Braised Fennel & Pork & Fennel Sausage Pizza


Hello on another soggy spring morning in Auckland. It is 1 minute to 6am and I have been awake for an hour, stressing over the details of a shoot today, stupid really, there is not much I can do right now! The whole process of creating is such a tricky business - I find the recipe development the easiest part, probably because I have been cooking since I was about 13 years old, so it is something I have been passionate about, and working on for a long time. The styling is a very weird aspect, as what I think looks good might look like bollocks to someone else, and while I am angsting over something I feel doesn't look quite right, others may not see a problem. Taste and style is a bloody mire of opinion. Then there is the photography, which has both style and technical components, so much so that when flicking through my favourite food magazines, I can always identify the photographer of a spread by the look and feel of it. I have been toiling away at my photography for about four years now, and whilst I know can always achieve an acceptable result, I still beat myself up in pursuit of the perfection of my food photography idols.

So there you go, that's all a bit heavy for a Wednesday morning isn't it!? It is what it is, and all jobs come with their own set of challenges! back to the food - this pizza is frigging delicious. The fennel is braised in wine and olive oil with a little garlic for grunt and some lemon zest for a bit of zing - the result is gently sweet and soft. Paired with melted cheese, a crisp pizza base and good quality pork and fennel sausage the result is a brilliant combination of soft, smooth, crunchy and sweet - then with a sprinkling of chili flakes for heat and some fennel fronds for a final fresh finish, you have my current favourite wet-night-in-Auckland dinner. Enjoy the rest of your week...less rambling next time, promise! :)

Congratulations for winning a NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® coffee machine!


Big congratulations to Monica Martinez-Aviles you are the winner of the NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® coffee machine and will now be able to whip up your own cafe-style coffee at home with the push of a button! Please contact me via direct message on Facebook so that we can arrange delivery of your machine. Thank you so much to everyone who entered the competition, I really appreciate your enthusiastic entries. Thanks to Monica's entry I will be re-inventing the classic cheesecake in the next two weeks - but I was so excited by the response to this competition I plan to overhaul the good ole Kiwi lamb roast and pavlova and post them before Christmas too! Hope everyone has managed to stay dry this weekend, and have a great week :)

Cauliflower & Chickpea Vege Balls with Parsley & Coriander Pesto plus Jambalaya Chicken & Pork Balls with Spicy Sauce & Prawns


Helloooo - I just wanted to share two of my favourite pics and recipes featured in the latest issue of Dish magazine. The vege balls are my sister's favourite recipe that I have ever made, and the jambalaya prawns can have as little or as much chilli kick as you like. Dish is available to buy in New Zealand and Australia, and via subscription here.

Chickpea & Sweet Potato Fritters with Cumin Spiked Caramelised Onion & Garlic Yoghurt


Goooood morning - hmm another vego recipe today, but fear not there will be some meaty and some sweety stuff coming soon! Sweety not sweaty, please don't read that wrong. In the meantime these fritters are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner - wholesome and delicious with sweet kumara, earthy chickpeas, a bit of spicy grunt from curry, cumin and turmeric and freshness from the coriander and watercress. The best bit though is combining them with the cumin spiked caramelised onion and some cool, garlicky yoghurt! Every mouthful is flavour-packed :)

Not much else to report at the mo...I am flat out with work, which is great, although I must say a day off soon would be rather nice! This week there are so many things in my head with deadlines swirling (I kid you not) for Fairfax newspapers, Cuisine and Dish magazine's Christmas issues, one other l'il Cuisine shot, the Dish website and a wee sponsorship collab. So...breathing is good! Pog is having a few days reprieve from his non-stop commitments of uni 3 days: work 4 days per week (that man works so hard) with a uni break, and Hoob is playing bball, going to uni and I suspect having an internal freakout about those distant-but-looming end-of-year exams. And Dougie smells (scabby-back-skin-condition - gross) and Maggie keeps peeing on the carpet (those are the dogs in case you were wondering), so all pretty normal. Best I get to it - I have a giant pot of home made chicken soup bubbling away on the stove for an unwell friend which needs attention...

Kumara & Blue Cheese Balls with Honey Toasted Walnuts


Alrighty then - this is not my standard kind of recipe in that it was literally made with left-overs I had in the fridge, and therefore I can't give you the exact quantity of potatoes and kumaras required to make your mash - but I can give you the precise amount of mash:cheese ratio and what else you need to do, as well as the gig for the honeyed walnuts (detailed when you click the recipe link). I love recipes like this - when you open the fridge door and are forced to get inventive, and with such delicious results. The sweet, fluffy kumara mash has a lovely fried, crispy exterior but an oozing, melty blue cheese centre - sprinkle with a little sea salt, pop a couple of sticky, crunchy honeyed walnuts on the side and a bitter leaf or two, and call me happy :)

As it is Saturday morning I am posting this from my usual spot (in bed) with my second massive cup of tea. The weather is looking decidedly grim outside so I'll be off to yoga rather than a walk this morning, then it'll be back home and into prep for Monday's Cuisine shoot, as well as a wee bit of other work to be done...I suppose it is the advantage/disadvantage to living alone, there is never really a time when I'm not working - apart from yoga/walking. Not much else to report really - life is settling down for Pog now that he is in a new routine at his latest (and last for a while I hope) flat and Rich is doing yoga (three from three!), exercising, studying and raising money for Leukaemia research by doing Shave for a Cure - by shaving his head. That doesn't sound too dramatic, except that his hair is well past shoulder length, long, tawny blonde, cascading and - a big deal! If you fancy checking out what he is doing the link is here. Right then, up and at 'em - have a great weekend. Oh - and don't forget to check out my competition to win a Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machine here.

Black bean, corn & chickpea fritters with lime tomato salsa, avocado, coriander & fried egg


Just in time for the weekend - these fritters would make a great breakfast-lunch-or-dinner option for a lazy weekend stuck indoors while it hoses down with rain outside! I made up the recipe as the lovely Will has been occasionally cooking recipes from the blog for my very lucky Henry. The thing is Henry is vegetarian and (forgive me my darling but you know it is true) quick to get hangry, particularly after a long day at work or uni (you know angry/hungry), so I felt it my duty to provide Will with some quick vego recipes he could rustle up for Pog, before Henry turns feral :) So ta-dah! These fritters have a great earthy slightly Mexican vibe, and when fried in the coconut oil, the exterior gets just lightly crispy in an appealing onion bhaji kind of way. The earnest chickpea, beans and sweet corn are given a wee spice kick with cumin and sweet smoked paprika, then add the smooth creaminess of avocado, the bright freshness and zing of the lime tomato salsa and the oozy richness of the egg - well, you can imagine it tastes pretty bloody good. Hope you like it guys!!!

In other news Hoobie has decided to shave his beautiful golden locks as part of the leukaemia fundraising Shave for a Cure campaign. Rich's hair is his crowning glory - luscious, long (well past his shoulders), tawny blonde and wavy - I can't imagine him without it! If you feel like contributing towards his fundraising feel free to check out his page here. No pressure - just thought I may as well mention it, I'm so proud of what he is doing :)

...and that's it from me I will be spending the weekend prepping for a Cuisine magazine shoot on Monday, and the following week testing for the next issue of Dish - so proud and privileged to be working for two such amazing magazines!

Double Espresso Affogato with homemade coffee ice cream & Galliano


When the guys at NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® asked if I was keen to participate in a collaboration I was thinking, errp, do I have enough time, so much to do etc etc, but when they explained the concept to me I was totally sold. Basically they have teamed up with to bring awesome music and great coffee together (you can find out more here) - and the funny thing was that I had just been having this exact same conversation with Rich on our way to the airport for his return trip to Welly. Rich has always sung and has recently become interested in writing lyrics, and getting involved in more of the nitty gritty of music making. Consequently, we were talking about how writing music is just like writing a recipe - you are looking at balance, the subtle things which don’t get noticed but set the foundation, the surprise elements which make it snappy, the mood and vibe - the soul! For me it’s all about balancing sweet/sharp/salty/bitter and umami then looking at textures like smooth/soft/crunchy etc while he is thinking about pitch/tone/tempo, and for both of us we might start with a traditional approach and then bring in something surprising as a twist.

Sooo - what’s this got to do with coffee? NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto®  were keen to collaborate with the key idea of reinventing a classic - so naturally for me a classic recipe that involves coffee. I instantly thought of taking the standard Italian Affogato and amping it up into a more intense coffee experience, so instead of vanilla ice cream with espresso (the traditional approach) we are building and layering the flavours here - homemade intense coffee and vanilla bean ice cream, topped with a shot of both espresso and vanilla spiced Galliano. To do this I have used the NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Stelia machine.

