Easy Like Sunday Morning - Poached Eggs with Hummus, Avocado & Dukkah


Feeling easy like Sunday morning, thanks Lionel Richie, and thanks yoga, which seems to have some kind of calmative effect on me so that when I finish, I can float off ready for the day ahead. Yesterday as I was in my savasana at the end (flopped out lying on my back), trying to be present and in the moment etc etc I was feeling super relaxed and fabulous, but also sneakily planning to make this as soon as I got home. Thank God no-one else can see inside your head when you're lying there, I feel like everyone else around me is wafting around on a cloud while I'm thinking about food. Never mind! Do you need a recipe for this - probably not - you can see what it is. A piece of delicious Vogels (wholegrain) toast topped with garlicky hummus, avocado, a perfectly poached egg and a sprinkling of dukkah. Where to start in my rave about this perfect breakfast - I love the crunch of the toast, earthiness of the hummus, smooth avocado, the silkiness of the egg and the texture of the spicy, nutty dukkah...totally delicious. I'll include the dukkah recipe below and some brief instructions just in case they come in handy. Wherever you are, southern hemisphere in the midst of freezing, grim snow or rain, or northern with a gentle spring kicking in, this is sure to set you right for your Sunday morning. Have a wonderful day :)

Retro Night Beef Wellington & Potato Gratin


I have mentioned once before on this blog that I am a limited fan of 'classics with a twist' - sometimes classics are just that, and their perfection is not to be overly meddled with! (OK - yes I do agree that sometimes a little addition or change can take something you are used to from ordinary to amazing...) Anyhoo - these recipes for Beef Wellington and Potato Gratin are almost the same as the ones I made back when I was about 19 years old (dark ages peoples - that would be the late '80s), probably cranking up Wham, Madonna or Simple Minds on the stereo as I danced around our hokey kitchen with it's teeny tiny gas oven. At that age I had just bought my first house with my boyfriend (and later husband - Nick) and revelled in cooking at every opportunity - hand made pasta, ox-tail stews, homemade ice cream without a machine, flash new-fangled sushi - God it was fun! (It was such a different time, I never made it to university as I landed a job with ACP NZ (later to become Bauer Media) at 18 and started a thoroughly enjoyable eight year career in magazine publishing before moving on to Elizabeth Arden.) We entertained from then on, boozey drinks, crazy Christmas Eve dinner parties, cards nights and casual meals with friends. These dishes would have been rare on the menu (the price of the beef still makes me nervous) but they have definitely stood the test of time - I would happily serve them to the same motley crew of friends that we still hang out with today. As Julia Child always said back in the day - "Bon appetit!" :) A big thanks to the good people at Fairfax who I produced these recipes for, it's great to be able to share them on the blog.

Monday Distractions - Heirloom Tomatoes


So today I have a million things to do, five (eek!!!) shoots lined up and yet somehow I couldn't walk past these beautiful heirloom tomatoes at my local fresh fruit and vege store. In between wrangling product shots I couldn't help but take a quick pic...

Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad with Romesco Sauce


Whoop here it is :) I love a bit of serendipity, and I reckon it happens all the time, especially if you're on the look out! This week I had the chance to have a lovely coffee catch-up with an old client and friend of mine from the personal training days (for those who don't know I used to own and run a fitness/boot camp business), and now she owns a fabulous butchery in Remuera, Auckland. On arrival she had a parcel tucked under her arm that I could smell above the coffee (the parcel, not her arm...) -  a gift of the most incredible nitrate-free, tender smoked chicken breasts. I couldn't wait to get home and experiment with them, keen to find a way to enhance the sweet smokey flavour without over-powering it, and I reckon this recipe does the trick. I used lumache pasta, - short fat shell/tubes to catch the Romesco sauce, grilled corn, creamy avocado, crunchy roasted almonds, roasted red peppers and ripe baby tomatoes, with a good sprinkling of coriander. If you can't be faffed making the Romesco, you could always buy it, but I have simplified the recipe so it is a doddle to make. If you are in Auckland and keen to give it a try, you can find the Victoria Ave Butcher here, and if not - fingers crossed you can get your hands on some really good quality smoked chicken breasts - these ones were amazing!

Spiced Apple Crumble Muffins


Even though my mum has never enjoyed cooking she baked delicious after-school treats all through my childhood - I have very fond memories of flying in the door having walked home from school to find that Mum had just made, 'goo' cake, Louise slice, fruit slice or banana cake, all perfect to enjoy with a glass of milk or lovely cup of tea. One of my favourite desserts Mum made while I was growing up was apple crumble - especially the crumble bit, loaded with cream and ice-cream. These muffins can be served as they are for morning tea, or warmed through and served just like a crumble dessert with a dollop of softly whipped cream or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream for dessert. Either way they are delicious, keep for 2-3 days in the tin and freeze well :) Happy Mother's Day!!!

