Category Archives: babies

For the love of dill

A week ago I was craving the herb dill. My modest herb garden at home supplies me with my usual kitchen staples; flat leaf parsley, coriander, thyme, mint, sage and rosemary. However dill is one thing I do not currently grow. I managed to buy some from my farmers market and made some lovely meals infused with the fresh uplifting aniseed taste, fennel fragrance of this under used herb. Its appearance is wiry thread like leaves which look so pretty sprinkled or stirred through a dish. I have been cooking up  a storm from cook book writer Diana Henry. This idea came from her book effortless cooking I have cooked about 15 recipes from this book in 3 weeks, I highly recommend it for a good variety of everyday recipes that are simple yet full of flavour.

Baked beets, Jersey bennys with onions, sour cream, dill & salmon

There are still bags of beetroot for sale at the farmers markets and it makes me feel virtuous to feed freshly roasted beetroot to my family especially as I am sure I am doing something special for my husbands poor liver after too much winter wine drinking. I had to share this recipe as it was very easy to put together and can be easily assembled and eaten at room temperature.

To make the beetroot you will need: 750 grams raw beetroot (try to get small ones if possible), 4 tbsp olive oil, sea salt and pepper, 2 red onions, 150 ml sour cream, 1 tbsp chopped dill.

1: Wrap the unpeeled beetroot in a foil parcel, drizzle with half the olive oil, season and put in a roasting tin. Cook in an oven preheated to 180 degrees until tender. (How long this takes depends on the size of your beetroot) – it could take as long as 1-2 hours. Put the onion wedges in a small roasting tin, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, season and roast in the same oven for 20-30 minutes. The onions should be tender and slightly singed at the tips.

2:When the beetroot is tender, peel each one (or leave the skin on as I have in the picture above) and quart or half depending on their size. Season the beetroot and put on a serving dish with the onions. Daub the sour cream over the vegetables and sprinkle with the dill. Serve hot or at room temperature.

3: I boiled new small waxy potatoes for 15-20 minutes until tender and added a little butter to warm through them. To serve I placed the potatoes in wide shallow pasta bowls, spooned the beetroot & onions on top and placed some chunks of smoked salmon on top. Very Scandinavian!.

With a little fresh dill leftover I made a spring green risotto the next night with courgettes, asparagus and dill. This was lovely for a change to my usual risotto.

Spring green dill risotto



Filed under babies, cooking, fish, food, home cooking, potatoes, recipes

Making food with children

”I want to make something with you Mummy!”, my daughter has been asking me this every day this week.

I knew that Lucia would naturally be interested in food and cooking as that is a big focus in the environment she is growing up in. She enjoys visiting the Farmers markets with me each weekend, the local butchers know her by name and she knows her fresh herbs in the garden. It delights me that I am creating this positive food culture at home where I hope that by the time she is a teenager and grows in to a young woman I would have helped impart a natural knowledge of what to eat and how to cook it. It is empowering to have the knowledge on one of the most fundamental basics which is to be able to look after your health and fuel your body for living. Knowing what is good to eat; preferably local seasonal produce; organically grown fruit and vegetables if possible.  Free range eggs and meats, sustainable fresh fish,  whole foods, or more simply foods that are in their natural state – certainly not in cleverly marketed boxes and packages with lists of numbers to explain what is really inside them.    It depresses me to see queues of cars lined up outside the McDonald’s drive thru when I drive past, laziness and ignorance. By ensuring we eat home-made food, having control about what ingredients we use means Lucia is involved from very young, eating good food starting at home is my small way to counter the culture.

I grew up with a Mother who is a very good cook and baker, through Mums cooking I learnt to LOVE eating food. However she was very tidy and I do not have any memories of being involved with her cooking. Kids cooking is sometimes very messy I am the first to admit, I remember my Mum not being always keen on me cooking when I was younger for this very reason.  I am overlooking the spilt flour over the floor and little dirty finger-marked cupboards and embracing a fun and positive cooking culture.

