halloumi you hot stuff

guys guys guys! guess what?

I MADE HALLOUMI WITH MY BARE HANDS

…and a whole host of cheesemaking equipment, naturally.

halloumi = food of the gods, basically. it’s mega trendy in new zealand at the moment but i feel like not so much in the states? well at any rate, i haven’t seen all that much buzz about it. here though, most cafes will have a brunchy lunchy option with halloumi yum!

for those of you who haven’t had it before, it’s generally fried in thick slices before serving. this is because it doesn’t melt when fried unlike other cheeses. this means you get a golden crunchy crust and a squeaky, slightly molten interior.

sadly for us student folk, it tends to be super duper expensive, so it’s a rare luxury. however, i saw a cheesemaking kit in the pantry at home the other day, which my mama had received for christmas a year or so ago. upon further examination, i saw that halloumi was one of the cheeses on offer, so i immediately cleared my schedule determined that the weekend would be halloumi time.

i strongly recommend that if you haven’t made cheese before that you purchase or arrange to be gifted some sort of cheesemaking kit. the mad millie one we used had very clear instructions, contained everything we needed and most importantly produced yummy cheese! because ain’t nobody got time to track down rennet tablets and “cheese salt”.

here are some step by step photos:

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so first we had to heat the milk up and add rennet. Then we popped it in the kitchen sink for ages at 40ish degrees or until it got all set!

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^^cutting the curds in a grid pattern … super precise ;) ^^

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^^mmm tasty^^

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^^i stirred them and they got all cottage -cheesy ^^

then the curds got pressed together in cheesecloth. i forgot to photograph that so you’ll just have to imagine it. the internet decreases creativity what? not on this blog it don’t.

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^^my halloumi bundles of joy chilling on the cooling/dripping rack^^

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^^we then had to get the whey left over boiling in a pot, and pop the haloumi in to poach. they were ready when they floated to the top!^^

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^^and the finished product fried until ridiculously crispy to grace our salads^^

so… the million dollar question… is it actually worth doing? to be fair, our homemade halloumi wasn’t that much better than shop bought stuff – however you can only really buy halloumi from expensive gourmet cheesemaker brands, so it’s not like i’ve got a pams product to compare it to. the kit made it 100 million times easier than if i was to go out and buy all the different things (as it contained stuff like sterilising liquid etc), so i would probably recommend that.

all in all, it was a very fun activity for a weekend day when we weren’t up to much, and me and sarah enjoyed our cheesemaking adventures immensely – now for making camembert! that is something i can definitely get behind ;)

on the more current news front, all is well with me! my iPhone is currently getting fixed so they gave me a loan phone for the mean time. i am embarrassed to report i have become the stereotypical apple fiend that i swore i would never become – i am hopeless without it!! it is taking me about 10 mins to send texts on this android phone and almost called my friend in my lecture today while i was trying to save her number. for everyone’s sake, lets hope that it gets repaired quickly!

right, i’m off to finish my eco reading and then try persuade my (male, rugby playing) flatmate to watch a chickflick with me – yeah i don’t like my chances either ;) though my other flatmate has been jamming the high school musical lately … wonders will never cease! Happy weekend, everybody! i love you guys! xx

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7QT: uni life

hello, following in the footsteps of one of my fave lifestyle bloggers Jenna, here’s seven quick takes of my february so far:

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1. I am so happy to be back with my gorgeous dunedin friends!!!! are they not the prettiest girls? and o week was fantastic – probably my most enjoyed one so far. i went out 6/7 days so i’m rather tired now but it was 10000% worth it. empire of the sun played and they were so so good!! my absolute favourite part was their last song/encore at the end when they played alive  and white paper confetti blasted from the stage and swirled up high in the air. everyone was dancing and there was thing feeling of togetherness and unison and i just felt pure euphoria.

2. we have the most beautiful new flat this year! such an upgrade. my room is finally sorted which makes me haaappy and i’ve got pretty fairy lights which glow softly at night. i printed tons of photos so once i put those up it will be done and dusted. supreme.

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3.  peanut butter fudge – i made this when i was home for my dear friends birthday and omg so good. i don’t really like fudge that much normally but the saltiness of peanut butter balanced out the sweetness perfectly. and i bought these cute little chinese noodle box takeaway containers to package it in and i felt like a pinterest queen!

