The Spice of Life

Spices need extra loving care.  In centuries past they have been sought around the globe. Nations once went to massive lengths to control the sale and passage of spices, they were the jewel in the crown of a waring empires portfolio.  Today although they still reach us from far flung places, their little boxes, bags and clear glass or plastic bottles no longer reflect or honour their dangerous history.

Light and air are thieves, they steal the flavour from spices.

 As part of my Spring clean I decided it was time to treat my spice collection to the love and care I know it deserves.  Dark amber bottles now protect them from light, firm screw top caps prevent air from robbing them of flavour and clear labels mean I can grab just what I need in a hurry.  These little  bottles came from www.arthurholmes.co.nz. Delivered to my door with minimum fuss. The labels are chefs-standard (masking tape and marker pen). 

Now I can journey through the history and global throw of spices at a glance, ideas spring to mind as I cast an eye over my collection that lines the darkest wall of my kitchen. It sure beats rifling through a draw in frustration and stops me from buying things twice when I do my ordering.

You may not be as nutty about spices as me however, but my two bits worth of advice (as a bare minimum) are; buy spices in small amounts and store in airtight containers in a dark place.  A fridge or freezer is excellent and probably a lot less trouble.

Lxx

First Pick


Vinaigrette:

 1 tbsp white vine vinegar
4 tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
3 leaves of sorrel, finely sliced
1 tsp lemon zest
salt, pepper and sugar to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously.

Salad:

I wandered around the garden looking for fresh new leaves, this salad includes; sliced snow peas and radishes, baby cavalo nero, red cos, cos, flat leaf parsley, celery leaves, rocket, micro mixed Italian lettuces, baby broadbeans and chopped capers.

Enjoy - spring has finally arrived! 

Laura xx

Winner Mainland Butter Competition

Many thanks to those of you who entered the Mainland butter competition.  The winner is Clinton Squibb with his White Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (below) recipe.  The amazing thing about this recipe is how long it keeps fresh and how moist the little cakes are.  I tested this recipe using a mini loaf style muffin tray.  As white chocolate is particularly sensitive to heat (burning at a lower temp than dark choc) I would suggest using the double boiler method rather than the microwave.  I am also biased and think microwaves are pretty defunct in the kitchen of a food lover.  However enough of my "worthy" opinions. Although I would like to say thanks to Grieg Buckley also for his lovely apple shortcake recipe, and to Brett Bailey for his amusing Toast recipe!



WHITE CHOCOLATE MUD CUPCAKES


600 grams  Plain flour
2 teaspoons Baking powder

500 grams (cubed)  Butter
500 grams Milk
900 gramsCastor sugar
300 grams (chopped) White chocolate

4 (whisked)Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla essence


METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 155°C and line your muffin trays
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside
  • Melt the butter, milk, castor sugar and white chocolate gently over a double boiler or on a medium to low heat in a microwave
  • Allow to cool slightly
  • Pour the cooled white chocolate mixture in with the dry ingredients and whisk together until all the lumps have dissolved
  • Gently fold in the eggs and vanilla essence until just combined
  • Deposit the batter into the muffin trays, making sure the batter comes two thirds of the way up the cup
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes (time may vary depending on ovens)
Allow to cool completely before icing