How to make Fresh Coconut Milk at Home

Coconuts are abundant in my hometown , so it is widely used in our cuisine. Making coconut milk at home for using in Stew and some of the traditional dessert is very common, instead of using tinned coconut milk or powder.

Coconut milk is made in three stages. This first one being the thickest, the second one a little thinner and the third one is very light. The third milk  is usually used for cooking the vegetables or meat for the gravy . Personally I prefer to cook them in the third milk as it enhances the taste of the gravy.

(This is a recipe that can be tailored as per need)
Method:
To make one cup of thick coconut milk.
Ingredients:
2 cups of grated fresh coconut
3/4 th + 1 tbsp cup of warm water
First, pulse the freshly grated coconut for a second.Then add the warm water and blend till the coconut is all ground and appears milky.
Squeeze out the milk by wringing or pressing the blended coconut really well with your hands through a sieve or cheese cloth.
The FIRST blend of fresh coconut milk  that is the thickest is the first milk.
Add water again to the the left over  squeezed out coconut pulp and  blend again , the consistency of the coconut milk gets thinner and this is the second milk.
Repeat the process and the third and Last blend is the thinnest coconut milk.
Cook Book Scribbles:
  • The most important thing to keep in mind when using the thick first coconut milk is to never let it boil (in the curry or stew etc)  as it will curdle  and spoil the taste.
  • If fresh coconut is not available, frozen fresh coconut can also be used . It is available at Yogiji Christchurch.
  • Dry desiccated coconut however, has not worked for me and Louise.

 

The Curator’s House |Review

The Curator’s House |Review



Today’s review is of the Curator’s House restaurant, set on the corner of the Botanic Gardens and the Avon River, near the Antigua Boat Sheds and the Hospital.


We wandered through the Botanic Gardens from Riccarton Ave to get to the Curator’s House, however, it is located on the edge of the city centre, on Rolleston Ave at the main entrance to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The quaint Old English Tudor style building in which the restaurant is housed is surrounded by cottage style fruit and vegetable gardens.  This heritage building was the original 1920’s residence of the curator of the Gardens.
Prior to this there was a Head Gardener’s cottage located within the footprint of the present day building built in 1872 and before this a small Government Gardener’s cottage existed on the same site.

Wandering down the garden path…..

There is plenty of outdoor seating with large sun umbrellas to provide shade.  We chose to sit outside as it was a very warm sunny day and it was just lovely sitting outside enjoying our surroundings.

My eldest daughter and my Mum (whose birthday we were celebrating over lunch).

The staff were friendly but rushed and barely had time to stop and we had to ask for them to explain what tapas are and how to order from the tapas menu.
To start we ordered bread with a selection of dips and a tapas platter so we could taste a variety of tapas dishes.  I was pleased that a lot of these dishes were gluten free so I was able to try most of them.
The calamari was the stand out tapas dish, the patatas bravas with aioli a close second along with the yummy dips with bread.

We could have chosen more from the tapas menu and shared several tapas for lunch but we were so tempted by the a la carte menu we decided to choose a main dish each.
My husband chose the venison with vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, mushroom and potatoes.  He enjoyed this dish, the venison was cooked to perfection and the crunchy vege crisps were delicious, but he didn’t find the meal amazing (and he tells me for this price he expects to be really ‘wowed’).

My Mum and I both ordered the slow cooked lamb shoulder which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Falling off the bone, this lamb shoulder was slow-cooked to perfection.  The portion of lamb is huge!  I would have loved a few more spring greens with this dish.
Mum loved the wine she bought to accompany her main so much that she ordered a second glass!

This delicious flavourful and fresh salad was the dish my daughter chose.  I nibbled on her salad and really enjoyed the strong Mediterranean flavours.  The price was reasonable too.



None of us thought we’d be able to fit in dessert but when we looked at the dessert menu we changed our minds and decided to splurge!  We all ordered the Pannacotta de Chocolate – a silky chocolate pannacotta with morello cherries, candied almonds and espresso syrup, this really was the cherry on top!

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal but due to the prices it isn’t a restaurant we can visit often.

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way
Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It  is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved  Idiyappams and that meant I  had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I  called  my mom  straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was  a much easier task compared to coaxing  the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to  get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the  Idiyappam press  one too many and left me flabbergasted  how  someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking  for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I  go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
 1 cup Roasted Rice flour .  white or red ( I used Double Horse Appam/ Idiyappam mix , available at Yogiji Christchurch
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
1tsp oil
Salt to taste.
Method
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly

little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough

Pour in the oil

When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much

Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.

