Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Ceviche with Wasabi Vinaigrette

When the catch of the day turned out to be a kahawai I made some ceviche.
It's hard to improve on raw fish salad soaked in coconut milk but for a change I  used some Telegraph Hill wasabi vinaigrette instead. This smooth, Asian dressing with a peppery flavour really complimented the strongly flavoured kahawai.

For 2-3 helpings


200 gm of freshly caught kahawai ( which had been filleted)
1/2 long sweet red pepper ( seeds removed and cubed)
1/4 red onion ( finely chopped)
1 large tomato (deseeded, the juice squeezed out and chopped)
The juice of 1 lemon
corn scraped from 1 cooked cob
3 tablespoons of Telegraph Hill Wasabi Vinaigrette
Chopped coriander to garnish
A cos lettuce leaf to line each bowl ( optional)


Marinate the fish in the juice of 2 lemons for at least 1 hour.
The fish should change to an opaque white as it is "cooked" by the lemon juice
Drain the lemon juice off and then mix the fish with all the other ingredients
Leave in the fridge for a further hour ( or longer) to allow the flavour wasabi vinaigrette to mingle with the other ingredients
Line each bowl with a cos lettuce leaf
Add the ceviche
Garnish with chopped coriander

Variation: Add some cubes of avocado just before serving.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Mea'ai Samoa: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia

Come to Samoa for its beaches, it's crystalline blue Pacific waters and stunning mountain landscapes, come for its sleepy relaxing nature and to laugh and laze in its endless tropical warmth but make sure you also come for the food!" enthuses Robert Oliver in Mea'ai Samoa ( Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia).

This book is a follow up from his hugely successful Me'a Kai – a South Pacific cookbook which won Best Cookbook in the World in the 2010 Gourmand Cookbook Awards.

I was captivated by the gorgeous photographs of the scenery, people and food as well as the stories. They brought back many happy memories of a week we spent in Samoa in the early nineties.

We stayed at the legendary Aggie Grey's Hotel set up for the troops in WW2. It was a great holiday. Only the food was mediocre. But times have changed. Robert tells us that:

"When tourists first arrived in Samoa they preferred European style foods like ham and cheese sandwiches. These dishes were foreign to local chefs. "This was tantamount to an Italian chef being asked to make sushi." and most of the ingredients had to be imported."

But nowadays when tourists visit a country they want to sample the local cuisine as part of the cultural experience. This has helped to fuel a culinary revolution in Samoa. "Chefs and cooks are realising with pride that their cuisine, their rustic home cooking, their lovely way of sharing, their umus and sapasuis, their superb farmers and markets is not only world class, it is in a class of its own."

Until I read his book I had never given much thought to the fact that if we as tourists choose to eat local food this has a flow on effect on the economy and creates higher incomes for farmers and fishermen. An added bonus for tourists in Samoa is that almost all the food is organically grown so it is chemical free and healthy.

Great food can be found in Samoa but only if you know where to look. This book  includes a comprehensive list of where the locals like to eat and where to attend fia fia nights which always feature signature Samoan dishes. A map is provided as well as the best kinds of food to order at each place.

But you don't have to visit Samoa to enjoy Samoan Cuisine. There is a wealth of recipes in Mea'ai Samoa to try out at home, both traditional village food as well as recipes for contemporary dishes created by Samoan chefs who live there or in New Zealand. This food is a far cry from the fatty food which has given Samoan food in New Zealand a bad name. Here are some of my favourites:

Iconic Samoan Recipes

Three of the most well known and loved Samoan dishes are included: Sapasui (Samoan Chop Suey), Panipopo (deliciously sweet yeast raised Coconut Buns doused in coconut cream) and Palusami (made with young taro leaves, onion and coconut cream). If you can't lay your hands on fresh coconuts and taro leaves for the Palusami, silverbeet leaves and a can of coconut cream can easily be substituted.

Signature Dishes from Samoan Restaurants:

From the Pacific Jewel Café in Apia comes a very healthy salad which includes sushi-grade tuna, red onion, cherry tomatoes, watercress, lettuce, cucumber and capers. It is tossed with a lemony dressing.

Dora Rossi from Paddles Waterfront in Apia has put a spin on a classic date pudding by substituting the dates with dried bananas.

Recipes from New Zealand Samoans:

Well known New Zealand Samoan chef Michael Meredith has contributed a summery Samoan Gazpacho which he serves with a Coconut Yoghurt.

Beatrice Faumuina shares her mother's recipe for coconut jam. It is easily made from three ingredients (coconut cream, raw sugar and lemon or lime leaves) She likes to spread this as an indulgent treat on a sliced baguette or over ice-cream while it is still warm.

After reading Mea'ai Samoa I'd love to hop on a plane to revisit Samoa and follow the exciting culinary journey which Robert Oliver and his team have mapped out for us. I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is planning to make a trip over there and to all cooks who would like to explore the best of Samoan Cuisine.

Title: Mea'ai Samoa: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia

Author: Robert Oliver

Publisher: Random House New Zealand. Imprint: Godwit

Price: $49.99

I wrote this review for the GrownUps website

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Hot Silverbeet Crisps

I'm always on the lookout for silverbeet recipes as its one vegetable which grows in profusion in our garden most of the year round. This recipe is just another variation on kale crisps which have become very popular lately, and they are much healthier and faster to bake than potato crisps.