Some favourite foodies things Lucia and I have been doing together

  1.  Cupcakes or muffins then ice and decorate them. Lucia had a ball making these chocolate and almond nut butter cupcakes yesterday. I think she was so busy decorating one marshmallow for the cupcake and one for her mouth that she hardly had room to eat an actual cupcake once baked.

2.        Dumplings or pot stickers. I have been gritting my teeth and letting Lucia use a fairly blunt knife to chop herbs and vegetable.   She has been doing very well. I was watching a documentary set in a remote South american village and I was cringing watching this toddler with a big knife chopping away. surprisingly he looked perfectly capable. Using small wonton pastry rounds I got Lucia to fill and squeeze the pastry over in half and then brush water with the pastry brush to seal the wontons. Filling, Squeezing and painting – a 3 year olds dream activity.

3.  Farmers Market pretend play. Lucia has a new game, she sets up her market stall with the fruit bowl and we come to her market stall and pretend to buy fruit from her – She loves it. Lucia the market gardener.


Filed under babies, cake, cooking, food, home cooking

Baked streaky bacon wrapped sausages

Baking and roasting is so simple, this dish is super simple yet has the comforting flavours of a roast. I can throw this all together in 10-15 mintues, pop it in a pre heated 190º oven, put the timer on for 30-40 minutes and get on with playing games and watching my lovely daughter Lucia Belle Lucia wash up the dishes until dinner is ready.


Baked streaky bacon wrapped sausages, with apples & golden sweet potato


4-6 good quality pork sausages

6 slices streaky bacon

3 red apples

one red onion chopped into quarters

A few chopped peeled sweet shallots are nice too

Enough sweet golden potato (kumara)

x2 Whole garlic clove (optional)

2 bay leaves

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt

cracked black pepper

  1. Wrap bacon around the sausage
  2. Place sausages and all ingredients in a large baking dish
  3. season and pour olive oil over vegetables and sausages
  4. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minute

This is the perfect simple mid week meal. Minimal effort, which will evoke lots of mmm! at the table.

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Filed under babies, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, recipes

Worthy of praise Baghdad eggs. spiced lentils. tomato kasundi

I managed to escape from the aftermath of Christchurch third major shakes June 13th 5.7 and 6.3 Magnitude earthquakes for the heady, cosmopolitan pleasure of an undamaged city – Auckland, New Zealand.  Thank goodness for a breather from the constant aftershocks I have been experiencing. Armed with a current Entertainment dining discount book I used it as my guide to search out a cafe which I could experience a stand out great breakfast. Most breakfast brunch menus bore me to tears, most cafes stick to the same formula, eggs Benedict, big breakfast, french toast, predictable, safe, yawn, yawn. So I was excited when I turned up to Urban Cafe on Carlton Gore Rd, Newmarket, Auckland at 9am this morning. Firstly it was very busy with plenty of good Auckland people watching – corporate types and fashionistas sipping lattes, deep in conversation on a superb sun spilled  patio. I love it when I see plenty of fresh baking – caramel, cinnamon, raison brioche, perfect bakewell slice, red velvet cupcakes. My early morning sweet tooth was bound to be satisfied. I started off with a round of coffees for my group and yes my sweet tooth insisted on a sneaky cinnamon brioche shared with our coffees while we pondered and tried to decide what to order from a very good menu. Baghdad eggs with spiced lentils and a tomato kasundi served with more than enough turkish bread beckoned me. The dish was served piping hot in a small cast iron pan with three soft poached eggs set amongst brown lentils, not unlike a frittata. Garnished with a generous handful of fresh coriander which infused the dish. Bagdad eggs were Perfect. I can not wait to try making this dish at home.


  • Food 9/10
  • Coffee 10/10
  • Atmosphere 8/10
  • Toddler/child friendly 8/5

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Filed under babies, cafes, cake, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, organic, photography, recipes, travel

80’s Meatloaf revivalist!

What will I make for dinner? This is forever the question and my problem is I always have a long list of recipes and dishes I am longing to try out. As I am a self-confessed cook book addict my home has a big stash of cookbooks which ensures I never get bored or lack inspiration to put on my apron!. I read and evaluate each recipe to make sure it meets the must cook criteria.

