2015

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? 

Recipe inside!

Honey, thyme, and sea salt walnuts

These are adapted only slightly from the amazing Gather Journal

Ingredients

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)

Method

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. 

// Posted by Delaney at 5:36 PM // Labels: platters, plattergram, walnuts

If you read about food and food trends regularly, you will have inevitably seen something about fermentation, and fermented foods. I knew vaguely what they meant, and have watched with interest as menus increasingly feature kimchi and pickles. But it wasn't until this year I was seeing more and more people I know fermenting their own stuff, and making it look easy. 

Sauerkraut is lacto-fermented cabbage, and you might be used to seeing shredded rather than cut into chunks, or made with white cabbage rather than red. It's also a crucial element in the famous Reuben sandwich. My friend Jesse had been harping on about making kombucha and pickling things, but it wasn't until he posted step-by-step 'kraut making instructions on his twitter page that I sat up and took notice. I think it was the picture of the cabbage, an onion, and some salt with the caption: 'these are the only ingredients you need' that really got me over the line. 

Recipe inside!

Basic Sauerkraut

This kraut recipe was taken and adapted slightly from food writer Jesse Mulligan's twitter account. Similar instructions can be found on The Kitchn.

Ingredients: 

1 red cabbage

1 red onion

1 tbsp good quality sea salt 

1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Remove tough outer leaves frm the cabbage. Chop into bite size chunks, throwing away the core, and rinse thoroughly under running water. Dry off in a salad spinner or with a tea towel. Place in a large bowl. 

2. Chop onion into small chunks and add the the bowl. 

3. Add salt and cayenne and massage it into the cabbage. Take a good 5-10 minutes to do this. The liquid will start to come out of the cabbage. Make sure you massage the salt well into the mix. 

4. Set aside for at least 5 minutes to rest, but ideally up to an hour. This will allow the liquid to start coming out. 

5. Take your clean jar, and transfer the cabbage mixture into the jar with tongs. Press down with a muddler or rolling pin or similar, and squash it hard so there are no air bubbles. Liquid will start to come up the jar as you press. Keep filling and pushing and filling and pushing unti your jar is full. Liquid should have come up most of the way. 

6. Put the lid loosely on top (it doesn't need to be sealed, it just needs to keep bugs away) and keep in a cool, dark place. Taste it after about 3 days, and then leave it fermenting until you like the taste (for me it's a little over a week) and then refrigerate, as this will arrest the ferment and keep it about that level of flavour and tang.

A few notes: 

- the liquid might drip over the top if you pack it a little high - I just keep a tea towel under the jar and keep an eye on it. 

- you might get a few white mould-like spots on top, just scrape them off and keep going. 

- the liquid in the bottom at the end of your batch can be used to kickstart the next. 

How to eat:

- with chopsticks, straight from the jar.

-  on noodles, with a crispy fried egg, some sauteed greens, and plenty of hot sauce and sesame oil.

- with matjes or pickled herrings or smoked fish on a platter.

- on any #plattergram worth its weight.

- on top of noodle soup/ramen. 

- on toast with avocado.

- for breakfast with eggs and salmon.

- with cream cheese or homemade labne on rye or crackers.   

   

// Posted by Delaney at 4:19 PM // Labels: fermenting, kraut, sauerkraut

After the frenetic madness that was the Netball World Cup (in case you missed it the Silver Ferns won Silver, my little sister included), my 31st birthday (there were tequila shots), and a week in Wellington for Visa Wellington on a Plate, things (touch wood) feel a little calmer at the moment, and I've thoroughly enjoyed being back in the kitchen. Althought the blog gets a little neglected, I've still been hard at work, taking photos, writing recipes, hustling for dollars, and baking cakes. 

// Posted by Delaney at 1:46 PM // Labels: cake, herald on sunday, caramel

I've been blogging for Taste magazine over at taste.co.nz about my trip to Sri Lanka, and the latest post features 10 delicious food highlights of my two weeks there. I was back in Auckland for two days before jumping on a plane to Sydney, and I've done some pretty good eating here too. More about that soon. In the meantime, as I get ready to fly home, head over to Taste's beautiful new website and have a read. Spoiler alert: tropical fruit, curry, and coconut water fresh from the source. Enjoy!   

