Monday 1 January 2024

Healthy wrap with Hohepa Farm quark and roasted vegetables.

Wash and chop 1 aubergine, 2 courgettes, and 1 red pepper into bite-sized pieces. Place on a large oven dish lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake in a moderate oven for about 25 minutes. The aubergine should be soft and well done. Add 6 cherry tomatoes and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Lightly squash the cherry tomatoes. MIx all the vegetables together.Season to taste. Heat a Farro Fresh wrap in an ungreased fry pan. When the wrap is lightly browned on the bottom, turn it over and do the other side. Spread generously with Hopepa Farm quark. Put roasted veg on top. Drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar, and garnish with mini Greek basil leaves.

Healthy Mediterranean Salad

The perfect salad for a light summer lunch. On a bed of baby rocket scatter pieces of Hohepa Farm Mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, small chunks of cucumber and black olives. Drizzle with white balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil and garnish with baby basil leaves.

Sunday 31 December 2023

A beautiful Healthy Salad

On a bed of rocket scatter some sliced ripe apricots, chunks of avocado, and pieces of Hohepa Farm Mozzarella cheese. Dribble over a little extra virgin olive oil and Te Mata Figs caramelised Fig Balsamic Dressing.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Simon Gault celebrates Summer in his new cookbook

Summer with Simon GaultFor Simon Gault’s new cookbook, he created food to be enjoyed in the company of friends and family at the beach, bach and barbecue.
A lot has happened in his life since he wrote his last cookbook six years ago. He has had to deal with a medical condition, has a beautiful young daughter called Hazel, and opened Giraffe, his new restaurant. These life changes have influenced his cooking so there are some healthier and child-friendly recipes this time around as well as those that would take a little more effort.
Christmas is not far off, so I was inspired to plan a Christmas dinner from his cookbook.
A couple of predinner nibbles
For those who have mates like Simon, who dive and often share their spoils, his crayfish and rice paper rolls would be amazing. Along with the crayfish they are stuffed with a fresh wasabi slaw and served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and lemon juice.
But for most of us that won’t be an option so instead I tried out his Moorish Parmesan Puffs. These light and crusty little mouthfuls are best eaten straight out of the oven although they can be prepared earlier in the day and then reheated. Sprinkling them with sesame seeds before putting them in the oven is optional. We have tried them both ways and liked the extra crunch they provided.
The second nibble, smashed avocado on crackers with dried figs could not be easier. Smash two avocadoes with spring onion, lime juice, orange zest and jalapeno Tabasco sauce. Spread on your favourite crackers or toasted rye bread. In the original recipe, they are topped with figs, but these won’t be in season until February. Bright red cherry tomatoes, which are suggested as an option would, in any case, look more Christmassy. Garnish with fresh dill.
A glass of bubbly or one of Simon’s mocktails or cocktails would go down very well with these nibbles.
Tamarind Ginger Christmas Ham
Last year Simon decided to ignore tradition and made use of his much-loved pizza oven to produce his best examples of Neapolitan pizza. The reaction from some who came was that they had been subjected to some bizarre form of Christmas abuse so this year it’s back to more traditional fare and he will be cooking Tamarind and Ginger Ham.
Simon says, “The tamarind and candied ginger ham with the clover honey is sensational and should satisfy even the most critical, who should, by years’ end, have recovered from the pizza affront.”
Salad: Watermelon, Fennel and Blueberry.
Rather than roast vegetables we prefer crisp and colourful salads which I think better suit our summery New Zealand weather.
We tried his Watermelon, Fennel and Blueberry salad. Simon suggests that his recipes are not rules but guidelines from which dishes are grown so I played around with it.
It has elderflower honey in the dressing but that was not in my pantry. Clover honey, although lacking its floral perfume, was fine. I used a honeydew melon rather than a watermelon and added plenty of slightly peppery rocket from our garden just before serving which cut through the sweetness. I’d be very happy to put this on our Christmas dinner table.
Dessert: Christmas Berry Pudding
This luscious decadent dessert was specially designed by Simon for Christmas. The rum sauce which is folded through will hopefully satisfy those who feel nostalgic about a traditional Christmas pudding. It is so rich small helpings are called for and I would serve a fruit platter alongside.
That’s Christmas sorted. And for the rest of the summer, there are many more fuss-free recipes to choose from.
The lovely photographs of both the food and his daughter Hazel make it a very attractive book and an appealing Christmas gift.
I don’t think this book will be gathering dust on my bookshelf!
Summer with Simon Gault was written by Simon Gault. Publisher: Penguin Random House. RRP $50.

