Author: Anne Halson

okonomiyaki
Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Vegetable

Okonomiyaki

My *”Oh-My-Goshi “pancakes today are based on the traditional Okonomiyaki Japanese cabbage based pancakes.  The name comes from Okonomi meaning “how you like it” or “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled”.  Served most often with a variety of umami laden condiments,  most photos will show them presented with sweet Kewpi mayonnaise, brown Okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes. This is my version of these pancakes loaded up with lots of vegetables and then loaded again with tasty condiments. Sometimes I choose to add prawns to these for their delicious seafood crunch, complimenting the seafood flavours from the bonito flakes and seaweed, but they are equally delicious without.  Although its very hard not to love the Kewpi mayonnaise and brown sauce, it is fun to play around with other possibly healthier, probably heretic, options such as a cashew or avocado cream and kimchi.  For the rest, the toppings add to the fun and complexity – they can be as simple as a few ingredients sprinkled over top, or built up like a salad on top of the Okonomiyaki.  Try some baby greens, finely chopped spring onion, shredded nori, bonito flakes, seaweed seasonings such as this Citrus Furikae and maybe some Togarashi the Japanese seven spice mix to fire it up a bit, some avocado would be great to when in season. The most important thing to remember when cooking these dense pancakes is to allow time for them to to cook slowly so that the batter is cooked through.  Doughy pancakes […]

Korean short ribs
Gluten Free, Meal, Winter

Korean Inspired Spicy Beef Short Ribs

Mid winter feasting today is about slow cooking, leaving me time to get outside and enjoy the winter sunshine and the mountains. Spending time with family and friends, sharing delicious and hopefully nutritious  food is one of my “House and Garden magazine” dream visions.  Reality involves more chaos and mess, but to get everyone around the table again always makes me happy. The beef today is short ribs and was inspired using the same marinade ingredients a week ago using beef cheeks.  Both are equally delicious, the ribs cooked quicker but then required more removal of fat  (to get the fat off I took the beef out of the casserole dish and poured the liquid into a shallow bowl which I then cooled in the refrigerator. This allowed me to lift the fat from the top – you could alternatively make it a day in advance, cool it and then remove the fat, (or simply but carefully spoon it off hot).  The beef cheeks were cooked for 4-5 hours at 160’c and because they were leaner they were able to be served straight away. I have kept the accompaniments simple as the beef and sauce are rich and delicious. Both times I cooked bok-choy cabbage in a little soy sesame oil and Mirin (you could just add a pinch of sugar and a splash of water to replace the Mirin).  I served them firstly with a big bowl of mash and this time baked spaghetti squash to soak up the […]

pumpkin feta fritters
Autumn, Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Winter

Spicy Pumpkin and Possibly Feta, Fritters

The chill in the south continues to deepen and with the forecast temperature at -7’c this morning, the kitchen is a great place to be. That chill coupled with an amazing vege lettuce burger I had a couple of months ago has certainly encouraged my quest to create a simple and tasty winter vegetable fritter at home.  Having now settled on my favourite version, I think their uses are far from limited to burgers. Stacked up for breakfast or brunch with an egg, some spicy tomato salsa and greek yogurt or as an alternative to fritters make the mix as one or two whole rosti style pancakes and serve with some hot or cold smoked salmon, sour cream capers and lemon…….. With all these options I am still excited about the lettuce burger today.  Not a new idea at all but still a really good one – put together one, two or three Iceburg lettuce leaves to make a great vessel for your favourite burger, refreshing, crunchy and amazingly sturdy. Couple this with a tasty vege fritter, simple salad or slaw, a spicy salsa or some kimchi, maybe a little creamy dressing or yogurt and possibly a few potato crisps or tortilla chips inserted at the last moment for extra crunch. Delicious! I am making these today and plan to put them in the refrigerator ready for “tired and can’t be bothered” night, because on those nights I can’t be bothered to go out and get food either. SPICY PUMPKIN […]

pumpkin crostini
Autumn, Canape, Salad, Vegetable, Winter

Multi Tasking Pumpkin Crostini

Pumpkin season is upon us and even if the calendar says it is still autumn the snow on the hills and the snow makers working hard on Coronet Peak suggest otherwise.  I love pumpkin, and was lucky enough this year to have some – grow themselves – from my Bokashi compost in the vegetable garden. Those lush rambling pumpkin plants did a great job of making my neglected garden look as if something purposeful was happening, yielding several pumpkins and smothering a multitude of weeds. Today Ed is briefly home and so I am hoping these pumpkin crostini will be a welcome step up from his usual hurried travel fare. These are quick to put together taste delicious, and today they then doubled as a side vegetable/salad for the venison we had for dinner. Happy days! Fresh sage is one of those herbs that is easy to grow, and holds on through our sometimes harsh winter. Sadly it is also a herb which I struggle to get around to using.  It teams so well with pumpkin making it a great winter herb and is also great with pork.  This method of frying the leaves renders them absolutely delicious so don’t skip this step if you are lucky enough to have fresh sage available. I dithered today over whether to use blue vein cheese or the Chevre De Bellay goats cheese, I chose the the blue vein cheese this time as Ed does not enjoy goats cheese, and while the blue […]

dal and roast vegetables
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

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
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, 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
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

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
Condiments

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
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 […]