Happy First Day of Winter! And is it that time already? It's time for Celia from Figjamandlimecordial's In My Kitchen where we share the new things that have found a home in our kitchens. I have some fun things from a trip in New Zealand to show you today! I visited Christchurch in the South Island and every time I visit New Zealand, I am constantly surprised.
The first time I ate a Denheath Custard Square was after a six course meal. But did I care? Not a bit. Denheath Custard Squares are lighter and fluffier than the Australian custard slice. These are made in South Canterbury on the South Island and every time I visit the South Island, I look out for them. I liked them so much that I considered having some sent over by air freight for my birthday.
Then I realised that the freight would be ten times the cost of the squares and that I would then slip into the other dimension where it's normal to do things like air freight food just for yourself. It stood to reason that I would then start talking about myself in the third person and showing up on red carpets with a paper bag on my head refusing to give interviews to people that didn't want to interview me. Oh where was I? I just ate one of these babies. With relish.
This haul is from the Oxford area, about an hour out of the CBD of Christchurch. We went to visit the lovely cookbook writer, magazine cover girl and tv star Jo Seagar. Jo's fudge, well I'm almost afraid to bust it open because it's so good. Jo gifted us with a signed copy of any of her books - I asked which one was best for baking and she pointed to this one. The ceramic container is a purchase that I made at her store and the egg cup was a purchase from The Tannery shopping centre.
You meet some amazing people in your travels especially wonderful ones that go the extra mile. While on a Selwyn Food Trail I met Lauren Carmichael, the chef from Langdale Vineyard restaurant who provided canapes to go with our wine tasting. She served us some Gruff Junction cheese and I loved the Feneureka cheese with fenugreek seeds in it. She offered to give me some and her friend Mandy from Braided River Wines offered to drop it off to me the next day which she did which was just so lovely! I'm now eating a small square of it every day. The goat's cheese has already disappeared (yep that would be me again) and I'm saving the Pegasus for an upcoming road trip to the Blue Mountains. All I have to say is how kind New Zealanders are!
The other thing that you would find in my kitchen is lots of vegetables. Where winter fruit can somewhat pale in comparison to the glorious summer's bounty, there are still lots of great winter vegetables. I came across these bright red beauties and seduced by their rotund form and shine I bought them. I usually just slice them up into ribbons and roast them and eat them as is but I decided to make something dinner worthy, even if it was just a week night dinner.
You can stuff them with anything that you fancy but I do find that cheese is almost non negotiable because it is so good in this dish. I added bacon because it adds a lot of flavour but you can make this completely vegetarian quite easily. Instead of rice I used barley because I like the nutty texture but use rice if you prefer it.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you eat vegetarian food some nights of the week or is a meal not complete without meat or fish of some kind?
Bacon, Cheese & Barley Stuffed Capsicum
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour (20 + 10 + 30 minutes)
- 1 cup raw barley or rice
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 rashers middle bacon
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and dice
- 1.5 cups grated cheese
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
- 4 medium capsicums (red, orange and yellow are sweetest)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1 - Simmer the barley in plenty of water for 20 minutes. Drain the barley once cooked (you can reserve the water and add sugar for barley water - Mr NQN is crazy for barley water).
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 220C/440F. Heat a frypan on medium heat and add oil. Fry the onion until translucent. Add the bacon and garlic and fry until cooked through. Add the drained barley, sun dried tomatoes and 3/4 of the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.
Step 3 - Slice the tops off the capsicum and remove the inside and seeds. Fill the capsicums with the barley filling and top with the remaining cheese. Place the tops back on the capsicums and bake for 30 minutes or until the capsicums are soft.