Friday, 31 May 2013

Sultana ,Walnut and Quinoa Cookies

The best way to describe these cookies is that they taste like a cross between anzac cookies and muesli. One of the ingredients is quinoa. This gluten free grain was a staple food of the Incas and has the highest protein content of all the grains.

These scrummy cookies were inspired by a recipe from  "Ripe recipes, a Fresh Batch" the new recipe book from the popular Grey Lynn Deli in Auckland. This cookbook is inspirational and I have been cooking up a storm out of it. They love tucking healthy ingredients like quinoa and goji berries into their recipes.

I wanted to make some nourishing gluten free cookies for my daughter who has been diagnosed recently as having a high intolerance to gluten. I substituted Bakel's gluten free baking mix for the wholemeal flour and  replaced the apricots and dates with chopped walnuts .Some grated orange rind added a fruity flavour. However when she arrived she explained that she couldn't eat the cookies because although the Harraway's rolled oats which I used are indeed wheat free, celiacs, and a significant percentage of gluten intolerant and gluten free people can react adversely to them. Here is link which explains it in detail:

Another interesting link referred to how easily oats can become contaminated

To be on the safe side I'm going to avoid rolled oats when baking baking for them, or if  do use them use ones which are labelled gluten free and ask beforehand if my gluten free or intolerant relation or friend can tolerate them or not. They should know.

These cookies do need to be watched carefully towards the end as at that stage they can easily burn. And once they are out of the oven leave them to cool on the oven tray for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack as they are delicate and can break easily .

I made them quite small , a heaped teaspoon rather than a heaped tablespoon, so they were just little treats,


1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of Bakel's gluten free baking mix
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup of desicated coconut
1 cup of sultanas
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
Finely grated rind of an orange
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 tablespoons of hot water
180 grams of melted butter
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
Grease and line 2 baking trays with baking paper
In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, baking mix, sugar, cinnamom, sultanas, orange rind and coconut.
In a medium-sized bowl , dissolve the baking soda with the hot water. Whisk in the melted butter and golden syrup and vanilla.
Pour the golden syrup mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.
Place heaped teaspoons of the biscuit mixture onto the prepared baking trays. Allow plenty of room for the biscuits to spread. Flatten lightly with the back of a fork.

Place in the oven for about 10-12 minutes , or until they are golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before transferring the biscuits onto a wire rack.


An easy Apple Cake

Apple and Walnut Cake

On a cold winter’s day chocolate cake just doesn’t do it for us. We’d rather have something warm and spicy. My apple and walnut cake recipe, redolent with spices and served warm with lashings of cream or a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt is just what we feel like. It generously serves 8-10.

Peel the apples while sitting by the fire and then you will only need to escape to the kitchen briefly to stir them into the batter and put the cake into the oven.

I used sweet Braeburn apples but if you use Granny Smiths you may want to increase the sugar to 1 cup.


4 cups of apples, peeled and chopped

3/4 cup of castor sugar

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of chopped walnuts

2 eggs

1 teaspoons of vanilla essence

The grated rind of 1/2 lemon

2 cups of flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon of salt


Mix the chopped apples with the sugar

Whisk the vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla essence together

Stir in the sugared apples, walnuts and lemon rind.

In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt

Add the dry ingredients to the apple mixture and stir to mix.

Pour the batter into a greased 22 1/2 cm cake tin

Bake at 180 degrees C for 1 hour until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean

Serve with Greek yoghurt or whipped cream

I created this recipe for my regular spot on The Breeze radio Station in Auckland:

Weetbix Kids

Who would have thought that humble bowls of weetbix and milk could cause such a huge political storm and backlash?

If kids at low decile schools are not getting breakfast at home ( for whatever resaon, poverty and yes sometimes neglect) it's  surely not a big deal to provide it.

Two weetbix and a bowl of milk at the start of the day will help children to focus on their learning which is impossible on an empty stomach, And it's very affordable. It's a miniscule part of the national budget.

