Thursday, 30 April 2015

Gluten Free Little Masa Harina pancakes.

When I was  cooking up  pancakes for brunch  there was no way I wanted a gluten free guest to miss out so I had to improvise. These little gluten free pancakes made with masa harina were the result. They had quite a distinctive flavour but were nice in their own way. At their best when piping hot, they lost their charms when cold.


100 gm of Tio Pablo Masa Harina
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4  cups of milk


Put the Masa Harina into a bowl
Crack the egg and drop in.
Add 1 cup of milk and whisk all  together thoroughly until the batter is perfectly smooth.
Leave to stand for 1/2 hour.
Whisk in  another 1/4 cup of milk  or enough to make the batter slightly thicker than pouring cream.

Heat the fry pan then a little oil, just enough to grease the pan.
For each little pancake  use an  ice cream scoop as a measure.
When bubbles appear and the pancake has browned on the bottom  flip it over to cook the other side.
Don't rush the process , let them get a little crispy.

Serve while hot dusted very lightly with icing sugar. Pass  maple syrup to pour over.

These are also nice with a scoop of maple syrup ice cream ( check whether gluten free first!)

Or some stewed apples to which a little lemon juice and cinnamon has been added/.

Mini Corn Breads filled with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese


I like to serve these  mini corn breads either as a party food or for a light lunch. They are based on Dame Alison Holst's evergreen recipe for champion cheese muffins but baked in little silicone loaf pans. Part of the flour has been replaced by masa harina which intensifies the corn flavour.
These little loaves ( unfilled) also freeze really well and can be quickly defrosted and reheated in the microwave .

  • 2 cup tasty cheddar cheese grated
  • 1  cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup of Tio Pablo Masa  Harina flour                                                                                                        
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tbsp sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste  
  • 1/2 tin (205g) of cream style corn    
  • optional:  some chopped sundried tomatoes, olives, parsley and coriander.                                                                                                     


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
Very lightly grease 6 silicone mini loaf pans
Put all the dry ingredients and grated cheese into a large mixing bowl and mix together lightly with fingertips to combine.
In a small bowl whisk the egg and milk together.
Add the creamed corn
Pour this liquid into the dry ingredients , then fold together briefly. Do not over mix.
Spoon the mixture into the mini loaf pans
Bake for about 15 minutes unto they have browned and spring back when lightly touched.

When they have cooled to room temperature fill with cream cheese and slices of smoked salmon.
I also use the same batter to make mini cheese muffins to which I add chopped sundried tomatoes, coriander and parsley.


Gluten Free Corn Fritters

While these little corn fritters are gluten free those who are not also enjoyed them . I only had moments to photograph them before they were all gone. So this is one of those really good recipes where one kind of fritter fits all.


1/2 cup of Tio Pablo Masa Harina Flour
1/2 cup of Healtheries wheat and gluten free baking mix
2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder ( I used Hansell's)
3 large free range eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 tin (205g) of cream style corn
1 teaspoon of Tio Pablo chilpotle salt  or to taste)
A dash of hot chilli sauce ( optional)


Whisk eggs
Add to all the other ingredients in a bowl ( except for the creamed corn) and beat together
Stir in the creamed corn
Leave the batter to stand for a couple of hours in the fridge
In a frying pan heat a little  olive oil or a small knob of butter or a mixture of oil and butter
Put heaped tablespoons of the batter in the frypan
Flatten out slightly with the back of a spoon if required
Fry until they are golden brown, then flip over and fry the other side.Don't rush the frying as you don't want uncooked centres .
Serve while hot with some fresh salsa (made with chopped red onion, tomato, coriander and lemon/lime juice) and some thick Greek yoghurt/sour cream

Monday, 20 April 2015

Love & Food at Gran's Table

My youngest granddaughter Emily and I are busy in the kitchen making little Chinese sponges together. I’m teaching her how to crack eggs and to whisk them with sugar until they are creamy. Then we measure and sift the dry ingredients, fold them in and add one tablespoon of oil. Granny Shirley “Mama Chan, whose recipe it is, assures us this little bit of oil will make all the difference.

Spooning the batter into little muffin pans turns out to be a messy job for a beginner but after some mopping up they are into the oven. They come out perfectly, tender inside and crusty out. And what is especially good about these is that they are dairy free, as Emily is.

This was the first recipe we cooked from Love & Food at Gran’s Table by Natalie Oldfield. Soon to be followed by Australian damper, a bacon and egg pie and rhubarb crumble. All tried and true recipes that are bound to become family favourites and which our granddaughter will soon be able to cook for us at family get togethers. 

But Love & Food at Gran’s Table is much more than a book jam-packed with treasured family recipes. It’s full of stories about 60 special grans from around the world .They and their children and grandchildren reminisce fondly about good food shared around the family table. 

