16 December 2014

{Bookshelf} Ottolenghi's Broccolini & Edamame Salad with Curry Leaves & Coconut from Plenty More

I’ve had my mitts on this gem for a little while but the cooking mojo seems to have vacated the premises these last few months even with new Ottolenghi inspiration on hand! Desperate times indeed.  Well actually not so much the cooking mojo; I’ve been cooking & eating just not photographing, writing & blogging. I’ve realised now that these phases come & they go & that I just need to go with it, no need to force it. It’s happy fun place over here & should never feel like a chore.

I am planning Christmas so reading through cook books & magazines over this past weekend I could feel my enthusiasm begin to return as dozens of recipes caught my attention.  There will be a veritable feast! There will possibly be a maple & orange glazed ham, perhaps a potato, fennel & crispy caper salad though Donna Hay’s crispy leaf potatoes with oregano salt or some herb & parmesan roasties are very close contenders.  And on the side; perhaps asparagus with a dill & mustard sauce as I need to make the most of these tasty green spears in their always too short season. Also as we head full throttle in to the silly season the need for some green among the glasses of bubbly & tempting treats.

And who to turn to but the master of greens; Mr Ottolenghi.  He’s an alchemist of all sorts of flavours but he can elevate greens to a whole new level of delicious.  Just search my archives….there’s green couscous, green pancakes with lime butter, swiss chard fritters, herb pie, asparagus mimosa, chard & saffron omelettes & baby spinach salad with dates.

Plenty More delivers plenty more green inspiration & this one will also possibly grace the Christmas table. Another new & inventive flavour combination from the master; broccolini, edamame & coconut tossed with aromatic black mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilli & coriander. It also returns my cooking mojo, thank you once again Mr Ottolenghi.

Broccolini & Edamame Salad with Curry Leaves & Coconut, from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More

*It is a salad & I love chillies & curry leaves, so fresh chillies chopped & tossed through the salad a few more curry leaves added. I also added some crispy shallots for a sweet little crunch.


2 bunches purple sprouting broccoli or broccolini, trimmed
500g / ½ lb green beans, trimmed
200g / 7 oz shelled frozen edamame
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
30 fresh curry leaves, or 40 dried curry leaves
3 whole dried chillies
Zest of 1 lime, plus 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice, more to taste
Zest of 1 lime
1 red chilli, diced (my addition)
⅔ cup coriander leaves
⅔ cup fresh coarsely grated coconut*
Sprinkle of crispy shallots (my addition)

*Fresh coconut would be ideal but I could only fined dessicated, either way it is one delicious salad!


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil & add the broccolini & green beans. Blanch for 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender but still with a little bite. Use a slotted spoon to transfer vegetables to a colander & run under cold water to stop them cooking & keep their vibrant green hue. Pat dry, transfer to large bowl & set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
Return pot of water to a boil, add the edamame & blanch for 2 minutes. Place in colander, run under colder water, pat dry, & add to the other vegetables. Sprinkle 1/2 a teaspoon salt over vegetables, stir & set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat & add the onion & a  pinch of salt.  Cook for a few minutes until soft & then add the black mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves, chillies & lime zest. Sauté for a couple of  minutes before pouring mixture over vegetables. Stir & let sit for 10 minutes.
Just before serving, add diced red chilli, lime juice, coriander, coconut, crispy shallots & drizzle with remaining olive oil. Gently stir & serve.


25 November 2014

Chicken Satay & a Fiery Noodle Salad

This is one of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals & yes it did take a little longer. Maybe 45 minutes which was fine by me.  45 minutes chilling, chopping, whizzing, grilling was the perfect wind down for me after a busy day.  A little me time & at the end of it a fresh, full of flavour, spicy, fresh dinner.

And why not just take a little time?  We spend so much time rushing around. There's really no need to run around frantic just to save a few minutes.  Just take a few & enjoy the process &  you'll have dinner on the table & everyone happy & eating in no time at all. Sometimes you should just take a little time.

