Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lazy Sundays and Mexican food

Another VERY lazy Sunday, stayed in bed til around 10am reading a Jodi Piccoult novel..the rest of the day has been spent cooking, watching a movie and back to cooking.  We had a smoky scrambled duck egg dish with homemade bread, Kaitaia fire, fresh tomatoes and coriander for breakfast, chicken and homemade barbecue sauce quesadillas for lunch and now we come to dinner.  Al brown's chargrilled squid and chorizo on skordalia with red roast capsicum vinaigrette and I can make my own pita bread now!  It's a snap to make, you can find the recipe here followed by rhubarb and apple pudding with hokey pokey ice cream.  Utter gluttony.


I am so lucky to have such generous community around me, especially being a single income family. Quite often an aunt will pop in with oranges and sugar loaf cabbages from her garden, I'll swap carrots for broad beans with a fellow gardener at our community garden or like today, my cousin calls to say she has a pork shoulder roast we can share (but you have to cook it, she says... haha thanks)

Sharing is an important part of life, we learn it from a very young age and to share food with others is the best type of sharing, it makes us feel warm inside to nourish another.  Currently being processed through the government is the Food Bill.  The Food Bill could effect people like me and my community, community garden plots won't be allowed to share or barter surplus vegetables with anyone, farmers markets will be heavily controlled and roadside stalls of produce will be a distant memory.  Some people believe that this Bill will pave the way to a country similar to America where swat teams raid health stores, seed banks are eradicated and major corporations control what is grown for the public to eat by GE seeds.

Questions and answers regarding the Food Bill are here.  If you would like to sign a petition against it, click here.  More information is here.

Now I've had my rant, I'm going to cook my roast pork with home grown cavelo nero, broad beans and cabbage given to me by a friend.  To achieve optimum crackling, start this recipe a day ahead.

Roast pork shoulder with fennel and apple gravy + sauteed spring vegetables

1 pork shoulder
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp chilli flakes
4 tbsp flaky sea salt
2 apples, cut in half horizontally
1 bottle of cider
Olive oil
plain flour
500mls hot stock (chicken or beef) or 250ml stock, 250ml hot water
Sea salt
White pepper

Spring vegetables of your choice like;
Baby carrots
Cavelo Nero
Broad beans
Snow peas
sprig of thyme
sea salt and pepper

Take pork out of it's wrapping and pat dry with a paper towel.  Score the skin in long strokes and place on a plate uncovered in the fridge until ready to cook.  Ideally more than 4 hours.
Now prepare your seasoning, grind fennel seeds and chilli flakes in a mortar and pestle, until coarsely ground and fragrant.  Add the sea salt and stir together.
Once your pork has dried out, rub the seasoning into the scored skin, and all over the meat, use most of it, don't be scared of the salt!
Leave the pork out while your oven heats to the right temperature.  Turn oven to 230 degrees.  Pour a little olive oil into a large roasting pan, place pork on to pan and put in oven for 15-20 minutes to get the crackling going.  Then turn your oven down to 160 degrees, add the halved apples and about half the bottle of cider and slow cook for about 4 hours.  Drink the rest of the cider.
While your pork is cooking, prepare your vegetables, peeling, trimming etc
When the pork is done, take out and place aside on another warmed plate to rest.  Do not cover with tin foil, otherwise the crackling will go soft.   Put the roasting pan on to your stovetop element and set the two that are underneath to medium heat.  Once the fat and juices from the pan is hot, add enough flour to soak up the fat and juices, stirring to incorporate and to cook out the flour.  You are making a roux similar to a white sauce except no milk, instead stock.  Once you have done this for a minute or two, start adding your hot stock, a cup at a time, whisking or using a fork flat side down to smooth any lumps of flour.  Keep adding until you have a smooth, pouring gravy.  Turn the heat down and cook at a gentle heat for another couple of minutes, stirring the whole time.  Season with sea salt and white pepper.  Pour your gravy into a dish and set aside in a warm place.
Heat the butter in a large pan, add the vegetables that need the longest cooking time first, and saute your spring vegetables until tender.   Season and set aside.
Carve your pork, pour over the gravy and serve with the vegetables.

