EVERYDAY LENTIL AND BLACK BEAN CHILLI

lentil and black bean chilli

EVERYDAY LENTIL AND BLACK BEAN CHILLI

I read a phrase last week that captured my interest  “cook once eat twice”,  sort of a no-brainer,  but for some reason we have always shunned leftovers.  My cooking is spent avoiding left overs knowing that in most instances they will be abandoned mouldering in the refrigerator and one of my biggest hates is food waste!   So, thinking on this, I decided to consider meals that could be cooked in larger quantities and reinvented to seem new second time around. Where better to start looking than the young people I work with, these are busy people juggling finances, work and fun. From my conversations with these inspirational people came the idea for lentil braises – one was eating a chilli and one a Bolognese, straight away I had my idea to run with.  Thanks ladies! The next issue confronting me, and a surprising number of other people I talk to, is that of including more meat free vegetable rich meals in life that wont leave the meat eaters thinking something was missing.  Once again lentils are a great answer. If you need any further reason to make this, then that reason has to be that it is a real store cupboard / refrigerator meal.  You can change up the ingredients and use those lonely carrots, bag ends of vegetables and pulses and at the end have a delicious meal (and a good conscience for your efforts!) This is a weekend cooking-at-leisure meal that it will be better for time […]

orange chilli tahini sauce

BEST EVER CHILLI AND ORANGE TAHINI SAUCE

Okay that is a pretty big claim but I really do love this sauce and for now I am happy to pour it over just about any thing. Winter really is here now and it is time to look for comfort foods in my part of the world.  My challenge to myself  is to try and do this in ways that I can still feel happy about what it is I am eating, and also to use as many as I can of the amazing winter vegetables in the process.  There are many staples of winter that I return to every year they give comfort in there flavours and the memories of the shared meals when they have been enjoyed.   This delicious tahini sauce adds a new dimension and level of enjoyment to some of these old favourites.  I enjoyed it last night over a platter of roast vegetables and cherry tomato salad and I am looking forward to pouring it onto a lentil chilli that is simmering on my stove as I write.  Use it instead of mayonnaise, aioli or yoghurt dipping sauces and in conjunction with anything you would put with hummus   It would be delicious on a wrap or mixed salad bowl, adding both flavour and richness with all the goodness of tahini, orange chilli and apple cider vinegar. I live with the fact that not every one is a tahini lover, I have always loved it though, especially the “top secret” blend made in […]

preserved lemons

ESSENTIAL PRESERVED LEMONS

I am a confirmed lover of condiments, sauces, salsas and dressings my fridge is dominated by jars of tasty concoctions to make the ordinary extraordinary.  Preserved lemons are among my favourites and although not something I use every day, when I am cooking fish, braised meats and vegetables or salads with a mediterranean twist these are part of my go to flavour options.  New Zealand citrus fruits are at there peak over the winter months so its a great time to make use of them and preserve some for the rest of the year.  You could also get an early start and make a few jars now to give away as christmas gifts or hostess gifts. They take minutes to make and need at least a month (minimum) and up to three months to cure. Once cured they can remain in a coolish dark cupboard and are stable for at least a year. Once opened keep them in the fridge.  In the fridge they seem to keep indefinitely and I have had them at times for up to a year with no apparent loss of quality, as long as they remain covered in the brine.  Over the years I have decreased the amount of salt I use and have not noticed any deterioration in quality and found I am able to use more without over salting my food. You can make as many or few jars as you like, as I say they do make great gifts, you could add […]

