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KUNG HEI FAT CHOY

Just when you thought the festive season was over, along comes Chinese New Year. The longest and most important celebration on the Chinese calendar, the festivities this year run from 25 January to 8 February. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2020 is the Year of the Rat, the first in the cycle of the 12 animal signs.  Legend has it that in ancient times Buddha asked all the animals to meet him at the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Twelve came and Buddha named a year after each one. He a...

January 20, 2020

SUMMER SEAFOOD

When I was a kid, a holiday highlight was catching snapper from the family dinghy. It’s been a long time since I last enjoyed that summer pleasure but I will always remember that delicious taste of the sea. And a sea-fresh smell is what fish should have when you purchase it. ‘Stinky’ seafood will simply ruin a good dish. If you unwrap fish and have to take a step backwards then more often than not it should be tipped out. However, even fresh fish may be a bit smelly. To alleviate the probl...

January 14, 2020

VEG FEST

Two vegetarians are joined us for Christmas dinner and I was delighted. Serving a selection of jazzy vegetable dishes is probably more satisfying for the cook than roasting a leg of lamb. Black garlic (Garlic Noir) is a great source of curiosity and comment. It’s white garlic that has been given a low-heat treatment in a confined enclosure for 60 days. During that time the sugar levels increase to 60 brix (the sugar level in an aqueous solution), the garlic ‘ferments’ and becomes black. Th...

January 10, 2020

NEW YEAR NIBBLES

Do we ‘Ring in the New Year’ or ‘Bring in the New Year’? Well, despite the debate at the dinner table last night, we were all correct. Ringing in the New Year refers to the old tradition of bell ringing to announce the end of the old year and herald the start of the new one. Bringing in the New Year refers to ushering in a new beginning. And as we all join hands on the dot of midnight and mumble Auld Lang Syne — even if we don't know more than the first few words — does anyon...

December 30, 2019

SALAD SAVIORS

According to an Electrolux group survey, one-third of all the food the world produces ends up in the bin. However, one-ninth of the world’s population does not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. Something to think about when emptying the festive food scraps into the trash. These lovely leftovers can be frozen and added to casseroles or soups at a later date. Meat left-overs can often be added to vegetables or fruits and served as salads. Waste not! Once I thought that taking a ‘...

December 27, 2019

MEAT GREETINGS

Why do Kiwi Christmas dinners still reflect chilly northern hemisphere celebrations? Hot roasted meats and vegetables are still preferred by most New Zealanders — even when temperatures rival those in the oven. Our families have already had their say on the menu and, instead of choosing their favourite barbecue meats, they’ve unanimously opted for the once regular Sunday lunch — roast lamb. It will be accompanied by hot ham and followed by — their choice — pav. How Kiwi...

December 17, 2019

FAB FESTIVE DESSERTS

Christmas — a time to indulge in delicious desserts. But it's important to balance rich temptations with generous servings of fresh summer fruits. A (glass) bowl of mixed berries such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries is simple, eye-catching — and delectable. For variation, enhance berries with a balsamic syrup. Combine equal amounts of good balsamic vinegar and sugar. Heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Drizzle a little over the berries just ...

December 11, 2019

SUPER SIZZLERS

Ask most people ‘who invented the barbecue?’ and the majority would say the Americans. However, cooking over coals has existed since the beginning of time — primitive peoples found relighting already charred wood produced the perfect coals for cooking food. In about 1920, Henry Ford — who found great success with his Model T — purchased a sawmill to make wooden parts for his cars. He watched the growing mountain of wood scraps, and being a frugal man, hit on the idea of bur...

December 2, 2019

OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING

Warmer weather is here and that means al fresco meals are on the menu. It’s magic to escape to the countryside, beach or lake during the weekend with delicious dishes tucked in the chilly bin. I also enjoy entertaining friends for Sunday brunch or lunch with dishes that can be prepared a day ahead. Also, when guests depart there’s ample time for a leisurely clean-up. Warmer weather encourages bugs so ensure your food remains in prime condition if you’re planning to eat outdoors. Choose con...

November 25, 2019

PARTY PLEASERS

It’s party season — time for some festive frolics with friends and family and providing those essential finger foods does not have to be stressful or time consuming. Just plan ahead and remember it’s important to provide some choices that are dairy, meat and gluten-free. Many party nibbles can be prepared ahead. For example, chicken liver pâté can be prepared up to three months in advance, frozen in small bowls then thawed in the fridge for 6 hours. It can be made with an olive-oil b...

November 19, 2019

SNACKING ON RICE

Rice has long been the staple diet of over half the world’s population and there are over 100 varieties. It was thought that rice was native to either China or India, dating back to 2800 BC. However, recently rice grains discovered at an archaeological site in northern Thailand have been dated at 3500 BC. Rice varieties are categorized as long, medium or short grain. The latter two are plump, starchy and absorbent. Long-grain rice such as Jasmine and Basmati, is thinner, dainty and pointed.&nb...

November 12, 2019

BAKES YULE LOVE

The festive fruitcake as we know it today dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, dried fruits were transported to Britain from the eastern Mediterranean. As a result, breads became light fruit breads then morphed into rich fruit cakes to be enjoyed on special occasions.  For years, making a rich fruit cake was a labour of love. Dried fruits needed to be washed, dried and pitted if necessary. Sugar came in loaves and had to be cut, pounded and sieved. Butter was rinsed in water ...

November 5, 2019

VEGAN VIM

Friday 1 November is World Vegan Day. Many interesting events are planned throughout New Zealand including special restaurant menus and potluck meals. There are two types of vegans — dietary and ethical.  Dietary vegans abstain from eating all animal products lowering the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and possibly some types of cancer. And, they declare, there is the feel-good factor — energy levels shoot up and weight is likely to drop. Engli...

