30 April 2013

Bites & Bobs 30.4.2013


I want to eat this tart

I ate this at Ten24 in the Hawke’s Bay.

And this at Elephant Hill...

...with this view.

I want to be able to shop every week at the Hastings New World Supermarket!  The most wonderful, fresh local produce & wines...what a selection! Plus lovely friendly people.

St Andrew's Limes - Lime & Vanilla Bean Syrup

Orcona Chillis N Peppers - if you like chillies...annaheim, poblano, serrano, jalapeño & habanero.  I managed a haul from the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market.

Pratos et Travessas beautiful photography & recipes.  I am dying to try this pasta; rigatoni with chicken, mushrooms & chorizo & this chickpea, shrimp, arugula, roasted tomatoes and feta salad with basil vinaigrette that looks divine.

And another beautiful lunch at Ortolana, even better you can now order dessert from Milse! Valrohna, salted caramel....need I say more?? And once you have eaten all the farm to table goodness at Ortolana you don't even feel a twinge of guilt ordering dessert...it's all lovely & balanced!

Valrohna, Salted Caramel


Seeing (& laughing): At Danny Bhoy at the NZ Comedy Festival...he is always hilarious.

Travels: Hawke’s Bay, NZ in the Autumn...spectacular.

Watching: Back to the '80s & the '60s with the The Americans & Mad Men  oh so very happy that Mr Draper is back:)

Reading: Finally reading Shantaram...if you are one of the few who haven’t read it read it!

29 April 2013

Fresh Figs with Manchego & Honey, from Ottolenghi The Cookbook IHCC

“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.” 

Elizabeth David, An Omelette & a Glass of Wine

Figs do look so exotic, they lure you in, succulent & sweet. Good friends with cured meats to deliver a little salty & sweet or alongside some mascarpone or creme fraiche for a fresh dessert or perhaps the piece de resistance next to little blue cheese to finish off a meal with a good glass of red.  However I have always found them to be little bit of a let down, that is until this weekend.

I have just returned from 4 days in the Hawke’s Bay to celebrate a dear, dear friends birthday & what a wonderful few days it was, more on that later.  Suffice to say laughter, wine & good food all featured, not to mention glorious sunshine & some spectacular NZ scenery.

Lunch on Saturday was at Ten24 & it was perfect.  An idyllic few hours with exciting & exceptional food, delectable wines & great company.  If you are in the Hawke’s Bay you must check it out as Kent Baddley is dishing up some quite wonderful food.

And to start a little trio of amuse bouche.  In the middle snails on tapenade, by a country mile the best snails I have ever eaten & on the right a creamy white beetroot soup, the rosemary adding just the right amount of piney herbness.  It was that little bright pink fig on the left that converted me to the wonders of the fig.  Just look at it?  It was sweet & fresh & finally I met a fig that delivered on all expectations.

So that brings me nicely to this salad for this week’s pot luck Ottolenghi at IHCCs.  Again a handful of ingredients come to together in the tastiest way.

Fresh Figs with Manchego & Honey, adapted from Ottolenghi the Cookbook

Quite perfect on it's own or along side some grilled chicken. Ottolenghi makes it with young pecorino but I had manchego to hand. Blue cheese would also work a treat & I am thinking maybe a few toasted walnuts wouldn’t go a miss.


3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tbsp Honey
Lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Ripe green or black figs


For the dressing whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice & honey. Season to taste. Scatter the rockets & basil leaves over a platter. Cut the figs in to quarters & place over the top.  Shave over some shards of manchego & drizzle over the dressing.  Add a little more pepper & serve immediately.

These figs weren’t perfection, but I am a convert & against the peppery rocket, the sweet honey & the manchego it was a tasty salad.

This is this week’s Ottolenghi for IHCC.

If you like this you might like these...
Chicken with Za'atar Sumac & Pine Nuts
Asparagus Mimosa

23 April 2013

Salmon & Cypriot Salad with Farro, Smoked Yoghurt & Preserved Lemons

I first had this salad at Sabato, my treat at the end of 6 weeks of very healthy living was a visit there & Fiona Smith’s Cuisine Artisan Awards Cooking Class. And a treat it certainly was. Beautiful food, very good wine & a good chance to catch up with some of lovely people at Cuisine that I used to work with.