  • Comfort factor – After a busy day it seems dinner is quite often the only meal that you can really relax and enjoy without having to inhale your food before we hurry on again. Its a pleasure to take time out and truly enjoy a nourishing meal that restores you physically and mentally brings comfort and calm.
  • Easily accessible ingredients – There is no point trying to make mousakka in the middle of winter when eggplants are $8.00 each (unless you have an absolute craving for mousakka then permitted!). Buy in season and locally sustainable food as a rule.
  • Looks Delicious – Who doesn’t eat with their eyes!. Oozing melted cheese, bubbling over the side lasagne, a perfectly moist and tender roasted chicken. It makes you hungry looking at it.
  • Get out of your comfort zone – It motivates me to try out new recipes that are a bit of a challenge or use unusual ingredients that I have not tasted or familiar with. If you are cooking a recipe you have made every Monday night for the last ten years….please STOP!. Try something new your taste buds will love you for it.

These are some of my recent cosy family meals we have been enjoying.

Meatloaf – Doesnt this just remind you of the 1980’s?. My Mum use to make this for us all the time. My husband jokes I have a love for mince. When I met him I prided myself on the fact I only had ever eaten fillet steak and I certainly did not eat mince (nose in the air). Well I have changed, mince is just so versatile, Pork mince, beef mince, venison mince, lamb mince, chicken mince. I love what I can make with Mince!. I usually make meatloaf out of pork and beef mince. It is so simple to put this together and it tastes divine. Truly!. Sometimes I make the meatloaf in a tin – self saucing meatloaf,  by pouring over a container of tomatoe puree and a few dashes of Worcester sauce or red wine or whatever takes my fancy. The recipe below is utterly divine and a little more sophisticated baked free form on a tray, the bonus here is the vegetables benefit form all the delicious juices to create a complete meal.

Meatloaf with roasted vegetables

Meatloaf with roasted vegetables – Recipe loosely taken from Tessa Kiros Apples for Jam.


  • 80g white bread crusts removed  (about 4 slices)
  • 125 ml Milk
  • 2 large zucchini, trimmed
  • 1 large potato or sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 large red capsicum
  • 500 grams lean mince (beef or pork or combination)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 100 grams thinly sliced pancetta (or streaky bacon will work)
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 2 small rosemary sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 125 ml white wine
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Soak the bread in the milk for about 15 minutes, squashing it up a bit with your hands so it collapses.
  2. Cut the red peppers, carrots, zucchini into strips and  potato into chunks. You want all the vegetables to roast evenly so make sure they are not too small that they shrivel up in the heat. Now put these aside for now.
  3. My favourite bit…put the mince in a large bowl with the parsley, egg, chopped garlic, parmesan and squashed up bread, and season with a flat teaspoon of salt. mix together until smooth. Then form a large loaf like a giant egg.
  4. Drizzle half the olive oil into a large flameproof baking dish and put the meatloaf on top. cover with overlapping slices of pancetta, tucking them in at the bottom. Scatter the vegetables all around , drizzle with olive oil and toss with some salt. Tuck the herbs and garlic under the vegetables. Bake 1 1/4 hours and, turning the vegetables over half way through. Keep an eye on them they do not over cook. The vegetables should be golden and crusty and the bacon crispy also. Turn the oven off. Remove the vegetables and meatloaf to a platter, cover with foil and put back in the oven to keep warm. Put the baking dish on the stove top over high heat and sprinkle in the flour. Cook stirring constantly to scrape up all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the dish. Pour in the wine and stir until evaporated. Add 250 ml of hot water; season with salt and cook until the sauce becomes smooth and thickens a little. Serve with the meatloaf cut into thick slices and the vegetables.

Your man and your little ones will love this MEATloaf!. It is great sliced cold on sandwiches the next day also.

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Filed under babies, cooking, earthquake, eggplant, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes

What’s on the menu?

