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DIVINE FESTIVE DELIGHTS

Sweet delights bring a happy, satisfying ending to a festive dinner. And they can be prepared ahead. I admit to enjoying conjuring up festive desserts rather more than eating them. My desire for over-the-top Christmas dinners has diminished over the years. And after serving two courses to our family, I’m more inclined to go for a relaxing glass of bubbles. But I love watching the happy faces of my grandchildren when the trifle, pav, cheesecake, berries and ice cream are wheeled into the dining...

December 11, 2017

CELEBRATION SIDES

Christmas dinners require extras that all your family and friends will enjoy. Accompaniments are important. Think potatoes, beans, peas and tomatoes plus salads and sauces. Peas are a tradition that will never die in our household. Except — not as in earlier years when they were freshly popped from their pods on Christmas morning — they are now fresh from the freezer and dunked in a little boiling water with sprigs of home-grown mint plus a dash of sugar, butter and a little melted m...

December 4, 2017

MICROWAVE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

1/2 cup flour1 tablespoon powdered cocoa1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice1 cup fresh breadcrumbs1/3 cup brown sugar2 1/2 cups dried fruit mixl00g shredded suet1 tablespoon marmalade1 large egg, lightly beaten1 tablespoon treacle2 1/2 tablespoons milk1 1/2 tablespoons port Sift the flour, cocoa and mixed spice into a bowl. Add the crumbs, sugar, fruit, suet and marmalade. Mix well with a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into a medium-sized greased pudding basin. Cover w...

November 30, 2017

Zealong Tea House

495 Gordonton RoadHamilton(07) 853 3018www.zealong.com Nestling in the lush Waikato countryside, five minutes north of Hamilton, the Zealong Tea House was purpose-built in 2011 and overlooks New Zealand’s only tea plantation. Taiwanese immigrants Tzu Chen and his son Vincent, founders of Zealong, first dreamed of cultivating tea in New Zealand when they noticed how well camellias grew here. Knowing that the camellia was a relative of the tea plant, they were inspired to import tea plant cuttin...

November 29, 2017

GIFTS WITH TASTE

Christmas is the season for giving and the personal touch makes all the difference. Gifts from your kitchen are always special. A day spent creating culinary treats can provide a dozen or more thoughtful surprises for lucky family members and friends. Well priced, attractive containers are readily available. All you need to do is fill them with some homemade baking or sweets and tie with a ribbon. Or fill with a dry muffin mix (with instructions to keep it in the refrigerator plus how to add the...

November 27, 2017

LAZY LUNCHES

November is a great time to invite friends for a casual lunch. This doesn’t need to be a four-course affair. Just a simple main, or a hearty, healthy salad, followed by a sweet treat or two such as festive mince pies and Christmas cake. The more you can prepare the night before the better. If you’re serving a glass of pre-lunch wine — there’s nothing more appropriate than a good rosé — then a nibble such as cheese pastry wrapped around pitted olives and baked makes a great ac...

November 20, 2017

BARBECUE BANGERS

Barbecues inspire conversation and debate like no other form of cooking. There are those who believe coals are the best cooking method, enhancing the flavour of all foods. Others enjoy the ease of gas arguing that it’s the alfresco cooking that adds the flavour not the smoke. Many are adamant that all sausages should be pre-cooked before barbecuing but I believe it’s the temperature that they are cooked on that is most important. However, everyone agrees that the sausage is a barbecue must. ...

November 14, 2017

CHRISTMAS BELLS BAKE

Christmas is almost here so it’s time to jingle your bells and fire up the oven. Luckily festive bakes and some desserts are best made well ahead because they mellow over time and become easier to cut. And they taste better! However, some bakes can be relatively expensive. If you enjoy a light fruit cake then try my six-ingredient special which is free from butter and sugar. It’s a ‘fake’ Christmas cake really as it doesn’t keep as long as a traditional one but it is certainly more eco...

November 4, 2017

Question: WHO WAS MARLBOROUGH’S FIRST WINEMAKER?

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October 25, 2017

RED HOT RED CENTRE

Michael G. Ryan explores Australia's mystical heart....

October 24, 2017

PARTY PIECES

My friends will agree with me — I’ve always loved parties. And there’s something in my blood that inspires me to entertain. I love creating food that friends will enjoy. There’s nothing better than good company, good food and good wine. So for me the coming festive season is the time I love the best. I have a little secret. It’s not all about good food, it’s also how it is presented. That’s why I have a cupboard full of old sherry glasses I can serve mini salads in or cold soup...

October 23, 2017

PRIMO PASTA

Versatile pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. It is a reliable standby for quick workday meals but can also be transformed into formal dinner party delights. The shapes are for a reason. It takes less sauce to cover pasta formed into parcels than it does to cover the same amount of pasta that has been rolled out and cut into strips. Ribbed or shaped pastas hold more sauce than smooth ones and chunky sauces need the ribbed pasta to trap the sauce as it travels from plate to mouth. Tubes are best...

October 16, 2017

OUTDOOR ENTICEMENTS

I was recently asked to take a plate to share at a lakeside lunch. I was amazed at the array of enticing offerings: crusty chicken pieces, vegetable kebabs, meat loaves, French bread and pâté, submarines and salads galore. Three things they all had in common: they were healthy, colourful and tasty. Quinoa was popular. Pronounced keen wa — it is gluten-free, an excellent source of protein as well as B vitamins and is considered to be one of the ‘trendy’ superfoods. Regarded as a sacre...

