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Archive for August, 2009

Add a bit of spice to Father’s Day

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Here’s a wickedly tasty treat to serve up on Father’s Day – golden, spicy chicken drumsticks, so tender that the meat falls off the bone. Serve to dad as a snack with a chilled beer, or as part of a meal with steamed rice, or a rice salad, and either a cucumber and yoghurt salad flavoured with mint, or a spicy eggplant dish with tomatoes and onions. He’ll thank you for it!

Spicy chicken drumsticks

Time to make chutney – just start early in the day!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Yesterday I made an enormous batch of tamarillo chutney, hopefully enough to last us the year. We love it in sandwiches and rolls, with burgers and chicken, with bacon and avocado, and, well, with just about anything. So we need heaps. Now is the time to make it while tamarillos are at their peak and affordable. There are some lovely big ones around at the moment, which are less fiddly to prepare than baby ones.

Of course, and you’d think I’d know better…I meant to start making the chutney before midday. But time ticked away and before I knew it, it was 4.00pm. That’s a dumb time to start making a big batch of chutney and I’ll tell you why. It means you’ll be making it in the evening, and if it’s too cold to have the doors and windows open, you’ll be locking the smell of chutney in your house overnight. The smell of vinegar and bubbling sweet fruit is not so appealing first thing in the morning when you’d really rather smell toast and coffee! More importantly, as luck will have it, you’ll probably be tied to the pot stirring right on dinnertime. Well, that’s what happened to me last night. While everyone was tucking into roasted parsnips with a crispy parmesan, garlic and rosemary topping, leeks a la Grecque and a big salad from the garden and a crusty loaf, I stirred the pot. Drat! However, this morning, once I had opened the windows and let out the pong, when I saw the jars all lined up on the kitchen bench I knew it had been worth it.

Making chutney is easy because you just throw everything in the pot, but it takes a fair while to chop and weigh the ingredients. To make a batch of tamarillo chutney following my recipe allow 3-4 hours. Not that you’ll be at the pot that long! It’s really just in the final phase of reduction that the chutney can catch on the bottom of the pan. You’ll probably only need to stir it for the last 10 minutes or so. Make sure you have a long-handled wooden spoon because splatters of chutney can burn deeply.

Have jars and lids sterilized and at the ready, then pour in the hot chutney, use a clean knife to cut through each jar of chutney 2-3 times to knock out air bubbles, tap the jars on the bench once or twice to encourage the contents to settle, then top with a lid. Wipe jars and label once they’re cool. My kitchen gets very warm in summer, and as I have plenty of refrigeration and I want the chutney to keep well for a good year, I store the chutney in a second refrigerator ostensibly designated ‘the wine fridge’. But if you’ve got a cool pantry, it’ll keep very well in there.

Last night I carried out an experiment and made one batch in the large deep saucepan I use for chutneys and the like, and a second batch in an old aluminium jam pan. And guess what? The batch in the aluminium jam pan cooked more quickly, by at least 30 minutes – and here is why: it has sloping sides which allows for faster reduction. Simple.

Leave the tamarillo chutney to mellow for a week or two before using if you can. And pot some into small jars, too, to give away as gifts. Topped with a circle of fabric and tied with rustic string they look quite a picture!

Tamarillo Chutney

From The Food Show

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

The Food ShowThe Food Show, held recently in Auckland, (previously Wellington and Christchurch), just gets better and better with more artisan producers than ever before showing their wares along with a broad range of NZ olive oils, avocado oils, wines, chocolates, liqueurs, beers, cheeses, Asian products and produce, organic products and produce, and kitchen and cooking equipment. I’ve picked a few of my favourites, but there were so many more… I found myself returning several time to Kohu Road’s stand to indulge in their newly-released dairy-free coconut ice cream and picking up a snifter of LemonZ Limoncello with cranberry juice. Yum! The recipes I demonstrated in the Electrolux Theatre can be found on the official Food Show website.

