27 November 2012

Favourite Bites & Bobs November 2012


A couple of salads...pretty as a picture.

Delicata Squash Salad with Roasted Potatoes & Pomegranate Seeds from The Year in Food. Wonderful flavours & colours
Butter Lettuce with Tahini Honey Dressing from Sprouted Kitchen. Here's my version...

A little spice to heat things up....

Prawns in Dark Sauce from Sue over at Couscous & Consciousness, all those wonderful spices make me want to dive right in to a very large bowlful.

This one had me at chipotle.  Chipotle Chilli Tamarind BBQ Sirloin from Pease Pudding

Perfect for Summer Frozen Mexican Chocolate Pots from Blue Kale Road, chocolate & chilli what is not to love? 
Salted caramel..I don't really need to say any more than that do I? If you are in the mood for a little decadence I think these would fit the bill very nicely & I think it only right that they should make an appearance over the festive period.  Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles by Citrus & Candy.

I am going to make this....labneh.  It will be the perfect start to a Summer BBQ or 2. I think I'll be adding a few fresh herbs or rolling it in some dukkah or za'atar.

And it is only fair to share these. The best cheese scones....seriously!  Lesley at Eat Etc has managed to replicate the amazing scones we had at our NZ Food Blogger's Conference earlier in the year.  I have made my own batch & they are quite delectable.


Summer....lazy weekends away beachside.

My new wedges from the wonderful Heavenly Soles

Sculpture Walk at Brick Bay Winery, Warkworth where wine & art entwine. Take a little walk & admire the sculptures before settling in to sip on a little rose.

All I want for Christmas....possibly a few more cookbooks.  I believe, like shoes, a girl can't have too many cookbooks.  And these are all from food bloggers...who inspire & tempt with these wonderful books.


22 November 2012

In Season: Lemon & Mint Asparagus Peas & Spinach & Taste Auckland

Last week I was lucky enough to be at the opening of Taste of Auckland on what was a light, almost warm Spring evening.  After a glass of bubbly & few canapés it was time taste, & taste Gourmet Gannet & I did.  It really was tale of 2 little piggies off to a little slice (or quite a few slices) of foodie heaven.  So many tasty morsels to choose from.

Our favourite of the evening was the food on offer at The Commons, Nick Honeyman is a bit of genius when it comes to flavours & textures & in the end we went on try all 3 plates on offer here. The Penang duck curry was sweet with just a little heat...however it was the carrot cake snapper & the Valrohna & violet desserts that were the stand outs.

The carrot snake snapper was the dish that jumped out for me as the must try, maybe it was after the wonderful carrots I had here or quite possibly the beignet....that would be a spiced beignet with carrot puree, baby carrots, ginger & lemon olive oil alongside the snapper.

And then dessert...exceptional.  It would be hard to go wrong with Valrohna chocolate, but very easy to overpower with violet.  This was just wonderful, rich chocolate mousse, or delice if I am being proper, with a violet ice cream & violet meringue shard. The violet just the right note of floral.

Another standout was Kermedec, the Fare game venison perfectly cooked.  It was served with kowiniwini, fern curd, blackberry & malt soil.  A quite delectable little plate of flavours & textures.  What are kowiniwini I hear you ask? They would be lovely little purple and white striped NZ heritage potatoes.

But before we got there our first taste at Taste was at Molten.  It really was Spring on a plate, the tender slow roasted Savannah short rib just falling apart with white anchovy, eggplant puree & new season peas, lemon & fior de latte .... & what led to this little side alongside my Sunday supper.

Lemon & Mint Asparagus Peas & Spinach


2 tbsp butter
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut in 1’ / 2cm pieces
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch minted, chopped
Salt & Pepper


Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and then add the asparagus, spinach and peas.  Sauté for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted and the asparagus & peas are just cooked but retain a little crunch.

Add the zest & juice of one lemon, stir through the mint, season with salt & pepper & serve. Bright, fresh & green, a little sweet, a little zesty & a little butter just makes everything taste better.

This my side for the week, full of Spring green goodness.  Perfect on the side of some grilled salmon or alongside some chicken or lamb.

