i’m back!

hi! it’s been a bit, hasn’t it?

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…ok, more than a bit!

would it placate you to tell you that the last 4 months have been action packed and contained my 21st birthday, a graduation, two 21st party weekends in wellington and friends visiting Christchurch?

no? how about homemade gingernut icecream, mango tart, yeasted naan, sweet and savoury scrolls, a midwinter christmas dinner and a indian feast?

now I’m just teasing you, aren’t I.

seriously though, I’m well. and filled with happiness and joy to be blogging again, which is just as well, because..

blooming anna is going international!

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Nanjing, China to be exact.

and i can’t wait to share my adventures in the middle kingdom with you. I’m practising my tones, packing my bags and trying to squeeze every last bit of family and friend bonding, new zealand scenic appreciation and delicious flat whites into the last few weeks.

the last 8 months have been fantastic – so special to have this time at home which i may not have had if the terms hadn’t worked out the way they did.

of course cooking has been a great joy this year – always such a treat to use the home kitchen rather than the grotty flat ones i’ve had to contend with in recent years. it’s just as well as i won’t have access to one in China (I KNOW, how will i cope?!)

so, i’ll be back very soon with my no doubt scintillating thoughts on packing (aka the worst chore/activity there is), travel, and my impressions of CHINA!

i’ll leave you with the recipe for mango tart, which was absolutely superb and one of the tastiest desserts i have ever made! I made it for my mum’s birthday, and it went down a treat. this recipe inspired me, and then little and friday plus this lady online helped me narrow down the exact execution.

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Mango, lemongrass and coconut tart

lemon and coconut sweet pastry
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted thread coconut
1 cup icing sugar
pinch of salt
250g butter, well chilled and cubed
1 egg
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Blitz flour, sugar and salt briefly in food processor. add butter and process to breadcrumbs. add all other ingredients and pulse until it forms a ball.
turn out, gather to a dough and wrap in plastic wrap. let it rest for at least an hour.
you will use 2/3 of the pastry. either remove 1/3 immediately or roll out with this in mind. roll out to 3mm thickness and line a removable bottom fluted tart pan.
rest for an hour in the fridge.
blind bake for 15 mins with beans/paper in. remove filling and bake for another 10 mins.
allow to cool completely.

lemongrass custard
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 stalks lemongrass, sliced
600ml cream
1/4 cup cornflour

heat cream and lemongrass in a saucepan to a simmer. turn heat off and let steep for 20 mins. strain and return cream to saucepan.
beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until very pale and fluffy. add a small amount of hot cream, whisk to temper, then add the rest of the cream in increments.
pour back into the saucepan. place over a low heat and stir constantly. it is VERY EASY to curdle. when it comes to boil, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely in the fridge.

topping
3 perfectly ripe mangoes

peel mangoes with a potato peeler. Slice the cheeks and the other sides off. slice into half moon shapes 2 mm thick – you are aiming for delicate and flexible but not floppy.

dollop lemongrass custard evenly into tart shell and spread with a knife. arrange mango in rose formation.

serve! and wait for the compliments to pour in (it is just so good).

it’s good to be back in this space, friends!

lots of love, Anna, BA, DipLang, 21 years of age (how official this all sounds!)

dinner party

you know how you always have these grand plans of fun activities that never eventuate? well that’s me, 99% of the time. BUT NOT LAST WEEKEND!

sorry, i’m still stoked we managed to actually make this happen! i was chatting away to my friend Madeleine about, i don’t know, the usual rubbish i babble about to my long suffering friends and i said something about making hot cross buns for easter. she picked up on it and the idea somehow metamorphised into an easter dinner for us and three flat’s worth of friends!

see, if i had to map out how us and our friends know each other – it would not be a neat diagram, but rather a tangled web of high school/ class / halls / friends of friends – we are all suddenly very interconnected, which is just the loveliest thing and makes us all so happy. for example, i met madeleine through doing a french literature paper together – she also happens to be dear friends with our friend Grace through wellington/ church. Grace went through high school with clara, who i met through arana/ economics and so around it goes! mutliply this by like 15 girls and you have… a headache? seriously though, so fantastic! as someone who attended six different schools over the course of my schooling (seriously, cheers air force) this level of interconnection and the sheer number of fantastic girls thrills me.

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^^^ a snippet of our wonderful friends – and us in our ‘sunset’ dresses! ^^^

ok, enough boasting anna, get on with the menu!

i am verrry lucky as my friend Nileesha is equally batty when it comes to food. i remember a bus trip we once took together – the first hour we had a great catch up on each other’s lives, the second hour we had funny discussions on various dunedin people we know, and the next three we literally just talked food – planning mexican fiestas, american south dinners and who knows what else. so when this dinner party began to materialize i knew that i would need her help. we decided on salmon as it is a real treat and given that we were going to be getting people to contribute money towards the dinner, we wanted them to feel like they were really getting their money’s worth. also, given it was still march, a roast or something just felt too wintery.

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