Tag Archives: Gourmet food

The fragrance of home

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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.

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October 12, 2013 · 7:31 PM

All about a kiwi cook

Imageers

Five things Bonnie Brown loves

Eating gelato next to the ocean/kisses from her two pretty daughters/planning & dreaming about cooking  the next meal/chocolate desert & treats/real food that makes you feel virtuous

Want to know more…

I am a romantic gourmand and am pining to experience food in Europe. Until then I have my cook books and am a very enthusiastic cook and an even more enthusiastic eater. Cooking and sharing vibrant, fresh food makes me feel vital and happy.  I am inspired by the timeless dishes of Mediterranean Europe and their food simplicity. I adore the flavours and home style dishes of Greece and Islands, Italy and France. Eastern European and Italian peasant food is continuously a revelation in its basic simplicity and frugalness. North African and Middle Eastern food is fascinating and exciting to cook.

What I am cooking with at the moment, almost all is locally produced. Through taste experience I know that locally grown food that has not travelled by aeroplane or boat tastes so much more juicier, tastier and is always more satisfying.

Seasonal produce from my local Christchurch, New Zealand Farmers markets. We are heading into a bright and beautiful autumn. I am enjoying the new season squash and pumpkins, bio dynamically grown snow peas, leeks, fennel bulb, radish, French green beans, locally smoked chicken, olives, Italian quality De Cecco dried pasta, shiny green puy style  lentils, fresh herbs, ground spices, nuts,  free range chicken, New Zealand lamb, free range pork, dry cured bacon, smoked fish.  Farro, red rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, brown rice, oats, stone ground local fresh flours- oat, spelt/dinkel, spelt, rye, buckwheat, vanilla pods and essence, 72% dark chocolate, ground almonds, organic clotted cream, whole milk, Italian parmesan cheese, Clearwater full fat yoghurt http://www.clearwaterorganic.co.nz/ organic butter, coconut oil,  Also love artisan bread, agria and new potatoes, orange and red kumara, vine and cherry locally grown sweet tasting tomatoes, creamy organic avocado, onion, local plump juicy garlic, ginger, celery, cauliflower, baby spinach, rocket, soft lettuces, carrots,  pumpkin, courgettes,  portobello mushrooms, apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries, blueberries.

I love to shop and it is a lovely pleasure to buy food for your family to cook. I usually shop at the Farmers market once a week for my fresh produce and sometimes supplement that with greens from Liberty organics. I purchase meats every day or every third day depending how organised I am or how much protein or meats we are eating. I do like to make a plan for the week as to what and how I will go about you my produce and leftovers. I buy these magnetic meal planners from Kikki K shop. I buy fish from the fish market fresh on the day I plan to use it. I try to avoid buying any seafood on a Sunday as it can be a bit old which is usually what happens if you purchase from the supermarket. I like to keep a really well stocked store cupboard with spices, canned beans, rice, pasta, nuts, oils, vinegars.

Best store cupboard meal, what would you make?

Risotto; rice, good stock, best cheese, seasonal vegetable…think smoked goats Gouda and green cauliflower with sourdough and thyme croutons.  I love its oozing, soothing ability to calm; each mouthful is like eating relaxation.

What don’t people know about you that you wish they did?

I wanted to be an actress when I was growing up. My Uncle Dave worked in television as a camera man and I would ring him after school and ask him if he could get me an agent. I would sign my autograph at the end of each school year and give it to my teacher and tell them to hold onto it as I would be famous one day and they could say they taught me.  Susan Boyle was only discovered at 47, so I guess I still have time…

How did you learn to cook?

I was influenced with good food through my family, my Mum and Aunties who are great bakers and cooks. In my twenties I took great pleasure learning all I could from hundreds of cookbooks loaned from the local library. I self taught with my willing husband who has been happy to eat and critique

As a self-taught cook, who would you say have been your biggest influences?

I had if you like an epiphany, I could loan these books from the library and be imparted cooking wisdom and knowledge from the most inspiring talented, creative cooks.  I especially love these food writers; Diana Henry, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson, Harry Eastwood, Nigel Slater, Rachel Allen, Tessa Kiros, Annabel Langbein, Bill Granger, Elizabeth David and Lindsey Bareham to name some of my favourites. I also soaked up each issue of my subscription to DISH magazine, a New Zealand food magazine. Online food blogs and BBC food TV website was a continual source of inspiration.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure when no-one else is around?

My favourite late night dessert indulgence is homemade hot chocolate fudge sauce, vanilla ice-cream and toasted nuts, especially during my two pregnancies.

Tell me three things on your must-cook-next-list

 

What was your worst cooking disaster?