Are you like me, constantly planning what’s for dinner for the week ahead?. Some of my friends think I am MAD!. I love it!, searching for recipes, ideas, inspirations for wonderful meals. I usually start with a depleted fridge and cupboard, I then start to mentally collate lists and  ideas for meals, recipes which I have been sourcing  from online food websites, cook books, magazines which go on to become written menu ideas. Farmers Markets provide a huge influence when it comes to what is in season. Earthquakes and the imminent winter weather is motivating me to fill the store cupboards.

This week is shaping up to be a very delicious looking Autumn, end of April Menu.

  • Thursday Evening – Cinnamon Beef Stew with creamy mash, french green beans & shallots.
  • Friday Night THE ROYAL WEDDING – Fillet Steak Gratin with creme fraiche, chive sauce & rocket.
  • Desert Rhubarb crumble served with custard
  • Saturday Night – Pork with caramelised pear and parsnips
  • Sunday Night – Handmade by moi, Agria Potato Gnocchi with cherry tomato, basil sauce and parmesan
  • Monday Night – Home made Chicken Soup, stock and all.

Thats as far as I have planned right now. I like to keep my ingredients as fresh as possible and I find if I plan to far ahead I end up with some forgotten, limp vegetables at the back of the fridge that do not get used. I can’t wait to get cooking. Who would like to come to dinner?

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Filed under babies, cafes, cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, lamb, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup

Healing through food

What a pure joy and distraction it has been to plan, prepare, cook and serve food that comforts the soul, soothes the stress and anxiety of living through a major life change and trauma that an earthquake can wrought.

Today is nearly 9 weeks on from the Christchurch 6.3 earthquake and my husband has been joking “You really are trying to find healing through food”, not that he complains when he  is dished up in his own words inspirational, tasty, delicious and excellent meals”. In fact eats like a king in splendour. I told my Dad who was in Australia about all the cooking I had been doing and he joked I suppose you are 90 kg now!”.

 Its amazing at night from my kitchen we usually have lovely city views over Christchurch and the city. I had a dinner party last saturday night and the favourite topic was being discussed, earthquake war stories. My guests were absolutely amazed when I pointed out that there is now a big black dark hole in the middle of the view where the city lights usually sparkle. It is like ground zero – but its our WHOLE city centre. Our city is still cordoned off, closed, guarded by army, security and fences. 181 people lost there lives, other lost limbs, jobs, houses. I don’t think anyone feels like things are back to normal yet. These are some of the dishes I have been making.

Flat fish fillet of freshest Sole pan-fried very simply in the most delicious smoky spanish, lemon, garlic, paprika butter sauce. Here it is served alongside leftover TIAN (see my previous post for the recipe). This fish recipe was from Apples for Jam -Tessa Kiros cook book.

Photos are not the best, these were taken on my blackberry in dim light and my other camera is on the blinker.

Trusty shepherds pie, as comforting and satisfying as a hug from your Grandma!. Old fashioned, basic, tasty and just perfect in the most uncomplicated way.

New Zealand (French-way) Onion Soup. I had never made this wonderful soup and I am not sure why ever not, as it is simple, simple, simple. If money was tight after the earthquake this is one way to make your food $ go further yet eat like a french aristocrat. One 1kg bag of white onions $3.99, Good bought beef stock and I added two cups of my home-made chicken stock to lighten the flavour a bit, the biggest splurge which I could not resist was the hunk of Gruyère cheese which I melted dreamily over my sliced baguette. Thanks Annabel Langbein who I referred to for the soup idea. I had three different recipes going, and every cook agreed not to take any shortcuts when it came to cooking the onions down and ensuring they are silky, sweet and sexy. My cousin Brad Pitt (see previous Brad Pitt Post) came over to enjoy the soup with us and he gave it a 10/10 and he should know after travelling far and wide to the best restaurants!.

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb with apricots, chilli & chickpeas on carrot yoghurt rice – recipe from Everday Sunday Ray McVinnie

Thank goodness for my kitchen, the familiarity and rythym of the knowledge that 9 out of 10 times if I follow a recipe I will turn a pile of ingredients into a fabulous meal that can be enjoyed by the ones I care about.


Filed under babies, cooking, earthquake, fish, food, home cooking, lamb, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup