Chinese New Year Pork & Cabbage Dumplings


Happy Saturday to you - not this time from bed (whaaat?!), but actually from my desk at home! As you willl know if you stop by regularly, Nick and I have just returned from an epic 14 day trip to Shanghai/Berlin/Amsterdam/Berlin/Shanghai and back home to Auckland. Phew! One of the absolute highlights of my stay in Shanghai was having the opportunity to learn dumpling making with the aunty of the lovely Connie who works with Nick. Jiang Hongdi, a professional chef was a patient yet whirlwind of a teacher - it was a tricky business catching her hands still enough to take a photo! She demonstrated how to make traditional pork and cabbage dumplings, and a vegetarian mushroom variety. She showed how to cook them three ways, steamed, boiled and fried, with the unanimous decision that the fried were our favorites. The recipe is surprisingly easy, and I am going to give the details below - at this point though the quantities will involve a little bit of guess work, but I wanted to get the recipe on the blog in time for Chinese New Year celebrations. At some stage (!) I will make them (or a version of), here at home and give you the absolute specifics. In the meantime, if the quantities are large, they can easily be frozen, defrosted and cooked normally. A huge thank you to Connie and Hongdi for a wonderful morning, and such delightful hospitality, I am so grateful :)

Crikey - still feeling a bit zombie-d out since getting home just a few days ago. The first evening home after our 12 hour flight, we hosted family at a local restaurant and bar for farewell drinks for my darling Henry. The next night Rich, Nick, Pog and I had a last night dinner at our favourite Coco's Cantina, then the following morning (yesterday!) we rose at 'sparrow fart' (as my Dad would say - super early) to get Henry to the airport. In typical fashion he was outrageously well organised for his move to Melbourne. My gorgeous Aunty Pauline collected him from the airport and delivered him safely to his new flat, where his pre-ordered bedding and essentials were all ready and waiting for him. He then set about a flurry of room organisation to transform his room into his standard Vogue-Living-but-cooler look, and managed to get out to a few gallery openings in the evening. That boy (man) is style personified and I couldn't be prouder! Meanwhile, next we have the strapping young Rich getting himself sorted (haha) for the big move to uni in Wellington in a few weeks. Dear God - cue mid-life crisis any moment now - pottery? (again), belly dancing? bridge? what in the hell awaits, I'll let you know when I do, but I suspect it will be an even deeper immersion in my obsession with cooking and photography...

Indian Spiced Barbecue Chicken with Spinach, Mango & Avocado Salad


To be completely consistent I am again posting this while lying in bed (I must be seeming like the most lazy person in the universe...), but this time it's from Shanghai! It is -1˚ outside, windy and a bleak, cold morning, so I'm not feeling any great inclination to leap out of bed. This is the final leg of my trip - in the last 12 days I have traveled from Auckland to Shanghai, Berlin, Amsterdam, Berlin, and back to Shanghai and tomorrow night we head home to Auckland. Everywhere I have been I have walked and walked, exploring, eating, shopping (a little) and endlessly taking photos. The Amsterdam leg was frustratingly difficult as I had a rotten cold and temperature while I was there, but that couldn't dull the excitement of being in Holland for the first time. I have eaten (and learned to make) Chinese dumplings, scoffed German butter cake, meatballs and currywurst, Dutch olliebollen, stroopwaffel and apple cake, drunk vats of coffee and enjoyed a tipple or two - basically I will be waddling home...! It has been fantastic - there really is nothing like travel for creative inspiration - but now I am ready to get home to my lovelies, to see Henry before he flies out to his new home in Melbourne (he tells me I really must stop calling it a 'trip', he is actually moving there...), and to see Rich for his last two weeks before moving to Wellington to go to university. Omfg (as the kids would say), its going to be an actual empty nest. I'm not going to dwell on that too deeply now, but no doubt once the reality kicks in it will be a different story.

