Monday, 31 December 2012

So What Did I Actually Get Around to in 2012?

My granddaughter Becky chopping tomatoes for her cooking challenge

No Foodie New Year's Resolutions for me this year, instead an" I Did it List". It feels so much more postive to reflect on what has been done then to set myself up for possible failure with grandiose and unachievable goals.

I thought it would be a very short list, but as I began to write it grew and grew and I realised that a lot of little things had added up to a great foodie year. Hopefully 2013 will be as good, or even better.
  • I had a lot of fun developing and sharing new recipes.Which mean that my family didn't have to put up with" the same old same old" food every day but were persuaded to try new dishes and ingredients.
  • My blog doubles as the Family Recipe Book.I haven't put up all my stash of recipes yet, but they are on the way. Now when anyone asks me for a favourite recipe I can just point them to "Shoot and Eat" and it's theirs. And if any of my family and friends send me a great recipe I can add it in and also link it to my Facebook pages.
  • I set my granddaughter a foodie challenge and when she has learnt how to cook 20 new dishes I've promised to take her out shopping and buy her a gift. She's well on the way to finishing it, and now she can make smoothies, cook scrambled eggs, bake a chocolate cake,  toss a salad and make Spaghetti Bolognaise. She clamours to cook the next dish whenever she comes over and it's given me a real buzz to have been able to build her cooking confidence.
  • When I check my statistics I've been amazed to see how far flung my readers are: from Afghanistan, to South Korea, Argentina and China. It's really humbling to think that people from so far awayhave somehow stumbled onto my blog and taken the time to read what is happening in my kitchen
  • Thanks to Alison Mawer who started the New Zealand Food Blogger's Association which is a great point of contact for New Zealand Food Bloggers for pointing me in the direction of Dianne Jacob's book " Will Write for Food," It has given me lots of food for thought. 
  • I added my blog to the list at . and it's also a way to see at a glance what new recipes other New Zealand Food Bloggers are creating day by day.
  • While enjoying browsing in   Couscous and Consciousness I discovered The I Heart Madjur Jaffrey Cooking Club at .I  own several of her recipe books which I started to cook from again and am enjoying being part of a group of Indian Food Lovers and reading their contributions as well.
  • And I've continued to indulge a passion for adding to my cookbook collection. There's been some amazing finds in local opportunity shops and garage sales. My bookshelves have run over and there are piles of books on the floor. I'm getting a reputation as a hoarder, and do I care? Not at all. Each one is a treasure in its own way.
  •  I joined IWW ( International Writer's Workshop) to improve my writing skills and it has so broadend my horizons and challenged me to write in a variety of genres.
  • Food Photography is my real passion and I have so much yet to learn. Writing a food blog is a great excuse for creating picture making opportunities. I like to shoot using natural light. It continues to surprise me just how much the light differs at different times of the day, even in the same place inside our house or out in the garden.
  • Writing a food blog has been a great excuse for starting  conversations  about food with all sorts of people who cook, grow or produce food locally. I've learnt a lot from them and they have made my life more interesting.
  • Was food blogging worth the trouble? I think so. So far so good!

A Formal Dinner to Welcome the New Year

On New Year's Eve we always have a formal 3 course sit down dinner.Candles will be lit,  there'll be flowers on the table , and we'll be suitably dressed. The silver might even get a polish and we'll share it with a friend or two.

The thought of a formal dinner like this can be really daunting to some but what I cooked this year wasn't difficult and it didn't take all day but it was a really special so I'll post it.

There are no pics ( except one of the chocolate mousse which I took well beforehand) because it would have felt too intrusive to be snapping each course before it went on the table.

To begin with some nibbles. A platter of sliced ciabatta bread and crackers with olives, a variety of cheeses and a jar of Caramelised Onion and Kawakawa from the Summerset Grocer's Gourmet Deli in Ashburton which my daughter brought back from her South Island Travels.

They were served with  a Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Gewurtztraminer 2000 brought by our guest.

The entree

I made an luxurious Annabel Langbein recipe: a little salad of scallops, asparagus, avocado and basil dressed with a citrussy dressing spiked with fish sauce and chilli. It was arranged on individual plates .The recipe can be found at :

The main course: A Fillet of Beef

To accompany this my partner had chosen a  Trinity Hill 2007 Syrah.

My partner is the meat roaster. He marinated a piece of beef fillet in olive oil spiked with chopped rosemary and garlic before searing, roasting and resting it. It was served it with a mustard sauce which was largely composed of a grainy mustard out of a jar (to which a tablespoon of mustard was added and a little honey).This meant there was no need for gravy and the sauce could be made well beforehand and stored in the fridge. Here is the recipe:

To go alongside I made  scalloped potatoes laced with garlic with milk instead of cream and parcooked them in a large oval dish. They were still warm when I put them back in the oven (while the fillet was roasting) sprinkled with some finely grated cheddar cheese which was bubbly and golden by the time we were ready to eat. I'm lucky I have a large oven and a smaller one so could cook both at the same time but at different temperatures.

