Flat Iron Steak Tacos with Black Bean Mole, Pico de Gallo, Slaw & Lime Crema


Right - the weather is still soooo average, (come on spring, enough of this muggy gloom!) but I was feeling like having some friends round for dinner, so was after something that would feel a bit more summery, but still be super-satisfying and tasty. I was also keen to try out these new flat iron steaks that Silver Fern Farms kindly sent to me - I know my way around a slow-cooked piece of meat, and can cook the perfect eye fillet steak (sounds cocky I know, but it's pretty true) but I'm usually a bit tentative about cooking a barbecue style steak (memories past of tough steaks). These ones are selected using Silver Fern Farms' Eating Quality System so are 'guaranteed to be tasty and tender' - and they really were. My lovely sister-in-law popped in to borrow spare dinner plates for a gathering (as you do) while I was taking them for a test run, with perfect timing just as I was loading up a taco - and the first thing she said was 'oooh the meat's so tender!' - haha - could have been scripted! Anyhoo - just follow the cooking instructions (3 minutes each side then rest for 5) and you can't go wrong - loaded up with pre-prepared black bean mole, fresh tomatoes, avocados and slaw with some limey mayo (crema) they were bloody delicious. 

In other news - I was a very proud mum at Rich's graduation dinner last Friday night - yeeha it was so much fun - sadly Nick was in Shanghai (arriving home this morning!) so missed it, but Rich and I got ourselves smartened up and had a fabulous night. Such a milestone - they seem to be flying past at the moment...and next year we will be actual empty nesters - omigod! It just made me think of a hilarious conversation we had with the boys when out for dinner (at Coco's Cantina in Auckland - so good), last time Henry was up. Rich declared that we were obviously heading for mid-life crises based on recent (not that outrageous) behaviour - but I explained that we had actually always been up for a bit of fun, but we always tempered ourselves so as not to set a bad example for our beloved children. Well it's too late for that any more so we can relax slightly! The best bit was when Henry mused that he thought we probably would have been friends had we all been born at the same time - and that completely made my day :)


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


easy chocolate souffle
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!

Evening After The Night Before Fix-Me-Up Soup


cauliflower soup
Goooooood evening, good evening, good evening (as Stephen Fry would say) - this is just a super easy soup recipe I thought I'd quickly pop up on a whim. Last night Rich and I headed off to his final school prize-giving and graduation ceremony, followed by a grad dinner. It was such a fun night, and I was so proud of Rich, looking dapper in a powder blue suit. I thought it a real testament to the teachers that so many of the kids gravitated to them during the evening to share a drink and a story, with much laughter and mutual respect. Meanwhile I enjoyed a glass of champagne and a few lovely glasses of cab merlot over dinner before tottering home via cab, for (some stupid reason, seemed like a good idea at the time), the merest whisper of a night cap. Soooo this morning I was feeling a little bit dusty, and after a fossick around in the fridge threw this wee soup for two (or one hungry ravenous, slightly hungover person) together. It is a combo of onion, cauliflower, zucchini and peas with a good load of Parmesan and some finely chopped parsley...I could happily just face plant in it! (It is also ridiculously easy, cheap to make, moderately healthy and super-quick).

Asparagus & Mozzarella Pizzas, Smoked Salmon Pizzas with dill & capers


salmon pizza
I am tapping away writing this in total lazy mode - it's 6:53am and I'm propped up in bed with my second massive mug of tea - perfect! Today's recipes are two that I put together for Fairfax, and they are two family favourites - basically we have pizza at home probably around once a week - sometimes with homemade pizza bases, sometimes, bought ones (good thin crispy ones), but always the toppings are super-simple combinations of just a few ingredients. Rich loves salmon, so his fave is the smoked salmon, dill & caper combo (actually everyone loves it!) and at this time of year it is a treat to make good use of fresh, tender asparagus - beautiful with a little Parmesan, some milky mozzarella, a few basil leaves, sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. The critical thing to making perfect thin, crispy pizzas is to heat your oven, and oven trays up to super-hot - then slide your pizza bases onto the hot trays so that the base starts cooking immediately. These are definitely  a couple of my 'go-to' recipes that look and taste great, and easily feed a crowd.

