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 […]

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 […]

Autumn, Condiments, Gluten Free

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
Autumn, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Summer, Winter

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 […]

roast cauliflower salad
Autumn, Condiments, Salad, Winter

Roast Cauliflower Salad with Crunch

Salads are the stuff of my life at work and at home.  So much so that at times I forget which kitchen I am in!  I’m surprised at what I find or more often don’t don’t find in the kitchen I am in.  In the confusion of what has been done or brought for which kitchen, there is sometimes a creative disjunct and the great ideas and foods that get created are in the rush of life forgotten.  To create a trail of recipes, ideas and memories was always one of the reasons for creating this blog,  for myself to remember what I spend my time doing, and to share these ideas with people I care about.  So sometimes a simple (ish) comfort salad like this deserves a place in these memories as a reminder of meals I have made and want to share. This is a hearty and delicious, comforting salad that can be a meal in itself, or served as part of a selection with your main meal.  Once cold you could extend it a little by tossing through a bag of baby lettuce leaves or mesculin before drizzling with your favourite balsamic vinegar. Some ideas are so simple they hardly seem worth writing about, but it is sometimes these simple things in my pantry that take a meal from ho-hum to delicious.  I hate food waste and to be able to toast up stale bread ends, and scraps of parsley hidden in unexpected parts of my garden, […]

korean carrot crepes
Autumn, Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Snack, Spring, Summer, Winter

Spicy Kimchi and Carrot crepes

Korean Kimchi has been front and centre of my attention this year, I am hooked on this crunchy, spicy, nutritious condiment.  You really do have to love something that tastes so good, is simple to make, and is good for you.  My has become my go to condiment, and this is another way of including it in my every day meals. The inspiration for these crepes comes from “Green Kitchen At Home” by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl, a beautiful book that is high on my wish list. These are great to have as a sharing, construct-it-yourself-at-the-table meal, or you can make and wrap them in advance, put a little extra dressing in a jar and take for a picnic or packed lunch.  The crepes are light, easy to eat and delicious, complimenting the ingredients and holding together perfectly. I love that by adding carrots to the crepe batter, it adds colour and extra vegetables into my life. I used the blender to make my crepe mix and the carrot was completely blended in, giving the batter a beautiful golden colour.  I think it would also look beautiful if you finely grate the carrot and make the mix with a whisk so you can see the shreds of carrot in the batter. I bought a beautiful big organic chicken for this and cooked it with hoisin sauce and garlic. I used only the breasts for these crepes and now have the carcass quietly boiling away to make bone broth and there […]

mushroom pearl barley parsnip rosti pie
Autumn, Meal, Winter

Mushroom, Pearl Barley and Parsnip Rosti Pie

Despite the fact that we celebrated the shortest day last week and dreamt of spring skiing and a returning to summer, I found myself yesterday subject to a very cool winter blast . Today the sky is clear and frost lies heavily on the ground and, as the winter sun streams into my kitchen, I am cooking both to warm me now and give comfort and shared happiness later. This is another delicious slow cooked comfort food for these bone chilling days that also comes back again the next day tasting even better. Use this as a substantial vegetarian main with a platter of roast vegetables and some lightly steamed green vegetables to the side, or as a comforting side to a steak with a big green salad.  (Members of  my family are beginning to think there is a vegetarian plot happening in their midst, so tonight I will distract them with a steak!) MUSHROOM, PEARL BARLEY  AND PARSNIP ROSTI  PIE Serves four as part of a main meal and can easily be doubled or altered to fit the size of your cooking vessel. Pre heat oven to  170 -180’c   Begin by rinsing and cooking the pearl barley in a pot of lightly salted water with a sprig of rosemary, thyme and bay if you want.  This will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and put aside once cooked. Meanwhile heat a large pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and equivalent of butter (or two tablespoons of olive […]

mushroom lentil and kumera bake
Autumn, Gluten Free, Meal, Winter

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 […]

kale pineapple and kumera salad
Autumn, Gluten Free, Salad, Savoury, Winter

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
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Seafood, Spring, Summer

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 […]