4.  i am loving the tv selection at the moment – i’m glued to hart of dixie, the bachelor, new girl and of course, the mindy project. the bachelor has entertained me SO MUCH and i just love reading sharleen’s recaps (via camp patton). they offer so much insight and just satisfy my “omg i need to discuss these feelings” i have after i finish an episode. too good.

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5. we had a flat yum cha date on sunday and i tried chicken feet!! my flatmate ray is chinese and so took care of the ordering so he ordered a ton of chicken feet for us to try. i managed to eat two and i found them…ok? not something i would actively seek out but not ridiculously gross. the hardest part for me was their appearance and how they flopped limply when you picked them up with chopsticks.  google chicken feet and you’ll see what i mean. i am glad i ticked them off the bucket list!

6. i just had my first day of lectures and am feeling demoralised as to how much work i’ve got myself in for!! i’m doing five 300 level papers (the recommended workload is 3-4) and they all seem very challenging – not least my french paper, which, in a first for me, is taught entirely in french (oh and we have to submit a 5000 word assignment in french during the semester..) i know i will be able to handle things provided i stay on task but everything is rather daunting following a three month stretch of doing sweet nothing.

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7. pls bear with me this semester – blogging might take a bit of a hit now that i have so much to do!! however it is quite relaxing and therapeutic for me to chat to myself on this website so writing blog posts can be my downtime. i’m dying to do one of those a photo an hour posts like jess did… though i am lacking in the adorable baby department so mine won’t be nearly as cute.

kisses and hugs from your favourite scarfie xx

custard queen

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guys, i’ve got to get something off my chest.

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my name is anna and i’m a custard addict.

..there. it’s out in the open now.

i will quite literally eat any form of custard: creme brûlée, trifle, portuguese custard tarts, grotty corner bakery custard tart, millefeuille, custard-powder sludge, lunettes, custard slice (i have a killer recipe i must share, do remind me would you?) and so on…

so what’s a girl to do when custard selection is quite limited? (i’m looking at you, “vanilla” dairy food that tastes like icing sugar). you make it yourself! and besides one unfortunate scrambled egg situation, it works out very nicely.

i have tackled quite a few of the above but never profiteroles. choux pastry kind of intimidated me (thanks a lot, masterchef), and while i didn’t quite manage a croquembouche, that’ll be the next challenge ;)

…i totally have a bone to pick with those shows, as despite becoming oddly addicted to the latest season of masterchef australia, i dislike how they choose to portray cooking as difficult and stressful and easy to mess up. now, i’m not seeking to diminish the difficulty of what professional chefs do: i love cooking, but being a chef would be my worst nightmare. however i feel like in this day and age of home cooking becoming more uncommon and people turning to takeaways and ready meals, flicking over to a casual episode of masterchef (or any cooking show, really) would surely turn people off cooking. they show cooks running around and lots of yelling and raw chicken and croquembouche towers collapsing (all. the. time., am i right? to the point where i just picture them giving them a sneaky nudge)

cooking isn’t supposed to be stressful. yes, it can be, especially when you’re short on time and resources, but mostly cooking should be fun. fun in the process, fun in tasting what you eat, fun in seeing the looks of satisfaction on the faces of the people you’re cooking for. that’s why I do it, at least.

tangent over, i promise ;)

so, after all that chat about stressy cooking, were profiteroles that hard? no – quite the contrary! choux pastry was a dream to work with (mainly because i didn’t have to roll it out, hallelujah!) and the custard was equally calming. the main tip i have would be to be careful not to cook the custard over a too high heat – which i life hack by using our smallest gas element. as i tend to get impatient when waiting for things to thicken/boil, so even if i turn the element up to its max heat, it still won’t get too hot and curdle the custard.

i used the gorgeous annabel langbein’s (i’ve met her…she is!) recipe for choux pastry, which appears in her book The Free Range Cook and little and friday’s recipe for Crème Pâtissière. i changed very little because this is legit french patisserie that i’m loathe to mess with! i’ve used the custard recipe before and subbed in half cream with great success, so this was my only alteration.

now, if you don’t mind, i’m off to watch masterchef (hypocrite? hey, i never said i was rational ;)

find choux recipe here *
instead of making a ring, dollop dessert spoons of choux pastry onto your lined tray, and bake for about 20-25 mins at 200C… or until hollow sounding and golden. a trick i read if you’re really unsure they’re cooked is to get one out, let cool for a few mins then cut open – if its not cooked inside, let the rest cook for longer. i found the recipe made 14 but if yours are smaller you could eke 20 out of it.

