31 October 2013

Sweet New Zealand….

Sweet New Zealand is a monthly blogging event started by Kiwi food blogger Alessandra Zecchini and I am happy to be be the host this month.  For a round of last month's delectable delights & a little sweet inspiration head over to Lucy Eats

Lemon Lime Meringue Pie
It has been a whole 2 years since I last hosted that was for Sweet New Zealand #4 & we are now up to #28! How 2 years has flown by & lots of sweet treats along the way.

Here are a few of my favorites to help to get you thinking all things sweet.

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

The rules...they are short & sweet.

1. This event is open to all bloggers living in New Zealand (even if you're not a Kiwi), as well as all Kiwi bloggers living & blogging overseas.

2. You can enter anything sweet: cakes, biscuits, slices, desserts & even drinks. You may submit as many entries as you like, including old posts if you want.

3. Your entry must contain the phrase Sweet New Zealand, the Sweet New Zealand badge (choose your own size), a link to the host, and to this post - so if you are submitting an older post please remember to update it accordingly.

4. To submit your entry use the linky thing  below or email me at mairi29 @ xtra dot com by 28th November 2013 with:
  • your blog name
  • a link to your blog
  • a link to the post you’re contributing (and name of recipe)
  • a photo from your post (not more than 250 kb if possible)
  • your name
Roasted Peach Melba Ice Cream

So fellow bloggers get muffin baking & cake making, sweet treat concocting & delectable dessert creating & send them all to me, well links to the posts anyway & I will do a round up of all the delectable delights at the end of the month. And it is as simple as that - no more rules just looking forward to all that sweet inspiration!

29 October 2013

Bookshelf:What Katie Ate’s Strawberry, Apple & Coconut Muffins

The other weekend it was a lazy Sunday brunch. And alongside the crispy bacon, Spanish tortilla, fried mushrooms & Worcestershire sauce roasted cherry tomatoes there was room for a little sweet treat.

The first strawberries had caught my eye at the local veggie shop & then this recipe for strawberry, apple & almond muffins from What Katie Ate followed suit & presented themselves as the perfect sweet companion for brunch.  It really is a wonderful cookbook; the photos making you want to cook & eat everything right away. Her photos just draw you in & make you very, very hungry.

It is good, honest, down to earth food with big flavours & bright colours.  It  makes me want to invite over some good friends & pile the table high with all sorts of plates of deliciousness to share & linger over, alongside good conversation & general good times.  There is not much better than that, really.

Strawberry, Apple & Almond* Coconut Muffins from What Katie Ate

*a strange & unusual  lack of almonds in the pantry meant they were replaced with coconut flakes.


1 1/2 cups /185g / 6.5oz self raising flour
65g / 2oz almond meal
130g  / 4.5oz caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 stick / 113g / 4oz butter, melted & cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup / 180ml milk
1 apple, peeled, cored & cut into 1cm 1/2 inch cubes 
6 strawberries, hulled & quartered
50g flaked almonds, coconut
1-2 tbsp brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C /350F & line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Place the flour, almond meal, caster sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest & salt in a large bowl & mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix together the vanilla paste, melted butter, beaten egg & the milk.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients & pour in the wet ingredients, mix gently to just combine.  Add the apple & gently stir again to just combine.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each case to about three-quarters full. 

Sprinkle the tops with the coconut flakes & brown sugar, before baking for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Well these turned out to be tasty little morsels & also pretty as a picture.   Sweet strawberry, apples making them moist & that little hit of warmth from the cinnamon.

If you like this you might like this Pineapple & Toasted Coconut Muffins


24 October 2013

Chicken with Honey Thyme & Haloumi

Home last weekend, a little tired after a long week & wanting something light & tasty & full of flavour for dinner, but not really having the inclination or energy for too much effort, I turned to Donna Hay the doyenne of fast, fresh & simple to give some speedy inspiration for dinner.

It's Spring & the garden is blooming!

I came across the chicken & haloumi baked in honey & thyme & the flavours all appealed. Now this one is fast! It could not be easier.  This is Donna Hay at her speedy & tasty best.  Chicken is tossed together with honey, thyme & a few slices of haloumi.  Seriously that is it & then all you have to do is pop it in the oven & 20 minutes or so later you have dinner.

Chicken with Honey Thyme & Haloumi 

Serves 2


4 x chicken thighs
150g haloumi, cut into 4 slices
Zest of 1 lemon
8 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Salad, to serve


Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). 

