Tag Archives: crockpot

All with the comfort of not leaving home.

I love the fact I can Armchair kitchen travel to the mediterranean via my cookbooks. I have just finished reading a fiction book (not a cookbook) by american author Luanne Rice titled Deep Blue Sea for beginners. It is set at a romantic villa on Italy’s Isle of Capri. There are wonderful paragraphs where friends and family gather in the evening light under the scented Bougainvillea to share in simple italian meals which are enjoyed at a long table on the cliff side patio, overlooking the azure waters of the mediterranean. Reading this book had me reaching for all my italian/greek cookbooks I could find to dig out inspiration for recipes to create food which would evoke the same mediterranean smells from my New Zealand Kitchen. I may not be on the Isle of Capri but I see no harm in fantasies, for a few hours I was on the Isle of South Island of the Long White Cloud.

These are some of the dishes I prepared for my family after this week of mediterranean inspiration!.  I bought five stunning long skinny eggplant at my local Lyttleton Farmers Market and was wondering what to do with them when I found this excellent little recipe for preparing eggplant in a marinate from the cookbook Lucio’s liguarian Kitchen.

Recipe for Marinata di melanzane – Marinated Eggplant

  1. Wash 5 long skinny eggplants (aubergines) and then boil in plenty of water for 4-5 minutes. I find it helps if I place a plate over the eggplant to weigh them down and stop them from floating to the surface. Drain and pat dry and slice thinly in to discs.
  2. Whisk 150ml of extra virgin olive oil, 30ml of white wine vinegar, 2 garlic cloves chopped, pinch each of dried thyme oregano, 1 small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Combine dressing with eggplant you may layer in a small dish. Set aside in a cool place for 3-5 hours, checking after 1 hour that it is not becoming too dry, if it is add some oil.
  4. serves 4  (This would be delicious on bruschetta bread too. )I also roasted red and yellow peppers/capsicums and chopped these up into long strips and added them to the leftover eggplant marinate as a side dish for dinner tonight.

 I found this brilliant book, lets say it is like The Bible of Greek food – Vefa’s Kitchen published by Phaidon . It weighs a ton, it is 700 pages long!. This book is going to become a permanent fixture amongst my cookbooks. The author covers off every bit of greek cooking plus more that you could imagine. I became mesmerised by the photo of lamb, currants, mint, parsley, pine nuts cooked in apples covered with a white sauce and baked in the oven. My daughter loved this dish as much as my husband and I did. I served it alongside a traditional unadulterated pure greek salad. To achieve this you MUST use only the BEST feta cheese, salty ink black olives, miniature sweet romaine lettuce quartered, spray free tomatoes, old-fashioned lebanese cucumber and I scattered some baby greek basil (A grower from the Horotane valley below my house has been growing this is has a very small leaf). I tossed the salad gently with a little lemon juice and a little of the dressing from the marinated eggplant.  This meal was exceptionally delicious, have I said that already. 

This is my adapted recipe for Meat stuffed Apples.


  • 12 very small or 6 very large eating apples
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 500g ground lamb mince
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium grain rice
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sauce
  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the onion and ground lamb breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon and for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned. Add the fresh chopped herbs, cinnamon and half the stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the meat from the heat and stir in the almonds, rice and currants. (The nutmeg is to go into the white sauce.)
  3. Take the lamb mixture out of the heavy based pan and add the apples skin side down. pile the lamb mixture on top of the apples pour the remaining stock over. Cut a piece of baking paper which will fit the pan and put the paper under a tap to damp and screw up in a ball like you are making a pilaf and place this baking paper tightly over the apples and meat mixture to seal in the moisture and heat. Put a lid on the heavy base pan and simmer on the stove on a low to medium heat low enough it will not catch the bottom mixture and burn. Simmer for approx 15 minutes.
  4. After this time place in the hot oven covered with baking paper and lid and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Then take out of the oven take the lid and baking paper off and cover in the white sauce and place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the whole dish is hot, golden and ready to enjoy. 

The authority on Greek Cooking

A serving for a worker.





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Roasted Vegetable Goodness

I always am amazed how delicious and easy roasting food can be. I think I go through stages of labouring over my hot stove thinking I am being so clever, pan sauteing , braising, poaching, frying, however I am probably just making a lot of work for myself even if the result is sumptuous. I then stumble across some ingredients or a recipe which makes me throw all my chopped, prepped ingredients in a roasting tin, pop them in the hot oven and ahhhh relax until my trusty beeper tells me it is all ready to be simply served & enjoyed. 

The ingredients that caught my eye this week were a a couple of perfect  lean pork fillets from the Redcliffs Butchery (he knows his pork he is the guy on the pork advertisement on TV!),  winter pumpkin – this is the best $1-3 you can spend this winter, red onions, new season carrots, whole garlic cloves, braeburn apples all from my Local Lyttleton Farmers market. 