// Posted by Delaney at 4:47 PM // Labels: Travel, sri lanka

It's 30C in Colombo right now, but I'm safely sitting in air-conditioned bliss in my 3-bedroom apartment at the Hilton Residences, right in the centre of the city. This morning was when the action kicked off, with the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge global final media briefing. More about that shortly. 

There are two teams from New Zealand competing, and one of the four judges is Simon Gault, also a kiwi. All of us from New Zealand flew over together, leaving Auckland on Friday morning. Here's a video with a bit more from our trip. There were some excess baggage issues (and a hefty bill!) given that all competing teams from around the world have to bring their own crockery, table settings, tea cups, martini glasses, and a whole heap of local produce. We got on to our flight with the sun streaming in, and I made it to Singapore thanks to a medicinal brandy and dry, a window seat, an obligatory Singapore Sling, and most of Lena Dunham's book. I got through the flight no thanks to the lady beside me who nestled in under my armpit. There must have been sleeping pills involved. 

// Posted by Delaney at 10:50 PM // Labels: sri lanka, Travel

In exciting tea-related travel news this week, I'm off to Sri Lanka next Friday to cover the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge global final. 20 teams from around the globe are descending on Colombo, Sri Lanka. to perform their best in front of four judges. Dilmah is all about bringing life back to High Tea, and getting some of the best chef's from around the world to inspire those of us at home. They'll be infusing their food with tea, brewing food-matched teas, and there'll be a few tea-fuelled cocktails for good measure. 

Merrill J. Fernando, Dilmah's founder, was recently named as one of the 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Honourees by the Award Committee of Nobel Laureates in Peace and Economics (more about that here). He has his own charitable foundation, and many conservation initiatives, and I'm really excited to learn more about them, as well as what makes the perfect cup.  

// Posted by Delaney at 4:39 PM // Labels: Travel, sri lanka

On these especially bleak Mondays of Winter, may I suggest whipping up a batch of cookies for someone you like? You're looking at about 30 minutes from start to finish: from a bunch of ingredients you probably already have lurking in your fridge and pantry, to a soft, golden biscuit oozing molten chocolate. That's probably about the time you might spend watching something terrible on TV, or stalking someone you don't even like on facebook. The benefits of closing the screen for a short spell in the kitchen are manifold: you get to eat clumps of cookie dough, you only use one mixing bowl plus measuring cups for minimal dishes, you get to try a biscuit hot out of the oven, and you get to pop one in your lunchbox to have at work tomorrow. If you then feel compelled to put the rest in a brown paper bag wrapped up with string and completely and utterly make someone's day, then these are the cookies for you. There is simply not enough giving and receiving of fresh baked goods. The dough is perfect to keep in the freezer too, which means you're  always only ever 15 minutes away from heaven in a baked good. Go forth!

 

 

 

Recipe inside!

Chocolate chunk cookies

A version of this recipe (my Peanut Slab cookies) first featured in the Whittaker's cookbook A Passion For Chocolate.

Ingredients

125g softened butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tblsp golden syrup or maple syrup 

2 tblsp milk  

1tsp good quality vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup roughly chopped chocolate of your choice: Whittaker's sante bars are great, their new artisan chocolate would work, or 3 x almond golds. 

Method

Using a wooden spoon, beat together the butter, sugar, golden or maple syrup, milk, and vanilla, until well combined and slightly pale. 

Sift over the flour and baking powder, and add the chocolate. Mix together with a wooden spoon, and then your hands, to form a soft dough. 

Roll out small balls of dough, and place on a greased oven tray. Flatten down with a fork or spoon.

Bake at 180C for 12-15 minutes. 

// Posted by Delaney at 10:46 PM // Labels: cookies

Booking.com sent me to the Bluff Oyster Festival. This is how it went.

The end of May was when winter in New Zealand really and truly decided to show its face with wind and storms and snow up and down the country. Coincidentally it was exactly the same time I thought it would be a good idea to book an impromptu weekend away to the very bottom of the South Island. The Deep South if you will. I’d never been before; I’d only made it as far as the stunning rolling hills of Central Otago. This trip was not specifically for pinot noir and roaring firesides though, this trip was for oysters.

