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!

06 November 2014

Fush & Chups

Fush & chups….quintessentially kiwi.  I never used to really like fish & chips until I got here. I wasn’t really a fan of fish full stop.  Childhood memories of not being allowed to leave the table until I’d finished seemed like tortuous & put me off fish for quite some time. That & too many chewy batters & soggy chips & god forbid mushy peas on the side adding to the totally non crisp factor.

However I am a total convert; not much beats a good fush & chups & we are blessed with delicious fish here in the land of the long white cloud; snapper, blue cod, terakihi, hapuka…they even sound more exotic than haddock! To note I am also a convert now when back home too as many delicious little fishes to be had in the mother country too.

The perfect fish & chips…or fush & chups if we’re talking in newzeald.
Golden, crispy, light batter, moist fresh fish. A sprinkling of sea salt & a squeeze of lemon.  Chips golden & crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside & for me dowsed in salt & vinegar for a sharp kick, the one remnant I enjoy from the mother country. A little mayo & ketchup on the side. Eaten with fingers a must & preferably outdoors,  perfection being on a beach on a balmy summer evening, the sun setting. And if you’re going for full indulgence white bread & butter to make a chip butty out of any remaining chips!

The real star is of course the batter.  Cooked through, well seasoned, light, golden, crunchy & no soggy or chewy in sight.  And here’s where we went in search of the best batter. To add baking powder or yeast, or something fizzy, sparkling water or beer, that was the question.

A little research revealed Rick goes for baking powder & ice cold water, Jamie goes for flour, baking soda & cold beer & Nigel gives a twist with plain flour, pear cider, oil & egg whites for a totally different variation. Cold seems to be the key for light, bubbly crunchy batter. In the end we went for cold beer & cold flour with a little baking powder & it was delicious, as delicious if not more so than those up there from the local chippy.

Sadly if watching one’s waistline one can’t be indulging this way every night of the week, but the good news is that you can still indulge & have quite delicious fush & chups!

These one’s from Donna Hay went down a treat & will most definitely be making a few encore appearances when treat but healthy desired. Fish is topped with herby lemony bread crumbs & grilled & spuds & kumara are baked. On the side a bursting with flavour yoghurt tartare.

Fush & chups, tweaked from Donna Hay Fast & Fresh


For the chups
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut in to chips
1 medium kumara, peeled & cut in to chips
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil

Yoghurt tartare
1/2 cup thick plain yoghurt
2 tbsp cornichons, chopped
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 tbsp dill, chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

For the fush
1 1/4 cups coarse bread crumbs*
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Pinch chilli flakes
8x 120g firm white fish fillets
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil

Lemon wedges to serve

Salt & pepper

*I always have some in the freezer, left over bread just gets whizzed up in the food processor & added to the big bag in the freezer.


Pre heat oven to 200C/390F

Place the potatoes & kumara on a baking tray & sprinkle over a good pinch of salt & pepper along with the chilli flakes. Drizzle over the olive oil & toss to combine.  Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden & crisp.

For the yoghurt tartare place the yoghurt, cornichons, capers, dill & vinegar in a small bowl.  Add a little pinch of salt & pepper & mix well to combine & set aside until ready to serve.

Place the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley & chilli flakes in a bowl, season with salt & pepper & mix well.  Place the fish on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Top with the breadcrumbs. Mix the lemon juice & olive oil together & drizzle it over the breadcrumbs.  

Cook the fish under a preheated grill for 5-7 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden & crisp & the fish is cooked through.

Serve the fish with chips, a little tartare & wedges of lemon.

Enjoy, maybe even with your fingers!
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