I bought this beautiful mimosa and mandarin soy fragrant candle today. It got me thinking about the little things that make my home special; fragrance, food, wine friends and music. I know I gain a renewed sense of wellbeing when I throw open the windows and let fresh air in. Clean laundered crisp, cotton white sheets blown through with the wind and sunshine. Fresh from the oven baking, cooling on the bench until its time for friendship & afternoon tea. Slow, slow cooking on the stove with the assuring smell of comfort that dinner is under control. Light, open the curtains, I am blessed my little kitchen is positioned to soak up the last of the days rays. Views, if you aren’t ready to invest in art – buy flowers. Vitality in a jug, what a visual feast and pleasure they are, the star of the show in even the dullest of space. And if you missed the florist, cheat like me and spray some lavender water or diluted essential oils around. It instantly erases yesterday and create a clean and fresh smelling room. Music, sing, dance, tv -no way, no ads, no radio, yes to jazz, world music, nostalgic old school music – I love this. I love creating an atmosphere of relaxation and pleasure. Good food, call up some friends, what its Monday? excellent. Have a dinner party, don’t save anything for a special occasion, open that special bottle of wine today, celebrate, what’s the occasion?. Its Monday, Monday is the occasion, Dress up! dress for life. Put on some bright lipstick, a sequins dress and heels. The silver, the crystal, the fine china (who has fine china these days?). Open all the windows, air the house, light a candle, arrange some flowers, prepare something delicious to eat, open the wine, invite some friends, dress up – be special. Turn the tv off, play the guitar/ukulele/piano/bongo drum. Ok you don’t know how, invite someone who does? I am sure my friend Jill will come and play the ukulele for you. Breathe in the good fragrance of home…a holiday…exotic destination?. No. home is wonderful. Play, eat, drink, dance, sing until you fall into those fresh sheets. Home is very satisfying.
Category Archives: recipes
A good balanced lunch always sets me up for the afternoon and helps avoid a four pm energy dip. I have recently discovered this lovely brand of Italian organic whole meal dried only takes 7 minutes to cook. It makes a good base to add pesto, seeds, nuts, cheeses, perhaps a poached egg for protein and vegetables too. Whatever is in your fridge. The whole meal pasta has a nutty flavour. I always feel good adding more fibre to my diet.
Ingredients serves 1 person
75 grams Pumpkin chopped into 1cm cubes or smaller
35 grams feta cheese
X1 Tablespoon basil pesto
Large handful baby rocket chopped
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
1:bring a pot of well salted water to the boil, cook pumpkin with pasta until al dente, drain (retain a few tablespoons of the water) and return to the pot with the few tablespoons of water.
2: add the rest of the ingredients and toss with extra virgin olive oil and cracked pepper.
3: serve. This would be good at room temperature also.
Fresh shellfish, salmon and fish from my local fish market is such a lovely treat.
I have been cooking from a new cookbook la cigale, which is a collection of French classic recipes from owner Elizabeth Lind who pioneered the French market and bistro in Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. The recipe for a French style seafood cream bound chowder caught my eye. It is French style with the mussels initially cooked in apple cider. This forms the basis for the stock which you add to the celery, shallot, carrot roux. My four hungry Man guests were silent as they started the meal. I accept this as a nod of approval when there is silence. Tonight I have the seven hour lamb leg due to be ready any minute, again from the same book. I have been re-enthused for some decadent French cooking. Pork terrine is next on my wish list.
When caught out hungry I can be a right grouch. My husband jokes we need to keep a mini snack box in the car just for me, his favourite line is ‘are you hungry again we just ate 3 hours ago’ I say ‘yes that was breakfast’. Call it low blood sugar levels but I really do need to eat quite regularly so am always planning out what I am going to eat next!. Cooking is a passion, but more thrilling is the joy of eating what I cook. The icing on the cake is serving that food up to my hungry, appreciative guests. When greedy silence descends on the table you know you have nailed it.
My second daughter Evie Rosa was born on 19th September 2012. A second peaceful birth at home meant that I could get in the kitchen and cook some nourishing post birth meals. 2012 was a huge cooking year for me pregnant and with a new-born baby and I never got around to posting the photos and recipes I made. So here is a quick 2012 photo diary of some of the everyday meals that came out of my kitchen and were very joyfully received by my family and friends that never made it on to my blog.
Crumbed, golden and glorious! chicken, fish, haloumi cheese, there are so many options. I can never decide whats best fresh breadcrumbs, or ground macadamia, almond nuts, parmesan cheese, panko crumbs. Crumbed foods shallow fried in butter and olive oil, or the fat of your choice, find me someone who can resist this. Forever the reason my home has been affectionately nicknamed ‘fat camp’ from my friends and family.
Cake and baking became my friends in 2012. As Nigella Lawson says if you can measure and follow a recipe then you can bake!. It’s not that hard I have firmly discovered. I thoroughly enjoyed baking some of Diana Henrys lovely recipes from her book http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Cook-Simple-Diana-Henry/9781845335748?redirected=true&gclid=CPK1y7n3_7QCFQRKpgodXVcAUA
This recipe came from this book. A very easy chocolate cake that takes minutes to mix the batter. The almonds look so stunning contrasting against the glossy chocolate icing.
