The bounties of summer are fading away but we can still celebrate the best of the country’s food and wine whether it be at home, under an apple tree or beside a lake.
I love the fact that numerous New Zealand regions are promoting local foods, wines and beers so enthusiastically. It provides competitiveness, a sense of pride in the country’s eclectic kai and offers locals and tourists with a true taste of New Zealand. For example: Bluff has its iconic oysters; Nelson its super sweet scallops; Hawke’s Bay has stunning stone fruit; and the Bay of Plenty, kiwifruit.
New Zealand is a bountiful food basket. Our temperate climate, fertile soils and clear waters provide ideal conditions for growing an amazing variety of produce. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, game, cheese, beer and wine are acclaimed in the best of international markets.
And foreign travel has influenced the New Zealand cooking style. The result is a new cuisine adapting many of the country's fine foods to suit international cooking techniques.
NB. Many ingredients I used in the following recipes were purchased at our local farmers’ market.
BLUEBERRY & BUTTERMILK MUFFINS WITH CLOTTED CREAM
Cambridge’s Bellefield Butter Co has won an impressive collection of medals in the Outstanding Producers’ Awards and NZ Cheese Awards over the last few years. I used their clotted cream and buttermilk in this recipe.
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon each: baking soda, ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup blueberries
clotted cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a 9-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
Sift the flour, baking soda and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the sugar and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and eggs until well combined. Add the blueberries. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Fold the mixture together gently until just moistened.
Spoon into the muffin cases. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Great served warm or at room temperature with the clotted cream. Makes 9.
FLATBREAD WITH CAMEMBERT
I bought an olive and rosemary topped flatbread for the base at my local farmers’ market.
1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
splash red wine vinegar
24cm length flatbread
100g camembert cheese
1/2 cup small basil leaves or finely shredded baby rocket
Peel and halve the onion lengthwise. Thinly slice into halfmoons. Sauté in half the olive oil on low heat until golden and soft. Add the seasonings and sugar and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until evaporated. Cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the flatbread on an oven tray. Brush with the remaining olive oil. Top with the onion.
Cut the camembert into small slices and place on top of the bread. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove to a serving board. Top with the basil. Cut into fingers to serve. Serves 4-6 as a nibble.
OYSTERS WITH JAPANESE SAUCE
Wakame — a bright green seaweed — is available from selected supermarkets and fresh fish retailers. Sliced fresh mint leaves can replace the wakame.
2 egg yolks
1/2-1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1-2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
12 oysters in the half-shell
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons marinated wakame
Whisk the egg yolks, mustard and vinegar until light in colour. Add the sesame oil then slowly drizzle in the canola oil until a mayonnaise consistency is achieved. This can be prepared ahead and refrigerated.
Gently rinse the oysters in a bowl of cold water. Loosen the oysters from their shells with a sharp knife.
Place a spoonful of the sauce on each oyster and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Grill until the sauce has coloured. The oysters should not be cooked, just warmed. Top with the wakame. Serves 4 as a starter.