Monday, November 29, 2010

Seven Christmas Inspirations: Fruit Mince; Ice Cream; Mince Slice; Pudding; Tiramisu of Summer Berries; Cake; Frangipane & Fruit Mince Tart

I’ve had lots of emails after my chat with Kerre Woodham on Newstalk ZB last week asking about the Christmas recipes I featured. I know we’re all planning what to take to friends or what to serve at home over the holiday season, and I thought it would be great to share some of the recipes I use at Christmas. Before you read my 7 inspirational recipes for Christmas which I hope you love, have a look at this photo!

This wonderful Bûche de Noël, a dessert served during the Christmas holidays in France and Belgium, was created by one of our wonderful White Tie chefs – Jen Norriss - and served at a recent function. If this inspires you, the cake itself is a chocolate swiss roll filled with chocolate buttercream and iced to resemble a Yule log…

Now, here are 7 fabulous ideas for you - I hope you love them, too!

Christmas Fruit Mince
Yield 1.5kg
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 cups raisins
1 cup currants
150g butter
2 teaspoons mace
2 teaspoons nutmeg
3 teaspoons spice
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 cups brown sugar
100ml brandy
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
100ml lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer partly covered with lid for 30-40 minutes or until thick. Pour into clean, sterilised jars. Cover when cold.

Christmas Ice Cream
1 cup fruit mince
1 tablespoon brandy
600mls cream
¾ cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine fruit mince and brandy. Whip the cream with half the sugar until soft peaks form. Beat the egg yolks with remaining sugar and vanilla until thick. Fold in the fruit mince followed by the whipped cream. Pour into an ice cream container and freeze.

Christmas Mince Slice
100g chilled butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup flour

Process butter, flour and sugar until breadcrumb consistency and press into lined slice tin. Bake at 160ºC for 10 minutes.

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup fruit mince
Mix dry ingredients well and add wet ingredients. Place over base and cook for a further 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Dust with icing sugar to serve. An extra egg and more mince can be used to bulk it out.

Christmas Pudding
Makes 2 large or 4 small puddings
500g currants
500g raisins
500g breadcrumbs
6 dessertspoons flour
125g mixed peel
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
500g brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
8 eggs, beaten
500g butter, melted
1 wine glass brandy
Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining 3 and mix well to thoroughly combine. Divide between 2 greased pudding bowls. Cover and boil 8 hours.

Christmas Tiramisu of Summer Berries
1 large pkt sponge fingers
Marscapone filling
5 eggs, separated
90g caster sugar
500g marscapone
2 tablespoons Marsala
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat egg yolks with half the sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the marscapone into the yolks, followed by the Marsala and vanilla. Beat the egg whites until foamy and gradually add the remaining sugar beating until soft peaks form. Fold into the marscapone mixture.
Berry Filling
750g raspberries and sliced strawberries (raspberries may be frozen)
½ cup Marsala or sweet white wine
4 tablespoons caster sugar
Combine ingredients and stand for at least 30 minutes.
Berry Sauce
125g raspberries or strawberries
¼ cup icing sugar
Process fruit and sugar until smooth and strain to remove pips. Chill until needed.
In a large glass bowl, layer sponge fingers, berry filling and marscapone filling in that order. Repeat until bowl is full. Refrigerate overnight and garnish top with extra berries and serve with berry sauce.

Christmas Cake
500g butter
500g caster sugar
500g flour
1.5kg currants
1.5kg raisins
1.5kg sultanas
350g peel
250g ground almonds
30g mixed spice
12 eggs
1 orange – rind & juice
1 lemon – rind & juice
Brandy to taste
Grate rinds of lemon & orange, squeeze juice, melt butter.
Place fruit in a large bowl, add rind & juice. Sieve flour, add spice & almonds. Beat eggs & sugar until light in colour. Stir in flour, almonds & spices. Add fruit mix and butter and mix by hand.
Cook 5 ½ hours, 1 hour at 120°C and the rest 110°C-100°C. When cooked leave ½ hour then make small holes all over cake with a skewer and pour in brandy. Leave in tin to cool 24 hours.