I was having a chat with a friend the other day who asked me how I had time to chill out & take some me time. It's simple really I just make a little time for me time, otherwise I would go insane. Sometimes you just need the quiet. Besides I think we will always find the time to do things that we really want to do whether it's to read a book, watch a movie or a favorite TV show, take a yoga class or hit the gym. For me a little me time is good for body & soul, it's a little calm out of the daily crazy.  And if it means a few chores don't get done until later so be it.  There's most definitely more to life than chores & a never ending list of things to be done; a compelling need to always have something you have to do. Just stop for a little.

Here's a wee poem from Rose Milligan that sums it up nicely.

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

So leave the dusting for another day & do something you enjoy & take a little me time.

The cat has the right idea!
Chicken Satay & a Fiery Noodle Salad, from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals


½ a small bunch of fresh coriander
1 fresh red chilli, roughly chopped
½ a clove of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
3 heaped tbsp good-quality crunchy peanut butter, I used Pics*
Soy sauce
A 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
2 limes

the best peanut butter...ever!

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Runny honey, for drizzling

Noodle Salad
250g dried medium egg noodles (1 nest per person)
100g unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
½ a medium-sized red onion, peeled & roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
A small bunch of fresh coriander
1–2 tbsp soy sauce
1 lime
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp runny honey

2 baby cos lettuce
½ a small bunch of fresh coriander
1 red chilli, sliced
1 lime


Turn your grill on to high & soak the wooden skewers in a tray of cold water.

For the satay place the coriander (stalks & all) into a food processor; I used my trusty Russell Hobbs.  Add the chilli, garlic, peanut butter & a splash of soy sauce. Just add a splash for now & then you can add a little more if need be, it’s a lot easier to add then take out & you don’t want it to overpower the satay.  I found a splash to be plenty. Add the ginger, the zest of both the limes & the juice of one. Add a couple of splashes of water & whizz to a spoonable consistency. Season to taste & adjust if need be. Spoon half the satay into a little bowl & place on a large platter.

Cut the chicken in to bite sized pieces & thread them on to the skewers.  Scoop the rest of the satay mix from the processor into a roasting tray, add the chicken skewers & toss with your hands to coat, rubbing the flavour into the chicken. Put on the top shelf of the oven, under the grill, for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side, or until golden & cooked through.

Trim the bases off the little lettuces & get rid of any wilted outer leaves. Pick the rest of the leaves off, halving the cores, rinse & dry& place on a platter. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil & cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.   Place a medium frying pan over a low heat & add the cashew nuts & toast, tossing occasionally until golden.  But keep an eye on then as they can go from toasty to totally charred very quickly.

Rinse out your food processor & pop the red onion half in with the chilli & the stalks from the coriander.  Pulse until finely chopped & then place into a large serving bowl with 1 or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce & a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime & stir in 1 teaspoon each of sesame oil & fish sauce. Mix well, then taste & adjust the seasoning if need be. Drain the noodles in a colander, refresh quickly under cold water, drain again & add to the bowl.

Toss your cashews & turn the heat under them up to high. Add 1 teaspoon of honey, mixing & tossing the nuts in the pan. Once dark golden, tip them into the serving bowl & add the coriander leaves. Toss everything together & place on the platter with the lettuce & satay sauce.

Turn the skewers over, drizzle with a little runny honey & place them back under the grill for 8 to 10 minutes more or until cooked through.

Roughly chop the coriander leaves and finely slice the chilli & pop them in to little side bowls & add them to the platter along with some lime wedges.  Pile the chicken skewers on the platter & serve alongside the noodle salad.  Scoop up a lettuce leaf & fill with chicken, a little satay, chilli, coriander, noodle salad & a squeeze of lime & eat.

Bright, fresh & just a little fiery!

For all things Russell Hobbs head here.


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!

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