Since then this salad has made several appearances, livening up salads for lunch, dinner with a friend post the movies, my contribution to Easter Sunday lunch & the main event at Supper Club the other week. It is packed full of flavour & textures with farro, lentils, nuts, seeds & fresh herbs.  Feta & some roasted peppers make welcome additions if you want to make it a little more substantial. 

And if you can find some you must try the Zany Zeus Smoked yoghurt! It is, well, just a completely new flavour that is quite amazing. Organic yoghurt strained & lightly smoked with Manuka shavings it is mellow & delightfully infused with Manuka smokiness.  You can order it online here.

Salmon & Cypriot Salad with Farro, Smoked Yoghurt & Preserved Lemons

For the salmon I just brushed over a little of Ray McVinnie’s Madrid dressing.  Infused with smoked paprika it is wonderfully smoky & perfect with the salmon.

For the salad...


200g farro
70g puy lentils
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted & ground
3 tbsp EVOO
Zest of 1 lemon 
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh removed & diced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 bunch coriander, chopped
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 cup marcona almonds, toasted & roughly chopped
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
135g Zany Zeus smoked yoghurt
Extra virgin olive to serve
Salt & pepper


Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the farro & cook for 20 minutes.  Bring another saucepan of water to the boil, add the lentils & cook for 20 minutes. Drain both & set aside in a large bowl.

Place the red onion in a bowl & cover with cold water for 10 minutes & then drain.  Add the cumin, olive oil, lemon zest & preserved lemon in a large bowl, stir & set aside to cool completely.

Once cooled mix in the onions, coriander, parsley, almonds, seeds & pine nuts.  Toss well & season to taste.  Transfer to a serving platter & top with some of the smoked yoghurt & a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Lovely with salmon & also quite delicious with little lamb cutlets.  This one is definitely a keeper.  The farro & lentils provide the comfort & substance, the seeds & nuts a toasty crunch, the herbs a freshness & the preserved lemons a little fragrance & touch of the exotic. It will also hold up for a day or 2 in the fridge & makes for a tasty lunch especially with a good dollop of the smoked yoghurt.

If you like this you might like this Preserved Lemon & Fennel Salad
Two years ago Quince Tart


20 April 2013

Sweet Potato Cakes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty - IHCC

Week 3 of 6 months of cooking with Ottolenghi & this week it is roots.  Perfect for these cooler, shorter evenings.  I am loving it, it has somehow reinvigorated me a little.  Made me really, really enjoy cooking again & sharing it here on Toast without it feeling remotely like a chore.  It is again a pleasure & a joy.  And that is what I love about Ottolenghi, always inspiring.  I have yet to cook something from any of his books that has not delighted. There is something wonderful & exciting the first time you try some sort of new flavour combination or a new way to cook a few simple ingredients & turn them in to something so much more than the some of their parts.

That would be where these sweet potato cakes come in, essentially sweet potato, flour, soy, spring onion & chilli with a dollop of yoghurt on the side.  It doesn’t sound like much but when they all come together in crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, a fresh bite from the spring onions & little heat from the chilli all cooled by fresh, tart lemon spiked yoghurt they really are quite something. It likely also has to do with the “lots of butter” they are fried in! Butter does after all make just about everything better.

Sweet Potato Cakes adapted just a tad from Ottolenghi’s Plenty - IHCC

Serves four


For the sweet potato cakes...
1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks or if you are in NZ your kumara of choice*
2 tsp soy sauce
100g flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp spring onion, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeded if you are not a fan of heat)
**1 egg if needed
Lots of butter, for frying

*I used golden kumara, hence the more gold than orange hue
**My mixture was a little dry, it may be our Kiwi kumara have a little less moisture than some other sweet potatoes so I threw in an egg.

For the sauce...
50g Greek yogurt
50g sour cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp coriander, chopped


Steam the sweet potato or kumara until soft & then drain in a colander for an hour. To make the sauce whisk all the ingredients together until smooth & set aside in the fridge.  Place all the fritter ingredients, except the egg & the butter, in a mixing bowl & work them together with your hands. The mixture should be  a little sticky.  If too runny add a little more flour or if its too dry add an egg.  Don’t over mix the fritters.

To make the fritters dip your hands in water & take a tablespoon of the mixture & shape it in to a little ball. Flatten the ball to circle less than a centimetre thick.  Place the fritter on some baking paper.