If you like this you might like this Monachyle Mor & Scotland in the Spring


19 November 2012

Bookshelf: Passionfruit Mousse from The South American Grill

We are now in to our 4th or 5th round of Supper Club, so that must be well in to our 3rd year.  How time flies.  We are down to 6 at the moment & 1 month less does seem to make ones turn come around so much quicker.

This time round a little bit of a theme transpired.  I find it a little strange how it all comes about, what the menu will be seems to take on a journey all of it’s own making.  More often than not it meanders from here to there & what I think it may be a few months out bears little or no resemblance to the final destination.  I may fixate on one dish that I am determined to try & everything else builds around that or I may be going through a bit of a phase, Mexican, Italian, French or anything else that may be my particular flavour of the month.  It may be a new cookbook that has entranced me, oddly I haven’t had an Ottolenghi themed Supper Club.  The menu seems to meander here & there in my head and then it settles & somehow it all comes together in the end, seemingly all of its own accord just as it should be.

As this is being hosted by Lucy, only right that a little kitty cat makes an appearance!
This time round South American transpired as flavour of the month, post a South American grilling class at Cook the Books & a new cook book The South American Grill.  I think it appealed because it was all new to me.   The appeal of trying several new recipes piqued my interest & from memory South America had not yet featured at Supper Club, so new flavours for everyone to try.

A little white sangria as a fruity aperitif

Passionfruit Mousse, from Rachael Lane’s South American Grill

If you don’t have fresh passionfruit you could use passionfruit syrup just reduce the condensed milk & add a little more lime juice to offset the additional sweetness.  I do like dessert with a little more of the tart so even with fresh passionfruit I upped the lime juice a little & threw in the zest for good measure.


1 cup cream
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup passion fruit juice, strain the fresh pulp of about 8 passionfruit, plus 1 or 2 extra for garnish
Juice & zest of one lime


Place the cream in a large bowl & whisk until you have soft peaks. In a separate bowl add the condensed milk, passionfruit juice, lime zest & juice & mix well together. 

Add the passionfruit mixture to the cream & gently fold it in.  Pour in to 1 large or individual glasses & refrigerate for at least one hour.  Drizzle with some passionfruit pulp & serve.

This is so quick to whip up & it is light & fruity, the perfect sweet yet slightly tart treat to end a meal.

If you like this you might like this Lemon Lime Meringue Pie

This is also my entry for this month’s Sweet New Zealand being hosted by Lucy The Kitchen Maid.


17 November 2012

Spicy Prawn & Chicken Noodle Salad

The silly season is almost upon us, the diary already filling up with pre Christmas parties & celebrations.  In amongst all the partying there is a quiet weekend up north planned for a little R&R but in amongst all the fun & frivolity there will be the need for some lighter, nourishing fare to offset the inevitable over indulgences.  

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” 
Mae West

This salad delivers.  Filling & satisfying, fresh & spicy & the perfect antidote to over indulgence without leaving you wanting.

Spicy Prawn & Chicken Noodle Salad


Serves 2

For the dressing
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 long red chilli, diced
1 kaffir lime leaf, shredded

For the salad
100g rice noodles
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 bunch mint leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
1shallot, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
2 cups prawns,  cooked, peeled & deveined
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts
1 lime, cut into wedges


For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl & whisk well together.  Set aside for an hour or so to allow the flavours to develop.

For the salad prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions and set aside. Use scissors to roughly cut the noodles.

Place all the other ingredients in to a large bowl, except the peanuts & lime wedges.  Add the noodles, pour over the dressing & gently toss everything together.  Divide among 2 plates, sprinkle with peanuts & add a couple of lime wedges.

Bright, fresh & full of flavour this salad will spice things up.

If you like this you might like this Asian Slaw
Two years ago M&Ms Green Coleslaw


13 November 2012

Rosemary & Walnut Irish Soda Bread

Home baked bread, is their anything more comforting & satisfying?  

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” 
M.F.K Fisher, The Art of Eating

This one is take on Irish Soda bread with a little bit of inspiration from Didas.  We were there earlier in the week for tapas & a talk from Dianne Jacob on why it is a good time to be a food blogger.  Yes Dianne Jacob made it all the way to NZ! Thanks for that goes to Alli over at Pease Pudding who happened to see that Dianne was across the ditch for the Australian Food Bloggers Conference & just asked if she would have the time on her trip to come & speak to some of us here in New Zealand.  And she did! What a wonderful evening.  Dianne was a fountain of useful information, inspiring, down to earth & a lovely lady.  It was such a pleasure to meet someone you admire & who inspires. For all sorts of useful tips & debates on blogging & writing head over to Will Write For Food.