Dark Chocolate Brownies with White Chocolate and Sea Salt


Don't you love old faithful recipes? This is a guaranteed moist, fudgy extra rich and dark chocolate brownie with white chocolate chunks and a (newly added to the recipe) sprinkling of sea salt - phwaor. They are also ridiculously easy and quick to make. These would be great to make for a chocolate loving mother this weekend, and are the ideal treat to make for cake stands (bake sales), weekend-away-with-friends gifts and they're pretty damn good at the end of a dinner party too. They are luscious, deep, fat brownies, so don't cut them too big...besides you can always have two right?! Hope everyone has a great Mother's Day this weekend - stay warm and dry (New Zealand winter here) and wishing you happy times with loved ones!

Novice Yogi's Kitchari - Basmati and Split Peas with Indian spices, vegetables and fresh herbs


OK now don't worry, I'm not veering off completely into total vegan territory (with apologies to any vegans who would like me to...), but as I have been yoga-ing my ass off lately I have been interested to find out more about what those glowing, lithe yoga-instructors eat - et voila! And as you can see I do like to give myself a challenge (actually I really do), because this dish, likened to the Indian Mother's version of chicken soup (no chicken, it's in relation to the nurturing, comfort factor) is a tough gig when it comes to making a dish look appealing. I have done my best, but I'll ask you to close your eyes for a second (actually no, then you won't be able to read - OK just focus on the words not pics) and imagine the flavours - earthy brown basmati rice and split yellow peas simmered with turmeric, bay and ginger. Sweet leeks, kumara and peas in a little coconut milk livened up with fragrant cumin, coriander, cloves and nigella seeds (or mustard seeds), finished with fresh coriander (cilantro) and mint and the crunch of tamari toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. (I added the seeds when we ate it for dinner as I really appreciated the texture with the creaminess of the dish). There is a lovely roundness to the dish - it is indeed very nurturing and comforting (and purportedly detoxifiying) and with the option of scooping it up in soft, warm Indian bread it is a total winner. Feel free to google ayurvedic dishes and you will see that this recipe targets more pitta/vata types but is totally my interpretation of the classic recipe :) And you know what, whether you are into that kind of thing or not, it is a delicious, homey meal that makes you feel good! (PS - I have used yellow split peas in this recipe, but you can also use mung dal).

Pumpkin, Pea and Chorizo Frittata with Feta and Red Onion


Having your Mum for over for a meal is a lovely way to celebrate Mother's Day, and this is the perfect easy but delicious little number to whip up. The frittata is surprisingly light but rich in flavour with the earthy pumpkin, sweet peas and red onion, spicy chorizo and salty feta - ideal for a late breakfast or lunch (or even an easy mid-week dinner), with a simple green salad on the side. It's quick and simple to throw together and a great way to use up left-over roast veges, and even meat - roast chicken or lamb would be great in here too. This Sunday I will be missing my lovely Henry who will be hard at work in Wellington, but may be able to lure Rich out of his cave/bedroom for a wee celebration at home. I have my own lovely Mum coming for lunch on Sunday, and mum-in-law Jill on Thursday for dinner...busy days! Wishing you a happy weekend spent with loved ones - take it easy :)

Tim Tam Raspberry Chocolate Mousse


Hi all! This luscious little treasure is a Tim Tam Raspberry Chocolate Mousse - a recipe I developed, styled and shot for Fairfax/Arnotts. I had a lot of fun mucking around with the biscuits and coming up with ideas - and this was one of my favourites. You can find the recipe via my Facebook page here (If you fancy, feel free to 'like' it while you're there...!)

PS - I've had a look and it appears Tim Tams are available in the States :)

Birthday Chocolate Layer Cake and Raspberry Champagne Cocktail


You might remember a few weeks ago I did the big kick ass Easter/Birthday chocolate cake for my friend Netty - layered with mousse and slathered in ganache...? Well this is a slightly simplified version of that same recipe - an absolute doddle to make and so incredibly good, with super moist cake (which easily lasts 3-4 days), rich filling and luscious ganache icing. The cocktail on the side looks all sweetness and light, but actually it's not super-sweet and the vodka gives it a surprising little bit of grunt - sneaky huh?! These are two recipes I put together for Fairfax, appearing in regional newspapers around New Zealand, so hopefully they'll be on the birthday menu for a few in the coming weeks. Current state of the nation: Nick flies back from Shanghai tonight arriving at the crack of dawn tomorrow (yay!), Henry is off to a flying start for term two in his second year of design at university in Wellington and Rich is flat out rehearsing for his lead in the school musical of Bonnie and Clyde, zipping off to do a bit of TV filming here and there and starting the preparation for his big World Challenge trip to Madagascar with a training camp this weekend. Phew! And me yoga-ing like a demon, cooking non-stop (as usual) and just finished a wee shoot so off to the hairdresser and a crusiey day today...hurrah!!!