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SQUASH CHAMPIONS

My love affair with pumpkin started many years ago when I dined at the Chateau in Tongariro National Park. The chef served pumpkin soup with orange. He had cooked the pumpkin in a concentrated mix of water, orange juice and finely grated orange rind. I can still remember the unique taste. The grey-skinned, crown-shaped pumpkin is a member of the squash family which also includes the rich green round buttercup, the curious spaghetti squash, the elongated cream-skinned butternut and the vivid oran...

April 10, 2021

WOK WIZARDRY

Woks are versatile. Their use is not just limited to stir-frying. You can steam, smoke, braise or simmer, deep or shallow fry. The wok’s shape was originally dictated by the Chinese hob that had an open top surface into which the round-bottomed wok with its flared sides fitted securely. Nowadays a metal collar or ring purchased with the wok adapts it neatly to gas or electric hobs.  Steaming is fashionable at present due to the popularity of Asian dumplings. They’re sold fresh and ...

April 5, 2021

APPETIZING EASTER

Let’s celebrate Easter. Taking a break, enjoying the end of summer and feasting with friends should set us up for the cooler weather to come.  My local region is celebrating with a huge foodie festival including: culinary gems showcasing their skills at cooking classes; unique dinners including a progressive one; a Taste Asian walking tour; a free foodie movie night; and among others, a wine and food evening. If you’re interested in a taste of the Waikato then check out these events at ...

March 28, 2021

CONDIMENTS COMPLEMENT

Can you let a morning go by without a fix of Marmite or Vegemite? No? When travelling, do you need to pack a jar of chilli or hoisin sauce? Or is that a tube of addictive habanero mustard tucked in your handbag? Well you must be a condiment fanatic. Congratulations, you’ve joined my club. A condiment is a spice, sauce or a combo of ingredients that is added to food to impart a specific flavour, enhance flavours or complement a dish. The most common is salt, followed closely by freshly ground b...

March 15, 2021

Sankaya Fak Thong

A traditional coconut custard cooked in a pumpkin. 1.5kg pumpkin or buttercup4 large eggs100g raw sugar1 cup coconut cream Wash and dry the pumpkin. With the point of a small sharp knife, cut out the stem and a small amount of skin, leaving 4-5cm diameter opening. Retain the stem piece as a lid. Spoon out the fibre and seeds and — if very thick — any excess pumpkin. Place the pumpkin upside down on a paper towel in the microwave and cook for 8-10 minutes on high (100%) powe...

March 7, 2021

B & B DELIGHTS

Bagels and burgers are hot! They’re quick to prepare, can be highly nutritious with the right combo of protein and veg, and there’s hardly any cleaning up.  An authentic bagel — the chewy bun with a hole in the middle — is made with a flour, yeast and water dough which is shaped into a circle then boiled in water for two to three minutes. After draining, the bagel is baked until golden. Sometimes it is brushed with egg wash before baking, sometimes the egg is added to the do...

March 6, 2021

PEPPY PRESERVES

It’s time to preserve the tempting tastes of summer. Time to pack a pickle or two. And a jam or three. However, preserving does not improve poor quality produce — the better the quality, the better the appearance and flavour of the preserve.  Piccalilli is my husband’s favourite pickle. I think it’s childhood memories that kindle his obsession. The Oxford Dictionary traces the name back to the mid 1700s when Hannah Glasse — the first ‘kitchen goddess’ — wrote ‘...

February 24, 2021

CHINESE CHEER

Celebrate Chinese New Year — the longest and most important festival on the Chinese calendar — commencing on February 12 and continuing for 15 days. There are 12 different animal signs in the Chinese zodiac, one for each month of the year. This is the Year of the Ox. According to Chinese belief, those born under the sign of the ox are patient individuals — but when opposed, watch out! Chinese astrologers maintain that the Year of the Ox will bring career advancement, success in...

February 15, 2021

LUNCH BOX LEADERS

It’s back to school and back to work. And back to finding ways to make the transition from holiday fun easier. Interesting new lunch box creations fit the bill. The sandwich is the lunch box supremo: open to endless interpretations and as simple or as elaborate as you like. Sandwiches are popular around the world — Americans eat more than 300 million a day! — with many countries offering their own unique versions. These include; the crust-free cucumber, salt and pepper summer sandw...

February 7, 2021

SIMPLY SALMON

Salmon is a perfect summer food. It’s readily available, nourishing and quick and easy to cook. New Zealand’s fresh salmon is farmed in pristine coastal waters and in the chilly canals close to the Southern Alps. Salmon is a naturally rich source of top-quality protein, vitamins and long chain Omega-3s which are linked to the protection against heart disease and certain cancers, alleviation of arthritic pain, and the boosting of the immune system. But best of all its taste and versatility ma...

January 25, 2021

RENEW YOUR MENU

Surprise yourself. Next time you visit your local supermarket or deli browse the shelves with an eye for something different. There are always new temptations to try which will add interest to meals. I recently discovered black bean noodles. They’re 100 per cent plant based, have a low sugar content and are gluten-free. The thin spaghetti-like noodles cook in five to eight minutes. Slightly chewy and with a mild flavour, they marry well with hot sauces or cold dressings.   Date syrup...

January 18, 2021

GOURMET TRAVELS

My hairdresser has travelled extensively overseas but until recently had never visited the South Island. I suspect a lot of Kiwis haven’t explored their own ‘backyard’. So now is the time and I encourage travellers to enjoy some of the food specialties of the regions visited. Who knew that the only cranberry farm in New Zealand is situated close to Westland’s Hokitika where one can purchase fresh berries in season plus frozen fruit, sauces, jellies and relishes? And that pistachios are b...

