30 January 2012

A side of onion rings with your burger? Yes Please

Summer seems not quite ready to make an ongoing appearance this year, we have had little snippets but she just does not seem to want to hang around for any length of time.  Strange weather indeed.  The intermittent summer, however does not put a stop to firing up the BBQ.

Post holidays full of good food, good wine and most importantly good company it is time for a little healthier living, a little less of the indulgence, a little less of the vino.  4 weeks on the wagon is underway.  However that doesn't need to mean a diet of rabbit food, in fact on that I wouldn't last more than a couple of days, if that.

A sudden craving for burger and onion rings and I think I have found a solution that sacrifices none of the flavor and could actually be considered quite healthy at best and certainly not over indulgent. So a result on both counts.  The burgers take only a few minutes to mix together, throw together a bit of a DIY burger bar and you can feed a crowd and let them all make up there own burgers with whatever trimmings and relishes they want.

Homemade Beef Burgers

Makes 8 smallish burgers....so it will serve 4 - 8!  One being enough for me, but for growing boys 2 may well be in order.


1kg (2.2lbs) beef mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Pinch of cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

To serve place fresh rolls, baby cos leaves, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, cheese, beetroot (a Kiwi essential), relish, mustard, mayo and of course ketchup on a platter and let everyone make up their own burger.


Place the mince, garlic, tomato paste, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix together.  The easiest way is to get stuck in with your hands to ensure that is all mixed well together.  Shape in to 8 patties.  To ensure 8 even sized burgers use a 1/2 cup measure and then shape in to a burger.  Fire up the BBQ or a griddle to a medium high heat and cook for 4 -5 minutes each side until cooked through or  a little less if you like your burgers on the rarer side of done.

To serve place fresh rolls, baby cos leaves, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, cheese, beetroot (a Kiwi essential), relish, mustard, mayo and of course ketchup on a platter and let everyone make up their own burger.

And if you would like a side of onion rings with that try these....

Oven Baked Herby Onion Rings, inspired by these onion rings over at Not Without Salt

So you want onion rings but really can't be bothered with all the kerfuffle of deep frying then I can only highly recommend these.


1 large onion, cut in to 1cm (1/2 inch) rings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Pinch chilli flakes
Salt and pepper


Pre heat oven to 200C/390F

In a medium bowl mix together 1/4 cup of flour, cayenne, salt and pepper and set aside. Next up for the production line; in another medium bowl add the buttermilk, egg, 1/4 cup flour, salt and pepper and whisk together until you have a smooth batter, slightly thicker than double cream.  Add a little more flour if need be.  

In a third bowl place the breadcrumbs, parsley, chilli, salt and pepper and mix to combine.  You now have your production line all ready to go.

Dip each onion ring in to the seasoned flour and then in to the buttermilk batter.  Give a gentle little shake to remove any excess batter and then coat in the bread crumbs.  Do this for all the onion rings and place on a baking tray lined with parchment or some of this amazing magic paper. (Seriously they really are magic....and ways like a dream leaving no baking trays to wash up...need I say more??)

Drizzle with just a little rice bran (or vegetable oil) and pop in to the oven for 20 minutes.  Check them after 10 and turn them over.  Remove from the oven, scatter with a good sprinkling of sea salt and serve alongside the DIY burger bar.

My new photographic assistant

Juicy burgers bursting with flavor, fresh crunch from a little salad, earthy sweetness from the beetroot, a little cheese, ketchup, mayo and mustard for me and one tasty little burger.  The onion rings on the side all the crunch of their deep friend counterparts and even better a little heat from the pinch of chilli wrapped around the sweet onion.

Perfect for summer or even our not so summery summer.

And the beautiful new fabric...that would be from Gorgi NZ and you can check out out all their lovely things here.

If you like this you might like this Grilled Vegetables with Lemon Cumin Yoghurt and Dukkah
One year ago Herb Soup


21 January 2012

Just Photos - Waiheke, Island of Wine

Wine every which way!

