Tag Archives: eating

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.






Filed under cooking, earthquake, fish, food, home cooking, meat, organic, photography, potatoes, recipes, soup, travel

Turkish Lamb Manti

I am sure I must have long forgotten ancestors from the old worlde of Eastern Europe in the Southern Caucasus  – Armenia, Turkey, Iran. I feel intuitively drawn to theses flavours, the textures and style of these similar cuisines.

This simple recipe of ground lamb, soft cheese, lemon zest, garlic, paprika, mint & spices combined to make a tasty filling encased in thin pastry to resemble a ravioli. Well loved and commonly known in this region as manti which is simply prepared by baking, frying or steaming.

When Mum and Dad have been travelling they always gets asked where they are from especially from turkish people. They even got invited to a turkish wedding recently. So with jewish roots maybe I really do have it in my blood, I certainly enjoy cooking this style of food.

Mum and Dad

Baked Turkish Lamb Manti with minted Yoghurt Sauce  – Recipe courtesy of DISH magazine Issue 31


  • 24 thin paper thin wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock


  • 200 grams of full fat lamb mince (if it is low-fat mince it will be too dry)
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese  (or substitute goats cheese or feta cheese)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Yoghurt sauce

  • 1 cup thick  plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon

Paprika butter

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • mint for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 180°C

Yoghurt Sauce: Whisk the ingredients in a bowl and season

Filling: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well and season.

To assemble; Lay out 6 wonton wrappers at a time and place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of each. Brush the edges with the egg wash and cover with another wrapper, pressing out any air and firmly sealing the edges. Trim the edges if necessary. Place on a lined baking tray. repeat with the remaining wontons and filling. Brush with olive oil and bake for 5-6 minutes until golden and crisp.

Transfer the manti to a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. The edges can slightly overlap. Pour the hot chicken stock around the manti and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Paprika butter; Heat the butter, garlic and paprika in a  small saucepan until sizzling.

To serve: Transfer the manti to shallow serving bowls and spoon over the chicken stock. There wont be a lot of stock.

Top with the yoghurt sauce then drizzle with the paprika butter. Garnish with mint and serve immediately with a green salad.


Filed under cooking, earthquake, food, home cooking, lamb, meat, pasta, photography, recipes, travel

Dinner in Berlin

I have vicariously been living in a Berlin state of mind. It all started when I picked up Douglas Kennedy’s new book The Moment. Set during the late cold war era of the 1980’s when East Berlin was the GDR – German Democratic Republic and there was THE WALL running through the city separating communist east from the capitalist west. I have been caught up in this bittersweet love story which is full of nail-biting intrigue, Stasi (secret police) double-crossing spies and the conflict of the choices we make in one moment which change the course of our journey. This book is one of those stories that stays with you for days after you have finished the last page. I then happened to pick up a copy of the latest NZ CUISINE magazine to find this gorgeous recipe for true Berlin soul food. These pork meatballs caught my eye immediately,  especially as I have a weakness for meatballs. Originally these were a specialty of ancient Prussia (East Germany). My husband’s family also originally came from Prussia – The Hanns.

Königsberg Klopse – Meatballs with cream sauce

Königsberg Klopse – Königsberg Meatballs with Cream Sauce – this recipe was by Ray Vinnie from Cuisine magazine.

Ingredients – 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs (made by crumbling or processing), 1/4 cup warmed milk, 800grams pork or veal mince, 1 egg beaten, 2 rashers bacon, finely chopped, 1 onion, 2 litres vegetable stock (I used Rapunzel brand of German powdered organic vegetable stock), large pinch of ground allspice, 2 bay leaves, 4 tablespoons butter, 5 tablespoons flour, optional 4 tablespoons capers, 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped curly parsley, plus extra to serve, 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup cream, 2 egg yolks.

  • Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and mix well so the breadcrumbs absorb the milk. Add the mince, egg, bacon and half of the onion, finely chopped. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix well then, using wet hands, form into 24 golf sized balls. Set aside.
  • Put the other half of the uncut onion in a large, wide saucepan, along with the bay leaves and allspice. Bring to the boil. Add the meatballs and bring back to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon. Keep them warm. Strain the stock then measure out 4 cups and pour into a clean saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile in another saucepan, gently melt the butter over medium heat then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant but not browned. Whisk in the hot stock, making sure there are no lumps. bring to the boil, stirring then simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Stir the capers, parsley, mustard, lemon zest and juice into the stock mixture. Place the cream and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Take the sauce of the heat and whisk in the cream mixture. Gently mix in the warm meatballs. Taste then season and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately. I served with mashed potato.


