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

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.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Feijoa and Pickled Ginger Salsa

A bag of  green feijoas kindly brought over by a friend, some baby pink Japanese pickled ginger and a  solitary lime left in our fruit bowl provided the inspiration for this fresh little salsa.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Healthy Red Cabbage Salad

We tend to think of red cabbage as a winter vegetable, braised with apples and spices. But although  autumn has arrived and there is a bit of a chill in the air I still much prefer to make it into a fresh , crisp salad,
So I shredded a small red cabbage very finely, added a tin of pineapple chunks and their juice, a few slices of left over pickled Japanese ginger which had been lingering in the fridge and a small handful of toasted sunflower seeds and a few tablesoons of desicated coconut. After seasoning it I garnished it with lots of chopped coriander.s
The sweetness of the pineapple juice was sharpened by the pickled ginger. The sunflower seeds added  crunchiness.It was the kind of salad which is happy to sit around for a while so could be made well ahead of time.
I photographed it inside  on a rainy, overcast day close to a window and used a white reflector to minimise shadows.

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Hearty Pie by Le Chef at the Lakehouse

If I had had more time I might have achieved the perfect shot of  this  hearty pie baked by 'Le Chef' Grant Kitchen at the Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe. But it was the last remaining piece so was whisked from under my nose and served up to a customer who pronounced it excellent!
Very appropriate I guess as the theme of the Auckland Quilt Guild exhibition in the adjacent Becroft Gallery is "If I only had Time!"
Oh well, time to linger over a latte.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Happiness is: Brunch at the Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe

Meeting up with friends for a coffee on Sunday morning.

At the adjoining table this neenish tart, with a hint of lemon, is pronounced his favourite by a customer who spent much of his life in the Navy and has tasted neenish tarts all over the world.
Although this sweet treat appears in the Edmond's cookbook Australians claim it as theirs.  But let's not quibble over who first invented them and just enjoy their deliciousness.

On the menu, a healthy salad sprinkled with crunchy nuts and garnished with whole basil leaves designed by our resident chef Grant Kitchen.

And this Mediterranean inspired  one , reminiscent of a Tuscan Panzanella. .

His custard squares look divine! Hard to stop at one!

I Heart a Latte at the Lakehouse

It's Sunday morning at the Lakehouse Arts Centre in Takapuna. In the Becroft Gallery the Auckland Quilt Makers are busy hanging their beautiful quilts for their annual exhibition which opens tomorrow evening. The theme this year is "Time."

I'll be taking some photographs soon, but first it's time for a latte!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Food, Health and Happiness’ by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey’s new cookbook Food, Health and Happiness is filled with recipes she loves to share with friends and family.

As well as a cookbook it is a memoir about Oprah’s own food journey and the many battles she has had with her weight.

I found her childhood reminiscences touching. As a little girl she used to dream of a perfect world in which her mother would ladle up a great big bowl of Campbell’s soup just for her. But her Mother was a maid and after spending all day cleaning other people’s houses, tousling her braids and serving her daughter soup was out of the question.

When Oprah made her TV debut on the Tonight Show Joan Rivers, the guest host, wanted to know why she was so fat. She challenged her to come back 15 pounds lighter the next time she hosted. Oprah felt like crawling under her chair, and then promptly went back to Chicago to start yet another diet,

She continued to try every diet under the sun. Eventually it was the Weightwatchers programme which proved to be the most successful for her.

At the time this book was published she had reached a stage where, having lost 40 kilos, she is content and feels comfortable with her body.

These days she follows the rules of clean eating (food that is minimally processed) but also feels free to sometimes be indulgent

“Food is about joy, not suffering. It’s meant to nourish us, not cause us pain.” She now says
On the basis of what she has learnt on her own often tortuous journey she is able to offer lots of advice and encouragement to others who want to lose weight.

The recipes in Food, Health and Happiness were created for her by well-known American chefs who have worked for her over the years.

Although it is not an official Weightwatchers cookbook at the end of each recipe the Weightwatchers Points are included. Oprah is closely involved with this organisation and is a part owner.
I thought the recipes might be more suited to American palates but was pleased to find that most were in tune with the way we eat as well. Being chef’s recipes some did have a long list ingredients and took time to put together. But they were not too complicated.

The Pasta Primavera made with heaps of vegetables (carrots, courgettes, broccoli, mushrooms and a yellow pepper) and only a small amount of pasta was lifted out of the ordinary by the basil chiffonade and a sprinkling of pinenuts.

Couscous made by whizzing raw cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles grains has become a favourite amongst food bloggers lately. The version in Oprah’s cookbook in which the cauliflower grains are stir-fried with turmeric, garlic and cumin before the other ingredients are stirred in was very tasty.

The cauliflower and potato mash was a clever way of creating a slimming version of mashed potatoes. Although it was spiked with rosemary I thought it tasted a little bland. In my mind cauliflower and cheese are made for each other so I threw caution to the wind,  disregarded the Weightwatchers points and added a large dollop of sour cream and a handful of parmesan (much more delicious!)   It reheated beautifully so can be prepared earlier in the day and then zapped in the microwave,

Her sorbets look delicious and as Oprah points out they contain zero fat. But several of them include 100 grams of unrefined white sugar which I thought was a lot so I didn’t try them.