Place the chicken, haloumi, lemon zest & thyme in a baking dish.  Mix the olive oil & honey together & pour it over the chicken & haloumi.  Season with a good pinch of salt & some freshly ground black pepper.  Pop in the oven & bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove from the over & serve with a little salad on the side.  The chicken tender & juicy, a little sweetness from the honey & a the hint of a more earthy note from the thyme.  And then those squeaky delicious slices of roasted haloumi.

This is my contribution to this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are all about Pot Luck.

If you like this you might like this Peanut & Lime Chicken Noodle Salad
One year ago Cuisine Masterclass
Three years ago Creamy Lemon & Asparagus Pasta


21 October 2013

A Lazy Sunday Brunch & a Spanish Tortilla

This is one of those dishes that is so much greater than the sum of its parts, slowly cooked onions, potatoes, eggs & olive oil...that is all.  But they can come together to make something so flavourful & comforting it is really quite wonderful. The sweetness of the slowly cooked onions & the comforting softness of the potatoes create a little bit of magic. 

This was the perfect companion to crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce roasted tomatoes & strawberry, apple & coconut muffins* for a lazy Sunday Brunch. Even better the sun was shining, giving us our first little taster of the Summer months to come & brunch was all fresco.

*recipes for these here soon!

*Worcestershire Sauce Roasted tomatoes
Toss cherry tomatoes, halve the large ones, on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Scatter over a few sprigs of thyme, a drizzle of olive oil & a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce.  Season with salt & pepper & place in a 170C/325F oven for 15-20 minutes.

But on to the main event....the Spanish Tortilla.  Even better this can be made ahead of time so that you can enjoy brunch rather than be over the stove poaching or scrambling.

Spanish Tortilla

Makes 1 large tortilla

2 large onions
700g / 1.5lbs waxy potatoes
150 ml olive oil for the onions
500 ml olive oil for the potatoes
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt & pepper


Cut the onions in half, peel & thinly slice.  Place the 150ml of olive in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the onions & season with a good pinch of salt.  Turn the heat down to low & sauté for 45 minutes until the onions are sweet & golden.  Stir every moment or so to make sure that they don’t stick.

Remove from the heat & drain, reserving the oil to cook the tortilla.

Peel the potatoes, cut in half & thinly slice.  Place the potatoes in a colander with a teaspoon of salt, toss well. Place the 500ml of olive oil in another frying pan & heat over a medium heat.  Gently add the potatoes & lower the heat.  Cook gently for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  We are just looking for tender here, no colouring. Once cooked drain & save the oil for another time.

Place the onions, potatoes & eggs in a large bowl.  Season with salt* & pepper & gently mix to combine.

Add the reserved onion oil to a clean frying pan & heat over a high heat until smoking.  Add the tortilla mixture & give it a gentle shoogle or shake.  Lower the heat to medium & cook for 3-4 minutes until the underside is golden brown.  Take a plate of similar size to the frying pan & place it on top.  With a couple of tea towels take hold of each side & carefully flip the pan to turn out the tortilla.

Add a splash more oil & return the tortilla to the frying pan to cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes.  You want both sides to be golden & brown.  The tortilla is cooked when it feels solid.  Slide the tortilla on to a plate & allow to cool for a few moments before slicing & serving.

*Yes a little more salt....potatoes love salt.

This is just one of those dishes where a few simple ingredients come together to make something quite wonderful.  Sweet onions & soft potatoes all bound together in a tasty tortilla.

If you like this you might like this Green Herby Omelette with Spinach & Feta Salad
One year ago Spring Pasta
Three years ago Ginger Chilli Chicken


19 October 2013

Soft-poached Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash Browns

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” 

A.A. Milne

I love breakfast! I think of toast & marmalade, soft boiled eggs & soldiers, freshly squeezed orange juice, crispy bacon, fluffy pancakes with lashings of maple syrup, eggs benedict topped with creamy hollandaise, golden crispy hash browns, Friday breakfasts all over town, pain au chocolat, freshly brewed coffee, lazy Sunday mornings, eggs every which way, Queenie’s Turkish eggs, buttery flaky croissants.

It sets my up for the day, feeds the brain & the soul.

I am partial to eggs....boiled, scrambled & poached.  These poached eggs come on top of sweet potato hash browns & bright, fresh spears of asparagus.  Crunchy, sweet, a little spice, a little green & that perfectly poached egg make for a tasty breakfast.

