Hello lo (as my sister would say) and welcome to the weekend. No recipe today - no, wait - don't go - I just wanted to quickly share some pics from an amazing day out yesterday and give you the heads up on some awesome places to eat...As you can see I was super lucky to get invited to join a team of like-minded foodies (and wine-ies and beer-ies and designers) on a culinary cruise on Auckland harbour - aptly named Harbourvore. We sailed from the viaduct marina on Yonder Star ( a loverly 87 ft yacht) about 2pm and blissfully headed out to anchor just off Motutapu island. During the afternoon the clouds came and went, there was a lovely fresh breeze that kept us lively and the food and drinks were never-ending. We were presented with Te Kouma and Kaipara harbour oysters, trevally and kingfish sashimi, salt and dill cured gurnard, crispy flounder on perilla leaves and coromandel lobster sliders - and that was just for nibbles!

As the afternoon wore on we feasted on grilled whole Terakihi, Cloudy Bay cockles, grilled eggplant, baby corn and snake bean salad then finished off with Waiheke island Phutukawa honey & coconut milk creme brulee and Marou chocolate and blackberry pots de creme. Miraculously, I didn't feel full to the gunnels (little boaty reference right there), as the food was so light and supremely fresh, and packed with flavour thanks to the use of grunty, vibrant herbs and minimal interference. We were lucky enough to have the delightful Lek (Wichian Trirattanavatin) from Saan restaurant on board, cooking, chatting and laughing and talking passionately about the origins of his recipes - all passed down from his chef parents and grandparents. His excitement about being able to cook with such amazing New Zealand produce was infectious, as was his pride in the Thai heritage of the dishes. I should also make mention here of the amazing beverages on board - luscious Pandan Punch cocktails, Hallertu beers, Poderi Crisci, Kumeu River Estate and Man O War wines. I was a total pig in mud but just managed to keep myself tidy, by crikey if ever there was a food and drinks line-up to make a girl throw caution to the wind, that was it. So today, still licking my lips, it's back to yoga, work and reality...but damn it was good!

This series of Harbourvore cruises was hosted by the trimuvirate of Saan, Cafe Hanoi and Xuxu - three of my favourite Auckland restaurants, so essentially there was no way it could be anything other than magic. If you're an Auckland local, keep an eye out for future events, based on yesterday I would highly recommend it! 

Slightly lighter chicken katsu & Asian Slaw


Hello there - I'm feeling very guilty as I write this as I should be just home from yoga, but when the alarm went off at 5:15am this morning I pulled the covers over my head and hid in bed instead. Consequently I am off to a 9:30am class (bad, bad, bad for my work-day flow!) and have been working since 7:30am instead. Anyhoo, I am taking ten minutes to quickly share this wee gem of a recipe with you, it's one I put together for Fairfax so appearing in newspapers around the country and on Stuff today. Basically it is my slightly lighter version of katsu chicken served on seasoned sushi rice, with a vibrant, flavour-packed Asian slaw on the side. To season about 2 1/2 cups (measured before cooking) of sushi rice I just whisk together 1/4 cup of  rice vinegar, a tablespoon of caster sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon salt, then stir it through the rice once cooked, while still warm - it gives it a fabulous flavour boost. The slaw also makes a great lunch without the crumbed chicken, just add some flaked hot smoked salmon or cooked prawns for protein instead.

Not much else to report at the mo, I had the world's quietist weekend, and this week it's (yoga aside) all business. Meanwhile Rich appeared on Te Radar on Saturday night looking gorgeous as ever (stand and deliver!) and had a fabulous time at Womad, while Henry and Will have secured an amazing flat in Melbourne - roll on moving day and Henry's consequent miraculous apartment makeover. In not-so-good news Henry's design course in Melbourne has been cancelled (long story), so he has the bloody conundrum of deciding what next having already completed two years of graphic design and one of interiors - blergh, poor darling, what a total pain!