Big congratulations to Monica Martinez-Aviles you are the WINNER of the NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® coffee machine and will now be able to whip up your own cafe-style coffee at home with the push of a button! Please contact me via direct message on Facebook so that we can arrange delivery of your machine. Thank you so much to everyone who entered the competition, I really appreciate your enthusiastic entries. Thanks to Monica's entry I will be re-inventing the classic cheesecake in the next two weeks - but I was so excited by the response to this competition I plan to overhaul the good ole Kiwi lamb roast and pavlova and post them before Christmas too! Hope everyone has managed to stay dry this weekend, and have a great week :)

Warm Lentil, beetroot & fennel salad with peas, buffalo mozzarella & herb oil


Gooood Morning again - it's been a bit feast or famine (nice little foodie reference right there) in the recipe department lately, but here we have two in two days! This is my most recent web recipe for Dish magazine, and while that Mulligatawny soup from yesterday is a fabulous, soothing and nurturing dish for glacial weather, this warm salad is ideal for (possibly this weekend?!) the clear, cold weather at the start of spring, which while still freezing is a little tease of brighter days ahead. The salad is also super-tasty, but with an enlivening healthy vibe, I love the textures of nubbly lentils, squishy peas and tender onion and fennel, with the firmish, dense beetroot and soft mozzarella - and those flavours! Earthy, sweet, herby, milky - seriously my kind of food :) 

Not much more to update (not surprisingly) since yesterday...Henry is back into the swing of things, and thank God his new and lovely flat is right near his work and yoga studio, and extra bonus, the gorgeous Will isn't far away. Meanwhile Rich has been back to the gym and working hard - hurrah! I have a half day planned today (hmmm contingent on if I finish all my work this morning), and am really looking forward to some soothing yoga time (can't quite bring myself to say 'on the mat'), and a cruisey afternoon doing a bit of prep for tomorrow - friends coming for rugby watching and the menu is for some old-school Kiwi food with a slow-roasted lamb shoulder, the meat pulled and made into pies, along side kumara and potato mash and braised leek and peas. Now I just need to plan dessert...

Emirates Adventure - Masu, Seafarer's, Shouk, Gerard's & Business Class bliss


Is there a word for reminiscing about something before the experience has even finished (I’m sure the Germans will have something for this)? Here I sit in business class on board my Emirates flight home from Brisbane doing just that. As you may know I have done a wee bit of travelling in the last few years, but the opportunity to fly business class is very rare so this is a spectacular treat. (Posting this a week arriving home!) But why the blog post? Well I’ve started doing the odd collaboration so when I got a note from Emirates asking if I was keen for a quick trip and the opportunity to try some of the outstanding wines served on the flight – well, of course I said yes! I am always up for new adventures, especially where food, wine and travel are involved, and there really is nothing like a break from routine to stimulate/rejuvenate. Anywaaaay – the experience began last Monday night with a gorgeous dinner at Masu restaurant, by Nic Watt in Auckland. This was an opportunity to meet with the other two Kiwi bloggers taking part in this adventure, and our Aussie counterparts from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Dinner was totally fabulous, with the stand-out courses of soft shell crab sliders in squid ink buns, prawn tempura and antarctic cod with saikyo yuzu miso being wolfed down by our food-obsessed little group. Blogging and food writing can be isolating work, so it was particularly fun to meet a group of like-minded souls and to swap stories. The next day we met again at Seafarers Club to enjoy an incredible lunch prepared by the Ostro team, while tasting and trying to identify some of the spectacular wines served on the Emirates trans-Tasman flights. Here I had one outstanding success and a few epic fails – but who cares when everything tastes so amazing?! We were ably walked through the process by wine guru Bob Campbell, and luckily for us Emirates have a massive commitment to providing their customers with the best possible product, so the wines were fantastic. My favourites were the Pierro 2011 Chardonnay from Margaret River, Australia (I know I am seriously old-school, but I still do love a big round chardy with a bit of grunt), and the luscious Taylor's 20 year old Tawny port. The lunch was absolutely delicious, with grilled duck breast with savoury granola, spiced date and sunchoke crisps, slow-roasted beef cheeks and panfried market fish with grilled vegetables and green goddess sauce (and much more deliciousness). As you can imagine by the end of the meal and wine tasting I was really ready for a nanna nap but instead we were airport-bound and on our way.

The Emirates Airbus A380 flight was, not surprisingly, luxurious - the staff were super friendly and helpful and the whole leg-room-mini-bar-extendy-seat situation basically ruined flying economy for me for ever more. Somehow I managed to squeeze in one more glass of Moet & Chandon before take-off, then after dinner enjoyed a squiz around the business and first class cabins before lying back in totally indulgent luxury (with I must confess a teeny tiny glass of the Chateau Lynch Moussas 1996 Bordeaux) to watch a movie. In business class there is a fully decked out bar (as well as built-in mini-bar units by the seats!) complete with cocktails and hot and cold nibbles, while up in 'first' there are two seriously large shower spa rooms. I was expecting to find the kind of compact arrangement you might get on a boat, but they were huge. By the time we landed and I made it to the Pullman Hotel I was more than ready to crawl into bed for a massive sleep.