Well it was the first time I made carrot cake. I got through making the cake perfectly, iced it with thick cream cheese icing and decorated it beautifully with walnuts. It was looking divine and I could not wait to try it. It was loaded into the back seat of my car to take to a friend’s house. We had arrived, as we were standing outside the car greeting our friends; when to shock horror (it was like in life in pictures slow motion) a friends dog jumped into the car, we yelped, the dog freaked and leaped into the back seat, paws straight into the cake and then sat on it!.

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Joyful eating from 2012

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

LATEST OCT 12 004I 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.

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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.

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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.

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February 11, 2013 · 5:38 AM

All things pretty and nice

 I woke up boxing day feeling energised to be creative. In fact I have been cooking up a storm in the lead up to Christmas even more than usual. It is a luxurious pleasure to have free time and endless warm summer days to cook and bake all those recipes you coveted over the year and make them my own. I have been pushing the boat out and trying some new techniques and recipes I have not made before. If my Strawberry & lime curd cream Puff (photo below) may not look that pretty, it tasted beautiful.

New Zealand’s own home grown cooking celebrity http://www.annabel-langbein.com/tv-series/ has fantastic recipes that are always amazing. This recipe came from her book The Free Range Cook and It turned out almost the same as her photo. I found it easy to make the choux pastry in a saucepan with melted butter, water and flour. It was a bonus I got given homemade lime curd for christmas as she had suggested lemon curd. Rather than let it sit in the pantry for a year (which is what normally happens to random Christmas presents like that) I decided to put it to good use folded into whipped cream. I am not usually a big baker, preferring to cook savoury dishes.

My husband, daughter Lucia and I headed to the Christchurch Botanical Gardens for a picnic.  Lucia loved sitting on the picnic rug and opening her new Dora Lunchbox and looking inside to find homemade mayonnaise colesaw, humus & smoked chicken wraps.

I managed to spend over $500 on food in the days leading up to Christmas. Are you shocked? see I had found this stunning picture in my Dish magazine for a Strawberry tart. It had a sweet short crust pastry, filled with a french goats cheese, 500 grams of italian mascarpone, orange liqueur, orange zest, icing sugar then filled with topped fresh strawberries glazed with apricot jam and fresh mint leaves. I also held a cocktail party at my home on christmas eve and catered finger food for 14 people. I will have to save that for another post.

Here is a picture of my exquisite Strawberry tart. It was so much fun to make.

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Filed under cooking, food, recipes

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.

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Filed under breakfast, cafes, earthquake, food, 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.

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/

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

Beautiful creative people

My Mum is one of these people, she has always expressed herself beautifully by being a very generous woman who has given  through cooking, baking, home making, collecting, sewing, crafting, mothering, being a faithful and loving wife, and more recently a successful creative business owner of Truly Scrumptious on Victoria St, Christchurch, NZ. (Which she lost during Feb 22nd 2011 Earthquake). I am so proud of my Mum, look what she achieved in her shop, her shop  is really an overflow of the creativity she expresses in her home.

Mum also had a cafe selling delicious chocolates, friands, muffins, dainty club sandwiches, scones, pretty iced cupcakes, coffee La Farre espresso and high teas served all with fine antique bone china.

These special little dense fruit cakes were available in different icing styles and Mum even had one called the “boyfriend cake’, It was iced with masculine style icing.  A perfect gift. Here is a pretty iced cake which sold for around $20.00 each.

Mum’s nickname is Fou, because she loves, laces, fou fou and anything that is insanely beautiful, feminine and pretty. She has had a few stares at the supermarket dressed in vintage 1950’s petticoats and that’s all on!. She alway says she would be much more comfortable living in the 18th century wearing Victorian clothes. She really is a soul borne in the wrong era, she would agree.

When at home Mum loves to entertain and she is fabulous at creating an atmosphere for elegant dinners and creating a lovely table setting. I love her dining table which is an antique french farm table with the original chairs.

Mothers influence daughters and even though I always joke I don’t like too much pink, lace and antiques (after being surrounded growing up with it) I really am my Mothers daughter and have been blessed to inherit her love of all things beautiful and carry on a legacy to the beautiful creative people.

Mum is also a fabulous cook and baker, this is her soft as angels wings Pavlova cream filled sponge cake.

Truly Scrumptious Shop is hugely missed by all my Mums loyal customers in Christchurch, it was seen as an escape from the ordinariness of life to a beautiful dream world of sensory experience. I know Mum will find another outlet for her creativity in the near future – it is natural as breathing.  Being beautiful, creative people you can not help but express yourself in whatever you do. I love my Mum.

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