I don’t watch much food TV, as a rule. In fact, I don’t watch much TV at all (I’ve even given up Coronation St). But a new series is making me reconsider. It’s The Katering Show – a sort of Kath and Kim meets The Office meets Annabel Langbein.

Australian comedians Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney have hit on a winning recipe for their shows, which parody “foodies” and all the gadgets, fads and Pinterest-worthy lifestyles they aspire to.

The Thermomix episode is a must-see for anyone who’s ever wondered if their life really would be improved by a “German death machine” – sample line: ‘It’s the kind of thing you buy yourself because you’ve always wanted to join a cult but you don’t have the energy for the group sex’. I showed it to a work colleague and he was practically weeping over his computer with delight.

If you’ve been feel guilty about your sugar intake, the I Quit Sugar episode will leave you with a warm glow…

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to watch this one…

Happy viewing!

You know what gets me about fancy houses in interiors magazines? They never, ever, have anything stuck to their fridges. Oh, sure, there might be some artful magnetic chalkboard,  or a designer decal, but there are never any library book notices, or ‘art’ or torn-out recipes. They are neat, tidy – and soulless.

By contrast, the outside of my fridge is extremely busy (and a direct reflection of the chaos inside). Magnetic newspaper headlines, school notices, drawings, business cards for builders and a motley collection of recipes ripped from newspapers or magazines. I was just about to add another one to the pile last week when I remembered this month’s Random Recipes, which celebrates those torn-out clippings. So instead of consigning the recipe to the fridge door, where it would probably be lost forever, I made it that night instead. I should really do this more often.

Easy Vegan Tofu Mayo Recipe

Tofu Mayonnaise
I knew Aaron Brunet would win Masterchef in 2013 – right from the start he had that look about him. This mayonnaise recipe was from a recent newspaper column he wrote about the pleasures of eating with your hands – in which he endorsed plate-licking. Now, I had a flatmate once who licked her plate after eating and I don’t ever want to see that again, but his recipes are definitely finger-lickin’ good. Aaron uses this mayo in a chicken caesar-ish wrap – I used in our Friday night fishburgers and to lie beneath some hot smoked salmon on crackers. I’ve now lost the clipping somewhere, but this is the recipe from memory (ish). It’s dead easy, good for you and adding some fresh herbs gets rid of any tofu flavour. You should try it.

300g block silken tofu
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Kikkoman soy sauce
salt and pepper
½ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fresh herbs – finely chopped parsley, chives, basil (optional)

Put all ingredients, except the herbs, in a blender and blitz until smooth (I use a stick blender and a jar). Taste for seasoning and sharpness – add more salt or lemon juice as desired. If you’re planning to use it all immediately, add the herbs and blitz again. Otherwise, this keeps in the fridge for a week.

I have a terrible confession to make. Somehow, against my better judgment, I have become completely addicted to The Block NZ. Three nights a week I find myself glued to an hour of hideous product placement and manipulated ‘drama’ as four couples ‘race’ to do up four dilapidated houses aided by teams of trusty tradies. I despise myself, but I can’t stop watching.

The other night I tried to mix watching it with making some chocolate beetroot banana bread for our neighbours after they kindly lent us their car park. It was all going well until I pulled it out of the oven and realised I’d made a brick that was better suited to hard landscaping than eating. The Block-ers might have forgotten to install their bathroom mirrors, but I’d forgotten the baking powder. And the baking soda. I have vowed never to watch The Block again. Well, at least not until next week…

Chocolate beetroot banana bread
This month the clever Ness of JibberJabberUK is guest hosting my favourite blog challenge, We Should Cocoa. Aided and abetted by challenge founder Choclette, Ness has chosen vegetables as this month’s special guest ingredient. I know beetroot is a bit of an obvious one, but it’s a good addition to this chocolatey banana loaf. As is baking powder. And soda. You have been warned!

3 ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp lemon juice
120g grated beetroot
2 cups white spelt flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
50g dark chocolate, smashed into little bits

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line a large loaf tin.
Put the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Whiz until smooth.
Add the beetroot and pulse until the mixture is uniformly pink. Sift over the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate. Pulse again until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

In other news, The Kitchenmaid has been nominated in the Best Kids Food Blog section of the 2013 Munch Food Awards. I feel a bit of a dork asking, but if you’d like to vote for me, you can do so by clicking here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

About a month ago I interviewed Dame Alison Holst, who had just published her 100th book – her life story, with added recipes. For non-New Zealanders, Alison Holst is as famous here as Margaret Fulton in Australia, Delia in Britain or Martha in the US. She graduated from the University of Otago in 1959 with a degree in the quaintly titled subject of ‘Home Science’ and was preparing for life as a teacher when suddenly she was catapulted into cooking on television. Dame Alison laughed as she told me the only advice she could find on cooking on TV was not to wear a patterned apron. Anyway, she made a meatloaf with hardboiled eggs embedded in one end of it for her audition, advising viewers that they could serve half of it hot one night and have the egg-studded remainder cold the next. The resulting show, ‘Here’s How’, was a massive hit and Dame Alison remained a mainstay of cooking on TV here for decades afterwards, along with promoting New Zealand produce to export markets.