The next morning in Brisbane started with a huge walk around the river, so big that I got to my turn around point and realized I was probably going to be late for my breakfast booking with Ranyhyn of Gourmet and Gourmand, so I did a fair impression of Kath Day-Night (Kath & Kim anyone?) speed walking back. Breakfast was at Shouk a middle-eastern café in Paddington. I had a perfect stack of crispy potato latkes sandwiched with cream cheese, served with pickled red onion, salmon and dukkah while Ranyon had the Belgian waffles with ruby grapefruit segments, lemon curd, saffron ice cream, orange powder and shredded coriander jelly. I spent the rest of the day (walking off breakfast) exploring the central city, including the bustling food market – so cool to see in an urban environment, and the James St shopping precinct. I had pre-booked my dinner at Gerard’s Bistro (locally famous two Chef Hat restaurant) so happily started at their bar with my traditional Negroni cocktail before sitting down to an absolute feast. As I often choose vegetarian I was happy to see their great vege selection (along side the meat and fish options). I had a starter of roasted turnip with turnip and coconut cream, marjoram oil and Persian pistachio, followed by roasted whole parsnips with barberry molasses, macadamia pistachio dukkah and labneh and an incredible Mujadarra, Lebanese style rice and lentil dish with cumin and caramelised onion. Sadly I actually could not physically squeeze in dessert, but waddled back to the hotel replete. And that brings me to today. I have just finished watching a movie and now we have started our descent. So best I get busy with getting my tray table stowed etc etc and ready to land! 

Thanks again to the good people of Emirates for the opportunity to fly with you – awesome service, beautifully comfortable and of course – amazing food and wine, it was an absolute pleasure! For the full run-down on the wines served on the Emirates trans-Tasman flights, just scroll below these pics for details :

Emirates Business Class wine selection:
Moet & Chandon NV, Brut Imperial, France
Riesling grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim 2014, Alsace, France
Chablis Premier Cru La Chantrerie, Michel Laroche 2013, Burgundy, France
Chateau Lynch Moussas 1996, Bordeaux, France
Stella Bella Shiraz 2010, Margaret River, Australia
Nieport Tawny 20 years old, Douro, Portugal

New bloggie mates from the trip:

Mulligatawny Soup with home-made yoghurt flatbreads


Morning all. Well I am back from my whirlwind trip to Brisbane (more on that soon), and already into the normal swing of things with regular jobs lined up for Fairfax, Cuisine and Dish as well as some exciting collaborations, even with a (hold on to your hat) competition coming up! I am feeling very lucky to be busy doing so much work that I enjoy - to be able to work in a creative way, cooking, writing and photographing is such a privilege (and occasionally a hideous nightmare if I'm feeling stressed and my creativity flies out the window). Fortunately when things don't work the first time I have the bloody-minded persistence inherited from my Dutch ancestors to try and try again until I get it right.

Happily this was a recipe (created for Fairfax) that came together perfectly, and with a flavour profile that I really love. It is another of those anglo-indian dishes like smoked fish kedgeree which was invented to marry Indian spices with English palates. My version is a bit gruntier that many you will find - the combination of spices gives a gentle heat to the kumara, chicken and coconut milk, the rice brings added texture, the apple brings a little sweetness along with the mango chutney and then you have the tart creaminess of the yoghurt, fresh herbaceous parsley and crunchy toasted slivered almonds to finish it off! The yoghurt flatbreads are ridiculously easy to make, and because the soup is almost stew-like you can easily use the soft bread to scoop it up. Actually, if you want a more soupy consistency, just feel free to add the extra stock. There is also the option to thicken it with lentils instead of rice if you fancy, and it is one of those soups that, like so many, tastes better the day after you make it, so it's a great one to make on Saturday for a snuggy Sunday night in :)

Before I get up (in bed writing this as usual), not much else is happening, the house is once again super quiet now that Will and Henry are back in Melbourne and Rich is back at uni in Wellington (running and going to the gym and getting some jolly fine marks - whaaaat?). I find myself having to crank my music up to avoid the weird feeling of having to tiptoe around the house, but I'm sure I will get used to it again quickly - any waaaay - back to the routine of walking, yoga, big baths and dinners for one...and lots of recipe writing to be done :)