mushroom lentil and kumera bake

WINTER KUMARA, MUSHROOM AND LENTIL BAKE

Lucky me sharing a version of this delicious winter warming comfort food with my family in Wellington, I am having a winter break with family in the North Island of New Zealand, where the weather while still not tropical is a good deal warmer than the far south.  What a bonus to share a meal and find inspiration, that is easy, healthy, delicious, and a new way of putting familiar ingredients together. Best of all – a recipe that when I cook it,  will always remind me of good times spent with family. This meal fits in with my favourite ways of eating, being quick healthy and delicious. The cup of cream I have justified as being a natural ingredient, it adds a slight richness to it but not so much as to feel decadent and you could easily sub in your favourite type of milk if you are lactose intolerant.  If you need further reasons to make this – it works really well as the main event with some vegetables or a salad on the side – some fresh crusty bread is also delicious and mops up the last creamy goodness, eat it as a side to your meat of the day, and when you think it can’t give any more it reheats beautifully and makes fantastic leftovers.  This recipe makes enough for four as part of a main meal but it easily doubles or more for a bigger crowd… and why not make enough for your lunch box […]

black rice and coconut breakfast

Easy and Delicious Black Rice and Coconut Breakfast

So easy and so delicious. This is creamy, chewy, sweet, and slightly exotic tasting – this is breakfast heaven.  I realise now that I am very late to the black rice breakfast idea, traditional in some cultures and popular on cafe menus, but now I have tried it I am a convert and I can see no reason why I am not going to eat this for desert as well. The black rice has an amazing flavour and natural perfume as it cooks, it is slightly sweet and even though this particular brand of rice is from Italy it is very reminiscent of Asian flavours.  I have cooked it today with cardamon as this is the flavour I had been wanting, but I love the idea of lemongrass, lime and ginger served with mango, or sweet cinnamon and nutmeg, or vanilla….  Go wild but  please let me know what  flavours you enjoy! The grains of this rice are slightly short and round with a  wonderful chewy quality that you find in brown rice, which makes it feel substantial enough to fuel your morning. I followed the rules as I read them (soaking my rice over night), this makes the rice easier to digest and faster to cook but is not absolutely necessary.  If you don’t soak the rice it will need more water and an extra half an hour or so to cook.  The cooking process is a little like risotto (but without the fuss), adding water and coconut milk […]

kale pineapple and kumera salad

Kale, Pineapple and Kumera Salad

These are fairly humble ingredients available all year round.  Kumera is our New Zealand sweet potato, so substitute what you have available and pester your green grocer to get these in stock, they are versatile, delicious and a great form of slow burning energy.  Kale, both green and purple, would have to be the easiest things I have ever grown even surviving our southern winter, and, If you don’t grow your own it always seems very affordable to buy.  Pineapples aren’t a locally grown food but they do seem to be a staple on the shelves year round and offer a delicious and exotic twist to this salad.  Peppers chilli and onions add to the complexity and savoury notes and colour in this salad. I  have made this at work as well several times and have added black rice sometimes, which makes it even more sustaining, and adds another chewy texture, for a whole meal salad.  The black rice I have used is  Riso Toro,  an Italian long grain rice, and has an almost sweet smell when cooking and is the most delicious rice!  It is also beautiful to look at and adds amazing colour contrast on your plate. KALE PINEAPPLE AND KUMERA SALAD Enough for four as a side salad, but easily doubled or more. Pre heat oven to 200’c First I like to twice roast my kumera.  As soon as you decide to make this turn your oven on and put your washed but not peeled kumera straight […]

bloody mary steak salad

Bloody Mary Steak Salad

There is snow on the hills today and definitely our first taste of winter to come. My cherry tomatoes though, are oblivious to this, and are still giving the last of their summer bounty.  Ripening on withered vines, even the black tomatoes that I had given up on, are producing delicious fruits.  Most of my friends, with orderly lives have long since discarded their withered vines but – perseverance, gluttony and a blind eye to their unsightly appearance, has paid off for me and I will enjoy all they have to offer.   I have looked at this salad on one of my favourite food sites – Food 52 – for a long time, and finally made it this week.  I loved it and I am making my slightly amended version again now to share with you.  The dressing for this salad looks to have a lot of ingredients, but work with what you have.   I didn’t have any horseradish – sadly – because I do think this would be an amazing addition.  I also think you could double the balsamic vinegar if you don’t have sherry vinegar.  The hot sauce and the Worcestershire Sauce though are must haves for authenticity in your your Bloody Mary dressing.  It is not important to use the most tender cut of beef as you will be cooking it rare to medium rare!!!!! and slicing it thinly, making sure you trim any sinew or fat as you cut it.  These cuts have a […]

