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Tis the season for platters and barbecues and overdosing on pre-dinner nibbles with a gin in your hand. And so I was asked to talk easy christmas entertaining to the nation, on TV One’s Breakfast on Wednesday morning, so thought I’d round up some super simple yet impressive snack ideas for the festive season on this here humble blog. 

Putting together a platter doesn’t have to be difficult. Keeping it simple is a very good mantra! These honey thyme walnuts with a couple of cheeses, some sliced pear, and maybe some grapes is a perfect little plate. 

This smoked fish dip (recipe below) works with whatever toast you have on hand (seriously, vogels cut into strips will do the job!) or crackers, but it’s also good on slices of cucumber as a canapé. If you can’t be bothered making the dip? Creme fraiche and smoked salmon on cucumber rounds, with a squeeze of lemon and a crack of pepper is a great passaround too. Keeps those of the gluten free persuasion happy too. Don’t forget the dill garnish. 

Recipe inside!

Smoked fish dip

This is a very slightly adapted version of a recipe I originally created for the NZ Herald (available here on bite: http://www.bite.co.nz/recipe/15123/Smoked-fish-spread/)

250g cream cheese (I used zany zeus, it’s the best) 

200g (approx) smoked white fish (I used warahou)

2 gherkins, chopped

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

Small bunch of fresh dill, chopped

Juice of one lemon (and more to taste) 

Sea salt and a little pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve on a platter with crackers or toast, or on cucumber rounds for a canapé (garnish with lemon juice and dill and sea salt) 

 

// Posted by Delaney at 10:10 AM

It’s spring! Which is uplifting for one’s mood, if one finds oneself adjusting to life in a new city and trying to find a house within budget you actually want to live in, and, you know, a job. In the immortal words of Ronan Keating, Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it, and thus it’s proving true for remaining optimistic and not eating Messina every day.

// Posted by Delaney at 2:05 PM

In the latest edition of Cravings That Overcome Me At The Fruit Shop, there I was, staring at a peeled and cored but still whole Australian pineapple, and I knew that I could not rest until I had turned said pineapple into my very first pineapple upside-down cake. I have been thinking about cake a lot lately. Actually, I've been thinking about lots of things lately, as we settle into life in Melbourne and I continue to search for a job, house, etc. (In the immortal words of Coldplay, nobody said it was easy).  

Anyway! A dream Sunday morning at the market was had, including oysters and coffee and the purchase of the aforementioned pineapple. It was then home (to our temporary accomodation) to make scrambled eggs and then guacamole, and a frittata for lunches using all the veggies languishing in the fridge, and Tom made a lamb's heart stew, and I whipped up this cake. So unnecessary, and very over the top, but also very satisfying (baking always make me feel better, even if just a little) and very delicious: a warm, golden, sweet delicious hug in the form of cake for pudding. 

Recipe inside!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Makes 1 x 22-23cm cake (9-inch)

 

For the topping:

4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

½ cup brown sugar

1 x 440g tin pineapple rings, or fresh pineapple

6-7 star anise

 

For the cake:

1 ½ cups plain flour

¼ tsp salt

1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar and it made a lovely golden cake)   

115g butter

2 free range eggs

 

Heat oven to 175 degrees celsius and grease a 22 -23cm (9-inch) round cake pan with butter.

For the topping, melt the butter and sugar over medium heat, constantly stirring. It will be done when the sugar is bubbly and a darker brown. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and spread slightly to make an even layer. Set aside to cool slightly.
 

Remove the pineapple rings from the can and reserve 1/2 cup of the juice. Set a single ring in the center of the cake tin, then arrange remaining rings (or half rings if you’re like me) around the centre. Place a star anise in the middle of each ring. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer or hand beaters until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until smooth, about 1 minute more.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 of the pineapple juice, mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add another 1/2 of the remaining flour and mix again for about 30 seconds, followed by the remaining pineapple juice and 30 seconds of mixing. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until completely smooth, about 1 minute total.

Use a large spoon to dollop large spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the fruit in the pan (it will be thick). Smooth the batter, then tap the cake pan lightly on the bench to settle the batter.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the cake is a dark golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Invert a plate over the cake pan and, using kitchen towels or oven mitts to grasp onto both the plate and the cake pan, flip both the pan and the plate over so the pan now sits on top of the plate. Slowly lift the cake pan away. Serve the cake warm with whipped coconut cream and a zest of lime.  

Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

// Posted by Delaney at 9:17 PM // Labels: cake, pineapple

From the Things-I-Never-Thought-I'd-Do-With-My-Life files, a few months back I went on TVNZ's Breakfast show to talk to the nation about Brussels sprouts. I didn't think Brussels Sprout Correspondent would ever be something you'd see on my CV but it's funny the way life works out sometimes, isn't it? 

I'm a fan, but this much-maligned vegetable has its haters, and it was my job to simply offer a way to cook them. This simple and punchy recipe was the one the nation was treated to over their morning coffee, and since I completely forgot to share the recipe then, and because I've had more than one person message me recently asking for advice on how to cook them, herewith. Brussels sprouts.  

Recipe inside!

Brussels sprouts with a lemony dressing

Take a couple of cups of Brussels sprouts. 

Cut into halves, and remove any loose, manky-looking leaves.

Scatter onto a roasting tray lined with baking paper, then drizzle with olive oil and a generous sprinkle of sea salt, and cracked black pepper.

Roast for about 10-15 minutes at 200C. 

Meanwhile, make the dressing. You will need:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • a couple of tablspoons of roughly chopped, or sliced, almonds

Simply whisk together the oil, mustard, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as necessary - you may need more lemon juice or more oil. Then stir through the almonds and the parsley.

