Monday, August 24, 2009

Pumpkin, chickpea and spinach salad with tahini dressing

Less than two weeks now until our trip to Europe, so excited!  MD has been away for 10 days snowboarding down south, I thought I would be doing all sorts of experimenting while he was away but seems that it sucks to cook for one and I was much more inclined to scramble a couple of eggs or eat toast!

I saw this dish in Dish, the magazine.  I get Cuisine, Taste and Delicious. magazines, but haven't been that keen on Dish.  But since I can get it for free from the library, why not?

Pumpkin, chickpea and spinach salad w tahini dressing

1.    Slice ½  a medium pumpkin into slim wedges and place on a baking tray.  Spray with oil and season with salt.  Bake until tender.

2.    Heat oil in a pan, add a chopped onion,  3 cloves chopped garlic, 1 ½ tsp ground cumin, 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon,  and ½ c raisins.  Season and cook until the onion is tender.

3.    Add 1 T tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.  Add equivalent of a tin of chickpeas and a bag of spinach and cook for a few more minutes.  Stir in the juice of one lemon.

4.    Make the dressing: whisk together ½ c plain yoghurt, 3 T tahini, 2 cloves crushed garlic, finely grated zest of a lemon and the juice.  Whisk in enough water to make a pourable dressing.

To serve:  arrange pumpkin on a platter, spread over chickpea mixture, drizzle with dressing and scatter with ¼ c toasted flaked almonds and a sprinkle of paprika.

FROM:  Dish 24 June-July 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

South Pacific banana meringue pie

I've been wanting to make this dessert for the last couple of months since I cut it out from Sunday magazine in the Sunday News.  I made a couple of batches of custard awhile back and had egg whites lurking in the dark corners of my freezer - if you didn't know you could freeze egg whites, now you do!  Easy - just remember to label the container with how many you've put in there!  Not sure how long they last but mine were sweet and they had been in there for a least 2 months (and knowing my memory, probably much longer!).

Anyway, I had invited my friends S+M and their 3 adorable kids for dinner last Friday night and planned to make it then.  In order to get as much prep done before they got to our house I mixed up the topping ingredients and defrosted the eggwhites so I was already to go.  I asked the boys when they wanted dessert and there was a bit of mis-communication resulting in me thinking that they didn't want dessert at all!  By the time I discovered that they did in fact want some it was already 9 o'clock and I didn't want to be beating the eggwhites with sleeping children!

No matter, since I had the ingredients ready, just meant I got to make it on Saturday night instead and only had to share it with MD! 

South Pacific banana meringue pie


6 bananas

1/2 grated palm sugar

25 g diced butter

zest and juice of a lemon or lime

1/4 c coconut

4 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 c caster sugar

Thick coconut cream to serve


1.  Cut up the bananas into chunks and fit into the bottom of a casserole dish.  Sprinkle with grated palm sugar, diced butter, zest and juice of lemon or lime, and coconut.  Place in 200 degree oven and bake 10-15 minutes until golden.

2.   Meanwhile make meringue:  Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry, slowly add caster sugar, beating until it’s all used up.

3.   Pile the meringue on top of the banana and bake 3-4 minutes until golden.

4.   Serve immediately with coconut cream.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Muesli Bar

We had a great week of sunshine and relaxing in Tonga - not so nice to be back to cold winter! The first daffodils are out though, only one month left of winter, yah!

The food in Tonga was delicious - fresh fish everyday!  Mmmmm, tuna.... Yummy fresh fruit salad for breaky and tropical fruit smoothies for lunch. And bonus, even though I LOVE cooking it was great to have someone else do it for me for a week (meals were included in our resort price), and not knowing what was going to come out each night was a good experience too!  Even when MD does cook I still have to 'suggest' what he should make as he 'lacks inspiration' - his excuse!

I want to share my favourite mueslie bar.  I make a batch every week, slice it up then put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for MD to take for his work lunches - if I don't he's off down to Subway for chocolate chip cookies!  At least this way he gets some healthy ingredients!

Muesli bar
1 c flour (wholemeal or white or a mixture)
1 c oats
1/2 c coconut
1 and 1/2 c mixed dried fruit, seeds and nuts (I use chopped dates, sultana's, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts or almonds)
1-2 tsp ground ginger
125ml flavourless oil (I use rice bran)
1/2 c honey

1.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2.  Melt together the oil and honey.
3.  Pour the oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
4.  Place in a slice tin lined with baking paper.  Bake at 180 degrees (350F) for 25 minutes or until golden on top.
5.  Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pea & zucchini zuppa

I'm not sure if this dish is a soup or more a risotto - anyway who cares, it tasted good!  I saw in it the July issue of Delicious. magazine and it seemed perfect for a quick weeknight meal using cupboard/freezer ingredients I had on hand.  We're off to Tonga on Saturday (YAH!) so I wanted to use up some of the food we have rather than going to the supermarket.  

