Picnics by the pool #rarotonga #cookislands

The last few days have involved lots of beautiful relaxed eating…the kind of days I spend most of the working year dreaming about.

Grilled Mahi Mahi and salad

Christmas leftovers, barbecues and grilled fresh fish all call for good salads and accompaniments … here are some recipes of the types of side dishes we’ve been enjoying alongside our meals.

The fresh ingredients particularly local tomatoes and cucumbers here in the Cook Islands are delicious …so simple green salads and cucumber salads have also been a mainstay with heartier sides like the ones below providing some variety.

Roast potatoes

Roast potatoes

Hasselback sweet potatoes

Vegetarian Rice Pilau

Black bean salsa

Pineapple salsa

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom tomato salad with Burrata

Mixed Salad with cucumber raita

Mixed salad with cucumber raita

Hope this provides some inspiration for the new year!

#NYE #Tequila #Blackbeans #salsa #salad

Made to go with our Buttermilk Brined & Fried Chicken, in the spirit of beans and lentils being traditionally lucky foods in many cultures.

Tequila Blackbean Salsa or Salad?

Couldn’t find canned black eye peas, so used black beans instead to create this delicious concoction steeped in tequila and spices first, then freshen up with the addition of some finely sliced and diced coriander, capsicum and spring onion.

I slow cooked some finely diced onion and garlic in olive oil, added 2 tins drained cans of black beans, a finely diced red chilli, 1 teaspoon good smoked paprika, salt , 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, a good slug of tequila bubbling away until alcohol reduced the added a cup of water and simmered for about 10 minutes until the water had been absorbed and bean were soft and flavoursome. Then mixed in fresh finely sliced and diced white of 2 spring onions, a handful of coriander and half a small red capsicum.

Adding a good slug of tequila
Simmer until water is absorbed by beans

This was really delicious in its own right but also a great accompaniment to our fried chicken and an excellent vegetarian option for our picnic.

“Freshened” up and adding crunch with spring onion, capsicum and coriander.

A #true #Christmas #wreath …ala Tomato, Bocconcini, Basil & spinach salad

Served with a side of poached salmon ..

Sprinkled with salt and black pepper, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar..

Simple, effective and delicious!

Dressed:

A Christmas #salad #wreath

I made a Lamb Briyani tonight …which is the same recipe as Durban Indian Chicken Briyani .

I served it with Tarka Dhal and made this Christmas salad wreath with a cucumber raita centre to add a festive flavour to our Pre-Xmas dinner at our holiday home in the Mornington Peninsula.

I just put a small side plate in the middle of the platter and then layered the salad around it with a simple vinegar, oil and sugar dressing. The colour and texture are up to you. I used finely chopped iceberg, shredded carrot, quick pickled red onions and wedges of tomato. I filed the centre with cucumber raita but this Grape and Apple Raita would be lovely too. (The deseed chillies are decorative)

Festive salad and cucumber raaita wreath
Salad Xmas wreath
Lamb Briyani

Old #Tapas favourites at new beach house #morningtonpeninsula

Lovely days settling into our #airbnb beach house at Koonya Beach in Blairgowrie, on the edge of the Mornington Peninsula National Park at the very southern tip of Victoria. This is a very special part of Australia.

View from point overlooking Koonya Ocean Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Today we went for a walk to Koonya Ocean Beach which is the nesting site of endangered birds and visits form wild seals. The coast is rugged and stunning with swim warnings along the way. After our walk we felt we deserved a lazy tapas lunch on the deck and a lazy afternoon, made extra special with time spent with our love,y new 6 month old granddaughter.

Lovely relaxing times in the lead up to Christmas.

Surveying the beauty!
Wild seal resting!!!

Here are some photos and recipe links for old favourite Tapas dishes and menu for lunch!

Tapas lunch

Menu included:

Prawns with chilli and garlic

Catalan chickpeas with spinach and raisins

Roasted capsicum with tuna filling

Potato and onion tortilla

Fried chorizo

Caperberries and olives

Cheese Plate with Manchego and delicious nectarines…

Oven crisped Baguette to sop up the prawn juices!

A lovely relaxed meal conducive to siesta on the deck!

#Christmas #Cranberry #sauce

This Nigella inspired Christmas Cranberry sauce is better than any you will buy but is delicious and looks stunningly red and tastes of Christmas. Perfect with the Turkey.

Homemade cranberry sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 350g dried cranberries
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry liquer or cherry brandy or equivalent of blood orange juice if you don’t have red liquer
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 100ml water plus some extra

Method:

1. Put all the ingredients in a small deep saucepan

2. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes or until cranberries burst. Add more water here if needed.

3. Best to take it off the heat before all the liquid is gone, as it will thicken when cooled.

4. Give it a good mix before serving as it will clump up if you have made in advance.

5. Leftovers should stay out of the fridge as it will harden too much. You can always loosen it up by heating again with a bit of water if you need the next day.