DAL AND ROAST VEGETABLES WITH A CRISP AND SPICEY TOPPING

dal and roast vegetables

DAL AND ROAST VEGETABLES WITH A CRISP AND SPICEY TOPPING

Dal, dhal, daal or dhal, these are all Indian words for lentils or split pulses, they can and will be be cooked differently according to region and personal taste.  This recipe is my favourite at the moment. With the days here drawing in and the thought of long evenings around the fire, bowls of comforting, flavour rich food like this Dal are starting to sound like the answer to the dinner question.  This is the first comfort food meal for the season and has left me enthusiastic for more.  I love the way these simple ingredients with warming spices make for such easy eating – almost soup like at times, or as I have made it now – more like a risotto. In this version I have made my Dal into a satisfying meal topped with a layer of seasonal roast vegetables and finished with mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves sauted in coconut oil and poured – sizzling – over the top, then a final flourish of fresh coriander or mint, and finely sliced spring onion. The basic Dal recipe I have been making stays the same, as do the the tempered spicy topping, but the roast vegetables in-between change according to what is in my refrigerator. This is great eaten as is, but if you want more – add some naan, other indian bread or poppadoms on the side, pour a little yoghurt or cashew nut cream over top and add a cooling yoghurt, cumin seed and cucumber […]

asian chicken salad

Weeknight Asian Chicken Salad

This is a light and fresh salad, ideal for keeping things simple after a busy day.  A little chopping and not to much washing up, a little – but not totally – virtuous, this salad is satisfying and delicious. I have been making versions this salad for years and love the way these Asian flavours can be healthy, satisfying and a reliable crowd pleaser.  Who wants to cook food that no one wants to eat!  This is a salad that easily doubles or more for a crowd, or to have for leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. These lively flavours lift a dull day and don’t leave you feeling weighed down or tired – limes, ginger lemon grass, chilli (a little or a lot), coriander (or not), vietnamese mint and or normal mint, kaffir lime leaves,  fish sauce and or soy sauce, some crunchy peanuts, cashews or prawn chips and lots of fresh crunchy greens and vegetables of choice.   I have made this salad many times and have mixed the ingredients as many times – don’t be afraid – no kaffir lime use lemon grass or neither, want to make it vegan use soy sauce or tamari not fish sauce…The main thing to keep doing is tasting and aiming for a balance of sour, salty and spicy (to your taste). If you love these flavours I highly recommend you buy yourself a little Kaffir Lime Tree, I have one in a pot that I bring inside every winter it is […]

tomato,pumpkin,basilandlentilsalad

End of Summer Tomato Pumpkin Basil and Lentil Salad

This delicious salad marks an end to the summer days in my world, but, it could just as easily be a welcome to spring salad for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere.  It makes the most of this transition period for vegetables in my garden, when the tomatoes and basil  are coming to an end, and the pumpkins are just coming into their prime season.  For those of you heading into spring, the opposite will be happening in the vegetable markets and gardens. The temperatures plummeted here this week, which left me looking urgently for the comfort of warmer, more substantial food, while still wanting to finish the last of my summer harvest.  This salad bought these needs together perfectly. With events not being quite as I anticipated, and with over ambitious ideas of how much three people really want to eat for lunch – I found myself home alone this week with a lot of left over salad!  Four dinners later, I can tell you that as well as being delicious this is a very versatile salad! Starting with enthusiasm – I mean who doesn’t like to think they haven’t already got a delicious dinner already made just waiting for the finishing touches – dinner number one was enjoyed with a piece of white fish, pan fried and placed on top of my lightly warmed salad.  Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to eat, photography was not the priority it should have been.  I can only say that it really did […]

