17 November 2014

{Just Photos} Taste Auckland

Bracu's yellowfin tuna with potato, lemon, & chorizo bolognese

So we were checking the weather every day but as Saturday grew closer it just didn’t look like the weather gods were going to be on our side.  Come Saturday we were; “please just don’t let it rain”.  Our prayers were almost answered & besides we weren’t going to let a little rain & wind spoil our.  The wind did eventually win forcing the organisers to shut Taste for the afternoon & cancel the evening session altogether.  It was a tough call but there were some mighty fierce gusts that were blowing upending tables & chairs & flinging them around so really the only call they could make.

Harbourside's Scallop; sweet, sour & salty with tamarind & chorizo caramel, avocado, creme fraiche & rice puffs.

But up to that point we managed to find shelter whenever the rain became more than a little drizzle or the wind a little too gusty.  We still tasted a lot of delicious food & sipped on some delightful tipples. The Man O War Dreadnought the perfect red for the blustery day. Even better the closing early meant free tickets for the Sunday session so we were able to return on a sunny Sunday afternoon to taste what we’d missed on Saturday.  All’s well that ends well & we left warmed by the sunshine & bellies full of deliciousness.

The Commons cured kingfish, gin, blood orange, wild fennel & horseradish

Beef short rib, butter poached crayfish, wasabi, asparagus & samphire from Cable Bay

My favorite of day 2 were the smoked beef cheeks by Mikey Newlands from Bracu. Meltingly tender & so much flavour. The pecans adding the perfect sweet crunch.

Bracu's smoked beef cheeks, butternut, roasted yoghurt & pecan.

We'd also somehow missed the small producers on day one, not quite sure that happened but it did. However it did make for tastings of more delicious morsels. Stand outs Smokey Seafoods & the Hungarian Artisan Co's smoked & spicy sausage.
And some of my favourites; Culley's Hot Sauces, Jenny's Kitchen Tamarind Chutney from Waiheke, The Damson Collection, 

And to finish there had to be dessert. This one was light & delightful. A lemon mousse cheesecake with digestive crumb & the most wonderful burnt orange sorbet!

So the weather did not dampen our Taste experience.  It may have left us a little windswept but also full & happy.  Bring on next year!

06 November 2014

Fush & Chups

Fush & chups….quintessentially kiwi.  I never used to really like fish & chips until I got here. I wasn’t really a fan of fish full stop.  Childhood memories of not being allowed to leave the table until I’d finished seemed like tortuous & put me off fish for quite some time. That & too many chewy batters & soggy chips & god forbid mushy peas on the side adding to the totally non crisp factor.

However I am a total convert; not much beats a good fush & chups & we are blessed with delicious fish here in the land of the long white cloud; snapper, blue cod, terakihi, hapuka…they even sound more exotic than haddock! To note I am also a convert now when back home too as many delicious little fishes to be had in the mother country too.

The perfect fish & chips…or fush & chups if we’re talking in newzeald.
Golden, crispy, light batter, moist fresh fish. A sprinkling of sea salt & a squeeze of lemon.  Chips golden & crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside & for me dowsed in salt & vinegar for a sharp kick, the one remnant I enjoy from the mother country. A little mayo & ketchup on the side. Eaten with fingers a must & preferably outdoors,  perfection being on a beach on a balmy summer evening, the sun setting. And if you’re going for full indulgence white bread & butter to make a chip butty out of any remaining chips!

The real star is of course the batter.  Cooked through, well seasoned, light, golden, crunchy & no soggy or chewy in sight.  And here’s where we went in search of the best batter. To add baking powder or yeast, or something fizzy, sparkling water or beer, that was the question.

A little research revealed Rick goes for baking powder & ice cold water, Jamie goes for flour, baking soda & cold beer & Nigel gives a twist with plain flour, pear cider, oil & egg whites for a totally different variation. Cold seems to be the key for light, bubbly crunchy batter. In the end we went for cold beer & cold flour with a little baking powder & it was delicious, as delicious if not more so than those up there from the local chippy.

Sadly if watching one’s waistline one can’t be indulging this way every night of the week, but the good news is that you can still indulge & have quite delicious fush & chups!

These one’s from Donna Hay went down a treat & will most definitely be making a few encore appearances when treat but healthy desired. Fish is topped with herby lemony bread crumbs & grilled & spuds & kumara are baked. On the side a bursting with flavour yoghurt tartare.

