Author: Anne Halson

potato fennel artichoke gratin
Autumn, Gluten Free, Vegetable

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
Gluten Free, Lunch, Salad, Summer

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
Gluten Free, Meal, Seafood

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
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Snack

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
Salad, Summer

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
Canape, Gluten Free, Snack

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 […]

vietnamese noodle salad
Canape, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Snack, Summer

A Vietnamese Noodle Salad or Rice Paper Rolls

This is a little bit old school, but they are still flavours and textures that are hard to beat on a summer day.  It is the type of food that is great to make ahead and share with friends at a party or shared table or barbecue. Today I have made them with some beautiful Canter Valley Free Range Duck breast, but you could easily use Prawns (leave out the Hoisin sauce) or – leave them deliciously vegetarian.  Spicy peanuts, a little chilli and sesame oil, and lots of fresh Asian herbs are the basic elements that make the salad and Rice Paper Rolls sing, finished with simple dressing or sauce, it is the kind of food I love to eat and would be very happy if someone made to share with me. Cool healthy and delicious, the rolls take a little time but you are rewarded with the simplicity of presentation and taste, they are a great repetitive job to do together while chatting with friends or just zoning out in the heat. My biggest dilemma today was whether to add a dipping sauce or not for the rice paper rolls.  I’m not the biggest fan of shared dipping bowls, so I tried to make them tasty enough that they didn’t need any.  While I had felt I achieved this, when we sat down and ate them they were better with a little sauce spooned over.  I have since seen photos of them served in baby cos leaves which […]

sushi salad lettuce cups
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood, Summer

Summer Sushi Salad Lettuce Cups

A spell of early summer days has hit Queenstown and with it happy times and a need for cool, soothing, quick and simple meals.  My photography today definitely doesn’t do justice to how delicious and easy these were to eat.  You need to check for Ed’s tips on lettuce preparation and enjoy these yourself while the summer days last.  There is plenty of scope here to ad-lib and to add all of the good bits you want a little more of in your traditional sushi. Sushi salads have long been popular at home and at work, but this week sushi salad randomly collided with a plan to make Prawn San Choy Bau for the blog.  The sushi salad was to be for our evening meal and the Prawns for San Choy Bau blog post, that will have to be another day!  It all came together by happy chance as dinner for family, and Marko, my hard working Cultural Exchange helper.  It was declared delicious and definitely blog worthy in its own right – so here we are!  The prawns, although providing another delicious crunch element, could easily be replaced with any other seafood – fish fillets, crab, calamari – or tofu, or as you see in the pictures  – some slices of avocado, cucumber, snow peas etc. (The snow pea sprouts unless chopped are not such a good idea in my mind – why do they always seem to end up hanging out the side of my mouth – is […]

Japanese inspired seeded salad
Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Summer

Popped and Toasted Seed and Nut Mix – And Salad Inspiration

Its beginning to gear up to the busy time of the year – when we all try and get prepared for the Christmas season, and, at the same time get out and enjoy the sunshine.  In my world that means lots of catering for summer, end of year break-ups, and festive parties.  It is an exciting time, full of the promise of good times with friends and family, and also, memories of the best of previous summers and Christmas seasons.  It is fun and busy,  and with the outdoor sunshine and warmth calling (you can’t take either of those things for granted here in the south) time in the kitchen can feel limited. Enter kitchen store cupboard essentials, and today I am talking about crunchy blends of  spicy toasted seeds and nuts. A jar in the pantry ready to snack on, put over salads, sprinkle on top soup, scatter over roast or mashed vegetables, tumble through your grain salad, buddha bowl,  or over your breakfast  shakshuka  –  the texture, the taste and the well seasoned spicy flavour makes food better.  If you are anything like me, you will feel better too, for eating something tasty, good for you and quick to assemble.   This – as always – is an idea more than a recipe it is a reminder to toast a batch of what you have to hand so you can have a jar ready to add some excitement and extra nutritional value to your next meal.  Of course while […]

medjool date and char grilled broccoli salad
Autumn, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Winter

Medjool Date and Char Grilled Broccoli Salad

Another salad with enough weight and complexity to be eaten as a meal on its own – as lunch or supper,  but also fantastic as a side to whatever else might be on the menu.  Although my mind is on spring this salad would work in any season.  It has all the elements you are looking for in a delicious salad – something raw and zingy in the red onion, something crunchy with your croutons and almonds, something rich to carry the flavours and make it a substantial in the cheese, and something green and virtuous in the broccoli.  Spinach or rocket tossed through this is also a great idea. Medjool dates are certainly a luxury item and I will often use ordinary dry dates in  baking recipes soaking them to reconstitute if necessary.  But if you haven’t tried them before I suggest you treat your self to a handful of  fresh medjool dates.  Easy to prepare,  you can simply tear them in half and remove the seed and put a brazil nut in its place for  one of the best instant healthy treats you will ever eat – great for two or three o’clock in the afternoon when you start circling the refrigerator ready to eat anything quick and easy and usually not recommended for best health.  Or you can take them to the next level, by warming a little olive oil in a pan and sautéing them carefully with a pinch of flakey malden sea salt (as I […]