Smokey Pepper and Walnut Muharrara

muhammara

Smokey Pepper and Walnut Muharrara

Another taste of the middle east, another condiment to make life better, to make the ordinary extraordinary.  Maybe I am over stating the case – trying to catch your attention with bold claims.  In truth – I really do love the way having bold flavoured condiments in my pantry and refrigerator can take a group of ingredients and make them special. I wrote a while ago about trying to cook once and eat twice and in many ways I fail absolutely in this – there is either too much or not enough when it comes to leftovers and somehow they rarely work out to be that clever meal remade into something new and exciting the next day.  Condiments are my exception to this, they really are the magic to make meals great and I love having a changing mix of these to make my every day meals better. This sauce is great in that the flavours come together and get even better over a few days and keep for up to a week in your refrigerator.   There are so many ways you can use your Muhammara … In your favourite burger or slider or wrap. Dolloped over your roast vegetable salad. Beside your roast beef, lamb or chicken. Spooned into a jacket roast potato or sweet potato. On your antipasto platter with crusty bread, olives, aged hard cheeses such as goudas, pecorino and chedder and chargrilled vegetables. As part of your mixed lunch salad bowl with some grain,avocado, tomato, […]

superfood spinach pici pasta

Super Foods, Super Simple, Spinach Pici Pasta

Did I get the all important catch phrases in there.  No kidding, this is super simple and fun. Make it – on your own, with friends or even your favourite four year old – standing at the kitchen bench creating memories and spending time with people, its all about sharing simple seasonal food, nothing fancy and no need to be hoping for perfection. The recipe for this Pici Pasta is based on Jamie Olivers recipe, from his book Jamie’s Super Food Family Classics.   The pasta dough literally comes together in under two minutes in the food processor and is made with flour and  fresh spinach – nothing else!  The rolling does take a little time but it is not a practise of perfection just a spell of mindless  hand rolling, chat to a friend, listen to a podcast, plan your next move, day dream……The pasta I made came out a little slimmer than size of green beans and actually looked like green beans when cooked, they weren’t perfectly formed and I think this is part of their charm.  The original recipe calls for them to be rolled to the same thickness as green beans but I found this hard to cook through, so I have made them thinner. You can make the dough and cook it straight away or put it aside for later or the next day.  Paired with a pasta sauce consisting of vegetables from your fridge and pantry a dusting of parmesan basil and or pinenuts […]

spicey cauliflower and kimchi salad

Spiced Cauliflower and Kimchi Salad

Add some probiotic goodness to your everyday salads with Kimchi.  It tastes good and it is good for you –  and I think that is mostly what we are all hoping for in our cooking. I have used roughly chopped kimchi  here to act as a salad dressing with a spicy fresh kick. I’m using it in the same way you would add vinegar to your  salad vinaigrette – which gives balance and liveliness to the richness of the roast vegetables and the fresh flavour and texture of the herbs. I was very lucky to have been given a big handful of beautiful fresh purple sprouting broccoli grown right here in Queenstown.  Amazing what will grow here, planted in early autumn, wintered over and finished in spring.  It needs just a little luck ( read lots of luck), with the weather and clever gardening skills – not mine, I might add – thanks Isabel and Sarah.  The sprouting broccoli went perfectly with the cauliflower, and the leaves crisped up when roasted in the same way kale leaves do. Other than the gardening none of this is really all that clever, we have all made lots of lovey roast vegetable salads, but the idea of adding the Kimchi as a dressing in the salad is definitely new for me, and lends itself to further using kimchi as a salad ingredient in its own right.  I can also imagine it chopped and tossed through a grain, quinoa or rice salad salad, or […]