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Gricklegrass Lentil Pie

Gricklegrass Organic farm nostalgia, Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand late 1990's

Here is a little bit of background on the name Gricklegrass lentil pie. When It was 1998 I was 18, a student studying professional photography, living in a small rural North Canterbury town Oxford, New Zealand. Not far from our family home on Woodside Road was a commune called GRICKLEGRASS organic farm. I decided one day for an assignment I would visit and ask if I could photograph some of the people living there. Gricklegrass consisted of a lovely character, rambling home from the late 1800’s which was in a state of disrepair set on over 20 acres of farmland that ran down to the Coopers Creek riverbed. At this time there were a number of eclectic residents, a few young families, alternative, idealistic young organic farmers and always some transient eccentrics like Graham who lived on his bus. My first visit to the intriguing Gricklegrass I met the dreadlocked 23-year-old Andrew MacDonald who was digging some holes out by the front door. This meeting was perhaps one of the most profound moments which changed the course of both of our lives. Andrew and I entered an extremely special season of close friendship and companionship.  I often would be invited to shared pot luck meals. I remember these always to be fun and the Gricklegrass table was always overladen of lovingly made whole food salads, curries and sourdough breads. Lentil pie reminds me of these feasts. I had a nostalgic hankering for a Wholemeal Lentil pie. This is the recipe I came up with.

Andrew and I at Gricklegrass - 1998/99

GRICKLEGRASS Lentil pie before the lid goes onChamp Mash Top (I have upgraded the pie to my 2011 budget and added some leftover Taleggio cheese)

Champ Mash Top (I have upgraded the pie to my 2011 budget and added some leftover Taleggio cheese)Gricklegrass Inspired Hearty Wholemeal Lentil Pie



  • Homemade is best Wholemeal Shortcrust pastry for base
  • 200 grams  Wholemeal pastry (I used freshly organic stoneground flour)
  • 100 grams chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • cold iced water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 cup of lentils (I used blonde lentils, but brown or puy would still work)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar to taste
  • Agria mashing potatoes for the top and I used leftover cheese Taleggio from my fridge to melt over the top.


  1. In a large pot bring well salted water to the boil and boil potatoes in well salted water till  tender. Then put through a potato mouli or mash the old-fashioned way with milk, butter, salt till creamy. 
    • To make the pastry, work the flour into the butter with your fingers in a big bowl until they resemble breadcrumbs and add the water until it comes together into a smooth ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  2. In a large frying pan heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes taking care not to burn it. Add the carrots and continue to fry for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and cook until it smells aromatic. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and then turn down to the lowest heat and simmer for a 1 hour. Season and adjust if needed, I would add the rice wine vinegar now if it needs a lift. Then set aside and cool. The mixture should be moist but not swimming in liquid, if it is simmer it longer.
  3. Once mixture has cooled a bit and not piping hot. Roll out the pastry to fit a pie dish or deep loose bottom flan tin. (Bake blind – Google this technique for a good description. This stops the pastry from going soggy on the bottom)
  4. Fill pastry case with filling and top with the mash. Optional sprinkle with any melting cheese.

Delicious served with cauliflower and eggplant salad (previous post) or a big green salad. A side relish or chutney is a perfect accompaniment.

The finished pie ready to be served

I also went on to produce a series of portraits of the residents of Gricklegrass farm for my Professional Photography studies. These are some of the photos (originals were all handprints and taken with a 6×6 format  vintage Rolliflex camera, 2.8mm Zeiss lens)

Graham on his bus - Gricklegrass Organic farm, Oxford, North Canterbury 1999 NZ Andrew in his carpentry workshop from Gricklegrass Organic Farm 1999. Fast forward to 2011 Andrew is an Anglican Minister, married with three children.Jude at Gricklergrass Organic FarmGus and his dog Morphine - Gricklegrass organic farm 1999


Steve from Gricklegrass organic farmAndrew 1999


Andrew at GricklegrassJude


Steve the Musician from Gricklegrass in his Hut



Gus and his dog Morphine - Gricklegrass organic farm 1999Andrew 1999A family living at Gricklegrass - Kane and Sharon


You can see part of Gricklegrass home in the background.


Graeme cooking food in his bus. I ended up giving my diesel Lancer car to Graeme and the last I heard he moved to the West Coast



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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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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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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