The Ultimate Lamb Burger and Rosewater Rhubarb Eton Mess


Greetings from magnificent Waiheke! God I love being out here - it is worth every moment of frazzled, rushed preparation to make the last car ferry out with one vomitous and one fretful dog to arrive to a spectacularly clear, still evening, crackling fire, fresh fish and chips and a cheeky l'il glass of wine. So here I sit now (next day) at the Waiheke Library using their  lovely free internet and getting a bit of work done for Fairfax (Mother's Day baking- coming soon). 

Meanwhile we are actually here to take advantage of the long weekend in recognition of Anzac Day (to honour the fallen soldiers of New Zealand and Australia, on the day that troops landed at Gallipoli in 1915) - and I figure these lamb burgers (that I also put together for Fairfax) are a pretty perfect Anzac meal to share with friends: good quality lamb mince, flavour-packed with cumin, coriander, garlic and chilli is moulded to fit Turkish bread roll shapes. Once cooked they are sandwiched with ripe tomato, creamy avocado and iron-rich spinach, fresh vibrant raw beetroot and a creamy, minty cucumber and yoghurt dressing. To follow, a decadent little glass of Rosewater Rhubarb Eton Mess - crumbly sweet meringue, tart rhubarb and pillowy cream flavoured with fragrant rose water and topped with Turkish delight and chopped pistachios. Seriously - the whole lot is bloody delicious, if I say so myself!

Now, time to go and savour Waiheke a bit more - we all followed our usual routines this morning: I went for my monster walk, Nick took the dogs to the beach, and Rich (up from uni in Wellington for semester break) slept. So now I think a wander around the shops is in order, then back to the section for a big cup of tea and a few hours reading on the deck. Wish Pog was here too, but by crikey that man/boy has been busy transforming his new room in Melbourne into a lux haven - such an amazing 'eye'! See you again soon...have a great weekend :)

Spicy Fish Tacos


Good morning to you from my normal blogging location - in bed with a morning cup of tea :) With the long Anzac weekend ahead for Australia and New Zealand I thought it timely to post a couple of relaxed entertaining recipes. First up is this one for spicy fish tacos which I put together a while back for the beautiful Dish magazine. The fish is coated in a spiced flour with a good l'il smoked paprika and chilli kick, cosied up with a crunchy slaw, creamy avocado, sweet mango and zesty, lime and garlic crema all wrapped up in a warm tortilla. A few coriander leaves (that's cilantro to some) on top and every mouthful is exploding with vibrant flavour. Before the grim reality of winter wet weather kicks in, gather up a few friends, put everything out on the table and let them help themselves. (And on that note, there is a bit of prep to be done but then it is too easy - lay out toppings/warm tortillas/cook fish - that's it!).

Aaaand in other news, I'm trying to shake of the tired grumpies from too little sleep seeing as for the last two nights the dogs have woken me up around 2am barking and hassling some poor wee hedgehog in the garden. There is no let up until I drag them back inside, and then my brain is in turbo-mode and sleep is out the window. Bloody dog door - middle-of-the-night wake-ups or pee's getting to be a close choice! I'm sure my morning walk and a few coffees will help - and then in a flurry I'm shooting for Fairfax, Nick arrives home from China/Blangladesh/Hong Kong, Hoob arrives from Wellington and we all head out to Waiheke! Ta dah! Just spirit me to 7pm on the deck with a glass of wine... No Pog unfortunately, but the good news is he has found and moved into a new flat (hurrah!) in Melbourne, and is in room transformation mode. Right: up, walk, coffee - and keep an eye out for another new recipe coming in time for the weekend!

Super-green Pizzas with zucchini, mozzarella, broccoli, watercress, rocket & avocado


I am sitting here in a wee satisfied glow having just finished a shoot for the Wine Friend company (such a good idea, they deliver wine that suits your taste so that you get introduced to new wines via their recommendations, without buying duds), and not only do I love the shots (hurrah!), but I didn't spill a drop (see a few posts back for my last wine spilling drama...). Not only that but it's Fridaaaaay tomorrow (now today - even better), so just 'yay' anyway, and after three weekends in a row of being away, I am at home this weekend. Drinks with girlfriends Friday - excellent. Saturday, big walk and (long overdue) garden tidy up and house clean, then friends for dinner...oooh feeling like some kind of autumnal loveliness - possibly a porcini-rich mushroom pasta dish or pumpkin, kumara and pancetta risotto :) Sunday is all about taking it easy, so I'm thinking a big walk then reading my book with a chilled afternoon!

