Monday, 23 July 2012

Moroccan Feast

I have used this recipe for a few years and have found it's great for entertaining. You serve up dishes that are a little bit different and the sweet and spicy cooking aromas are more than pleasant when guests arrive!

Serves 4
Chicken prune tagine

4 large chicken thighs, skinned and halved
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground tumeric
200g pitted prunes
2 large onions
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
360mls chicken stock & salt

Heat the oil in a large flaeproof casserole or saucepan until hot. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Add the allspice, remaining spices, prunes, onions, ginger and garlic to the chicken. Cook, stirring, over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and the mixture is aromatic.
Add the stock, season with salt and mix well. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring from time to time. Just before serving, uncover, and boil rapidly to slightly thicken the sauce

Serve with hot fruity couscous!

1 cup dry couscous
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
Generous dose of curry powder
Freshly ground pepper
Sea or rock salt to taste
1/4 cup almonds, pinenuts or walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
Handful turkish apricots, chopped
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 cups boiling water

In a shallow dish, combine the couscous spices, fruit and nuts. Dab on the butter or olive oil, then add the boiling water. Cover with foil and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork, add a little olive oil if the couscous is dry, and serve hot with the chicken tagine.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Caramelised onions

These are the best with cheese and crackers! I prefer with a mature cheddar but the sweet onions also go well with feta, soft cheese and blue. Caramelised onions are also great in burgers, on pizzas, in a steak sauce and in a gravy for sausages and mash.

Both brown and red onions can work, I used a mixture of both this time. This is a recipe from Annabel Langbein's "The Free Range Cook", they will keep for about a week in the fridge.

6 onions
1.5 cups water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper

Peel onions and cut into thin wedges. Place all ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently stirring now an then, for about 40-45 minutes until the liquid has all but evaporated and the onions are really soft.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sweet & sour Carrot salad

I sourced this recipe easily 5 years ago from a Dish magazine and it's become a regular salad for bbqs and accompanying many other different dishes at my place. It's dressing is both sweet and sour, delicious! I used this to compliment steak and spuds a few nights ago.

Most of the cooking is being done by my mother or husband at the moment and boy am I being spoilt! So used to doing all the cooking myself, it's nice to try other's food and both Mum and Ray are fantastic cooks. It really is hard to get your hands free in the first few weeks as a new mum, I'm struggling to get the wee one to sleep in her bed during the day whereas she seems to go down fine at night so at least I'm getting some sleep. However... I'm not achieving anything but nursing and snuggles with my daughter in the day time so it's been amazing having support. Mum goes back to Dunedin on Sunday so next week will be interesting!?

Serves 6

1 kg carrots
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp currants
3 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley or mint

Preheat oven to 180. Slice carrots into long strips using a sharp knife. Place on a large baking tray, tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until tender and lightly coloured, turning once during cooking. Transfer to a shallow dish

In a saucepan over a medium heat, add the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, garlic, currants and pinenuts. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Tip the dressing over the carrots and add the herbs. Toss to combine and taste for seasoning. Allow carrots to sit for a few hours before serving, tossing in the dressing a couple of times

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


This is such a good go-to pasta dish. It uses ingredients that I tend to have on hand so it usually gets thrown together as a last minute meal and saves us getting takeaways! I just love the saltiness of it with loads of anchovies, capers and olives

Serves 4
olive oil
400g spaghetti
grated parmesan
150g pitted kalamata olives
80g capers
12 anchovies
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp oregano (or use a tbsp chopped fresh)
1 tsp thyme (or use a tbsp chopped fresh)
1 onion
vege - use 400g of whatever you have on hand including courgette, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms (I used leeks and mushrooms this time)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Boil water and cook pasta according to packet instructions. In a frying pan, saute onion in 2 tbsp olive oil for 2 mins, then add anchovies, leeks and mushrooms frying for another 2 mins then cover with red wine and simmer for a few minutes before adding olives, capers, oregano, thyme, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes & seasoning 
Drain pasta and add to sauce. Toss and then serve in bowls topped with grated parmesan cheese

Ray's banoffie pie

This has been going down very well after dinner, and maybe for breakfast...once!? Cheers Ray x

Biscuit base..
Break up malt biscuits and ginger nuts to a fine crumb, mix together or use one or the other. Traditional method uses digestive biscuits.
Melt 200grams butter with one packet biscuits.
Mix well with hands and press a cm layer into to a pie dish