prawns and pangritata

Crispy Bread Pangritata

Today I want to share another beautiful Southern Italian condiment, called Pangritata, or poor mans parmesan.   Traditionally it was used to add texture and flavour to oil based pasta dishes without using expensive Parmesan Cheese,  made simply with stale bread, garlic fresh herbs and olive oil toasted in a pan until golden. This is a great recipe idea in many ways.  It is ideal for using up the ends of beautiful artisan breads or even the not so artisan.  It is good for adding texture and a pop of flavour to anything needing some crunch and a final flourish.  In its original and simplest form it does all this, but add a few store cupboard ingredients to match what you are cooking and it becomes something altogether magical making simple meals special and, when the fridge is a little bare, it finishes a meal sprinkled over and through pantry favourites such as risotto rice, pasta, polenta, artichokes, tinned tomatoes, capers, olives and anchovies CRISPY PLAIN PANGRITATA By hand or by pulsing in a food processor roughly chop all of your ingredients together. Put all together in a pan large enough to cook in a single layer, and toss together with the olive oil so they are nicely coated but not drenched. Turn the pan on to a medium heat and gently cook until golden brown and crisp. Once made you can use these straight away or cool and store in an airtight jar for several days.  Make them on a […]

potato fennel artichoke gratin

Fresher, Lighter – Potato, Fennel and Artichoke Gratin

Cook this soon, it is delicious and simple to make!  A lighter, fresher feeling version of the classic potato gratin we all grew up loving. Somehow despite a deep desire to eat foods like the traditional creamy potato gratin, my body and common sense suggests that other than special occasions, eating Potato Gratin is not in my best interests. Meet this super tasty and satisfying answer to the cheese/cream lovers dilemma – just as tasty and introducing some extra vegetables and complex flavours.  It is a little bit sophisticated, with references to Italy in the fennel, artichokes and parmesan, it goes with anything from a simple green salad, to salmon, to a big juicy steak.   I have made it three times this week – just to make sure it is always good!  I have found it simple to put together – using just a few ingredients,  it is one of those recipes where time in the oven brings the sum of ingredients deliciously together.  It makes for great every day food, or it is equally appropriate for a special shared dinner with family and friends. I found the basis for this idea on Jamie Olivers latest five ingredient TV series – there are some great ideas for busy people wanting delicious food – not always fast or cheap, but very do-able. Despite my ongoing but inconsistent efforts and attention to my garden (over many years), the only thing that consistently does well is potatoes, and even they seem to grow […]

summer harvest salad

Summer Harvest Salad

I love this time of the year when you get to share the bounty of the garden and produce is plentiful and affordable. The tomatoes and courgette in the photo came from my friend David, our Raeward Fresh Butchers garden, and although some of the tomatoes were lovingly squashed in his pocket they were gratefully accepted and tasted amazing in this salad. There always seems to be an over supply of courgettes at this time of the year, with an occasional missed courgette masquerading as a marrow on offer. This makes it an ideal time for experimenting with new recipes for you to enjoy them.  If you are lucky and have had a summer like the one we have just had, you may have your own abundance of tomatoes and basil in the garden.  My aim, as always, is to cook vegetables often while they are plentiful, enjoying them at their best flavour and nutritional value, then also – hopefully – I wont crave them so much when they go out of season. For this simple summer salad you can bring out that crazy spiralizer, vegetable peeler or mandoline.  Spirallized noodles, simply peeled, long strands of courgette, and if even that sounds a bit of mad – courgettes cut into rounds as thinly as you can, and then let the basil marinade do the work, coating them and making them delicious. SUMMER BOUNTY SALAD Enough for a large salad for four Salad Dressing Start by blending all the ingredients for […]

