Spring

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, […]

tomato,pumpkin,basilandlentilsalad
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring

End of Summer Tomato Pumpkin Basil and Lentil Salad

This delicious salad marks an end to the summer days in my world, but, it could just as easily be a welcome to spring salad for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere.  It makes the most of this transition period for vegetables in my garden, when the tomatoes and basil  are coming to an end, and the pumpkins are just coming into their prime season.  For those of you heading into spring, the opposite will be happening in the vegetable markets and gardens. The temperatures plummeted here this week, which left me looking urgently for the comfort of warmer, more substantial food, while still wanting to finish the last of my summer harvest.  This salad bought these needs together perfectly. With events not being quite as I anticipated, and with over ambitious ideas of how much three people really want to eat for lunch – I found myself home alone this week with a lot of left over salad!  Four dinners later, I can tell you that as well as being delicious this is a very versatile salad! Starting with enthusiasm – I mean who doesn’t like to think they haven’t already got a delicious dinner already made just waiting for the finishing touches – dinner number one was enjoyed with a piece of white fish, pan fried and placed on top of my lightly warmed salad.  Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to eat, photography was not the priority it should have been.  I can only say that it really did […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

spring green vegetable soup
Lunch, Meal, Soup, Spring, Sweet

Spring Green Vegetable Soup

Simple, elegant, soothing, green vegetable soup.  This delicious soup is made in minutes and is full of flavour and made complex with the layering of textures – lentils for substance, snow peas for crunch and lemon for zing – just before serving. Spring green vegetable soup follows on the heals of my green vegetable salad.  The weather turned snowy and I still had lots of odds and ends of beautiful green vegetables in the refrigerator and freezer.   As is mostly the case with my home cooking there is quite a lot of ad-libbing and swapping ingredients. Mint was the one ingredient I didn’t have which I think this soup gains from but it was buried under our late snowfall.  Luckily the coriander I did have gave a similar fresh feeling and a slightly Thai twist to the soup.  I think the lesson is that you can mix the herbs up, it might change the feel a bit – but it will still be delicious. This lovely soup is light, yet still manages to feel satisfying without any of the heavier soup staples such as potato, pumpkin and kumara.  I think it relies on the vegetables belonging to the family of sweeter greens, the amounts can be played with as long as you try to include at least some peas, I wouldn’t put stronger greens such as spinach or kale in this gentle brew as their flavours will overpower it.  The lentils add a lovely soft chewiness, the snow peas […]

spring green and mozzarella salad
Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Spring

Simple Spring Green and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

With longer days and sunshine, I am looking for clean green foods to eat.  Fresh food for spring that matches the flavours, textures and colours I am looking for on my plate.  There is something about the change of seasons that opens the way for doing things differently –  for fresh starts or new beginnings  – and spring especially seems to inspire me to up the anti on healthy living and eating.  It seems that if I can eat simple, fresh, delicious food, and feel satisfied, I have made a good start toward achieving my goals. Give me fresh herbs and green vegetables teamed with lemon chilli, garlic and some beautiful fresh mozzarella and life does seem good! In real life, the spring vegetables are still a few weeks away, so there are some cheats in this salad with the frozen beans and peas.  I love the sweetness that the peas give, and as there is only a small amount of broad beans, a little token shelling of them will go a long way.  It is my hope that people know just how much you love them when you go to the trouble of double podding broad beans.  But if not, at least I enjoy the difference it makes. This salad is brought to life with lots of lovely fresh lemon juice, olive oil, mint and finished with a hint of garlic and chilli.  As always, it is seasoned with salt and pepper.  I think this point, in the finishing […]

blue cod in crazy water
Gluten Free, Meal, Seafood, Spring, Summer

Blue Cod in Crazy Water

Here I am cooking our beautiful South Island blue cod again.  Firm fleshed, white, delicate, delicious, locally and sustainably fished, there is nothing not to love about this fish. I spoke very briefly the other day to local seafood expert, restauranteur and chef Darren Lovell of Queenstowns amazing Fishbone Bar and Grill, about sustainably fished New Zealand seafood. I was heartened to take away from our conversation, the fact that he felt we had a lot to be proud of in our New Zealand fishing industry, and the work that is happening to ensure the long term sustainability of our fisheries.  Comments like this from informed people are great to hear, and it is always a conversation worth having regarding anything we choose to eat. The phrase ‘crazy water’  in the title of this recipe-  is from the Italian aqua pazza, which in translation may refer to the simple tomato, garlic herb and chilli broth, or to the sea water that the fishermen use to cook there catch – there seems to be no definitive answer to this.  It is though, a very alluring title and one that drew me to it straight away. The beauty in this dish lies in its simplicity and the integrity of the ingredients.  Show casing fresh fish with the best tomatoes you can find, a few fresh herbs, garlic, chilli flakes and your best extra virgin olive oil.   It is often simple meals  like this that show off the best of any countries real […]

simple celeriac salad
Gluten Free, Salad, Spring, Winter

Quick and Delicious Celeriac Salad

If the fennel I wrote about last week seems still exotic to me what do I now think of celeriac?  Not so sure.   I  wonder why, even though it is definitely not a vegetable I have grown up with or cooked with or eaten – it still almost falls in my mind, to the category of the much maligned swede.  Having said that, price wise it is more of a luxury vegetable, and certainly in culinary sense you will find it much used in french and european cooking – remoulade sauce and salad being very traditional uses of celeriac.  We also often see it on restaurant menus in soup or puree/mash under fish and meats and with its celery flavour it lends itself to all these ideas and many more salads. I have paired it today with walnuts, cornichon, apple, radishes and lots of fresh herbs -dill, parsley and mint.  This salad reminds me a little of my easy-raw-beetroot-salad in its simplicity of preparation and in its ability to satisfy.  This salad works well in many situations, it is great as a side with a main meal or made into a salad meal in its own right.  It works well teamed with lightly smoked and rich flavours – think about – smoked fish tumbled gently through this salad, with boiled egg and your favourite greens, or with chicken or pork braised in rich smoked paprica and lemon sauces or chorizo sausage, or you could eat it as part of a salad […]