Fattening but who cares?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chocolate layer cake

As we are going away this weekend, I have spent my day baking and organising the family, baked heartbreak pies dreamboat slice to take to our friends to say thanks for having us, shortbread to send with my son to granny's so he doesn't eat her out of house and home, chocolate macarons to satisfy my macaron urge and finally a birthday cake for my aunts friends 40th.  It's been a blustery day out there and I've been feeling so melancholy lately so it feels good to bake!  Lucky two out of four things will be sent away with others or else I wouldn't be able to fit my wedding dress.

This cake is a mix and match from a couple of recipes I like...hope you enjoy making and eating it, it's super easy and looks like you slaved for hours in the kitchen.  Sorry I can't cut a piece to show you, you'll just have to make it!

Chocolate layer cake

170g softened butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 free range eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 c milk
2 1/4 c plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 c cocoa


250g dark chocolate melts
1/2 c cream


250g butter, softened
2 c icing sugar,sifted
1 c cocoa, sifted
4 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 160 degrees.  Line the base of a 22cm cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Dissolve the soda in the milk, then add to butter mixture with sifted flour, baking powder and cocoa.  Beat until combined.  Spoon into your lined tin and bake for about 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the ganache, put the cream into a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, heating until just before boiling point, when it's hot enough add the chocolate and take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.  Stir until it's all combined and smooth then place aside to cool at room temperature.  It should become nice and thick.

To make icing, beat butter with an electric mixer until very pale and creamy, add half the sifted together icing sugar and cocoa, then the milk, then remaining icing sugar/cocoa.  

When cooled, carefully slice in half horizontally and spread one side with ganache mixture, place one side back on then ice the whole cake with the icing mixture covering it completely.  You could use a piping bag if you wish or just a knife.  Decorate as you wish!  I had to do fondant martini glasses sprinkled with glitter in honour of her cocktail party theme.

Monday, September 12, 2011

oysters on saturday

I'm going to Al Brown's new restaurant Depot on Saturday which I am extremely excited about.  I've already decided what I'm ordering too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today's harvest, tonight's dinner

Exciting stuff, planted second crop of potatoes for our upcoming wedding, as well as radicchio, mustard spinach and more cabbages.  Feels so good to do this all on my own (well with the exception of Mr I-want-to-find-a-worm who digs up baby seedlings) and know that it is all organic.

Wee snippet of what I harvested today; baby carrots, baby turnips and spinach.  Would you say it would be about $15 worth?  What did it cost me?  probably about $1.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kinda Chinese banquet for three

To help myself get out of this anti food rut I've been in, I organised babysitters and hooned off to the Mt Maunganui library, straight to the cookery section intending on arming myself with cookbooks galore.
One that has stood out for me is Kylie Kwong's book Simple Chinese Cooking.  Everybody loves Chinese food right? even better when it's banquet style.  What I love about Kylie Kwong is she offers Chinese cooking the healthy way.  No msg, or too many deep fried dishes.  Fortunately for me my AWESOME hunter/gatherer father put the crab pot out the night before so we had fresh local paddle crabs to eat!  Chilli crab is a dish originating from Singapore which funnily enough isn't meant to be spicy so obviously I tweaked it a little!

Chilli-salt Duck Breasts with lemon
Jasmine Rice
Stir fry cabbage and brocoli in soy sauce and ginger
Chilli crab

Chilli-salt Duck Breasts with lemon

Like Kylie Kwong this is my favourite dish in the whole book.  I honestly have only cooked duck twice before and failed.. This recipe is so easy though, first you steam the duck then deep fry with a coating of flour, chilli and salt.  Amazing.

4 x 200g duck breasts, with skin, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp Sichuan pepper, ground a little in a mortar and pestle
2 tsp sea salt
vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 large red chilli, finely sliced
2 spring onions, julienned
2 lemons, halved

Arrange duck breasts, skin side up, on a heatproof plate that will fit inside a steamer basket.  Place plate inside a steamer, position over a wok or large frying pan of boiling water and steam, covered, for 12 minutes or until duck breasts are half cooked.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, chilli powder and first measure of salt.  Carefully remove plate from steamer basket, transfer duck breasts to a rack and set aside for 25 minutes too cool slightly.
Add duck breasts to chilli-salt mixture and toss to coat well, shaking off any excess flour.  Heat oil in a large wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly.  Add duck breasts and deep fry for about 2 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned then remove and drain well on kitchen paper.
Cut duck on the diagonal into 1cm slices and arrange on a platter with a small bowl of Sichuan pepper and salt.  Garnish with chilli and spring onion and serve immediately with lemon halves.