In the meantime, and to stop myself blathering on, hows about this recipe I did for Fairfax then!? It is a fab Indian spiced barbecue chicken, with a simple spinach salad with sweet mango, creamy avocado, fresh mint, a little chilli kick and a refreshing yoghurt dressing. Tuck the spicy chicken and fresh salad into a piece of Indian bread and the combination is bloody delicious! For the southern hemisphere you can take it outside and barbecue the chicken for a great summer dinner, while in the north the spice can add a bit of heat to a freezing cold evening. Wherever you are, I hope you give it a go at some stage, it's just too easy and tasty not to! Next time, it'll be business as usual and I'll be posting from my normal bed at home!!! See you soon :)

Summertime Mango, Banana & Raspberry Yoghurt popsicles


Good Morning - surprise, once again I am posting this while lying in bed with a morning coffee, but this time from Amsterdam! The weather outside the Canal House where I am staying is a little grim and I have developed a grotty cold during the trip - but I am still beside myself to be here - my first time in Holland, and I am half Dutch! While the forecast here is for cold and rain,  New Zealand and Australia are both baking and steaming (that Auckland humidity!) in the summer heat, so this will be the perfect, icy treat for you :) This is my first recipe developed especially for Bonds Australia, and from now on I will be sharing one monthly, both on their website and right here, yippee, such a great brand to work with :) The popsicles are surprisingly healthy and easy to make, and such a great combination of flavours - the banana helps give the mango great texture when frozen and the raspberries add a sparky, bright note. Not only do they taste great, they also look pretty cool, which makes them ideal for sharing with friends!

In trip news, so far I have flown from Auckland to Shanghai, where I had the most fabulous dumpling making instruction, and a couple of nights with Nick before we flew together to Berlin. Berlin was amazing, blanketed in snow for our arrival and such a bustling, big-boned (that architecture!), welcoming city. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful as we made our way around tourist hot spots as well as fossicking out restaurants in the latest up-and-coming, but as yet still decidedly dodgy, neighbourhood (more on that later). Can't wait to traul through and edit my pics and share some with you when I get back! It is many, many years since I have spoken German so it was a real treat that it seemed to have been locked away in the dark dusty bits of my brain somewhere ready to re-appear when needed - just wish I could also speak Dutch, but sadly no.

Right time to get cracking, there are museums to visit, stroopwaffles and croquettes to eat, and a lot of walking to do to counteract the effects!

Quick Seafood Pasta


 Happy Sunday morning! In a beautifully weird way I am lying in bed with a cup of tea as usual as I post this, except that this time the tea is some kind of weird twigs, sticks and leaves concoction, (just kidding, herbal) and I am lying in bed in Berlin with snow on the ground outside while back home Auckland is sweltering in the summer heat. Wherever you happen to find yourself this recipe that I developed and shot for the good people at Sileni fits the bill - with enough chilli kick to heat you up in winter, but enough lightness to suit a long, hot evening hanging out with friends, with the added bonus of being both healthy and delicious! I made it using The Straits Sauvignon Blanc following the most excellent principle that you should only cook with a wine you are happy to drink! Can't wait to share some of my travel pics with you...and some recipes inspired by my trip, which has so far included a dumpling making tutorial with the most gorgeous Jiang Hongdi in Shanghai and a fabulous carrot soup in Berlin, ooh, and a marzipan and pear tart too!

Japanese Curry Balls & Okonomiyake


Goooood morning, good morning - well for once I am upright sitting at my 'big' computer while I write this, having hauled myself out of bed for a wee tiny run on this muggy morning. Crikey what a few days it has been! On Thursday I woke at 4am, got picked up by a cab at 4:30am and was on a 5:30am flight to Wellington. By 6:35am Henry and I were on the road, driving his car, and all his stuff, back up to Auckland in preparation for his big move to Melbourne. He was feeling crappy with a temperature and sore throat so after half an hour I took over the driving duties, psyched for a seven or eight hour drive ahead. Henry promptly fell asleep and I drove along merrily listening to his (surprisingly gangsta) music until about four hours later, as we were driving out of Taupo, the car quickly over-heated. Errp. I pulled over rang the AA and the surprise 'stop-over' began. Long story short - we waited two hours by the roadside for the AA then a tow truck and then made it to the mechanic who thought he could probably have us back on the road by 5pm. Then no, actually not, so we nabbed a room at a hotel for the night. (Not too shabby, cocktails and room service...). Next morning we had the good news that the car could be fixed, and on the road by finally, at 5pm on the Friday we actually arrived - about 27 hours late.