Once upon a summer time there was Waiheke Island, a quiet sun kissed tropical paradise in the Hauraki Gulf only 35 minutes on a ferry from Auckland, but really a world away. It really is a gem and in Summer it is especially wonderful.  Island time operates over here and everything is just a little slower, a little more in cruise mode.  You can feel yourself relax as soon as the ferry sets sail and as Auckland becomes smaller and smaller and fades in to the distance you make the transition to island time.  And if you haven't as soon as you drive off the ferry there is a sign to remind you, that simply says "slow down, your here".  That sign always makes me smile and heralds a few days relaxing, sunshine, eating, swimming in the ocean, fish and chips, sea breezes and very, very good red wine. There are now over 20 vineyards on this little island and reds tend to be the stars although there are also great whites and some fabulous roses which are, of course, perfect on a hot summer's day.

Te Motu

Te Motu

Our first vineyard visit was Te Motu for a little lunch which you can read about here.  Post lunch and pre dinner just time to pop along to one of my favourite vineyards, Obsidian, which is nestled among the vine covered hills of Onetangi Valley.  The Obsidian is the flagship wine and is a mixture of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec delivering a deep, dark wine with notes of plums and cassis. It is quite special.

Vines are planted on the four surrounding hillsides, sheltered from the elements, basking in the summer sun and cooled a little by sea breezes blowing in from the Hauraki Gulf. The wine Obsidian is named after a semi-precious stone.  Shortly after buying the vineyard back in 1996 and reading about the history of the areas it was discovered that obsidian was highly valued by the Maori tribes living in Onetangi.   The other coincidence is that the deep, dark lustre of the stone was also the perfect way to describe the kind of wine that they wanted to produce.  Obsidian also produce Weeping Sands wine, which is a literal translation of Onetangi, the stunning beach just down the road from the vineyard. In Maori "One" means sand and "Tangi" means weeping, murmuring or mourning. A few bottles of both made it safely back to Auckland.

Next on the wine trail was a trip down to the far eastern end of the island to the newly opened Man O'War tasting room.  I love it down at this end of the island, off on the unsealed roads, a little more deserted, a little more rugged.  If I could live on Waiheke it would be down this way, away from it all, but only a little bit away from it all!  Man O'War Station spreads over 4500 acres as of coastal farmland and grapes were first planted back in 1993.  90 pockets of vines now grow on these coastal hillsides, each block planted to its best advantage to produce some more of my favourite red tipples, Dreadnought and Ironclad.  The locally produced bubbly is also quite delightful. 

Back on the road and a quick pit stop at Passage Rock for some of there multi award winning syrah. Vines of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon were first planted back in 1994 at the head of Te Matuka Bay. Thankfully they bucked the trend and added syrah in 1996 and now Passage Rock Syrah consistently wins award after award.

After all that driving around time for a spot of lunch at Poderi Crisci, again at the eastern end of the island  and Italian influenced being owned by the same people that own Non Solo Pizza back on the mainland. It is a beautiful spot surrounded by vines and olive trees.  If you are wanting to come for lunch do as the website recommends and  book ahead.  We didn't, but were lucky to be squeezed in...just.

After a bit of a slow start, once we were ensconced at a table and food and wine ordered things picked up.  Lots of anti pasti on offer so perfect for sharing and allowing  one to taste several dishes.  Home baked bread and Poderi olive oil to start and then to share some prosciutto wrapped asparagus and frittata from the Salumeria cabinet.  That was followed by Carpaccio di Manzo; Herb smoked beef carpaccio with rocket, Parmesan and Poderi dressing and the classic Caprese salad; Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil drizzled with Poderi Crisci olive oil.  The beef just melted in your mouth and caprese was as it should be, creamy mozzarella, sweet tomatoes and fragrant basil. I would certainly love to go back one Sunday for the long Italian lunch.

And that is only a soupcon of what is on offer on Waiheke...so that leaves plenty of reasons for a return visit to the island of wine.

The end.

Te Motu
76 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland , New Zealand
PO-Box 216, Ostend, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 3726884
Email: info@temotu.co.nz

Te Makiri Road
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 372 6100

Man O'War 
Man O'War Farms
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 303 1579

Passage Rock
438 Orapiu Road, RD1
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 372 7257

Poderi Crisci
205 Awaawaroa Road

Onetangi 1971

Tel: +64 9 377 7648

18 January 2012

Te Motu - Waiheke

Waiheke Island is only 35 minutes on a ferry from Auckland, but from the moment you arrive you are in a different world...the sign as you drive off the car ferry says it all....