Chilli crab

6-8 paddle crabs, rinsed, kindly end their lives first please then chop in half
big splash of vegetable oil
2 red chillies
3 tbsp chilli sauce
3 tbsp tomato sauce (yes like the chips + sauce variety)
knob of fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
handful fresh coriander
2 tbsp fish sauce

Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan then stir fry crabs for 5-10 minutes or until they have all turned orange.  Add another big splash of oil, garlic, chillies, ginger and fry until fragrant.  Add chilli sauce, tomato sauce and a splash of water and mix everything together and crabs are well coated in the sauce.  Cook for a few minutes then splash in the fish sauce, sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve.

Friday, August 12, 2011

comeback of a 1950's housewife

I have not posted for almost a month now, and I am going to put it down to writers block.  Mainly due to a lack of self esteem and a plethora of tasks relating to my upcoming nuptials.  Planting vegetables for the wedding, brewing cider for the wedding (well it wasn't really me), stamping serviettes, polyurethaneing (is that even a word??) tree slices for cake stands and painting black boards.  Not to mention the bride diet.

So I will leave you with this picture a friend let me have, and I promise to write a more food orientated post very soon.  I do have duck breasts in the fridge...Kylie Kwongs crispy chilli salt duck breasts with lemon anyone?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bastille day feast

Bouillabaisse is a traditional french seafood stew, originating from Marseille.  I once ate this when I traveled through France with my family, at a little beachside restaurant in Hyeres.  Eating this in France however, is very different to how I would serve it at home.  Normally the broth is served with toasts smothered in rouille and the seafood as a second course but I just have to tweak recipes a little, can't help it.  My version of rouille is also tweaked, satisfying my love of garlic and all things red!

Serves 2-4

1 leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 tsp fennel seeds
wineglass of white wine..chardonnay
2 bay leaf
Peel of 1/2 an orange, remove all pith
500ml fish stock
1 400g can crushed tomatoes in juice
1 tbsp raw sugar
a pinch of saffron
500g hapuku fillet, or other firm white fish
12 greenlip mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
15-20 green prawns

une baguette

4 tbsp mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 roast capsicum, skins removed, deseeded or about 1/2 jar of roasted red peppers
2 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pan then add leek, carrot and garlic and saute over a medium heat til beautiful and soft.  Add potatoes and fennel seeds and fry for a couple of minutes.  Splash in the wine, stirring to bring everything together, simmer for a couple of minutes.  Add bay leaves, fish stock, tomatoes, sugar and saffron. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make rouille.  Basically chuck everything into a blender until smooth.
Add mussels to soup and cook until open, discarding any that haven't opened.  Add fish, prawns and turn off heat, allowing the residual heat to cook the fish and prawns.

Serve the soup in bowls with rouille spooned on top of toasted slices of baguette.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Torta di ricotta (Ricotta pie)

This was the cake I recently made for my friends mother, adapted from a cuisine recipe to be entirely gluten free.  If you don't need to just use normal flour.

butter to grease tin
150g almonds, skin on
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
6 free range eggs
260g sugar
500g cow or buffalo ricotta
finely grated zest of one orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brandy, frangelico or amaretto
3 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
4 tbsp olive oil
100g gluten free flour
cocoa for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a 22cm cake tin.
For the filling, put the almonds and chocolate in a food processor and grind to a medium crumb.
Put 4 of the eggs and 200g of the sugar in a large bowl and beat well.  Add the ricotta, orange zest, cinnamon, liqueur and 2 tsp of the baking powder, along with the chocolate mix, and combine well.  Set aside.
To make the base, beat the remaining eggs with the remaining sugar and oil.  Stir in the flour and the remaining baking powder.  Pour into the prepared tin and top with the chocolate filling.
Bake for 1 hour until just becoming firm in the centre.  Cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
Serve dusted with cocoa powder, grated chocolate, roughly chopped almonds and orange zest.  Oh and lashings of creme fraiche.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Oh shutup! Wholly cow wing rib

Regardless of the fact that I'm a control freak who plans meals a week in advance, I actually really love getting my other half to decide whats for dinner.  Having dragged him off to the markets at 8.30 this morning, he was hovering around the Wholly cow stall. $20 later we had a wing rib in the bag - and I reckon handing over a twenty for more than a kg of prime beef is totally justified.

