Do other people have that thing when you feel like the universe is conspiring to make you eat something? Like when you think of a certain dish or ingredient, and then it's like everything leads you to eating that thing? Or someone will mention a food item and afterwards you simply cannot rest until you've eaten it? I had a meeting about pies this morning and afterwards was powerless to the overwhelming need to eat a pie for lunch (cheesy pumpkin with wholemeal pastry since you asked, delicious). At uni once my friend was telling me about how she'd had a tub of sweet chilli philly (you know, those tubs of Philadelphia cream cheese slathered in sweet chilli sauce that were popular in the early 2000s?) the night before and I basically went straight to the supermarket after that conversation and had sweet chilli philly for dinner with my flatmate. In hindsight, quite gross. And probably not the best way to dictate your eating decisions.
Adapted from the March 2015 Cuisine magazine
A big pile of kale and rainbow chard/silverbeet or spinach
A couple of cloves of garlic (go for fresh NZ stuff)
A few slivers each of fresh, peeled, ginger
Half a thinly sliced red chilli
A knob of butter, or a small drizzle of oil
A squeeze of lemon juice
1. Rinse the greens well, and roughly chop
2. Heat oil or butter in a medium saucepan or a frying pan with a lid
3. Add greens and stir fry for a bit
4. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilli. Add a splash of water. Cover the pot or pan and steam until softened.
5. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. They're great with fish or steak!
I woke up with a pain in my stomach on Saturday morning and realised it was the pain of drinking too much and also the fact that in the few days prior I had pretty much only eaten this loaf of sourdough and cheesecake and metres of pizza. There had definitely been too much wine mixed with not enough (but certainly some) dancing around the lounge like a maniac, and it was watching movies on the couch and eating vegetables and gentle walks in the park from there on in for the rest of the weekend. #Wellness.
Anyway, the cheesecake. We're in the throes of feijoa season here in New Zealand, those polarising little green fruit, with their short autumn season and their slightly-guava-esque fragrance and flavour. People get very excited at the beginning of their brief tenure as president of fruits, but by about mid-May they sit like a rotting carpet under overladen trees and people can't pay you to take a supermarket bag full of them off their hands. The good news is they freeze well (scoop out the flesh before freezing) and they preserve well too. And not only are they amazing in baked goods, they also make one hell of a cocktail: muddle some into your next Tom Collins and you won't regret it, I promise.
Feijoa and white chocolate cheesecake
100g butter, melted
1 x 250g packet wine biscuits (or gingernuts)
50g softened butter
50g caster sugar
250g full fat cream cheese
100g sour cream
A cup or two of feijoa flesh
Zest of one lemon
250g block Whittaker's white chocolate
100g well whipped cream (edit: the original recipe said lightly whipped, but a firmer whip gives a more solid cheesecake)
For the base, blend biscuits in a food processor until they resemble crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add melted butter. Mix together and press into a greased and lined 23cm spring form cake tin. Place in the fridge until your filling is ready.
Beat butter and sugar together until well combined (NB I used my food processor for the entire recipe). Add the cream cheese, sour cream, feijoas, and lemon zest to the food processor. Blend well.
Meanwhile, cut the chocolate into chunks, and place in a heatproof bowl. Melt gently over a pot of simmering water (or in small bursts in the microwave) until it is fully melted and glossy – I always remove my chocolate from the heat when there are still some chunks and continue mixing until smooth, to stop it burning. Set aside for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.
Add chocolate to the mixture and blend to combine. Remove mixture from the food processor into a bowl and fold in the lightly whipped cream.
Pour mixture into the prepared biscuit base in the tin, and smooth the top. Allow to set for at least 3 hours. I probably wouldn't garnish with fresh feijoa slices again as they go brown, so garnish with whatever you feel like.
This whole eating for a living thing is really great most of the time, and I am a big fan of loving oneself always, and loving one’s body as it is. Sometimes though, you might find you’ve just had three days of eating in say, Singapore, where you ate dumplings for dinner and curry for breakfast and that came pretty quickly after a week of eating and drinking in say, Melbourne and regional Victoria, where you did wine tasting after beer tasting, after café hopping and 10 course meals. And dotted between the two there may have been a stint of restaurant judging: three course meal after six course meal with a couple of wine matches thrown in for good measure.
Supercharged berry breakfast smoothie
1 x Banana (I always use All Good Organics)
About 1 cup almond milk (or whatever milk you fancy)
Handful of frozen berries (I used strawberries and they were great)
¼ tsp guarana powder (available from health food stores)
1 tbsp LSA mix (or use oats)
1 tsp honey (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!