Frangipane and Fruit Mince Tart
Serves 6
300g flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
pinch of salt
1 egg
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190°C. Roll out pastry and line a tart tin. Bake blind for 10 minutes, remove blind baking weights and bake a further 5 mins. Cool.
120g caster sugar
120g butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
120g ground almonds
20g flour
1 tablespoon orange flavoured liqueur (optional)
8 mint leaves, shredded
300g fruit mince
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients followed by liqueur and mint.
Spread fruit mince over the bottom of the pastry case and top with frangipane mix.
Bake at 180°C for 30 - 40mins serve warm dusted with icing sugar.

Cook them, love them!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Licking the bowl ... STICKY GINGERBREAD

It seems that I am going to be a lot better at teaching my grandchildren to cook than my own children. Probably age has taught me patience but of course we are all so much more aware of the need to teach our children these life skills.

Fortunately, my girls have all turned into great cooks, they say by osmosis, so I am able to enjoy being a guest at their dinner tables. Actually, it’s one of my most favourite things to do in the whole world!

My grandson Mason, is two and we had a lovely day last week baking my favourite gingerbread.

This recipe has been in my book for so long I don’t remember where it came from but it is a pantry staple because of it's versatility.

Great for morning tea, warmed with caramel sauce and ice cream for a quick dessert, served with cheese on a cheeseboard (great with a creamy blue) and a terrific lunch box filler.

It’s a one bowl wonder and a great simple recipe to teach the children. I was quite shocked that Mason wasn’t interested in licking the bowl, so I had to!!

Sticky Gingerbread

180g butter
1 cup water
1/3 cup treacle
2/3 cup golden syrup
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
250g brown sugar
375g flour

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 9” square tin with baking paper.
Cut butter into pieces and warm with water, treacle and syrup until just melted.
In a small bowl, beat eggs well.
In a large bowl, place the sugar and sift in the flour, spices and soda.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten eggs and butter mixture. Mix well to combine.
Pour into lined cake tin and bake 1-1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle, comes out clean.
Remove from oven and leave to cool. This cake improves on keeping and is great to freeze.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Salad Days are here!

I have just returned from a brief trip to the USA and I was reminded how good they are at making salads.

There has been a real turn around with the weather here and with the asparagus season in full swing and the beginning of the new potato season, we have two great vegetables to use as the base of a salad meal. We all love the satisfaction of preparing healthy and delicious dishes!

Don’t just think of salad as a side dish to a meal, think of it as a meal. Who can resist a platter highlighting summer’s bounty – cucumber, crispy iceberg lettuce, crunchy radishes, perfectly cooked asparagus, tiny new potatoes. You can add as much or as little as you like but think - colour, texture, freshness, crunch, protein content and then, of course, a great dressing, as this can be the difference between an average salad and a great salad.

This potato and asparagus salad is great and feel free to add sliced chicken, chopped walnuts, or diced avocado. Let the creative juices flow!

Cook it and love it.

Potato and Asparagus Salad with Tarragon Verjus Dressing

1 kg asparagus
500g new potatoes
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 cup fresh tarragon
1/4 cup Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1/3 cup verjus
1 teapsoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and briefly cook asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs transfer to a large bowl of iced water. Drain.
Add potatoes to the pot and cook until tender. Drain and let cool slightly.
In a mini food processor, pulse coriander seeds until crushed. Add tarragon, parsley, chives and process until finely chopped. Add the verjus, mustard and process until smooth. With the processor running add the oil in a fine stream. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice potatoes in half. Place in a bowl with some of the dressing and toss gently. Arrange on a platter with asparagus on top. Drizzle with some of the extra dressing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CAPE KIDNAPPERS IDYLL - Lemon Salad with Crumbed Schnitzel and Lemon Sauce

I have just had the most fabulous weekend in the Hawke’s Bay with my husband for his birthday treat. The weather was fantastic, the sky completely cloudless for the entire time and we walked for miles over the rolling hills of Cape Kidnappers.

We tend to just get on with our lives and forget about the rest of our beautiful country but we have now made a pact to go exploring whenever we can and visit new places, shop in local farmers markets and soak up the wonderful regionality of New Zealand. I always feel quite envious when I see things growing so robustly in other parts of the country that I can’t grow at home in our Christchurch climate.