Now, when you buy meat this good and this particular cut, don't be ridiculous by trimming fat off.  This is not a time to be on a diet.  Remove the beef from the fridge 20 minutes before you begin to cook it.  Smother the fat in a mixture of 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard, 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped, 3 tbsp thyme leaves, sea salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Turn your oven to 200 degrees.  Heat a frying pan until smoking hot.  Sear and caramalise the fat on the beef and the two sides.  Place into your hot oven for 15 minutes then turn down to 180 degrees.  Roast for 40-60 minutes depending on how you like your beef cooked.  (20mins per 500g for med rare)

You could also make a gravy..yes, from scratch.    Pour some of the fat from cooking the beef into a frypan and heat, add a tbsp of flour and whisk til smooth.  Add half a wineglass of boiling water and whisk til smooth again, bringing to boil to thicken.  Once thick, add 300ml of beef stock, repeat process whisking til smooth and thickening to your liking.

PS: You can get wholly cow meat from the Tauranga farmers market

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A wintery afternoon tea treat

Decadent caramel slice..

150g plain flour
70g ground almonds
125g melted butter
160g caster sugar
2 cans condensed milk
1/2 c golden syrup
125g butter
200g dark chocolate
2 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Mix base ingredients in a bowl then press into a baking paper lined 20cm x 30cm tin.  Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool.
Put filling ingredients into a pan on a low heat.  Stir to melt butter and until it has combined properly, about 5 minutes.  Pour into tin and bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely in fridge.
Melt chocolate with oil over a double boiler, stirring until melted.  Spread the chocolate mixture over the cooled caramel mixture then refrigerate for a few hours to set.
Slice, eat but give some away or you'll get fat.

Friday, June 24, 2011

birthday cake

It's my friends mothers birthday today....and since she has coeliac disease which means she is totally deprived of dessert choices... I baked her a cake!

Chocolate, ricotta and almond cake...Happy Birthday Marilyn xxx

Thursday, June 16, 2011


As promised, here are two salsas to blow your mind.  Basically put everything into a blender and whiz away.  Add as little or as many chillies as you can handle.  I put 3 birds eye green in my salsa cruda, 2 birds eye red in my salsa roja.

I served these salsas with corn tortillas (tio pablo) shredded lettuce, grated cheese, chopped avocado mixed with coriander and lime juice, panko crumbed terakihi and a chipolte pepper sour cream.  My mouth is salivating just remembering....

Salsa Cruda

10 small green tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful chopped coriander
1-4 green chillies
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt

Salsa Roja

1 can chopped tomatoes in juice
2 large red onions, finely chopped
1 handful chopped coriander
4 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lime
1-4 red chillies

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's been a good day

I just wanted to share the flowers in my house with you. Thankyou winter for giving us early cheer.  I will fall asleep happily smelling your sweet perfume.
Hope you all had a lovely day too...life is just better with flowers!  ...................and it's only getting better.  Dad. gf and baby brother are coming for dinner - fish tacos, like, proper ones.  My friends went to Mexico recently and I now am proud owner of authentic salsa verde and salsa roja recipes.  Smother your tacos in these salsas and you will be one happy chappy.  Obviously I'm too busy making them right now to provide you with the recipes so you'll just have to wait!  xx

Friday, June 10, 2011

Green Peppercorn Sauce

This is kind of bad for you.  But I don't care cos it makes me happy. Makes enough for two steaks plus extra to scrape up with your chips.  Trust me, you'll be doing that.

large knob of butter
dash of olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
splash or two of brandy, can use sherry or white wine if you wish but brandy is best
1 oxo cube, crumbled into 100mls boiling water, stir to dissolve
2-3 tbsp green peppercorns, drained
150mls cream
sea salt

Melt butter in a frying pan, adding oil to keep it from browning.  Add onions and saute VERY gently on a medium heat so they get all sweet, soft and delicious.  If you burn them start again.
Turn the heat up hot wait a minute then splash in your brandy, deglazing the pan.
Add stock and peppercorns and let it simmer for a minute.
Add cream then reduce, maybe 5 minutes on a medium heat.  Your sauce should be thick and a nice creamy peanut butter colour.