The inspiration came from my 2008 Issue 19 Aug-sep DISH magazine. 

Pork Fillet and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Baked apples….oh this is as good as it sounds actually it was better than my expectations. 

Pork Fillet and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Baked Apples

Prepped winter vegetables ready for the oven



600 grams free-range pork fillets, 

2 table spoons olive oil 

2 cloves of garlic crushed 

2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary 

finely grated zest of 1 lemon organic/unwaxed 

sea salt and ground black pepper 

Salad – 1  pumpkin butternut or buttercup or I used a small gem squash I think it is called(Dish recommended parsnips), 2 red onions, peeled and quartered through the root, I also used some red pepper cut into thick strips, 3 carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal, 8 whole cloves of garlic, skin on as they will pop out like juicy morsels once roasted, 2 handfuls of baby spinach. 

Home made apple sauce


Apple sauce – 4 braeburn apples, skin on, cut into wedges, knob of butter, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme. 

Dressing – 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard, 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Preheat your oven to 200c 

Pork: Trim the pork of any silverskin and tie with kitchen string, tucking the thin end under for even cooking. Combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary and lemon zest in a bowl and season. Rub over the Pork and set aside until ready to cook. 

Pork fillet trimmed and tucked ready for cooking


 Apple Sauce: melt the butter in a ovenproof saute pan (I love my www.lecreuset.co.uk) , add the apples and lemon juice until they just begin to colour. Stir in the honey, salt & thyme. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until just tender and caramelised. 

Salad: Combine the Pumpkin, red pepper, red onions, parsnips, yams  or whatever veggies you have chosen in a large roasting dish. Toss with a little olive oil and season. Roast for 40 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Leave until just warm. 

Dressing: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season. Add the spinach to the roasted veggies and toss with the dressing. 

To finish: Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and brown the pork on all sides. Roast for 12 minutes or until just cooked. 

To serve: Slice the pork on the diagonal and toss with the roasted vegetables. Serve with the apples. Serves 4-6 

Please leave a comment if you like the look of this and please let me know if you try this recipe and how you find it. Thanks for visiting, Bonnie


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The princess and the pea…soup

Once upon a time there was a prince who wants to marry a princess, but is having difficulty finding a suitable partner. Something is always wrong with those he meets, and he cannot be certain they are real princesses. One stormy night a young woman drenched with rain seeks shelter in the prince’s castle. She claims to be a princess, so the prince’s mother decides to test their unexpected guest by placing a pea in the bed she is offered for the night, covered by 20 mattresses and 20 featherbeds. In the morning the guest tells her hosts—that she was most put out —that she endured a sleepless night, kept awake by something hard in the bed; which she is certain has bruised her. The prince rejoices. Only a real princess would have the sensitivity to feel a pea through such a quantity of bedding. The two are married, and the pea is placed in the Royal Museum. (adapted from Wikipedia)

This soup is dedicated…. if you can dedicate soup, to all the princes out there looking for their princesses.

The Princess and the pea.. soup

4 slices of rindless streaky bacon

1 onion or leek

1 small lemon

50g butter

salt and pepper

750g frozen peas

1 1/2 litres chicken stock

To make: Slice across the rashers of bacon to make chunky, short ribbons. Place in a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan and cook gently at first as the fat runs, until very crisp. scoop from the pan and set aside to drain on paper.

Meanwhile, chop the onions or leeks finely. Zest some lemon peel. Add the butter to the pan and fry the leeks or onions add the lemon zest, season cover the pan and cook over medium to low heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock to the pan and bring to the boil, then add the peas. Boil for 2 minutes then liquidize in batches and pur back into your pan. Reheat and adjust seasoning with salt, cracked pepper and lemon juice. Serve with garnish of bacon. So simple, green & nutritious. Recipe thanks of Lindsey Bareham.



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Curry in a Hurry

Oh this is so easy I promise you, it has no grinding of spices (or at least I didn’t), no time-consuming prep. This is the most definitely a late home from work Simple Massaman Chicken curry in a hurry. It is lovely and sweet with the sweet potato, sweet creamy coconut milk and tender chicken pieces. A satisfying tasty mid-week meal. Oh and did I say easy. This complicated cook loves to have an easy dinner task a few nights of the week. Enjoy. 

Recipe –  Simple Massaman Chicken  

Shopping list: 400gm chicken tenderloin, massaman curry paste, 400 ml can coconut cream, one kumara, few handfuls baby spinach, one onion, fish sauce, soft brown sugar,  nuts. 

1:  You will need one secret ingredient. A jar of good quality Massaman curry paste. I used Valcom from my Asian food warehouse. Heat 1 tablespoons of massaman curry paste tablespoon or more to your liking in oil in a pan over low heat until fragrant. 