Auckland born Natalie Oldfield wrote this book as a tribute to her two grandmothers Dulcie May Booker and Nana Rita Burrell and the love of cooking they inspired in her.
Many of the grans had to pick up cooking skills for themselves, or learnt just by watching their mums with no written recipes to guide them .They cooked from scratch with basic ingredients but still managed to feed their families generously and well.

The kitchen was women’s domain.  As Janet Blackwell commented:
I have been married to John Blackwell for 52 years, and he has seldom cooked a meal in all that time!

Jenny Ngau is one of the few grans ( 5 children and 13 grandchildren) who is married to a husband who likes to cook, but she does divulge that it’s always best done by one  OR the other.
Baking was especially popular with these grans so there are plenty of biscuits, cakes, pies and desserts to tempt you into the kitchen. As well as savoury dishes such as smoked ribs, meatballs and homemade preserves and chutneys.

Many were keen to pass on their culture through food to the next generation so there are traditional recipes from different countries including Croatia, Scotland, the Lebanon, Samoa, and Japan. The Swedish Gravad Lax (dill –cured salmon), French potato pie, Japanese sesame raw fish and Scottish black bun all look delicious and are not difficult. 

It’s not often that you find Dutch recipes in New Zealand cookbooks so I was especially delighted to find two here. The bitterballen are tiny deep-fried meatballs with a crispy coating. This cocktail snack is a great favourite in Holland. The second recipe is for poffertjes. These tiny puffy pancakes are much loved by Dutch children. They are usually sweet, served liberally dusted with icing sugar and a dab of butter so the savoury ones in this cookbook are a healthy alternative. 

For many readers Love & Food at Gran’s Table will bring back fond memories of their own special grans.  We had one in our family, my mother-in -law who each Sunday evening invited her children and grandchildren over. Looking back I think we rather took the effort involved in cooking all those roast dinners for granted. Wasn’t that just what grandmothers were supposed to do?

It’s great that this piece of social history has been published and a lovely way to honour these 60 grans from around the world. They deserve their spot in the limelight. Through their hard work and unselfish generosity they were often the glue that held families together. 

Throughout the book the message in that love and cooking are inseparable. And it’s sprinkled with good advice. I especially liked Ruth White’s “My Life lesson is simple- have a good attitude towards life and a gin and tonic in the evenings always helps’ 

Love &Food at Gran’s Table
Author: Natalie Oldfield
Published by PQ Blackwell
Price $49.99 

This review first appeared on the GrownUps website

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Japanese Pickled Cucumbers : Tsukumono

The many cultural festivals we have in Auckland each year are a very pleasurable way to pass the time, and an excellent opportunity to have a taste of the crafts, music, dance and street food from the many different communities who have settled in New Zealand.

Today, at the 'Cloud' was Japan Day and here I discovered Kyuri asa-zuke for the first time. Japanese pickles are different to ours and are not built to last. They are usually sliced and  marinated in a variety of pickling liquids and should be be eaten within a few days. They can be served as a garnish, a salad or at the end of a meal. Less commonly they are , like these kyuri asa-zuke , served whole, at a festival.

Although they looked rather alarmingly like green sausages I suspect they would be delicious so am keen to try to hunt down some thin skinned Japanese cucumbers and the recipe.

I would have tried them, but had already had my fill of pork dumplings and a scoop of gourmet Kohu Rd macha (green tea) ice cream.

Cheese, Pesto and Herb Muffins

There's such a profusion of basil growing in the garden at present that I was persuaded to make some pesto and used some of it to make these very tasty savoury cheese muffins with a Mediterranean flavour. So good to come home to after a walk with Abby the mischievous  Lab along the beach.

2 c of self raising flour
1 c of grated tasty cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/2 c of olive oil
1 c of milk
2 heaped tbsp of pesto
1/2 c of chopped herbs: a mixture of parsley, basil and coriander
6 sun dried tomatoes (diced)

Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the cheese.
Whisk the oil , egg, milk and pesto together
Stir in the chopped herbs and sundried tomatoes
Mix the dry and wet ingredients , Don't overmix

Spoon mixture into 12 medium sized greased muffin pans
Bake at 200C for 12 minutes. 
Leave to stand until until they have cooled to lukewarm before turning out.
No need to butter but do if you must.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

An Autumn Salsa

At the beginning of autumn when the feijoa season is in full swing I like to add them to salsas like this one,

It's a colourful mix of chopped feijoas, tender cactus nopalitos from La Costena, red pepper, cucumber , mango, mint and coriander.
I also added a minced chillie for some heat, a tablespoon of fruity olive oil  , and a sprinkling of Tio Pablo's citrus chilli salt.

So healthy and so good to have for a quick lunch.

But do remember to rinse the slime from the tender cactus Nopalitos before using!