Goan fish curry parcel

Week Night Indian Spiced Fish Parcels

  Mid week meals need to simple, quick and versatile.  This is a new addition to our rotation and has been dubbed by the men in my house delicious and blog worthy.  As always I am very susceptible to flattery so it will definitely stay on the menu.  More than flattery though will keep it on our table,! It works because it can be changed up in a number of ways – you can change the variety of fish you use – branch out and try fish you haven’t cooked before or a cheaper variety. It has worked for me using whatever fish is most affordable, or available on the day, and even try mixed fish in the parcel – maybe prawns too!  You can also play with the vegetables you put in here as long as nothing requires more than the quickest cooking.  The coconut cream and the spices carry through the parcels and make it all delicious. The idea for this came from a conversation with a friend Jean Foster in Raeward Fresh, with a verbal recipe given – time and my memory being what it is this may have strayed far from Jeans original recipe but it has certainly led to some delicious dinners and for that I thank you Jean! I am lucky enough to have some of Jen’s Cozinhas Goan fish curry powder, and I would certainly recommend your searching this out if you live in New Zealand.  For those not lucky enough to use […]

socca crepes

Simple Versatile Socca Pancake Mix

I have been listening to people and the media talking about food.  Two phrases that have caught my attention lately are to do with the idea of either – breakfast for dinner and or salad for breakfast.  I love these ideas and their seems to be something comforting about them that implies ease and simplicity.  Even better they can translate to either, family feasts or simple meals for one. To make this idea work today I have been cooking simple but delicious chickpea flour pancakes called Socca or Farinata, a traditional recipe idea originating from Nice and the neighbouring Italian coastline.  These incredibly versatile pancakes can form the base of an array of meals – breakfast, lunch, pre prandial or supper – they can be folded and used as a scoop on the side of your plate, rolled with your favourite mix of fillings traditional pancake/crepe style, cooked with fillings such as teaspoons of pesto and or mozzarella or feta, and basil in the batter before flipping (see the photos at the bottom of this page), or even poured and baked in the oven and used as a simple pizza style base, and if you have some left over, keep turning them in the pan until they dry and crisp, or bake them in the oven as you would for crostini and use like a cracker.  The batter can be used after sitting for half an hour, or, it will be even better for you after soaking overnight and using […]

green bean and tarragon salad

Fresh and Simple Summer Bean and Tarragon Salad

The summer days of January are drifting by, all the drama and rituals of Christmas are behind us and the tree is safely stowed away again until next year  (thank you George for help with that one!!).  We can sit back, relax a little, enjoy the photos and make plans for the new year.  I love these new beginnings and clean slates,  the opportunity they offer to make changes and challenges – this year 2018, I hope to set some new goals that will set the year apart and make it stand out – go to new places, meet new people and try new things – sounds good and I love the anticipation and savouring of ideas! Maybe I will go and sit under a shady tree and think about it….one day. In the mean time I decided that shady tree could wait, as I had heard about a Sunday Arrowtown farmers market which I was excited to visit.  I found these beautiful green beans there, freshly picked and bundled, bursting with market fresh goodness. They inspired this salad. SUMMER BEAN SALAD WITH TARRAGON Start by steaming or blanching your beans, and then cooling them quickly in some iced water.  Then set them aside to drain.  At this point all my beautiful purple beans turned green – funny how that happens with asparagus as well.  I wonder if their nutrients are different because of the colour difference?  If anyone out there has any wisdom on this subject I would be […]

harissa and thyme toasted almonds

A few of My Favourite Quick Party Snacks

The  festive season is here and we are all ready to catch up with friends and family.  With that in mind here is a list of some of the things I like to eat and prepare at this time of the year – or for any party. For those of us who love to cook we love those moments in life where time is not a luxury and we have space and energy to make little morsels of delicious foods for people we care about, with those moments in mind I have listed some of my favourites from my blog later on the page for you to link to.  Maybe after Christmas if you are lucky enough to have a few days off. More often then not though in the real world for most of us, time is at a premium and we are looking for delicious food fast so we can get on with important things like spending time with family and friends.  With this in mind I have included some ideas that I have used and think are delicious.  I would love it if any of you would share your ideas, for quick tricks and snacks or store cupboard essentials  you use to impress and enjoy with your friends and family. DELICIOUS FAST SNACKS *Harissa and Thyme toasted almonds – simply made by tossing un blanched almonds in Harissa with a sprinkle of fresh thyme, salt and a splash of olive oil and toasting carefully, until crunchy in […]