January 6, 2021

NEWS YEAR’S FUN FARE

The earliest recorded New Year festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal (spring) equinox — the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness — heralded the start of a new year.  The early Roman calendar created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, consisted of 304 days, with each new year beginning at the spring equinox. A later emperor is credited with adding the months of Januarius and...

December 31, 2020

SUPER SALAD SEASON

Summer is the time for simple tasty food. Healthy salad greens, tomatoes, fresh fruits, cold meats, and cheeses are perfect for the cook and the menu on hot balmy days.  Classical Roman salads were simple — salted vegetables eaten with a dressing of oil and vinegar. In medieval times salads composed of green leaves — and sometimes flowers — were drizzled with lemon juice. Later in England, oranges and lemons were used as salad garnishes. Today the salad has become a showca...

December 26, 2020

CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

If there was ever a year when Christmas celebrations are particularly welcome then this is the one. But every year there are more whims and wishes to cater for. Vegans, vegetarians, coeliacs, meat lovers and ketogenic dieters will gather round the family festive table this year to enjoy good food and friendship. Coeliacs are relatively easy to cater for: if you usually toss your spuds in flour before roasting, swap it for gluten-free cornflour — and also use it as a thickener in sauces. Ve...

December 23, 2020

SWEET ON CHRISTMAS

Although our family favours tried and true traditional desserts at Christmas, we add little twists and tweaks that provide interest.  The Yule Log has been a favourite in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and Vietnam for centuries. A variation of a rolled chocolate sponge that sometimes has a thick, diagonally-cut slice placed on top, highlighting the curls of whipped cream that resemble the concentric circles of the growth of a tree. In Shakespeare’s day, the traditional British Chris...

December 14, 2020

KITCHEN XMAS COOL

“For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi. Christmas is a time for giving. A time to show our appreciation to family, friends, a good boss and your kid’s favourite teacher. Home-crafted goodies are particularly well received especially if a thoughtful note is attached — or even a recipe attached to a treat prepared in your kitchen. Christmas has not always been linked to Christ’s birthday. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere was originally a Pagan holi...

December 8, 2020

Potato Salad on Sticks

1kg small waxy (boiling) potatoes Vinaigrette: 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Topping: 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed 2 tablespoons diced gherkins 1/4 cup each: chopped chives, flat-leaf parsley, fennel fronds flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Ensure the potatoes are about the same size. Halve any large ones. Boil in salted water until just tender. Meanwhile, whisk the ingredients together for the vinaigrette. Combi...

December 7, 2020

FUN FOOD

Offer me a selection of interesting finger foods at five o'clock and I'm in heaven. At this time of the year, these delicious little morsels sometimes replace my traditional dinner.  Tapas — the fashionable small plates of delicacies — were first created to suit the Spanish lifestyle. The trend towards enjoying nibbles while sipping a drink with friends after work is civilised socialising. Tapas are intended to whet the appetite not gratify it fully. However, the idea of serving...

December 2, 2020

VEGETARIAN PISTACHIO NUT LOAF

Based on a recipe from Jamie Magazine — but easier. Excellent served hot or cold with cranberry sauce. Risotto: 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms2 tablespoons olive oil2 each: celery stalks, small red onions, garlic cloves, diced1/2 cup each? Arborio rice, white wine2 cups hot vegetable stockNut mixture: 2 tablespoons olive oil200g brown mushrooms, sliced70g each: pistachio nuts, blanched almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs1 cup lightly packed grated tasty ch...

December 1, 2020

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER CHEESE

I made this dairy-free, gluten-free cheese sauce with diluted coconut milk.1 medium head cauliflowerCheese Sauce: 1/2 cup Angel Food Cheesey Sauce Mix2 1/2 cups rice, soy or coconut milkTopping: 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained1 tablespoon oregano leaves Preheat the oven to 220°·C Trim the cauli of its major leaves. Cut the base so the cauli sits flat. Place in a large microwave-proof bowl with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and place in a sma...

December 1, 2020

MEATLESS TREATS

Meatless Mondays were first introduced by the US Food Administration during World War I because meat and other staple food items were being exhausted. Nearly 13 million families signed on. The campaign was continued during World War II by President Roosevelt and then by President Harry Truman in post-war restoration efforts.  Meatless Mondays have become a way of life. And it's not only those who already opt for meat-free menus for health, religious or ethical issues, but for those who enjo...

November 28, 2020

CHRISTMAS YUM

Yes, it’s time to make your Christmas cake. Make it now to allow true lusciousness to develop. Make it now so it’s easier to cut. Make it now and enjoy tempting Christmas aromas even before festivities really kick in. The first step with most festive cakes is soaking dried fruits in brandy to soften them and enhance the flavours. A friend at the gym said his wife uses a whole bottle. When I looked at him aghast he said he buys the brandy duty free. (Well, not this year!) If brandy is a littl...

November 16, 2020

BIG ON BARBECUES

It’s time to dust off the barbecue, scrub the grill and enjoy cooking al fresco. Besides producing fabulous flavoursome foods, I find barbecues encourage family togetherness and conversation — it's difficult to watch television dining under a sun umbrella! Barbecue cooking has become sophisticated: marinades and spicy rubs add exotic flavours to meats and fish; minced meats combined with Asian ingredients make tasty burgers; fresh herbs add interest to fish and shellfish; and popula...

November 13, 2020

COOKIES PLUS

Nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked cookies. According to culinary historians, the first record of cookies was their use as test cakes. A small amount of cake batter was baked to test the oven temperature. There are also records showing cookies were a result of sugar cultivation in 7th century Persia. During the 11th to 16th centuries, sugar spread through the Mediterranean and then to northern Europe. By the 14th-century wafer-like cakes could be purchased in Paris.  By definition, a ...

November 4, 2020 Posts 1-25 of 299 | Page next
 

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