As you may know we are total pizza fans in our house, and usually head straight for toppings such as prosciutto and mozzarella or smoked salmon and capers – but given that I am flying solo at the moment, I'm going to ask my vegetarian big-sister over on Sunday night to share this totally green version - my new absolute favourite. Surprisingly packed with flavour it's really 'naughty and nice' with a crispy, cheesy base that gives way to sweet just-cooked zucchini, flash roasted broccoli, peppery rocket and watercress and creamy avocado – but the thing that makes it sing is the lemon and garlic spiked oil and sprinkling of basil leaves – bloody delicious! And seriously, you don't have to be vego to like it, Nick and I had it before he flew out, and he loved it too, the flavour and texture combination is irresistable :)

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Mousses with Plums and Hazelnut Cookies


Hello-lo as my sister would say! I'm tapping away, about to go and 'put my face on' and head off to mother-in-law's sister's wedding (as you do), and thought I should get this ready to post. Look at these lovely, luscious beauties!!! This is just my kind of dessert - creamy, smooth, milky Frangelico-spiked chocolate mousse topped with a crunchy crumbling of hazelnuts and a plump, tart plum. I used tinned Watties Black Doris plums for mine, but of course if you fancy, you can preserve your own! (I'm a sucker for the tinned ones - nostalgia maybe..?). Anyhoo, I love the bit of sharpness the plums add to balance out all that rich chocolatey goodness - and the fact that they are an absolute doddle to make - seriously quick and easy - but look so pretty. I served them with some little homemade tuille-esque hazelnut biscuits, but they would be just as good with your choice of thin dessert bikkies. This is also one of my fortnightly recipes for the lovely Dish magazine, feel free to check out my Tuck In section on their website! :)

Feeling a bit nervous about the afore-mentioned wedding at which I have been enlisted to take photos - errrp - it's a bit like a barbecue master taking over the patisserie section...hope it all goes OK. (After this many years I feel pretty relaxed shooting any plate of food you fancy - but people - at night time - using my flash...cross your fingers for me). Anyhoo - current quick state of the nation before I go and get busy with the concealer - Henry is moving flat in Melbourne, or more precisely, is moving out of his flat, but hasn't quite got a new one lined up (breathing very calmly about that), and still working away at Nique, Rich is getting into the swing of uni life and actually phoned me for a chat today - I just about had a heart failure thinking there must be some emergency but luckily it was just for a lovely update, and he's also coming up for his semester break next Thursday (yippee!), aaand Nick is back up in China doing what he does at the Shanghai office. So, yes that leaves me and the dogs. And my book. And girlfriends for sanity-restoring chats. And wine. And chocolate :)

OK - better go - have a great end-of-your-week, and keep an eye out - another new recipe coming for the weekend...

Pear and Almond Frangipane Tart with Honey Semifreddo


Omigod - let me tell you (very quickly) about my morning...well I was up super early and primed to shoot a gorgeous recipe I have coming soon which I did for Bonds (vibrant green pizza - the topping is green not the base, it's not some broccoli base...). Anyhoo, 7:30am, shot set up, camera ready, tethering working (long story), pizza in the oven looking delicious, aaaand then I bumped a reflector board which bumped a backboard and hey-ho dominoes, dived to save my camera while a glass of red wine tipped over and slo-mo glug glug glugged into the carpet and spattered up the curtain. Arrggghhh. So, camera all good, arm scraped and a wee bit tender, carpet stained and curtain ruined.  All by 7:45am. I contemplated a bit of a chin wobble then thought 'stuff it', cleaned it up as best I could (oh lordy the curtain...) and rang the carpet cleaners who said they'd be with me by 1:30pm. Back on track I looked forward to seeing the cleaners until they phoned around 3pm to say they wouldn't make it today. Blergh. Big glass of wine coming up (I'm writing this Thursday evening not Friday morning), and I shall be getting that big glass to my mouth with a steady hand and no spills!!!