On the way home we stayed with old friends in Pahiatua and I was able to forage in the garden which has always been a wonderland of self sufficiency. I get goose pimples when I see so much citrus hanging on the trees so even though I had shopped to the limit over the weekend, nothing was going to stop me from filling yet another bag and bringing home lemons and grapefruit. I am an avid jam maker and my marmalade is in constant demand from my family to the point where two of my daughters’ partners have been known to fight over the last jar in the cupboard!
I truly could not live without lemons and not just for the gin and tonics! My childhood memories are full of lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, lemon chutney, lemon cake. I love that lemons cover all the flavour spectrums from savoury to sweet and so many things are just taken to a whole new level with a squeeze of lemon. Our kitchen at home always has a lemon bowl and the commercial chiller at work always has a case of them on hand.

Yen Ben lemons are the largest crop produced in New Zealand and are exported in huge amounts to Japan. The most common variety for the home gardener is the Meyer lemon which has a thinner skin and slightly sweeter juice. I have just planted two in a sheltered part of my garden and will be lovingly tending to them so that eventually I will be able to pick my very own.
This leads me to share with you a fun recipe that is simply perfect for this time of year. Cook it & love it!

Lemon Salad with Crumbed Schnitzel and Lemon Sauce
Slices of beef or veal schnitzel
Season flour and coat schnitzels then dip in seasoned, whisked egg and coat with a mixture of two thirds breadcrumbs to one third freshly grated parmesan cheese. Refrigerate until ready to cook in olive oil in hot pan.

Lemon Salad
2-3 washed lemons
1 red pepper
2 telegraph cucumbers
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

Slice lemons as thinly as possible and flick out all seeds. Spread slices on a tray, then sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse and dry slices and pat dry. Cut pepper into sections following its natural curves. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Remove all seeds and ribs from pepper and cut lengthwise into very thin slices. Cut cucumber into paper thin slices. On a shallow serving platter arrange a bed of overlapping cucumber slices and top with lemon. Decorate salad with red pepper slices. Grind over pepper, drizzle with oil and scatter over parsley.

Lemon and Caper Sauce
100g butter
Juice of two lemons
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
1-2 tablespoon capers

Melt butter with lemon juice and salt. Mix egg yolk with milk in a bowl, pour melted butter and lemon onto yolks and whisk together. Return mixture to the pan and heat very gently, whisking for 1 minute until sauce thickens. Add capers and keep warm but do not boil or the sauce may curdle.

To make in advance, pour into a warmed thermos.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ON THE SAUCE - Gribiche Sauce

I’ve just had a great day out at the Akaroa Cooking School and it was just what was needed after being shaken about so badly last week. We were able to put all our problems behind us and sit back and be entertained by the lovely Al Brown of Wellington’s Logan Brown restaurant and television documentary ‘Hunger for the Wild’ fame.

Al is a charmer and one of those generous chefs eager to share his knowledge and passion with us all. He achieved great things in the kitchen of Logan Brown and is now concentrating on another book and more television which is fabulous because in my opinion Hunger for the Wild is by far the best food programme produced here.
Al’s food is delicious and we were treated to the best freshest paua I have ever eaten!

I want to share a sauce recipe with you that he served with crab cakes and is simply delicious. I’m stopping by my fish shop on the way home tonight to buy some tuna steaks to serve it with but it also occurred to me that it would be equally good over a large baked potato with a salad for simple quick meal. Cook it & Love it.

Al’s Gribiche Sauce

1 ½ cups good quality mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
4 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
¼ cup capers, finely chopped
¼ red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup gherkins, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped green capsicum
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped chervil
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 ½ tablespoons wholegrain mustard
sea salt and pepper

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Taste and season accordingly. Keep refrigerated until required. Will keep several days refrigerated.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MONG KOK OR BUST - Black pepper crab

It always pays to do lots of research before you travel, especially if eating is on the top of your agenda!
This lead to us queuing for an hour outside a little hole in the wall restaurant in the back streets of Mong Kok in Hong Kong. I had heard so much about this little Dim Sum Michelin Star restaurant called Tim Ho Wan that from the time we set foot on the tarmac in Hong Kong at 6.30 in the morning, I was on a mission.
With amused husband and eager friend Vicki (pictured) in tow, we dumped our bags at the hotel reception and set off to Mong Kok on the very efficient underground. On surfacing into the hustle and bustle firmly clutching our map, we were approached by a friendly gentleman asking us if we needed help. On seeing our destination he took it upon himself to walk us all the way to the restaurant door. A good ten minute walk!
It was 8.45 in the morning, the restaurant opens at 10am and already the queue was forming!
At 9.45 with the queue well out of sight and around the corner, menu cards were handed out to the first 30 or so people to fill in and then gathered up and rushed to the kitchen. At 10am the doors opened and in we went with eager anticipation to taste the famous pork buns. WOW was it worth the wait! As had been recommended, we began and ended with the pork buns which were totally divine melt in the mouth morsels which had the eyes rolling in the back of my head. On leaving 30 minutes later (it didn’t seem right to keep people waiting longer than necessary) the question was raised should we come back in the evening!