Not quite as crunchy as potato crisps but they are flavoursome, especially with the addition of a few drops of Hot Samoan Boys chilli sauce.They make a great pre dinner or after school snack.


  • Wash 6-8 silverbeet stalks before using and dry very thoroughly. Wet silverbeet will not crisp up.
  • Cut the leaves  from the silverbeet stalks into small pieces. Discard the stalks or use in another recipe.
  • Toss the leaves in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and add a few drops of Hot Samoan Boys chilli sauce
  • Arrange them in a single layer on a baking paper lined oven tray.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes in a moderate oven. Take care not too burn, they should be a brownish green, not black.
  1. If you don't have balsamic vinegar it can be left out.
  2. These crisps can burn easily so watch carefully towards the end. If a few of them  burn, remove them. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Watermelon with Feta and Yoghurt Dressing

Watermelon would seem an unlikely candidate for a salad but with a tangy feta and yoghurt dressing and garnished with mint it worked surprisingly well, and was very decorative.

It's the kind of salad that could easily be put together for a barbecue although I wouldn't leave it out in the sun. It tastes better chilled.

Or, if like most of us, you piled on the weight during the festive season and have decided to lose a few kilos, a slice or two of this is a healthy inbetween meals snack. ( I made it after breakfast, and it was gone by lunchtime)


Arrange slices of watermelon on a platter. Drizzle generously with the following dressing. Then chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Garnish with mint leaves before serving.


Whizz in food processor until smooth:

100 grams of feta
1/3 cup of yoghurt
3 tablspoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
salt to taste

( Thin if necessary with a little more yoghurt/oil)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Rosehip compote

Rhubarb and Strawberry is a classic combination for a compote which goes exceptionally well with muesli and yoghurt for breakfast. But it can look  disappointinly brownish. To make it a vibrant ruby red colour and to make it healthier and tastier I added an infusion of rosehip.

Serves 3-4

2 cups of water
2 rosehip infusion bags (I used Clipper)
250 grams of rhubarb stalks
2 tablespoons of runny honey
4 tablespoons of castor sugar
1 punnet ( 250 gm of strawberries)

Add the teabags to boiling water and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Squeeze the bags to extract as much of the red liquid as possible, then remove.
Add the rhubarb stalks, the honey and castor sugar and bring to the boil
Simmer until tender. Start checking after 5 minutes.
If it is too tart for your liking you can add sweeten it more at this stage
Serve while warm or at room temperature.

Ham and Mango Salad

Here's a perfect way to use up the last of the Christmas ham . The combination of the
slightly peppery rocket, sweet juicy mango, savoury ham and vividly red cherry tomatoes make a light and summery salad.



A bag of rocket
1 mango
a punnet of cherry tomatoes
ham batons

Vinaigrette: Whisk together

6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of runny honey
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


Put a layer of rocket leaves on a platter or large bowl
Arrange the sliced mango, halved cherry tomatoes and ham batons on top
Drizzle over the honey mustard vinaigrette.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Roshehip and Hibiscus Tea with Sliced Plums


Some time ago Alesandra Zecchini posted an idea for a healthy drink on her blog.
As I remember it she kept chilled water in the fridge and dropped in slices of fruit to make a refreshing healthy drink (http://alessandrazecchini.blogspot.co.nz)

This inspired me to create a chilled summery drink using a roshehip and hibiscus organic  infusion from Clipper (a British tea company which can be found at www.clipper-teas.com.) I bought a packet of twenty bags locally to try and loved the flavour, but also the fact that this is a company which makes organic and fair trade products.

I used two bags to make enough tea to almost fill a large glass bottle and dropped in some slices of ripe red plums. They were left in for a few hours so the flavours would mingle before serving the fruity infusion in small glasses.

Teaspoons were provided alongside so the plums could be eaten as well. Very refreshing!


Friday, 3 January 2014

Potato and apple salad with an Asian dressing

This makes a nice change from potato salad smothered in mayonaise. The Telegraph Hill Asian Wasabi dressing is light and fresh with a peppery finish,

It was inspired by a traditional Dutch potato and apple salad which Rod's Mum used to make and which went especially well with the Christmas ham.

It's a great barbecue salad but could be made all year round.


500 gm of potatoes
3 hardboiled eggs
3 medium size red skinned crisp and sweet apples ( I used Gala)
1 spring onion ( white part only)
3-4 tablespoons of Wasabi vinaigrette (I used Telegraph Hill)
The juice of up to half a lemon


The potatoes have a better flavour if you boil them whole. When done cut them into large cubes.
Wash the apples.There is no need to peel. Cube them.
Peel and chop the hardboiled eggs.
Chop the white part of the Spring onion finely

Mix all of these gently together in a salad bowl. Add the Wasabi Vinaigrette and stir in. Sharpen the flavour with a tablespoon of lemon juice . Keep tasting and adding up to the juice of half the lemon depending on how sweet/tart the apples are.

Add salt to taste