And I also cooked a recipe which I posted earlier for long sweet red  peppers roasted in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with dried origanum and parsley, These can be served hot or at room temperature and they are good either way. But I reheated them as the fillet was resting. And cooked some green beans on top of the stove. The colour contrast between the green beans and vibrabnt red peppers was arresting.

After the Main Course

We had a little salad to cleanse our palates (as the French do) before the dessert composed of some little mesclun leaves and rocket freshly picked out of the garden and dressed simply with oil and vinegar.

The Dessert: Cocolate Mousse with Marinated Strawberries and Ice cream

Chocolate Mousse.

 I made this the night before.My favourite recipe contains no cream but has an intensely chocolaty flavour.To make it bring 200 grams of dark chocolate together with 125 grams of water gently to the boil in a saucepan and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened. Move the saucepan away from the heat, let it stand for a minute or so and then beat in 3 egg yolks one at a time and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier ( if you have some) Beat 3 eggwhites until they are stiff and them gradually beat in 3 tablespoons of sugar, a little at a time, until they are glossy. Fold the eggwhites into the warm choclate mixture and either spoon into 6 small pots or into one large bowl. Leave to set in the fridge.

Marinated Strawberries

I dehulled the strawberries before dinner . Ten minutes before serving I marinated them in some Telegraph Hill Cabernet Drizzle which gives them a superb slightly sweet tawny flavour.

With some vanilla icecream this made a perfect ending to the dinner.

And to top off the evening some-one had generously brought a box of chocolates to pass around with the coffee which on which we indulged as the noise of exploding fireworks outside signalled that 2013 had started. A Happy beginning to the New Year!



Friday, 28 December 2012

Blueberry Crumble Tray Bake

Are muffins destined to remain perennial favourites or could they become passe in 2013 and be replaced by the Tray Bake?
I'm probably swimming against the foodie fashion tide . But in our time stretched lives a tray bake is faster. Another advantage is that it can be cut into tiny or large slices to suit individual appetites. And it's easier to store a slab of cake in a tin ( or freeze it).

A tray bake is simply a large oblong cake. To bake this one I used a baking dish which is 33cm long, 23 cm wide and 5 cm deep and this worked perfectly for this recipe.


250 gm of butter ( at room temperature)
250 gm of caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or Heilala vanilla paste
250 gm of selfraising flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
300 gram of fresh/ frozen blueberries ( I used frozen)

250 gm of selfraising flour
125 gram of chilled butter
125 gram of caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C
Lightly grease and Line the baking tin with baking paper
Cream the butter and sugar till light and creamy and then beat in the vanilla essence and the eggs one by one.
Fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until combined.
Spread the cake batter evenly into the tin.
Sprinkle the blueberries over.

For the crumble:

Put all the ingredients into the food processor and whizz until fine crumbs are formed.
Put into a bowl and push the mixture together with your hands until a crumbly texture is formed.
Spread evenly over the blueberries

Bake at 180C for 45 minutes.

This is a recipe I'd like to play around with a little more. Blueberries and almonds go well with each other so next time I'll use 50 gm less of flour, and add 50 gm of ground almonds instead. Or/and add some grated lemon/orange rind to add a citrussy touch. And for a less substantial cake the crumble could be left off and the cake simply dredged with icing sugar when cool. But it's definitely a cake with possibilities.
And here's another idea from Mark's and Spencer which I'll just have to explore. They make a crumble with
2 tb of demarara sugar
2 tb of flour
25 gm of butter
35 gm of toasted and skinned hazelnuts
sounds yummy!



Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Edamame and Green Bean Salad with an Asian dressing

Edamame is the Japanese name for soya beans . I found a packet lurking at the back of the freezer as I was cleaning it out today .
When my two vegetarian children are at home we snack on edamama beans but they are in India for the summer.There was no way I could eat a whole packet in one sitting by myself so I created this salad. I thought it was light, healthy and tasty. And even the usually non edamame eater said he would like to try some when he spotted it.His verdict: Good in small quantities ( actually he happily demolished half of it!)


