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 […]

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 […]

beetroot burger patties
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Snack, Spring, Summer

Beautiful Black Bean, Beetroot and Brown Rice Burger Patties

  Explanations to follow, but that said – you really should start making these now! They are so much more than just a vegetarian, dairy and gluten free patty.  To have them made in the refrigerator means you have an easy meal in a multitude of guises ready to go for breakfast lunch or dinner.   I was definitely a reluctant starter but I am now thoroughly in love with these. With winter now officially behind us, I am very excited to start thinking about casual spring and summer eating, barbecues and picnics.  Unfortunately the new seasons vegetables are slow to appear in these southern areas so I am reinventing those same vegetables we have enjoyed over winter in different guises – cutting them differently, cooking them in a lighter style and eating them in fresher simpler ways. With this all said the story for these patties begins with my friend and employer, Angela. Angela had requested a  vegetarian burger patty for work. To be honest I was a little under whelmed by the idea, not something I have ever really considered eating, and because of that I was slow to get going with recipe development.  Moving on though, and not prepared to say no to the challenge, I did get going and have been working on these vege burger patties for a while – there have been quite a number of unfortunate fragile fall apart piles of deliciousness around here! The challenge I made to myself was to make […]

mussel fritters
Canape, Gluten Free, Meal, Savoury

New Zealand Green lip Mussel Fritters

Healthy, affordable, available and delicious, New Zealand Green lip Mussels are found in abundance in our supermarkets and fish mongers – fresh in tanks, frozen in the half shell, as pates, pickled/brined and smoked. I love that, in a world in which good quality foods can be expensive,  mussels are so much a part of our food culture and can still be so affordable. I love to buy them fresh from the tank as an easy Friday night meal, simply steaming them open and serving them in a big bowl with some crusty bread and good butter. These mussel fritters are simple and very versatile, you can easily change the flavour profile by adding spices or pastes to your base mix, or using different toppings Use smoked mussels fresh. Load with fresh herbs such as parsley, chervil and dill. Add a spoon full of zhoug or harissa to give a middle eastern feel. Add a teaspoon of curry powder – a great savoury addition to a surprising number of things. Handful of grated cheese. Add some fresh chilli and asian herbs and spoon an Asian dipping sauce over them in the shell. Serve with yoghurt, labna, mayonnaise, cashew based sauce, zhoug……… Make them larger and serve them as part of a meal rather than a canapé. BASIC MUSSEL FRITTER MIX This will make approximately 25 small but chunky fritters to fit in your half shells If using fresh mussels steam these open in a large pot.  Simply add a half […]

prawn croissant tapas
Canape, Savoury, Seafood, Snack

Prawn Croissant Tapas

Any time is a good time to have friends and family around and to be able to share with them simple and delicious snacks, or tapas,  with a glass of wine is for me the some of the best of times! These prawn croissants can be prepared earlier and served cold, at room temperature, or gently warmed. You can also easily halve the prawns and pastry to make them a  one bite canapé size.  These are simply  made, with foods that you can have in your refrigerator and freezer at any time, all that is required is a little defrosting time for your prawns and pastry.   PRAWN, KIMCHI, CREAM CHEESE CROISSANTS Preheat oven to 220’c If  you are using Good Honest Pastry, start by cutting it lengthwise in half and rolling it again lengthwise to 3/4 its length. You need a long rectangle of pastry approx. 15 cm wide and 60cm long Cut your pastry into long triangles the width of the pastry and about 4-5cm wide at the base. (See photo). Place 1/2 a tsp of cream cheese and one teaspoon of chopped kimchi at the wide end of the pastry and the prawn across the top of this. Roll from the wide end to the narrow end of the pastry stretching it slightly around the prawn mix as you go. Place on a lined baking tray and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a hot oven 15 – 20 minutes until crisp […]

raw fish kokoda
Canape, Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Seafood, Snack

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 […]

cashew cream breakfast jar
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Snack, Sweet

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 […]

hummus antipasto platter
Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Snack

Hummus For Everyday

Hummus.  A simple chickpea spread that anyone can make in seconds, lined up on supermarket shelves and appearing everywhere.  How amazing that this simple Middle Eastern staple should become such an international superstar.  No surprises really, it ticks all the boxes, as simple or complex as you want it to be, everyday comforting or maybe cleverly sophisticated, substantial but healthy.  You can just pluck a jar off the supermarket shelf and many of these are of a very high quality, you can pick up a can of chickpeas and in seconds in a food processor or with even the cheapest stick blender have made your own (probably for not much more than a couple of dollars) or soak some chickpeas over night simmer them for an hour and go from there.  Because I love the comfort of the kitchen and I love chickpeas I will always take the route of soaking and cooking my own chickpeas, that definitely doesn’t mean you have to. My history owning Habebes Cafe, and a love of carbs like these, means I have cooked a LOT of chickpeas in my life.  As versatile and useful as Hummus is so are chickpeas, Use them in a summer salad, with tomatoes, green beans, red onion, fresh herbs olive oil and lemon juice.  Or tomatoes, cucumber peppers red onion and feta or black olives, olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar of choice. Mash or chop them a little and use them as you would couscous or grains […]