Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad with Romesco Sauce - coming for the weekend!


Check back in at the weekend for the recipe! :)

Woooo hoooooooooo!!!!!!!


I don't know what to say other than a huge thank you for visiting - the blog has just hit one million views and I can't quite believe it! It gives me so much pleasure writing recipes, styling and photographing - but even more to know that you are stopping by to have a look... and better still trying out some of the recipes. You come from all over the world - the United States, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and the UK, and of course closer to home Australian and New Zealand - thanks guys, I love having you to visit, I hope you'll come back again soon! :) (I think perhaps a little celebration is in order...)

Blackberry Vanila Custard Cheesecakey Tart


Well it's been quite a while between tarts, so I thought I'd better get busy. I made this one a couple of times to get it perfect (you gotta do what you gotta do) - so now the pastry is super short with a lovely little crunch and I have made the vanilla custard centre kind of cheesecakey so that the result is soft and luscious, but it still holds it's shape. On top, it's just natural sweet/tart blackberries lightly dusted in icing (powdered) sugar. As we have just had our first day of autumn, I wanted to create an alternative take on a hot blackberries and custard dessert, so I'm hoping a version of this might work for spring and summer too - just swapping out the blackberries to the first berries of the season. In other news Rich is home from school today with an upset stomach and abdominal pain (fingers crossed not appendicitis), Nick is in South Africa (I think the kids have been sick 10x as much when he is overseas as when he is home their entire lives...) and Henry is hard at work in his first semester of the year in Wellington, having survived his recent flat warming party in one piece- hurrah!

Meatball Subs with Smokey Barbecue Sauce


 Helloooo - number 2 in my meatball surprise recipe line-up are these meatballs with home-made smokey barbecue sauce, coleslaw and melty cheese in soft rolls. I have often been asked if I eat the stuff I make and photograph (!??!) well yes indeed, but on occasion I am actually eating when there may be a good shot left to take because I can't restrain myself any longer - these humble meatball subs for example! I know I shouldn't blather on but they are so good, the perfect comfort food for a lazy weekend afternoon. 

It seems like such a strange thing to be sitting here at my dining table, looking out at a gorgeous hot, sunny Auckland afternoon, knowing that most of those who read this will be doing so in the midst of winter in the northern hemisphere. I guess I'm just pondering this weird state of globalisation where we get to know each other in far off corners of the world via blogs, Facebook, instagram and other social media. For those who don't know, I live pretty much at the bottom of the world in New Zealand. Because we are so far away from anywhere (Australia is our closest large neighbour) we tend to be great travellers and look at the world with more freedom and a slightly more neutral eye than those who are 'in amongst' it. Our culture is diverse and we have a pretty relaxed attitude which allows us to pick and choose from different parts of cuisines brought to New Zealand by those who choose to make it their home, and via our travels.  To that end, I will often mash up my recipes with a bit of English, French Italian, Indian, Mexican, Asian -  you name it! I don't pretend  to be an expert in any of those cuisines but in classic Kiwi fashion, just bung together the bits that I like, and hope you like them too! Crikey - so many words today...that'll do!!! Have a great weekend, and if you get the chance I hope you'll give these a whirl :)

Mexican Meatball Wraps


I've been on a bit of a wrap roll lately (haha) and this was my latest - meatballs made with my base recipe, smothered in spicy chilli beans and grilled mozzarella snuggled up next to some lime sour cream, avocado and coriander. These are clearly very inelegant, but also incredibly tasty - perfect with a beer or glass of wine, and the ideal food to share with good friends! Speaking of which, oh my God went to my first ever pub quiz night last Monday. While we wait to work out how/when we can build our escape on Waiheke island we are tucked away in our Auckland house in the bowels of suburbia, and our subdivision has it's own (really pretty cool) cafe, nail salon and pub. As Nick was in China last week I tottered along with my sister, her husband, and assorted nephews and nieces to the Speights Ale House Quiz night for an evening of wine, wedges and general knowledge testing - hilarious!!! Given that I am addicted to watching the fabulous Stephen Fry hosting QI (stands for Quite Interesting) I enjoyed the whole thing much more than I probably should have, and am looking forward to dragging a reluctant Nick, and hopefully Hoobie (Rich) along to the next one. Lolly lol lol as Hoob would say...