It takes more than a village to raise a child, it takes a whole nation to ensure that young kiwis grow healthy and strong. They don't just need breakfast, they need three square meals a day and a balanced diet which includes plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.

That will only be possible if their parents can find jobs and earn a decent wage. That's the real challenge!

It also needs the government to put a Food Technology teacher back in every Intermediate school so kids will learn to cook basic healthy meals, and  which foods are nutritious. They're the next generation of parents , Let's give them a head start.

And to reintroduce legislation that will ensure that junk food is not available at school tuck shops.

Let's put behind us the racist cartoon by Al Nisbett  which was published in the Marlborough Express on May 29  this week which was deplorabe,  divisive and an insult to the  many families who are struggling to  put food on the table and don't waste money on booze, smoke and pokies.  Better to put some Aroha back into the debate, stop complaining about weetbix and focus on growing healthy kids.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Homemade Balsamic Apple Glaze.

Last week I posted my recipe for a pear, gorgonzola and sticky walnut salad. In this recipe balsamic apple glaze was a crucial ingredient.

Then I discovered that my local supermarket no longer stocks it. I put my culinary thinking cap on and made my own version.


1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup of unsweetened apple Juice ( I used Charlie's Freshly pressed)

Bring these to the boil in a saucepan and simmer until the liquid is  reduced by half . It should coat the back of a spoon.

Be careful not to let it reduce too much. I did the first time and although it looked syrupy when I poured it into a small ceramic bowl it became too thick and glue like as it cooled. However it was easily rescued by dribbling a little water over the top, putting it in the microwave for a few seconds and giving it a stir. This brought it back to a syrupy consistency.

It was good as it was, but I'm going to play with it a little more, Next time I might reduce the honey a little, or substitute brown sugar.

For dinner I made a marinade of 1/2 balsamic apple glaze and half vegetable oil and brushed it over some pork chops before baking which kept them moist and added flavour.



Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pear, gorgonzola and sticky walnut salad

Roasted pears, walnuts and gorgonzola are made for each other. Usually I'd just toast the walnuts and toss this salad with a french dressing. But there was a small bottle of Balsamic apple glaze in my pantry which had lingered there for ages and begged to be used.

This Balsamic Apple glaze was made by infusing Modena Balsamic vinegar  with apple.

The walnuts became sticky and lusciously sweet when they were stirred into a mixture of this and warmed olive oil.Their intense fruity flavour added more depth to this salad

Kate and I created this salad together. We decided to use only a small quantity of cheese as otherwise this salad would have been overly rich. We served it as a vegetarian meal alongside potatoes which had been cut in half, scored, brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven.


3 pears (cored and cut into 8 's)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
100 grams of walnuts (I used freshly cracked spray free "Wild" brand)
1/4 cup of olive oil
50-75 grams of gorgonzola (I used Puhoi Valley)
2 tablespoons of  Apple Balsamic glaze (Signature Range)
3 cups of mesclun salad leaves


Toss the pears in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roast in a moderate oven (180 degrees C) for 20 minutes.
Warm  1/4 cup of olive oil over a moderate heat.
Add the walnut pieces. Cook for 3 minutes. Take off the stove and leave to cool for a few minutes before stirring in  two tablespoons of balsamic apple glaze.
Arrange the mesclun on a platter. Scatter over the pears. Lift the walnuts out of the oil and scatter around the pears.
Crumble the gorgonzola over the top.
Dribble the remainder of the flavoured oil over the salad.



Saturday, 25 May 2013

Potatoes baked with leeks, bacon and fresh garden herbs.

Maybe it's the Dutch in me but I love potatoes. Although not as much as some! Many moons ago,when my daughters Rachel and Kate were little, I took them back to Friesland to the village I was born.
Our hosts had boiled a whole pot of potatoes for us and were greatly surprised when we only put one each on our plates.
In those days potatoes were thought to be fattening, but our Friesian potato eating friends  (who kept a large supply of them in their cellar to see them through the winter) all looked healthy and trim. The fact is that a potato is no more fattening than an apple and has lots of nutrients. Of equal importance is their sustainability for the planet.