I now had one up on Ann, my Hong Kong sister in law, so she is eagerly anticipating her next trip home to Hong Kong.
She did agree to share with us her fantastic recipe for Black Pepper Crab which I urge you to try. I know it’s a bit of a hassle to break up the crabs but they are simply delicious and you know what? Sometimes things are just worth the extra effort!
Cook it and love it.

Tim Ho Wan is open daily from 10am until 10pm. Address for the intrepid: Shop 8, 2 -20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok.


3 medium sized crabs, portioned
2 spring onions
¼ cup black pepper corns
4 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1½ tablespoons corn starch
4 tablespoons soya sauce
¼ cup flour
canola oil for frying (1/3 wok full)
2 slices of ginger

Cut spring onion into 2 inch pieces and put aside. Partially grind pepper corns in coffee grinder or similar. Add garlic and grind until coarse paste formed (approximately 10 seconds). Place paste into mixing bowl. Add sugar and salt and blend. Put aside. In separate bowl, mix water, cornstarch and soya sauce. Put aside. Dust crab portions with flour.

Heat oil in wok until very hot. Carefully place crab portions into oil. Deep fry by stirring (approx one minute). Turn off gas. Scoop out portions onto draining paper.
Pour out oil leaving 4 tablespoons in wok. Stir fry pepper mix and ginger for 30 seconds.
Add cornstarch sauce mix and stir until it thickens. Add crab and spring onions to the sauce. Stir fry for ½ minute. Add 1 tablespoon oil to final stir.
Serve on banana leaf or similar and eat with your fingers!

Crab preparation.
Buy only live crabs. Place crabs in the freezer for 20 minutes so they go into a state of hibernation. Spread newspaper on floor with chopping board on top. Take the crabs out of the freezer and place crab shell side down on chopping board. Cut crab firmly down the centre into two, effectively killing the crab. Use back of cleaver to knock claws off. Cut string. Place cleaver or knife under shell to open slightly and pull shell off with fingers. Discard lungs and mouthpieces. Pull out and discard soft shell from roe. Wash under tap with coarse brush to remove mud. If large crabs are used then each half can be cut into smaller portions for serving. Smash claws with cleaver.

Monday, June 7, 2010

WHITE TIE WINTER BISTRO – Eggplant spagaloni

I’m still buzzing from our fabulous White Tie Winter Bistro – we had our first one for this year on Thursday 3 June – and it was just wonderful!

We held the event at C4, our favourite roasters of coffee in Christchurch. The roastery is housed in a funky warehouse style building in Lichfield Street with exposed brick, wood floors and industrial strength iron girders in the ceiling. They have a great display of coffee machines, stove top espresso pots, and the world’s best Barbie record player!

Our 80 guests chose from a wine list showcasing Canterbury’s finest on offer – pinot noir from Black Estate, Pegasus Bay’s Semillon and a Crater Rim Late Harvest Pinot Gris to name a few…

Entrees included green olive and anchovy beignets, Malouf’s mushrooms on traditional fried bread and our homemade ciabatta grilled with chopped tomato salad, prosciutto and the award-winning Clevedon buffalo mozzarella.

The mains proved there’s just something about hearty bistro fare breaking through the winter cold, slow braised veal, old fashioned roast lamb, parsnip and carrot mash the way your Nana made it and a sell out crispy skinned groper with a fine ratatouille and gruyere potato croquettes.

And if you thought making decisions was hard, then you really would have been in trouble come dessert time; lemon curd pavlova roulade, a C4 coffee tasting plate including an outstanding brown sugar espresso pannacotta, spiced chocolate bread and butter pudding and rice pudding to end all rice puddings…we had a ball!

Everyone was in party spirits and the noise level was heart warming. The C4 crew jumped up from their table to make coffees on demand while guests from all over the city table hopped to catch up with new friends made at last year’s bistros...