I am also in love with Nigellas new Nigellisima cook book. This is her italian apple pie cake I made. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Nigellissima-Nigella-Lawson/9780701187330
I ate my fair share of rice and potatoes last year. Fish kedgeree stared a few times. certainly a dish which is more than its sum of parts. Breakfast, lunch or dinner – the perfect meal for anytime of the day. Nelson New Zealand Mapua smokehouse produces outstanding moist, sweet, oily smoked fish. It is swooningly delicious and never dry.
I discovered Dulche De Leche. Why it has taken me this long to taste something this decadent from a jar. For once I praise industrial food. Thank you Argentina for Dulche De Leche. Right now you will fall into two camps.
1: you are nodding your head knowingly as you read this and have a secret stash of Dulche De Leche in your cupboard which you sneak spoonfuls straight from the jar when you need to mainline some pure sugar!. Oh its good.
2: If you have no idea what I am going on about. Please go to a specialty food imports store or online and buy some asap. There are so many ways to have your dulche de leche – milk caramel sauce. I made a chilled vanilla rice pudding, I then mixed dulche de leche with some cream to thin it down and drizzled it all over the rice pudding. The only problem here is stopping at one bowl. We also enjoyed a banoffee style american pancake stash with bananas, softly whipped cream and dulche de leche drizzled. delicioso.
With all this cake eating going on in 2012 I have been thinking my pantry needs a health overhaul and it is time to get my kitchen whizzing up split green pea soups, quinoa salads, farro oyster mushroom rissottos, buckwheat pancakes with blackberries and bowls of steel cut oats. I cant wait to get cooking.
Across the world roast lamb has a cultural place in the homes and hearts of all meat eaters. So many variations and all delicious, however they are prepared. In our home I am a fan of a wet Greek style roast lamb cooked long and slow with tomatoes until the lamb is so meltingly tender it can almost be eaten with a teaspoon. The only addition required is some cooked orzo stirred through the tomato gravy and salty feta cheese crumbled over the top until it amalgamate in with all the delicious lamb juices. My second favourite is a Provencal style wet roast studded with rosemary, garlic and anchovies, wrapped tightly in parchment paper so it cooks slowly and sweats in all the divine juices. All you need to serve this with is some nutty, cooked barley, cherry tomatoes and lightly steamed silverbeet, a little shaving of parmesan cheese over the top is lovely. I am forever on the search for new ways to roast a lamb leg.
These holidays my darling husband has been requesting a traditional lamb roast. A harking back to a New Zealand tradition of meat and three vegetables and accompanied with a mint sauce; perhaps gravy. Traditional does not have to mean dry overcooked meat and boring over boiled grey old vegetable. I couldn’t help myself when I made this so decided to jazz it up a little.
I used a Rachel Allen easy meals cookbook recipe as a guide. She recommended slicing potatoes, red onions and parsnips and tossing together in the roasting tin with olive oil, adding finely chopped rosemary and season. I then lay the seasoned lamb leg over the top of the vegetables and roasted in a preheated 180c oven for 1 1/2 hours. Once the lamb was done I rested it and increased the heat to finish the potatoes in a hot 220c oven. All the lamb juices soaked into the potatoes and went lovely and crispy. This easy to make mint sauce – 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint, 1 heaped tbsp caster sugar, 50 ml boiling water, 1 tbsp lemon juice – stir and sit for 10 minutes; made all the difference to the meal as only fresh mint can. The sides were green beans lightly steamed and then tossed with toasted almonds and sateued garlic and anchovies for a great savoury flavour. The carrots were roasted with the meat in a separate tin with maple syrup, olive oil and sea salt and pepper. I am with Nigel Slater when it comes to cooking and savouring the rustic crispy sticky pieces. This roast was superb.
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 http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Cook-Simple-Diana-Henry/9781845335748 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.
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.
This summer in Christchurch I have been enjoying an abundance of the most juicy, flavoursome tomatoes. My local Mt Pleasant farmers market has been offering vine tomatoes, big meaty heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. My husband has been requesting that I make this dish quite a few times over Summer. It is based on a very rustic Greek Cypriots casserole. I love the simplicity of it; big chunks of pork shoulder, new potatoes, tomatoes, onions and a few spices cooked slowly in the oven in my round earthenware dish. It is utterly divine served with rocket and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. This is rustic and simple food exactly how I like it.
Recipe – Hirino spithkasimo/Greek Style Pork
1 kg shoulder of free farmed pork, cut into fist size pieces
- 1 kg waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered
- olive oil for drizzling
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 onions, peeled and sliced lengthways
- 1 crushed garlic clove (optional)
- 5 tomatoes, (more if in season) sliced lengthways
1. Fry the onions gently in olive oil until translucent and softened quite a bit. Be careful not to brown or burn at all. Once done set aside for a minute. Put the pork and potatoes in a large earthenware dish.
2. Pour a good drizzle of oil in the dish and mix around well. Add the spices and mix again.
3. Lay the onions and tomatoes over the top pour over a little more oil and season.
4. Cover with foil and cook in a hot oven (200C) for around 1 hour, then lower the heat to 180C and remove the foil and cook for another hour till browned. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
5. Serve straight from the earthenware dish with rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.