Monday, March 28, 2011

Baked Spinach Dip Loaf

I am a huge fan of picnics. I am not, however, a fan of rain when said picnic is meant to happen. Not even a little bit. Especially when I've already made my share of picnic food. Luckily for us, the lovely Sian came to the rescue and offered up her home for some good ol' fashioned picnic food and a Disney movie.

Baked Spinach Dip Loaf
One of my favourite picnic foods as a child was when my mother would completely hollow out a loaf of sourdough, stuff it with a spinach dip, bake it and let us dip its ripped out insides in the gooey goodness. There is something about ripping the outside of something, mixing it with its insides that really made it fun. It also helped that it was DELICIOUS!

Sourdough loaf, frozen spinach portions, bacon, cream cheese, salt and pepper. There is also cheese that is hiding.

On another note. Guess what I found!

A big, long knife.
I have often wondered why we have such a big knife in the house and today I found out. It is perfect for cutting the tops of sourdough! Not very good for hollowing it out though..

Step 3: Cut off the top and hollow out your sourdough
Mix all your ingredients (except the bread)
Once I grew up, everyone became too busy for picnics and this lovely dish was nothing but a fond, distant memory. That is until my friend, Asia, brought it back to life one drunken night and, I have to say, WOW. Not only is was it an instant hit with everyone at the party but it was so quick and easy to make!

Step 2: Add everything else

Fill its insides!!
It's also very satisfying to make. If you're ever feeling angry (perhaps you're attending a picnic full of people you don't like?), go down to your local bakery and get yourself a nice round loaf of sourdough and hollow the hell out of it!

Baked Spinach Dip Loaf (Serves those at a picnic or lunch)


1 unsliced round loaf sourdough bread
250g pottle of cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
4 portions of frozen spinach
5 rashers of bacon, roughly chopped
1 cup cheese, grated
1 packet of powdered onion soup
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and mayonnaise. 
2. Cook spinach according to packet instructions and chop. Stir it in along with the cheese, bacon, soup and seasonings.
3. Cut about 3cm off the top and set aside.
4. Carefully hollow out the bottom and leave a 1cm thick shell.
5. Cube the removed bread and set aside.
6. Fill the shell with spinach dip then replace with the top. 
7. Wrap in tin foil and bake at 200°C for 1hr 15min
8. Once time is up, peel back the foil to expose the bread and place the removed bread on the tray and bake everything for a further 15 minutes or until golden.
9. Eat with friends. 

All recipes are on Petitchef

Friday, March 25, 2011

Best. Noodles. Ever.

"Best. Noodles. Ever." says Jason in a creepy voice. The type emitted from one who was once starving but has now been satisfied.

Can you believe it only took me about 15 minutes to make?

A few minutes down the road from my house is one of my favourite fast food stores, Noodle Canteen. It basically a "Subway-esque" noodle bar where you can pick your own ingredients and watch them cook your meal up right in front of you! As well as being quick and delicious, Noodle Canteen also provies enormous portions -one "meal" can feed both Jason and I or last two meals for me alone.

Spicy Teriyaki Sauce -$2.80, Black Pepper, Courgette -$0.50, Carrot -$0.20, Hokkien Noodles -$2.47, 1/2 Celery -$1.49, Chicken Mince -$3.00, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil. Total = $10.46
Keeping in theme with the cheap and easy lunches of the "Crap! I can't really afford Noodle Canteen and feeling very lazy right now" variety, we decided to make some stir-fry noodles of our own this Sunday. It's deceptively easy. Or deceptively hard? This phrase always confuses me..

..Lets just say it's really easy. Because it is.

Strips of veggies, chopped up celery (1/4) and crushed garlic
I had the idea to make stir fried noodles when I saw Hokkien Noodles on sale at my local Asian supermarket. Usually going for $5.00 per packet, I was surprised when I saw a big 1kg bag for $2.47! I know it's kind of weird to make such a big deal about something as basic as noodles, but you would understand if you've ever tasted the eggy goodness. I quickly bought a couple of bags to freeze (don't worry, I looked at the expiry date).

Kikkomans Spicy Teriyaki is really enhances all the flavours
 Here's another plea to my poor student friends who are flatting: please stop eating baked beans and toast. Give this a try! Keep in mind I only used half a packet of noodles and less than half of the celery and chicken mince so you can have it the next day!

Best. Noodles. Ever. (Serves 4)
(An original Lucyeats recipe) 


500g Hokkien Noodles
250g Chicken Mince
1 medium carrot, cut into strips
1 medium courgette, cut into strips
1/4 celery, chopped
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive Oil for frying
Sesame Oil to taste
Kikkomans Spicy Teriyaki Sauce


1. Soak the noodles in a bowl of boiling water to separate and drain.
2. Heat some oil in a pan and add the garlic.
3. Once fragrant, add the chicken mince and cook through.
4. Add vegetables and add water. Cover to steam.
5. Once the water has almost evaporated, add teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and noodles and stir to mix through.
6. Season to taste.
7. Um.. that's basically it.

See how easy it is?

Note: All the ingredients amount to the price of one box of noodles from Noodle Canteen. Except that it yields about 4 containers. Take that, fast food!