1 400 gm packet of frozen edamama beans.
200 grams of green beans
2 tablespoons of roasted sesame seeds


Shake together:
1 garlic clove  (crushed)
2 tablespoons of soya sauce
2 tablespoons of rice bran oil
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/2 to 1 teaspooon of hot chilly sauce ( I used Hot Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce, start with a few drops then adjust to taste)


Follow the instructions on the packet for heating  the edamama beans  ( I Used the Mama San brand which have been precooked and only need to be boiled for 2 1/2 minutes or microwaved till warm, When they have cooled a little pop the seeds out of their pods.
Bring water to the boil for the green beans and boil these for 3 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water to cool, then drain again
Toss the edamama beans and the green beans in the dressing
Arrange on a platter
Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

Instead of the hot chilli sauce next time I'd like to try using one of my favourite  Japanese spices ( which is available in supermarkets and is called Nanami-Togarashi. It is similar to
Shichimi-Togarashi which includes powdered/flaked red chili pepper, black pepper, sesame seeds, dried mandarin orange peel, green nori seaweed flakes, prickly ash pods, hemp seeds and poppy seeds. I usually have a small bottle of it in my pantry but had run out.



Roasted Strawberries with Yoghurt

It's Boxing Day , we're all feeling chilled out ( including Abby the Labrador Pup). After a very indulgent Christmas day breakfast is going to be simple: roasted strawberries, with yoghurt and home made muesli.
Roasting is a great way to use up the strawberries which were left over from Christmas, and are a little over the hill.The maple syrup adds a tawny sweetness and the roasting intensifies their flavour.


500 gram of strawberies ( dehulled and sliced)
3-4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup


Heat the oven to 350C
Arrange the strawberries in a single layer in a baking dish ( ceramic is good)
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Ladle yoghurt into bowls or glasses.
Spoon some of the strawberries and their juice over the top.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Fresh Red Chutney with Mint, Pepper and Walnuts


This fresh red chutney was inspired by a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking. She likes it so much she would happily serve it with any of her meals , but especially with her spicy kebabs whch can also be found in this book. I can eat it by the spoonful with some crackers as a snack or tucked into a wrap with some spicy falafel patties.

She made it with almonds but also suggested it could be made with walnuts, which I did but I doubled the quantity used in the original recipe.

I used orange instead of lemon juice. And rather than chilli powder I added some drops of Hot Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce. There is usually a bottle of this in my pantry. It keeps fresh for ages, and is a very quick and very versatile way to spice up a dish. It's good to know that this company provides employment for young Samoan men in a small Pacific Island country where jobs are hard to find.

It can be eaten immediately ( and we did) but apparently it can also be kept in the fridge for a few days.It made only a small quantity, for one or two people but the recipe can easily be doubled or trebled

I used my mini chopper for this recipe which I also use to make small quantities of pesto. But the good thing about a fresh chutney is that unlike pesto it is fat free.

I made this  recipe for  the weekly  IHeart Cooking Club Challenge.The theme this week was Red and Green. All the entries can be found at

Fresh Red Chutney with Walnuts

85 gm of red pepper ( About 1/2 of a deseeded large one ) coarsely chopped
20 large or 30 medium sized mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 a teaspoon (or to taste) of Hot Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts

Blend ( in a mini chopper or food processor) all the ingredients except the nuts until the mixture is smooth.
Add the walnuts and blend again.A few bits of the walnuts may be left unpulverised. I think that this slightly chunkier texture is nicer.
After pouring it into a bowl adjust the seasoning to your taste.



Sunday, 23 December 2012

Pancakes for Christmas Breakfast

Tossing pancakes is not my forte. But armed with a silicone spatula and a nonstick frypan it's possible ( if not as much fun) to just flip them over gently.
This is the recipe we'll make on Christmas morning before unwrapping the presents. It comes from The Albany Junior High School community fundraiser cookbook and was contributed by Oskar from Year 7 who said
" I like this recipe because it is easy and fun"
2 cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter
Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk.
Add to flour mixture . stirring only until smooth
Blend in the melted butter.
If the batter seems to thick add a little more milk
Cook on a hot greased griddle, using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake
Cook until bubbly, a little dry around the edges, and lightly browned on the bottom.
Turn and brown the other side.
 Serves 4

Date and Apricot Muffins

You could ice these date and apricot muffins with a swirl of caramel icing. Or you could serve them hot, drizzled with some caramel sauce for dessert  with whipped cream and strawberries. But I rather like them just as they are with a coffee or tea.

I left the  dried fruit  to soak overnight in the chai infused water . By morning they had soaked up almost all the liquid  so they were very moist and there was hardly any liquid left so I didn't need to drain them.

These muffins are not too sweet or too spicy . I really like the combination of dates and apricots.