Alongside the talk were some tasty tapas & some beautiful New Zealand wines.  I think I like all their tapas, however a favourite it is the soft goat’s  cheese with truffled honeycomb on fig & rosemary toast. On the wine side the Isabel Chardonnay was a favourite & although it was not the official match for the goat’s cheese tapas I felt they were a match made in heaven.  Just a subtle oakiness & a creaminess that cut through the clean sharp goat’s cheese & the piney rosemary toast perfectly.

The rosemary made the whole tapas pop & was the perfect fresh herbal foil for the cheese, the sharp sweetness of the honeycomb & that hint of truffle.  They all just came together in one perfectly delightful mouthful.

Other treats on the night were the sherry braised pork belly with quince aioli & the rosemary skewered Moorish lamb kebabs with salsa verde.  To finish a poached pear with vanilla mascarpone.

Rosemary & Walnut Irish Soda Bread

Makes one loaf


275g / 10oz wholemeal flour
175g / 6oz plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
25g / 1oz butter
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
400ml buttermilk, plus a little extra for brushing
1 egg
1 tbsp runny honey


Pre heat oven to 200C / 400F

Sift the flours & baking soda in to a large bowl.  Gently mix in the wholemeal & add the salt & pepper.  Next, add the butter rub it in until you have a crumbly mixture.  Add the rosemary & walnuts & gently mix.

In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg & honey. Make a whole in the middle of the flour mixture and add the liquid, mix gently & then turn out the dough to a floured surface & form a round loaf. Cut a cross on the top, place on a lined baking tray & place in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Once cooked, remove from the oven & leave to cool, that is if you can resist a slice straight from the oven topped with a healthy serving of butter.  Delicious slathered in butter or with a little ricotta & honey or for lunch with a little smoked salmon.  I like herbal, almost antiseptic hit that rosemary delivers all mellowed by the creamy, crunchy walnut.

If you like this you might like this Fresh Home Baked Seedy Irish Soda Bread


10 November 2012

Just Photos: Art DEGO

What a treat last Sunday night. Those clever people over Gather & Hunt teamed up with Auckland Art Week & the Next Crew to put on a spectacular food & art filled evening at the Nathan Club in Britomart.  Five artists & five chefs, a collaboration, a celebration of creativity in art & food. Each course was an experience.

The artists’ works featured for one night only as we enjoyed, not only beautiful but, wonderful & exciting food.  On arriving cocktails from Cameron Timmins of Mea Culpa.  The second for me the stand out, a little sharp & a little zesty like a classic Italian aperitif.  From memory rum with a little marmalade syrup & lemon zest.  I would certainly like the recipe for that one.

Canapes came from Ed Verner at Sidart & were quite the spectacle, spectacular even, well spectacular doesn’t really cover it.  They involved a pig’s head, emulsions & textures that you scooped up, not to mention a concoction that included crackly squid ink tapioca, wasabi, jelly & water melon sorbet.


Unfinished Artwork
Nick Honeyman, The Commons, & Johl Dwyer  

We were certainly starting things off pretty as a picture.  Bonita paste arrived in a tube, beside a brush for us to mix together different flavours on our very own little tile palette, before adding them to the the salmon, coconut panacotta & spring salad.  Fresh, sweet & matched with “Artist’s Turpentine 2009”, that arrived in a plastic squirty bottle.  A wonderfully oily white it was a great start to the evening.

What We Think We Have Become
Stephen Smith, Tin Soldier & Tiffany Singh

Possibly the best carrots I have ever eaten. Tiffany’s art focuses on ritual ceremony & the sacred, & this was a take on halva & prasad. Halva is a popular sweet dish in India that is made on religious occasions as an offering to God & given to devotees after prayers as a blessing.  Carrot, chilli, turmeric & almond arrived on a wax coated puka leaf, the wax honey theme continuing as we were served Warkworth Clover Honey Mead in little wax cups.  Discussion ensued as to who had the prettiest cup, those with an abundance of flowers being designated the prettiest. The flavours & textures really did make these the best carrots I have ever tasted.