Bloody hell what a mission.

Anyhoo - now Henry is busy selling half his stuff on Trade Me, Nick has flown out to Shanghai and Rich has embarked on an (incredibly unexpected) healthy eating and fitness regime - long may it continue. I am miraculously on-track with my work load so will keep ploughing ahead before flying to Shanghai/Berlin/Amsterdam on Wednesday - but I wanted to get these two recipes up before I go, cos they are so bloody good. I put them together with a small piece on Kyoto for Dish magazine mid way through last year, and they are actually two of my favourite recipes of recent times.

There is okonomiyake which are Japanese fritters with prawns, cabbage and bacon topped with Japanese mayo and seaweed flakes and  curry balls with beautifully spiced chicken curry encased in crispy breadcrumb shells. Both are great for lunch or dinner, and if you make the okonomiyake smaller, they would also suit being served with drinks.

Right, must get cracking again, I have the last of my Italian dessert pics for Dish to edit (phwoar, loved doing those recipes!) as well as some fab icy desserts for Fairfax for later in the year. I will be a bit quiet for the next week as I will (literally) be up in the air, but I can't wait to share my European pics with you when I get back. In the meantime, there are a few from Japan below :) See you soon!

Green Greenie Salad and Smoothie


Well here I am as usual writing this post as I sit in bed with a cup of tea, delaying the moment I must get up and get cracking. Just like millions of other people in the world I spent yesterday listening to David Bowie's amazing music while I worked - and now this morning the name of this salad immediately made me think of Jean Genie. I don't know what to say about Bowie, every news media is full of stories of his life and endless pictures of his transformations. All I can think of is - he was truly cool, unspeakably cool - the coolest - but also incredibly it seemed from a distance he was truly lovely too.

Argh - must get up, must get up!!! Every year I throw myself heart and soul into the spirit of Christmas, in particular the aspect of eating and drinking whatever I fancy because, hey - it's Christmas! Then, about now, everyone around me is getting busy with their New Year's resolutions and I think it's probably (well overdue) time to get back to my regular pretty healthy eating - and these recipes that I put together for Fairfax deliver just what I'm after. The salad is a green celebration - aniseedy fennel, just-cooked asparagus, iron-rich spinach, fresh baby peas and creamy avocados, drizzled in a zingy, herby dressing and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts (or almonds) for textural crunch - yuuum! Meanwhile the smoothie tastes amazing - the natural sweetness of the fruit is a great reminder that Mother Nature provides so much goodness, right from the tree/bush/vine!

God, now really must get up - tomorrow I have a 4:15am start to get to the airport for a 5:30am flight to Wellington so that I can share the driving back up with Henry - holy moly, it's all go. Then Friday I am doing a wee workshop with the good folk at My Food Bag - should be fun - and meanwhile I'm shooting Italian desserts for Dish...and flying to Shanghai next Wednesday. Breaaaaathe. Move!

Perfect Steak with Garlicky Herb Butter


Hello and good Monday-back-to-work morning to you! I am just psyching myself up for the mountain of work I need to get through before flying to Shanghai/Berlin/Amsterdam in about 10 days, and in the meantime breathing through the fact that Henry is mid-pack for his big move to Melbourne and Rich is filling in time before his move to Welly. Bloody hell!