Why have a patterned apron when you can have a patterned saucepan?

She still writes a regular newspaper column with her son Simon and even though their food is hardly at the Ferran Adria end of the spectrum, they are probably the most trusted foodwriters in the country (especially among people who don’t cook very much). ‘Alison Holst’ is regularly cited as one of the most Googled names in New Zealand and her little books on muffins or feeding children are legendary.
The new book, A Home-grown Cook: The Alison Holst Story, doesn’t air any dirty laundry (come on, were you really expecting ‘The Mother of the Nation’ to have any?), but it does feature some of her favourite recipes. I enjoyed talking to her so much that afterwards I decided her famous Golden Christmas Cake was going to replace our usual chocolate and fig extravaganza this year.

Alison Holst’s Golden Christmas Cake
In the introduction to this recipe in the book, Dame Alison says this is the favourite cake of her great friend and equally famous New Zealand broadcaster, Sharon Crosbie. She soaks the fruit in chardonnay, but as we’d accidentally drunk the bottle in the fridge I was saving for this purpose, I used green ginger wine and added glace ginger to the fruit mixture. This cake apparently only needs a week to mature, so there’s plenty of time to get down to business if you haven’t got yours underway yet.
This recipe is reproduced with kind permission.

For a 20cm square or 23cm round or square (2.25kg) cake:

3-4 cups (about 1kg) of crystallised mango, papaya, pineapple and ginger, cut into 5mm cubes
1 cup golden sultanas
1 cup dried cranberries or extra sultanas
1 cup chardonnay (or other white wine)
3/4 cup natural glace cherries
250g butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
Grated rind of 1 orange and lemon
1 1/2 cups high grade flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Put the crystallised fruit, sultanas and cranberries in a large pot. Pour over the wine and simmer, covered, for five minutes until nearly all liquid is absorbed, then leave to stand in the covered pan overnight or for eight hours to soak up remaining liquid. The fruit will have a beautiful jewel- like appearance. Stir in the quartered cherries, if using.
Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius (140C fanbake), with the rack just below the middle. Prepare a 20-centimetre square pan, or 23cm round or square pan, lining sides and base with baking paper.
In a food processor or large bowl, beat the soft (but not melted) butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the ground almonds after each one. Beat in the essences, remaining ground almonds and the finely grated citrus rinds, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Combine the cake mixture and the cold, prepared fruit using your hand and spread mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake at 150C for 45 minutes then at 130C for 1 1/2 to two hours. Cover the top with baking paper if it browns too fast. The cake is cooked when a skewer pushed deeply in the centre comes out clean.
When cooled, wrap loosely with baking paper, then refrigerate.

I made ours before we moved house (for which I am now truly, truly grateful) and am planning to decorate it with more glazed crystallised fruit a la Delia in a week or two. I’ll show you a picture then!

Have a sweet, sweet weekend everyone. I am hoping to finish unpacking, find where the camera has got to and make something decent to eat…

Part of the joy of cooking is found in the planning and anticipation, but sometimes life gets in the way. Like on Tuesday night, when I had to whip up an emergency birthday cake between getting home from work, getting the Small Girl’s dinner, putting her to bed, putting on two loads of washing and getting out the door again less than 90 minutes later.
Did I panic? No (well, ok, I panicked a tiny bit). But then I remembered Julie’s Aunty Ade’s Lemon Cake. It was done in a flash, even with the Small Girl “helping”. Actually, she’s getting quite good at it, and she doesn’t even want to lick the spoon. Perhaps I could start her on doing the dishes next…

Quick Lemon Cake

This needs a food processor, because “Not Quite So Quick Cake” doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’ve never met Julie’s Aunty Ade,but she’s obviously a clever woman.

2 lemons

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup canola oil

pinch of salt

1 cup yoghurt

3Tbsp lemon juice

2 cups self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 24cm cake tin (it will cook even faster in a ring tin, but a springform tin will lessen the anxiety when it comes to turning it out).

Peel the zest from the lemons with a potato peeler and put in the processor with the sugar. Whizz for about a minute, until the lemon peel is pulverised. Stop the machine and add the eggs, oil and salt. Whizz again until smooth. Add the yoghurt, lemon juice and flour and pulse until smooth.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes then turn out of the tin. Then, either ice when cold, or serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt. Or, wrap the tin in a teatowel, throw in the car and drive across town. Stop at supermarket for candles. Arrive, pretending to be unhurried, super-organised working mother. Then realise your friends know you better than that!

Have a sweet, sweet Friday everyone. I’m going to spend it recovering from my first experience of cooking on live TV, which you can see here. (Note to self: horizontal stripes = bad idea!)