Fush & chups, tweaked from Donna Hay Fast & Fresh


For the chups
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut in to chips
1 medium kumara, peeled & cut in to chips
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil

Yoghurt tartare
1/2 cup thick plain yoghurt
2 tbsp cornichons, chopped
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 tbsp dill, chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

For the fush
1 1/4 cups coarse bread crumbs*
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Pinch chilli flakes
8x 120g firm white fish fillets
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil

Lemon wedges to serve

Salt & pepper

*I always have some in the freezer, left over bread just gets whizzed up in the food processor & added to the big bag in the freezer.


Pre heat oven to 200C/390F

Place the potatoes & kumara on a baking tray & sprinkle over a good pinch of salt & pepper along with the chilli flakes. Drizzle over the olive oil & toss to combine.  Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden & crisp.

For the yoghurt tartare place the yoghurt, cornichons, capers, dill & vinegar in a small bowl.  Add a little pinch of salt & pepper & mix well to combine & set aside until ready to serve.

Place the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley & chilli flakes in a bowl, season with salt & pepper & mix well.  Place the fish on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Top with the breadcrumbs. Mix the lemon juice & olive oil together & drizzle it over the breadcrumbs.  

Cook the fish under a preheated grill for 5-7 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden & crisp & the fish is cooked through.

Serve the fish with chips, a little tartare & wedges of lemon.

Enjoy, maybe even with your fingers!

28 October 2014

Thai Chicken with Crunchy Asian Slaw

This is a great speedy supper for the longer lighter, though not quite warmer days. I’ve still had the heat pump on  & been snuggled in my big fluffy, cosy dressing gown this past weekend so a little hit of heat from the chilli & sriracha was most definitely welcome.  In fact writing this now I’m all snuggled & cosy under the heat pump. We’ve just had Labour weekend here, which is the kind of unofficial official start of the summer season, traditionally the weekend to plant tomatoes in time for a summer crop. 

Testament to the chilliness…this is the prime directly under the heat pump spot…

However there seems to be some wires crossed somewhere & it still somewhat not very summer like. We’ve yet to have more than the odd day of balmy evenings, not that that will stop us getting the BBQ out!  There’s been BBQing in the wind & rain as we defy mother nature.  Handily the BBQ doubles as an outdoor heater so we’re all good there.

Light, a little sweet, a little aromatic & with a spicy kick this chicken packs a punch with sweet chilli sauce, sriracha, kaffir lime, lemongrass & fresh ginger.  I’ve been buying up ginger at every opportunity as new season ginger has just arrived here.  Quite different from the usual dried specimens on offer; it’s light & bright & a little shiny. I’m just going to keep buying it & freezing it. You can then just grate it whenever you need it to add a little zing to all sorts.

Thai Chicken with Crunchy Asian Slaw, adapted just a little from Healthy Food Guide

For the chicken
4 skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce*
2 tbsp sriracha
1-2 stalks lemongrass smashed & finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger
2 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed & very finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

*I like Culley’s - good kiwi stuff!

For the slaw
¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced on mandoline or with very sharp knife
¼ white cabbage, thinly sliced on mandoline or with very sharp knife
2 carrots, grated or do it in a moment in food processor*
2 spring onions, chopped
1 red or green chilli sliced, seeded or not depending on how much heat you like
6 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp brown sugar
Salt & pepper

2 cups cooked white rice**
Coriander leaves & chilli

*Again my nifty Russell Hobbs lent a hand here, that little bowl on top is just the ticket to quickly get grated carrots in seconds.

**For perfect rice go here, seriously perfect every time.


Score each chicken breast. Mix all the marinade ingredients together & pour over the chicken.  Give it a bit off massage to make sure it is well coated & pop in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight if organised!

For the slaw place the cabbage, carrots, spring onion & chilli in a bowl & mix together.  Pour over the rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar & toss everything together.  Taste & season with salt & pepper.

You can grill chicken on the BBQ or on a griddle pan or even pop it in the oven.  To grill, cook for 10 minutes or so until cooked through & the juices run clear.  To oven bake pop in a 180C/350F oven for 15-20 minute, again until cooked through & the juices run clear.

Serve the chicken with the rice & slaw & scatter over some coriander & sliced chillies.

For all things Russell Hobbs head here.


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