Let the adventure begin!


Hi all! I just want to do two things - firstly apologise for the scant nature of my posts at the moment - sorry!!! For the last few weeks I have been flat out creating and testing recipes and shooting pics for the spring issue of Dish magazine, and getting ready for my epic adventure which begins on Monday...

...and obviously that is the second thing! Like a secret squirrel I have been working away in the background on this super-exciting trip - I will be boarding a plane around midday on the 11th and heading off to see our neighbours across the ditch (that is Australia for my non-antipodean friends...just in case the map didn't give it away!). I can't tell you too much about it yet, but the pics give you a big clue as to what I'lll be getting up to. Please rest assured that regular recipes will be back very soon, and in the meantime, don't forget to have a fossick around the blog - there are over 100 recipes here already for your cooking pleasure :)

Eggplant Parmigiana


Alrighty then - it's been far two long between drinks as they say, so here for your weekend pleasure are two Italian recipes, both of which we enjoyed on the big trip. First up a true Italian classic, but no less delicious because of it, that we enjoyed in both Positano and Tuscany - Eggplant Parmigiana - layers of luscious eggplant, sandwiched with mozzarella, Parmesan and a basil leaf or two all tucked into a super-easy tomato sauce. I quite often eat vegetarian, so would happily have this with just a massive green salad, but it also works beautifully as a side for meat dishes. This is a real taste of Italy you can easily recreate for lunch or dinner with readily available ingredients - and be instantly transported! Next recipe coming, see below...!

Bucatini with Anchovies and Fennel


Next up is Bucatini with Anchovies, Parmesan and Fennel Seeds. If you are not an anchovy-lover (I am only a moderate partaker of said fish) do not be put off - it's not like you are eating big hunks of hairy, salty, boney fish ( ahem - if you love anchovies, you can totally do this by putting a couple of whole ones on top!!!), it's more like a delicious mass of slightly salty, slightly cheesey, fragrantly fennely deliciousness. On a final note, what I love about this is we are now half a world away from Europe, snuggled up in the midst of a New Zealand winter, but you know what - we can crank up some Italian opera, open up a bottle of grunty red wine, light a candle or two and be transported by our food. Cool. (Little PS - I set this up with two forks romantically thinking it would be good to share, but when Nick got home from a big run and lots of chores he 'went in' to test a mouthful and scoffed the lot...couldn't be happier - success!

Bagel with Melted Gruyere, Ham and a Poached Egg


Bagels with Melted Gruyere Cheese, Ham and Poached Eggs

Bonjour!!!! Happy 14th of July - and may I present my sneaky tribute to the classic French Croque Madame - a plump toasted bagel, topped with melty gruyere cheese, good quality ham and a poached egg. I have nothing against the original in fact I love it and you will find recipes for Classic Croque Madame and Croissant Croque Monsieur on the blog, but sometimes I must confess you need something a little more instant, no messing about with a bechamel sauce, and of course bagels are always a good idea :) If you happen to be watching the football world cup final at breakfast time, like here in New Zealand - this is perfect!

In other news it's been a busy old time on the home front - Rich the 16 year old had his tonsils out on Monday and is recovering in a reasonably stalwart fashion, Henry has once more flown the nest and is ensconced back in the aptly named 'Cube' in Wellington and Nick is back into the routine of work after our European adventure. As for me, I am all set to do my next shoot for Dish magazine (so exciting) and was very flattered to have been interviewed by the team for their website last week - which you can read in detail here. Then today I was both excited and bothered to have rearranged Henry's bedroom - his bed and desk chair are now in the garage - feeling confident that Henry will not be reading this  (if you are, sorry darling!!!)  and I have photographed every inch of his room so that it can be fully reconstructed before his return for the next holiday. In place of the furniture I now have a mini-studio with brand spanking new lights set up to use - woo hoo!!! The only bummer today was that one set doesn't go (!) so will be exchanged tomorrow - then watch out - Nick will have to drag me out of there!!! Anyhoo - on to the recipe...

Sunday Night Pancetta, Onion and Three Cheese Tart


Sunday Night Pancetta, Onion and Three Cheese Tart

I can't believe we have been home from our big trip for over three weeks now - argh - back into normal life with a thump. The lovely Henry is still on university holiday and it is fabulous to have his cheery self around, whilst Rich has been flat out rehearsing and performing in the school musical - playing the all-signing, all-dancing lead role of Joe Casey in Our House. The show ran from last Wednesday to Friday, so the knee that he dislocated at rehearsal a few days before (yep, can't even think about it) was strapped up tight  - thank God no one wished him 'break a leg' for the show! He was awesome in the role, and as usual with the boys, I was pretty much exploding with pride. The next big thing now will be his tonsillectomy tomorrow, something neither of us is looking forward to...

Anyhoo, as I will be playing nurse for the week, I thought I would quickly get this wee gem of a tart up on the blog for you. As you may know I am something of a tart fiend (must count how many there are on the index page...) and this one is perfect for an easy lunch, picnic or Sunday night dinner. There are several things I love about it - firstly it is the ideal way to use up bits of leftover cheeses that have been bought for entertaining, you know the little odds and sods of different bries, blues and camemberts that end up hanging around in the fridge for days after the event! Secondly, you can really just throw it together and thirdly, you can make it in advance for no fuss dining later. On a final note it is also bloody delicious, and unbelievably rich, so you only need a tiny wedge with a big mound of green salad for total satisfaction! The pics today are from Versailles taken on our trip to Paris, as you can see it was an overcast, grey day with spring still just thinking about arriving - this tart would have been the perfect picnic food for our visit!

