Cowboy(or girl) Pies


What happens when you take the kind of mincey, chorizo-y, beaney filling that you would normally roll up in tortillas or slather over nacho chips...and stick it in a pie? This my friends - a cowboy pie, not as the name  would suggest, actually filled with cowboys... As I sit here it is 5:30am, I am in my yoga gear, snuggled up in a blanket sipping tea, lying on the couch. I have made it out of bed, which I know from my years as a personal trainer, means I am as good as at the class - ie. I will get there. The most difficult bit of morning yoga is getting my feet out of bed and on the floor - once they're there, I'm away! I have a lot of work on at the moment, so things have been a bit scant on the bloggy front, but I am going to schedule myself a bit of quieter time coming up so that I can attend to that. In the meantime, Rich is in the middle of mock (practice) exams for his Cambridge course at school, Henry has had a couple of days off work, consequently got bored and dyed his (brown) hair white blonde (as you do), and Nick is actually not in China. We are all heading down to Wellington on Thursday to check out Victoria university for Rich, and of course have a big catch up with Henry - yay! In the meantime, the clock is ticking, yoga is calling, so quickly back to the pie! I made the recipe for Fairfax and it is the perfect weekend pie, you can make it less or more spicy, as you wish, serve it with a good tomato chutney and a beer / glass of milk for the young'uns and enjoy!

Lemon Cheesecake Tart with Lemon Curd


Lemon tart is my absolute favourite dessert for so many reasons - and as you can see I got a leeeetle bit carried away taking the pics! In my defence, these days I don't get much of a chance to shoot something purely for the blog, so I thought I may as well keep playing! This is my latest incarnation of a lemon tart - a combination with lemon cheesecake/tart filling topped with extra zingy home-made lemon curd. If you want a classic (albeit very deep) lemon tart recipe check out this one here, but currently this one has nudged out that one at the top of my list - probably only because I have been nibbling at it for the past two days! Whichever you choose, if you like really zesty, lip puckering lemon flavour, you can't go wrong :) 

In other news, it was Henry's 20th birthday on Sunday and we missed seeing him dammit. He is in Wellington, and as we are heading down there with Rich for the Victoria University open day soon, we couldn't really head down twice in two weeks. Never mind - by all accounts he had a lovely day, and we'll be looking forward to taking him out for a slap-up belated-birthday dinner when we see him. (Not quite the same, but it will have to do...). I can't believe my big boy is no longer a teenager, I'm so proud of how he has set himself up in Welly, working so hard both at his job at Brown & Co design store, and toward his design degree! Go Pog!!! Meantime, it's also only a few months 'til Rich turns 18 - God help me - makes me feel oooooooold!!!!! Argh stuff it - I'll just have to keep acting the way I feel on the inside :)

Creamy Chicken & Leek Soup with Cheesy Scones


Hi all! I feel like recipes have been a bit few and far between lately, which is kind of a mixed blessing - it's solely due to the fact that I have been working so much. I am flat out for the rest of August and into September, but I am going to schedule a day or two in there somewhere so that I can get a few blog posts done - I miss it! In the meantime this doesn't look like much, but it is the most bloody delicious soup - creamy, chickeny, full of homey flavour - the perfect nurturing soup to enjoy when you're under the weather, or to make for a sick friend. It's another of the recipes I put together for Fairfax, so will be appearing in newspapers around New Zealand today. Enjoy the rest of your week! :)

Rhubarb Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding Cake


Hello - God it feels like ages since I had the chance to post anything that wasn't work-related (apart from the pizza last week, and not that its a bad thing to be posting work related stuff, but sometimes I really just like to post what's in my head at the moment, you know?). Anyhoo - this is what is currently in my head. And stomach. Last weekend we had friends around for dinner, and I felt a bit meh about what I cooked (Why??? I cook all the time and yet last weekend it just wasn't my best work - argghhh). I don't know why it was a bit average - except for the dessert which was pretty bloody good - a rhubarb, croissant bread and butter pudding. So I wanted to share it with you, but I had no need for another dessert, so I got thinking about a croissant cake with apples that I posted eons ago, and wanted to give it a whirl with the rhubarb instead - and I have to say I like it even better. It all puffs up when you cook it - and you can then serve it straight away (actually leave it to sit for 10 minutes first) or you can let it cool completely and serve it cold or at room temperature...and you can also re-heat it with a quick blat in the microwave or regular oven. Serve as-is or with a dollop of cream or ice-cream. I have a feeling this is one of those things that is supposed to be a dessert that some of you crazy Americans out there will serve as breakfast...actually, I had a huge piece for breakfast, so fair call...fair call :)

PS - state of the nation - Rich sorting out his papers for Victoria university next year (yay!), Henry has moved out into a new flat in Welly (slightly traumatic) and Nick, as is often the way, is in Shanghai!

Friday Night Pizza on a Sunday


Hi all - long time, no recipes! I have been meaning to post this super simple pizza recipe ever since Rich was Clyde in the school musical production of Bonnie & Clyde - we had assorted rellies (relatives) around for a quick bite before each show - and this is what I made every time, because it is so incredibly quick and easy, and everybody loves it. As well as this one, topped with tomato paste, grated Parmesan and Buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto I did others with the same cheeses, (no tomato paste) hot smoked salmon, dill and capers with an optional squeeze of lemon. Seriously - they take less time to make than to order takeaways, and taste so much better.