And here’s the recipe for the Avocados with Salade Nicoise which I demonstrated on the Taste magazine stand.

Blue River Sheep’s Milk



I should think there are many New Zealanders who are yet to sample sheeps’ milk cheeses. They’ve got a chance to try them at The Food Show. There’s a lot going for them. They tend to have richer flavours, they’re usually sweeter than cow’s milk cheeses, and they’re sometimes deliciously fudgey. But it’s not just the taste which is interesting.

  • Did you know that sheep milk is also incredibly nutritious?
  • It’s much higher in total solids than either cow’s or goat’s milk and contains twice as much calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc as cow’s milk, and also contains the all important B group Vitamins (Folic Acid & B12).
  • The cheese is easier to digest for those suffering lactose intolerance because much of the lactose is removed in the whey.
  • The milk is naturally homogenised, with smaller fat globules which makes it easier to digest. It’s a great alternative for dairy-intolerant people and those suffering from eczema and asthma.

Unusually, the Blue River company owns the whole process: the farms (all located in Southland),the sheep, the cheesemaking and the distribution.

Proper Hand Cooked Crisps

Nelson Upper Moutere


I used to love the crisps I got in the UK, very different to what we have here, which tend to be over-salted or highly seasoned, and often too thickly cut for my taste. I like thin and crisp crisps. So I was very pleased to find proper hand cooked crisps – and that’s the name of this company.

  • They make the most superb crisps – just agria potatoes, sunflower oil and Marlborough sea salt.
  • They won’t always be made with agria potatoes, the variety of potato will change with the seasons, so we’ve even got seasonal crisps! The variety is written on the back of each pack – I like that. And the name of who made the crisps is also there – there are three people in the company so you might be eating Stuart’s crisps, Larry’s or Kathryn’s.
  • The potatoes are grown in South Canterbury.

Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company



This is New Zealand’s first Buffalo milk mozzarella. These balls of buffalo mozzarella are like soft and spongey pillows of deliciousness. They taste very milky, really milky, but really clean, not fatty in any way, and they’re nice and moist. This company is the brainchild of the couple who set up Cleveland Farmer’s market in 2005 Kathryn and Richard McDonnell. It was born out of a frustration to attract a good local cheesemaker at the market. Why not leap in at the deep end and bring in buffalos and make mozzarella, they thought. And they’ve done it, after lots of trials and tribulations.

  • The herd is 7/8th and 15/16th Mediterranean milking buffalo and they have been breed from purebred Italian stock crossed with Australian buffalo. They have four bulls which are pure bred Mediterranean so the calves now being born can be considered full breed Mediterranean milking buffalo. They have close to 100 head.
  • They learnt their craft in Italy from the experts working alongside some of the finest mozzarella makers in Campania.
  • “Richard has built the mozzarella equipment in our factory from memory, visual record and research. It is a wonderful process to watch when he spins the curd in hot water so it becomes a true pasta filata cheese. We have to work very quickly to process all our cheese within the right -pH window – once he has stretched it I take it and work it to get a shine that will form the skin of the mozzarella ball – I then present it to Richard and he pinches it off into the cooling tank (mozza means to pinch),” says Kathryn.
  • “The Ricotta is taken earlier in the day when we remove the curd from the whey. Richard heats it until it splits and then recovers it with a hand scoop (like a slotted spoon) and then packs it into individual moulds to drain.”
  • “We also make a delicious yoghurt – buffalo milk has twice the solids of cow’s milk so our yoghurt is naturally thick with no additives or gelatines – it can easily be used as a substitute for sour cream or heavy cream in recipes with a fraction of the fat, and being buffalo milk it has 58% more calcium, 40% more protein and 43% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. We are also finding that those who suffer from cow’s milk allergies and lactose intolerance don’t generally have a problem with our products,” says Kathryn.