Melbourne is a fantastic city to visit, especially if you love eating great food and drinking delicious beer and cocktails and local wine and excellent coffee. I was over there recently thanks to Tourism Victoria and Qantas, and as the food writer in the group (alongside Julia and Libby, Art and Matilda, Megan from Blogger at Large, Aimee from My Beloved Style, and Lola Photography) I had a personalised itinerary that was heavy on the eating and the drinking. Any gaps in said itinerary I expertly managed to fill with breakfasts and oysters and craft beer and fried chicken. Here’s a highlight reel.
1. Champagne for lunch at the Qantas lounge
As Qantas was a partner on the trip, the eight of us had lounge access at the airport before our Auckland-Melbourne flight. It was just before midday, and never one to break my life-rule of never saying no to free champagne, I cracked open a bottle of Mumm. I tried my hardest to get the rest of the group to have champagne for lunch too (wellness bloggers and paleo advocates included), and with the few who said yes we managed to finish a bottle. Good start.
I love a good fruit salad, but how often when you buy them either on a menu or pre-packaged are they just large chunks of underripe melon? Blergh. The cafe I worked at as a teenager here in Auckland used to make a great fruit salad, theirs served doused in passionfruit, and this one I made for the NZ Herald last year had the subtle perfume of orange blossom, just for something different. Fruit salad is a great addition to a shared brunch table, and it's the perfect late summer dessert.
This one comes to you thanks to my wayward month around South East Asia years ago, where I first learned about putting salt and chilli on to fresh fruit. It neutralises the acidity, making pineapple especially, sweeter, and lifts it to being a superbly flavoursome snack. Mint and watermelon is a classic combo already, and since a recent press release alerted me to the fact that February has been declared National Watermelon Month by a leading grower of this magical fruit, I thought I'd combine them all in one. What we end up with is a chilli-salty-sweet-minty sprinkle, and my goodness it is good.
late summer watermelon salad
For the fruit salad:
Watermelon, sliced into chunks with seeds removed
Also good with pineapple or another berry!
Chop fruit into slices and lay on a plate. Sprinkle with the sprinkle and serve immediately!
For the mint-chilli-sprinkle:
Small bunch mint, finely chopped
About 1 tsp sea salt
A small pinch of white sugar
A small pinch of chilli flakes
Stir together all ingredients and sprinkle over your fruit. Dream of South East Asia and your long-gone wayward youth and enjoy.
I’ve been throwing out extreme phrases all year as far as food is concerned. Best burger I’ve ever had! (the fresh snapper burger at Pauanui Takeaways). Most delicious breakfast I’ve ever had! (the kimchi pancake at Little Bird Unbakery in Ponsonby). One of the top five cocktails of my life! (the watermelon vermouth number at Kensington St Social in Sydney). You get the idea. Likewise, best beach swim, juciest mango, and stone fruit being the absolute, hands down, best thing about summer.
Going booze free for February lasted approximately 10 and a half days, until it was trumped by my life-rule of never saying no to champagne. The culprit? Veuve Cliquot rosé, at the launch of Lewis Road Creamery’s latest product, ice cream.
On one of Auckland’s most sweltering of summer days, I sweated up a storm driving the 25 minutes or so to the North Shore’s beautiful Narrow Neck beach for the launch. The mini ice cream cones on the beautifullly styled tables were an instant giveaway – this great little NZ company has added to it’s butter, cream, milk, and bread line up of products with premium and artisan ice cream.
The premium range features chocolate (made with Belgian chocolate), vanilla (creamy as anything, and strewn with Heilala vanilla seeds) and hokey pokey; double hokey pokey in fact. Chocolate was my favourite, followed closely by vanilla - I can’t wait to douse it in hot coffee and add frangelico and drown happily in affogato forever.
If I hear one more person talk about giving up carbs for their new year's resolution, or that their clothes are tight after their summer holiday, or that they are unironically shredding for a wedding, I very may well scream. I am all for health, and eating lots of veggies, and getting exercise that you enjoy, but I am not at all for hating oneself, obsessing over calories, negatively comparing our bodies to others, or deprivation and guilt and self-loathing around food. It's food. You have to eat it three times a day, you might as well eat and enjoy and move on. Actually liking the body you're in, and yourself, is an incredibly powerful thing. Actually believing those inspirational quote photos on instagram instead of just posting them, and loving your body in all it's differences to everyone else and eating seasonally and enjoying it are just all great things I think we should try a bit harder to do. I despair, I utterly despair at the number of beautiful, intelligent, funny people I know who obsess over this shit. What if we all put that energy into something actually worth while?
