Sunday, December 12, 2010


It must be almost Christmas, I baked gingerbread trees today! Successful first attempt at baking in the new oven.

Looking forward to spaghetti marinara for dinner, with fresh scallops and calamari from the markets today.

..but you've seen both of these before!! I've been cooking a lot of old favorites while I dial in to the new kitchen, as this seems the most reliable way of finding differences. Summer will be a challenge to create new meals which don't generate too much heat (I hate a hot kitchen in summer), but which don't require the BBQ or pizza oven, as both are in storage for the duration of our inner-city tenancy (no gas bottles allowed!)

Have also recently decided that risotto season is over until sometime next year when the temperature drops again. There is no way I'm standing over a pot of risotto in 30C!!

I still have notes on my obsession with risotto (which is pretty much all I've cooked for months) to share with you.. Watch this space! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On gadgets, and how to zest a lemon without a zester

I love buying new toys, but hate clutter. Some people will never be happy. I have come to peace with my dilemma, and the following things have helped:
1) a ban on single-purpose items. This means no waffle iron (sniff), no mandoline, and no lemon zester.
2) and - two sites which encourage me to live without "Stuff".
3) moving from a large, 4-bedroom house to a small, 2-bedroom inner-city apartment. We will attempt to cram all of the Stuff I couldn't live without into our new home tomorrow. And I'm starting to worry about just how much I need to throw out. Again.
4) living without said Stuff (which I could not live without) for almost three months during the transition between countries. There are some things I miss terribly, but for the most part, I can't remember what's in the boxes...
I'm also learning that there is so much you can do without much extra effort at all, which makes the once-needed gadget redundant. I'm even thinking of ditching the microwave in favour of much-needed bench space!
So, I use a sharp knife instead of a lemon zester, a sharp knife instead of a mandoline, and steam or hot water instead of a microwave. I haven't found a solution for the waffle iron, but it's nice to know there is one thing restaurants can do that I can't!
Use a sharp knife to remove thin strips of zest. Avoid the white pith by staying close to the surface of the lemon.
Cut into thin strips lengthwise. 
Cut into the tiniest cubes ever by slicing in the opposite direction. Please be careful of fingers!
Give it a few extra chops for good measure. I love the slightly bigger pieces of zest, they seem to hold that beautiful, citrusy flavor better than thin, flimsy zest. And the colour is gorgeous! 

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Testing 1,2,3. Can I handle the technology?

OK, so it's not much of an excuse, but I've been neglecting you because I'm in love with my iPad. My laptop is 2 metres away on the floor, but it's much easier to read the hard work of other bloggers, or to play another round of angry birds, than to get the laptop, turn it on, and upload photos. That's officially the only thing the iPad can't do. It can surf the net, make you laugh, and herd cattle, but it doesn't do photos.

Lucky for you, my lovely husband is now in the same country as I, and taking beautiful photos. And, most importantly for you, he's doing the hard yards and uploading these photos to the internet! So we have photos, folks, which means you'll be hearing from me again. From time to time.

IMG_3594 - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spaghetti marinara

This is one of my favourite meals, and it’s so easy!! I can’t believe I haven’t shared this with you yet..!  Originally stolen from Mum's cookboook, and I make it from memory these days, so am no longer sure how closely it resembles the original!

This serves two, or I just reserve half the sauce (before the seafood is added) and freeze if cooking for one – and adjust the pasta/seafood quantities.

Finely chop half an onion, and soften on medium heat with a little oil. Once softened, push to one side and drop in a teaspoon of butter. Add a teaspoon of crushed garlic (1-2 cloves) and stir until golden (careful not to burn it). 036

Pour in one tin of chopped tomatoes. Crumble in one chicken stock cube, and add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir, then turn down to simmer while you pull the rest of the meal together. It will transform from this:


To this:

While the sauce is doing its thing, put a pot or water of to boil (for the spaghetti) and heat a frypan with a little oil and butter. The seafood will take about the same time as the pasta (depending on the grade of your spaghetti – should take 5-7 minutes if it’s not the thick stuff).

Brown the seafood on a medium-high heat. The browning comes more from the butter than from the heat, so be careful not to over-heat your pan or the meat will be leathery and tough.