Melt 100grams butter with can of condensed milk and 4 tablespoons of golden syrup or brown sugar. Stir over low heat until caramel looking. I also added a couple of rows of caramello chocolate which happened to be in the fridge... (optional)
Pour hot caramel mix over biscuit base, should be just under a cm thick depending on how sweet you like
Chop 2-3 banana length ways to form long 5mm thick slices and place on top of caramel once cooled a little
Place in fridge to cool and set.
Whip cream till stiff peaks form add vanilla and icing sugar to desired sweetness. Cover bananas with cream 2-3 cm thick then grate chocolate on top. Set for a 3-4 hours in fridge

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Instant bean hummus

I like to keep dips like this on hand. Its really useful to have your own homemade hummus for a sandwich or toast spread, an accompaniment to turkish & middle eastern dishes, a dip for pita crisps or fresh vege sticks or anything you want really!

Place a 400g can of drained and rinsed white beans (I'm using cannellini) into a bowl and add 1/4 cup of tahini paste, a crushed garlic clove, 1 tbsp lemon juice, sea salt and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth with a wand.

You can also use the obvious chickpeas for an original hummus! Served drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika with toasted pita crisps

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Weekend brunch

I don't think I've ever actually made this brunch at home before. Delicious though! Leftover bolognaise (from Friday night's dinner) on vogels toast with a poached egg and a kransky.

This week has been pitiful in the kitchen for me. I just haven't been feeling hungry for a start so I've hardly got any groceries and takeaways have been purchased a couple of times!! Burger Wisconsin's petite chicken, bacon and avo burgers went down very well on Thursday night. I did make a venison cottage-type pie one night but wasn't organised enough to photograph it or even take note of the exact ingredients. Slack on the food and blog front but I will be back...

For breakfast I've had the new Grey Lynn's Farro Fresh almond croissant and a soy mocha twice! The croissants are so nice and crunchy on the outside with that yummy sweet almond paste in the centre and they are huge. I think they call them 'almond croissant loaf' but at just $3.99 I eat the whole thing myself.

Today we have done a proper large supermarket shop so we're sorted with lots of store cupboard basics so we only need to rush out and grab fresh ingredients over the next 3 weeks or so. Now it's just a waiting game for our baby daughter to arrive. One week till due date...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Curried Pear & Parsnip Soup w Cheese rolls

This soup would have to be an all time favourite of mine. It's sweet and creamy and delicious. Every time I serve it for friends they just love it. Do try this one...I bet it will become a regular for you too!!

Both these recipes use Carnation evaporated milk which I use to substitute cream in savoury dishes all the time, especially pasta sauces. I really can't notice the difference myself, you still get that wonderfully creamy taste but without all the fat. The light version is 97% fat free.

I'm cooking this soup for a late autumn lunch and serving with cheese rolls which I facetiously call Invercargill Sushi. They are traditional fare in lower South Island cafes. I was surprised when I made them for a work morning tea here in Auckland and most of the North Islanders had never heard of them. Apparently they first appeared in cookery books of the south in the 1930's and became popular when sliced bread was introduced in the 50's. I remember we would use them as a fundraiser when I was at school in Dunedin like you would a sausage sizzle. I'm unsure of the original recipe but here's how I do them...

In my experience 'Invercargill Sushi' is best received by the boys as a snack while watching rugby with cold beer!!!

Curried Pear and Parsnip Soup
Serves 6

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced
6 cups chicken stock
500g parsnips peeled and chopped
1 bayleaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 can evaporated milk

In a large saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat. Stir in onion, celery and pear. Cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, parsnips, bayleaf, salt, curry powder, pepper and nutmeg. Cook for about twenty minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Discard the bayleaf.

Puree soup until smooth. With the blender running, pour in the evaporated milk through the feed tube and keep blending until combined.

Cheese rolls

1 loaf sandwich sliced wheatmeal bread
2-3 cups grated tasty cheese
1 packet onion soup mix
1/2 can evaporated milk
a few grinds cracked black pepper

Firstly remove the bottom crust off each piece of bread, making it easier to roll. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and then spoon a small amount onto the crustless edge of the bread and roll. Squash it down a bit to flatten and repeat. I keep these in a tin for up to five days and just grill, bake or pop them in a flat toasted sandwich maker as I need them.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Vietnamese lamb chops with kumara ginger mash

You can't beat home kill! My husband went to visit his brother in the Wairarapa at the weekend to meet our nephew (Blake, of 6 months) and to go duck shooting. Zero ducks and 5 turkeys later, at least he brought home some meat. We were lucky enough to be gifted a 'meat pack' from Ngatapa Farm, which included these delicious lamb chops. And I'm pleased to say that the freezer is's like many things in's all about who you know!