raw fish kokoda

Delicious and Easy Raw Fish Kokoda

Sadly, I haven’t just returned from a holiday in Fiji sitting in beach front restaurants eating genuine Fijian raw fish Kokoda.  But, I was this week the recipient of some beautiful line-caught tuna, fresh from the West Coast.   The immediate problem was that the only time available to prepare the fish was now!  Luckily it came with a reference to a local restaurant that has a delicious Kokoda (Fijian ceviche), on the menu.  Thanks to Google, and the fact that making Kokoda requires just a few every day ingredients,  our dinner was delicious! Inspired by success, I knew I wanted to share this with you.  It is such a simple and delicious treat that can be made in large or small quantities – a dainty canapé, an entree or served with salad as a light main course.  Although I chose to use tuna a second time, this was because it was the freshest fish available on the day, you could make this with any very fresh fish you are lucky enough to buy, catch or be given.   So – to my lovely daughter who gave me the first piece of tuna and the idea for Kokoda, I say, “make sure you take a lemon, a red onion and a can of coconut milk on all your fishing trips, but please bring home a little fish as well xx”. As is becoming apparent, I do like food to mostly be quick and tasty .   Mid week particularly is […]

pumpkin plum and walnut salad

Pumpkin, Plum and Walnut Salad

Autumn is here with its mad weather swings and the end of season produce bounty.  Amid cyclone warnings and Easter holiday breaks suddenly summer – such as it was –  is definitely behind us.  I always mourn the end of summer, and then as the realities of autumn arrive with all its beauty, seasonal produce and shorter days,  I remember again that there is so much to autumn that I do enjoy.  The lawns and the garden are definitely slowing down ready for a final mow and tidy up before winter, mushrooms are popping up for foraging, there is a glut of fruit and vegetables and the kind of weather that makes it okay to hunker down in the kitchen, entertain family and friends, or find a cosy place and relax with that book I have been wanting to read. Here is a great crossover salad born of a glut of herbs, end of season omega plums and the first of the winter pumpkins.  Fresh walnuts are starting to fall, but I made this with the final handful of last seasons walnuts.   Although all the ingredients are heros here I have to pay homage to the French walnut mustard which is one of my top ten ingredient picks at the moment “Edmond Fallot Moutarde Aux Noir”, (available at Raeward Fresh in Queenstown).  So delicious, you may find yourself wanting to eat it off the spoon, I know I do this too often, but really it is that good!  It […]

cashew cream breakfast jar

Breakfast to Desert – Cashew Nut, Coconut Chia Cream

I am struggling to decide where I begin telling you about this cashew, chia, coconut cream as I am so taken with everything about it. To start with it is amazing because it tastes soooo delicious, and isn’t that where we should always begin – “healthy” or not! Then it is also amazing in its versatility.  You can keep it as thick as when first made and it is spoonable enough that you could use it as a cream filling in a cake. Or you can thin it with a little of, your choice of milk, coconut water or and a little lemon juice and you  have a great yoghurt substitute. As a totally dairy free alternative it offers all the richness, mouthfeel and satisfaction of its dairy alternatives such as cream, greek yoghurt, marscapone cheese, cream cheese etc…   I love dairy products and happily include them in my diet, but it seems to me that more and more people are telling me they are intolerant to lactose or dairy.  As someone who wants to feed everyone and enjoy the widest variety of foods, I am very excited when I find delicious alternatives.  Especially alternatives that aren’t a lesser product and that taste amazing in their own right.  Anything that expands the variety of foods we eat, offers new options in how we cook and prepare our meals has to be a good thing. Lastly (I am definitely being hasty saying lastly, but for now lastly!),  it is so […]