the same without some sort of crisis or broken cookware!

For the Bechamel:

2 cups milk
1 onion thinly sliced
1 tsp chopped sage
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 clove of garlic chopped
1/2 stick of butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
Salt to taste

1. In a saucepan heat the milk until it reaches a boil and then set it aside.
2. In another small saucepan melt the butter over low heat and stir in the flour. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture browns.
3. Pour in the heated milk slowly in batches and use a whisk to stir it together.
4. Add the herbs and cook until thickened. Season with salt and nutmeg.

For the vegetables:

1.5 lbs rutabaga cut into thin strips
1.5 lbs turnips also cut into thin strips
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and butter a 2 quart casserole dish.
2. Boil the rutabagas in a large pot for two minutes and drain.
3. Saute the onion in a tablespoon of butter for five minutes and combine with all of the vegetables in a large bowl.
4. Season these with salt and pepper and pour them into the casserole.
5. Pour bechamel over the vegetables and cover everything with the breadcrumbs.
6. Bake 45 minutes or until the top is browned.

Mint Jelly for Lamb

When I was a kid, we were at a jelly store in Tennessee somewhere and I saw an apple mint jelly. I begged my parents to get in and proceeded to eat it on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Little did I know that this type of jelly had a higher purpose--meat sauce. I still hold to the fact that it is fabulous with peanut butter, but I guess it goes well with lamb, too.

1 cup mint leaves chopped
1/4 cup malt vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp corn starch

In a small pan, heat the vinegar and sugar over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the mint leaves, salt, and corn starch. Continue heating until slightly thickened. Allow to cool in the fridge for several hours and serve with the lamb.

Lamb Roast

We couldn't very well make a New Zealand meal without making a lamb roast. Much to my chagrin and disappointment, the lamb was made and enjoyed by all, well, everyone but Stacy and I. I wish I could enjoy lamb and I think it tastes just fine. It's just that for some reason when it hits my throat it makes me gag inexplicably. Stacy had a better excuse, she tried the lamb because she knew more was in her future when she moved, but she was in fact a vegetarian. I was still secretly happy that her reaction was the same as mine.

Now, please don't listen to me and my opinions on lamb, like I said, I wish I could enjoy it. This is a lovely lamb recipe and goes wonderful with the mint jelly. This picture seriously doesn't do it justice, but I think you can look at the runoff meat juices and decide for yourself.


At first when I saw the recipe for this back when we did Australia, I thought to myself "there is absolutely no way I am making that!". It looked hard, it looked time consuming...it looked amazing when it was done! New Zealand and Australia fight over this dessert and who came up with it first. Supposedly, it was named after a Russian dancer after she toured in both countries. Pavlova is meringue-like and is covered with whipped cream and fruit. It is somehow light and rich at the same time and it was absolutely devoured. I'm pretty happy with the results and I'm glad I had a second opportunity to make this. I hadn't made meringue since a high school cooking class and was surprised it actually set. Whew!

1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature (about 4 eggs)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
strawberries, green parts trimmed off, sliced
kiwis, skinned and sliced
Whatever other fruit you enjoy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until it gets frothy. Next, add the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla until it gets stiff, smooth and glossy (Note-if you have a stand mixer, this is easy and requires just patience, if it's a hand mixer-it may take awhile).
Take a piece of parchment paper and draw a 9 inch circle and place it pencil side down on a sheet pan.
Spoon the mixture into the middle of the circle you drew and place in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or so until it is light brown in color. Don't worry if it cracks a bit, it is supposed to do that.
Turn the oven off, but keep the pavlova in. Open the oven door and let the pavlova cool with the over to room temp (about 30 minutes of so).

Whip the cream and brown sugar together and put it on top of the pavlova. Decorate and finish with any fruit of your choosing.


I think this was the perfect way to send off our friends to the land of the Kiwis. Although we miss them so, we are happy to know that they are doing quite well and are enjoying their lives there now. Again, sorry for the delay on the post updating. Our New Year's resolution should obviously be keeping up with our dinners a little more diligently on this blog.

Next up, Thailand!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    My name is Rob and I am from NZ.

    Here in NZ we are extremely proud of our pavlova ... those Aussies have tried to steal it off us plus a couple of sporting trophies from time to time when they are lucky. I believe that the pavlova being featured for Nz and Not Aussie on the blog is documented proof that the pav is ours!!!