This is just over-the-counter marinara mix. I usually grab portions of scallops, prawns, and white fish, but the pre-mix was just too convenient to resist, especially as I only wanted a single portion. No idea why they insist on adding parsley to it, though!

Check and drain the pasta, and then add the seafood to the sauce. If it has thickened more than you’d like, just thin out with a splash of water, or white wine.

Throw it all together, and enjoy! 


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Essentials: Part Two

Food was a little more difficult.. my fully-stocked pantry will not be joining me (customs restrictions would mean considerable delays, and many things like flour/rice/grains/spices are simply prohibited), so I’m faced with the prospect of re-building this from scratch. Where to start? I had to give serious thought to priorities, so I could pick up a few things each week without blowing the budget.

First priority:

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice
  • Cooking oil (I use rice bran oil)

I can get by for awhile on fresh fruit and veg with soy sauce. A few extras have found their way in over the past two weeks:

My pantry.
Spaghetti, Soba, Baby gnocchi (because it’s cute), a jar of tomato/cashew pesto, white rice, crackers, sweet potatoes, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, stock cubes (beef & chicken), fruit, spreads, cereal, LSA mix, and sugar. And three different single-malt whiskeys. They’re essential, right?

Also a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes, flour and rolled oats (porridge) which I forgot to move from the lower shelf.

My fridge. It’s this clean because I’ve only been here two weeks. Give it time.

Yoghurt, Hummus (cute little individual-serve packages), Greek yoghurt (for cooking), butter, cheese (I work for a dairy company)
Crushed garlic (I prefer fresh, but use the pre-crushed stuff for less critical dishes and sauces), tomato paste, herb mixes (lazy, and I don’t have a garden here!), oyster sauce, soy sauce, and pasta sauce

The rest of my fridge.

NZ sauvignon blanc (It was on special and I’m citing homesickness), Baileys (OK, no excuse for that), eggs, meat (split into single portions and frozen if I don’t get to it before use-by)
Red onions (I love the colour), carrots, broccoli, and a giant bag of snow peas. I love snow-peas, and they’re local here. I hate buying them in NZ when they’re grown in Africa!

And.. the freezer. No secrets here, I’m showing you the whole kitchen!

This is already pretty well stocked, and is a huge time saver:
Half a jar of pasta sauce. I’ll admit that there’s a small tub of icecream hiding behind this. Bread (I use a slice or two a week, so this lives in the freezer), and single-serve portions in zip-lock bags of tortellini, cooked rice, marinara sauce, and seafood marinara.
Chicken fillet, chicken bones for stock, raw prawns, frozen veges, and a box of wonton noodle soup in case I just can’t be bothered cooking.

I’m cutting a few more corners here than I would normally, but to be perfectly honest I just can’t be bothered making some of the basics from scratch after a long day at work when there’s no-one else here to notice. I’m focussing more on healthy food that happens quickly so I can relax, and varying the veges I buy for different flavour and texture rather than the style of food.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Setting up: the essentials

I’m very thankful that my generous employer honoured my request for a full kitchen in my temporary accommodation, as I don’t think I could survive two months with a studio kitchen. It is always my experience that serviced apartments supply the bare minimum, so I was prepared to pick up a few “extras” to see me through. I’ve been careful to stick to the basics, and to try to purchase items which I will continue to use – rather than just double up on things I already have at home. (The contents of my kitchen will be shipped in mid-October, so there’s no point in duplication.) That said, I’ve also been conscious that “temporary” means up to three months. I don’t really do “camping”, so will need to set a few things up!

My serviced apartment comes with:

  • A full set of plates, cutlery, and glassware
  • Three saucepans (various sizes)
  • One scratched and slightly rusty “non-stick” frypan
  • One chopping board
  • Three serrated “sharp” knives (various sizes)
  • Basic utensils (wooden spoon, vegetable peeler, etc)
  • Sachets of instant coffee, sugar, and UHT milk

I’ve slowly added to this.

Week one:

  • One 26cm Tefal frypan (deep enough to double as a wok when cooking for one)
  • One sharp knife (nothing fancy, just a Wiltshire brand ‘Santoku’ blade, with a good fine edge)
  • Plastic wrap

Week two:

  • Chopping boards (one is not enough, I like to keep raw meat and veges separate)
  • Bag clips (for frozen veges, and keeping ants out of the sugar)
  • Measuring cups (they were on sale. Probably not essential, but very handy)
  • Latex gloves (for handling raw meat – easier than the full scrub-under-fingernails routine)
  • Zip-lock bags for the freezer

Utensils. Back of drawer: standard-issue. Front of drawer: my ‘extras’.

