St Ali - world class coffee in Melbourne


 It seems like an eternity ago now that I got back from my Savouring Australia adventure,  but sitting here at my desk thinking about Melbourne has me reaching for the car keys to go and buy a coffee. The best I had during my trip away was at St Ali, the place had such a laid-back vibe, I loved it, and Matt Perger the barista was such a honey. He has already placed 2nd and 3rd at the world Barista champs, and I so hope he wins the next one - such a good guy! Off to buy coffee, can't wait another second!!!

Hot Smoked Salmon, Asparagus and Poached Egg on Toasted Ciabatta


I am not even going to attempt a recipe with this - it's just a no-brainer perfect combination for a  spring breakfast or lunch - toasted ciabatta slathered in aioli topped with steamed asparagus, hot smoked salmon and a poached egg. Lots of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and some dill, and you're done. Yum. (For a healthier version swap the aioli for hummus or soft goat cheese or even soft labneh :) )

Mum's Lamb Curry Pies


When I was growing up roast lamb was one of the traditional New Zealand dinners Mum made - and she still does a good one. Often she would cook a big leg and there would be lamby leftovers to use in sandwiches with soft white bread and a good tomato relish (yum), or if there was enough she would turn the lamb into dinner number two as a 'curry'. I use the term curry very loosely indeed, as it was  the 1970s and it was a creation which I suspect bears little resemblance to anything you would ever find in India. It's another of those things like Coronation Chicken that is more like an Englishman's version of a curry. Any old hoo, it is not authentic, but it is ridiculously tasty. It is not however particularly attractive on its own, but bung it in a pie, et voila, pastry enhanced perfection with a good dollop of chutney on the side.

Vegan Pumpkin Brown Rice Balls with Hummus or Tamari


Isn't it funny how you end up in the mood for such different foods at different times? If you've ever read my profile page you'll know that I have been advised (probably quite correctly) that I should get an angle for my blog - baking or raw or vegetarian or whole foods or family dinners etc etc, but the problem is I just can't do it because I don't eat just one type of food. Anyhoo that big spiel was just as an intro because these brown rice balls are what I was craving the other day - all earthy, earnest deliciousness - it's such a bonus when something that tastes so good is also so good for you. Hope you enjoy them too! (Great for lunch boxes or on the run, they can be eaten hot or cold).

Mexican Braised Beef Cheeks with Soft Cheesy Polenta


OK - so this is what I wrote a couple of weeks ago - and I have finally re-made it! I am sitting here typing this on my laptop at the dining table feeling a little bit chilly and in need of a shower – this is day two of a massive power-cut in Auckland with initially 85,000 homes affected and now just 18,000 left in the cold – and that would include us! If I could make anything for dinner tonight it would be this!!! However, I will just have to wait until the power is back on and then I will be recreating this to photograph - one of the dinners I was on a promise to make, and did, for Henry on his last trip up from Wellington. You can either serve this with polenta/corn bread balls popped on top, on tacos or, as I like it, on soft cheesy polenta – the choice is yours. (As per the fish taco recipes, forgive me if the recipe is inauthentic, it is merely my interpretation, but I can promise you it tastes bloody good!)


Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato with Choconut Cones

Spring has finally sprung in Auckland - woo hooo! However as always when writing recipes for the blog I am hyper-aware that a goodly portion of my followers (is that too dorky to say 'followers' - it sounds very dorky indeed...anyone have an alternative...?) are experiencing autumn while we wait for the sun to come out. Soooo, I think this little hazelnutty chocolatey gelato should suit both. The rich chocolate hazelnut flavours are just as good in winter as summer, and of course for my fellow 'springies', it suits the warmer weather. Phew! Oh, and it is also decadently delicious, reminding me of Nick and my daily gelatos while in Italy - argh - feels like an eternity ago! :)

Hummingbird-ish Cake


Finally!!!!!! I have been so busy with work, I am so relieved to finally get a recipe up. Ok, so this is my take on a Hummingbird cake, it’s a little less spongey and a bit moister than I think they usually are (!), and deliciously sandwiched with passion fruit curd before being slathered in cream cheese icing. It’s another of the recipes I made for Henry and Josh's recent visit, and it was the perfect ‘mid-afternoon with a big cup of tea’ cake, but is also flash enough that you could serve it for dessert with a little softly whipped cream. Seeing as I have just made it again to photograph, I am wondering how I will take it on the plane with me tomorrow, when we nip down to Wellington to see Henry and go to the World of Wearable Art...hmm...I will find a way!