Salted Caramel Peanut Sauce


Feeling a bit meh today, Henry has just been up from Wellington for two nights and it was so lovely to have him home, but as is the way of things, he has once again flown the nest and is now back and preparing for university to start on Monday. Last night we dropped him at the airport armed with two daisy plants grown from cuttings in our garden here. I love that he has taken them to plant at his flat as it is a daisy that I have taken with me (via cuttings) from our last three houses, since he was born almost 20 years ago. Nice. Anyway, enough about daisies - finally a recipe that suits the balmy south and the arctic north at the same time!!! Today may I present  a salted caramel peanut sauce that is super easy to make, bloody delicious, and perfect slathered either hot or cold over vanilla ice cream. For grown-ups, feel free to add a a glug of bourbon to the sauce, and for the chillies (kids), omit the bourbon and add sliced banana to the ice cream for a caramel, peanut sundae...hmm might actually be quite nice for the adults too! This is another of my recipes developed and photographed for the good folk at Fairfax, and one which I will be making over and over.

PS - if you don't like peanuts, just leave them out!!! :)

Be Mine Valentine Strawberry Panna Cotta with Lemon Shortbread


Happy Valentine's Day for tomorrow!!! I know that chocolate is an obvious choice for Valentine's Day right, but what if you fancy something a bit different? This Strawberry Panna Cotta is light, creamy and subtly sweet with a perky strawberry sauce spiked with Framboise. Add the delicate, crispy lemony shortbread and I guess you have my twist on a strawberry shortcake. Normally I am not a fan of classics with a twist (generally speaking I think of classics as classic for a very good reason), but sometimes it's nice to play around with familiar flavours and textures in a new way. Any hoo, enough explaining! This recipe makes just two panna cotta as it is for Valentine's Day, but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. It would also be a lovely option for Mother's Day, a ladies' lunch or baby shower. Let me know what you think! Oh and look, don't think this is a complicated recipe, it is so easy the whole thing including the shortbread took me about half an hour to make - looks tricky but it is actually a doddle :) If you're looking for a chocolate option,just head here to the recipe index and have a good fossick...

(Extra little heads up - the strawberry flavour in the panna cotta is subtle and natural, nothing like fake strawberry flavouring, so you do need to serve it with the puree to give it a spark up!)

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder on flatbreads with Minty yoghurt sauce


Many years ago I used to be nervous of cooking large hunks of meat, always a bit panicky that I wouldn't get the timing right and eat up with a tough result -  until I discovered the miracle of slow cooking. These days if I have 8 or more people coming for dinner I confess I usually go straight to slow cooked lamb or pork in the knowledge that it will be almost impossible to stuff up. Often for this type of cooking I will choose lamb or pork shoulder (although lamb leg is also great, and ahem, pork belly??!) - the extra fat running through the meat ensures it stays meltingly tender and moist, and tah dah - everybody's happy! It is super simple to make, so easy that I have often cooked this in the barbecue at Waiheke, wrapping the flatbreads in tinfoil and popping them on top of the barbecue lid to heat up. The minty yoghurt sauce and onion jam work particularly well with the lamb, but you could also use a good tomato chutney or a good dollop of chilli jam. This is one I wrote up and shot for Fairfax, and the perfect way to feed a crowd (like at Waiheke) but it can easily be made to serve 4...and then you'll have plenty of left-overs for lamb curry too! Hope you like it :)

Light and Luscious Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake


Hello Valentines! Well this time last year I was writing up my recipe for Espresso Your Love Chocolate Mousse and bemoaning the fact that Nick would be in Chicago for Valentines Day - this year he'll be in China! Ah well - at least we got to share some of this cheesecake before he left! Chocolate and coffee are such a brilliant match and somehow this cheesecake manages to be light and not tooooo rich with a subtle coffee flavour matching perfectly with the dark chocolate. It is actually a total snap to make and looks fabulous lightly dusted in dark cocoa powder and laden with fresh berries. Wherever you are for Valentines Day, I hope you have a good one - and fear not whether attached or single you can still enjoy this decadent cheesecake...and if you're enjoying a spell of total independence you won't have to worry about sharing!

Old School Left-over Lamb 'Curry'


Well now, its not as easy as you might think to make a left-over lamb curry look appetizing...this is the best I could do given it was a quick snap before eating dinner last night! OK - so this is my official disclaimer - this is not a proper curry, it's a made-up old-school version like my Mum and grandmother used to make to use up roast lamb left-overs. The thing is that despite the fact that it is kind of dorky, it is also very, very delicious with a lovely balance of heat and sweetness (not too sweet!) and if you use left-over roast lamb shoulder in particular, although leg is fine, you can be guaranteed that it will super-tender. Just about to get stuck in to testing recipes for a decadent Valentines Day dessert - putting on weight just looking at the ingredients on the bench - and still tossing up between Espresso Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Cherry Tart or Lemon & Lime Mini Tarts...any suggestions?!?