Right then - to the you may know I’m a sucker for tarts of any kind, big, small, sweet, savoury – you name it, I’m in. This recipe is one I shot for Fairax, and a real favourite, perfect for this time of year with a bit of an autumnal vibe. I’m not quite ready for a steamy hot pud, but I do crave something with a little more comfort factor and the sweet soft pears nestled in almond frangipane achieve it perfectly, topped with the honey semifreddo the result is outrageously good. The pears can also be served whole once poached, with a little of the semifreddo, and if you boil the poaching liquid for an extra 15 minutes once the pears are removed, you will have a lovely pear syrup to pour over them too! If you can't be faffed with the semifreddo just serve with a little vanilla bean ice cream :)

Quick Prawn Curry


Hello, hello - this is going to be a super speedy wee note to go with this super speedy prawn curry recipe! I have just arrived back from Melbourne and my long weekend with Pog (Henry), and thanks to the Easter break, Melbourne and heading away again on Friday to Hawkes Bay with Nick, I have ten days work to do in three. Ooooh it was so lovely to see Henry, what a gorgeous fella, working hard, looking wonderful, but living in, it has to be said, a total cesspit of a flat - the only decent room is his bedroom which he has transformed into a stylish haven. Anyhoo, we ate, shopped walked and talked and it was bloody lovely - just so sad to leave knowing I won't see him for another four months! As an added bonus I had a fab outing with my aunt and cousin visiting the Nicholas Gardens with lunch at The Piggery and all three of us snapping away, I feel that perhaps the photography thing might be a family obsession passion!

Right then - prawn curry - this is a recipe I put together for Fairfax, and is a great little week-night saviour, and also perfect to take a long to a pot-luck curry night. It is way more aromatic than you might expect, with an earthy base and a zesty finish! All you need is some store-bought naan or paratha and freshly cooked rice to serve. And possibly a beer. Enjoy, and I'll be back soon! :)

A Waiheke Easter


Gooood Morning from the airport! I'm so excited to be heading over for a weekend in Melbourne to visit Henry - woo hooooo! As usual we headed overseas (haha) to Waiheke for Easter and had a wonderful few days with Hoob up from uni in Wellington, and beautiful island weather to enjoy. Sadly Pog couldn't get time off work in Melbourne, but I plan on making up for it when I see him with some mum-money dinners! Our Easter feast this year was made on the barbecue - two slow roasted legs of lamb, studded with garlic and cooked on a veritable bush of rosemary. To go with it a salad of rocket, baby ripe cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta and avocado with a herb and yoghurt dressing, and couscous with roasted red peppers, caramelised onions and pine nut dukkah. No pics of that lot I'm afraid, I was way too busy cooking, talking, laughing and drinking wine to get any good photos! We had friends and rellies with a good dose of young people to hang out with - bloody perfect. Thanks to Easter, there are no new recipes on the blog this week (whaaaat?), but fear not, I shall be back and on the case with more next week. In the meantime, hope everyone had a safe and happy Easter break, and I'll see you soon....!!! :)

(A couple more extra sneaky Easter-on-Waiheke pics below)

Autumn Potager Vegetable Salad with Hummus, Lentils and Herby Feta Dressing


I am sitting here laughing at myself, I am such a dork! I am so excited about sharing this recipe for all sorts of reasons - firstly, and most importantly, I love the recipe, and all the little bits that go into it - it really is my favourite kind of thing to eat, and exactly what I would order when eating out if I could (that and any kind of double-baked vege souffle or vege fritter...). Secondly, I really do quite like the pics - I recently upgraded to a Nikon D810 and I don't know whether it's making a difference or not, or whether after so much bloody practice, I might finally be getting there. Thirdly, I'm calling it an autumn potager garden in (fingers crossed) anticipation of harvesting a yield from my very own vege garden out on Waiheke...circa August 2018! And finally...and I hope it isn't one of those things where if I say it, I 'put the kibosh' on it - it is actually a recipe that I could almost imagine in a recipe book. So, I'm thinking that maybe it's time I thought a bit more seriously about that again. We shall see!