....not that I need any encouragement to fall in to island time, maybe it was the sunshine and all that fresh sea air, but the moment you arrive all the stresses and the worries of the real world are left somewhere floating in the Hauraki Gulf. For it to finally feel like Summer made for a warm welcome indeed.  Thankfully Waiheke has a micro climate that is more often than not sunnier and warmer than the mainland.

After checking in (to unit no. 13 on Friday the 13th...) it was more lunch time than coffee time and what better way to spend a sunny afternoon than among the vines at one of the local vineyards?  There are many wonderful vineyards to choose from but The Shed at Te Motu won out, Mum having read good things about in the local paper.

Te Motu is in the sheltered Onetangi Valley, sandwiched in between Stoneyridge and Saratoga Vineyards.  A very warm welcome from the daughter of the original winemakers, a run down on the history of the vineyard and a spot secured under the afternoon rays and we were set for what turned in to a perfect afternoon. Quite exceptional food and wonderfully warm and friendly service made for the perfect start to a few days on island time.

Te Motu's flagship wine is a cabernet merlot blend all grown on Waiheke.  Vines of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and syrah pepper the surrounding hillsides. These are blended in to Te Motu and Dunleavy wines.  For lunch Mum had a glass of bubbly and despite it being a wonderful sunny day I still had to have one of these lovely reds.  I had the Dunleavy cabernet merlot 2006 and it was, well they actually describe it best... "blackberry aromatics, rich flavours of red and black currants, plum and hints of blackberry"

And to eat, well as it all sounded both intriguing and appetizing we decided to share to avoid any plate envy!  Waiheke is the island of wine, but it also produces some exceptional olive oil so to start some Waiheke sourdough with Matiatia Grove Olive Oil. Fruity with a little peppery kick at the end I could just about drink the stuff.

To share so chicken liver parfait with walnut toast and fig relish.  The parfait was silky smooth and just melted in the mouth, the slight sweetness perfect with the walnut toast and fig relish.

The crab cakes had me at sriracha mayonnaise. Sweet Waikanae crab enclosed in a wonderfully golden and crispy coating given a little kick with the spicy mayo.  I loved the heat the mayo delivered and it was a great accompaniment to the crab cakes, but it missed the sweet and the sour that makes sriracha so addictive. Saying that I could have eaten a whole plateful of these crab cakes and mayo all by myself.

The star of the day however were the prawn dumplings.  Oh my, these were so good.  Perfect little dumplings filled with sweet, succulent prawns, with a hint of coriander served with baby leeks and a ginger tamari beurre blanc.  The ginger and tamari adding warm and savoury to the sweet prawns making it quite the perfect dish.

On the side the potatoes lyonnaise were to hard to pass on.  Crispy, fried cubes of potatoes pan roasted with herbs and onions.  I mean really who can go past any sort of crispy potatoes?  I have also found my new favourite salad; baby gem lettuce with fried white anchovies and a parmesan lemon dressing.  Crisp lettuce, creamy lemony dressing and crispy little nuggets of anchovy, it was blissful.  

An idyllic afternoon that certainly put paid to any superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th.

The Shed at Te Motu 
76 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland , New Zealand
PO-Box 216, Ostend, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 3726884

13 January 2012

Plum & Lemon Cake

Summer keeps deserting us here in NZ.  Apparently El Nino is here to stay and she is wet, very wet.  That relentless rain that you know is settling in for the day, simply a continuous downpour pitter pattering for hours at a time.  So we are missing out on our usual  long hot sunny days, BBQs, G&Ts on the deck or an early afternoon Pimms, picnics on the beach, sand between your toes, sunburn...all the pieces of a kiwi summer.
Much as I would rather have blue skies and sunshine, grey and overcast or wet and wild do lend themselves to reading (The Lucky Peach, lots of food blogs, Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits, about to start Keith Richard's Autobiography), Boardwalk Empire marathons, multiple trips to the movies  (The Iron Lady; Meryl is amazing, The Whistleblower; heart wrenching but brilliant, The First Grader; wonderful but take the Kleenex along, The Debt; classic old school spy thriller) and of course baking and cooking.  Maybe a chore for some but for me a perfect afternoon.