All recipes are on Petitchef

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival 2011

A few weeks ago, I was quite adamant to everybody that I would not consider doing a shot of horse semen. I would not even go within 10 meters of the stall. On the day, however, it was a completely different story.

Let me explain..

Let me explain..

..All the cool kids were doing it (Horse semen shots -$10)
Hokitika is the home of the world-famous Wildfoods Festival which is put on every second weekend of March. The founders put together 50 years of research to determine the weekend with the best weather -and boy, were they spot on! With pretty average weather either side of it, this weekend was spectacular! I was quite afraid that I had psyched all my friends up for so long that, when we finally arrived, they would be disappointed. I needn't have worried at all.

Oh yeah, everybody dresses up too
As well as claiming the best weather each year, Hokitika's Wildfoods Festival attracts thousands of adventurous foodies from all over the world -and I actually mean thousands. They had to limit numbers to 15,000 actually so you have to get in fast. Jason and I had sussed out our trip (flights, rental car, event tickets and accomodation) since September and managed to get the last available studio unit in all of Hokitika leaving our traveling companions in tents nearby. Yeah, you need to get in real early.

Live Huhu Grubs -$2 each
He made me eat the bigger half..
  Our first stop of the day was, of course, the rowdy people near the entrance who were chopping logs and offering the freshly caught Huhu Grubs to the crowd. Yeah it's gross, but that's why we're here. I have, previously, been told that Huhu Grubs taste like crunchy peanut butter. Those guys lied to me! It didn't even taste like peanut butter! It wasn't even crunchy! I find it hard to describe the taste as I was too busy being grossed out by its texture -goopiness encased in a soft chewy shell. 

Cooked Huhu grubs
Pan fried Huhu Grubs -$1 small, $2 medium, $5 large
Being a very gullible person, I was convinced that cooked Huhu Grubs would taste better so, when we passed this stall, I had to give these a go -only if my companions had one too..

Asia wasn't a fan
It turns out that my hunch was spot on. Although not something I would have frequently, they were definitely more tolerable when cooked. Now they had the hint of peanut butter and, surprisingly, the texture of really really overcooked prawns.

Venison Sausages -$5 for 2. These are seriously good. Each one is as long as my arm
We really needed something normal to follow this up with. Something from the "Best New Food" stall of 2010. Smokey venison sausage line it is. 

Wild Meat Sauce -$10 per bottle
As well as sausages, the guys at Glass Eye Creek made their own "Wild Meat Sauce" to accompany it claiming it also goes with meat that "ain't so wild" and I believe them. Their Wild Meat Sauce is delicious! Luckily for me, there were bottles on sale for $10 each and we all bought one each. Believe me, I would have bought more if I had more cash on hand and the means to bring it back home! We paired the sausages with a lovely glass of honey mead (injected with a bit of bee sting!) which we simply fell in love with. It was sweet, fruity and a little dizzying -Moen almost cried when I mentioned that he probably couldn't get this at your average supermarket.

Moen and I with our best "serious" faces
Something that was quite controversial this year was the introduction of horse semen shots. Something, as I had earlier mentioned, that I had planned to avoid. I'm quite easily persuaded by my peers though and, when someone offered to pay for me to try one, I knew I had to. They don't look at me the same way anymore. I know you won't believe me, but they're not actually that bad -especially if you tried a flavoured shot (I had Banoffee Pie flavoured). It just tastes like watery flavoured milk. Don't worry, I didn't pay $10 to have a shot. I was sponsored. Lets make that very clear. I regret nothing. NOTHING. I only wish they didn't show me what one of the shots looked like underneath the microscope..
Liquorice straps for Africa -$2.50 for a small strip, $7 for a large strip
..Back to something normal. Like candy! Liquorice and Honeycomb! If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that Jason and I have missed out of liquorice on many occasions so, when we spotted this stall, we knew we couldn't let this opportunity pass. I'm not usually a fan of liquorice, but these liquorice straps left me wanting more. So we came back later that day to buy 10. Excessive? I think not.

Honeycomb -$2 per piece
I remember honeycomb being such a treat when I was a child. I use the term "treat" quite loosely as my parents would only buy them as gifts. Gifts for other people. Not me. So, being sneaky, I would carefully slip off the seal around the edges of the box, slowly lift it up and sneak the tiniest spoonful of delicious honeycomb. And that would be it.

Could you resist?
I lie. 

It's actually impossible to stop at one small taste. I bet there have been studies that will back up my claim. No matter what I did to keep myself busy, I could not keep my mind from straying to the small box in the kitchen so, every so often, little Lucy would walk back and take another sneaky taste. Before long, all the little spoonfuls added up to a mighty chunk. By then, it was just too obvious so I had to eat it all (and then throw away the evidence). Might as well -they can't give it away now! Needless to say, they started hiding their gifts from me even though I swore I never saw any honeycomb in the fridge. 

I'm not a very good liar.