Pretty chopping boards. The little red one is not essential, but I couldn’t resist – it has tiny little suckers on the bottom to stop it slipping (the other side is flat), and it was the last one, on sale.

My frypan. I also picked up a couple of face-cloths, which I use as hand-towels in the kitchen (I never use the tea towel to dry my hands, it’s unhygienic. I use these instead, and throw them in the wash every couple of days)

Yes, Mum, I'm looking after myself

In the past two months I’ve taken a new job in a new country. To prepare for the move we renovated the bathroom and laundry, sorted and “de-cluttered” the majority of the house, and worked through all of the cleaning and maintenance required to list a property for sale. Suckers for punishment, we also managed both an engagement and a small wedding before I departed. So yeah, I’ve been a little busy.

I am now in Melbourne, Australia, and waiting for my lovely husband to join me in October, and will share my temporary kitchen and cooking-for-one experiences with you. (Yes, I do see the irony of writing a “cooking-for-one” series when newly-married!!!)

Thanks for your patience while I’ve dropped off the face of the earth these past few months. I’d like to say a special thank-you to my lovely sisters, for sharing a little of their own kitchens here while I was offline. Hope you continue to pop in from time to time! 

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See, Mum - I'm eating my veggies!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Steak Frites v1

First attempt - not bad...

This was the first time I'd ever deep fried anything. But, as a dedicated fries aficionado I thought it was best to prove I could make my own if I was going to continue deriding the quality of fries at bars and restaurants around town.

Here's how I did it. Note: this fed about 10 people and cost me about $20.

Prep the night before 
(you could do this on dinner night but there will already be a lot to concentrate on so get ahead)

6 Russet Potatoes 
* peel, and slice into evenly sized fries (mine were approx 1cm square)
* cover them in cold water with 3-4 tablespoons of white vinegar and refrigerate

Flank steak - I cooked about 2kg of steak, a large flank steak about 10cm thick and a smaller one about 2cm thick (I was experimenting)
* Mix a marinade of crushed garlic, peanut oil, black peppercorns, salt, soy sauce and honey
* Put the steak and marinade in a ziplock bag and refrigerate

Not so hard so far... 

Dinner time

* Take out your meat so it warms to room temperature while you get started frying
* Drain and dry the fries (dry them as much as possible, it makes a big difference)
* Heat a wok with 6 cups of peanut oil. I cheated and didn't use a thermometer, urban legend has it that if you dip a wooden spoon or chopstick in the oil and tiny bubbles form all around the stick, it's go time
* Fry in small batches for approx 30-50secs, fries should come out blonde. Drain on a paper towel. You're going to fry them again so put them in the oven at 100 celsius
* Salt and pepper the outside of the steak and put it on a hot grill and cook medium rare. Rest the steak for 10minutes while you finish the fries
* Same as before but fry until they are golden brown this time and salt and pepper them immediately after they come out of the oil
* Slice the steak and serve everything while it's hot! preferably with horseradish sauce (mix prepared horseradish with mayonnaise or sourcream)

This was before I realised that putting fries into hot oil with TONGS is preferable to using  your hands

The best thing about slicing a large steak like this is you get a gradation of doneness from medium through to rare

Frites are done

The only problem is I ate them so fast I didn't take a picture of it all put together! next time....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Welcome to my refrigerator

Why not add another sister into the mix? I promise there are no more hidden sisters, I'm the last one. I'm Kerryn and I fall right in between the other two in age. I live in Portland, Oregon after relocating from Wellington 2 years ago. I miss New Zealand terribly but I unexpectedly fell head over heels in love with an American boy and it looks like I'll be sticking around a while....

My American sweethearts birthday is coming up and I want to cook him something great. So while he's out of town I am going to practice the dish I want to make him on a group of friends. Can you guess what I'm making? in the refrigerator is what I prepared in advance.... When I can I like to have as much done as possible before having people over so I can enjoy their company and drink a glass of wine (and make it look like this was so easy!). This was about 40 minutes of prep but it's going to make all the difference.