This was an initiative that started last year and it was so successful – it’s given us the opportunity to be our own client, to create a range of contemporary bistro dishes we don’t often have the opportunity to do through White Tie’s events. We create a restaurant for one night in a secret venue, only texting guests 24 hours in advance to let them in on the secret. People are clamouring for seats at the bistros on 8 July, 12 August and 16 September… if you would like to come along and celebrate hearty winter food with friends then give White Tie Catering a call on (03) 365 2837 to book your seat!

One of the dishes we offered was a White Tie twist on pasta – Spagaloni (half spaghetti, kind of half cannelloni!) – a special treat for our vegetarian friends and even a few meat eaters who saw it on its way to other tables. This is a wonderful warming family dish for Winter, extremely cost effective and the leftovers make the best lunch the next day. Cook it & Love it.


Serves 6

2 large fat eggplant
olive oil
thyme, finely chopped
oregano, finely chopped
1/3 packet spaghetti noodles
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup cream
¼ cup torn, fresh basil
1 x 400g tins seasoned Italian tomatoes, chopped
extra grated cheese and parmesan

Slice eggplant lengthwise ¼ inch thick and brush with oil and herbs. Chargrill both sides and allow to cool.

Cook spaghetti in boiling water, drain and while still hot stir through parmesan cheese, cream and basil. Add a heaped tablespoon of spaghetti to each eggplant strip and roll.

Pour a third of the tomatoes over the base of dish and place rolled eggplant on top. Spoon rest of tomatoes over eggplant rolls and sprinkle with extra cheeses. Bake in hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes until top is browned and bubbling.

Monday, May 3, 2010

NO NEED TO KNEAD - No knead ciabatta

There is no smell quite like the aroma of baking bread filling your home. That sweet, yeasty fragrance of unadulterated carbo loading potential, warm and crusty with New Zealand’s golden butter just melting into it. I cannot begin to describe what a weakness this is for me.

I know the idea of bread baking can terrify people, handling yeast, rising it just enough, kneading it properly. It can be a fine art and for those among us who bake bread truly skillfully, collecting natural yeasts from the air or experimenting with different flours, it can be a serious passion.

Winter is a great time for bread baking, a big pot of soup sitting on the stovetop with a loaf of homemade bread happily feeds a family for several nights in a row. It’s a wonderful addition to brunch with friends, or with a cheese platter. I serve slices of homemade ciabatta on an entrée plate with fresh sliced prosciutto, goats cheese and lemon oil.

If you’re ever in Christchurch and get in early enough, a wonderful treat is a quick lunch at The Canterbury Cheesemongers. Fresh ciabatta rolls still warm from the oven, a slab of the cheese of your choice and a fantastic local roast flat white. It’s heaven.

At White Tie Catering however we often need to bake enough bread for 500 people in one weekend and because we’re also preparing everything else on the menu, we simply don’t have the luxury of time for a long bread baking process. One of our event supervisors, Karyn Bird gave us a recipe of hers that has since become a serious staple in the White Tie kitchen. It’s a no-knead ciabatta that is as good as any ciabatta we can buy, and because we bake it, we can serve it fresh from the oven, warm and still bursting with fragrance at the table.

This bread is easy, manageable and the results are simply outstanding. It’s not technical nor do you need the gift of the pastry hand to pull it off. Bake it once and you’ll be a convert. Best of all, it will literally cost you about a quarter of the price of a loaf of bread. It’s fresh, without preservatives or additives so by the second day it is quite rightly, stale. It’s really very good toast as well….
Cook it & Love it.

Makes 4 loaves

7 cups high grade flour
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups warm water

Mix yeast with warm water and leave for 10 minutes. Add salt, sugar and 3 cups of the flour. Combine, cover and leave overnight.

Mix in remaining 4 cups of flour, cover and leave for a further 2 – 3 hours. Preheat over to 230°C. Dump dough onto very well floured board and cut into 4 portions. Stretch out onto baking tray into flat ciabatta loaves. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

MARKET LUNCH - Mike's chicken terrine

I have finally greeted my new grandson after what seemed like a very long wait, however, the waiting time was not lost as I was able to immerse myself in recipe books and retreat to the kitchen.

Of course, one of the bonuses of staying in Whangarei for a while is a visit to the Farmers’ Market. It’s a real case of the early bird catches the worm but this is a market worth getting up early for. So, last Saturday morning I was up with the larks and with shopping bags in hand I was off to explore. The Whangarei Farmers’ Market is the oldest in Australasia, opening in 1997 – long before we all thought about farmers’ markets. So it’s well established, well patronised and a serious foodies delight.