Fill upto the brim of the press hollow

In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium  flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened  thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
  • when  the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
  • Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
  • Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam

 

Thai Orchid |Review

Thai Orchid |Review

We enjoyed a nice family dinner with our family and another family at Thai Orchid recently.  The owner is a very friendly guy who came and explained the menu to us and suggested dishes and drinks to order.

Our younger kids all wanted Chicken Green Curry and Pad Thai but our older ones ordered from the ‘Stir Fried’ section and their dishes looked really yummy!
I ordered Beef Massaman Curry (pictured above) which was nice but could have done with a bit more spice.  The Green curry was also very mild but the kids really enjoyed it.

We didn’t have to wait long for our meals to arrive and the staff were very friendly and attentive despite being short on two staff members that night.

All curries are gluten free and many of their other dishes are able to be made gluten free.  I ordered curry for myself but forgot to ask for the other dishes to be made gluten free so I could try them, as we planned to all share so we could taste a bit of everything, so I was a bit disappointed as the other dishes all looked so delicious!

We found this restaurant to be family friendly.

Pepper Mushroom Masala

Pepper Mushroom Masala
PEPPER
Growing up in the southern most part of India, I had only heard of edible mushrooms in storybooks and seen them  in picture books. The ones that appeared out of nowhere during rainy season in my hometown were usually very tiny. We were warned not to touch them as they were poisonous and so we never did .
By the time I was in college, my family had moved to a town that was dry for the major part of the year and mushrooms were rarely seen around.
The University Of Agriculture which was situated in a village nearby was conducting an one day training course for growing Oyster Mushroom in homes. They were promoting it as a small business idea for small scale farmers.
My mom’s friend and our neighbor (whom we lovingly called Lawyer aunty because her husband was a Lawyer), is a science teacher and she wanted to go and learn the process of growing mushrooms for profit at home. She wanted company and asked me if I wanted to go, when my mom couldn’t get leave from work. I tagged along with her because I could skip college .
I must confess that although I went there without expecting much, I came away very fascinated by what we learnt there.
Along with the training on how to grow mushrooms at home, each participant was given a little booklet with detailed instructions of all that we learnt there and some recipes plus a bottle of spawn.
I promptly got to work. All the stars aligned. Amma let me use the little shed outside our home. Since it was harvest season, there was plenty of hay from our paddy fields which  I used to sow the sample spawn I got at the University, to grow my very first batch of mushrooms .
pepper mushroom masala-2
I was so thrilled when those pristine white oyster mushrooms appeared on the little hay bundles I had prepared for the mushrooms to grow! For you see, the green thumb thing completely skipped me even though I was born into a family of agriculturists.
After a bountiful harvest we didn’t know how to cook the mushrooms so we gave some to friends and neighbours and Amma added them to the curries she made.
One day, I decided to try a recipe from the little booklet we got at the University. The recipe was rather simple but quite tasty! And quickly became a regular in our home. DSC_0474Later, I found out that our farm help on my dad’s farm also used this same recipe to cook wild mushrooms. The only spices used here in this recipe are pepper and cumin.
The original recipe used Oyster Mushrooms, but I’ve substituted button mushrooms and the taste does not differ muchDSC_0008



INGREDIENTS:

250 gms Mushroom (chopped )
1 tsp pepper
1 Onion (chopped)
1 small tomato
1 tsp grated coconut (optional)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Curry leaves, salt to taste

METHOD:

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add Cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.

Add Chopped onions, cook till they are pink in color.

Then add the tomato pieces. Saute well till mushy.

Add salt and pepper.

Now add the Mushroom. Saute well.

Sprinkle a little water. Cover and let it cook.

Add chopped corriander leaves.

Cook till the mushrooms are soft and well cooked but still firm .

Sprinkle grated coconut.

Serve as a side dish for rice.

Cook book scribbles: Without the coconut, this masala can also be used as a sandwich filler.















 

 

Costas Greek Taverna |Review 

I had a delicious dinner out with some girlfriends at Costas Greek Taverna Restaurant earlier this week.  Two of us had been before several times but our other friend had never been so was very keen to try it out.