Melt some butter in a large frying pan & using a fish slice, lift the cakes in to the pan & fry on a moderate heat until the cakes have a nice, brown crust.  3 minutes or so each side should do it.  Place on kitchen roll to remove excess butter & serve hot or warm, with a good dollop of the yoghurt sauce on the side.

These are most definitely comfort food.  Hot, crunchy, fried, soft inside, a little spicy & I think best eaten straight out the frying pan with ones fingers.  Or if you feel like being a little more civilised & substantial I am thinking brunch topped with a lightly poached egg & a little crispy bacon...roll on next weekend.

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17 April 2013

Bookshelf:What Katie Ate’s Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tart

A few week’s ago this arrived in the post from The Book Depository.

I have long been a reader of Katie’s blog What Katie Ate.  It was both the photos & the recipes that drew me in.  Recipes using fresh & seasonal ingredients to make wonderful food that is prefect for entertaining & feeding a crowd.  I think that is the biggest appeal for me , that the recipes do lend themselves so wonderfully well to entertaining, for me that is what I love about food & cooking.  The sharing, the conversation, the coming together over good food.

As I hoped, & expected, the book is brimming with Katie’s distinctive & beautiful photography & many, many recipes I want to make; sizzling shrimp, peppercorn beef with chilli & gremolata, baby potatoes with asparagus & caper dressing, mocha chocolate mousse with Irish whiskey, apple ginger & cranberry vodka cocktail.  See what I mean the perfect way to entertain a crowd, in fact it actually sounds like a pretty damn fine party.

These tarts were the first dish that jumped out at me & would be the perfect entree for Supper Club & the extra one made to be photographed was a quite lovely little lunch. I am also sure, as Katie’s suggests, that the onion jam would be great with a wedge of vintage cheddar.  Even better I think you could take it to the next level & make quite a special grilled cheese...that may well have to be tonight’s dinner.

As for the rest of Supper Club to follow the tarts a little salmon with a farro & lentil salad, that will feature here soon as the salad is most certainly one to share, with some minted peas on the side providing a little brightness.  And dessert, well that was to be Nigella’s slow roasted quince. They weren’t bad, but they just didn’t quite turn out as they should so they won’t be making an appearance here!  Let’s just say they were a little too roasted & the jelly turned in to more of a caramel, albeit a quite lovely caramel that even provided a little bit of a workout just trying to eat it.* 

(*chip & gouge it off the plate!) 

Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tart - What Katie Ate


For the onion jam:
4 large onions, peeled & finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch salt
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (plus a bit extra if required) * I used cabernet vinegar
1.5 tbsp soft brown sugar

For the tartlets:
1 large sheet good quality puff pastry
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk
4 heaped tbsp caramelised onion jam (see below)
175g good-quality goat’s cheese, cut into 1.5cm thick rounds
3-4 thyme spring, leaves picked, plus extra sprigs to garnish
Salt & pepper
250ml balsamic vinegar (use the best you can afford)* I used cabernet vinegar

3 tbsp brown sugar


To make the onion jam...

Place onions in a large, heavy based saucepan & drizzle with the olive oil. Stir the onions to coat with the oil & season with a good pinch of salt.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until softened. Turn down the heat & cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring now & again to stop the onions catching.

Add the vinegar & sugar & stir well.  Cook over low heat for another 30-45 minutes, again stirring now & again to get all the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. If it does all become a little sticky just add a splash more vinegar.  We are wanting marmalade type texture here. Once cooked remove from the heat & set aside to cool. This will give you about 1.5 cups onion jam. Store in a sterilised jar & keep it in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To make the tarts...

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F

Use a small bowl as a template & cut four circles of pastry & place them on a large baking tray lined with baking paper.  Score a 2cm border around the edges of the circles.  Just be careful not to cut all the way through. Prick the inside of the circle all over with a fork & brush the borders with the egg wash, being careful not to let the egg run down the sides or the pastry will rise unevenly.

Divide the caramelised onion jam among the bases inside the border & spread it out evenly. Place a round of goat’s cheese on top of each tart & then scatter with the thyme leaves & season with a little pepper.

Place the tarts in the oven & bake for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is  golden & risen & the bases of the tarts are cooked.  While the tarts are cooking, place the balsamic vinegar (*or cabernet vinegar) in a small saucepan & bring to the boil, then reduce the heat & simmer until reduced by half. Add the brown sugar & simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy. Set aside to cool.  The syrup will become more syrupy as it cools.