October 9, 2017

GO NUTS — GO HEALTHY

October is showcase time for food. It’s cheese month and the hunt for the best New Zealand sausage is on. World Egg Day falls on October 13, and the 22 nd is our National Nut Day. An important part of our diet, nuts are used in so many ways that we almost take them for granted. They add crunch and flavour to salads, ragouts, cakes and cookies. Nuts are popular with pre-dinner drinks and add interest to lunchboxes. Nuts are nutritious. Health professionals maintain that a 30-gram serving of n...

October 2, 2017

EMBER: Hot New Menu — and More

“This is a very exciting time for Ember restaurant,” says new owner Mark Davis. “Not only do we have a renowned new chef but we are launching an enticing new menu — plus we’re now opening for breakfast as well as lunch.” The launch date for the new-look Ember Eatery & Bar menus: September 4. You can look forward to a breakfast of Pumpkin Pain Perdue (glazed pear, pumpkin & rosemary feta, tonka spiced syrup); Mushrooms Myriad (wood mushrooms, poached egg, garlic croutes, truffle ...

October 1, 2017

Chill Out With Seafood

Delicious and nutritious, New Zealand green-lipped mussels are an economic source of lean, high-quality protein. They’re available fresh in their shells from fish shops and supermarkets but mussel meat is also available frozen. A bag of mussels in your freezer means you have the base for quick and interesting delights that can be created in minutes. Fritters are always popular plus they are excellent in soups, pastas, risottos, pastas and pies. I like to mince mussels for fritters and some sou...

September 25, 2017

Wanaka Wonderland

Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s great tourist destinations. Lakes, rivers and majestic mountains are the attraction and all offer gentle to extreme sports opportunities including heli and cross-country skiing, jet boat and jet ski riding. Plus climbing. Along the way there are temptations such as some of the country’s best wines, luscious stone fruits and numerous artisan food products.Queenstown is the most popular with overseas tourists but Wanaka comes a close second and is enjoyed ...

September 24, 2017

BISCUIT BONANZA

The first biscuit was a chunky, dry creation baked to sustain travellers on long journeys on horseback or camel. Prepared from crushed cereals, it was never sweetened. In the 7th century, Persian cooks started to make lighter, sweeter biscuits adding shortening, eggs and honey. By medieval times, spices had been added to the mix. Today the only limitation is one’s imagination.In America and some parts of Canada, the term biscuit is applied to a scone-like mixture which is served at breakfast w...

September 19, 2017

Rhubarb & Strawberry Coppi

A coppi is a rustic, free-form, Italian-style pie. To ensure the butter is cold, pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes before using.Pastry Crust: 1 1/4 cups plain flour1/4 cup ground almonds1 tablespoon sugarpinch salt125g very cold butter3 tablespoons icy waterFilling: 400g strawberries, hulled and sliced4 cups 3cm rhubarb pieces, about 400g4 tablespoons sugarTopping: 1 egg, lightly beaten3-4 tablespoons sugar extra for sprinkling1 tablespoon butter, dicedCombine the flour, ground...

September 13, 2017

SAVOUR SPRING

Asparagus “the aristocrat of vegetables” announces the arrival of spring — the season of fresh culinary choices. The name is derived from the Greek word Asparagos — 'sprout' or 'shoot'. It is a hardy perennial, a member of the lily family and a close relative to onions, garlic and leeks.Most of New Zealand’s asparagus is green but a purple variety is also becoming popular. In Europe, white asparagus is sought after — it’s white because it is grown covered in s...

September 11, 2017

Palate

20 Alma Street, Hamilton07 834 2921www.palaterestaurant.co.nzMat McLean, head chef and owner of Palate restaurant, has a well deserved reputation as one of New Zealand’s leading chefs.With Mat at the helm, Palate has been a finalist in the Cuisine Awards every year — including Best Regional Restaurant in New Zealand in 2011 and 2012— endorsing its position as one of New Zealand's best restaurants. Palate has a one-hat endorsement from Cuisine (2015 and 2016).Rec...

September 5, 2017

KIWI WITH A TWIST

Brandy snaps, sponge cake, lamb and mussels have been favourites with many generations of New Zealanders. But over the years influences from international cuisines have subtly changed their character.Brandy snaps — also a popular sweet treat in England — do not contain brandy and the origin of the name is unclear. The recipe has been around since the 1800s and they are sometimes called fairings in Britain because they were often made and sold at fairs or markets.Although I know sever...

September 4, 2017

Go Wild in the Waikato

I'm a relative newbie to the Waikato so my intrepid journey with Food Writers NZ into the wild, was an eye-opening experience.   We thought the term ‘wild’ was a misnomer when we arrived at our first port of call — Zealong. Just north of Hamilton — in a picture-perfect 48 acres — 1.2 million camellias provide leaves for Zealong’s ever-increasing tea varieties. It’s a scene of quiet sophistication where visitors can enjoy high tea or innovative a la carte meals. Zea...

August 30, 2017

Diabetic Muesli

There are few commercial mueslis suitable for diabetics on the supermarket shelves. Check you keep to the recommended serving size.4 cups rolled oats1/2 cup each: desiccated coconut, sultanas, craisins1 cup flaked almonds2 cups each: rye wholegrain flakes, bran flakes1 1/2 cups wheatgerm1/3 cup sunflower seedsCombine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.Makes just over 10 cups.One third of a cup equals 1 serving....

August 15, 2017

Baked Raspberry Ricotta Cheesecake

A low-fat delight.Cheesecake: 500g ricotta cheese1/4 cup sugar2 large eggs1/4 cup low-fat plain yoghurt1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour1/2 cup fresh raspberries, puréedRaspberry Sauce: 1 1/2 cups raspberries (reserve a few for the top)2 tablespoons icing sugarPreheat the oven to 180°C. Spray a 17-18cm springform pan with nonstick vegetable spray.Pulse the ricotta in a food processor, until smooth and thick. Add the sugar, eggs...

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