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^^i even sifted the flour – now that’s dedication!^^

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Crème Pâtissière
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
¼ cup cornflour

Bring milk, vanilla and ¼ cup caster sugar to the boil in a medium saucepan.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk remaining 1/4 cup caster sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together until pale yellow and fully combined. Gently add half the milk mixture in to temper the egg yolks, whisking as you go – i like to add ladles of milk rather than try to pour from the saucepan.
Heat the remaining milk to boiling again, then turn down the heat and pour in the egg mixture, being sure to whisk constantly. Almost instantaneously the custard will thicken up, and once it is back to the boil (belching the odd bubble, quite funny to watch!) it is ready. Take off the heat and pour into a bowl. Press clingfilm into the custard to avoid a skin and refrigerate until using. then run off to your lair with the saucepan, muttering my precious

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To assemble: 
cut profiteroles almost in half, leaving a little attached. Fill a piping bag with the largest nozzle or just use a  ziplock bag with a generous corner cut off. Don’t be stingy, there will be enough creme patisserie for a generous filling in each. Assemble on a platter and dust over icing sugar if desired (we’d run out). If you are a wannabe food blogger, add gratuitous hydrangea sprigs to decorate. Enjoy! DSCF1346

*I know it’s pain having to click over for the pastry recipe, sorry! but writing the method out word for word is copyright infringement, and honestly, annabel does a much better job than i could of walking you through the process. thanks for understanding xx

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^^a grainy selfie of me and sarah in our matching aprons for good measure.^^

off we go! wanaka edition

hi gals and pals, welcome to the new series on blooming anna, in which i document the time i travel somewhere cool (a rare occurrence, so i thought i’d better make the most of it ;)

so i don’t know if spending this (and every) summer in wanaka qualifies as travel, but this my blog and i make the rules! #hardcore haha but anyway, i’m going to shamelessly milk it for content at any rate.

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for those of you who haven’t been to wanaka (poor babies), it is a town in the Central Lakes region in the South Island of New Zealand, which is centred around the stunning Lake Wanaka. what’s more, it boasts stunning mountains and two ski fields nearby.

it is my favourite place in the whole entire world and i am so very lucky that my grandparents let us stay in their holiday house there. seeing as we moved six times over the course of my childhood (my dad was in the air force), it was a constant for me, and i just couldn’t imagine summer without wanaka – the two are intertwined in my mind.

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wanaka does get it’s fair share of tourists over the summer and winter months, but it has maintained the small town, friendly, community feel. it’s neighbour Queenstown is similar in terms of scenery and landscape, but i much prefer the feel of wanaka – Qtown has a commercial feel due to the much larger volumes of tour groups and buses…. then again the nightlife there is fantastic, so it’s a tossup!

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^^the mighty clutha – not photoshopped – the water IS that blue^^
here are some of my favourite things to eat and do in beautiful wanaka:

eating and drinking:

The Federal Diner
This is a terribly groovy cafe on one of wanaka’s main streets. they make beautiful coffee with yummy emporio beans, fantastic breakfast and lunch food, and their ‘world famous in wanaka’ scones, of which you can choose cheese or date. (date all the way!!)
My favourite dish = rock it salad – rocket leaves, nectarine, toasted almonds, goats cheese, prosciutto and balsamic dressing. food of the gods! and a tulip flat white is essential.

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Urban Grind
this is also super central – not hard to do seeing as there’s like 4 streets of shops in wanaka. anyway, i love coming to urban grind for coffee! the man who started it up reportedly couldn’t find a coffee in town he rated, so he decided to make his own cafe! while service isn’t always consistent, the coffee is good, the hot chocolates are served with a whittakers sante bar (amazing!) and the smoothies are amazing.
favourite = tulip flat white and an orange sticky bun (pricy, but delish).

Red Star Burgers
red star burgers make the most monster, gourmet burgers ever! step aside velvet burger and burger fuel, these are truly enormous. take away and eat on the shores of the lake.
favourite = BBQ beef with fresh pineapple – and a side of their scrumptious kumara chips to share (you won’t need them, but you’ll want them!)