Coffee, Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Caramel Slice


Well this is the third incarnation of this slice, I can't help myself, it just lends itself to so many variations! So far I have done it with dark chocolate and coconut and also with white chocolate and macadamia nuts, but this time it's all rich, dark and moody with 70% cocoa chocolate, strong coffee and hazelnuts - the perfect grown-ups' slice to have with a mid-morning espresso or as an after dinner treat. Forgive the creative license with the pics here - the domes are from Tuscany and the crown from Florence I think - they just lent themselves so well to the thundery, gloomy weather we're experiencing, but with a little golden glow about them, and I'm not quite ready to release my grip on Italy just yet...!!! (And if you happen to be reading this from somewhere warm, this slice would still be jolly good sitting on the deck with a late evening coffee, maybe on the fourth of July in the US, to watch the fireworks!)


Bucatini all'Amatriciana


Everywhere we went in Italy we met the most fabulous, people - warm, welcoming and endlessly helpful. No-one epitomised this smiling Italian demeanour more than our host at Crossing Condotti in Rome. The lovely Marco booked taxis and guides, suggested and booked dining options and pretty much ensured that our stay in Rome was totally tailored to our needs - even when we changed our minds. He introduced us to our effervescent and knowledgeable Vatican guide, saw that we were well looked after at Dilla, a cool little neighbourhood modern osteria, and booked us for our classic Roman carbonara at the very old-school, genteel and fabulous Al Moro. You'd think that would be enough, but having told him about my blogging obsession, no sooner had we returned home, when he emailed me his favourite recipe for Bucatini all'Amatriciana - a rich, deeply flavoured pasta dish - with intense tomato, sneakily hollow bucatini spaghetti to catch as much of the sauce as possible, the satisfying grunt of  guancuiale or pancetta, all finished off with the sharp nuttiness of freshly grated pecorino. You may actually be able to hear my stomach growling in longing from here!!! So a big ole thank you to Marco and his fabulous recipe, so very simple and so incredibly tasty!



Helllooooo - is there anybody out there!? I know there hasn't been much happening on the blog lately, and you must be wondering if I am still here - well happily yes I am! It is week two back home from the trip of a lifetime - one whole month touring around lower Italy, including Positano, Rome, Umbria, Tuscany, Florence, Bologna and Venice. To celebrate our 'being together' anniversary and a special birthday of Nick's (I am old people - that is 30 years together (yes 30) and Nick's 50th birthday) we decided to take this trip, one which we had been talking about for a very long time. Nick did all of the hard work planning and booking the entire thing, and all I had to do was wake up each day, waddle around, take photos and eat - torture. I am just going to quickly take this opportunity to give Nick a big shout-out - thanks so much for an incredible month darl, you did amazingly well - and I can always put up with your grassy (grazie) and mercy (merci) if you can always read the map :)

As you can imagine, we took hundreds of photos on our trip, and I don't want to spam you with too many of them here. If you would like to see the full extravaganza, please feel free to pop on over to the tumblr page we created for family and friends to keep up with what we were doing whilst away, or just keep on scrolling  down to get the potted version!

The adventure began in Paris five weeks ago. We arrived completely exhausted after 36 hours travel from New Zealand, flying from Auckland to Sydney, then to Dubai, and from there to Paris. We hit the ground running, heading straight out from our hotel in St Germain meandering our way past the Louvre, up and down the picturesque streets and back through the Luxembourg gardens. We ate at a tiny brasserie that first night, then collapsed into bed - apparently I was snoring before my head hit the pillow...whaaaat?! Over the next two days we negotiated our way to the fabulous Marches aux Puces antique markets, enjoyed a delicious lunch at Cafe Cassette, (langoustine ravioli and a salad with poached pears, rocket, pinenuts, avocado puree, serrano ham and little roquefort fried balls) and visited my favourite store in Paris, Merci. Day two saw us up early at the gorgeous Raspail Organic Food Market, then battling the throngs at Versailles and having a somewhat mediocre but adequate dinner at the famous Les Deux Magots - a favourite of both Hemmingway and Sartre, and a regular on the tourist route.

To see the photos from Paris and all (well lots anyway) of the ones from Italy, just click on the recipe link below - or if you're already here, just keep scrolling down! :)

Torta della Nonna - Italian 'Grandma's cake' with lemon custard and pine nuts


Well this has been a very long time coming - and I really wanted to start with a big post sharing lots of photos from my trip (which will be coming shortly) but I thought I had better get cracking and put up a recipe before you forget From the Kitchen completely! Right then, one month traveling around Italy, so many food experiences - pastries, pasta, seafood, coffee, wine and liqueurs but the first recipe I want to share is a little old-school comfort cake, a traditional torta very popular in Tuscany: Torta della Nonna. Two light layers of pastry enclose a gently sweet and lemony custard, all topped with lightly golden toasted pine nuts and a sprinkling of icing sugar. There are many versions of this torta - some use ricotta, some just custard, some enclose the custard like I have as a kind of pie, whilst other recipes have no 'lid', just the custard in a pastry base, topped with the pine nuts. Whichever way you choose to make it, it really does have that magical nurturing factor, as if prepared with a loving hand - and tastes equally good with tea, coffee or a wee glass of Vin Santo.


Helloooooo there - or should I say 'ciao'! Just in case anyone is checking in at the moment - we are on the last leg of our month long trip to Italy, finishing off in the magical city of Venice. One more week to go and I will be heading home, notebook brimming with recipes to share. See you soon...... (Clearly this is in fact the legend Mick Jagger with I think Bianca, and not actually Nick and I...)