Enjoy! x

Thursday, June 9, 2011

For my lover.......no greens in sight

Scotch fillet steak + green peppercorn sauce + homemade chips + a nice merlot.....don't mind if I do!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Queens birthday weekend sure was eventful.  Aside from the dancing...we created LOVE pasta!

Saturday was to be my BFF's engagement party lunch and being the foodie of our friends I put my hand up for some of the prep.  On Friday I slow cooked beef for a ragu, in port, organic tomatoes and beef stock.  Then at night my friends and I kneaded, rolled, cut, dried and made the pasta into pretty little baskets to dry.  We turned 5kg of flour and forty five eggs into parpadelle.  Only took five hours!  The next day we served the feast to 45 hungry guests.  It's a beautiful thing when woman band together and put on such a delicious feast, there was even a dessert table!  I am a little obsessed with dessert tables at the moment.

The menu du jour;
Beef ragu parpadelle
Tomato + chorizo mussels parpadelle
(homegrown) pumpkin, ricotta and pinenut parpadelle with salsa verde

We used Jamie Olivers recipe, simple + easy, you can find that here

Monday, May 30, 2011

Escapism - Christmas day

Sophie Dahl is another of my favourite cooks.  Odd to think of her as a cook I know, but what I like most about her show is that she mixes poetry and stories with rustic and mouth watering recipes.  Each episode is classified into moods or themes.  Melancholy, celebratory, nostalgia, selfish, romance and finally escapism.  For me, food is my comfort and whatever I eat has emotional ties.  Whether it be memories of childhood, traveling or just the want to be part of another culture for a day.

So now when winter is almost about to set in, I'm escaping to Christmas day with this effortless trifle...and eating it selfishly out of my own little glass.

Berry and white chocolate custard trifles
Makes 6 individual trifles.

2 c frozen raspberries or boysenberries
10 Sponge finger biscuits
100mls Berry liqueur (I used creme a la Frasise des Boise available from Bel Mondo, Tauranga)
1/2 c homemade or bought berry jam, warmed to slightly runny consistency
White chocolate, to make flakes
500mls custard, homemade or bought
500mls cream, whipped

First put the frozen berries into a small saucepan with a 100mls water and simmer gently until berries are softened.  Be careful not to cook them to a pulp.  Cool.
Pour liqueur and berry liquid into a bowl and add sponge finger biscuits, dipping to soak up the liquids.  Don't leave them in the liquid for too long unless you want super boozy trifles...which I seem to be very good at!
Layer the glasses with sponge finger biscuits, then a tablespoon of warmed jam, berries and custard.  Grate of flake chocolate and layer over the custard.  Layer in that order again if the glass allows finishing with whipped cream.

Friday, May 27, 2011

My inspiration, my muse.....Peta Mathias

Back when I was 9 years old Taste of New Zealand was on TV.  I remember being entranced by her fiery charm and seeing her cook the most exotic things....things that are so normal to me now like vanilla bean and saffron.  That coupled with my father influencing me with his own passion for cooking, my venture into cookery began.

I have long been inspired by the one and only Peta Mathias.  She is exactly where I want to be in the future.  Not many people can say they show people how to eat and cook their way around the world for a job!  She is an amazing author, "gastronomad" and television presenter.....  and I'm pleased to say I've met her! well, kind of.  I attended her latest tour, Literary high tea at The Sebel, 2 week old baby in tow.  Lucky for me, my son George was a beacon for her to cast her eyes on and being up the front she talked to myself and George and mentioned him in her speech.  Star struck much??  Anyway, in her speech she had a tip for finding yourself a career you'll be most happy in.  The subjects you were good at in school, find a career that uses those subjects.  For me, English and cookery.  She also suggested when you need to write, lock yourself in your room with a bottle of wine and write.  So thank you Peta, I'm doing it!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

- Dinner tonight -

Being the end of autumn there isn't much selection in my garden..although this afternoon I managed to harvest the tiniest baby beetroots, a few baby leeks and spinach.  I will confess to swiping my best friends brocolini out of her garden next to me!  Don't worry I'll pay her back with some red onions or something..