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with M the other day about swine flu. The newspaper was advising that we have 7 days of food on hand in case we had to go into isolation.  Hmmm, do we have 7 days worth of food I pondered?  More like enough for a month or two!  I bought a huge freezer off trade me last year and have stocked it up with excess garden produce and bits and pieces i've found on special.  And as for the pantry - what can I say, i'm my mother's daughter!  It helps being mostly vegetarian - with loads of dried pulses on hand.

Anyway, on to the recipe......

Pea & zucchini zuppa

1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Add 2 chopped red onions and cook over low heat until softened, around 5 minutes.

2.  Add ¾ c arborio rice and stir to coat in the onion mixture.  Add 5 c vegetable stock and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the rice is almost cooked.

3.  Add 1 and 2/3 c frozen peas, 1 large or 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced, 2 T chopped mint leaves, and 2 T grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper and cook a further 3-5 minutes until everything is hot.

Serve in warm bowls with extra parmesan to sprinkle.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making marmalade!

I love growing my own fruit and veggies, and even though I LOVE our house 'cos it's so close to the beach, the one downside is we only have a 500 m squared section. While I have quite a bit of room for my veggies (I don't think i'd ever say I had enough no matter how much space I had!), I have pretty much reached my limit on fruit trees. I managed to squeeze a few more in last winter but this winter I haven't even been near the garden centre - best to prevent any temptation!  

Anyway, what i'm getting to is our friends bought a house with a HUGE backyard, full of established fruit trees - guava, tamarillo, apple, lemon, nectarine, and grapefruit. And they don't even particularly care for fruit! Foreign to me who eats fruit at breakfast, for morning snack, at lunch, for afternoon, snack, for pre-gym snack (you get the picture!).  Luckily they are happy to share and i'm allowed to raid the garden whenever I like.  You can find my guava jelly (jam) recipe here, and now for the marmalade.....

Grapefruit marmalade

3 large or 4-5 small grapefruit
1 orange
1 lemon
white sugar

1.  Remove green stems then roughly chop grapefruit, orange and lemon and put in a blender. Puree until you have your desired consistency - chunky or smooth.  At this point you can freeze the mixture to defrost later to use in step 2 (handy if you're overloaded with fruit and over making jam!).

2.  Place the puree in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and cook 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour into a big bowl, then add back to the pan via a measuring jug to see how much liquid you have.

3.  Add the same amount of sugar as liquid (make sure it's white - brown doesn't look so good, been there done that!) and bring to the boil again.  Cook, stirring occasionally until setting point is reached - around 20-30 minutes.  You'll start to see the mixture thickening on the back of the spoon if you rest it on the pot. Test by placing a small amount on a saucer that has been in the freezer - it will start to get a 'wavy' appearance when it's been left for a minute or two.

4.  Pour into jars that have been sterilised in a low oven for 20 minutes. I boil the lids in water to make sure they're sterile too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Baked potatoes Mexi style

Monthly Mingle: Mexican Fiesta is my first blog 'event', quite exciting!  I was playing around on the net last night and bookmarked a few Mexican recipes that sounded good - ceviche filled avocados, Mexican layered dip, spicy fish tacos....among others.  I was discussing what I might make with my partner and as soon as I got to Mexican baked potatoes he was all like "yes, yes I want those!".  I didn't even get to read the rest!  Poor boy doesn't get many potato dishes - I grew up in a traditional 'meat and three vege' house where potatoes were on the menu EVERY night.  Yes, even if we were having pasta!  You can understand why i'd rather have kumera or pumpkin when a starchy vegetable is required!  Plus I find these two a lot more interesting flavour-wise.  

Anyway, since I discovered THE BEST way to bake potatoes we've been having them occasionally - especially since, with a tin of beans or tuna it's a meal MD can make easily if he's on dinner duties. Don't worry about the amount of salt you coat the potatoes with - you won't be eating it as it gets brushed off later. Coating the potatoes like this helps to draw the moisture from them giving a fluffy dry inside...mmmmm......

I'm still working things out in blog-world, hence the full Reminder notice down below as I couldn't work out how to just include the Monthly Mingle badge! 