Happily, I can at least start the week on a calm note by sharing this simplest of recipes I recently put together for the good people at Sileni Wines in Hawkes Bay, as a showcase for their delicious Cellar Selection 2014 Merlot. In the latter stages of last year I had a lot of fun creating and photographing recipes to match several of their wines, and those recipes are now available on their website, as well as printed on coasters and in-store in China (I'll be on the look-out in Shanghai!). The thing that I love about this recipe is that if you follow the steps exactly you will be guaranteed a perfectly cooked medium rare steak, and the butter that melts decadently into it is packed with herby flavours and garlicky grunt. Seriously, with a glass of Merlot and a green salad on the side, it doesn't get much better!

Anyhoo - better get cracking on my to-do list...have a great day! (PS - more Sileni wine match recipes to come soon!)

Greetings from Waiheke Island, New Zealand - Summer 2016!


New ZealandNew Zealand

Happy New Year from Waiheke, New Zealand! I hope you've had a fabulous start to the year :) We have spent the last eight days since Christmas out on our section at Waiheke Island, as many will know, my favourite place in the world. Thankfully we had amazing weather leading up to New Year's Eve, but since then rain has been bucketing down all over the upper North Island - so we took the opportunity to nip back to Auckland for an over-nighter to get some washing done and dry off a bit. Shortly we're heading back out, but before we do I just wanted to share some pics from the last few days spent roaming the island via bush walks, at Oneroa Beach with my sister and her lovely family (and their boat!), and at Man-O-War Bay. The magical thing about the island is the changes in scenery from bush to beach to farm to vineyard - each part equally beautiful but different. OK, I'm going to do us a favour and stop myself waxing lyrical...if you fancy seeing more pics just click on the recipe link!

New Year's Eve Partaaaay - Mini Smoked Fish Cakes with Garlic, Lemon Mayo & Mushroom Crostini


Mini Smoked Fish CakesMushroom Crostini

Hellooooooo from Waiheke Island, New Zealand. I am taking (literally) two minutes to quickly post this on my way to catch the ferry for a doctor's appointment in town. (Thank you Waiheke library for the kind use of your free wifi.) So, hurrah, stitches out today, and then I'm back out to the island to relax and get ready for New Year's Eve. I can't wait to welcome in 2016, this year has had it's share of ups and downs, and I'm more than ready for a new one to begin. Anyhoo - enough burbling on, I've got a ferry to catch! These recipes are two I put together for Fairfax, and both are perfect little morsels to enjoy with a drink as you kick back and celebrate - mini smoked fish cakes with lemon mayo and capers and mushroom crostini - which I nearly always serve with drinks because everybody seems to love them!

Wherever you are celebrating in the world, I hope you have a fantastic, fun-filled night - with great food, good music, maybe a bit of a boogie (always optimal), a few laughs, plenty of drinks and someone nice to snog as the clock hits midnight.

Happy New Yeeeeeeeeear!!!!!!!

Mushroom Crostini

Christmas Showstopper, Easy Twice Baked Chocolate Souffles with Whiskey Chocolate Sauce


Hey-ho, Sunday afternoon the weekend before Christmas and for some reason I am working - argh - thank God it's a job I love, gettin' all creative on it or it would be very grim indeed. I just wanted to take a quick break to  share version 2 of this pic for the super easy twice baked chocolate souffles that I made for Dish magazine earlier in the year. It's so fun to completely change the mood and vibe of a shot through the colours and lighting...

Original post:
I'm ever-so-quickly popping up this recipe that I wrote and shot for the gorgeous Dish magazine, perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or a Valentine's Day get-together, but seriously they are an any-time-of year show stopper - and the sneaky bit is that they look so flash, but are actually really easy to make. They are twice cooked - so there is no meltdown watching the oven poised for the perfect moment to rush them to the table - nope these lovely, deceptively light and mousse-like lovelies, flop and settle after you take them out, then you tip them out when cooled and pop them back in the oven to be resuscitated...haha, perfect! In winter you can serve them with a little cream if you like, and in spring and summer a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would be delicious. Either way they are my sneaky little gift to you to impress the pants off your guests - unless of course you would like them to keep their pants on!

PS - Fashion Santa - from Yorkdale shopping centre in Canada. I suppose I could sit on his knee...