Huge bunches of fresh herbs for a dollar. Enormous heads of broccoli for two dollars. I could go on and on, but home I went with roasted macadamia nuts, pohutukawa honey, coriander, basil, rocket, bunches of baby beetroot, aged Gouda, fresh flowers, olive oil, oranges and avocados and a small box of perfectly ripe fresh sweet figs.

I hardly needed much inspiration to turn that into a celebratory lunch for friends on Sunday, however, that’s when I remembered Mike’s Chicken Terrine – the perfect accompaniment to my purchases.

It’s important sometimes to think back and remember some of the ‘oldie but goodie’ recipes that lurk in the depths of our recipe folders often scribbled on scraps of paper and fading with time! I must remember to reorganise my recipes next time I have a minute!

Mike was a friend and former employee who sadly passed away last year but his chicken terrine was a real winner and will always be Mike’s Terrine from now on.

All that was left for me to do was make a couple of loaves of my easy no knead ciabatta but that’s another story! Cook it & Love it.

Makes 1 terrine

200g sliced belly bacon
1/2 onion, diced
10g butter
250g chicken breast, skin on
500g chicken mince
100g dried apricots, chopped
50g pitted prunes, chopped
50g pistachio nuts
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g diced belly bacon, extra

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Line 1 terrine tin or loaf tin with bacon slices. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté onions until transparent. Remove skins from chicken breasts and reserve. Roughly chop chicken into large chunks. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken skin and diced bacon and combine thoroughly. Pack into lined tin and cover with bacon followed by reserved chicken skin.

Bake at 180ºC for 1- 1½hours or until juices run clear. Remove from oven and cool. Drain off excess liquid and remove and discard chicken skin. Weight down with something heavy and refrigerate until chilled or overnight.

Remove from tin and wrap in foil. Serve sliced with pickles and salad.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SPICE IS THE VARIETY OF LIFE - Vipin's chicken curry

I am at times an impatient woman so sitting as I am in Whangarei waiting for the birth of my second grandchild is hard work on my nerves. You can imagine how my daughter feels perched on the edge of the couch already over her due date. Mowing the lawns didn’t help so now we turn to curry every night....

Whether or not curry actually works to bring on labour remains open to debate, I’m not sure if any great research has been done on the subject. It does however give us great cause here on the farm in Whangarei, for a curry week. My daughter is an avid fan of South East Asian cuisine, turning her Spirit House cookbook into her kitchen bible. She loves to cook with chilli, lime, coriander and palm sugar. Fish sauce is the new Wattie’s Tomato Sauce in this house and her 18 month old son has been raised on her homemade steamed dumplings.

It was quite a different story for me growing up in New Zealand in the 60s - it didn’t especially lend itself to international cuisine. I made up for it in spades however when I first went overseas. My sister and I travelled to London together and found board with an Indian woman, not long in the UK herself. For the girls from Weedons, Canterbury the complexity of Maya Shahaney’s cooking was phenomenal.

The first thing Maya ever made me was an omelette full of chopped fresh green chilli. I’d never eaten chilli in my life, which was obvious at the time with the water streaming from my eyes. But it was the beginning of a great love affair. Maya taught me how to make chapatti, how to cook basmati rice (she used the absorption method after washing the rice over and over again until the water was clear). Maya cooked religiously with garlic and chilli which I’m sure was the reason I was never once sick while living with her, despite the London winter. She always made her own garam masala, the pungent spice mix at the base of all her curries. Garam masala differs regionally but is usually a blend of spices such as chilli, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and so on.

We all have a great reliable Indian takeaway down the road but the understanding of spice, the use of them in different regions and the sheer complexity of the cuisine make it a must for foodies to get a handle on. Little is more gratifying than balancing an array of spices to create one perfectly rounded dish.

So, here I am in Whangarei working on a garam (hot) masala (mixture) to coax my grandchild into the world. One of our White Tie chefs, Vipin, who is our resident curry and spice expert has graciously agreed to share one of his recipes. Raised in Bombay and cooking his way around the world, Vipin’s curries are a staff lunch favourite and are sure to become a favourite of yours. His tip for this recipe; you must have patience. Vipin says each sequence is equally important in Indian cuisine, each ingredient must be cooked properly before the next layer of flavour is added, all the aromas must be released. And that’s when you get a curry so good, it brings on labour! Cook it & Love it.