The Bluff Oyster Festival happens every year in Bluff, with the tag line ‘unsophisticated and proud of it’. I’d heard that last year it was nearly washed out with sideways freezing cold wind and rain. The plan for 2015 included moving venues, providing some cover in the form of a giant open-air warehouse, and increasing the number of fresh off the boat oysters. In preparation, I bought some cut-price merino and a woolly hat, and prepared to eat as many oysters as I possibly could.

// Posted by Delaney at 11:07 PM // Labels: Travel, new zealand, oysters

My friend Tom has launched a company called Onvine, a boutique wine subscription service for people who want to passively learn about what they're drinking. For a set price he sends subscribers a hand-selected mixed case of six each month, and they can drink them, electronically cellar them, make their own tasting notes, and then order more of the ones they love, nice and easily. Each month Tom features a wine of the month, and somehow he has coerced me in to creating a matching recipe. 

This month he gave me the Pencarrow Chardonnay 2014 to try. Pencarrow is the second label to Palliser Estate, a wine producer in Martinborough (an area of New Zealand close to my heart) - Tom's notes about the wine are here.

I love chardonnay, and I love gnocchi, and the match came about after I spent a good amount of time harassing the wine expert in my life. He suggested all sorts of vague things: Yeast! Apricot! Brioche! But after tasting the wine, and playing around with lots of different ideas, I arrived at this.

Recipe inside!

Gnocchi with brown butter, sage, and hazelnuts

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

¼ cup hazelnuts (get fresh New Zealand ones if you can)

1 small buttercup pumpkin

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp chilli flakes

1 tbsp honey

100g good quality unsalted butter  (I used Lewis Road Creamery)

300g gnocchi

1 bunch fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped (about half a cup)

1 tsp lemon zest

Grana padano or parmesan, to garnish

Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to garnish

 

1. Take the hazelnuts and dry toast in a frying pan on a high heat for a couple of minutes. Roughly chop and set aside.

2. Slice buttercup, skin-on, into thin crescent wedges, and roast at 200C with a little olive oil, honey, and chilli flakes, for about 30 minutes, until golden and caramelised.

3. Make gnocchi according to instructions, or buy fresh-frozen gnocchi, and cook in boiling water according to instructions. Leave in water until ready to add to sauce.

4. In a frying pan, add butter. Heat on a medium-high heat until nearly all melted, then add your chopped sage leaves.

5. Cook a couple of minutes, until the butter starts to brown and the leaves start to go crispy. Add the gnocchi, and stir to coat in the butter. Cook for a further couple of minutes, being careful not to allow the butter to burn.

6. Remove from the heat and add lemon zest. Add the hazelnuts, and serve on a plate with the roasted buttercup.

Garnish with grana padano or parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve with Palliser Chardonnay 2014.

// Posted by Delaney at 11:01 PM // Labels: wine match, cooking, onvine

Well hello! Welcome! Welcome to delaneymes.com, my brand-spanking new blog/website, that has risen from the ashes of my five year old blog Heartbreak Pie, now officially dead (RIP). I'm Delaney Mes, I'm a food writer based in Auckland, NZ. I love eating, and drinking, and cooking, and travelling, and somehow, through a mixture of ballsiness, stupidity, hard work, and good luck, I've been able to turn it into a career. 

Currently, a little over two years after quitting a law career to do something I love, I'm writing regular columns in the Herald on Sunday and Metro magazine, as well as doing cooking demonstrations, recipe writing, freelance writing jobs, organising people's dinner parties, and coordinating their weddings. Through a hodge-podge of things, I make up a full time working week, and I love it. 

Heartbreak Pie began when I was a 25 year old, heartbroken, graduate lawyer, living with randoms in a cold Wellington flat. Food blogs weren't so much a thing then; they tend to be a dime a dozen these days, and there are some truly great ones, and many that are terrible. I'd wanted to ditch the heartbreak thing for a few years now, and finally today that time has come. 

// Posted by Delaney at 2:31 PM