In other news my pterygium operation on my eye went really well - I won't go into all the gory details, but the skin graft where it was removed is healing brilliantly (I think, no doubt the surgeon will let me know what he thinks at my post-op check up tomorrow!) Apart from that Henry is working and studying his arse off in Wellington, Rich has started back to school with much enthusiasm (haha) and Nick flies back to Shanghai tonight...and I have back-to-back work lined up until September, so apologies in advance if the recipe posts are a little less frequent during this time, but I'll be trying! Anyhoo, make these pizzas and I promise you won't be sorry :)

Shanghai Surprise


Oh my God, I can't believe we've already been back from China and Japan for almost two weeks - where does the time go - I need it to slow down for a bit?! Since we've been back Rich has arrived home from his intrepid journey to Madagascar (all in one slightly skinnier piece), I've been to Wellington and back to see Henry and Josh for Josh's 21st birthday party, Nick's been in hospital with a kidney stone mascarading as a lung clot and I've had an eye operation to remove a pterygium - not very painful, but pretty bloody freaky. Phew. So here I sit sorting through my pics from Shanghai, using them as a memory prompt for my frazzled brain...

So - my first time to Shanghai, and I wasn't sure what to expect, my closest comparison was Hong Kong from several years ago, and HK it is not. I arrived at the worst possible time of year, coinciding with the peak of summer's heat, rain and storms - perfect! The first thing that struck me was the huge contrast between Shanghai's history and future, co-habiting, at times uncomfortably, in this heaving, cosmopolitan city. That and the car horns. (And OK, because it was hot, wet and a big city, every once in a while there was a wee bit of a smell - but mostly not). The afternoon I arrived I took myself off for a walk from the hotel and on one side of the street were huge buildings, offices and shops, and the other, small, hundred year old houses being torn down amidst on-going construction. A little laneway was packed with tiny food stalls and eateries selling dumplings, prawns, mysterious but delicious looking fried treats and noodles - and everywhere cars were tooting, people were congregating and chewing the fat while cyclists took their lives into their hands weaving in and out of cars and pedestrians with some kind of reckless faith that a clear path would appear.

If you fancy hearing and seeing loads more, just click on the recipe link below for a tonne of photos starting with the lovely Jade and Jing'an temples...and forgive me for the absence of recipes in the last little while, but I have a couple of fab ones for you next week!

French Onion Soup


Seeing as it's 14th July, I thought a quick Bastille Day / French recipe was in order. I am flat out working at the mo, so no big spiel with this recipe - just a super-easy, super-delicious soup to enjoy - imagine rich, dense onions with a whiff of brandy scooped onto cheesey, toasted bread. I know I could have gone all traditional with the grilled French bread slices on top, but I always find them a bit unwieldy - this way you can manage the soggy factor and dig into the onions as you wish. Anyhoo, must dash, a million things to do - will give you the run down next time!

Mega-Comfort Chicken & Leek Pie with Paris Mash


Well here we all are again then - some of us anyway! We flew back in from Tokyo yesterday morning and zombied around the house, washed mountains of clothes, picked up the dogs from the kennels and went to the supermarket - all that catch up stuff - the only abnormal thing was there were no lovely man-boys in the house. Rich is still in Madagascar until next Wednesday, and Henry, who would normally be in Wellington working or at uni, is in Melbourne celebrating Josh's 21st birthday. It sounds like Rich's adventure has been incredible, one of those life-changing trips that forever alters the way you see the world, while Henry is getting amongst the cool vibe of Melbourne like a pig in mud. Our trip to Shanghai/Kyoto/Tokyo was bloody fantastic, and I have totally fallen in love with Japan - and it's gorgeous people, but more on that later! (Blog post coming soon) In the meantime we have arrived back to an almighty winter cold snap, and I thought it timely to post this update on my Chicken and Leek Pie recipe I put together for Fairfax, complete with really naughty creamy, buttery Paris mash - I am thinking it might be just the go for many around the southern hemisphere this weekend, and also probably for Rich's welcome home meal given he has been living off rice and veges for the last month.

It's good to be back - it might be a day or two (I have soooo much work to do) but a blog post on the big trip will be up soon!

Asian Adventuring


Hi all! Just a quick note to let you know I'm off to Shanghai tonight, then onwards to Kyoto and Tokyo - back in three weeks! I can't wait to share some of my foodie adventures, so check back in when you can - and I will too! See you soon...

Creamy Mushrooms with Sherry, Garlic & Thyme on Soft Polenta


Hi all, the countdown continues:) It has been so lovely having Henry and Josh in Auckland - they are still both sound asleep after a great night out to dinner last night - such a treat to have Nick, Rich and Lil there too, a rare occasion to get all six of us around a table! Tonight they head back to Wellington, laden down with frozen home-made dinners, not that they need them, they are both whiz cooks, but I figure it's nice to have an easy dinner that doesn't take too much effort some nights! This mushrooms on creamy polenta is actually that kind of dish that - super-satisfyng and takes no time or effort to throw together, containing two of my favourite things - creamy, luscious earthy, mushrooms and cheesy, soft polenta - yum. It is a recipe that I put together for Fairfax, but I have been making variations on the same theme for years. The trick to the mushrooms is to cook the cream down with them so that it becomes silky and almost slightly sweet, add to that the zing of the sherry, the hint of pungent garlic and thyme and the result is so very, very good. Obviously this is vegetarian (and gluten free), but if you can't imagine a meal without meat, it would go beautifully with pork and fennel sausages. To me this is right up there with perfectly cooked scrambled eggs in terms of comfort factor. 

This time next week I will be frantically cleaning the house in preparation for my gorgeous nephew Will who is coming to house/dog sit, and packing my bags for the flight to Shanghai....can't quite get my head around that when I still have so much to do. Hopefully I'll sneak one last recipe up before I fly out - and then of course I am hanging out for a truck load of inspiration from my foodie discoveries in Shanghai,Tokyo and Kyoto to share with you on my return...can't wait!