These eggs were the perfect contribution to this week’s I Heart Cooking Clubs with Donna Hay which is Up & At ‘Em & all things breakfast.

Soft-poached Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash Browns, adapted slightly from donnahay.com.au

Serves 4


300g sweet potato or kumura, peeled & grated
Pinch chilli flakes
6 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Bunch asparagus, trimmed & blanched*
Salt & pepper

*Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Snap the ends of the asparagus to remove any woody stems. Add the asparagus to the boiling water & reduce the heat to medium high. Cook for 1-3 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears. Removed the asparagus from the water & refresh under cold water.


Place the sweet potato, 2 eggs, a pinch of salt & pepper in a bowl & mix well to combine. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook ¼ cups of the sweet potato mixture for 2−3 minutes each side or until golden & crispy. Drain on kitchen paper & keep warm.

Heat a few centimetres of water in a deep frying pan over low heat until just simmering. Add the vinegar & use a wooden spoon to create a whirlpool. Crack each egg into a small bowl & slip each egg into the water. Poach the eggs for 3−4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon & drain well. Top the hash browns with the asparagus & eggs. Season with salt & pepper & serve immediately.

Crisp sweet hash browns, fresh green asparagus & a perfectly poached eggs, the yellow yolk oozing a little golden river make for a bright, tasty & satisfying breakfast.  These hash browns would also be great with a little crispy bacon  which is always a good addition to any breakfast, bacon does after make all things better!

If you like this you might like this Sweet Potato Cakes
Three years ago Tabbouleh


08 October 2013

Raspberry Upside Down Cakes

A work morning tea to say goodbye to a team member was  a good excuse to give my Kitchen Aid baby a work out & to make these tempting little treats.  Do you remember upside down cakes?  I have memories of Mum’s pineapple upside down cake, moist & syrupy & to top it all off a maraschino cherry inside each pineapple ring.  We were ever so sophisticated back in the 70s!!This is a bit of a more modern take & uses my favourite berry; the raspberry.  And being individual little delights the perfect treat for a morning tea.

Well not quite perfect, my cake baking skills still need a little work.  I think I added a few too many raspberries & a tad too much batter to each cake so they didn’t quite look exaclty like the cakes in the picture.  However, they tasted great & the whole lot did get scoffed at a work morning tea so I take that as testament that were in fact pretty good.

As was this delectable pineapple uspide down cake with a creme anglaise that Carmella over at Easy Food Hacks whipped up for us the other week to finish of a delicous Malaysian feast.  If you want to know how to make this one you can check it out here.

Raspberry Upside Down Cakes, from Donna Hay’s Off the Shelf


250g / 8oz butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup spelt flour, sifted
1 cup plain flour, sifted
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
300g / 10oz raspberries, fresh or frozen


For the cakes make a batch of Donna’s simple vanilla cake. Pre heat your oven to 160C / 325F.

Place the butter & sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer & beat until pale & airy.  Add the vanilla extract & eggs & beat again for a few more minutes.  Sift together the flours & the baking powder & gently fold it in to the batter.

Too much raspberry!

Grease some muffin tins & divide the raspberries among the bases*.  Spoon over the batter & place in the oven for 20 minutes or until puffed & golden.  Cool the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes & then gently & carefully invert them on to a wire cooling wrack. Dust with a little icing sugar & serve.

*If using frozen raspberries, thaw them & place them in a sieve to get rid of excess juice to avoid a somewhat soggy cake.  And add just a little, not even a whole teaspoon to the bottom of the tins.

These little cakes are quite the tasty treat.  The raspberries the perfect foil for the sweet & light vanilla sponge.  I think a few blueberries would make for a lovely variation as would the old classic, pineapple, maraschino cherry optional!

This is my contribution to this week’s I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are concocting a little magic with whatever we have in the pantry (& OK the freezer too for the raspberries).  For more pantry magic head over here.

This is also my entry for this month's Sweet NZ being hosted by Lucy over at Lucy Eats.

If you like this you might like this Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
Three years ago Lovely Lasagne


06 October 2013

Sticky Black Pepper Pork

This week see the beginning of a new 6 month culinary journey with a new chef over at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Our inspiration for the next 6 months will come from Donna Hay.  Donna Hay & I go way back; back to my first job here in New Zealand (13 years ago yesterday!) when I worked in magazine distribution & we launched Donna Hay the magazine. I have read every issue since then, that is quite a few issues over the last 10 years or so.  I was also lucky enough to meet her a few times before moving on to my next role.  I’ll always remember that first meeting at her test kitchen in Sydney where we ate a quince tart. That started me on a love affair & eventually successful search for quince here in New Zealand . And yes it was delicious, I even recreated it quite some time ago here on Toast.  Thankfully quince now make a regular appearance at veggie shops & farmers markets.

