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

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dinner at MeNoPa Restaurant in Stanmore Bay

We had a delightful evening at MeNoPa restaurant in Stanmore Bay this evening. In this cosy restaurant we ordered all of the small plates on the menu. This was plenty for four of us, in fact we were so amply fed that we didn't order dessert.

Chef Lun is known for his love of matching food and wine so we left the choice of red wine up to him. His choice of a full bodied Spanish Tempranillo definitely hit the spot!

An innovative touch was the miso honey butter on the crispy flatbread we had before tucking into our meal,

The food is fusion, definitely more European than Asian as although Chef Lun was born in Malaysia and brought up in Singapore and Taiwan, he spent a considerable time in France honing his professional skills. The food is not overly spicy.

I could have eaten the whole plate of his potatoes roasted in duck fat by myself! 

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. 

Pesto Pasta with Halloumi Cheese and Coriander

So easy! Dinner tonight: a few tablespoons of pesto stirred through boiled noodles. Topped with grilled halloumi cheese and plenty of coriander.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Truffled Mushrooms

The weather forecast was for heavy rain and severe gales this afternoon but it hadn't happened yet!  
There was still time to do a little photo shoot of this truffled mushroom ragu created by Le Chef Grant Kitchen at the Lakehouse Arts Centre before the weather took a nasty turn. The ingredients were mushrooms,leek, cream , thyme, parmesan and a slither of real truffle.

Served in a large white bowl with triangles of wholemeal bread to mop up the juices it was a deeply flavoured autumnal dish, elegant comfort food.Thanks Grant for letting me demolish it.

I took this photograph out on the verandah in natural light. Didn't have much luck with the inside shots where the artificial light left a harsh and yellow tinge,

Monday, 10 April 2017

Morning Muesli at the Lakehouse

Still warm enough to sit outside on the verandah with a bowl of Le Chef Grant Kitchen's home
 made Muesli, followed by a wander around the Lakehouse Arts Centre Garden, a healthy start to the day!

One of the pleasures of shooting this dish was watching it being prepared. Each part of the dish ( the yoghurt, the muesli and a scoopful of diced fruit) was artfully layered and a final garnish of small herby green leaves scattered over the surface.

The frustrating aspect was that that magic time first thing in the morning when the light shimmers over food was already gone.