The Great Potato Challenge was created to celebrate the United Nations International Year of the potato in 2008. A collection of winning recipes was published in a little booklet which I found while I was browsing in the Takapuna Hospice Shop last week. This is one of the recipes and was created by Chef Tony Smith from the Crown Plaza in Christchurch.

The original recipe was for 10 which is more than I usually have around for dinner. I halved it, but it could easily be doubled again so it would be a really easy dish to cook for a crowd.

Winter has set in here. But thyme, parsley and bay leaves are still to be found in our garden. And a large bag of all purpose potatoes was at hand in the kitchen.

It turned out to be tasty and moist, the kind of comfort food which when eaten in moderation won't linger on your hips. I'd definitely make it again.


3 bacon rashers
1 large leek (sliced)
5 medium boiling potatoes (peeled and sliced 1 cm thick)
375ml  chicken stock (heated )
1 fresh bay leaf
5 grams of fresh thyme, picked
freshly ground black pepper to taste
30 ml of olive oil
20 gm of Italian parsley, chopped


Heat the oven to 180 degrees C
Heat a heavy based pan, add bacon and stir fry
Add the leeks and cook until softened
Place half the potatoes in a baking dish and sprinkle over the leeks and bacon.
Layer remaining potatoes on top and pour the stock to almost cover the potatoes.
Place the bay leaf in the potatoes.
Sprinkle over the thyme.
Season with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil
Cover with foil and place in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes
Remove the foil and cook for a further 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft and golden.
Remove the bay leaves.
Serve with parsley sprinkled over the top


Monday, 20 May 2013

Apricot Blush and Peanut Butter Muesli

Although I  have a very relaxed and creative approach to mixing a new batch of muesli each week, touch wood, none  of them so far have failed!
For this week's batch I thought that rolled oats would combine well with Barker's Apricot Blush fruit syrup , peanut butter and coconut. For a little more sweetness I stirred in some brown sugar. And I added 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds.
When the muesli had been lightly browned in the oven in went plenty of sultanas (about 200 grams)
It tasted good with millk,yoghurt and a fresh tropical fruit salad (mango, pineapple and banana) but my sister Margreet's preserved Central Otago apricots would have been perfect!
I know I won't be able to resist chopping and changing the recipe again next time so  I may add some chopped apricots and/or chocolate chips and replace the sunflower seeds with walnuts.


400 grams of Harraway's rolled oats
1/4 cup of Barker's Apricot Blush
1/4 cup of  trim milk/water
1/4 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of  sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of dessicated coconut
1/2 cup of wheatgerm (optional)
200 grams of sultanas
a few drops of vanilla essence


Mix the rolled oats, coconut, sunflower seeds and wheatgerm in a large bowl.
Whisk the Barker's Apricot Blush fruit syrup ,peanut butter, milk, and brown sugar together,
Mix this liquid through the rolled oats.
Put the rolled oat mixture into a large baking dish.
Bake at 170 degrees C for 20-30 minutes.
Stir from time to time and watch carefully towards the end, as it can burn. It should just be slightly golden.
The longer you bake it the crisper it will be.
When it has cooled down add the sultanas.
Put in a lidded jar and store in your pantry.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Apricot Blush Hot Toddies

It's been a cold and rainy weekend so we've had fun creating hot toddies with Barker's Apricot Blush. It's made by Barker's of Geraldine and consists of  crushed local Central Otago apricots blended with tropical pineapple and lime. We made two for the adults and one for the kids.
Apricot Blush Hot Toddy:
Ingredients: Per person
1 teabag
juice of 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon of Barker's Apricot Blush (or to taste)
1 cup/glass  of hot water
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice of ginger
a  slice of orange ( quartered)
Put the juice of 1/2 orange into a cup/glass.
Pour in the boiling water.
Add a teabag and slice of ginger 
Leave to steep for a minute or so before removing the teabag.
Float a slice of orange on top.
Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve while hot.
Apricot Blush and Brandy Toddy:
Proceed as above but omit the teabag.
Instead add a nip of brandy.
Eeny Weeny Toddies ( for the littlies)
Squeeze half an orange into each glass.
Add 1 tablespoon of Apricot Blush (or to their taste)
Fill the cup/glass with boiling water.
Float slices of orange on top.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Rolled Oats and Raisin Cookies

To keep the lads fed at the Lakehouse in Takapuna Woodsculpture Live I baked some Rachel Allen Cookies which went down a treat and spurred them on to further action.