The top shelf here doesn't count, but you sure can tell a lot about a girl by her fridge right? here there's:

* Champagne (I recently got engaged)
* Tonic because it's summer in the US and I love a gin
* Miso paste because I like to make things from scratch and I want to try making miso soup next week
* And that little milk jug next to the water? well I'm lactose intolerant so it's not milk. It's bacon fat I saved from burger night. Bacon fat makes the best roast potatoes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I've been AWOL, but I'm still here and everything is OK

I'm still here, but my mind has been a little distracted lately.  Meals have been a little more functional than usual, and tonight we had take-out.  Not a lot worth sharing!

From mid-August I'll be featuring a "cooking for one" series, as I transition to my new home-to-be in Melbourne, and wait for my lovely man to join me 2 months later.  In the meantime, I will attempt to resume normal service.  My apologies for the interruption.

Monday, June 14, 2010

5 kinds of non-dairy ravioli filling

For Kerryn:
  1. Chicken (just shredded coooked chicken breast).  Add egg or pesto for texture, or a little stock for moisture.
  2. Pumpkin or squash.  Mash and add garlic and a pinch of nutmeg.  
  3. Sundried tomato, finely sliced, with pine nuts - add shredded beef for a little extra.
  4. Make a soft stuffing mix with breadcrumbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, chopped herbs and stock or oil.  Make sure it's nice and moist.
  5. Slow-cooked lamb or ox-tail with a bit of veg and LOTS of stock.  Chill it to make the liquid set or gel, so it doesn't make a mess, then wait for it to melt in your mouth once cooked.  I've been dreaming about this one for weeks, and have just about got it right.  Think of good Chinese dumplings, and the way the stock pours out when you pierce them.
And.. because I can't resist a challenge.. here: 


Filling number 2 in spinach pasta.  Next time I'll puree the spinach a little more. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Requests! 2. Beef Wellington

Thank you for keeping me busy this weekend.  Emma, Jason thanks you too - he usually only gets Beef Wellington on his birthday!

I used to order Beef Wellington at a favourite restaurant in Wellington city (which closed years ago).  It intrigued me, and I always though it looked terribly difficult - until I checked, and found out just how easy it is!!


Are you ready?  The following is for two:
  • Two sheets of frozen puff pastry
  • Two small fillet steaks (about 100g each)
  • Paté (any flavour - I'll let you make that decision!)
  • Onion and mushrooms

Preheat your oven to 220C
Lay two sheets of frozen puff pastry on the bench to defrost.  Leave the plastic wrap on, to stop them sticking to the bench.  And cover with a damp teatowel so they don't dry out.
Next, prepare the filling:  finely dice 2-3 large button mushrooms, and half an onion.


Heat in a small frypan with a splash of oil.  Cook until the onion is softened, and just starting to brown.
Set the vegetables aside, and return the pan to the heat.  On a high heat (you'll know it's hot enough when the oil starts smoking), sear the steak on both sides - you don't want to cook it, just seal the outside to lock the juices in, then remove from the heat.

Now, assemble your parcels:
On each sheet of pastry, place a tablespoon of the cooked vegetables.. then a slice of paté
(if you're sure you don't like paté then don't make this at all.  Don't leave it out!  There is a time and place for substitutions and this is not it!).
Top with a steak, and any remaining vegetables.


Now, simply wrap it up (I trim about a third of the pastry first):


I just wrap them like a birthday present (without the ribbon!). Place seam-down on a baking tray, and brush with milk or egg yolk.

Pop into the oven for 15 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.


Serve with vegetables.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Requests! 1. Bircher Muesli

I've been out of town all week for work, so am just catching up on comments, and I've had TWO requests this week (and one challenge, which I'll address separately).  Because I'm all about instant gratification, I'm going to post both requested items this weekend.  I've been sitting here trying to figure out what to cook for dinner tonight, so will make Beef Wellington shortly, and post it as soon as I get a chance to process photos and type it up.  Bircher muesli I can do straight away, if you don't mind going without photos until the weather warms up.

Bircher muesli is summer porridge, so I'm not making it til at least Spring because at this tine of year I like my breakfast warm.  But I'll tell you how to make it in one line so you can make it yourself if it happens to be warmer where you are.