Current state of the nation - Nick is back in Shanghai for one of his last trips of the year, and Rich has just sat his last ever school exam - yay!!! Friday night Hoob (Rich) and I are getting frocked -up (actually suited-up, both of us) for his graduation dinner and then before you know it, it'll be Christmas, then 2016 and he'll be flying the nest to join Henry in Wellington to attend Victoria University. I can't believe Henry will be a third-year next year, the time has gone so fast. No-one who knows him will be surprised to hear he has just received another A+ for his second semester of Design at Massey - he has received only A and A+ grades so far and I couldn't be prouder! Right well the sun is coming through the window (a bit half-heartedly, it's not much of a day), and the dogs need to be fed, so I had better get moving. Happy days :)

asparagus pizza

Brown Rice (or Quinoa), Zucchini & Cabbage Fritters with Mozzarella, Avocado & Pesto


zucchini fritters
Hi all! Well sh*t it's been a crappy few days hasn't it...I found myself stupidly apologising to Rich (the 18 year old) last night as we sat on the couch watching the news - for the state of the world. I remember heading off to Europe by myself, aged 17, for a year's AFS student exchange in Switzerland - with no thought of bombs, shootings or terrorism. All I had to do was practice my German and watch movies during the flight from New Zealand...and then cope with a pretty ghastly host family for a year...but that's another story! (Involving me being pseudo punk/new romantic with spiky dyed white blond hair and my host family being uber-conservative and religious...). Those days of carefree international travel now seem ridiculously romantic and simple, and the world is changing at a tremendous pace. I can't imagine what it would be like to be personally affected by terrorism or war, but clearly it would be utterly horrendous.

Anyhoo, like so many people watching from far away I find these things stressful, so today, after an indulgent weekend of too much wine and chocolate (although, really, there is hardly ever too much...), I found myself in the kitchen this morning with the aim of de-stressing and throwing veges and wholesome brown rice together for a nurturing lunch. And yes, it is cooked in a little oil, but only a little! These would also make a great easy week-night dinner or lazy weekend brunch. Feel free to bung a poached egg on top, or add the protein of your choice to the mix - finely chopped bacon, cooked chicken or salmon would all work well. As a side you could swap the buffalo mozzarella for labneh, whipped feta or Greek yoghurt, and swap the pesto for chilli jam or hummus - so many options :) Let me know if you give it a whirl!

zucchini fritterszucchini fritters

Morning walk on Waiheke


Good Monday morning! If you have been coming here for a while you will know that my heart belongs to Waiheke Island, I absolutely love it's beautiful scenery, amazing wines, stunning beaches and laid back vibe. Now that spring has actually kind of properly sprung we'll be heading back out there more often - and it was such a treat to nip over for a fleeting over-nighter on Saturday. (Hence the pics from my Sunday morning walk). If you are an Aucklander who hasn't visited, or a tourist from New Zealand or overseas who finds yourself in Auckland - get yourself on a ferry and over there. You won't regret it. Massive week this week - but I'll be aiming to have a new recipe up by next weekend!

Salmon, Leek (or Fennel) & Gruyere Tart


It was 4 in the morning and all through the house not a creature was stirring except me, scurrying around like a mouse on speed getting ready for the rugby! Phew - well what a game! We had 15 of our best mates around to watch the Rugby World Cup Final this morning, the All Blacks V Wallabies ultimate rugby show down and it was a fantastic game, with New Zealand dominating for much of the first half, Australia coming back in the second, and then the All Blacks sealing the deal in the last 15 minutes. It was perfect finals rugby, a close game with plenty of drama and great skills. I had fully prepped the day before so that when everyone arrived around 4:40am we started with pots of tea, glasses of honey whiskey on ice and either chocolate chunk cookies or oaty, ginger and raisin bikkies. That saw us through to half time, when I quickly shoved a whole lot of made up soft rolls with sausages, caramelised onion and cheese into the oven, along with some vegetarian options with creamy mushrooms or asparagus, cheese and aioli. After much cheering (sore throat now) and jumping up and down after the final whistle we managed to sneak in a celebratory glass of Prosecco and a tiny piece of this scrummy salmon, leek and gruyere tart. (Little shout out to Regal Salmon for the selection of beautiful goodies they sent me - as you'll know if you're a regular reader I don't often do endorsements - and mentioned as much when they said they'd like to send me product. But the thing is, it looked and tasted bloody delicious and was perfect for the tart - so thanks guys!!!) I used a mix of onions and leeks in the tart, but you could easily swap the leeks for finely shaved fennel - both flavour combinations work beautifully. It is super-rich and absolutely delicious (if I say so myself) and only needs a green salad accompaniment.