So one afternoon saw bread baked, some Seedy Oat Bread and my new favourite Braided Garlic and Herb Bread from here.  Then it was on to cake, as afternoons also lend themselves to cups of tea and it being the holidays it is only appropriate that tea comes with cake. The basic base for this cake comes from Donna Hay and true to form it couldn't be easier as it is a one bowl wonder. 

Plum & Lemon Cake


1 1/2 cups (225g / 8 oz) self raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup (165g / 6 oz) caster sugar
125g / 4 1/2 oz butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
zest of 1 lemon
2-3 plums cut in to thin slices
2 tbsp demerara sugar


Pre heat the oven to 160C/325F

Place the flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, milk and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer and beat until just combined as you don't want to over mix it.  Spoon the mixture in to a 22cm (9 inch) cake tin greased and lined with baking paper.  Top with the slices of plum and sprinkle over the demerara sugar.

Pop in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is cooked through.  Test with a skewer and when the cake is cooked a skewer will come out clean.  Allow the cake to cool, slice and eat along side a cuppa.

The cake bakes up wrapping around the plums and there is a lovely lemon scented sweetness about this cake that is offset by the slightly tarter plums.  Not to mention that lovely, almost crust like topping from all that demerara sugar. Perfect on a rainy day with a cuppa.  Here's hoping for some sunny days as we head off to Waiheke for a few nights...

If you like this you might like this Clementine Cake
One Year Ago Roasted Peach Melba Ice Cream


07 January 2012

Fried Caprese Zucchini Blossoms

What is it about zucchini blossoms that are so captivating?  Delicate and beautiful they can be stuffed with just about anything though cheese and fried feature in my preferences; so perhaps it is the lure of anything filled with cheese and fried that is so appealing??  I noted that the lovely people at Epicurean Supplies had zucchini blossoms under produce available so I requested a few in my vege box.  They came ever so delicately wrapped, stuffed and wrapped in tissues to cushion them on their little trip cross country to my kitchen.

Now for me goat cheese would be a winner or ricotta mixed with few herbs and perhaps a little sprinkling of fresh chilli.  However Mum is not a fan of either so an alternative was required.  Fortunately there was a tub of bocconcini lurking in the fridge plus some sweet cherry tomatoes and a bunch of fresh basil, all very good friends of each other being the classic combination for the perfect caprese salad. So a kind of deep fried zucchini come caprese concoction came to mind.

Fried Caprese Zucchini Blossoms

Serves 4


1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sparkling water
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup (85g / 3oz) bocconcini or mozzarella finely diced
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 medium or 1 large tomato, finely diced
8 zucchini blossoms, stamens removed*
Vegetable or rice bran oil for frying

*To remove the stamens from the zucchini blossoms carefully insert your thumb and index finger into the flower without tearing it and pinch off the stamens.


In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, water and a good pinch of salt and pepper until it is smooth.  Set the batter aside.

In a small bowl mix together the boconcini, tomato, basil and season with salt and pepper. Gently spoon a couple of teaspoons of the mixture in to each zucchini blossom and carefully twist the petals to close them.  Set the filled blossoms aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed frying pan add oil to give you a couple of inches (4cm!) worth of oil.  Heat over a medium heat until it is hot.  To test just pop in a cube of bread.  The oil is ready when it browns in a couple of minutes.  Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in to the batter and very gently shake off any excess.  Fry for 1-2 minutes, turning occasionally until they are crisp and golden all over. Fry the blossoms in batches or have a couple of pans on the go, as you don't want to over crowd the pan and reduce the heat.  Drain the cooked blossoms on some kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. (Though they will keep in a warm oven for a few minutes while you do the second batch.)

What's not to love?  Crispy, crunchy golden batter giving way to oozing, stringy bocconcini, fresh, sweet tomato and fragrant basil....yum!  Apparently removing the flowers slows down the growth of the zucchinis so if you are on the verge of a zucchini glut this is the perfect, golden even, way to slow them down.

If you like this you might like this Shaved Fennel and Zucchini Salad


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...