The unfried chicken got a mixed reception at our house. This recipe by famous American Chef Art Smith is a slimmer’s version of fried chicken The chicken breast, marinated in buttermilk, was deliciously moist but I found the crumbed exterior (which was baked, not deep fried) crispy but a little dry. My partner however loved it,

We have yet to try her chicken masala but it sounded delicious. As does her peppered tuna with a spicy sesame ginger dressing,

Oprah Winfrey’s new cookbook Food, Health and Happiness is already an Amazon bestseller. A great many adoring Oprah fans and Weightwatcher will have snapped it up.

But anyone who is interested in living a healthy lifestyle will find some interesting recipes in Food Health and Happiness to choose from for weekday meals as well as celebratory occasions.

Title: Food, Health and Happiness: 115 on Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life. Author: Oprah Winfrey Publisher: Macmillan RRP: 49.99

I wrote this review in my weekly column in the GrownUps website 


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bacon and Egg Pie: Hot out of the Oven

Early in the morning, just as the first customers start to arrive, delicious savoury smells waft out of the Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe kitchen and bacon and egg pies and gigantic hot scones are taken  out of the oven for brunch.

A Laid Back Coffee at the Lakehouse

Art and Coffee: A Girl's Best Friends !

An Early Morning Coffee at the Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe

After getting soaking wet walking the dog in the pouring rain at Takapuna Beach early this morning a coffee at the Lakehouse Arts Centre  perfectly made by 'Le Chef' Grant Kitchen and enjoying a walk around the Gallery was very soothing!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Art and Food at the Lakehouse Arts Centre in Takapuna

Chef Grant Kitchen has recently taken over the Lakehouse Arts Centre cafe in Takapuna and is creating a great new menu.
After Grant (Le Chef) had put his finishing cheffy touches to this delicous carrot cake, Janelle (his offsider in the kitchen) brought it out to the cafe and posed for me. The last shot was taken in the Becroft Gallery adjoinng the cafe. In the background is a gorgeous painting by local notable artist Paul Woodruffe.


Friday, 10 March 2017

Rocket Pesto Ingredients

Rocket would have to be one of my favourite ingredients for putting into a salad, tossing over a pizza straight out of the oven, and stirring into a pasta dish. But when there is an abundance of it our garden it makes a great pesto, either on its own or with some parsley added. Here are the ingredients (except for the olive oil) which I would use for it : rocket, garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, walnuts and parmesan photographed for the food photography class ( Thirty Days to Better Food Photography) which I have joined on the Internet

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Chef at the Lakehouse :Beetroot Salad

Exciting new dishes are appearing on the menu at the Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe in Takapuna created by our talented chef Grant Kitchen. This is the beetroot salad I demolished earlier in the week. I took a quick pic before tucking in.  Delicious!

 And here is the man himself: striking a cheffy pose

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Yummy Treats at "Chef at the Lakehouse" Arts Centre Cafe

With Chef Grant Kitchen at the helm the Lakehouse Arts Centre Cafe in Takapuna has a new look with yummy treats  and the prices are very reasonable as well. As an opening gesture coffees are only $3.00 for the first month. Come on over!




Sunday, 29 January 2017

Neighbourhood : A Cookbook Review


 Neighbourhood, by Hetty McKinnon. is a cookbook full of hearty salads, delicious sweet treats and charming stories about food, family and friendships.

Hetty MckInnon who wrote it used to run a very popular community kitchen called Arthur St in Surry, a Sydney suburb, where she  delivered her salads to the locals on her bicycle.
She recently relocated to New York with her family and, inspired by her travels, is now creating salads with more international flavours. She sees food as the best way to bring neighbours together and build healthy communities.

Her salads are inventive, generous and made to share. The desserts and sweet treats such as the olive oil and sea salt molten brownies, the lemon curd and coconut slice and the almost instant raspberry mousse are irresistible.

These recipes may well inspire you to invite some of your neighbours over to share a meal with you during the festive season. Especially those who live on their own and might be feeling a little lonely would be really appreciative,
Or cook up a batch of this delicious eggplant and tomato relish .A jar of this, tied with a red ribbon and with a pretty handmade label, would be the nicest way to thank them for always being there to collect your mail and feed your cat when you go on holiday.

This spiced eggplant and tomato relish is my Christmas gifting staple. Packed into pretty jars, this is the most delicious edible gift, to be enjoyed over the holidays with cheese and crackers. When not gifting, pair this relish with sweet roasted butternut pumpkin and chickpeas for a hearty, vegetable-packed salad. This dish denitely exudes a fancy festive attitude. It is VG and GF and serves 4-6.
80 ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggplants (about 800 g), peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 long green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
400 g diced tomatoes (about 1 can)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
115 g (½ cup) caster sugar sea salt
To make the relish, heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a high heat. Add half the eggplant to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and golden, then remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes until soft, then add the mustard seeds and cook for about 2 minutes, until the seeds start to pop. Add the ginger, chilli, garlic, cumin, cloves, paprika, turmeric and a large pinch of salt and cook for a further 2 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and 125 ml (½ cup) of water. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes until the mixture thickens and the
eggplant is very soft.

1 butternut pumpkin (about 1.4 kg), peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
500 g cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans), drained
2 cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup coriander leaves
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
sea salt and black pepper,
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Place the butternut pumpkin on a large baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20–25 minutes until golden.
Combine the pumpkin, chickpeas and baby spinach and spoon over the relish. Mix everything together well, then scatter over herbs and slivered almonds to serve.
butternut pumpkin: any variety of pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower chickpeas: butterbeans, lentils
This recipe is reprinted with permission from Neighbourhood, by Hetty McKinnon. Published by McMillan RRP $39.99

 This review first appeared on the GrownUps website