lamb & chickpea balls with hummus, olives & semi-dried tomatoes


Good Friday morning - today's recipe is an easy l'il weekend dinner of spiced lamb & chickpea meatballs served with grunty harissa-spiked hummus, intense, soft semi-dried tomatoes and briney black olives - the trick is to get a little bit of everything in one mouthful for the full flavour hit. They're also great for getting even more fibre into the meal and lightening up on the meaty component but have a heartiness well-suited to the autumnal nip in the air. It's a recipe I put together for my friends at Dish so appearing on their website now too here :)

Aaaand - you're probably on the edge of your seat waiting to hear how the 40-day yoga challenge is going (!), so I am happy to report I have good news and bad news - the good news is I did Day 17 in a row this morning (wooo!), the bad news is I also have a slight pulled hamstring (what exactly made me think I could get quite that far down into the splits...?) and a bung big toe. The toe injury wasn't from yoga but from dropping a billion kilo piece of concrete on it yesterday (bloody prop backgrounds) - cue bleedy nail and throbbing pain, so today's yoga effort was fairly artistic and interpretive dance-like when it came to some of the poses. Such fun! Other than that - Hoob is head down bum up in Welly, and Pog is pretty much the same in Melbourne. The exciting things for them currently are that this Saturday night Rich will be featuring in Te Radar on TV One at 8pm (that's the 18th in case you're wanting to tune in) and Henry's latest fabulous column for NZ House & Garden is up at Stuff. (Also he is moving in with the gorgeous William which is bloody lovely too). I'm so proud of my men (was going to say babies, but you know...), they are both going for it and doing brilliant things! Right, time to get to work...have a great weekend :)



Woooooo hoooo - looking forward to the weekend. Happy Friday - have a good one :)

Oaty caramel slice & banoffee banana cake


Holy moly did it rain in Auckland last night or what? This year we seem to have slid straight from a dismal spring to a momentary summer and have already hit autumn...but I suppose at least we have comfort food to look forward to :) These recipes are two that I created for Fairfax so appearing in newspapers around the country today. The first is for an old-school oaty caramel slice, which literally takes no longer than 10 minutes to make, and the other is a banoffee banana cake, a moist dessert cake layered with caramel, bananas and whipped cream, then topped with brown sugar icing and caramel sauce - phwoar. Both are great little weekend projects - the slice is perfect for transporting (school/uni/work/picnic), while I wouldn't advise trying to zoom around too much with the cake - I delivered half of it to some dear friends, (a big thumbs up from them) only just managing to stop it collapsing on the floor of my car before I got there...

And in other news - same 'ole same 'ole really! Rich sent me some hilarious pictures of himself in full soldier kit during his day of filming recently. As the hours passed he seemed to morph from a bright-eyed young soldier to an ornery and heavily injured, moustached one - vaguely reminiscent of Freddy Mercury. Meanwhile Henry is flat out as usual, with work, design school and penning his latest column for House & Garden - down-time is scarce indeed. Oh, haha, and in yoga news - so far so good - 7 days straight and counting...there'll be a new recipe up again next week, so I guess we'll see if I'm still hanging in there then :)