I chose to marinade the chops with vietnamese flavours and serve it with a kumara mash & stir fried peas w onion and chilli.

The kumara ginger mash is based on a recipe we used often while catering for The Hobbit 'on set' film crew. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of months work experience as part of the Flying Trestles catering crew at the end of 2011. It was a huge opportunity for me, meeting some incredible people and learning lots about food & catering, how big budget films operate, very early morning starts (often before 4am) and 12+ hour days, 6 days per week!!! Quite a challenge in my first trimester of pregnancy and also after working 12 years in banking, 35 hours a week at my desk in front of a PC to 70 hours a week on my feet!!!

Serves 2

Vietnamese marinade
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Rub all over the lamb chops, wrap and refridgerate for no less than 2 hours.

Lamb chops
Cook the lamb chops to your liking. I would have grilled them in the oven for 10 minutes on each side but because I'd cleaned the oven that day, I fried them on a skillet for about 7 minutes each side. I don't mind them a bit charred myself but grilling is probably better!

Kumara ginger mash
3 red kumara, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp crystalised ginger, finely chopped & heated so forms a paste
1 tbsp chicken stock powder
75g butter
1/4 cup of milk

Boil the kumara in salted water until soft, drain the water. Add rest of the ingredients and mash then blend with the milk for a finer consistency. Season with salt & pepper to taste

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Spicy pumpkin soup

I'm really enjoying soup at the moment. If you have a well stocked vege bin each week there are countless possibilities for yummy soups to be part of the weekly diet. Great for a simple dinner or lunch, or even afternoon tea.

This soup is based on Annabel Langbein's recipe in Savour the Pacific, possibly my favourite of all her books. There is a particularly handy section in the back of this book...'useful side dishes/pacific flavours' which has great ideas for dipping sauces, marinades, salsas, jams + brilliant side dishes for for asian/pacific cooking. I consult this book often!

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kg pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded, pith removed and finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind or 1 tbsp minced lemongrass
1 tbsp fish sauce
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of fresh parsley or coriander, chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan and gently cook onion, sugar and garlic for 8-10 minutes
Add all other ingredients, except for the herbs, and simmer for about 20 mins or until the pumpkin is tender
Blend ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste and mix through herbs

A favourite marinade for spare ribs or chicken drums/nibbles

This is a Chrystall family doesn't even have a name, but this marinade featured all the time for us as children on chicken drums. I've been purchasing spare ribs a lot lately from the Westmere butcher, marinating them and baking them whilst basting the meat with the marinade throughout cooking for extra sticky & intense flavoured ribs. These are a winner with kids and adults alike - a brilliant bbq idea for everyone to enjoy. Use on ribs, chicken drums and nibbles

Have a play around with measures of these ingredients to your own taste...

For 10 pork spare ribs, I used
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsps honey
This gives you plenty of marinade leftover for basting

In a flat dish, place marinade ingredients and mix together with a fork or spoon. Use your hands to massage the ribs with the marinade. Cover dish with gladwrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180-190 degrees. Place ribs on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for up to 50 mins, basting every 10 minutes. (To baste, simply remove baking tray from the oven and spoon leftover marinade over the ribs before returning to oven)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tamarillos - simple dessert idea

We are always looking for new and different toppings for icecream in my husband makes a great homemade chocolate sauce and I've been making my own maple walnut with french vanilla. It's super exciting that our tamarillos are now ripe from the tree. I found this recipe on the Tamarillo NZ website.

Macerated tamarillos

Serve as a dessert with icecream, yoghurt or custard, with a crumble topping or with your cereal for breakfast!

10-12 tamarillos, peeled and cut into quarters
1 cup brown sugar

Place the tamarillos and sugar in a bowl then leave overnight at room temperature allowing the tamarillo juice to blend with the sugar.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Savoury scones - Saturday morning breakfast

I'm an early waker these days and have more energy in the morning than any other time of day. Its gives me plenty of time to bake for breakfast in the weekends. I just love a savoury or sweet muffin or scone with a cuppa tea or coffee, especially when it's still warm from the oven!

I used a recipe from Ripe Recipes by Angela Redfern. She owns my favourite local cafe which is only a few hundred metres up the road. Not only do they do great coffee but their food is outstanding and right up my alley, style wise. As stated in her book, "Ripe's philosophy is simple, fresh, quality, seasonal, healthy food that's good value for money. It's all about getting back to basics, creating simple, tasty fare and thinking about where your food comes from".