Donovan’s Chocolates



This family-owned company has been making chocolates since 1991. What caught my eye at The Food Show was their Butter Fudge which has just been launched. I love proper butter fudge and this didn’t disappoint. It’s smooth with just a little hint of graininess to stop it being cloying. At first it’s overpoweringly buttery but that sensation dissipates. The lingering flavour is gorgeous sweet caramel. Yum. I had two pieces at morning tea – all in the name of research.

Addmore Elderflower Cordials

Geraldine South Canterbury


Elderflower trees are to be found in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The trees bear large clusters of creamy white flowers and later, berries. Both flowers and berries are edible, though not when raw because they contain a poisonous alkaloid. Cooking changes them completely, and of course makes them safe to eat. NZ company Addmore based in Geraldine in South Canterbury, use the flowers to make elderflower liqueur, syrups and sparkling drinks. The cordial is gorgeously refreshing, especially in summer,
Dilute 1 part elderflower cordial with seven parts of water. It’s perfect for daytime drinking or for those occasions when you want a non-alcoholic drink. You can use the cordial in cheesecakes and other desserts, ice creams and granitas, and in other drinks.

J.Friend and Co

New Zealand Artisan Honey



I’ve discovered a great range of certified organic and environmentally sustainable NZ honeys. This is really exciting. The honeys are all single variety honeys and are rich and complex in flavour. The honeys have their heritage listed on the jars along with when the honey was harvested and from where, the best-by date and even the bee-keeper’s name.

During spring and summer the rolling hills in the Waikirikiri Valley are covered in a purple carpet of fragrant wild thyme and schist rock. The resulting honey, Wild Thyme Honey, is a creamy caramel colour, it’s thick and fudgey, with savoury herby notes, and a whiff of lanolin on the finish. Intriguing. This honey is high in antioxidant and antibacterial activity.

Honeybees love the small white spiky flowers of the kamahi tree which flower in spring time in the native beech forests inland on the West Coast of New Zealand. Kamahi honey has a distinctive savoury note with a hint of vegemite and a definite mushroom finish. It’s great in savoury dishes.

Blue borage honey collected from wild flowers that grow in the Kaikoura Ranges in central Marlborough, has a hint of vanilla and is rich and buttery – delicious on toasted crumpets or drizzled over toasted brioche.

This company’s Manuka honey is lovely and smooth. It smells like old-fashioned boiled lollies. It’s toffee-ish, intense, with a lingering rich caramel finish. Simply delicious. It teams well with tropical fruits and coconut. It can be whipped with cream to make a thick fudgey honeyish cream which is fantastic on meringues or in pavlova topped with a fresh fruit salad. It also has great antioxidant and antibacterial activity.

Pohutukawa is a real treat. Known as the New Zealand Christmas tree because of the tree’s crimson flowers which peak in December, pohutukawa flowers erratically making it a challenge to collect the honey. This honey is collected from trees growing on the Coromandel peninsula during summer. A floral sugary-sweet honey to be enjoyed on toast, or with a goat’s cheese, walnut and witloof salad.

This clover honey, collected from the Kyeburn Plains in Central Otago, is coconutty to taste with hints of ripe tropical fruit. It’s great in vinaigrettes with lemon or lime, or use it to dress salads such as chicken and honeydew melon.

Honeydew is created by tiny insects that feed on the sap in the bark of the New Zealand red beech tree. They excrete this as sugary liquid drops which attract honeybees. Beechwood Honeydew Honey is a gorgeous dark amber colour, with a pungent nose and a sweet-savoury taste. It contains high levels of oligosaccharides and antibacterial and antioxidant activity.

Do remember that some of the special properties of honey are destroyed by heat, so where possible, add honey towards the end of cooking.

New Recipes:

Eggplant & Buffalo Mozzarella Stacks

This is divine. Serve it with a crisp and crunchy garden salad.

Marinated Sheep’s Milk Feta with Roasted Tomatoes