Rum'n'raisin dark chocolate tart with chocolate ice cream


Gooood morning - well the first day of autumn was yesterday, but around New Zealand most of us feel like summer has/had barely started. Thankfully we haven't quite left warmer temperatures behind just yet, which is why I thought this was such a perfect dessert for now. It is a lusciously boozy rum and raisin (or sultana) tart. Basically the raisins are soaked in rum then popped in a homemade chocolate tart base and smothered in dark chocolate ganache then left to cool until set. Topped with a good quality dark chocolate ice cream or gelato the combination is decadent and fabulous - and there is something about the rum (hints of the Caribbean?) that suits so well with the still balmy evenings...I made it for my loverly friends at Dish magazine and of course for you :)
And - so in other news - I am at day 2 of a 40 day yoga challenge and already feeling like I've been hit by a bus. I feel that perhaps yesterday's choice of class (power vinyasa) may not have been the wisest one to start with, but it was bloody good - despite the (I'm sure very lovely) man next to me breathing like a moderately constipated Darth Vader with asthma. Pranayama breathing is one thing, but this...any hoo, good on him for getting into it and basically I need to get my head sorted to zone out more! Other than that I have been on an outing to the Auckland urban polo (which was a hoot), snapping pics and scribbling away for the book and dog-sitting poor wee Maggie who came back from the boarding kennels with a dislocated hip and torn ligament. Post-surgery she is crate bound for much of the day, but for such a wee thing she is both staunch and sweet (nicknamed Feral Beryl and Maggot) and bearing up well. Rich has had the most bloody awesome start to the year in Welly having settled into his flat, got a job, auditions and extra-work on a Peter Jackson production, and will be featuring in an upcoming episode of Te Radar (Saturdays at 8pm, TV One) as a Taranaki highway man from the late 1800s. Meanwhile Henry is as usual juggling work, uni studies and working on the book - poor darling, he has so much on his plate, I'm so grateful he has the gorgeous William by his side.
Well that's it from me for the moment - I'll have another new recipe up next week, so it'll be interesting to see how my yoga challenge is going then - I think despite having so much work on at the moment it will provide a good anchor to everything else. Haha that's the theory any way...we shall see!

Roast plums with no-churn plum ice cream


Morning all, and a very happy Valentines Day to you. Hm - I must confess to originally feeling a bit poo bummy about posting a recipe for V Day, but then I thought - how bloody ridiculous! This dessert which can be made for your love, but also for a bunch of mates, is perfect for this time of year, making the most of lush ripe tart/sweet plums with a scoop of creamy, plummy ice cream on the side. The whole thing is too simple - basically you just cut the plums in half, dot with a wee bit of butter, sprinkle with sugar and bung in the oven. The ice cream takes five minutes to make (then just needs time to freeze) and uses my favourite tinned Black Doris plums. If you want to make this in a hurry, just buy vanilla bean ice cream, allow it to soften slightly then drain and remove the stones from the tinned plums, mash and swirl through the ice cream and refreeze for 2-3 hours - ta dah!

...and in other news, not a hell of a lot to report really. The dogs are at the kennels at the moment, which is a revelation (the freedom, lack of yapping/walking/poo patrols/wees on the carpet - heaven), so I was able to zoom over to Waiheke unfettered to stay with some great friends last weekend. Hilarious how you can feel like you're having a party with just three people - fabulous. Other than that its business as usual. Friday I am super excited to be flying down to Welly for the day to check out Rich's new abode - he seems to have settled in beautifully, having unpacked, found a job, been cooking up a storm and got stuck in, in just a few weeks. Meanwhile Pog is hard at work at uni, Kit & Ace and on the book - I am so grateful to have his unparalleled eye working it's magic on the layout and design, and inch by inch we're making progress! So that's it really...have a great day, and I'll see you here again soon :)

Iced Coffee Ice Cream


Helloooo - I feel like it's been a while again - I must confess to feeling a little overwhelmed with work and the cookbook at the moment and consequently haven't been on the blog as much as I would like, a state which will probably continue until the beginning of June. Busy but exciting times. I will still do my best to get back here at least once a fortnight, so its not panic stations just yet :) Todays recipe is one I put together for Fairfax, old-school proper ice cream with a custard base and a rich coffee hit. It has such a great smooth texture, almost like gelato, and is wickedly addictive on its own but would also be great with espresso poured on top as affogato. Well worth giving it a whirl - promise.