I often purchase these scones but it's nice to be able to make them at home and they taste just the same, delicious!!!

Savoury cheese scones

Serves 6
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
50g unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup fresh curly parsley, finely chopped (I used italian parsley from the garden)
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
100g diced cooked bacon (optional)
1/2 cup milk, approx

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease an oven tray or line with baking paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Dice up the cold butter and rub it into the dry mixture using your fingertips until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add parsley, tomato, grated cheese and cooked bacon, combining well.
Add enough milk to lightly combine, sitrring lightly. Be careful not to overmix as this will toughen the scones. On a lightly floured surface, empty the mixture from the bowl and pat it together. Cut the dough into six pieces and place them on the baking tray. Brush with milk to glaze. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

...Mine needed much longer than the recipe stated, more like 20-25 mins...there's possibly something wrong with my oven! I also forgot to put the bacon in the mix so added it as a topping instead. I added 1/4 small onion finely chopped too and you could use ham in place of bacon and play around with any other savoury ingredients you have on hand.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Spiced Apple Cake

This recipe has been a favourite in our house since Dougie Read, a close family friend, shared it with Mum years ago. Its a delicious morning or afternoon tea that seems much healthier than other cakes as it has a crunchy oaty topping instead of icing. I also often serve it as a dessert, heated up with a scoop of icecream or dollop of cream. It would last in a tin for a week although it's never lasted that long with us. I'm finding it useful to have on hand at the moment as friends are popping in with gifts and to see 'the bump' as this pregnancy finally draws to a close!!

Dougie also produces her own olive oil from the trees on their Arrowtown property, and shares bottles with family and friends. Each time you visit the Reads, they have a new batch of something yummy, often a sauce or chutney. I love the spicy plum and apricot sauces Dougie makes.

We had a fantastic tomato harvest in our garden this summer...the cherries were the most successful, just amazingly sweet and a couple of larger varieties were nice too. I don't even know the names of the ones that came through, it's all a bit of trial and error. I made many sauces, chutneys and tomato based dishes for weeks and weeks on end and it was fun coming up with different ideas for tomatoes, I was loving the spicy indian sauces inparticular!

We are coming to the end of our courgette crop now and I need to think about some winter vege. I'm not much of a gardener but intend to improve and be more consistent - I get inspired by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Annabel Langbein and their passion for and pride in garden to plate entertaining.

I look forward to our next trip to Central Otago to visit the Reads and see what treats they have on offer, no pressure! ;) Thanks to Dougie for this cake recipe:

125gms butter
2 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt

25gms butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Melt butter and add grated apple with skins. Add sugar and egg and beat with a wooden spoon till mixed. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients just till damp. Turn mixture into 2 loaf tins or 1 cake tin.
For the topping: Melt butter, add rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon. Spread evenly over then bake at 180 degrees C for 30-40 mins

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday night - Minestrone

I'm a bit surprised that in the past few weeks of my pregnancy the thought of meat, particularly a chunky steak, has made me feel a bit squirmish. Surprised, because throughout my life and even this pregnancy I've enjoyed most foods at any time but with only 5 weeks to go, I shall get over it! My husband pulled some sirloin from the freezer before heading out for a round of golf, expecting that to be his dinner. Anyway, will attempt a meaty dish tomorrow night, this is what he got....

Something hearty...

My mother used to make a version of this soup when we were children. The vegetable bins in my fridge were full of vege that needed using up; celery, carrots, courgettes, butternut...this is a really easy, nourishing and hearty meal, that's cheap to make.

Serves 4

a couple of tbsps olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 courgettes in chunky slices
1/2 a small butternut, de-skined, de-seeded and diced. (You could use potato or kumara instead)
2 fresh tomatoes, core removed and diced
1 can tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans (alternatively to fill out this soup, you could use 200-300gms pasta shapes eg. macaroni or orzo)
2 cups chicken stock (I didn't have any vege stock so technically this isn't a vegetarian recipe!)
2 tbsps fresh oregano, chopped (use whatever you have on hand eg. thyme, basil, parsley)
1 tsp dried tarragon (try other dried herbs you may have - although fresh is best in my opinion)
seasoning to taste

To serve: a dollop of sour cream, pesto or some grated cheddar and crusty bread

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and sweat the onion, celery and carrot for a few minutes until the onion is translucent but not brown. Add garlic, butternut, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, herbs, stock and seasoning, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Add courgettes and simmer for a further 5 mins before adding the red kidney beans for another 5 minutes until heated through