October 29, 2019

CHOICE CHEESES

Our cheese choices are becoming more sophisticated and eclectic. Gone are the days when mass-produced ‘bricks’ dominated. According to supermarket research and the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association — speciality cheese purchases are up over seven per cent in both sales and volume in one year.  Halloumi is one variety rapidly growing in popularity. Sometimes referred to as the ‘feta of Cyprus’, it is an excellent cooking cheese. Salty and semi-firm, halloumi can be...

October 21, 2019

CELEBRATE SPRING

I have been waiting expectantly for the season’s first strawberries. Now they’re here and although I’m delighted I can now savour a favourite fruit, I find the first berries are often a little tangy and are best enjoyed in smoothies, sauces and bakes. It’s summer when they are at their peak — nature’s healthy nibbles.  Firm berries should be stored at room temperature to allow the flavours to develop. When fully ripe, store in a single layer in a paper towel-lined shallow co...

October 14, 2019

KIDS’ COOKING CAPERS

Foodies are spoilt for choice with the current abundance of TV cooking shows which also have the added bonus of enticing kids into the kitchen. And not just the older ones. I know a three-year-old girl who insists on getting creative with salads and soups. The soups are made with the help of packet ingredients and adult guidance. A few favourite vegetables make them unique (healthy) colourful creations and they are consumed with great relish, especially when animal crackers (see recipe) are part...

October 8, 2019

SUPER SPUDS

Surprisingly, China and India — major rice eating countries — produce almost one third of the world’s potatoes. Up until the 1990s, potatoes were considered to be a cook’s ‘best friend’ in Europe and North America. The acceptance of spuds not only in Asia but in Africa and Latin America means we can add interest to our meals with stir-fried and curried potatoes and more.  And a hectare of potatoes yields two to four times more food than a hectare of grains and they are u...

October 2, 2019

MAKE IT MEATBALLS

My mother served her favourite meatballs on nearly every festive occasion — birthdays, weddings, anniversary parties — but most often as mini nibbles with pre-dinner drinks. World-famous amongst friends and family, they were a unique combo of Italian and American influences.  Italian meatballs are considerably smaller than those enjoyed in America or New Zealand. Known in Italy as polpettes (or if marble-sized, polpettines), they are usually served as a main — without sauc...

September 24, 2019

SPRING ZING

Rhubarb is the essence of Spring. Young stalks are tender and their tang and texture can be enjoyed raw (in moderation), sliced into salsas or savoury salads. Mature stalks become woody and require stringing before cooking. Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is nearly always used as a fruit. A native to Siberia and East Asia, it was used as far back as 2000 BC for medicinal purposes because of its purgative and astringent qualities. Mentions of a form of rhubarb appeared in the Pen Tsao, the works...

September 18, 2019

CRICKETS SCORE + MORE

At this year’s Auckland Food Show, hemp products were a highlight but for me the most unusual palate pleasers were the insects. Established in 2013, Eat Crawlers claim their insects — crickets, scorpions, grasshoppers and tarantulas — are not only tasty but are good for you and the planet. Insects are high in protein, healthy fats, iron and calcium and low in carbohydrates. They require fewer resources than traditional meats to produce – it takes one litre of water to produce one...

September 10, 2019

The Red Barn Experience

Nestled amongst rolling green Waikato hills, the Red Barn was an early 1900’s livery stable which provided fresh horses for stagecoaches undertaking journeys across the region. Having undergone many changes it is now one of the most unique hospitality venues in the Waikato.  Situated on a 203 hectare dairy farm just a 20-minute drive from Cambridge, the iconic Red Barn is an outstanding setting for weddings, corporate events and, more recently, a very special dining experience. ...

September 4, 2019

NOODLING AROUND

It’s believed that the Chinese gave noodles the nod over 4000 years ago. And although there is an ongoing argument between the Italians and the Chinese as to who ‘used their noodle first’, both agree — they should be consumed with sauce. To the Chinese, noodles are precious because they symbolise longevity. They’re available in varying shapes from flat ribbons to thin strings. In the 9th century the recipe for wheat noodles was adopted and adapted by a Buddhist monk in Japan. Now s...

September 2, 2019

SOLD ON SIDES

Plant-based diets are all the rage and health professionals are urging us to eat more vegetables. ‘Swap out most of the meat for more veg.’ This makes sense when animal protein is so expensive although for many people meat and three veg is more important than five veg. But with two vegetarians in the family to cater for, I cook extra plant-based protein side dishes when they visit. Some simple options include baked stuffed potatoes, pasta with five veg, hot pumpkin, onion, corn and spinach s...

August 27, 2019

CITRUS COMFORTS

Nature’s timing of the citrus season is impeccable, providing vitamin C-packed oranges and lemons to fight sniffles, coughs and colds. There’s plenty of choice. This year, limes — especially kaffir limes — are abundant. The first kaffir limes I grew about 20 years ago had little juice. The grated rind and the waisted leaves were used for flavouring mainly in Asian cuisine or trendy desserts. However, newer varieties of the lime can be juiced. But beware — the juice is bitte...

August 20, 2019

SWEET ON WINTER

Let it rain, let it blow, let it snow. All are great excuses for enjoying decadent warming winter puds. And some of the old traditionals have made a comeback. Rice pudding for example. I can’t remember enjoying it that much when I was a child, but this winter I’ve actually been craving it.  Originally — because rice was an expensive import — this pudding was prepared exclusively in the kitchens of English kings and queens. It was unsweetened and served as more of a side dish...

August 13, 2019 Posts 1-25 of 236 | Page next
 

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