And in other news - Rich has re-flown the nest (via the Tongariro crossing) and is busy getting himself sorted in his new flat in Wellington. I can't wait to nip down there and check it out to see where it sits on the hovel scale...it didn't look tooooo bad in the pics. So yes, we shall see. It was fabulous having him here, he is such a fascinating soul, so intelligent and laid back, funny and sincere - I will miss him. Meanwhile Pog has started back at design school in Melbourne, having already landed himself a regular design column for Stuff - by crikey, I am so excited for him - I feel like this is the tiniest little tippy tip of the ice berg of where his talent will take him. Obviously I will be sharing links to all of his columns here. (Whoop here is the second one!) Not much to report with me, I am just hitting the mat at yoga and beavering away as usual. Some days everything turns to crap in a basket - the pics are horrible and I'm not happy with the recipes, and others it's glorious angels singing, (well Spotify playing) beautiful photos and luscious food all round. I just need a few more of the latter. I did manage to escape for one half day recently, having only been back to Waiheke once in the last nine months I couldn't resist the urge a few days ago. I can't tell you how bloody fabulous it was to sit on the ferry on a blue-sky day, surrounded by happy travellers, arrive at the island and walk up into the village and then down to the beach to fling myself in the sea. It was so fabulously rejuvenating, I just need to make the effort (and find the time) a little more often. 

Mini spinach pies with rosemary, lemon, pine nuts & feta


Good morning from the comfy old blogging ground of my bed, complete with second cup of tea. Today's recipe is one I put together for Dish magazine, perfect for summer drinks parties, picnics, lunch - whatever really - they are gorgeous little pastry parcels filled with iron-rich spinach, salty feta, nubbly pine nuts and sweet currants, with a little kick from spices and fresh, enlivening rosemary. I like them dipped in tomato chutney, but they would be equally good with Greek yoghurt spiked with garlic and lemon. Anyhoo - a tasty, satisfying but still summery vego option :) (Actually they would also be bloody good in winter).

Well the start of the year has been a flurry of activity, and consequently my body is telling me to slow the hell down with four migraines in a row (mostly the arcing eye shimmers and less headache). Blergh. So alright then NO exercise today, not even a walk...but I do have a shoot for Fairfax to get done and one for the book to do, so it's not exactly total rest for the wicked. I am so excited at how the book preparation is going, the response from everyone I have shown the concept to so far has been incredibly generous and encouraging, so now it's just up to me to make it happen. Meanwhile Rich is still here for a wee while yet, so I continue to have his wry smile and teasing banter to enjoy along with NBA instruction, comedy discussion and his excellent taste in music. Over in Melbourne Henry has had his first taste of recognition for his incredible design aesthetic with a feature in NZ House & Garden on-line at Stuff which you can see here. I am so proud of him, and excited too - I know he is going to be a massive success, this is just an early indication of a super-exciting future! Right - enough from me - time to get up and gently and calmly get cracking. Haha - yeah right.

Crumbed fried eggplant with burrata, tomatoes & olives


Hello - here we are again then :) As a long weekend is looming I thought it would be timely to post a recipe that would suit casual summery entertaining. That is assuming that summer presents itself this weekend, having been thus far pretty much absent. (Summer, any time you're ready...). Its a recipe I put together for Dish, and perfect to enjoy with a few glasses of wine or a couple of beers - angled rounds of eggplant with a crunchy, crisp exterior and soft luscious interior topped with creamy, soft and melty burrata, sweet ripe tomatoes and briney black olives. Add a good sprinkling of sea salt and a few basil leaves and every mouthful is bloody fabulous!

And in other news - there isn't much lately. I am just massively 'head down bum up' working on the book in between my regular contributor work. Henry has done such an amazing job with the design, it really is now just up to me to fill those pages with my favourite recipes and hope that I can make the photos beautiful enough to do it justice. No pressure then. So while Henry is hard at work on the book and in his dear little garden in Melbourne, Hoob has been filling in his last few days before disappearing back down to Welly. I will miss his lovely self hugely, but less so the mounds of washing (where does it come from, does he change, what, four times a day?!), and grotty pit of a bedroom...good thing he is such delicious company. Right then, second cup of tea finished, light streaming in the window (wait, summer - are you here today then!?), so time to get moving.