In the immortal words of Sarah Knight, maybe it's time to declutter your life and stop giving a fuck? About what other people, the bazillion dollar diet industry, or general society think? Hmmm?
Zucchini, mint and feta fritters
Like most of my recipes, the quantities are approximate. Fritters are a very forgiving recipe!
2-3 zucchini, grated
Small bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
Small crumble of feta, about 1 tbsp – I use Zany Zeus, it’s SO good
3 heaped tbsp flour – I use spelt flour as it’s a little lighter and just really nice
¾ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt and crack of black pepper
2 fresh, free range eggs (although if you only have one egg, that should do it – just reduce the flour slightly)
Put all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well with a fork.
Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and melt a knob of butter until bubbling. Reduce heat, and fry the fritters in batches, adding more butter or oil as necessary.
Serve with labne or good quality thick greek yoghurt. Add a green salad or a poached egg to make more of a meal. These are great made as minis as a canapé with labne and a dollop of beetroot relish too.
Note: to make labne, just mix 500g natural yoghurt with a teaspoon of salt and a few drops of lemon juice, then strain overnight either using a cheesecloth tied to a wooden spoon hanging over a conatiner, or a colander lined with paper towels, resting over a container. There's another recipe here if you're interested.
Well would you look at that, a new year. Life eh? Just continuing to happen, with its ups and downs, and deaths, and holidays, and babies and exes and sisters and former flatmates and great old friends and new ones too. Weddings and rain and brunch and beaches and espresso martinis and stone fruit and pork buns and, ahem, rice pudding.
Because January starts to feel just a teeeeeency bit like unemployment when you're a freelancer, I thought there was simply not a better time than now to dust off ye olde food blog, and write up some damn recipes. Because just like in the glory days of my food blogging career (heartbreak pie circa 2010-11) I'm single and home alone and ever so slightly melancholy on a Sunday night.
Summer rice pudding with fresh peaches
This recipe is adapted from Annabel White's one here.
1 cup brown sushi rice (or any short grain rice you have handy)
4 cups full-fat milk (I used Lewis Road Creamery Silver top and Blue top)
1 scant tablespoon brown sugar
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
Small handful currants (or raisins)
Small pinch ground cinnamon
Small knob butter
Grease a small casserole dish with butter, then add the rice, milk, and sugar.
Add the currants/raisins, and the cinnamon and stir together gently. Add the knob of butter.
Place in the oven at bake at 150C for about an hour and half. Turn the oven off and leave in there for another hour or two, or until you're ready to serve it. May I politely suggest putting this on during your sundowner G&T, turning it off as you start eating dinner but leaving it in the oven, then it will be the perfect temperature for pudding, and it's even better the next day for breakfast. Serve with fresh, ripe slices of peach.
At some point last year, I found myself often serving up snacks for dinner, or preparing a simple cheese board, or throwing together a platter, and really wanting them to look good. Presentation is not often my strong point, but I'd seen some beautifully put-together platters and decided I really needed to lift my game.
I started simple - lots of fresh herbs or flowers, and utilising all the different coloured little dishes and ramekins and plates I've collected over the years. I also got a couple of great wooden boards, and a few cute knives. A good mixture of colour is crucial, a mixture of textures, and enough of a cracker/chip/crisp type thing. I'm heavily into oatcakes at the moment, for example. I started using the hashtag #plattergram to show off my ever-improving platters, and learned to follow only one rule of plattergramming: no plastic. By all means use dips from a pottle, (although hummus is really easy to make, you guys) just put it in a ramekin first, ok?
Honey, thyme, and sea salt walnuts
These are adapted only slightly from the amazing Gather Journal.
1 cup (roughly) fresh walnuts (in NZ I use Uncle Joe's from Marlborough)
1 very generous pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tbsp clear, runny honey (I use J.Friend and Co Beechwood Honeydew)
Preheat oven to about 190C. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper, and scatter over the walnuts.
Sprinkle over the sea salt. Pull some of the thyme leaves off the stalks, and scatter over the leaves. Add the other stalks whole amongst the walnuts.
Roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, being very careful not to burn them.
Remove the tray from the oven, and while the walnuts are still hot, drizzle over the honey.
Serve warm, or allow to cool to room temperature. They should keep in an airtight container for a good few days.