Makes 9 cup cakes


150 ml of hot water
1 tea bag ( I used chai)
50 gm of apricots ( chopped)
50 gm of stoned dates roughly chopped
150 gm of self rasing flour
1 teaspooon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
50 gm of brown sugar
2 large eggs ( lightly beaten)
1-2 tablespoons of grated orange rind
50 gm of butter( melted)


Add the apricots, dates , and teabag to the water and bring to the boil in a saucepan,
Remove from the heat and soak and cool.
Sift the flour and baking powder  into a bowl.
Drain the dried fruit if it hasn't soaked up all the liquid
Add the fruit and all the other ingredients to the flour and mix together
Divide the mixture into paper cases ( or use a slicone cup cake mold)
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 190 degrees C  or until a skewer inserted into a cupcake centre comes out clean


Christmas Pastry Stars

This is my easiest Christmas nibble but these stars look pretty . I serve them with  a few bought dips.  Simply buy a packet of savoury short pastry sheets, cut out the stars with a starshaped cutters of different sizes and bake them until lightly browned. Then use as dippers. They must be good because they always disappear fast.
Best served straight out of the oven.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Stir-Fried Courgettes with Sesame Seeds

Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery was given to me by Jenny Stevens  as a parting gift after we had stayed with her and her husband David some years ago. It is a lovely reminder  of their warm hospitality. The book accompanied the BBC  Televison series of the same name and Jenny was both the producer for the TV series and the book editor.

And this was the first recipe I cooked from it, a Korean dish called Hobak Namul.It is described as a mild dish which goes well with any Asian meal as well as with roasted and grilled meats. And good even with sausages and hamburgers.

I like to eat it as a light vegetarian lunch, perhaps with some Korean sushi.


1 kg of courgettes
2 teaspoons of salt
4 cloves of garlic
1 spring onion
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons of roasted sesame seeds.

In the original recipe the courgettes are salted and soaked but I skip this part and simply slice them.But they do need to be young and fresh or they will taste bitter.

Then I slice the spring onion ( both the bulb and green leaves) into fine rounds.

I toast the sesame seeds in a dry hot fry pan. This doesn't take long at all and the secret is to watch over them carefully as they can easily burn.

I peel the garlic, chop it finely and  fry it in a hot frying pan ( as I don't have a wok) until it begins to have started to brown lightly at the edges by this stage)

Then I add 1 teaspoon of salt ( or to taste) and the spring onion and sesame oil and give them a stir. The roasted sesame seeds are now also quickly stirred in and the dish is ready to be served.I think it tastes best straight out of the pan, or warm but definitely not cooler than room temperature, so I would avoid putting any left overs  in the fridge.

A small variation would be to add a few red chilli flakes or a sliced red chilli at the same time as the spring onions. That would warm it up more!

I am looking forward to joining the I Heart Cooking Club this week and am really looking forward to the weekly challenge of cooking/adapting a Madhur Jaffrey recipe.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Stuffed Button Mushrooms

These Button Mushrooms filled with a bacon, cheese and parsley stuffing make great little appetisers to hand around before dinner, or at a party.
They are a little bit fiddly to make , but could be prepared well beforehand and baked in the oven as guests arrive.

For vegetarians the bacon could be replaced by a couple of spoonfuls of pesto. In this case I'd leave out the tablespoon of olive oil


450 gm of button mushrooms  ( 2 punnets)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 rashers of bacon
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs ( about 1 slice of toast thickness white bread)
3/4 cup of cheese ( mozarella, or I used 1/2 tasty cheddar and 1/2 soft feta cheese)


Cut the fatty parts and rinds off the bacon, Then chop finely and fry till lightly done in 1 tablespoon of bacon.
Remove the stalks from the mushrooms ( Save these for another recipe)
In a food processor or mini chopper put a sprig of parsley and 1 slice of thick toast bread and whizz to produce fine breadcrumbs.
Stir  a tablespoon of olive oil and the cheese through the breadcrumb mixture to make the stuffing.
Pile a little of the stuffing into each mushroom hole. Pat it down to compress it slightly.
Put the last tablespoon of olive oil ina bowl and dip a pastry brush into it.
Dab a little oil over each mushroom with the pastry brush,
Bake the maushrooms in the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
Serve hot .


Christmas Kisses

Becky wanted to do some Christmas baking this morning so this was the recipe I gave her to try.It was a great recipe for her to make by herself. She enjoyed the measuring and especially squeezing  the dough in her hands and  rolling it into little marblesized balls. The  butter icing is not  runny .She  could make it into little flat discs, sit one on each cookie and put the second one on top.

We made it withough the vanilla paste but I have added it to the recipe as if I made it again I think this would make them even better.

These cookies should be baked only until they are very faintly golden, and not brown. Take a look after 8 minutes. In our oven they took 12. Every oven is different.

These have already been eaten  but they are so easy to make that she can make more closer to Christmas.