  2: You will also need approx 400 gm  chicken tenderloin chopped into chunks, I find these are so tender when cooked like this. Add this to the curry paste in the pan and cook till it changes from pink to white over a high heat. 

 3: You will also need to peel and chop into cubes a golden kumara.  Add this to the pan with the coconut cream, 2 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp brown sugar to balance the flavours. Also add one onion chopped into chunks. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir through spinach. 

4: Serve over rice with tamari roasted almonds or peanuts sprinkled. 

Curry in a Hurry


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Busy Mothers Day Dinner!

I have to confess I have been feeling very lazy the last week and have been exploring recipes using my slow cooker. I live in Christchurch and this week there has been a slight nip in the air, hence the stew. There a quite a few advantages for using a slow cooker. I can cut, chop and assemble the meal in the morning turn the button on low and  then do absolutely nothing to it (maybe a quick stir) let it do its thing for 8-9 hours. With a one year old it is fantastic I can sneak a bit of the meal at 5.30pm to feed to Lucia and then finish getting her ready for bed and then we have ours at 7pm. The smell when you arrive home is fabulous, slow cooked meat & veges cooked in red wine & fresh herbs, It is like having your absentee Grandma cook you a hot senior citizen casserole.  

My slow cooker on my kitchen bench


My husband went through a stage where every time I sent him to the supermarket to buy a few things sugar, milk etc he would come home with random impulse purchases. I am talking about household goods and appliances on sale at Woolworth’s supermarket!. They all had the same things in common, they were fairly cheap imports from China which were badly made. Firstly he came home with a microwave.  Shortly after owning it the light stopped working and the tray stopped spinning at that point I thought it was a health hazard and retired it to the shed in the garden .It has put me off microwaves forever. Next he came home with an electric guitar!, this I made him promptly return. Next time he came home with  the slow cooker and it only cost him about $40 yet I have had so much use from it over the last 4 years!.  So my point is these are not expensive and probably a worthwhile kitchen appliance to own, especially for lazy or “smart” cooks.
Recently I got up at 3am in the morning to put on some porridge for us, the cinnamon made it really sweet tasting without the need to add too much sugar. This is the most tasty, nutritious porridge ever. I found the recipe in a Annabel White recipe book for Healthy Eating. If you’re wondering why you would go to all this effort. well firstly it takes about 3 minutes to prep. Then when you wake up on that cold autumn morning and enter your kitchen to the smell of cinnamon and all you need to do it fill your bowl and add dollops of creamy yoghurt. You need to make sure it is the best yogurt in New Zealand  http://www.piakoyoghurt.co.nz/ You can buy this yogurt from Petrinis in Ferrymead or New World in Redcliffs. You could put your slow cooker on a timer to switch on. It takes about 3-4 hours on high. I believe every slow cooker is slightly different you will get a feel for how hot yours is the more you cook in it.
Slow cooker Cinnamon & fruit Porridge
1 Cup of rolled Oats
2 Cups Milk
1/4 cup dried fruit eg:sultanas, apricots
1 Teaspoon or cinnamon
1/4 Tsp salt
This week I have been really been enjoying Chicken or Turkey Stew. This is the recipe I have been using quite successfully. This meal is a bit like an old-fashioned classic kiwi dinner…. Meat and 3 vege!. I like serving it over steamed rice but you could have it over couscous or just on its own with some crusty buttered bread to mop up the juices.
3-4 Potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1-2 Kumara peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
850gm-1kg Chicken, Turkey Thighs (free range is the best, email me if you are unsure where to buy and I will advise)
Lamb and Pork work well too
1 onion peeled and finely chopped (for really “smart cooks” you can chop this finely in your food processor)
2-3 fresh cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced
2-3 tbsp fresh herbs rosemary,parsley or thyme
 (if you don’t have herbs growing in your garden, get some from the roadside)
salt and pepper to taste
410 g tin of Campbell’s condensed  cream of chicken soup
A slurp of red wine
1:Place first three ingredients in slow cooker first, then add onion and garlic.
2:place meat on top and the remaining ingredients.

Chicken Stew


How easy is this! I hope you give it a try to let me know what you think.

And Chicken Stew another night with steamed spinach


Ok I admit this is not quite restaurant fare but real earnest home cooking and still it ticks all the boxes for good general nutrition. The veg, carb & meat box!. I also recommend a glass of red wine to enjoy with it!.
These are only two examples of things you can do with your slow cooker, it really is endless.
Maybe you should give yourself the night off cooking for Mothers Day and why don’t you pop your slow cooker on in the morning and enjoy this recipe!. 

Lucia & Mummy

It has been thirteen months and 6 days since I become a mother and it is the busiest yet rewarding job in the world!. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL THE HARD WORKING MUMS!
Bonnie Brown x


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