Spinach and leek stuffed chicken legs with baby beetroot, brocolini and golden sweet potato

4 free range chicken legs
sea salt and black pepper
2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
4 large handfuls of spinach, blanched and refreshed in iced water then squeezed dry
150g feta cheese
2 baby leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 baby beetroot, washed with 2-3 cm of stem left attached
8 stems brocolini, blanched and refreshed in iced water
4 golden sweet potato, chopped into chunks
leaves from the beetroot

4 tbsp balsmaic vinegar
2 mandarins, juiced
2 tsp dijon mustard
8 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

To make the stuffing; gently saute leeks and garlic until soft and golden.  Meanwhile blanch your spinach then finely chop.  Crumble feta into a bowl, add cool spinach, leeks, garlic and sea salt and pepper.  Mix together well and set aside.

For the chicken, gently loosen skin from flesh all over the thigh bone.  You can remove thigh bone if you wish but I'm a mother of two not a chef!   Squash stuffing into a ball in your hands and shove under the skin, smoothing it down over the leg bone and meat.  You don't really need to secure the skin with toothpicks just push the skin back down over the thigh meat as much as you can.  Season with salt, pepper and cumin.

Roast sweet potato and chicken legs in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 30 minutes, adding baby beetroot for the last 10 minutes.

To make dressing;  whisk all ingredients together or shake in a jar.

When everything is cooked and your beetroot is nice and crispy, mix with dressing, beetroot leaves and brocolini.  Serve immediately.

Slow roasted tomato, lentil and goat chevre salad

This is the most simplest salad but so delish!  Serve with roasted chicken.

4 tomatoes, cut in half
1 red onion, finely sliced
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt
400g can lentils, drained and rinsed
200g soft goats chevre
handful chopped italian parsley
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil

Firstly turn the oven to 140 degrees.  Slow roast the tomatoes cut side up, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil for 4 hours.  You want the tomatoes to still be a little juicy.
Marinate red onion in half the lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt until ready to use.
To make the dressing, whisk mustard, the rest of the lemon juice, garlic and red wine vinegar, slowly whisking olive oil in to emulsify.
Once tomatoes are cooked, mix all ingredients together with the dressing and serve.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken and preserved lemon tagine

A tagine is a pot unique to Morrocco, but not essential.  Serve this tagine over warm hot buttered cous cous, sprinkled with torn mint leaves.

Serves 4

4-6 pieces of leg and wing chicken pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger

sea salt and black pepper
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
500ml hot homemade chicken stock
1 bay leaf
large pinch of saffron
1 cinnamon stick
1 preserved lemon, sliced
handful of green or black olives, destoned
sprig of thyme

Turn oven on to 160 degrees.  Rub chicken with ground spices to coat, then fry in hot pan for 5 minutes or until golden on all sides.  Add onions, garlic and fry for a couple more minutes.  Place chicken, garlic and onions in a tagine or casserole dish then add all the other ingredients.  Put in your oven and cook for 1-2 hours or until the meat is falling away from the bone.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Easy and delicious!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spiced kumara soup with crisp fried ginger

3 med size purple kumara, cut into large chunks
600ml chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, toasted then ground
1 bay leaf
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
300ml coconut cream
handful fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
5cm piece ginger, julienned
frying oil, ricebran, olive or peanut

Gently fry onions and garlic in a little olive oil until softened.  Add spices and bay leaf and stir until fragrant.  Add kumara and stock then bring to the boil.  Simmer for minutes or until kumara is cooked.  Puree in a blender adding coconut cream to thin a little.
To crisp fry ginger, heat oil until medium hot and looks like its swirling, add ginger and fry until crisp and golden.  This happens very fast so be careful not to burn.