Roasted Pumpkin and Kumara (Sweet Potato) Soup with Coriander Pesto


It's been a grey old crappy day today, and just started raining. Excellent - the perfect evening to enjoy this soup which is rich and satisfying, with a bit of sparky life from the coriander pesto, and watch a couple of recorded programs on TV. Now ...which one first - the final of Project Runway or the Christmas Special of Downton Abbey...........? (I originally posted this last year, but felt it was time for an update - it also gave me a good excuse to freeze some batches to take down to Henry in Wellington tomorrow. Whether you're a northern hemisphere dweller enjoying the autumn or a southerner like me (enduring gale force winds and waiting for spring!!!) I hope it takes your fancy!

If you haven't yet, come on over and visit me on my Facebook page - I'd love to hear your foodie thoughts!

Stunning Tasmania's Salamanca Markets


One of the best places that I discovered on my recent trip across the ditch with Savouring Australia, is Tasmania. I had heard so many wonderful things before going, so suspected that it might not live up to the hype (you know, when places get over-sold?) well nope - if anything, I liked it more than I expected! Funnily enough it reminded me quite a bit of New Zealand, but then I would pass a beach (white sand gorgeousness) looking nothing like ours, or go for a bush walk and see a walllaby hop by (seriously!) and feel a million miles from home.

The first morning in Hobart I was scheduled to head to the Salamanca Markets, so off I wandered, bright and early.  I had  anticipated there being a couple of local producers gathered together selling a few fruit and veges with a bit of hot food and coffee, but  I could not believe the vast number of tents and stalls – all of them packed with people browsing, tasting, buying and generally making the most of being out and about on a beautiful Hobart morning. The thing that was even more amazing was that this is a weekly event – surely they couldn’t have this many stallholders and punters every weekend? But unbelievably they do! (Is there something like this in Auckland - and if so, where?!).  The morning I was there I wandered around for ages, checking out the incredible local produce, with loads of beautiful home grown, organic herbs and vegetables, cheeses and sausages, fish and baked goods. I loved the range of product – everything from second hand vinyl records to handcrafted wooden bowls and utensils, possum fur-lined hats and fabulous pottery (Henry we need to get back that pottery wheel!). The organic wood-fired pizzas were a hit, and the guys making them so sweet, as were the sizzling sausages and of course the essential coffee. The markets had the most incredible community feeling, with stallholders busily promoting each other and 'Tassie' as much as their own produce, shoppers strolling hand in hand and the sound of buskers in the air - how lovely is the dreaded up guy with the guitar? He was so earnest and his singing was amazing :) The only thing missing was my family - I wanted to point out things and enjoy the discovery together - now they just have to put up with my endless photos instead! :)

Spicy Fish Tacos with Mexican Salsa Verde


OK so before getting into the recipe let me make this very clear (can you tell there has been an election campaign going on in New Zealand...I think it has infiltrated my brain!) I am not Mexican, have never been to Mexico (alas) and am clearly no expert on Mexican food. However - I love to eat it, and I particularly enjoy the combinations of spices, textures and flavours that are so often found in good Mexican food. This then is my take on fish tacos with Mexican salsa verde con aguacate. If I didn't live at the bottom of the world in lovely ole NZ, I might be able to get my hands on fresh tomatillos for the salsa verde recipe, but as it is I am relying on the tinned variety - if you do have access to the real deal, then I understand this can be made by using them either raw, or roasted off, whichever takes your fancy, for either a bright clear or rich muted flavour. Having eaten fish tacos poolside at the stunning One & Only resort on Hayman island, this then is my ideal summer lunch dish. Craziness that I am posting it in a New Zealand spring which is typically cold, wet and stormy, but there you go - I will sit by the heater, close my eyes and eat, pretending I am back on the island...