Make porridge mix and then add equal volumes of porridge to liquid.  Refrigerate overnight.

Seriously.  It's the same recipe.  Instead of water/milk, add fruit juice, or a mixture of juice and yoghurt. I make anywhere between 1/4 and 2/3 cup for myself, depending on whether I plan to add a lot of fresh fruit, and how hungry I plan on being in the morning.  The only problem with bircher is that it requires a little planning - you have to remember to make it the night before!  If I was better at this part, I'd eat it a lot more often.

See, you don't need a new photo, it's just like this except more wet.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


It's cold, and it's raining, and there's only one thing I'll consider having for breakfast.  It's winter.  I need porridge.  End of story.

I like wholegrain porridge, with lots of texture.  Vogels used to make a great one, but stopped as soon as soon as I got addicted to it.  So I improvise, and make my own..


This is my porridge jar.  To it I add the following:
6 parts rolled oats
4 parts rolled barley
2 parts each buckwheat, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and raisins
1 handful of linseed (flax seeds)
Isn't it pretty?  Look:

Be sure to leave a bit of space at the top, so you can shake it all up.

To make porridge, I use 1/2 cup of dry porridge mix to 1 1/2 cups of liquid.  I find a mix of milk and water gives the right balance (not too thick or watery).  Heat in a saucepan from cold, stirring until bubbly, steamy, and thick.

Serve with a little cold milk or cream, brown sugar, and fruit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ravioli (ricotta and spinach)

I typed this earlier this week, and then cringed when Michael Ruhlman posted a ravioli recipe the next day.  Then I realised two important things: 1) His recipe is completely different to mine, and quite specific (I have to try this) and 2) I am in no way competing with Michael Ruhlman. I have three readers.  (And 51 robots.)

I'm on a bit of a pasta kick this week: after figuring out how to make ravioli, I remembered how easy and delicious pasta is, and made fettucine two nights in a row.  If you haven't made your own pasta yet, you should apply yourself more.  It really is a lot easier than it looks.  I've made it twice this week on work nights.  Seriously.
Ravioli, though is a weekend job.  It needs a little more time and patience than I have most weeknights, but is totally worth it.

First, a warning: I purchased a ravioli pan because it looked like fun, and it seemed to be the kind of thing that would make this a lot easier.  This was not the case.  Even the tiniest quantity of filling squished into the next hole, and the pasta didn't seal well.  The edges weren't sharp enough to cut through the pasta, and basically the whole thing was a mess.  If you don't believe me, please keep an eye on Trade Me.  I'll be listing my new, barely used ravioli pan for sale soon.
The reality is, you don't need extra attachments or toys.  You can make ravioli with basic pasta sheets from your pasta machine, a teaspoon, and a sharp knife.  And it's easier than you think.

The following quantities are for 4 hungry people.

For the filling:
200g fresh ricotta
200g frozen spinach, defrosted, water squeezed out, and finely chopped (I threw mine in a food processor for a few seconds)
100g grated parmesan
1 egg
1/2 tsp crushed garlic

Mix the filling in a bowl with a spoon. Cover and refrigerate.

Make pasta sheets, using the basic pasta recipe here, with 200g flour and 2 eggs.  Don't cut the sheets.  Obviously.
Lay a rolled pasta sheet on a floured benchtop, and brush the top side with milk.

Then, starting at the half-way mark (for reasons which will become obvious), dot filling at even intervals.

Keep going til you reach the end.  Make 'em as big or as small as you like - you're in charge.  When you reach the end, pick up the non-spinach end, and fold over the spinach half.

Fold carefully: you don't want to squish the filling, because you need pasta on pasta to get a good seal around the edges.  If spinach gets squished in the gaps, the ravioli can open when you boil them, and you just wasted a bunch of time making filling.
Gently press between the squares, and try to remove any excess air as you go.
Use a small rolling pin (this is a cute miniature one, about 25cm long) to form a better seal in between:

Then, simply cut into individual pieces.  You could use a knife, a ravioli wheel, or a small biscuit cutter like me:

Resist the urge to stack these: they stick even with flour or baking paper in between, and your efforts are wasted.