Anyhoo after very little sleep and a full-on morning I am now looking forward to having a quiet little re-look at the recorded game with a lazy cup of tea this afternoon (I am a total rugby-head) followed by tart left-overs for dinner and an early night. This recipe got the big thumbs up this morning, and although I didn't get the chance to take any pics of it out of the tin or cut up, I'd encourage you to give it a go - totally worth it! :)

Warm lamb & farro salad with herby cannellini bean hummus


lamb salad
Hello again - surprise - it hasn't been that long since my last post!!! This little beauty is a recipe I developed for Fairfax a few weeks back, and it will be appearing in newspapers around the country today, including the Dom in Welly (go buy a copy Pog)! Anyhoo, as you can see from the picture, this is a lamb salad using fab backstrap fillets (I bought Silver Fern Farms ones, as they seem to be totally foolproof, you just need to cook them properly!), layered up with fresh baby spinach, new season's asparagus, ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes and all of this is interspersed with nubbly, nutty farro (an Italian hulled wheat), mint, basil and crunchy roasted almonds and garlicky homemade labneh. On the side is a luscious big smear of herby cannellini bean hummus. This recipe was (literally, haha, by me) made for spring, and a total doddle to make!

Feeling very weird empty-nesty sitting here typing this as Pog (Henry) is back in the capital catching up with friends and working (and by the sounds of things just getting out and about for general happy times) and Schnub (Rich) is on a three-day roadie with three of his mates, one of whom is a visiting Scottish comedian, so no doubt he is having a hilarious time, updating me with cheery little texts from time-to-time to confirm that he is all in one piece. Nick is on his way home from work, so it's just me tapping away with a wee Scotch (lovely jubbly) and a few cheese and crackers. Thank God for work and blogging or it would be too weird all together! Hope all is well with you - feel free as always to say 'hi' here or over at my Facebook page - and if you're an insta-fan you can check out my instagram here. See you again soon :)

lamb salad

Sloppy Jacques (Croque Monsieur meets Sloppy Joe)


comfort foodfood porn
Well by crikey this has been a long time coming - in my defense I have been drowning in work lately - cool stuff too, for Sileni wines and Barkers range of sauces, jams, syrups etc, in addition to my regular Dish and Fairfax stuff. Also - bit of a crap week last week, I went for my regular mammogram expecting the normal result only to end up staying for three mammograms, two ultrasounds and five biopsies. That was on a Friday - and the results didn't come through 'til Tuesday, so much angsting in between - Nick even flew back from Japan with Henry before they got to China - but as it turns out, it was all good, just some bloody cysty fibrous blob! The upside has been having the opportunity to hang out with Pog for a few days - and he was the inspiration for this post. I asked him what he fancied and he was keen on Sloppy Joes, but I was in a toasted sandwich-y frame of mind and harking back to our fab trip to Paris a few years ago - this was the result - a Sloppy Joe/Croque Monsieur combo :)

A couple of times in the past I have suggested recipes to go with certain sporting events, but whenever I have done this, the team I am supporting have lost, so I am NOT doing this. If you feel like making the mince and bechamel the day before, then slapping them together to cook at the half time break of a large world-wide televised sporting event, that is entirely your call.

Not much other news - Henry flies back to Welly today which is total poo - after I have had the pleasure of his company for a few days it makes the leaving so much harder. Rich is about to start a flurry of studying (haha) for his Cambridge exams before heading off for a three day 'roadie' next week. I am glad to report his hair has just about fully progressed from shaved undercut with top-knot to man-bun - and by that I mean the sticky-out sides now almost make it into the ponytail - hurrah! Nick is back for three whole weeks before heading off again, so can hopefully catch up on work/exercise and relaxation before the next big trip. And me? Back into the flow of work with a job for the good people at Paneton and Fairfax this week followed by my next installment for Dish...and then in a minute it will be Christmas. Anyhoo - deep breathes - have a great weekend!!! :)

Slow-cooked Pulled Pork Jerk Sliders


Hey ho - thought you might like a wee link to this recipe I developed for the lovely people at Barkers - Pulled Pork Jerk Sliders with coleslaw. I have to say while I am not missing most things meaty at the mo (vegetarian month for me - and possibly beyond...!), I watched Chef last night (for the 4th time) because it is the best food porn around - and while watching suddenly had a craving for these, which I made using Barkers new Nine Spice Barbecue Jerk Sauce. Seriously, there is no crowd-pleasing combination better than moist, juicy, flavour-packed pork with crunchy, vibrant coleslaw in a soft white bun, and the best bit is everything can be prepared in advance so you can just sit back, relax, and soak up the compliments as I have done on several occasions, despite the fact it's all so damned, sneakily easy to make :)

Right I'm off to yoga - probably not a wise move to be going to 90 minute hot yoga when I'm still feeling a bit stiff from yesterday's class - but what the hell, Nick is in Cologne, Rich is at a mate's place (after auditioning for option B for next year, drama school, today), Henry is at work in Welly, and I'm just sitting at home with the dogs - so it's yoga or raid the fridge...I can always raid the fridge when I get home....