Thursday, February 23, 2012

Larnach Castle Scones

Just one of the amazing views from the lawn of Larnach Castle.
Once you've torn your eyes away from the spectacular gardens and the view over Otago Harbor on the South Island, you enter New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle, and learn of the successes, scandals and tragedies that dogged its builder after erecting it in 1871.

Larnach Castle
That and imagining the efforts of its current owners, the Barker family, who spent 40 years restoring it is bound to work up an appetite. If you've timed it right, high tea will be ready. Don't miss the scones.

I didn't and was determined to bring the memory and the recipe home. Our hostess, Deborah Price, prevailed upon Chef Hayley Harris, to share. The result is so typically Kiwi casual, just reading it brings a smile to my face so I'm reproducing it here as written.

You'll have to figure out how many scones a cup of flour makes, but eating the results should bring a smile to your face too.

Larnach Castle Scones

For every cup of flour add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt, then sieve together.
For liquids add 1/3 cream 1/3 milk and 1/3 hot water.
Add liquid until mix forms a soft dough( like a soft bread dough).
Try not to over mix as this will make for tough scones.
Tip mix onto a well-floured bench pat out softly and cut (or use a cutter) into shapes.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.
We bake on a steam bake setting but you can achieve this at home by adding a metal dish with water to the bottom of the oven.

Finish with a large dollop of homemade jam and a generous swirl of clotted cream, with or without a flower.

For more about Larnach Castle, go to Travel on the Level,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Terroir's local fish of the day

Craggy Range's Giants Winery
Craggy Range's Giants Winery is a not to be missed stop on the Hawkes Bay, NZ, Wine Trail.

Gourmets schedule their visit around meal time at its restaurant, Terrôir, and I found out why. When Chef shared the recipe for that night's dessert, a Lemon Thyme Semi Fredo with Gingerbread and Rhubarb Confit, it proved to be all but impossible to recreate so I asked for another.

This may be the local whatever-they-caught-today, but the recipe transforms it into anything but ordinary.

Terrôir Local Fish of the Day

Makes 4

You will need just under 2 pounds of fresh fish fillets divided into 4

Caramelized fennel bulb lentils
2 cups Puy (French - green) lentils                  2 (scant) quarts water
2 bay leaves                                                        Salt

Cook the lentils from cold water with bay and salt, simmer for 30-40 minutes, strain.

3 medium-large fennel bulbs                             1/3 cup (generous) olive oil
1½ cups finely diced onion                                2 TBS finely diced garlic
2 lemons - finely grated zest                            

Trim fennel bulbs, removing green fibrous stem  and reserving the green herb.
Finely dice the fennel.
In a large saucepan combine the fennel, oil, onion, garlic and lemon zest, sweat for 40 minutes on low heat. Once soft, increase the heat and caramelize.
Stir into the cooked lentils.
To serve, gently reheat the lentils and add chopped flat parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, fennel herb, salt and pepper


Crab and Lemon Sabayon
1/8 cup (1 oz.)  crab stock                               1/4 cup (scant) dry white wine
Pinch of saffron                                                  1 lemon,  juiced
½ lemon zest                                                      Salt and pepper
1 egg yolk                                                           1/2 cup (scant) butter
dash of cream

Over a water bath, whisk the egg yolk, saffron, lemon juice and zest together until thickened.
Reduce wine and crab stock together by half, add a splash of cream and reheat to a simmer.
Take off the heat and whisk into egg yolk mixture till smooth and then melt in the butter until completely smooth. Rest in a warm place until ready to use.
To serve, cook the fish, reheat the lentils, spoon the sabayon over the plate and add the finished lentils to the plate. Serve with a selection of baby seasonal vegetables - baby leeks, carrots, fennel, beets etc. -  then the fish. Finish with some fresh watercress tips.