Top soup with ginger and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eco food

Eco food to me is............economical, environmentally aware and eatable.  With a little bit of education we can still eat good food ie free range or organic without the price sending your grocery bill skyward.  Every week I buy a waitoa valley free range chicken which is very Sophie Gray of me but I get three meals out of it.  One with the breasts, one with the thighs and wings and I use the carcass for stock be it for risotto, soup or casserole.  Here's my three recipes of the week.

Crumbed chicken breasts with roast red pepper, baby beets and goats feta
Apricot and preserved lemon chicken tagine
Spiced kumara soup with crisp fried ginger

Crumbed chicken breasts with roast red pepper, baby beets and goats feta.  Serves 4

2 chicken breasts
fresh wholegrain bread
1 egg whisked lightly with a splash of milk
plain flour
sea salt and pepper
handful of roughly chopped italian parsley
few tablespoons thyme leaves
handful of grated parmigiano reggiano

2 handfuls of mixed leaves - I used mizuna, cos, red oak, washed
2 red peppers
4 baby beetroots, peeled and sliced thinly
150g goats feta
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Cut each chicken breast into 2 or 3 even sized pieces.  Sandwich between two layers of cling film then bash with a meat mallet or pestle until the chicken is an even thickness much like schnitzel.
Put wholegrain bread, herbs, sea salt, pepper and parmigiano reggiano into a food processor and whiz until you have coarse breadcrumbs.
Now make your crumbing station, put plain flour onto a plate, crumbs on another plate and whisked egg into a bowl.  Dust the chicken lightly with flour, shaking off the excess then place chicken into the egg.  Coat with egg, drip off excess then coat thoroughly with breadcrumb mixture.  Set aside until ready to cook.

Chargrill your peppers on an open flame until blackened and blistered then put into a bowl and cover with cling film.  This makes it easier to peel later when they are cool.
Put all the dressing ingredients into a jar or bowl and shake/whisk to combine, set aside

Heat up a pan add a spalsh of olive oil and fry your chicken til golden and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Season with sea salt.  Mix together all the salad ingredients leaving the goat feta to sprinkle over at the end.  Serve.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oh the weather outside is frightful

I just had to share this recipe with you all..it's from my favourite cookbook at the moment - Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Don't be scared of how long the list of ingredients is, spices are cheap from bulk food stores and if you'd like a recipe for preserved lemons I can always share that one too....

I truly believe in the holistic properties of spices; cinnamon to help regulate blood sugar levels, turmeric for it's amazing anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits, ginger for helping nausea, and even coriander for anxiety!  This recipe has a bounty of heat generating spices to warm your soul, and make you feel like you just snuggled back under the covers for a sleep in.

Ultimate winter couscous....serves 4

2 carrots, peeled + cut into chunks        handful dried apricots
2 parsnips, peeled + cut into chunks      1/2 can of chickpeas or 200g freshly cooked
8 shallots, peeled                                  350ml chickpea cooking liquid or water
2 cinnamon sticks                                 170g couscous
4 star anise                                           large pinch of saffron threads
3 bay leaves                                         260ml boiling vegetable stock
olive oil                                                 knob of butter
1/2 tsp ground ginger                             knob of harissa paste
1/4 tsp ground turmeric                         quarter of a preserved lemon, finely chopped
1/4 tsp hot paprika                                handful chopped coriander leaves
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
300g butternut squash, peeled + cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Place the carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large ovenproof dish.  Add all the spices, bay leaves, big drizzle of oil, large pinch of sea salt and mix well.  Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the pumpkin, stir and return to the oven for another 35 minutes.  The vegetables should have softened yet still retaining a bite.  Now add the apricots, chickpeas and their cooking liquid or water.  Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes or until hot.
About 15 minutes before the vegetables are ready, put the couscous into a large heatproof bowl with a tbsp olive oil, the saffron and a pinch of sea salt.  Pour the boiling stock over the couscous.  Cover with cling film and leave for about 10 minutes.  Then add the butter and fluff up the couscous with a fork until the butter melts in.  Cover again and keep somewhere warm.
To serve, spoon couscous into a deep plate or bowl.  Stir the harissa and preserved lemon into the vegetables; taste and season if needed.  Spoon the vegetables onto the centre of the couscous.  Finish with plenty of coriander leaves.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

I just googled greatest novels of all time.