Feijoa Easter Eggs

Easter Sunday breakfast:Feijoa Easter Eggs
Halved, flesh scooped out with a spoon and replaced. Covered with a lavish sprinkle of grated chocolate , castor sugar and cinnamon and baked until piping hot.Served with Greek yoghurt.
Followed by hot cross buns.
Happy Easter all!

ps These  Feijoa Easter eggs are good chilled as well

Friday, 3 April 2015

Feijoa and Rose Vanilla Slushy

Catching the last of the summer sun on our deck this morning we sipped our feijoa and banana slushies perfumed with Dilmah Rose Vanilla tea. Using hot tea to make a cold slushy might sound unorthodox but trust me it works.

This recipe is healthy and sugar free.


4 large feijoas
1 large banana
1 teaspoon of Dilmah Rose Vanilla tea leaves
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of chilled yoghurt


  • The night before slice the banana and chop the feijoa flesh into chunks and freeze
  • Just before serving make the tea with 1 teaspoon of Dilmah Rose Vanilla Tea and 1/2 cup of boiling water. Stir after 1 minute, then let it brew for 3 more minutes.
  • Pour the hot tea over the frozen banana and feijoas and give them a stir. This will help to separate the chunks of fruit,
  • Put into a blender or food processor and add 1/2 cup of yoghurt.
  • Whizz together until it is slushy.
  • Serve immediately in 2 small glasses or 1 large.

Potato Salad with Cactus Nopalitos

With the addition of some tender cactus nopalitos, citrus chilli salt and chopped coriander  I have just turned a plain old potato salad into a tasty dish which would not go amiss as part of a Mexican themed barbecue.

There's just enough left of the summery weather to plan one.

To make it

  • I chopped two boiled waxy potatoes ( skins left on)  and  2 hardboiled eggs , sliced 1-2 spring onions ( white part only) and put these into a salad bowl.
  • I rinsed and chopped some La Costena Tender Cactus Nopalitos  and added .
  • I stirred  some Tio Pablo Citrus Chill Salt and a clove of smashed garlic into 3 tablespoons of  fruity olive oil. Then added 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
  • I tossed this dressing lightly through the salad.  
  • And added plenty of chopped coriander.
The only change I might make next time is to use 1/2 chopped red onion instead of the spring onions to add a little more crunch.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Cottage Cheese with Tender Cactus Nopalitos

It could be my European heritage but I have always liked cottage cheese enlivened with little cubes of chopped gherkins served with crackers.

But when I  tried substituting the gherkins with some cubed  La Costena Tender Cactus Nopalitis recently I was won over. They are similar in texture but not quite so sharp. La Costena has preserved them in vinegar and added  a very subtle flavouring of coriander and serrano pepper.

Nopalitos are the pads of the cactus pear (also known as the prickly pear) Mexican cooks will often add them to scrambled eggs or as part of a taco filling.When you first lift these out of the jar they look like gummy snakes and are somewhat slimy so they do need to be rinsed before using.

Cuitlacoche : Not For the Faint Hearted

A can of La Costena Cuitlacoche:  full of a brown, slimy fungus but with healthful properties so not to be wasted!

Whizzed with blueberries and seasoned with Tio Pable Citrus Chilli salt, it's starting to taste better!

The La Costena Cuitlacoche and blueberry mixture stained some Israeli couscous an arresting black!

 Mango, blueberries, coriander, olive oil and lime juice are added to complete the dish 

Cuitlacoche or  Huitlacoche is an ancient Atzec food , a fungus that grows on corn. A healthy food as it has one of the highest protein contents in the mushroom family. 

It's all to easy to be put off by this blackish brown  mush with an unpleasant earthy smell. But I had said I would try it, so I did. The taste was not at all promising, rather like slimy mushrooms.

How could I possibly turn this into a tasty dish?

I wanted to retain the dark musty colour so I whizzed 1/2  cup of  La Costena Cuitlacoche with a small punnet of blueberries to add some fruity sweetness. It needed salt. In went one of my favourite condiments: Tio Pablo Citrus Chilli Salt.

It was beginning to take shape. But I wanted a more substantial dish.

At the back of my pantry lurked some toasted Israeli couscous. The toasty flavour would be good to add, and  it would hopefully  absorb the inky blue black colour which could make it look quite astonishing .

I fried 1/2 cup of the toasted Israeli couscous in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, added 3-4 tablespoons of the Cuitlacoche and blueberry sauce  and 3/4 cup of boiling water. In about 5-7 minutes , and with an occasional stir , the liquid had been absorbed and the couscous had reached the al dente stage. It needed a little more citrus chilli salt. 

For a little more fruitiness and some contrasting colours golden cubed mango and chopped green  coriander was added as well as a few more blueberries. A dressing of a splash of olive oil and a very small squeeze of lime juice completed the dish.

Lunch was ready! And it tasted really good!