Brunch

easy eggplant parmigiana
Autumn, Brunch, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Spring, Summer, Vegetable, Winter

Weeknight Eggplant Parmigiana

Today is a beautiful Sunday in the middle of winter and although an unlikely time to be contemplating what I would normally think of as summer food, today I am going to tell you that this also makes wonderful winter comfort food.  This recipe is definitely given as a cheats version of a traditional Eggplant Parmigiana, a meal which is beloved by many, myself included.  It is a really delicious achievable alternative though, and can be made quickly at the end of a a work day.  I hope you will enjoy it and maybe it will remind you of all the joys of the long slow cooked version that you can make on a leisurely weekend. One of those weekends I imagine, with days which stretch out in long languorous hours allowing you to do all the things you think you can in one day. What a day that would be! Several years ago I was lucky enough to have one of my very first amazing “Cultural Exchange” guests, Katie, make this for me. She made it in the traditional manner with every element made from scratch, I will never forget her making her authentic version of this dish or the stories she told of learning to make this with her very traditional grandparents.  These experiences and memories are some of lifes amazing treasures, the love and kindness and the time spent are the gifts that make me keep cooking and sharing the experiences of the  kitchen and the table,  […]

zucchini slice
Brunch, Lunch, Savoury, Snack, Vegetable

Zucchini Slice – With Options

This simple slice has been a part of New Zealand and Australia’s  family food culture for a very long time, it is certainly something I remember my Mum making.  It can be as plain or as complicated as you like but starts with a base recipe that is delicious enough all on its own – just look at the list of optional ingredients in the recipe though and you will see how easy it is to make this recipe your own. During a visit last year my eighty year old Mum and her ninety year old sister volunteered to help me cater for a hens party my daughter was hosting.  Having gamely offered to help, Mum and Sylvie spent an entire day in the kitchen with me – at one point suggesting this zucchini slice that they both still make (both with there own special touches!) feeling it would work well with the rest of the menu.  I left these two amazing women to it and needless to say the slice was a big hit.  It reminded me that many of the old favourites became favourites for good reasons.  It also reminded me that one of the original reasons I started this blog was so that I could share special family favourites with my family and friends scattered locally and around the world, and in doing so feel that they are still sharing my table. This recipe also fits with my challenge of sharing quick, easy, affordable meal ideas. It […]

wildrice and quinoa meal prep
Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Salad, Savoury, Snack, Sweet

Weekday Black Rice and Quinoa Meals

    Today I am cooking with the intention to multi task a couple of ingredients.   I am working with my friend Ollie on a project to create simple, healthy and affordable meals.  As always, this is part of my food journey (and I am looking forward to the challenge within this) of preparing some basic items to make my weekday meals easier.   My struggle with preparing food in advance is that often when it comes time to eat it, it is not what I want  – brattish  I know!  My thoughts this week were to prepare something that could then transform into the flavours I did want on the day, be it sweet or savoury, breakfast, lunch or dinner.. Starting with this in mind I prepared Wild Rice (which isn’t actually rice at all) and  black quinoa.  Shop around for wild rice (it can vary in price a lot) and it is only recently that some  more affordable home-brand varieties have become available. The idea here is not that you have to use these two grains, you can absolutely substitute your favourite rice or grain, or better still use what you have in the pantry.  This is a great way to finish some of those half used packets.  I love combining grains, pulses and beans, which as I show below,  can form the base of all sorts of different meals.  Using a variety of grains, pulses and beans gives you a broader nutrition profile and more interesting textures to […]

Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Salad, Savoury, Seafood, Snack, Spring, Summer, Vegetable, Winter

My Japanese Ponzu Sauce

Home made summer inspiration coming right up.  This cooling Japanese condiment while delicious at any time is particularly suited to hot summer days when you are wanting to do little more than some quick chopping and mixing to achieve dinner. I was initially motivated to make this having had a delicious Beef Tataki at a local restaurant.  Inspired, I decided to pair it with Ponzu Sauce and some of Eds venison fillets. This worked really well, but over the next few weeks it came into its own making big entertainment salads with venison Shitake mushrooms, Mushroom House-Crispy Oyster Mushroom Chips (worthy of a mention on there own for there utter deliciousness)…., simple salads for one – namely me – with a piece of salmon, tofu or beef over the top,   and more Tataki inspired  dishes. It turns out though that this amazing and complex sauce lasts well in the refrigerator – up to six months as long as no water is added and it it works over and beside a huge number of meals.  Use it – As a simple salad dressing with a Japanese twist. Make a great big family style salad Over raw or cooked fish such as salmon, tuna, oysters… Beef thinly sliced. Tofu. Potstickers or dumplings as a dipping sauce Shabu – shabu Noodles Poke bowl Buddha or grain bowl Steamed sautéed or charred vegetables Tempura. Crumbed fried or baked meats or vegetables… I am sure there are many other ways just waiting to be tried.  […]

Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

Mimosa Sauce and Spring Asparagus

We are enjoying the beginning of the asparagus season here in my world – delicious, crisp, young spears to let us know that spring is really here.  I have been celebrating its arrival with an old world sauce that is new to my repetoire, but one that I am sure will become an old favourite. At the start of the season I like to savour my first bunches of asparagus, serving them simply, lightly steamed or blanched  with some good butter, salt and pepper and relishing the taste of each slightly salty buttery spear.  It is week two now and I am ready to add a little something more,  that said I am still looking for clean fresh flavours to enhance but not overwhelm the asparagus. Enter Mimosa sauce, a traditional accompaniment to asparagus that I had somehow missed.   Eggs and asparagus are a traditional combination always rich and delicious, and although I will never say no to hollandaise sauce, this delicious Mimosa sauce – which is almost an egg salsa – is somehow fresher and lighter for the start of spring.  With the red wine vinegar, capers and mustard this is a punchy sauce that offers lots of umami goodness. Mimosa Sauce is conveniently made up of  ingredients that are easy to come by, and often in our refrigerator anyway.  Parsley is one of the herbs that hopefully survive the winter somewhere in the garden, and although I haven’t done this I am sure you could sub the shallot […]

miso bone broth
Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, quick meals, Savoury, Snack, Soup

Organic Chicken Bone Broth

Bone broth – miracle cure all maybe – that would certainly be great.  It definitely gets a lot of good press for its health benefits, and while some sources suggest these benefits may not be scientifically proven it is an old fashioned tonic made with affordable but good quality ingredients, and looking at the finished product can make you feel closer to being a domestic goddess.  In everyday cooking it both tastes great and works really well as a flavour boost for quick and nutritious soups risottos…and any other meal you might consider using stock or water in. Bone broth is said to benefit us in many ways, the following are some of the ways I have read it can help us Boost immunity Fight inflammation Alleviate the common cold and bronchitis Strengthen bones and teeth Promote weight loss Improve hydration Aid sleep Skin vitality Help normalise stomach acid ……. Including Bone Broth in our diet has to be a win win situation, and even if it is not a miracle cure all, it is still real food made simply out of quality ingredients. To make this at home is simple – especially if like me you have an under utilised slow cooker taking up  valuable space.  It can of course be made on the stove top and there are also some very good bone broth products available for purchase.  My reading suggests that this is a product that you are best to make or buy organic, as any negative […]

white chocolate fruit muffins
Breakfast, Brunch, Desert, Snack, Sweet

White Chocolate Fruit Muffins for a Picnic

Over the last couple of years I have spent a lot of time and energy coming up with aspirational recipes to share, recipes to channel my best self and to give ideas to maybe help you to do the same.  I love this and still want to continue this journey trying to live and cook for my best life. Moving on and a couple of weeks ago my son George sent a message from the other side of the world requesting a recipe for my muffins – I sent a quick recipe off the top of my head -forgot the sugar – doh….  Probably the best answer would be to think this through and put the recipe properly on the blog.  The stumbling block with this idea comes from a feeling that for my best self no white sugar or flour should appear on this blog, and because of this I have always discounted the idea of recording some of these home favourites here   Then over the last week or so I kept thinking about this and my reluctance to put the muffin recipe here on the blog.  Lots of wondering has bought me back to my original reason for the blog which was principally was to keep in touch and share with friends and family at home and around the world –  for me this means sharing my world as reflected in the kitchen.  So it seems that something I have cooked so often that no recipe is required, […]

labna and char grilled vegetables
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Lunch

Labna Yoghurt – Everyday Delicious

Welcome to 2019, I wish you all well and I hope it holds everything good for you. I did have a momentary panic as I sat down at the computer this morning, wondering if I would even remember how to open this blog — it feels it has been a long time since I have sat myself down and written anything, being busy and being creative it would seem do not go hand in hand for me.  Luckily life seems to be in some sort of order now (an optimistic view of my normal state of semi controlled chaos) and with the madness of Christmas behind me I am looking forward to some slightly more considered and creative eating and cooking. As always for me it is condiments that star in my cooking and the main player the last few weeks has been strained yoghurt called Labna or Labneh.   Labna is a Middle Eastern staple made by straining yoghurt to remove excess whey and resulting in a thickened slightly sour spread.  Inspired by both some delicious Turkish eggs eaten at a local cafe, and a recipe from Ottolinghi s new book – Simple – for “Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt”.   I was ready to make again that staple I have talked of before Labna/Labnah.   While both these recipes use greek yoghurt I wanted to make my own version of this thickened greek style yoghurt in order to control the thickness. With Labna you can choose how thick you […]

scrambled tofu
Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Spring

Cafe Style Scrambled Tofu Breakfast

Today I feel like I am trying to channel my inner Yotam Ottolenghi – my flavour, food styling, all round food hero! I am collaborating with a friend on a project which involves a gluten free dairy free breakfast.  I have added my own challenge to this by deciding it was time to make friends again with tofu and hopefully make some new converts along the way.  I have definitely spent the week pondering my breakfast, wanting it to be something I would want to eat – and eat again – and be good enough to share with you… I am also hoping for my breakfast tofu to be a contemporary adaptation, not a fringe dwelling remnant of the sixties or a meal more reflective of other cuisines and cultures. So I sit here eating my breakfast at 1 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon in food heaven – (disclaimer -I did have a first breakfast so that is not just a matter of pure hunger!) This is a great cafe style comfort food combo which – I think – doesn’t involve quirky ingredients or time consuming procedures. It is simple to make for one person or easily extended to cater for a crowd. Like similar egg dishes – seasoning is the key, so think about and taste the tofu while adding the salt and pepper.  The asparagus and tomatoes are both umami rich vegetables and worked amazingly to bring this together, and when teamed with my seedy nutty daily bread, […]

polenta fish in chips
Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

Smoked Fish in Polenta Chips

Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist.  Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi.  This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey  (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish  some fresh herby goodness.  It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta. Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand.  In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many. This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd. Polenta has always been a […]