180 gm of softened butter
1/4 cup of icing sugar
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 cup of custard powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Heilala vanilla paste (optional)

Butter Filling

1 1/4 cups of icing sugar
75 gm of softened butter

Leave the butter out of the fridge to soften before starting this recipe
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl
Add the butter and mix into a dough
Roll into teaspoon sized balls
Place on a tray lined with baking paper
Press lightly down on each with a thumb, or flatten slightly with a fork
In the meantime make the butter icing by mixing the butter into the sifted icing sugar.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes . Do not let them brown
Let cool.
Then sandwich together with the butter icing.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Carrot Salad

For this little carrot, sultana and black mustard seed salad  you need to peel the carrot in long shreds with a potato peeler so they look like orange noodles.
When frying the mustard seeds I hold a large glass saucapan lid over the fry pan to keep the hot seeds from exploding all over the kitchen.

It serves one generously


2 medium carrots ( enough to tightly pack 1 cup when shredded)
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of  lime /lemon juice
2 tablespoons of sultanas
1 tabespoon of black mustard seeds
a pinch of salt


Peel the carrots into long shreds and put in a bowl
Mix in the lime juice and sultanas and a pinch of salt ( or to taste)
Heat the oil in a frypan and once hot add the mustard seeds.
Fry the mustard seeds briefly until they have finished popping
Pour the hot oil and mustard seeds over the salad and stir.

Ingrdients: Enough carrot shreds to

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Pohutakawa ( The New Zealand Christmas Tree)



At the front of our house the old pohutakawa tree is in flower.The flowers are so high up they are unreachable but I gathered some of the fallen flowerheads and put them into a bowl.

As I drove over the bridge this afternoon through Ponsonby and along the Westmere waterfront the landscape was dotted with dozens of flowering pohutakawa trees heralding the fact that Christmas is just around the corner.I couldn't resist stopping here and there to take a few pics.

New Zealand History net traces the story of  the pohutakwa and when it first became known as our Christmas tree. They have also included some Maori Legends and described how one particular anicent  pohutakawa tree marks 'The Place of Leaping"

Here are some exerpts:

"The pohutukawa tree (Metrosideros excelsa) with its crimson flower has become an established part of the New Zealand Christmas tradition. This iconic Kiwi Christmas tree, which often features on greeting cards and in poems and songs, has become an important symbol for New Zealanders at home and abroad."

"In 1833 the missionary Henry Williams described holding service under a ‘wide spreading pohutukawa’. The first recorded reference to the pohutukawa as a Christmas tree came in 1867 when the Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter noted that settlers referred to it as such. The pohutukawa, he observed, ‘about Christmas … are full of charming … blossoms’; ‘the settler decorates his church and dwellings with its lovely branches’. Other 19th-century references described the pohutukawa tree as the ‘Settlers Christmas tree’ and ‘Antipodean holly’."

"A gnarled, twisted pohutukawa on the windswept cliff top at Cape Reinga, the northern tip of New Zealand, has become of great significance to many New Zealanders. For Maori this small, venerated pohutukawa is known as ‘the place of leaping’. It is from here that the spirits of the dead begin their journey to their traditional homeland of Hawaiiki. From this point the spirits leap off the headland and climb down the roots of the 800-year-old tree, descending into the underworld on their return journey."
To read it in full go to:

Roasted Long Red Peppers


These sweet red peppers were roasted in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and flavoured with  dried origano and parsley.  The red peppers I used were quite different from the ones I ususally buy.  These  are large and elongated, almost as long as a banana and  sweeter than their rounded chubbier cousins.
They can be served hot, or eaten at room temperature as a salad by itself or with some crumbled feta cheese on top.
Ingredients :
750 g of red peppers ( deseeded and chopped into large pieces)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoom of dried origano
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
3 cloves of garlic ( finely sliced or chopped)
1 onion  ( finely chopped there should be half a cup.)
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C
Saute the garlic and onion for 4-5 minutes over a gentle heat till the onion has wilted. Do not let them
Toss the onion and garlic through the red peppers and origano and arrange them in one layer in  a  large ovenware dish.
Whisk the balsamic vinegar,the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper together.Mix through the pepper and onion mixture.
Bake covered for the first 10 minutes ( you can use tin foil but I simply covered the dish with an oven tray.
Uncover and continue to bake until the peppers are tender ( about 15-20 minutes)
Garnish with chopped parsley.
May be served while hot, or they are equally good served at room temperature.


Friday, 14 December 2012

A Luscious Strawberry Dessert

Strawberries with a Telegraph Hill Cabernet Drizzle

Keeping it simple ( as long as it's delicious) is my aim for the festive season. So when Geoff Crawford from Telegraph Hill gave me this easy recipe ( his favourite summer dessert  which he serves with  icecream) I just had to try it and have been serving it ever since. to  very appreciative friends and relations.