Anyhoo, I am very happy to report the current state of the nation: Hoob is currently flaked out on his bed, recovering from waaaay too little sleep in Wellington and looking forward to his favourite home-made smoked salmon pizza for dinner tonight (recipe here if you want it). I have been working my arse off to get all my stuff done before Easter and then heading to Melbourne next weekend to catch up with Henry, and I am almost there. And - today is Nick and my 26th wedding anniversary! Holy sh*t balls - 26 years, as anyone who has been married for that long will attest, it ain't always easy, but it is totally worth it. Thanks for an adventure-filled 26 years and happy anniversary darl, looking forward to the next 26! :)

PS - no freaking out when you look at the recipe - read it and breathe - you'll see it is all actually really basic!

Date, bran and ginger loaves

Oh my God - such wild weather in Auckland over night...and this morning! Rich is flying up from Wellington at 8:30am in gale force winds, yikes :( I can't believe I won't be at the airport to greet him, I feel like a totally useless mother for sending a cab, but I will be shooting a job for Dish in the morning light at the time his flight gets in. Sometimes working from home is a weird business - I'm 'at home' but that doesn't mean I'm accessible, so fielding phone calls I probably shouldn't answer as I'm in the middle of photography, or fitting in errands is part of the gig. I'm not complaining though - singing my heart out to Spandau Ballet as I work can also be part of the job, as is wearing a t-shirt and a pair of ripped-jean shorts! Anyhoo, enough of all that - Easter Friday tomorrow - and no, it's not a chocolate recipe (just search 'chocolate' in the search section if you want one of those, there are plenty there), I thought you might be needing something to take away for a long weekend, or at least to have at home with a big pot of tea or strong coffee. These date, bran and ginger loaves are my favourite kind of wholseome-ish baking treat - loaded with bran, lovely and moist with sweet dates and spiced with ginger, all you need add is a smear of butter.

I'll be missing Pog this Easter, we'll be on Waiheke and he'll be in Melbourne, but it will be such a treat to have Rich with us. Such new territory to negotiate with almost grown-up children...especially when as I type this I have pictures of 8 year old Henry and 6 year old Rich blue-tacked to the bottom of my computer screen (so high-tech). Sometimes I get a bit of a shock to see them, listen to their interesting and well-thought out opinions and hug their man-sized bodies, it's a real reminder to appreciate my own parents, as I think to them sometimes I am still a snowy-white-haired 6 year old too.

Happy Easter, I hope you get to spend some time with the people you love!

Welcome Home Soup


Yesterday Nick arrived back from Shanghai, tired and a little rumpled as usual - it's a tough gig sometimes, zooming back and forwards between countries. Usually we have a ritual of softly scrambled eggs for dinner on his first night back (along with a catch up of whatever series we happen to be watching at the time - currently we are the last people on the planet to be watching Homeland...). After traveling and eating out with restaurant and hotel food for a few weeks, it is such a treat to have something nourishing and homemade - last night for a change I made fresh, vibrantly green soup for a little pick-me-up. The things that make this soup so good are these - you can taste the vegetables, the last minute addition of fresh herbs gives it a bright note and the yoghurt and dukkah at the end bring lightness and texture. Bloody delicious.

As you probably know I don't normally do endorsements of products, it's just not really my cup of tea for various reasons - however recently I was delivered a loaf of Lewis Road Creamery's new kibbled grain bread with a packet of the sea salt crystals butter and I have to say, they are so good, and totally perfect with the soup. No money exchanged hands in the endorsement of this product - haha - I just like it! :)

Anyhoo - today we have given ourselves the mammoth task of cleaning out the garage (exploding with props and photography backboards), my office (eek!) and the linen cupboard (not so bad), so I had better get busy. Have a great weekend, and if you have a weary traveller, or just someone who needs a bit of extra nurturing in your life, this recipe is for you...also pretty damn perfect for a Sunday night.