Throw into lots of salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.  Serve with a simple sauce: melted butter with sage and a pinch of nutmeg seems to be the agreed standard online, and it certainly won me over.  Good pasta doesn't need big, heavy sauces.

I served with seared salmon fillet.  And it was pretty darned awesome if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who are you?

I know you don't normally use the Comments box, and prefer to lurk in the dark corners - but just this once I'm going to ask you, as a special favour to me, to say hi and introduce yourself!

I don't need your bank account number, and I don't even mind if you want to use a pseudonym (heck, I have done until today!) but I'm curious, and often wonder who is out there reading this.  The clever machine that is Google Analytics tells me that I've had 54 unique visitors in the past month.  Gut feel tells me that 40-50 of you are robots, but I'm keen to hear about the 4 real people!!

So.. who are you?  Do you know me?  How did you find your way here?  And most importantly, is there anything you'd like me to cook for you?  I love a challenge!

I'll kick off: 
My name's Janette, I live in New Zealand, and I've known me my whole life.
I work full-time in a small town in New Zealand, which is the most beautiful place in the world.  I love cooking and gardening.

My favourite foods involve simple methods and clean flavours.. but I like to try something different and/or difficult when the mood strikes.  I tend to get stuck in themes for months on end, where I cook with rice a lot, or have to have lemon in everything (until I get told to stop, usually), or slow-cook every day, and then completely forget about the ingredient or recipe I was so obsessed with until someone mentions it years later.  My mother cooked dinner for me when I visited a few weeks ago:
  Mum: "I'm making your chicken schnitzel recipe"
  Me: (blank look) "I have a chicken schnitzel recipe?"
  Mum: "You know, with lemon and mushrooms - you used to make it all the time"
  Me: (blank look) "are you sure that was me?" 
Turns out it was me, and I love that recipe, but haven't given it a thought in at least two years.  It's delicious - I'll make it for you soon!

This blog is my way of keeping track of my favourite things, so that I don't forget!  Thank you for sharing it with me! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Red wine risotto

I love this for so many reasons, I'm going to make a list:
1. It tastes fantastic.
2. It's a low-maintenance risotto.  No need to stir!
3. It uses exactly one bottle of wine.  If you drink two glasses.
4. As long as I have the rice, I can make this with what's in the pantry.

The only tricky bit is the rice.  You need vialone nano rice - this technique doesn't really work with other rice varieties.  I buy mine here, but have just found that it's (a lot) cheaper here (but I've never used this company so can't make any claims aside from price!!)  If you're not in NZ, you'll have to do your own Google search, sorry.  I know you can cope. 

Cast of characters:  vialone nano rice (1 and 1/2 cups), a bottle of red wine (I usually use something mid-range, with guts like a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.  Just don't use cheap stuff.  Please.), 1 cup of beef stock (low salt), 1 large or 2 small onions, 2 cloves of garlic, and a handful of rosemary.  You will also need 50g of butter and about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan.  Yes, I'm incapable of taking a perfect ingredients shot, thank you for noticing!

Pour the beef stock and 1 and 1/2 cups of wine into a small saucepan, cover and set heat to medium.  You want this to start heating up, so it's just simmering when you need it in a few steps time.

Finely dice the onion, crush the garlic, and finely chop the rosemary (remove stalks).  Cook gently on low heat with a splash of olive oil, stirring until onion softens.

Add rice, stir to coat with oil, and turn the heat up to medium.  Keep the rice moving, letting it toast slightly (the grains will become a sharper shade of white - we are not looking for any colour here, just white!)

Add a splash of wine, and stir until most of the liquid evaporates:

Pour in the simmering beef stock/wine mix (all of it, all at once), then as soon as it starts bubbling turn back to low heat, and cover securely.

I weigh the pot lid down with a couple of wet tea-towels (old ones with a few red wine stains on them already).  This step is not compulsory, but stopped the lid from rattling and driving me crazy..

Now for the low-maintenance part.  Pour yourself two glasses of wine (OK, share one if you're feeling generous).  Walk away for 15 minutes.  Leave the lid on and resist the urge to meddle.  Magic is happening.
Once your time is up, grab a spoon and give it a poke and a stir.  Throw in the butter and the parmesan, and stir until melted.

Serve with steak (mushrooms work well too), and veges.
Reheats well, I love this for lunch the next day - if there's any left.