All you do is dehull the strawberries . Pour over some Telegraph Hill Cabernet Drizzle , stir and allow  the strawberries to sit in this marinade for about 10 minutes ( or longer) before serving with icecream.

Strawberries seem to be growing larger each year so I slice them into smaller pieces. This also allows the marinade to penetrate the strawberry flesh and flavour it.

Telegraph Hill Cabernet drizzle is made from Hawkes Bay Cabernet wine which has been slowly reduced with sugar, giving it an intense flavour with characters of berries and mulled wine and a sweet finish.

Apparently you can use it with almost anything like cakes, meat (especially venison), vegetables and cheese. "Let your imagination run wild !: it says on the bottle. But every cook needs one secret dessert recipe that can be concocted in no time at all. This is the one for me, I'll be using the rest of the bottle to marinate strawberries until their all too brief season is over.

I took the above photograph in the early evening in our back yard when the light was just right for photography. To give a rustic look I balanced a  wooden tray on its edge for the background. I was briefly distracted by our new labrador puppy playfully running over my foot  and the tray came crashing down on the strawberry filled glasses.The berries and juice went everywhere but I hope I had managed to capture their delicousness.  Oh well, there's more cabernet drizzle left in the bottle! Luckily I'd put the top back on.

To find out more about Telegraph Hill and for  some other recipes go to: 

Salmon Mousse

This is a retro recipe which deserves to be revived for summer lunches. My best friend Hilary adapted it from one in the Australian Women's Weekly quite a few years ago. She gave me a copy of the original recipe, but alongside she had made notes about how she had changed it. She had doubled the  salmon, and exchanged the cream for milk. So more protein rich and less calories.

I changed it as well and substituted 1/2 large red onion (chopped finely) for the shallots which were in the original recipe. I prefer the milder flavour.

I  also added some sweet chilli sauce, but you could make your own variations by leaving this out and adding some dijon mustard/ and or capers/ chopped celery. It's one of those flexible recipes that allows you to be creative.

I boiled the water, and dissolved the gelatine in this by stirring it vigorously with a teaspoon until it was no longer grainy. And I then I used my food processor to create this recipe as I don't have a blender. This worked well.

It says it will make 4. Were we heftier eaters in those days? I served the mousse in tiny espresso cups and it made 8.  And I served the mousse in the cups rather than turning it out. This also meant I didn't need to grease them before filling them with the mousse.

Little toast triangles have gone out of fashion but they are perfect for this. You spread a spoonful of the salmon mousse on each and nibble on some fresh lettuce alongside.

Hilary's Salmon Mousse

1/2 cup of hot water
1 chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon of gelatine
440 gm of tinned salmon
1/2 cup of red onion ( finely chopped)
1/4 cup of mayonaise
1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce ( optional)
salt and pepper
lettuce leaves

Put hot water. geleatine and crumbled stock cube in ablender and blend on high speed for 1 minute
Add undrained salmon, roughly chopped shallots, mayonaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper
Blend for a further 1 minute
Add milk/cream
Blend for 30 seconds
Pour salmon mixture into 4 individual slightly oiled dishes ( or 8 tiny espresso cups)
Refrigerate until set
Turn onto a lettuce leaf or serve it  straight out of the cups.
Serve with toast triangles

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Caught: The First Snapper this Summer!

My partner John and our neighbour Dave went out fishing this week in the Hauraki Gulf. They got plenty of bites and caught (but had to  throw back) about 30 undersized snapper ( some of which a shag dived after and ate) But finally they came home with five between them looking very pleased with themselves for landing their first fish of the summer.

I cooked this one very simply by rubbing it on both sides with a little olive oil, stuffing it with some sliced lemon, garlic and sprigs of fresh thyme and pouring some white wine over the top as it roasted for 20 minutes at 200degrees C.

May there be many more this summer!

Whiskey/Brandy Celebration Fruit Cake


This recipe was given to me by Mary-Jane Mumford, the sales manager of Milly's kitchen shop in Ponsonby, a fantastic place to go for any kind of baking equipment. At the time I was the resident foodie on the TV3 website and went to MIlly's to get some hints on how to bake the best Christmas cake.
As we got talking, Mary- Jane divulged that she makes a Whiskey cake at home and generously promised to send me the recipe.  It is been my favourite Christmas/celebration cake ever since.
It is easy to make: no need to soak the dried fruit beforehand, or cream the butter and sugar. You simply boil, simmer and stir. But what set this cake recipe apart is that it contains loads of ginger and apricots which are two of my favourite ingredients. I use brandy instead of whiskey. Either is good.
Before putting it in the oven I make a decorative pattern with almonds on the top so I don't need to ice it. The batter is dense enough to prevent them from sinking. After baking I brush a little more brandy over the top.