beetroot burger patties

Beautiful Black Bean, Beetroot and Brown Rice Burger Patties

  Explanations to follow, but that said – you really should start making these now! They are so much more than just a vegetarian, dairy and gluten free patty.  To have them made in the refrigerator means you have an easy meal in a multitude of guises ready to go for breakfast lunch or dinner.   I was definitely a reluctant starter but I am now thoroughly in love with these. With winter now officially behind us, I am very excited to start thinking about casual spring and summer eating, barbecues and picnics.  Unfortunately the new seasons vegetables are slow to appear in these southern areas so I am reinventing those same vegetables we have enjoyed over winter in different guises – cutting them differently, cooking them in a lighter style and eating them in fresher simpler ways. With this all said the story for these patties begins with my friend and employer, Angela. Angela had requested a  vegetarian burger patty for work. To be honest I was a little under whelmed by the idea, not something I have ever really considered eating, and because of that I was slow to get going with recipe development.  Moving on though, and not prepared to say no to the challenge, I did get going and have been working on these vege burger patties for a while – there have been quite a number of unfortunate fragile fall apart piles of deliciousness around here! The challenge I made to myself was to make […]

spring green vegetable soup

Spring Green Vegetable Soup

Simple, elegant, soothing, green vegetable soup.  This delicious soup is made in minutes and is full of flavour and made complex with the layering of textures – lentils for substance, snow peas for crunch and lemon for zing – just before serving. Spring green vegetable soup follows on the heals of my green vegetable salad.  The weather turned snowy and I still had lots of odds and ends of beautiful green vegetables in the refrigerator and freezer.   As is mostly the case with my home cooking there is quite a lot of ad-libbing and swapping ingredients. Mint was the one ingredient I didn’t have which I think this soup gains from but it was buried under our late snowfall.  Luckily the coriander I did have gave a similar fresh feeling and a slightly Thai twist to the soup.  I think the lesson is that you can mix the herbs up, it might change the feel a bit – but it will still be delicious. This lovely soup is light, yet still manages to feel satisfying without any of the heavier soup staples such as potato, pumpkin and kumara.  I think it relies on the vegetables belonging to the family of sweeter greens, the amounts can be played with as long as you try to include at least some peas, I wouldn’t put stronger greens such as spinach or kale in this gentle brew as their flavours will overpower it.  The lentils add a lovely soft chewiness, the snow peas […]

spring green and mozzarella salad

Simple Spring Green and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

With longer days and sunshine, I am looking for clean green foods to eat.  Fresh food for spring that matches the flavours, textures and colours I am looking for on my plate.  There is something about the change of seasons that opens the way for doing things differently –  for fresh starts or new beginnings  – and spring especially seems to inspire me to up the anti on healthy living and eating.  It seems that if I can eat simple, fresh, delicious food, and feel satisfied, I have made a good start toward achieving my goals. Give me fresh herbs and green vegetables teamed with lemon chilli, garlic and some beautiful fresh mozzarella and life does seem good! In real life, the spring vegetables are still a few weeks away, so there are some cheats in this salad with the frozen beans and peas.  I love the sweetness that the peas give, and as there is only a small amount of broad beans, a little token shelling of them will go a long way.  It is my hope that people know just how much you love them when you go to the trouble of double podding broad beans.  But if not, at least I enjoy the difference it makes. This salad is brought to life with lots of lovely fresh lemon juice, olive oil, mint and finished with a hint of garlic and chilli.  As always, it is seasoned with salt and pepper.  I think this point, in the finishing […]

mussel fritters

New Zealand Green lip Mussel Fritters

Healthy, affordable, available and delicious, New Zealand Green lip Mussels are found in abundance in our supermarkets and fish mongers – fresh in tanks, frozen in the half shell, as pates, pickled/brined and smoked. I love that, in a world in which good quality foods can be expensive,  mussels are so much a part of our food culture and can still be so affordable. I love to buy them fresh from the tank as an easy Friday night meal, simply steaming them open and serving them in a big bowl with some crusty bread and good butter. These mussel fritters are simple and very versatile, you can easily change the flavour profile by adding spices or pastes to your base mix, or using different toppings Use smoked mussels fresh. Load with fresh herbs such as parsley, chervil and dill. Add a spoon full of zhoug or harissa to give a middle eastern feel. Add a teaspoon of curry powder – a great savoury addition to a surprising number of things. Handful of grated cheese. Add some fresh chilli and asian herbs and spoon an Asian dipping sauce over them in the shell. Serve with yoghurt, labna, mayonnaise, cashew based sauce, zhoug……… Make them larger and serve them as part of a meal rather than a canapé. BASIC MUSSEL FRITTER MIX This will make approximately 25 small but chunky fritters to fit in your half shells If using fresh mussels steam these open in a large pot.  Simply add a half […]

