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HIGH FIVES

Help remove the stress from weekday cooking with a little bit of planning and these easy-to-prepare five-ingredient meals. For Monday to Friday dinners, there’s nothing practical about a recipe with multiple components. However, meals need to be balanced. Keep staples such as rice, couscous and pasta plus dried herbs and spices in the pantry. And add salad greens from the fridge. Salt, pepper and cooking oil are essentials so I haven’t added them to the five ingredients listed in the followi...

May 21, 2019

HOT FOR SOUPS

Hurray! Soup weather has arrived. For me, Monday’s lunch is also Wednesday night’s dinner. I simply double the recipe then freeze it in meal-lot quantities. A good soup is a meal in one bowl, nutritious and easy to eat.  Soup is as old as the history of cooking. It was an economical way of using cereals (roasted and ground into a paste), animal bones and vegetable trimmings cooked in water to produce a hearty meal for rich and poor alike.  While chicken soup is undoubtedly the worl...

May 13, 2019

FRUITS OF SUCCESS

Autumn fruits are a tasty antidote to a dose of the blues that come with cooler days. And a new star on the scene is the red-fleshed kiwifruit, albeit in limited quantities. I first tasted an Asian variety in China’s Yangtze Valley and wasn’t impressed with either the flavour or colour. However, the vibrant Zespri Red cultivar produced in New Zealand is a winner. I keep thinking ‘custard’ as I eat it but it is slightly tangy. Its red flesh comes from a unique and naturally occurring pigm...

May 5, 2019

APPETISING ASIAN

Asian cooking techniques and condiments are now so widely used in Kiwi kitchens that they have become the norm. Stir-frying has been around since New Zealand’s gold rush days and the popularity of Chinese restaurants in the 1950s had a big influence on home cooking. The change from English-based meals of meat and three veg has been evolving over many years. Today, combining Chinese sauces and spices with a lamburger is no longer thought of as fusion food — it’s Kiwi cuisine.  Root...

April 22, 2019

ENJOY EASTER

Most countries observing Easter have their own unique traditions but all have one thing in common — food. Maybe this is because in many societies it follows weeks of foregoing treats. Easter breads, cakes and biscuits are popular especially in predominantly Roman Catholic countries. Traditional breads laden with symbolism — crosses, fish and lamb — are generally not as rich as Christmas bakes although eggs are still freely used.  Simnel Cake is a fruit cake with a layer of...

April 15, 2019

MUSHROOM MAGIC

Once known as the ‘food of the gods’, wild mushrooms have been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years. However, not all of us wish to experiment with the wild varieties found in the countryside. It’s easier to have fun with the commercially grown varieties available from supermarkets and greengrocers. Mushrooms are the ‘meat’ of the vegetable world. They are more closely related in DNA to humans than to plants. Just as with human skin, mushrooms can produce vitamin D by being ...

April 9, 2019

GLUTEN-FREE FARE

Several years back, when two family members were diagnosed as gluten intolerant, I thought ‘Oh no, planning meals is going to become harder’. There weren’t many products available to help alleviate my dilemma. But today I make enjoyable gluten-free meals and bakes for the whole family — all without that ‘oh no’ feeling.  Over time, gluten-free baking products have improved. The flavours are fine and baking results are pretty similar to using traditional flour. I often substi...

April 1, 2019

TASTY TRENDS

So what’s happening with food trends overseas? My foodie friends in the UK tend to agree on one thing — plant-based meals are certainly on the up. Vegetarian and vegan meals are becoming extremely popular choices on many restaurant menus.  Sri Lankan cuisine is now, quite rightly, regarded as a cuisine in its own right rather than simply a variation of Indian dishes.  Fermented drinks such as kefir and kombucha are still on the rise together with vegan wines — it’s all ...

March 25, 2019

THE TASTE OF PASSION

Passionfruit were first discovered around 1700 in the jungles of Brazil by a Jesuit priest. They were named the ‘Passion of Christ’ because the plant’s flower resembled religious symbols.  An alternative name for passionfruit, granadilla, literally means ‘little pomegranate’. The interior of the passionfruit, which is full of little black seeds, is vaguely similar to that of the pomegranate. Botanically, passionfruit are a berry and there are many varieties. Kiwis are most fa...

March 18, 2019

Beer Essentials

There’s nothing like a long, cool beer for quenching the thirst during summer. But beer can also be eaten. It’s a great flavour enhancer for many dishes including marinades, stews, breads and even desserts. Beer was first brewed from a variety of cereals such as wheat, oats, rice, millet and sorghum. It was used for braising and poaching as well as a leavener and flavour for breads and cakes. Some recipes that incorporate wine can also be prepared with a beer. The flavour will be more malty ...

March 11, 2019

LUNCH MUNCH

The school lunch challenge is never-ending. Trying to overcome dislikes and cater for constantly changing wants, requires planning. Lunches require protein to curb hunger pangs, the vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits are necessary to keep the brain alert and the body fully functioning and a little carbohydrate is required for energy. These days there are some delightful carb choices for holding healthy fillings. I’m a big fan of the mini milk brioche rolls from my local superm...

March 4, 2019

VEG WITH VIM

Summer is the season to enjoy guilt-free, colourful, healthy vegetables.  Beetroot has made a comeback and is often a main ingredient in restaurant dishes. The dark red variety is still popular but Chioggia with its inner red/white concentric rings is a winner. The beet originated on the shores of the Adriatic Sea near Chioggia in Italy and is very sweet. The Albino beet is a completely white but with the regular sweet flavour of red beetroot. It’s a great novelty item and the juices don...