It’s a light fruit cake which I think is perfect for summer weather. It does need to be cut carefully with a sharp knife.

Christmas cakes are the kind of cakes you can be creative with. You can exchange the white sugar for brown, or add a little cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice (or even curry?!)

Next time I bake this cake, instead of a pattern of almonds I’d like to try another easy topping from Delia Smith which she created for people who don’t like the extra sweetness of icing. For this you brush the cake with a glaze made by heating a heaped tablespoon of apricot jam and two tablespoons of brandy. Make a pattern of toasted pecans, Brazil nuts and walnut halves over the top of the cake. Then glaze again.

To keep the cake moist I wrap it in glad wrap before storing it in an airtight tin.  I may feed it a couple of times by poking holes into it with a sate stick and dribbling over a little more brandy.


In a saucepan
1/2 lb butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 1/4 lb of mixed fruit ( I used sultanas, raisins and apricots)
1 packet of crystalised ginger ( finely chopped)
  • I chopped the apricots and ginger in the food processor
Bring to the boil and simmer a few minutes
Take off stove and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and let cool for about 1/2 hour
Beat 2 eggs well and add to mixture
Stir in 2 cups of sifted flour , and add 1 teaspoon each of vanilla/lemon and almond essence and 2 tablespoons of whiskey ( or can use brandy)
Mix and put in an 8 inch ( 20 cm) square tin lined with baking paper
Cook at about 300F for about 1 1/2 hours, dependant on oven.
Check after 1 hour.



Christmas at Milly's in Ponsonby

Milly's, the iconic kitchenware shop in Ponsonby is gorgeously decked out for Christmas 2012. Here are a few of the pics they were happy for me to take this morning when I popped in to do some Christmas shopping.




Mediterranean Vegetable Tart

I have just read My French Affair by Amanda Taylor- Ace ( publisher Random House) a really amusing light read about an adventurous and delightfully outrageous New Zealand woman who packed her bags and travelled to France, loved it and stayed and renovated two eighteenth century houses into guest accomadation where she also runs cookschools.The book includes some of her recipes and here is my version of Luce's Famous Tart from this book.

 She uses different kinds cheeses, slices, crumbled or grated. It worked well for me with crumbled feta .Instead of cream I use milk which was still tasty but not so rich and sometimes exchange the tomato for a red pepper and add a clove of chopped garlic. If there is parsley in the garden I may use it but this tart is quite happy without.

Commercial flaky pastry works well. After lining the tin I leave it in in the fridge for 15 minutes, then prebake in a 200 degree C oven before adding the vegetables and cheese.

What made Luce's tart different is the dijon mustard which gives it a surprising little kick.

I used a 29 cm non stick metal tart tin.

Mediterranean Vegetable Tart


2 dessertspoons of dijon mustard
1 courgette chopped
1 red pepper/tomat chopped
1 eggplant chppped
2 onions chopped
1 clove of garlic ( finely chopped)
4 eggs
300 ml milk/cream
125 gram of feta


Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Prebake the flaky pastry crust for 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 180C
Spread mustard over the pastry
Saute the vegetables in a little oil ( I did this for about 10-15 minutes until they were lightly browned and dry.)
Put them in the tart.
Beat the eggs and cream and pour over the vegetables.
Sprinkle over 125 grams of crumbled feta
Pour into the prepared pastry shell
Bake for 30 minutes

Luce sometimes replaces the vegetables with tuna fish , or uses just tomatoes and cheese.


Blueberry, Nectarine and Feta Salad




Blueberries and Nectarines are both in season now and I couldn't resist combining them in a summery salad. It may sound like an unusual combination, but it works!.

1 large or 2 small nectarines

1 punnet of blueberries ( you will 10 of these for the dressing)
Sliced feta cheese
Mesclun salad leaves
Basil leaves

For dressing

10 blueberries
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of honey (or to taste)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Sea salt


Mash the blueberries in a mortar and pestle ( use marble , or do in a ceranic bowl as it might stain wood). Add salt , oil, balsamic and honey. Stir till honey is dissolved. Season to taste with sea salt.


On plate arrange mesclun mixed with basil leaves.
Scatter blueberries, nectarine slices, and feta over the top.
Drizzle with the balsamic blueberry vinaigrette.