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Francesca’s Italian Kitchen
This is a fairly new addition to the wanaka scene for the old guard like me ;) but speedily became one of the favourites! They make incredible pizza, pasta and antipasto and the restaurant itself is beautiful. it is very hard to stop at one of their ultimate gin and tonics if you are a g&t gal like me!
Favourite dish = any! the mushroom pizza or the pear and blue cheese are both divine.

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activities:

paradiso cinema
have you ever wanted the atmosphere and large screen of a cinema, with the snuggly couch and warm cookies of your home? paradiso is for you! a veritable institution in wanaka, which boasts comfy old sofas for seats, an intermission at half time for freshly baked, bigger than your head cookies, and more! a holiday to wanaka is incomplete without a visit to paradiso – we went last night to Exodus and i, as always, loved it.
favourite thing = free water and warm chocolate chip cookies- yum!

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Stand up paddleboarding
i only did this for the first time the other day, and it is fantastic! when you fancy yourself a bit of a local, it can hold you back from doing ‘touristy’ activities which was such a mistake in this case. paddle boarding is brilliant! and i’m not just saying that because i was surprisingly good at it for someone with generally appalling balance. you stand up on these huge surfboard shaped boards, with one paddle that you manoeuvre yourself around with. great fun, and a nice alternative to kayaking.

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horse trekking
horse trekking isn’t something i do all the time in wanaka, because it is expensive, but it is super super fun and enjoyable if you like that kind of thing! the landscape and countryside you ride through is breathtaking.
i went through a deeply embarrassing horse phase from the ages of 5 – 10 in which i read saddle club and other such literature religiously, nibbled the field at school with my fellow horse enthusiasts and groomed the arms of the sofa with the grooming kit my parents friends kindly gifted me. oh man. my family took pity on me and i was given horse treks for christmas about 3 years in a row, which i just adored. don’t worry, they’re still fun even when you’re not a colour coordinated 9 year old (i guess..;)

ps- there really is no bad time to visit- in summer swimming and boating on the lake, in autumn walks amongst the spectacular tawny poplars, in winter amazing skiing/snowboarding….

In Arrowtown!
^^autumnal bliss^^

links minx

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^^on top of mt iron, wanaka – the prettiest^^

i am compulsively unable to keep something i am loving to myself – yes i was super uncool in year seven, when everyone was going through their alty, different phase ;) i send my friends ted talks, book names, song titles …. and either we have very similar tastes or they are very polite. either way, it works. so here is me flicking them your way. (oldest trick in the blogging parchment, yes)
here are some things that made me smile, laugh, cry:

hey natalie jean’s post on trying to conceive. it’s crazy how you can feel so deeply for someone you’ve never met. i know beyond a doubt that i want to have kids, and i hope and pray that i will never have to go through what natalie’s going through – but that if i do, that i can handle it with such courage and grace. sending all the love and vibes your way xx

i just devoured Matthew Quick’s novel The Good Luck of Right Now – what an amazing book. if you enjoyed the rosie project or the curious incident of the dog. this quote gave me shivers:

“when i estimated the number of individual evil acts done by each person who trashed our house, the sum of bad things easily topped two hundred, and so maybe if mom’s theory was correct, it meant that more than two hundred good things had happened or would soon happen all over the world to strangers…maybe a sick baby girl in zimbabwe would receive donated medicine just before she was about to slip into a fatal coma; maybe a hungry beggar in san francisco would find a warm steak in a trash can behind a five star restaurant and dine under a full moon…maybe an elementary school student in Paris would suddenly remember the mathematical formula he needed to pass a test..”

speaking of books. i also adored where’d you go bernadette, and am convinced that Kate  and i have the same brain when it comes to books. any book she’s recommended i’ve loved so me before you and what alice forgot are next on my list!

i love reading pieces like this that challenge my way of thinking, and now i need to find some friends who haven’t been introduced yet!

this google video is a bit old but makes me cry every time, oh man

there are also so many clothes i’m lusting after in the gorman sale – someone confiscate my credit card, stat!

i just bought these clogs which were on sale for $99 nzd and i am in love! they are amazingly flattering in the nude colour and straps that lie below the ankle. i have a bunch of friends who own clogs from this brand and absolutely rave about them, so really, i had to!

i also just tried on these tops today and am so in love – can you tell i enjoy navy?

happy february guys! go out and have a cracking wednesday xx