February 26, 2019

Takapoto — Trophy Winner

In 2017 and 2018 Karapiro winemaker Andy Anderson won the New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year at London’s prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition. He was also awarded the World’s Best Pinot Noir Trophy for his 2012 Takapoto Bannockburn Single Vineyard Pinot Noir.His love for winemaking began in 1998 while studying at Lincoln University — together with friend Rob Cameron — for a Bachelor of Viticulture & Oenology. Andy went on to experience several vintages oversea...

February 21, 2019

PORK PLEASERS

For the Chinese, the fifth of February was the beginning of a new lunar year — the Year of the Pig or boar. The Chinese calendar begins on the second new moon after the northern hemisphere winter begins. It is divided into 12-year cycles with each year represented by different animals. The rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and lastly, the pig or boar. Each animal imposes its personality on its allocated year. Pork is a popular meat in China and other...

February 16, 2019

VIVA VALENTINE’S DAY

As the American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson put it "All mankind loves a lover." And Valentine’s Day (14 February) is the recognized time to send special greetings to a sweetheart usually in the form of a card, chocolates, flowers or bubbles. Dining out has also become a fashionable way to celebrate. But, a special meal — prepared with love in your own kitchen — is a real winner. There are many stories relating to the origin of St Valentine’s Day. Some trace it to the an...

February 9, 2019

CAPSICUM DELIGHTS

Capsicums are the taste of colour. They originated in South America and in 1585 were taken to Hungary where the red variety became synonymous with Hungarian cooking — in the form of paprika.  Whether they’re green, red, orange, yellow, purple or even white, capsicums — they’re sometimes called bell peppers or sweet peppers — should not be confused with chilli peppers which are usually very much smaller. They are all members of the same family but chilli peppers contain...

February 4, 2019

SNAZZY SUMMER SCHNITZELS

In the 70s, Wiener schnitzel was a popular meal-in-a-minute — paper-thin veal dipped in seasoned flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs, then quickly fried on each side and served with wedges of lemon and sometimes tartare sauce. It has fallen out of favour but a good Wiener schnitzel is a true delight. The recipe originated in Milan (scaloppine alla Milanese) and was so relished and praised by an Austrian general during the 1857 military campaign in Italy, it was finally claimed by the Austria...

January 30, 2019

STONE FRUIT SUMMER

Yum! It is the season of the plum. And our local trees are laden with tempting red fruits. However, I’ll have to wait a little longer for my favourite greengage plums. There is much controversy regarding the origin of the plum. Some botanists claim it is native to China then became popular in Japan. But the plum from which our most common varieties originated is European.  Peaches had something of a cult following in China – its original habitat – where for poets, sculptors and painte...

January 21, 2019

SOUR IS SUPER

Fermented foods are increasing in popularity and availability — all in the name of good health. They can aid digestion and help with other health issues.  Historically foods were fermented as a way of preserving them. Microorganisms convert starches and sugar into alcohol or acids and these enhance the natural, beneficial probiotic bacteria in food. Kimchi — a Korean staple — is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables including cabbage. Spici...

January 16, 2019

ONE-PAN WONDERS

Holidays are the ideal time for quick and easy meals: those meals that don't use every pot in the cupboard; whole and healthy meals that can be cooked in an electric frypan, casserole or saucepan. In the 1950s, the electric frypan revolutionised small home kitchens. They saved power and were often used for roasting thus leaving the oven clean for baking. Electric frypans have gone out of fashion a little which is disappointing because they are the ideal one-pan cooker. As the name suggests, the ...

January 7, 2019

IT’S A WRAP

At one second past midnight on December 31 we start celebrating the New Year. Monday turns into Tuesday with one tick of the clock. If we are partying most of us will think, ‘Wow, it’s 2019.’ But why is the last minute of the old year the cause for so much jubilation? Is it because we have survived yet another year? Is it because we think that 2019 could be a fresh start? Or is it because we’re social animals and just love a party? Making New Year resolutions is great at the time because...

December 30, 2018

ENCORE, ENCORE

Throwing away food is throwing away cash. There is no excuse for tossing out leftovers from festive meals. For one thing it’s cheaper than ordering in or rushing off to the supermarket burning fuel and probably spending way too much on more festive fun food — some of which will probably be leftover too.  It’s easy creating enticing eats with leftovers. Tacos are always a winner: chopped cooked meat, crisp salad greens, avocado, a salsa and a little sour cream is all that’s requi...

December 26, 2018

ON THE SIDE

Festive meats are great and salads, sides and sauces make them even better. What would a roast of be without the pleasures of an awesome sauce? If you’re planning on serving some simple steamed greens then a couple of flavoured butters will add to their appeal. Bring butter to room temperature and using about 150 grams for each flavour add a dash of smoked paprika; or crushed garlic and a squeeze of lime; or mashed anchovies. Roll the butter into small logs then roll up in baking paper twistin...

December 22, 2018

SWEET ON CHRISTMAS

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. There’s a touch of tension in the air. Who is coming to the Christmas feast? Why won’t the family make up their minds? It’s often a bit awkward with families. Some live in different towns; there are the in-laws, siblings and cousins to consider. What are we going to eat? Why don't you all just bring a plate! However, I’m not one for being caught short and the following recipes can all be prepared in advance.  Pavlovas are great — ...

December 17, 2018

FESTIVE MAIN EVENTS

Christmas is a time of celebration and festive foods. And if dishes can be prepared ahead — well great! The more time spent with family and friends the better. Turkey is an excellent special occasion meat and it can always be prepared in the slow cooker — if you have one large enough. This allows you can use the oven for baking and roasting vegetables without any hassles.  Make a sling for the turkey from a length of folded foil. Place some veggies on the base of the cooker...

December 11, 2018 Posts 1-25 of 199 | Page next
 

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