Christmas Berry Pudding picChristmas Berry Pudding
Serves: 6

9 punnets mixed fresh berries (loganberries, boysenberries, raspberries)
½ cup limoncello
Simon’s Rum (or Brandy) Sauce (see below)
400g mascarpone
200g crème fraiche
1 packet savoiardi biscuits
extra berries, to garnish
This is a stunner — it’s a perfect summertime Christmas Day pudding. It features my famous Rum Sauce; if you’re not so keen on rum, swap it out for brandy.
Place 2 cups of the berries in a blender and purée. Pour the purée into a large flat dish and add the limoncello to thin the purée. Set aside.
In a bowl, fold together the Rum (or Brandy) Sauce, mascarpone and crème fraîche until combined.
Take a large, high-sided glass serving bowl and spread a layer of the rum sauce mix across the base. Then add a layer of fresh berries, then another layer of the rum sauce mix, then more berries.
Dip a savoiardi biscuit into the berry purée and place on top of the berries. Repeat until the berries are covered. Finish with another layer of the remaining rum sauce mix. Garnish the top with extra fresh berries.
Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Simon’s Rum (or Brandy) Sauce
1 cup cream
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp dark rum or brandy
bowl of ice
½ cup cream, whipped to soft peaks
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream until small bubbles appear.
In a separate glass bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Pour the cream over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return this to the saucepan and cook over a very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce coats the back of the spoon (or it reaches 82°C). Add the rum or brandy.
Cool the pan in a bowl of ice and once chilled fold in the whipped cream.

Recipe extracted from Summer with Simon Gault, published by Penguin Random House NZ, RRP $50.00.
Text © Simon Gault, 2019. Photography © Vanessa Lewis, 2019

My review of Summer by Simon Gault was first published on the GrownUps website

Sunday 13 January 2019

Yelllow Zucchini Salad

A tired old zucchini from the supermarket just wouldn't do for this salad.
But when this  yellow zucchini , freshly picked and some basil  were kindly dropped off by my friend next door it set my creative juices flowing.

Courgettes can be somewhat bland in flavour so I added a little finely grated lemon rind and some crunchy  roasted pinenuts, tossed in some basil and and dressed it with a little virgin olive oil and lemon juice. I didn't think it needed salt but you could add some to your taste just before serving. It served one, but could easily be multiplied.


1 yellow zucchini very finely sliced ( paper thin if you can)
6 basil leaves shredded
A couple of tablespoons of pinenuts ( dry roasted in a frying pan)
!/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

Toss together lightly and dress with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

So healthy! Enjoy!


Sunday 25 November 2018

Chocolate Salami

Chocolate Salami
The festive season is upon us. Time to get busy and fill the tins!
This delicious after-dinner delight is a great way to make friends and keep them! You will need to start making this the day before you plan to serve it.



100g butter
300g chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
300g dark chocolate buttons
250g hazelnuts, roughly crushed
250g arrowroot biscuits, crushed
4 eggs
300g sugar


Melt the butter, chocolate hazelnut spread and chocolate buttons in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl is not touching the water), stirring to combine. When fully melted, remove from the heat to cool briefly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the hazelnuts and biscuits together.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and creamy.
Add the melted chocolate mixture to the hazelnuts and biscuits.
Then add the egg and sugar mixture and combine well.
Tip the mixture out onto clingfilm and roll out to form a sausage shape. Secure the ends of the clingfilm to wrap, and place in the fridge overnight to firm up and set.
Once cold, slice and serve as desired.
This will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.

This great recipe comes from Ombra, featured in The Cuba Street Project, a cookbook filled with signature dishes served by the cafes, ethnic eateries and restaurants along Wellington’s iconic Cuba Street.
Ombra, situated at 199 Cuba Street, has a colourful history. Its previous tenants were Peaches & Cream, the adult-store-cum-porn-shop. But it was tastefully made over into an eatery modelled on Venetian bacari by its owners, Russel and Elwyn Scott. They had fallen in love with these kinds of relaxed small bars where the locals meet for a spritz and bar snacks that would put New Zealand’s bowl of peanuts to shame.
The recipes in The Cuba Street Project, from casual to fine dining, reflect the international taste buds of Wellingtonians. They include Floriditas popular Cheddar and Rocket Scones, Satay Palace’s Malay Curry Laksa, El Matador’s empanadas, Midnight Espresso’s Gluten-Free Caramel Slice and Scopa’s Spaghetti and Meatballs.
And as Wellington is arguably the coffee capital of the world it is good to see that Stories Espresso Bar (a social enterprise) have shared their method for making the perfect plunger coffee.
Also included are extensive interviews with many of the characters: cooks, chefs, high end fashion designers and op shop owners who have businesses there and who give Cuba Street its unique charm. It will undoubtedly whet your appetite for exploring all that Cuba Street has to offer as it has mine!

