Tag: Summer

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,  […]

mediterranean white fish supper
Gluten Free, Meal, Seafood, Spring, Summer, Winter

Simple Mediterranean Style White Fish Supper

I need to start by telling you that we love this meal! It has been in regular rotation here for the past four months and the only reason I haven’t told you about it sooner is my disappointment with the previous attempts with photos and a belief that they never do justice to how delicious this is – if you enjoy fish and you enjoy complex Mediterranean flavours please  – make it! It is a simple one pan fish meal that can work well with just about any white fish.  We love Southern Blue Cod and it is mainly what I have used for this, but it is hearty enough to stand up to much stronger fish as well and is perfect with Snapper,  Gurnard or Monk fish, to name a few, and even bigger fish such as Tuna would be amazing in this.  Try the Tuna and please let me know – or I will let you know when I do! This meal is a delicious light supper using simple staple ingredients I like to have in the refrigerator and pantry. As an aside, the canned cherry tomatoes are a great pantry staple that I highly recommend especially in winter when fresh tomatoes are expensive and not at their most delicious. This is a great meal at any time of the year with strong, clean, simple flavours, and the only prior preparation needed is to cook off some baby or new potatoes. SIMPLE MEDITERRANEAN STYLE WHITE FISH SUPPER Start […]

zucchini cannelloni
Autumn, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Summer, Vegetable

Zucchini Cannelloni

It is the end of summer and my garden and, more to the point – my daughters gardens – summer vegetables are ready to be harvested.  Although I have got wiser about the number of courgette plants that need to be planted each year I still seem to engage in a constant quest to come up with new ways to cook them. Today I am feeling the squeeze (muffin top jeans), a worthy result of a wonderful summers entertainment with so many very good friends, but it means today I am looking for a lighter dinner option. I need to point out that the photos I have taken today are of a half batch of the recipe that follows.  This worked well but if you are feeding a family or would like leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow go ahead and make it as the recipe is written. A LIGHTER SUMMER ZUCCHINI CANNELLONI RECIPE Serves 4 – 6  people Begin by lightly toasting your pine nuts. Next make your cottage cheese filling/topping in a large bowl  ADD All the cottage cheese, 2 eggs Half the parmesan finely grated, Most of the basil finely sliced (save a couple of whole leaves to garnish if you like) Half the pine nuts (save half to garnish) Finely sliced spring onion Finely grated garlic 1 teaspoon lemon zest Salt and pepper Ends of courgettes finely chopped Mix well and taste to check seasoning add more salt and pepper if necessary. Finely slice your courgettes length […]

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.  […]

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 […]

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 […]

simple and sophisticated bean sallad
Salad, Sweet

Simple and Sophisticated Summer Green Bean Salad

Summers on its way and this simple salad is sophisticated enough to have with your Christmas turkey, a beautiful lemony roast Bostok organic chicken or your weekend barbecue leg of lamb.  Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs, it reminds me of amazing traditional French cooking and it matches fantastically with the beans, the hazelnuts and the blueberries in this salad. Tarragon is not often seen in todays cooking but it is a beautiful and under used summer herb and not difficult to grow. If you have left over tarragon from this salad or a glut of it in your garden pop it in a sterilised  jar or bottle with some white wine vinegar and you will have tarragon vinegar for your next salad.  Leave the tarragon in the bottle with the vinegar for several weeks and then strain it off for delicious tarragon vinegar that will keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.  There are definitely more sophisticated methods for making tarragon vinegar but this has worked for me. Tarragon works well with eggs, potatoes, seafood,  poultry, and is great in creamy or lemony sauces, think about delicious hollandaise or bernaise sauces or a butter, white wine, caper and tarragon pan reduction over fish  ….. My favourite salad at work recently used tarragon vinegar, brown rice and a mix finely sliced and grated different coloured beetroot that I marinated in tarragon vinegar and then olive oil mustard and lots of seeds chervil and chives.  So […]

green bean and tarragon salad
Salad, Summer

Fresh and Simple Summer Bean and Tarragon Salad

The summer days of January are drifting by, all the drama and rituals of Christmas are behind us and the tree is safely stowed away again until next year  (thank you George for help with that one!!).  We can sit back, relax a little, enjoy the photos and make plans for the new year.  I love these new beginnings and clean slates,  the opportunity they offer to make changes and challenges – this year 2018, I hope to set some new goals that will set the year apart and make it stand out – go to new places, meet new people and try new things – sounds good and I love the anticipation and savouring of ideas! Maybe I will go and sit under a shady tree and think about it….one day. In the mean time I decided that shady tree could wait, as I had heard about a Sunday Arrowtown farmers market which I was excited to visit.  I found these beautiful green beans there, freshly picked and bundled, bursting with market fresh goodness. They inspired this salad. SUMMER BEAN SALAD WITH TARRAGON Start by steaming or blanching your beans, and then cooling them quickly in some iced water.  Then set them aside to drain.  At this point all my beautiful purple beans turned green – funny how that happens with asparagus as well.  I wonder if their nutrients are different because of the colour difference?  If anyone out there has any wisdom on this subject I would be […]

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 […]