Mexican baked potatoes 

1-2 large floury potatoes per person (I use Agria)
Rock or sea salt
1 tin of chilli beans (make your own if you have time!)
1 grated carrot
1/2 c frozen corn, defrosted under running water
1 chopped red onion
10 button or swiss brown mushrooms
Plain unsweetened yoghurt, avocado and grated cheese for topping

1.  Scrub the potatoes under warm water until they are clean then pierce several times with a sharp knife.  Place salt in a bowl (if you're using rock salt bash it up a bit first in a mortar and pestle).  Roll the potatoes in the salt, coating them all over. 
2.  Place the potatoes on a rack in the oven.  Place a baking tray on the rack below to catch any salt. Bake at 180 degrees (350 F) for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, turning once.
3.  Heat the chilli beans with the grated carrot and corn in a saucepan until hot.
4.  Fry the red onion and mushroom in a pan until the mushrooms are cooked.
5.  When the potatoes are ready (use the full 1 1/4 hours for large ones) remove from the oven and brush the salt off.  Split open and fill with the chilli bean mixture, top with the mushrooms then add your desired toppings.
Enjoy with a green salad.

Serves 2-3


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zucchini pickle - summer in a jar!

Zucchini are on my must-grow list every summer - they're easy and prolific and can be used in sooooo many ways.  There's only so much zucchini one can eat before being completely sick of them.  That's when I
 get out my jars and make pickles - great over the winter and spring in many dishes, my favourite is mixed with leftover rice, salad leaves, a tin of sardines or tuna, parsley and a squirt of BBQ sauce, mmmmm!  You can also use in sandwiches, salads, on crackers.....

I have about 30 jars of pickles in my cupboard from the summer just gone and it did get to the stage where I was sick of making pick
les or relish (recipe another day!) every coup
le of days and resorted to grating and freezin
g in small portions.

Zucchini pickle

5 large zucchini or 10-15 small ones (a mix of yellow and green looks nice)
2-3 finely chopped onions
1/2 c salt
3 1/2 c white vinegar
750g sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
1-2 tsp turmeric

1.  Cut zucchini into slices, the halve or quarter if large.  Place in a non-metallic bowl with onions, salt and 1 litre of cold water to cover.  Stand 3 hours then drain.
2.  Combine white vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric.  Bring to the boil then add the drained vegetables.  Bring back to boiling point but do not boil.
3. Remove from heat, pour into sterilised jars (wash then dry in a low oven for 20 minutes) and seal.

You can substitute cucumber for the zucchini, but it's not quite as nice!

Adapted from: Jill Brewis 'In a Pickle'

Monday, July 6, 2009

My favourite breaky!

I love breakfast!  It's probably my favourite meal of the day.  

Three mornings a week I run and, as it's the middle of winter over here at the moment, my runs are at 5:30 in the morning in the dark and cold!  What gets me through the last few k's is the thought of a HUGE bowl of porridge and the morning paper! Bliss.

Porridge with a twist

Ingredients for one:
1/4 c oats (I use a mixture of rolled and whole)
1/2 a pre-frozen banana 
1 T mixed seeds (I use linseed, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame), ground
1 tsp honey
sprinkle of cinnamon
Yoghurt, milk and berries to serve

1.  Place oats in a small saucepan with the banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Add water to cover plus a little extra (I leave mine here to take my run so the banana has time to defrost a bit).
2.  Cook over low heat around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the banana is soft and the oats cooked.  Add the honey and stir until dissolved.
3.  Remove from the heat and stir in the ground seeds.  Pour into a bowl and top with berries, yoghurt and milk.
Enjoy with the morning paper!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Travel, babies and a vegan-friendly frozen treat

Well it's been an exciting few days!  We booked our flights to Spain on Tuesday - was a tense few hours waiting while M got his leave approved hoping that the cheap seats didn't disappear!  It all worked out though and we fly into Barcelona early Sept, pick up our camper and head over to France for a France/Spain/Portugal (and Morocco if time) surf trip!  Soooooo excited, been on my list of things to do for the last 10 or so years, a pre-baby must!!  Looking forward to sampling all the great food the area has on offer.....mmmmmmmmm...........

The next morning I got a phone call to say my sister was going into labour, which would be great except the baby wasn't due until September! I couldn't concentrate on work and decided to drive the 5 hours to be there just in case....  Anyway, she had already had my new niece Luka, by the time I got there, and despite Luka having to stay in an incubator for the next 8 weeks all is well.

Which brings me to the last bit of my post.  I have a vegan friend coming for the weekend.  Not such a biggie as we are vegetarian/fish only anyway.  But will have to remember no dairy, eggs or honey!  Thought I would make some coconut sorbet to have for dessert with fruit.  Only 3 ingredients and very easy!