Blueberry Chocolate Brownies

This  scrumptious blueberry chocolate brownie recipe was kindly shared by Heidi Rosewarne from Blueberry Corner in Whakatane. My daughter  was there recently, came home and raved about them. You can also make it Glutenfree as its easy to convert using a gluten free baking mix.
She also brought home a jar of their special blueberry honey .They tried for 5 years to get it as usually the bees eat it themselves in building up their hives.  Then they did have an impressive flowering and ‘kind’ bee weather and the bees rewarded them with their honey (the excess that they didn’t eat!)
This blueberry honey , like NZ manuka honey, is used for its anti bacterial properties and natural healing.
"Don't use it for baking ," recommends Heidi. Eat it straight out of the jar so you get the most of its health giving properties."

It's good to eat straight out of the jar in spoonfuls but I also like to melt some and serve it as a sauce  over hotcakes for brunch with lots of fresh Blueberry Corner blueberries alongside.
Blueberry Chocolate Brownie

150g butter
½ cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 cup sugar ( I used castor)
1tsp vanilla essence
½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g blueberries
Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa powder until well mixed, set aside.
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick and creamy.
Fold in the chocolate mix, flour and baking powder.
Pour into cake tin and sprinkle 125g of blueberries over the top.
Bake at 170 for 30 – 40 minutes until cooked through. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Samoan Raw Fish Salad


I made a bowl of  Oka i'a (raw fish) today with a gift of freshly caught snapper. It was the first catch of the season. It's a perfect dish for a summery day. And one which is loved all over the Pacific. Each island has its own name for it. I have eaten it in Samoa, but also Fiji and The Cook islands.

The fish does have to be very fresh for this recipe.It looks cooked because the lemon or lime juice turns it an opaque white and tenderises it. But it remains raw.

It is essential to allow time for the citrus juice to do its work, at least two or three hours or it can be left in the fridge overnight.

There are lots of variations on this recipe. You can add cubes of cucumber, a deseeded sliced red chilli and a garnish of coriander /parsley. It's a matter of personal taste.

The recipe can easily be doubled, trebled or quadrupled depending on the catch of the day.

Oka I'a (Samoan Raw Fish)

Serves Two:

250 gm. of snapper (skin and bones removed and chopped into bite sized chunks)
1/4 cup of lemon/lime juice ( I used lemon juice)
1/4 onion (finely chopped)
200 gm. of tomatoes (deseeded and chopped into dice)
1 spring onion (finely sliced)
1/4 cup of coconut milk
Salt to taste

Marinate the snapper and onion in lemon juice and leave in the fridge until it turns white and opaque (About 3 hours or it can be left overnight in the fridge)

Just before serving drain off the juices and mix in the diced tomatoes, spring onion, and salt to taste.

Pour over 1/4 cup of coconut milk and stir in.

Before serving put back in the fridge to chill for a little while.

I first posted this recipe on my regular recipe spot on The Breeze


Monday, 10 December 2012

The Perfect Roast Chicken

 Mecca Ibrahim, the head of Social Media at Great British chefs gives her recipe for the perfect roast chicken and explains it step by step at

It made me think. Was there room for improvement on our family recipe?

I agree with her that Free range is best, and corn fed helps to achieve a golden brown colour.

She tells us to truss , but personally I think this is unnecessary. My chickens roast perfectly well without being tied up.

To stuff or not to stuff? I'm on the side of  Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith and usually stuff my chicken using my mother in law's recipe. But for  a midweek dinner I sometimes  just quarter a lemon, add some fresh thyme if I have it, and stuff the chicken with that.

Like Mecca I do rub the chicken very lightly with olive oil before roasting it.

I think her idea of putting the chicken to roast on a rack  is  good , as not only does it allow the air to circulate but the fat can run off the chicken into the roasting dish below, which will make the chicken more slimming.

Does a roast chicken really need gravy? Here I flaunt tradition and usually serve my roasted chicken without. If it's organic and well cooked I think it is flavoursome enough by itself.

Letting a chicken take a ten minute rest after roasting. We should do it. But a perfectly roasted chicken smells so good when it first comes out of the oven that my partner can never wait to attack it with a carving knife before it starts to cool down.

My mother in law's recipe for stuffing a chicken is light and not too buttery.It's a recipe of hers which I treasure. She also draped her  chicken with strips of bacon before roasting which made it especially tasty. And yes, a chicken without gravy would have been unthinkable to her.

June's Chicken Stuffing

  • In a foodprocessor whizz 2 slices of (toast thickness) white bread with a teaspoon of dried thyme , a few parsley sprigs and some salt and pepper until breadcrumbs are formed.
  • Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter /olivani and stir this into the breadcrumbs.
  • Lightly spoon the stuffing into the chicken ( By not pressing down on it a much lighter stuffing will result)
  • Roast the chicken as usual