I have always loved the simplicity & the way Donna show’s how easy it is to get tasty, fresh & exciting food on the table fast.  Her  recipes are also great basics that you can adapt & tweak to suit yourself., which I reckon is the mark of a really good recipe.

The pasta twirl.

I am also a huge fan of her food styling, clean & bright & light, the food always the star, no need for a multitude of props.  And I do love the pasta twirl! So for me her magazine & cookbooks inspire on 2 levels; the food of course but also the photos.  So I am looking forward to revisiting some of my Donna Hay cookbooks & dusting off some of those old magazines, it’s like revisiting an old friend & I am sure we can pick up exactly where we left off.

Sticky Black Pepper Pork, adapted only slightly from an old Donna Hay magazine

*I added a few chilli flakes to the pork & some fresh red chillies & spring onion to the salad for a little heat & extra freshness. Plus a little zest dressing, with rice bran oil, lime & just a splash of soy. 

Serves 4


80ml / 1/3 cup soy sauce
60g / 1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp rice bran oil & a little more for cooking.
1 tsp peppercorn, smashed in a mortar & pestle
450g / 15oz pork fillet (tenderloin)
2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
80g / 1 cup bean sprouts
1 red chilli sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup coriander leaves
Salt & pepper
Lime wedges to serve


Place the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, rice bran oil & pepper in a medium sized bowl & mix well to combine.  Drizzle a little rice bran oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the pork & cook for 4-5 minutes each side until cooked through.  Set the pork aside.

Place the cucumber, bean sprouts, mint & coriander in a bowl, season with a little salt & pepper & toss to combine.

Slice the pork & serve alongside the salad with some lime wedges.

Fast & fresh this is a light & speedy dinner.

For more Donna Hay inspired creations head over here to I Heart Cooking Clubs.

If you like this you might like this Roast Pork & Golden Crispy Potatoes
Two years ago Asian Slaw
Three years ago A Little Chicken


01 October 2013

In Season:Asparagus & Lemon Risotto

It has become a bit of a tradition here at Toast to celebrate the arrival of Spring & my favourite green spears, asparagus.  Over the years there has been Asparagus  & Herb Frittata, an Ottolenghi Asparagus Mimosa, Salmon & Asparagus Salad with Agave Lime Vinaigrette. 

Having had a quick look over the past few years there also seems to be a serious ongoing affair with lemon. Last year there was Lemon & Mint Asparagus, Peas & Spinach, & the year before an Asparagus Salad with a Lemony Parmesan Vinaigrette & way back in 2010, where it all started, a Creamy Lemon & Asparagus Pasta.  Asparagus really does love lemon.  

So in the spirit of what looks to have become somewhat of a tradition this year I am sticking with the asparagus & lemon flavour theme with a little risotto. The lemon cutting through the richness of the risotto & makes it bright, light & fresh alongside those delectable tender green spears.

Asparagus & Lemon Risotto

Serves 2


3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 bunch asparagus, cut in to 2cm lengths
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
I tbsp olive oil
Zest & juice of 1 lemon, reserve a little zest to garnish
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little extra to garnish
Salt & pepper


Place the stock in a medium sized saucepan & warm gently.  Once warm leave on the lowest heat to keep it warm.  In a large frying pan heat the olive oil over a medium low heat & add the shallot & a pinch of salt.  Sauté for a few minutes until soft & translucent.  Add the garlic & sauté for a few minutes longer. Add the rice & stir gently.  Add the white wine, turn up the heat a little & simmer.  Stir until the wine has been absorbed.

Add a ladle of stock at a time & continue to simmer & stir until almost all absorbed, repeat until all the stock has been used.  It will take around 20 minutes, just relax & enjoy the stirring.

Once the rice is almost cooked add the asparagus to the rice and gently mix together.  Add the lemon juice, most of the zest & season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the Parmesan.  Remove from the heat and serve topped with a scattering of Parmesan & a little lemon zest.

This one is Spring on a plate, creamy risotto, bright, fresh, zest lemon & those first sweet green spears of asparagus.

If you like this you might like this Creamy Lemon & Asparagus Pasta
Two years ago Seedy Oaty Bread

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