Serve the tarts drizzled with a little syrup & scatter over a few thyme sprigs.

These were the perfect start to Supper Club.  Sweet onion jam, sharp goat’s cheese & a little earthy thyme.  These little tarts will most definitely be making an encore appearance.

If you like this you might like this Greens & Kikorangi Tart


13 April 2013

Green Pancakes with Lime Butter; from Ottolenghi’s Plenty - IHCC

Well it is week 2 of I Heart Cooking Clubs with Ottolenghi & this week it is loving the leaf.  All those good for you greens. I turned to Plenty, which I have waxed lyrical about many a time, every time it never fails to inspire.  A quick flick through the greens & their are chard & saffron omelettes, a watercress, pistachio & orange blossom salad or a little nutty endive with Roquefort.  See...inspiring. Not to mention full of greens so you can check the good for you box too.

A close second were the chard cakes with sorrel sauce but they will have to wait for another day as it was these green pancakes with lime butter that won the day & would be a light Sunday lunch. These are packed full of spinach & spiked with a little spring onion & chilli, however what takes these to the sublime is the lime butter, zesty, garlicky, aromatic coriander & meltingly delicious. It possibly a new addiction. It is the perfect friend to the pancakes but I can tell you it   is also a very good friend to some grilled chicken & I would imagine it would bond quite quickly with a little grilled fish or steak or over steamed or roast veggies.  I think having some of this butter lurking in the fridge at any given time would be a good idea to bring a little zesty kick to many a dish.

Green Pancakes with Lime Butter; from Ottolenghi’s Plenty - IHCC

Serves 3-4...more likely 3.


For the lime butter
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest 1 lime plus 2 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 tbsp coriander leaves, picked
½ garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes

For the pancakes
110g self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
50g unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
150ml milk
10 spring onions, finely sliced
2 green chillies, finely sliced
250g baby spinach
1 egg white
Olive oil, for frying


First, make the lime butter. Place the butter in a medium bowl & beat with a wooden spoon until softy & creamy.  Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, turn the butter out on to some plastic wrap & roll in to a cylinder shape.  Twist the ends to seal & pop in the fridge to chill.

For the pancakes

Place the flour, baking powder, egg, butter, salt, cumin & milk in a bowl & whisk until smooth.  Add the onion & chilli & gently mix together.  Place the spinach in a large saucepan with a little splash of water over a medium heat & cook until the spinach is wilted.  Remove the spinach from the heat & allow it to cool a little until cool enough for you to squeeze dry.  Roughly chop the spinach & add it to the batter & mix it through.  Whisk the egg white to soft peaks & fold it very gently through the batter, keeping the batter as light & airy as you can.

Pour a little oil in to a large frying pan & heat over a medium high heat.  For each pancake add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the batter & press down just a little.  You’ll have quite small pancakes.  Cook for just a minute or 2 each side until golden green.  Place the pancakes on some kitchen towel & keep cooking pancakes until all the batter is used up.  You can keep the pancakes warm in a low oven.

To serve, pile up 3-4 pancakes on each plate & top with a patty of the lime butter. 

These are just heavenly!  The pancakes packed with all that spinach deliver a healthy dose of antioxidants & vitamins & the butter, well that is what makes these pancakes special. It melts & oozes over the pancakes, a little creamy, a little zesty & just a hint of garlic. Go on & make a batch, I promise you won't be disappointed.

If you like these you might like these...


12 April 2013

Preserved Lemon Hummus

Hummus; chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper & today a myriad of combinations from sun dried tomato, capsicum, coriander or even this preserved lemon concoction that I concocted that delivers a wonderful aromatic lemony flavour, even better if left overnight for all the flavours to meld & develop.

Hummus is my go to snack, my go to nibble pre a summer BBQ or even as pre dinner nibble for an early Autumn dinner as happened on the weekend. It was this one over at Smitten Kitchen that caught my eye, it just looked so wonderfully creamy & smooth.  I just wanted to dive right in so I had to make a batch of my own.

There are a multitude of recipes out there & a definite voice for using dried chickpeas, soaking them overnight & cooking them yourself. Apparently a nuttier flavour, a less grainy texture.  Well I had friends coming round for dinner so no time for 24 hour soaking & hours of cooking.  I used Ceres Organic chickpeas & I have to say produced perhaps the best hummus I have ever tasted.  