Slow Roasted Pork on Mustard Mash and a side of Apple Sauce -$10
By this time we were getting pretty hungry for something filling so we bypassed all the "icky" food stalls and headed for the slow roasted pork. It may not look like much in the photo, but man do I wish I could have another plate of it right now. I've just had lunch too! The pork was free range, tender, juicy and melt-in-your-mouth while the mustard mash was delightfully light and creamy. Mmm.. mustard mash is now my favourite kind of mash. I have promised myself to re-create this one day. The apple sauce was from a jar so I won't talk about it.

It's a Startled Worm! (Cafe)
Chocolate Covered Beetles -$4 each
 After the fairly "tame" stuff, it was time for more adventure and we managed to stumble into the tent with all the creepy crawlies. It's hard to believe that one of the main ingredients of your childhood mud pie would now pass as a delicacy at the Wildfoods festival!

Front to back: Worm and Red Bull Shots, Mini Worm Toast, Worm Truffle, Worm Sushi
Cheers! Worm Shots -$2
After carefully looking in each shot glass trying to find the smallest worm possible, we deduced that it probably wouldn't make a difference. To be perfectly honest, I didn't taste my worm at all and neither did Moen -I can't decide if I am disappointed or very very relieved. Asia, however, was not so lucky -the taste of worm remained with for most of the afternoon..

This is us with our grasshoppers..

Before: Grasshopper Satay -$5, Jelly Grasshopper -$4
After: Three people who may or may not regret their choices
The grasshoppers probably tie in first place (with the live Huhu grubs) for freakiest texture of the day. Being encased in jelly, my grasshopper was soggy and very chewy -at least the remaining jelly helped to wash it down. They boys were quite happy with their deep fried grasshoppers and the satay sauce was strong enough to mask any weird taste the grasshopper may have.

Garlic Butter Escargo -$10 for 6
Moen and Asia were quite hesitant, at first, to try these slimy mollusks that you'd find in your garden (and occasionally in my bathroom), but they have weak wills and are easily persuaded. It turns out, funnily enough, that they actually like them. Me? I was a little disappointed. Having been brought up with a variety of seafood, I had anticipated these garden snails to taste much like whelks, their cousins of the sea. I found that there wasn't much in the way of flavour (even the garlic butter was a little weak) while texture of the escargo was too soft. At least I can say I've had escargo now and pretend to be real fancy!

Ostrich Pies -$5 each
If you know me at all, you will know that I love pies. I'd go as far to say about 40% of my lunches during semester last year were made up of pies -mince and cheese, chicken and vegetable, weird orange pie from the uni cafe but NEVER have I had ostrich in a pie! On first bite, it tastes quite similar to your hearty beef mince pie but you get this wonderful gamey aftertaste which is quite nice in small amounts. I found myself being quite thankful that I split mine in 3 parts as I couldn't handle the gamey-ness for more than a few bites.

Here is an epic picture of a Whitebait Fritter -$5
"What's whitebait?" I hear as we walk past a group of American tourists. I cannot believe my ears until I realise that, with all the other awesome food in their country, they probably don't even have time to discover the awesomeness that is heaps of baby fish stuck together by egg and smothered in pepper. I urge them to try this very New Zealand treat and feel like I have done my part to spread the word.

Kangaroo and Crocodile Bites -$2 each
We were almost on our way out before I realised we had forgotten one of the stalls I marked on my map -The Aussie Stall! Our neighbours across the ditch sure know how to BBQ up some delicious morsels. Although I found the "bites" to be a little small for the price, I later discovered that they were the perfect size to have a taste without having to commit. Kangaroo tastes a little like beef while crocodile tastes like chicken. Tough chicken.

Colostrum Shots -$6 + loss of self worth each
Mountain Oysters
One brave woman
Though I am always up for trying wild and wonderful foods, there are just some things I'm not brave enough to touch. Pan fried cow udders and mountain oysters for example. I draw the line at horse semen.

Lego man!
Barbie and Ken
One of the greatest parts of the day was seeing how much effort everyone put into dressing up. Although not all fitted in with the theme "Where the Wildfoods are" they were all very creative. Among my favourites were the "Mail order Barbie and Ken" and the Lego man whom I almost mistook for a bin (he was sitting down OK?).

Tahr Curry -$5
Once we decided that we had tried almost everything the festival had to offer, we started the trek home and realised we hadn't made plans for dinner. Luckily, someone had come up with the brilliant idea of scanning out so we could scan our tickets in again later that afternoon. So it was settled -we were coming back for dinner! 

It turned that we had quite an early dinner as the festival ended at 5:30pm instead of 7:00pm like I had previously thought (yay for double and triple checking the itinerary!) and we were able to fill ourselves up on some curry and yummy strawberries and cream. It was quite nice to follow all the strange food with something slightly more normal..

Edible Potato Bowl
 ..Not too normal though. Our ice cream bowls were edible -they kind of tasted like polystyrene but became tastier and tastier with each bite. Hmmm..

So if you're ever unsure about how to spend the best summer weather in the South Island of New Zealand, why not give Hokitika a visit? Mark the 10th of March 2012 in your diaries now, all you adventurous people and start getting your costumes ready -there's a competition! I highly recommend this festival to everyone who loves to have fun. 

Except those with weak stomachs. And vegetarians. There's nothing for you here.

All recipes are on Petitchef