Coconut sorbet
1.  Place a tin of coconut milk (I use lite), 1/2 c dessicated coconut and 1/2 c white sugar in a saucepan.
2.  Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  
3.  Remove from the heat.  Cool, then place in fridge overnight or until very cold.  Churn in an ice-cream maker.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Silverbeet and rice pie - a quick and easy dinner

I had planned to make a potato-top fish pie for dinner tonight.  I had already put the pan of water on to boil then went to the pantry to get the potatoes....and there were none!  Someone hadn't put on the shopping list that we were out, nor had he mentioned it when I told him what I was going to make for dinner!

Oh well, straight to my 'what the heck are we going to have for dinner there's no fresh vege and i'm out of idea's' recipe!  This 'pie' has three ingredients - rice, cheese and silverbeet (swiss chard), is super easy to make and the best bit is it tastes WAY better than it sounds!

Try it!!

Silverbeet and rice pie

1.  Cook 1 c rice  (I use long grain brown but basmati is good too).
2.  While the rice is cooking steam/boil roughly chopped silverbeet (you can use spinach too) for around 5 minutes until wilted.  I use maybe 10 silverbeet leaves, with stems removed.  
3.  Layer half the rice into the bottom of a casserole dish, top with half the silverbeet, sprinkle with cheese (whatever works for you - I use feta).  Repeat the layers, ending with cheese (I use grated edam here).
4.  Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
Serve with a veggie side.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Best pasta

Right it's time to put on some photo's if I want people to actually read this blog! so here goes....

Well, it's not quite where I had planned it to be but it's there so it's a start!

This is on our local mountain, Mt Taranaki (or Egmont as it says on the map, but i've never heard a local call it that since I moved here 6 years ago!).  Anyway this is on a tramping trip on Waitangi weekend in February.  It was around 3 hours to this hut.  So anyway, after such a long (mostly uphill) walk we needed food. Pasta.  I grow my own delicious heirloom tomatoes in summer and preserve whatever we don't eat for later in the year - I refuse to buy a tomato or tomato sauce for that matter!  Anyway, along with sauce I also make loads of pasta sauce to bottle, plain chopped tomatos, relish and freeze some for later.  

On this trip I took a jar of pasta sauce, cooked up some pasta and lentils, mixed them all together and dinner was served.  Haha it's great how good things taste out in the fresh air when you've really earned them!

Pasta sauce
1.  Chop an onion and a carrot finely and saute in oil over very low heat until soft.  Add 2 cloves of chopped or crushed garlic and cook for a minute more.
2.  Add chopped tomatoes - a can if that's all you have or maybe 6 - 10 fresh ones depending on size, along with 1 tsp brown sugar, a splash of balsamic vinegar (add a little extra if preserving the tomatoes as this will stop the top exploding!)., a sprinkle of dried herbs (one or more of basil, oregano, majoram, thyme or mixed herbs) and 1-2 T tomato paste.
3.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens slightly - around 20 minutes.
4.  Use as is or with lenitls, tuna etc added, bottle or cool and freeze.

Enjoy, i'm off to practise some food photography!

Monday, June 22, 2009

My favourite afternoon snack

On nights where I have the gym or basketball after work I like to have a snack to get me through to dinner time......banana frozen yoghurt!  So easy, sooooo good!  I buy the 'yucky' bananas when they're on special, peel, halve and put in a zip lock bag in the freezer ready to use in smoothies, my morning porridge and especially this recipe! 

Banana frozen yoghurt
1. Place a frozen banana in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Add around 1/2 c plain, unsweetened yoghurt and blend until the banana breaks up.
3.  Add a teaspoon of runny honey, blend briefly again.
Eat, yum!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Autumn goodies

Guavas are another great treat to look forward to in the winter - my friend has a large tree, but doesn't eat them herself, so I raid it often!  I either eat the little red globes fresh or make guava jelly.  I first tasted guava jelly while at uni - my flatmates grandma used to make it for him, and I helped eat it!  I remembered back all those years (wow, doesn't time fly!) and attempted to make it last winter.  The first bach was slightly over-done - I think around 2 c of sugar went into each jar!  But had it sussed second time round and it was just like I remembered it - a beautiful red, tangy but sweet.  Don't be tempted to cook it down to far, once it starts coating the back of the spoon it's nearly done!