The Cuba St Project is by Beth Brash and Alice Lloyd. Imprint Random House. RRP $55
This review was written for GrownUps

The Cuba Street Project


Monday 1 May 2017

Nadia Lim's Healthy Family Meals

dinnertime goodness

Time goes so quickly, two are teenagers now and one is a preteen. The days when only spaghetti Bolognese, tuna pasta and sausages hit the spot are gone. Their culinary horizons have broadened to include foods from Asia and South America.
They love to cook so I have chosen one recipe for each of them to try from My Food Bag & Nadia Lim’s Dinnertime Goodness which is full of family friendly healthy recipes.
I’m confident these recipes will work. They have been tested in both the My Food Bag kitchen but also by the home cooks who have My Food Bag delivered to their doorsteps. The recipes in Dinnertime Goodness were their favourites.
Teriyaki Tofu Sushi Bowls:
This dish of pickled ginger, seaweed sheets and teriyaki tofu has all the flavours of sushi without the fuss and ‘Food in a bowl’ is very trendy right now. It will be the perfect recipe for Granddaughter number One who is vegetarian. She’s a very confident cook who loves to plate up her food in a decorative way and dreams of travelling to Japan.
Beef and Pork Pie with Crispy Cheese Potato Top
Granddaughter number Two is passionate about pies, especially meaty ones, so for her I have chosen this simple version of good old Shepherd’s Pie. The recipe follows.
She has my artistic temperament and dislikes slavishly following instructions which could lead to a culinary disaster, especially as she doesn’t like me peeking over her shoulder as she cooks to give helpful advice.
Here’s hoping she’ll be able to bring it off and that the end result will be a tasty meal on our table!
Mexican Fish Soft Tacos with Kumara Wedges
This is the one for Granddaughter number three, our preteen. She is very methodical in the kitchen and will happily follow a recipe step by step. We can make it together as she still enjoys cooking with me. It sounds delicious!
The soft tacos in this dish are shop bought which saves time.The Mexican seasoning recipe is at the back of the book. It will be a good little challenge for her to make this from scratch.
And for dessert? There are no dessert recipes in this book. So we’ll have ice creams in a cone, a healthy bowl of fruit or my signature dark chocolate mousse which is a perennial favourite!

This hearty pie, topped with sliced potatoes and melted cheese, is sure to be popular with the kids.
Break up the mince with a wooden spoon as it cooks — this prevents it clumping together and speeds up the cooking time.
Beef and pork pie
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
300g pork mince
300g beef mince
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped
thyme leaves
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
2 carrots, grated
1 x 400g can tomatoes
Crispy cheese potato top
800g potatoes, peeled and sliced into very thin (2–3mm) rounds
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped
thyme leaves
1½ cups grated cheese (e.g. tasty, Edam, Colby)
1 head broccoli
2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
Preheat oven to 220°C. Set aside a medium-sized casserole dish (measuring about 20cm x 30cm).
1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large fry-pan on medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and mince for about 5 minutes or until browned, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add herbs, paprika and carrot and cook for a further 1 minute.
2. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 4 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. While mince mixture simmers, prepare topping. In a medium-sized bowl, toss sliced potato, melted butter and herbs together until well combined. Season with salt.
4. Transfer mince mixture to casserole dish. Arrange potato slices on top, overlapping, in rows, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Turn oven grill to high and grill pie for about 2 minutes, or until cheese is golden.
5. Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to the boil. When pie has 10 minutes cook time remaining, cut broccoli into small florets. Lightly boil or steam broccoli and peas until bright green and just tender. Drain, then season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide beef and pork pie with crispy cheese potato top among plates and serve veggies on the side.
Energy 2804kj / 671kcal
Protein 42.8g
Carbohydrate 34.4g
Fat 39.0g
Prep Time: 20 minutes     Cook Time: 45 minutes     Ready In: 65 minutes     Serves: 5
Recipe extracted from Dinnertime Goodness by My Food Bag & Nadia Lim, published by Penguin NZ, RRP: $45.00. Photography by Tam West.
 Prep Time: 20 minutes     Cook Time: 45 minutes     Ready In: 65 minutes     Serves: 5
Recipe extracted from Dinnertime Goodness by My Food Bag & Nadia Lim, published by Penguin NZ, RRP: $45.00. Photography by Tam West.

This review was written for the GrownUps website

dinnertime goodness

Sunday 30 April 2017

Eating with your Eyes,

Just a small preview of a couple of dishes which will be on the new Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe menu soon, created by Le Chef Grant Kitchen.

When I photograph plates of food like this I enjoy seeing the way the food is composed, so artlessly for the Vietnamese salad  and much more formally for the beef cheek with cauliflower puree. Focusing on the textures, the shapes and the colours is  like eating with your eyes.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Beef Cheek in beef jus, served with cauliflower puree, rocket and a whole cherry tomato

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Aloo Gobi

This Aloo Gobi was based on a recipe out of Chop Chop by Brett McGregor (winner of the original NZ Masterchef) . Aloo Gobi is one of his favourite dishes. which became a staple during his time travelling around India. It makes a good vegetarian/vegan dish served with naan ,
The original recipe did not have peas. I added them straight from frozen and let then simmer in the liquid for a few minutes at the end.

The quality of the Garam Masala makes a big difference to this recipe. Newly home made or recently bought from an Indian food market will lift the flavour. While Garam Masala which has been lingering for a few months ( or even years) in the pantry could ruin it.The recipe made a substantial quantity which kept well in the fridge for the whole week.

I had to do some post processing as the colours were not true to life. Some playing around with the colour balance and the brightness and contrast sliders made a big difference.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Lunch at the Lakehouse

A visual symphony and just what I needed. A light lunch salad composed by Lakehouse resident chef Grant Kitchen.