Canape

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 […]

eggplant meatballs
Autumn, Canape, Gluten Free, Meal, Vegetable

Simple Vegan Eggplant ‘Meatballs’

These delicious little “meatballs” have been simmering in my mind for several months. After two beautiful, and hardworking!, vegetarian Swedish girls came to stay, I promised them I would work on a recipe for vegetarian ‘Swedish meatballs”.  There were a few fails before this recipe, and now that I have made it this far, I confess the inspiration was Swedish but the translation from this non Swedish chef (me) who has never been to Sweden (yet!!!!!! ) – is probably far from anything Swedish, luckily it is versatile and delicious and I am sure my friends will enjoy them. With todays rendition I have tried to channel my best “Swedish chef” and  have thought about the flavours that might work for Tess and Adela home in Sweden at the beginning of their autumn.  I have paired the eggplant meatballs with a  dill, horseradish beetroot, apple and red cabbage salad (very similar to the beetroot salad here – A Quick Fridge Pickle and a Favourite Easy Raw Beetroot Salad,)  I made a mash consisting of potato, peas, broccoli, spring onions, dill, lemon and mint yoghurt sauce, with a drizzle of olive oil  to finish the plate.  This tastes as good as it looks with lots of fresh vegetables, crunchy texture and a little comfort from the potato vegetable mash. I made the same recipe last week with the addition of curry powder and served them with an Indian spinach “Saag” sauce with was also delicious.  My next plan is to serve […]

chicken liver pate
Canape, Gluten Free, Savoury, Snack

Pate and Pinot

This may be a detour from the eat – healthy’ish’ – seasonal – mostly vegetable options I mostly aim for on the blog,  but this is unapologetically about good times and celebration food. Today I am giving you an old and trusted recipe for Chicken Liver Pate,  this recipe, slightly abridged, was originally given to me by one of the first people I met in Queenstown, the lovely Libby Lohmann –  to this day one of the most socially accomplished  people I know. One of the best reasons to make this delicious Chicken Liver Pate is that it pairs superbly well with Pinot Noir and good times.  The Pinot Noir paired with the pate here is that made by my amazing friend Ruth, this is her fabulous 2015 vintage Te Amo Pinot Noir, shared at a birthday celebration for friends, this was a great combination of food and wine and a fabulous day with inspiring people. This chicken liver Pate has been in my repertoire  for more years than I am prepared to number, it sometimes disappears from the menu for a few years but always returns and the flavours never grow old.  It is decadent with its cream and butter and brandy and maybe should come with a moderation warning, but for a special occasion or the odd occasion, it is delicious.   I could argue that it is full of iron and good fats like butter and cream but my nutritional background is more one of common sense, good […]

courgette and goats cheese butter
Autumn, Canape, Condiments, Gluten Free, Summer, Vegetable

Zucchini/Courgette and Goats Cheese Butter

Zucchini – courgette whatever the name they are definitely a part of summers bounty, in the stores they are plentiful and affordable and if you have a garden chances are you have a constant supply of them.   This is one of my favourite ways of using them, it hits all those exciting flavour notes with chilli, garlic, lemon and basil.  It is great on croutons for a party or a snack, spread on flat breads with a bit of salad on top, or spread on your wrap as well as or instead of hummus or mayonnaise,  and, it is an especially useful way of using those crazy courgettes gone rogue that look more like marrows. It makes a little bit of good quality goats cheese go a long way and it can make a large quantity of courgettes aka the marrowlike version of courgettes shrink down to a more manageable volume when necessary. When you are preparing the courgettes for this, you can use one of two methods, firstly with young firm courgettes you can simply grate them and add to the pan, but with the larger or watery marrowlike versions, I grate them on to a tea towel and then twist the towel with the courgette well enclosed, over the kitchen sink to wring as much of the liquid as I can from them ( I am sure this liquid is very nutritious and would be great added to smoothies or soups).  This squeezing of water from the […]

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 […]

salmon gravlax and Te Amo pinot gris
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood

Salmon Gravlax and Te Amo Wines Pinot Gris

This weekend I shared a day with my friend Ruth from Te Amo wines, matching food with her beautiful Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines.  It was also Ruths birthday and I was lucky to also be able to share food and wine with her amazing friends and family. The story of Ruth and her wine is all about the special relationship with family, friends, food and wine, and all of this was embodied in the spirit of the day I spent with her.  See the bottle in the picture above and her story is there – the drawing by her amazing daughter, a speech bubble with the name Te Amo,  meaning I love you, and on the back of the bottle a brief description of the wine giving you a feeling for the wine but allowing you to draw your own conclusions For this special occasion, and to match her Pinot Gris, I prepared  Scandinavian Salmon Gravadlax. This is a simple preparation that can happen slowly in the refrigerator over a few days. There are many variations on this traditional recipe that are also amazing, but for me I am happy to keep with the original simple recipe – no added spirits or beetroot today.  Most times I will eat gravlax as a pre prandial, canape or tapa, but today I wanted to make a seasonal salad to share as part of a birthday lunch, hoping to embrace fresh spring flavours for the party.  I have served the Gravadlax […]

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 […]

carrot and white bean falafel
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Snack

Carrot and White bean Falafel

Spicy little “falafel’ that hold together well and can be made to what ever size suits in the moment – pan fry them bake them or waffle them.  Make them into little snack size balls and serve canape style with chilli sauce and or a citrus tahini, wrap them in a tortilla, a lettuce burger or on top of a salad,  waffle them for a power breakfast, or maybe even try them with a curry sauce or dahl and some naan breads or chapati and a cucumber raita…. I am of course waiting to be struck down by the middle  eastern food gods for calling these falafel – no chickpeas? carrots? …madness!  In my defence – I do feel that these capture the feeling of the falafel I know and love and offer something a little bit same but different to try. As I was making these and thinking about flavours, I got a little distracted, wanting to share my thoughts on caramelising onions.  The humble onion is the perfect, affordable, accessible, non seasonal vegetable for creating unbeatable umami flavour.  Herbs and spices hit the high notes of flavour but the caramelised onion base in anything you cook with onions gives a balanced, comforting, deep flavour base.  It gives what ever you cook – soup, meat sauce/ragu, frittata… the unmistakable feel of something cooked with patience, skill and an understanding of flavour. I’m not talking about anything tricky or requiring great skill – all the caramelising of onions requires is […]

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 […]