Tag Archives: brunch

Right time, right place – out of the rubbble of Christchurch

In my opinion if not one of the most exciting and progressive things that has happened to Christchurch since the February earthquake has been
the opening of the Cassels & Sons Brewery & Cafe at the Tannery Woolston http://casselsbrewery.co.nz

This new start venture reads like one of those classic kiwi business ventures, father and sons home brew beer over a unique wood fire in the back
yard and over a beer decide let’s start a boutique brewery. After a few setbacks and two major earthquakes which nearly decimate there business with vision they decide to push forward and rapidly expand the brewery into a prime restaurant, cafe, bar & entertainment music venue.

With the choice of the crème  de la crème of the Christchurch hospitality staff out of work they recruit them all, Barista Tonto from ex Vivace Cafe fame, chefs, bakers, front of house  staff.

We are now utterly spoilt for a premium destination for most importantly  boutique beers, wood fired pizzas, rustic food, sumptuous cabinet food that  would not be out of place in any international city. I adore this place, it  opens seriously early in time for all day breakfasts (try the chilli baked beans on hot buttered toast), serves up lunch, affordable cabinet food by a  clever mother and son kitchen team. The salads are vibrant and piled high on  platters, think Otto Lenghi style http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/.

 The Dinner menu is thoughtfully written, wood fired pizzas inspired by local place  names, how tempting does Horotane Pear, Blue Cheese, Thyme & Smokey Bacon  wood fired pizza sound?. Check out the website for a line up of entertainment in the form of live music acts, this is bound to fill the void  for  entertainment deprived locals that the loss of CBD has left. This is what a  true local food & drink place should be like; children are welcome with  highchairs and a big old cane basket full of wooden toys and books. I get the innate sense that this is just the beginning for the Cassels and this Brewery/Bar/Cafe/Restaurant/Entertainment venue is filling the gap perfectly and will be here for a long time to come….in fact it feels as if it has always been.



Filed under breakfast, cafes, earthquake, food, travel

Coriander and mint cold curry

I am a huge fan of Ray Mc Vinnie and his take on classic recipes. Sunday’s highlight is reading the Sunday Star Times Ray McVinnie food section for two recipes he supplies each week. I was excited when I saw the picture of his Balinese coconut Chicken, my mouth was watering. I have never been to Bali and thought I was not familiar with this style of cooking. I liked the look of crisp tender green beans, simple sliced cucumber and a delectable looking roast chicken turned into a cold coconut curry with plain steamed rice.

Balinese/Indonesian/Malaysian style Cocunut Chicken

As I started to prepare the recipe I realised I had no Malaysian shrimp paste and that the recipe felt similar to a Lindsey Bareham recipe I had made from her book The Fish Store (Highly recommend this book). Lindseys recipe is called a Malaysian Chicken Rendang which her fore-word says is a famous curry eaten for breakfast in Malaysia. I fondly remember eating lots of curries for breakfast when I travelled through Nepal and India, the breakfast curry is strangley perfect in a hot climate.  This version originates in nearby Indonesia or Western Sumatra where it is made so hot and spicy it keeps at room temperature for a week. Lindsey and Ray’s versions are softened with plenty of coconut cream to stop your head blowing off!.

Malaysian/Indonesian Style coconut Chicken

(recipe adapted from Lindsey Bareham and Ray McVinnie)


  • 1 size 14 free-range chicken
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 6 Tbsp soy bean oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted desiccated coconut
  • 400ml thick coconut cream
  • 4 Tbsp chopped coriander
  • lime juice, to taste
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced; 200g green beans, stalk ends removed, blanched in boiling water for 4 minutes, cooled under cold water, well drained, mint or coriander leaves to garnish
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°c. Cut down each side of the chicken’s back bone (I use kitchen scissors) and discard the back bone or keep to make chicken stock. Cut through the middle of the breast bone so the chicken is in two halves.
  2. Put the garlic in a roasting dish and place the chicken on top, skin side up. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of oil over the chicken and season well. Place in the oven for 1 hour until cooked through and browned.
  3. Place the finely chopped ginger, onion, red capsicum, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp ground
    coriander and  150 ml cold water in the bowl of a food processor and blitz till you have a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the oil in a wide hot pan or wok  and add the puree and cook for 15-20 minutes till it has darkened a bit and is fragrant.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and when cold enough to handle, take the crisp skin and meat of the bones and shred coarsely.
  6. Mix the chicken, toasted desiccated coconut, fresh coriander, coconut cream and bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes or until it is very  hot. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper so the mixture is pleasantly tart and well seasoned.
  7. Serve with steamed rice, sliced cucumber, green beans and mint leaves.


Filed under breakfast, cooking, food, home cooking, meat, recipes, travel

Food diary

There is an abundance of overladen lemon trees on the hill at the moment, with a lot of people out of their homes due to the earthquake. I have been lucky enough to receive a few bags of these juicy, unwaxed lemons. I recently bought myself a tart tin, so was really excited to make some sweet short crust pastry and have a go at making a Lemon Tart.

I have been really enjoying cooking from an old Rachel Allen cook book Food for Living http://www.rachelallen.co.uk/book4.html

I have made the Fillet steak with mushroom brandy sauce and a tomato fondue twice now. My guests have all said it was better than a restaurant. Here is a hungry man-sized serving!.