110 gram sof butter ( softened)
110 grams of caster sugar
110 grams of  soft light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
250 grams of rolled oats
110 grams of self raising flour
1 level teaspoon of salt
110 grams  of raisins/ chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 180C
Cream the butter until soft and then add the sugars and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the egg, water and vanilla extract while still beating. Reduce the speed and gently mix in the oats, flour, salt and raisins/chocolate chips to form a dough.
Using you hands roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place slightly apart on two baking trays ( no need to grease or line)
Bake in the oven for 15-35 minutes until light golden brown but still slightly soft in the centre.
Allow to cool on the trays for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool,


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Kate's Mushroom, Thyme and Mascarpone pasta

Kate rustled up this recipe for her Belgian friends Cedric and Wimpke last weekend. There was no parmesan so she used some very finely grated tasty cheddar.
This they especially liked because of its stronger and slightly tart flavour. Maybe we should appreciate our kiwi tasty cheddar more!
When I made it again I added some lightly toasted pinenuts which added some crunch, but these are optional.


2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 a large onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
2 tablespoons of finely chopped thyme
250 grams of  mushrooms ( the large flat ones are tastier than button mushrooms)
100 ml of white wine ( she used sauvignon blanc)
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
150 grams of mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
50 grams of pinenuts (optional)
400 grams fresh fettucini


Fry the onion and garlic in a frypan in one tablespoon of oil over a moderate heat until the onion has softened. Set aside,
Wipe the fry pan clean and fry the chopped mushrooms until slightly browned in one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of butter until the mushrooms are lightly browned at the edges.
Add the wine and keep frying for a minute or two until the wine has been absorbed.
Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water until the al dente stage and drain  well.
Mix in the onions, mushrooms, herbs and mascarpone cheese and reheat gently.
Toss through the pinenuts and parmesan cheese and serve.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Feijoa Cake from "Ripe a Fresh Batch" : A Tasting

Now what could we tempt Cedric and Wimke, our Belgian visitors with? We thought the The Feijoa cake from "Ripe: a fresh batch" would be the perfect choice?

Cedric's Grandfather was a famous pastry cook in Belgium who supplied icecream to the Belgian royal family. We knew it would have to be a special cake to impress.

 They were more than happy to give it a go
Cedric first! 
He could not stop at one bite. But it was time to share.
While Wimke enjoyed a taste Cedric was considering his verdict.

 They agreed it was a seriously good cake!


Ripe: A Fresh Batch at Cook the Books

After a rainy week the sun luckily came out last Saturday for a luscious afternoon tea at Cook the Books in Ponsonby to celebrate Ripe Deli's Second Cookbook "Ripe: A Fresh Batch" which has just been published. A very welcome successor to the first Ripe  Deli recipe book which appeared two years ago and from which I love to cook.
It was a great opportunity to sample some of the cakes from the book, to meet Angela Redfern (owner of Ripe Deli in Grey Lynn) who authored the book and chef Pip Wylie, two incredibly unasssuming and talented people.
My favourite, the moist and mooorish Feijoa cake with cream cheese icing.
Can't wait to try out some of the other recipes!
Angela Redfern 
Angela Redfern and chef Pip Wylie
A luscious afternoon Tea

The irresistable hazelnut chocolate cake 
Ripe a Fresh Batch on display at Cook the Books 
Leafing through the great recipes

Angela Redfern signing a customer copy of Ripe a New Batch