Number 24: Alice's adventures in Wonderland.  For those that know me well, will know that I am somewhat obsessed with this story.  I own books of it, watch the movie often and sometimes think of six impossible things before breakfast.  Like, my kids will sleep in til 7.30am or Mary Poppins has magically re-arranged the house after the party we had last night.....  I had a Alice in Wonderland inspired 21st, and am now creating an Alice in Wonderland inspired wedding.  Stay tuned for the Alice in Wonderland inspired 30th, 50th and funeral.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Introducing...... my garden. Garden, you, you garden

Last October I joined the growing movement of Lets get growing..Tauranga's allotment style community gardens.  I rent a plot and plant and grow to my hearts content.  Since then we've had fresh everything! tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, more than I would know what to do with, but the beauty of community style gardening is that you share and swap vegetables.  I have learnt to grow things I'd only tasted in restaurants, sorrell, celeriac and yellow beetroot.  My experience has even inspired me to grow most of the produce for our upcoming wedding...I'm planting potatoes, I have celeriac growing and next week I'll be putting down peas and broad beans.

It's a little worse for wear at the moment thanks to my busy life and the changing seasons but heres a pic...currently stocked with silverbeet, sorrell, romanesco brocoli, red cabbage, leeks and pak choi.

Lets get growing

Friday, April 15, 2011

A thought for Planet Earth

 A lot of people think "Whats the use" and are ignorant towards littering, recycling etc......broad topic I know but according to Dr Seuss, the answer is rather simple.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ginger + Honey

Shots from a job I did recently....(excuse the crap photography)

Pistachio lamb balls with fattoush salad                    

Rosemary foccaie with goats cheese + thyme butter, proscuitto and roasted olive

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

figs goats and autumn leaves

If I was a season I'd be Autumn.  Theres something to be said about this time of the year, so emotive and calming...the dark signals the end of the day, we close the blinds, light the fire (well not for us yet anyway), don our slippers, get our warm pink children fresh out of a hot bath to snuggle into a fluffy robe and have stories with knitted blankies.  I love the changing of the leaves, red and gold but above all I love the seasonal food.....figs, walnuts, pumpkin, brassicas, apples and pears.  Autumn makes me want to eat my last meal - goats cheese and fig brushetta.  But tonight, instead we are having pumpkin and prawn curry with pear and ginger pudding for dessert...yum

Monday, April 4, 2011

My son woke up yesterday from his midday sleep, Dad asks " Did you have any dreams mate? "
"Yeah, there was a lion, a flying lion and it made no sound"

Mute flying lions. Now thats a new one.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

From garden to table

One of the key reasons why farmers markets are so popular is the fact that customers know who has grown what they are buying.  In our modern world there is a big issue of eating out of season, food that has traveled from one continent to another and ripened on the way.  This takes out most of the flavour and it is certainly not the way mother nature intended it to taste.  So take a good look next time you shop in a supermarket, look for the stickers - if it's not from your country don't buy it, instead go to your local farmers market and put your money into the pockets of your community.

A sample of what I bought today from the Tauranga Farmers Market;   organic bananas, limes, tomatoes, baby yellow carrots, avocadoes, homemade bhuja mix and a venison, mushroom and parmesan mash pie from Heavenly pies (best tequila hangover cure I should mention..)

Tauranga Farmers Market


Friday, April 1, 2011

Nectar of the gods

My grandmother used to make us this "special" beverage when we were kids..she named it "Nectar of the Gods".  It was just raro drink with a few borage leaves sprinkled with caster sugar.  So simple but we thought it was AMAZING.  Nowadays my nectar of the gods is a gin and tonic, hold the borage, with lemon please.  Thank goodness my best friend is back from Mexico to share the sun and fizzy goodness with me! Love you Miss Cleland xx

Oh and also, guess what I got for my birthday? A Dear Colleen tea towel...when life hands you lemons, make a gin and tonic.  Smiles all round.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

French heaven

I am supposed to be maintaining/losing weight for our impending wedding.  Fat chance when The Good Food Trading Company has salted caramel macarons!.. delicious, salty caramel quite like eating caramel popcorn.  You seriously need to get there and try..

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday!

My 5 month old alarm clock wakes me up this morning at 5.30am, two year old follows soon after.  Happy Birthday! not.

Birthdays are overrated...