Remove Brussels sprouts from the oven, drizzle over the dressing, and enjoy!  

// Posted by Delaney at 7:54 PM

Coming at you from Melbourne, Australia, where the food is incredible and the wind is worse than I’d prepared for but the sun is out. It was a big few months of packing and farewells, with a trip to the States and Canada thrown in for good measure. As a result I can barely fit my jeans anymore, but I consider it worth it having experienced a country where you can swap your side of toast for a side of pancakes. God bless America. 

// Posted by Delaney at 6:41 PM // Labels: Travel

Recipe inside!

Green pea pesto pasta, with goats cheese

Green pea pesto pasta, with goats cheese

serves one

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted under running water
Decent handful fresh basil
Small handful fresh mint and parsley
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup walnuts, lightly dry toasted in a frying pan
Zest of one lemon, plus one Tbsp juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Heaps of salt and pepper
One portion wholemeal spaghetti, cooked in salted boiling water until al dente
Splash of Peter Yealands reserve sauv that you’re drinking

To serve:
Soft crumbly goats cheese (or use feta of you prefer)
Extra herbs
Salt and pepper
Peter Yealands Marlborough Sauv

Optional:
Braise some thick slices of fennel and some additional peas in a little butter and salt and lemon juice until golden brown, piled on top.

Method:

Run the peas under some hot water to soften and defrost. Drain, and add to the bowl of a food processor.

Add the herbs, the garlic, the toasted walnuts, lemon zest and juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Blitz until blended but still chunky. Taste and adjust as necessary. You might want to up the lemon or the salt.

If braising the fennel and peas, simply brown a knob of butter in a pan, and on a medium-high heat add the fennel and a handful of peas and a sprinkle of sea salt and cook for about ten minutes.

Drain the pasta but reserve a tiny bit of the cooking water. Add a splash of sauv and the pesto to the same pot and mix through. Twirl it onto your plate with tongs and garnish with chunks of goats cheese. Pour yourself a glass of Peter Yealands Reserve sauv and have a very happy Sauvignon Blanc day.

// Posted by Delaney at 9:23 PM

I was thrilled to find out earlier this year that I was the recipient of an Auckland Council and Love Food Hate Waste grant, to help raise awareness about food waste, and encourage everyone to get involved in reducing the embarrassing amount of perfectly edible food that New Zealanders throw into the rubbish every year.

This is part one. Words by me. Photography by Bailey Mes.  

In order to talk about food waste, we must first talk about laziness. And to talk about laziness we must take a good hard look at ourselves, and reflect on how we eat and how we cook.

Maybe you know how it goes. You've had a busy week and you’re catching up on Queer Eye on Netflix, and you need to eat dinner and you want it to be reasonably healthy, like vegetables of some sort. A simple pasta from the cupboard feels too hard and eggs are boring, you console yourself with. You just have a scroll through UberEats or some other delivery food service. Every cuisine at your fingertips…

// Posted by Delaney at 11:32 AM

 

The great hot cross bun hunt of 2018 began early in March. Although they’d been in supermarkets since Christmas, slowly they seeped into my instagram feed with increased frequency, and so it was time to begin.

The latest in “the gourmetisation of basic foods” my boyfriend said with an eye-roll, he was outraged to see them at cafes for upwards of $3.50, lamenting they were 19p when he was young. And it’s true: this is essentially a fruit bun, something you’d expect to see in a bakery for a dollar or two. But not so in this instagram age we live in, where the simplest of foods becomes a thing and you find yourself paying $4 for an artisan, kneaded from scratch bun with a vanilla pastry cream cross.

// Posted by Delaney at 5:27 PM // Labels: easter, hot cross buns

I am frantically hitting publish on this post with your best interests at heart, because peach season has about five minutes left and I think you should make this cocktail. Never fear: pear season follows, and this drink is most excellent with pears and rosemary instead of peach and thyme, but last Friday when I was home alone and still working I realised I had black peaches, gin, and a withering, de-zested lemon at my disposal, and so I ditched the thyme and made myself one of these and reader, it was glorious. 

The name black boy peach makes me (and this guy) cringe every time I see it, so after considering some alternatives (purple ombre, bright maroon) I decided to instead just drop the boy part and therefore am now just calling them black peaches. They grace us at the latest of summer, as the mornings crisp up but the sun still shines, and they're tart but sweet and very very good. Excellent in a caprese, delicious in a cocktail.

This drink turns the peach into a syrup that's a lovely intense purple, and like it's main ingredient, the drink becomes that perfect mix of tart and sweet, like any good Tom Collins should. A tangy pick-me-up for a Friday back in the freelancing game, and the perfect aperitif to your weekend. Happy Friday x

Recipe inside!

The black peach tom collins

A version of this recipe was first published in my Herald on Sunday column. Original recipe here.  

Makes two. 

For the peach sugar syrup - 

2 black peaches

1 cup water

1 cup white sugar 

2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional) 

Cut the peach in half and remove the stone, and then cut each half into four pieces. Place in a small saucepan with the sugar, water, and thyme. 

Gently heat, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and remove the thyme sprigs. Leaving the peach chunks in the syrup, set aside until ready. You can make the syrup in advance, and it will keep in the fridge about a week.

For the cocktail - 

Place four chunks of the peach and 6 tsp of the syrup into a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Fill with ice and add the lemon juice and the gin. Shake well until combined. Taste and adjust lemon or syrup according to taste (I like my Tom Collins' pretty tart, but it's all about balance and personal preference).

Fill two glasses with ice and evenly add the mixture. Top with soda water. Garnish with thyme, a peach slice, or lemon. 

Feel instantly relaxed and have an excellent weekend.  

 

// Posted by Delaney at 6:54 PM

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