This Little Piggy Went Fishing
Mark Southon, The Foodstore & Liam Gerrard

Tough acts to follow but the evening continued to surprise & delight. And how did the little piggy go fishing? That would be a little surf & turf with John Dory, cured pig’s cheek, squid crisps & a caviar butter sauce.  A wonderful crunch and the caviar butter sauce rich & a little decadent. I would just have liked more cured pig’s cheek.

Pacific Coast Highway
Hayden McMillan, TriBeCa & Elliot Collins

Pre our main course arriving on white wooden blocks,we were treated to poetry from Courtney Sina Meredith.  Each beef short rib hid a couple of words, different for everyone.  Mine were conscious & praiseworthy.  The main itself was a meltingly tender beef short rib topped with a little prawn blanket.  Radish, wasabi & golden mustard adding a little freshness & heat, another stand out dish....but then really they all were in their own unique.

And then dessert....wow!  

“Excuse me Waiter, there’s a key in my dessert” 
Brian Campbell & artist Alex Bartleet.  

Valrohna chocolate, beetroot raspberry & heilala vanilla matched with a Pedro Ximinez sherry.  Let’s be honest they had me at Valrohna.  The Pedro Ximinez was rich, dark & raisiny, so far removed from the the Bristol Cream my Gran used to drink & perfect partner for the chocolate & raspberry flavours & textures. Brian is  opening a dessert restaurant down at Britomart this summer & if this dessert is any indication of the delights that may be on offer then success is guaranteed, I for one will be checking it out as soon as it opens.

And in our goodie bags, our little paint palette tile, our honey mead cup & our block with our very own words. All reminders of a unique evening, a feast for the eyes, the senses & the belly.

For more hidden treasures in & around Auckland & upcoming events I recommend heading over to Gather & Hunt, it is quite a little treasure trove.

05 November 2012

In Season:Spicy Broad Bean, Pea & Goat’s Cheese Pate

Labour weekend here in NZ heralds the on set of Spring & a reminder that Summer is only but weeks away.  Labour Day harks back to the labour union movement and the 8 hour day.  It advocated 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation & 8 hours for rest.  I am sure these days that would almost seem like a holiday, most of us working longer hours and juggling looking after a home, children & all sorts of other things. I for one would be very happy with 8 hours a day for recreation!

So with a long weekend to enjoy & one traditionally welcoming longer, warmer, sunnier days I thought why not venture forth with the first BBQ of the season?  Well Sunday morning arrived with grey skies and steady rain. Not to be deterred by a little of the wet stuff I did venture out in the morning drizzle to dust off the BBQ after its winter hibernation in the hope that the grey clouds would clear to blue skies.  We often experience 4 season’s in one day here at this time of year so I was optimistic that come afternoon we would sitting on the deck enjoying a few Spring rays despite weather reports to the contrary, but it was not to be. I picked the one rain filled day, a steady downpour all day, but that was not going to deter or spoil an afternoon catching up with friends over good food and a wee tipple or 2 we just moved on inside & grilled indoors.

This pate is a little bowlful of Spring that can be enjoyed outdoors & indoors.  A vibrant green, with just a little chilli & lemon to awaken the taste buds it is the perfect appetiser for a Spring BBQ.  As far as I am concerned Spring is definitely hear even if the weather seems to have other ideas.

Spicy Broad Bean, Pea & Goat’s Cheese Pate, adapted from Katie Quinn-Davies in Delicious magazine.


Serves 6-8 as an appetiser

125g soft goat's cheese
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 avocado
1 green chilli, seeds removed, roughly chopped
1 cup frozen broad beans, blanched & skins removed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint
Zest and juice of a lemon
Salt & Pepper


Place all the ingredients, except the salt & pepper in a food processor & blitz until you have a smooth paste. Taste & season with salt & pepper.  Place in a serving bowl, cover & refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Serve with crostini or crackers and a few lemon wedges.

Bright & fresh with a little sharpness from the goat cheese & a little sweetness from the peas, a nice hit of mint plus a little zesty freshness from the lemon & make for a tasty starter to a Spring BBQ, indoors or outdoors.

If you like this you might like this The First Spring Asparagus


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