The best tip I came across, & I reckon the one that delivers this wonderfully smoother & creamier hummus, is peeling the chickpeas.  Yes peeling the chickpeas! I hadn’t even thought about them having skins, but they do & they are very easy just to pop off & when you see all those little skins you can see why a good idea to peel.  Don’t fret for one batch it will only take about 10 minutes, 10 worthwhile minutes. So without further ado here is my take on the humble hummus.

Preserved Lemon Hummus

Makes 1 3/4 cups hummus


1 can drained chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini paste
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
1 small garlic clove, minced
1preserved lemon, diced
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon table salt, or more to taste
1/4 cup water


To serve some good olive oil, a sprinkle of smoked paprika & some dukkah or za’atar crusted pita wedges. Or if you want to be super healthy sticks of carrot, cucumber, peppers & celery.  Or indeed both if you like a little balance.

First, peel your chickpeas. Squeeze between your finger & thumb & they will just pop out. Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor & give them a quick blitz.  Add all the other ingredients except the water & blitz until smooth.  With the motor running drizzle in the water, little by little, until you have a smooth, creamy hummus. You may need a little less or a little more.

Taste & add more salt or lemon juice if need be. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl & place in the fridge until ready to serve, ideally a few hours or even overnight as this will allow the flavours to really develop.

To serve tear up some pita in to bite sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil, a scattering of dukkah & a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Place in a 180C/350F oven for 10-15 minutes until golden & toasted.  Set aside to cool & serve with the hummus.  Drizzle the hummus with olive oil & a little dusting of smoked paprika.

It really was very good, really maybe the best hummus I have tasted.  Creamy  & smooth, lemony & fragrant, the smoked paprika just peeping through to ad a little smokey depth.

If you like this you might like this Broad Bean & Pea Dip
One year ago Curried Beef Stew
Two years ago Hot Smoking...


07 April 2013

Chicken Saffron & Herb Salad; from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem - IHCC

If your familiar to these parts you will know I am big fan of Ottolenghi so when Sue invited me to join I Heart Cooking Clubs for 6 months of Ottolenghi inspired cooking I was sold. Yes 6 months, each week the opportunity to cook something Ottolenghi.  Which really means something, fresh, vibrant, original & utterly delicious to eat every week so what is not to like?

A quick flick through any of my Ottolenghi books & I find a plethora of recipes at any one time that appeal & each time I seem to discover something new.  Today it was Jerusalem & it was this salad that caught my eye & as it happened it would be the perfect entree for a little weekend dinner party.  Bright, fresh & vibrant with a little sweet & a little heat to awaken the taste buds. Plus the saffron a nice little segue way to the main course, a fragrant Moroccan tagine.

So without further ado Shalom Yotam Ottolenghi!

Chicken Saffron & Herb Salad 

Serves 6


1 orange
50g / 2oz honey
½ tsp saffron threads
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
About 300ml water
1kg / 2lb skinless chicken breast
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thin
15g / 1oz picked coriander leaves
15g / 1oz picked basil leaves, torn
15 picked mint leaves, torn
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt & black pepper


Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Slice off the top & bottom of the orange & cut it into 12 wedges.  Discard any pips. Place the wedges in a small saucepan & add the honey, saffron, vinegar & just enough water to cover to cover the wedges. Bring to a boil & simmer gently for about an hour. At the end, you should be left with soft orange pieces & a few tablespoons of thick fragrant syrup. Place the oranges & syrup in a food processor & blitz until you have a smooth runny paste, add a little more water if need be. 

Season the chicken breasts with salt & pepper & drizzle with half the olive oil.  Place the chicken on a very hot ridged griddle pan & sear for about two minutes on each side, to get some good char marks all over. Place the chicken in a roasting tray and roast for 15-20 minutes, until just cooked. The juices will run clear when cooked through.

Set the chicken aside to cool & then when cool enough to handle but still a little warm tear it up in to bite sized pieces.  Place the chicken in a large bowl & pour over half the orange paste & gently mix together. 

The remaining orange syrup will keep in the fridge for a few days, & will make for a bright citrusy dressing to liven up a salad or some grilled fish, or even an orange twist on guacamole.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the salad, including the rest of the oil, & toss gently. Taste, season with salt & pepper & if you like a little more olive oil or lemon juice.

As soon as I tasted the orange syrup I knew this salad was going to be something quite special. Crunchy fennel alongside char grilled chicken all enveloped in that wonderfully sweet & zesty dressing.

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