Guava jelly
1.  Rinse the fruit and place in a preserving pan, cover with water and mush the guavas up a bit with a potato masher.
2.  Bring to the boil then simmer for around 20 minutes.
3.  Line a colander with muslin (or similar - I used baby gauze doubled up) and place inside a stockpot or similar. Pour in the fruit.  Leave it for 10-20 minutes until the juice has dripped through - don't be tempted to push the fruit down!
4.  Lift out the colander and discard fruit
5.  Measure out how much juice you have return to preserving pan with an equal amount of sugar (i.e. 5 c juice plus 5 c sugar).  Bring to boil then simmer 25 or more minutes until it starts to coat the back of the spoon and go thick.
6.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rocket and warm winters day

Well the cold has left us (for the moment at least!) and what started as a rainy winters days turned on blue skies - great timing as the moon calendar said today was good for planting garlic and I really wanted to get mine in.  I've never planted by the moon calendar before, and with garlic usually just go with the traditional shortest day.  But good to give things a go, so we'll see in 6 months time!  

I had planned to write about the dessert I made last night to take to a friends, but then I was checking out Closet cooking and saw the very same lemon slice (meyer lemon bars Kevin calls them) over there so decided instead to talk about rocket instead.  My garden is chockka with rocket at the moment - took me awhile to realise it's best grown in autumn/winter and spring, leave summer to the lettuces!

Anyway this is a great, fast pesto using another autumn goodie - walnuts - which is delicious with wholemeal pasta.......

Rocket walnut pesto
1.  Fill your food processor bowl with rocket.
2.  Add grated parmesan, chopped garlic and toasted walnuts, process.
3.  Add oil a bit at a time, blending all the while until you get your desired consistency.
4.  Add salt, and more parmesan, garlic, oil or walnuts as required, blending until it tastes good!
Stir through pasta.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Anyone out there?!

Hello? Is anyone reading this blog? Bear with me while I sort out adding photos and the other bits and pieces that make a great food blog! 

It's freezing here at the moment, winter certainly kicked in early this year - i've already been up the mountain snowboarding three times. The water has cooled quite a bit, definitely need the 3/4 steamer when surfing!  So anyway more soup is on the menu.  This one is nice and hearty with the lentils, potatoes and coconut milk, but still relatively low fat/cal so long as you use low-fat coconut milk. Enjoy.....


1.  Heat 1-2T oil in a stockpot and add 2 sticks chopped celery, 2 chopped carrots, one chopped onion and two cloves chopped garlic.  Cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring often.
2.  Stir in 1/4 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 2 hot green chillies (de-seed and finely chop).  Cook for one minute, stirring.  Add 1 c red lentils, 1.5 L of vegetable stock and three medium-large floury potatoes (such as Agria), chopped.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat, partially cover with a lid and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Mash roughly, but leave some chunks of potato and carrot.
3.  Stir in a 400 ml tin of coconut milk, 1 tap salt and 1 T lemon juice.  Re-heat if   needed but don't boil.
Serve garnished with chopped coriander, with naan bread to dip.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Warmth for the winter - carrot & lentil soup

Carrots are really cheap at the moment and it's cold out = carrot soup!!

Don't be put off this soup by it's lack of ingredients - it's really tasty!

Carrot & lentil soup

1.  Chop an onion and fry in a little oil on low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened.
2.  Add a tablespoon of curry paste - I like Patak's cumin and coriander.  Stir about for a minute      then add 5-6 large, peeled, chopped, carrots.  Stir then add stock to cover and around 3/4            cup rinsed red lentils.
3.  Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook around 30 minutes until the carrots        and lentils are tender.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly then puree.  Return to the            stove and reheat.
Serve with plain unsweetened yoghurt.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've got loads of beetroot ready in the garden at the moment so it was the perfect oportunity to try out a beetroot-haloumi salad i'd been meaning to make.  I couldn't find the exact recipe I was thinking of so decided to go with my imagination.  I added lentils to make it a complete meal.  You could drop the haloumi if you wanted just a side salad, to serve with pan fried fish or to take to a BBQ.  

Beetroot, lentil and haloumi salad

1.  Boil 5-6 beetroot until soft when pierced with a knife.  Remove from water and set aside until cool enough to peel and dice into approx 1 cm cubes.
2.  Boil 3/4 c puy lentils until soft but not mushy, drain and mix with beetroot cubes.
3.  Make a dressing of oil, balsamic vinegar, 1 clove chopped garlic and salt to taste.  Add this to the beetroot mixture with lots of chopped Italian parsley.
4.  Toast a handful of walnut in the oven, leave to cool then chop roughly. Set aside.
5.  Peel a red onion, slice in half then slice the halves into strips.  Cook in oil on low until it caramalises, around 10-15 minutes.  Set aside.
6.  Cover a platter with mixed salad leaves.  Arrange over the beetroot mixture, top with the onion and sprinkle with the walnuts.  Quickly (around 20 seconds each side) haloumi in a dry pan and add to the top.  Serve immediately.