shakshuka

Zhoug – spicy-green-delicious

Zhoug, shakshuka, labna, all words my computer would rather I changed, but which offer a delicious look into another world of  vibrant and exciting foods and flavours. Today it is all about Zhoug. This spicy middle eastern condiment,originally from Yemen and now a favourite in Israel, had somehow missed my food radar. Happily Lily, an inspiring young work colleague – knowing my love of middle eastern foods –  bought me a small jar of both a red and a green zhoug that her father had made.   I was immediately hooked and needing to be able to make this myself, I turned to my ridiculously large collection of recipe books – (it is always good to have an excuse to justify the purchase of more though!) – and found this sauce in a number of my middle eastern recipe books.  After some further reading and research, (reality says – lying around, thumbing through recipe books and surfing the food files of the internet), I have been happily giving these recipes a try! I am sure the real deal is different in its nuances, but I am so happy with the results that I think you should give it a try too.  It will warm up just about anything you wish to eat and will be something you are happy to find in your refrigerator – my friend Lily said you can even freeze it!  Most importantly, this isn’t all about the chilli, it is a whole palate of flavours giving this […]

blue cod in crazy water

Blue Cod in Crazy Water

Here I am cooking our beautiful South Island blue cod again.  Firm fleshed, white, delicate, delicious, locally and sustainably fished, there is nothing not to love about this fish. I spoke very briefly the other day to local seafood expert, restauranteur and chef Darren Lovell of Queenstowns amazing Fishbone Bar and Grill, about sustainably fished New Zealand seafood. I was heartened to take away from our conversation, the fact that he felt we had a lot to be proud of in our New Zealand fishing industry, and the work that is happening to ensure the long term sustainability of our fisheries.  Comments like this from informed people are great to hear, and it is always a conversation worth having regarding anything we choose to eat. The phrase ‘crazy water’  in the title of this recipe-  is from the Italian aqua pazza, which in translation may refer to the simple tomato, garlic herb and chilli broth, or to the sea water that the fishermen use to cook there catch – there seems to be no definitive answer to this.  It is though, a very alluring title and one that drew me to it straight away. The beauty in this dish lies in its simplicity and the integrity of the ingredients.  Show casing fresh fish with the best tomatoes you can find, a few fresh herbs, garlic, chilli flakes and your best extra virgin olive oil.   It is often simple meals  like this that show off the best of any countries real […]

simple celeriac salad

Quick and Delicious Celeriac Salad

If the fennel I wrote about last week seems still exotic to me what do I now think of celeriac?  Not so sure.   I  wonder why, even though it is definitely not a vegetable I have grown up with or cooked with or eaten – it still almost falls in my mind, to the category of the much maligned swede.  Having said that, price wise it is more of a luxury vegetable, and certainly in culinary sense you will find it much used in french and european cooking – remoulade sauce and salad being very traditional uses of celeriac.  We also often see it on restaurant menus in soup or puree/mash under fish and meats and with its celery flavour it lends itself to all these ideas and many more salads. I have paired it today with walnuts, cornichon, apple, radishes and lots of fresh herbs -dill, parsley and mint.  This salad reminds me a little of my easy-raw-beetroot-salad in its simplicity of preparation and in its ability to satisfy.  This salad works well in many situations, it is great as a side with a main meal or made into a salad meal in its own right.  It works well teamed with lightly smoked and rich flavours – think about – smoked fish tumbled gently through this salad, with boiled egg and your favourite greens, or with chicken or pork braised in rich smoked paprica and lemon sauces or chorizo sausage, or you could eat it as part of a salad […]