We were not going to have starters but one friend wanted to order the Moussaka for her main and we were told it would take 30 minutes to cook, so we decided to get a starter to nibble on while we waited.
I recommended the Dolmades which are little parcels of rice risotto wrapped in grape leaves and served with salad and the most delicious tzatziki.
It worked out perfectly to share this dish between the three of us, giving us two Dolmades each.  My friends both loved the dish and would order it again in future.

It was relatively quiet that night but every other time I’ve been it’s been absolutely packed!  The atmosphere is fun with music playing, blue lights on one wall and red lights at the bar, with a greek-looking wall with round latticed window at the back of the restaurant.  The staff are very attentive and friendly.

Peeking through the wall to the bar.

This photo does not do the dish justice at all.  Mamma’s Moussaka was served as a tall stack of piping hot moussaka with a gorgeous fresh greek salad and tzatziki on the side.

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The Falafel Souvlaki Platter came with two vegetarian falafel patties, two pita bread, salad, four sauces and chips.  There was an option for a Grande size platter with three falafels for those who are feeling extra hungry.

img_3480-1

The Lamb Shanks with fire roasted vegetables and fragrant rice.  It’s a dish I’ve had before and I keep going back to it!  You can choose one or two shanks (this was two).  I found I kept glancing over at my friends’ salads and tzatziki so next time I might order these on the side (and only one shank).

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After such large main dishes we opted for desserts from the ‘Mini’ range of options.  These little chocolate mousse cups were the perfect end to our delicious dinner at Costas.

Costas has multiple gluten free and vegetarian options and the portion sizes are very generous with options on some dishes to ‘upsize’ to a ‘grande’, while the mini desserts are perfectly bite size after such large mains.  Absolutely delicious, if you haven’t been to Costas before, you definitely should!

Pearlin went to Costas on her birthday as they sent her a free birthday dinner voucher and they gave her a dessert for free too, candle and all!


They also send out free $20 vouchers from time to time so it’s well worth signing up on their website!

You can book online on the Costas Taverna website.

Menulog NZ app | review 

At the end of a rather busy, nothing went as per plan day, drained mentally and physically, I sat twiddling my thumbs trying to decide what to quickly put together for dinner .

The UberEATS app popped up on my Facebook page, when I typed in, easy to make dinner ideas on Google .

Curious to see what it was about I opened the advert. Simply download the app from App Store On IOS it said. I did but sadly UberEATS did not deliver food to our newly developed  subdivision.

Disappointed, I decided to download the next app I saw on App Store – Menulog NZ.

So how does it work? :

As you log on to the app Menulog NZ, you key in your area to find food in. Lucky for us, there were four participating restaurants, one Asian , two Indian and one Moroccan.

As soon as you place the order, and the payment has gone through, you get a confirmation message on the phone with the expected delivery time.

Honestly I was quite apprehensive about the whole thing  as it was all very new to me. What if the food wasn’t good , what if they didn’t deliver. But my curiosity to test out the app won over my apprehension. Moreover, I was happy to order from a  place I had been to before .

I have previously had dinner at this Moroccan restaurant Mosaic by Simo in Addington and remember being pleasantly surprised by array of  Middle Eastern dishes they had on their menu . What’s more it was tasty. So I decided to order from them.

The app Menulog NZ gave information about how much the minimum order had to be, and the specials and promotions the restaurants offered.

If the order is less than the minimum order requirement then there is an option to pay up the balance money to make it to the minimum order or order more to make it to the minimum order mark.

At Mosaic by Simo the minimum order was $20 which I thought was very fair. Each dish on the Menu, had clear description of what they were ,so that the customers had a clear idea of what they were ordering.I got a 15% off discount for my first order and the delivery charge was $8.

Here’s what I did:

I chose the dishes I wanted from the menu.

Grilled Sumac Lamb Kofta

Assortment of Moroccan Dipsimg_3226.jpg

I panicked a little bit when I didn’t get the confirmation text the next second . But it did not take more than a minute to pop on my phone .

The Food Experience:

The food delivered was neatly packaged and arrived slightly before the estimated time of delivery. And warm.

The food itself was good. I was expecting koftas in skewers and was a teeny bit disappointed they were in patty form and a little dry. We would have liked more of  dressing on the kofta in a different container.

The assortment of Moroccan dips all went well with the pita bread. Both the dishes went well with each other as well. It was a satisfying meal. img_3226

Overall I was really happy with the experience of ordering through the Menulog NZ app. Menulog NZ is a convenient alternative to have, when one is stuck at home, unable to drive or walk, in a rush or just too tired go get food or make it!