My husband then found one of those marinara frozen seafood mixes at the supermarket that I would usually turn my nose up at. It was hugely economical $6.90 for the tray of mixed sea foods. I then made a basic chowder soup base and created a really tasty home-made seafood chowder for a lazy sunday night dinner.

I need to also rave about a cook book I have been enjoying Yottam Ottolenghi from London.


I made two amazing dishes. This mango coleslaw with an asian lemongrass and sugared hazelnuts. It had the whole sweet & sour flavours going on. I served it with a very moist perfectly roast free range chicken. I wanted the coleslaw to be the star so also made a big rice cinnamon, turmeric pilaf to feed the crowd who came to dinner to enjoy this special meal. Being a food blogger I am learning how sometimes photos really do not do the meals complete justice.





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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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A Cauliflower & Eggplant Marriage

I have a confession…If you were to take a look in my fridge vegetable drawer you may find a limp, sad old cauliflower turning grey and brown around the edges. I am terrible for meaning well and buying  a cauli every now and then, when the time comes to using it I reach for the much more exciting cavalo nero, slim shiny green beans or spunky beetroot!.  I was finally inspired out of my CAULIFLOWER APATHY by a delicious eggplant, cauliflower and coriander salad I ate at Christchurchs newly reopened VICS cafe on Victoria street. I raced home and started trawling the internet to find a similar recipe and came up with zero. I thought I did get an audition to Masterchef (which sadly I turned down) surely this can not be too hard to replicate, so here is the recipe I came up with. Any recipe testers out there please let me know how you like it. I teamed mine with a delicious Wholemeal Lentil pie, just like VICS cafe.

Cauliflower and Eggplant salad

Fresh Cauliflower, Eggplant and Coriander Salad

RECIPE –Cauliflower and Eggplant Salad


  • 1 cauliflower, broken into florets and blanched
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 tsp coriander ground seeds
  • Handful fresh coriander
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil – However much is needed to get the job done
  • 1 Lemon 
  • 1 knob of butter


  1. Pre heat oven to  200 deg
  2. Boil salted water blanch cauliflower and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
  3. Chop eggplant into small to medium cubes, drizzle with oil and season with sea salt
  4. Roast in the pre heated oven for about 20-25 min until cooked through and soft.
  5. Heat a small frypan and melt the butter and oil, add the garlic and then the spices. Then add in the cauliflower to coat.
  6. Tip this into a salad bowl add the cooked eggplant, season and add chopped fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  7. This is excellent on its own as a light salad or great as a side dish.

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My new love affair, After the Red Verandah.

A quick update to my previous post, Where to eat out in Christchurch Post Earthquake 2. The beloved Under The Red Verandah Cafe, Christchurch, which was demolished post February 22nd quake is now under construction with a temporary cafe. This new Cafe as I mentioned is called After The Red Verandah. Which is so fitting, luckily they managed to save a part of the verandah which is being incorporated into the new building. Nearly all the same staff remain too, as they are like part of the furniture too!. In the meantime we can all enjoy some time out at After The Red Verandah. I almost lived there last week, so nice to have a humble home away from home to read the morning paper and drink delious espresso, with some very tempting, decadent treats…dark chocolate muffins, fat slices , fudgy chocolate cake, homemade flaky pastry chicken pies, salmon bagels. WE LOVE YOU AFTER THE RED VERANDAH. XX

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Tian of South Island NZ Vegetables

Tian of vegetables baked with olive oil and herbsTian- I just like the sound of it. A fancy european name for baked vegetables.  A TianI believe is actually referring to the type of  heavy earthenware pot they cook this dish in France. Recently I have been making variations of this traditional dish, which has origins in Italy and France. I found the first recipe in Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course cook book. I then realised I had previously enjoyed a similar recipe by New Zealand MasterChef judge, Chef and foodwriter Ray McVinnie from his new cookbook http://www.mags4gifts.co.nz/everyday-sunday. This version was delicious and included a cup of cooked rice:  I added cooked brown rice which gave a lovely nutty flavour. Nutritious addition of lightly cooked silverbeet, two eggs beaten made a complete vegetarian meal of this dish. I do highly recommend this easy way of bakingto help use up all the late summer/autumn aubergines, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes which seem to still be in abundance and well priced at my local farmers market.

Recipe extracted from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course cook book – Tian of Mediterranean Vegetables baked with Olive Oil and Herbs (Serves 8-10)

  • 3 small aubergines, about 700g
  • 900g very ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • 600g courgettes, 4 spring onions, thinly sliced or 1 onion very thinly sliced, 125-175ml extra virgin olive oil

  • 2-4 teaspoons freshly chopped herbs (e:g) Rosemary, thyme or I used Basil, sea salt & cracked pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c
  2. Prepare the vegetables: cut the aubergines in 1cm  slices, sprinkle them with good quality salt and leave to degorge for 15-20minutes. Rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Drop the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for ten seconds then peel and cut in thick slices. Slice the courgettes at an angle in 1 cm slices.
  3. Drizzle a tian or shallow baking dish with half the olive oil, sprinkle in the spring onions and some chopped herbs, arrange the aubergine slices alternatively with tomatoes and courgettes. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle over a little more marjoram. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through. (Keep an eye on them:you may need to cover them with tin foil if they are getting too charred.) Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


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