Japanese inspired seeded salad
Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Summer

Popped and Toasted Seed and Nut Mix – And Salad Inspiration

Its beginning to gear up to the busy time of the year – when we all try and get prepared for the Christmas season, and, at the same time get out and enjoy the sunshine.  In my world that means lots of catering for summer, end of year break-ups, and festive parties.  It is an exciting time, full of the promise of good times with friends and family, and also, memories of the best of previous summers and Christmas seasons.  It is fun and busy,  and with the outdoor sunshine and warmth calling (you can’t take either of those things for granted here in the south) time in the kitchen can feel limited. Enter kitchen store cupboard essentials, and today I am talking about crunchy blends of  spicy toasted seeds and nuts. A jar in the pantry ready to snack on, put over salads, sprinkle on top soup, scatter over roast or mashed vegetables, tumble through your grain salad, buddha bowl,  or over your breakfast  shakshuka  –  the texture, the taste and the well seasoned spicy flavour makes food better.  If you are anything like me, you will feel better too, for eating something tasty, good for you and quick to assemble.   This – as always – is an idea more than a recipe it is a reminder to toast a batch of what you have to hand so you can have a jar ready to add some excitement and extra nutritional value to your next meal.  Of course while […]

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, […]

Breakfast, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Meal, Snack

Zhoug – spicy-green-delicious

Zhoug, shakshuka, labna, all words my computer would rather I changed, but which offer a delicious look into another world of  vibrant and exciting foods and flavours. Today it is all about Zhoug. This spicy middle eastern condiment,originally from Yemen and now a favourite in Israel, had somehow missed my food radar. Happily Lily, an inspiring young work colleague – knowing my love of middle eastern foods –  bought me a small jar of both a red and a green zhoug that her father had made.   I was immediately hooked and needing to be able to make this myself, I turned to my ridiculously large collection of recipe books – (it is always good to have an excuse to justify the purchase of more though!) – and found this sauce in a number of my middle eastern recipe books.  After some further reading and research, (reality says – lying around, thumbing through recipe books and surfing the food files of the internet), I have been happily giving these recipes a try! I am sure the real deal is different in its nuances, but I am so happy with the results that I think you should give it a try too.  It will warm up just about anything you wish to eat and will be something you are happy to find in your refrigerator – my friend Lily said you can even freeze it!  Most importantly, this isn’t all about the chilli, it is a whole palate of flavours giving this […]

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, […]

orange chilli tahini sauce
Condiments, Gluten Free

Best Ever Chilli and Orange Tahini Sauce

Okay that is a pretty big claim but I really do love this sauce and for now I am happy to pour it over just about any thing. Winter really is here now and it is time to look for comfort foods in my part of the world.  My challenge to myself  is to try and do this in ways that I can still feel happy about what it is I am eating, and also to use as many as I can of the amazing winter vegetables in the process.  There are many staples of winter that I return to every year they give comfort in there flavours and the memories of the shared meals when they have been enjoyed.   This delicious tahini sauce adds a new dimension and level of enjoyment to some of these old favourites.  I enjoyed it last night over a platter of roast vegetables and cherry tomato salad and I am looking forward to pouring it onto a lentil chilli that is simmering on my stove as I write.  Use it instead of mayonnaise, aioli or yoghurt dipping sauces and in conjunction with anything you would put with hummus   It would be delicious on a wrap or mixed salad bowl, adding both flavour and richness with all the goodness of tahini, orange chilli and apple cider vinegar. I live with the fact that not every one is a tahini lover, I have always loved it though, especially the “top secret” blend made in […]

preserved lemons
Condiments, Gluten Free, Winter

Essential Preserved Lemons

I am a confirmed lover of condiments, sauces, salsas and dressings my fridge is dominated by jars of tasty concoctions to make the ordinary extraordinary.  Preserved lemons are among my favourites and although not something I use every day, when I am cooking fish, braised meats and vegetables or salads with a mediterranean twist these are part of my go to flavour options.  New Zealand citrus fruits are at there peak over the winter months so its a great time to make use of them and preserve some for the rest of the year.  You could also get an early start and make a few jars now to give away as christmas gifts or hostess gifts. They take minutes to make and need at least a month (minimum) and up to three months to cure. Once cured they can remain in a coolish dark cupboard and are stable for at least a year. Once opened keep them in the fridge.  In the fridge they seem to keep indefinitely and I have had them at times for up to a year with no apparent loss of quality, as long as they remain covered in the brine.  Over the years I have decreased the amount of salt I use and have not noticed any deterioration in quality and found I am able to use more without over salting my food. You can make as many or few jars as you like, as I say they do make great gifts, you could add […]

pumpkin plum and walnut salad
Autumn, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Salad, Savoury

Pumpkin, Plum and Walnut Salad

Autumn is here with its mad weather swings and the end of season produce bounty.  Amid cyclone warnings and Easter holiday breaks suddenly summer – such as it was –  is definitely behind us.  I always mourn the end of summer, and then as the realities of autumn arrive with all its beauty, seasonal produce and shorter days,  I remember again that there is so much to autumn that I do enjoy.  The lawns and the garden are definitely slowing down ready for a final mow and tidy up before winter, mushrooms are popping up for foraging, there is a glut of fruit and vegetables and the kind of weather that makes it okay to hunker down in the kitchen, entertain family and friends, or find a cosy place and relax with that book I have been wanting to read. Here is a great crossover salad born of a glut of herbs, end of season omega plums and the first of the winter pumpkins.  Fresh walnuts are starting to fall, but I made this with the final handful of last seasons walnuts.   Although all the ingredients are heros here I have to pay homage to the French walnut mustard which is one of my top ten ingredient picks at the moment “Edmond Fallot Moutarde Aux Noir”, (available at Raeward Fresh in Queenstown).  So delicious, you may find yourself wanting to eat it off the spoon, I know I do this too often, but really it is that good!  It […]

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 […]

kimchi salad
Condiments, Gluten Free, Savoury

Kimchi Everyday

Spoiler alert, you can buy delicious Kimchi! Locally made organic Kimchi absolutely delicious, and with all that fermented goodness.   Authentic Korean Kimchi,  found in the chillers at the Asian stores,  is also delicious, not crazy expensive and worthy of sneaking to the fridge with a spoon and eating from the straight container (only when no one is looking of course!).  The only problem with this last one is the ingredient list, which you need a magnifying glass to see and is still too confusing for me to say it is definitely what I want to eat.  These are both delicious though and I have eaten them both with great joy. Curiosity, quality control and a need to do it myself have led me to try and make my own.  This has been a process, never catastrophic  (no explosions as experienced with kefir and kombucha), a little smelly at times but always edible.   At last though I feel I am on the right track and would like to share my latest brew recipe with you and in doing so save it for myself as well. MY SIMPLE EVERYDAY KIMCHI RECIPE     Begin with your cleaned and trimmed cabbage.  Save one large leaf to top your finished kimchi in the fermenting jar. Cut into approximately 4cm/1inch squares and place in your large bowl with the salt. Spend 4-5 minutes massaging the salt into the cabbage and breaking it down.  It will start to release liquid as you do this. Put […]

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 […]