Serves 3 - 4

250g boneless chicken
20ml lemon juice
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
2 T oil
½ tsp mixed spice

50g ginger
60g garlic
4 green chillies, chopped (with seeds for hot curry)
3 red onions, sliced
5 tomatoes

10g cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
2 star anise

Chicken stock
Extra lemon juice

Dice the chicken and toss with oil, lemon juice and spices and refrigerate overnight if possible.

Heat oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic and chilli and cook until the raw flavour of the garlic is completely gone. Add the sliced red onion and cook well until caramelised. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and fry until very tender. Allow mixture to cool before blending in a food processor to make a smooth silky paste.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, allowing the spices to crackle in the heat until they release the aromatic oils. Add the paste and fry together well, until the paste leaves the sides of the pan.

Add the marinated boneless chicken cubes and fry them along with the spices and paste. Add a little chicken stock and bring the curry to the boil before simmering for 20 minutes.

Spoon over basmati rice and finish with finely chopped coriander leaves, a sprinkle of garam masala and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I SAY TOMATO - Middle Eastern Summer Tomato Jam

I’ve just picked my first tomato, and yes I’m feeling quite proud about it. I walked into the house beaming from ear to ear and everyone thought I’d won Lotto. Instead, I’d hit the growers’ jackpot – three little cherry tomatoes. Reaping the rewards of your own efforts in the vegetable garden gives a wonderful sense of achievement but particularly so with a tomato. It’s watching it flower then fruit, the slow turn from green to red and if you’ve done everything well and it has drunk its fill of the sun, then the result can be spectacular. Sweet and juicy, a little tart and incredibly versatile.

My husband treats tomatoes literally as fruit, eating it like an apple, usually leaning over the sink with juice dripping all over my nice clean kitchen bench. My first cherry tomatoes didn’t get any special treatment, I ate them, just popped them in my mouth and it was glorious. And that was my reward for the hard yards, every Saturday I fed it tomato fertiliser, I staked it and picked off leaves to let the sun shine on the bunches of fruit. I nurtured it and it in turn, is now nurturing me. Delicious!

Recently on a research trip to Sydney (it’s a necessary part of food development...) I experienced a dish that took tomatoes to a whole new level – an heirloom tomato salad at Becasse. Becasse is Justin North’s restaurant, the Blenheim born chef who won last year’s Sydney Morning Herald Chef of the Year. North has an intensely romantic relationship with food, he is full of respect and awe for the simplest of ingredient and his menu reflects that. Working with boutique suppliers and markets, he selects the finest examples and then works to enhance natural flavours. And thus, it is Justin North who has ruined me for every tomato salad.


Heirloom tomatoes are growing in popularity; traditionally naturally cultivated they are not the stuff of commercial growers. North’s tomatoes were bright red and yellow, green striped, deep plum, there was olive oil sorbet and the most intensely flavoured basil pebbles (a touch of molecular gastronomy). It was simply spectacular and as you can see, exceptionally beautiful.

We all have tins of chopped tomatoes in our pantries because it’s a meal in a can – soups, pastas, slow braises, a quick Spanish chicken or an Italian inspired fish casserole. But if you’re growing them, or buying them cheaply at this time of the year when they are most abundant, you can preserve them yourself to enjoy them all year long.

I’m giving you a Middle Eastern inspired summer tomato jam recipe because it goes spectacularly well with so many things, and is as valuable in my kitchen as tinned tomatoes. Spoon it over grilled or roasted chicken, fish or lamb. Pour it over browned chicken thighs and bake for a great casserole. Pile on top of hot grilled garlicky ciabatta with your own beef burger and haloumi for a stunning Sunday night open sandwich. Heat the tomato through slightly and dollop it on toast with poached eggs and toasted cumin for a seriously good brunch (accompanied by a bloody Mary.) I’m getting hungry just thinking about I’m off out the back garden to the tomato vine. Bottle this jam and seal it, it keeps for at least 6 months. Cook it & Love it.


2 tablespoons oil
1 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoons turmeric
1 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 kg tomato, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
freshly ground white pepper

Place the onion, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon in a pot with the oil and cook for 5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and slowly bring to a simmer, reduce for about 30 minutes and check seasoning.

The amount of cayenne, salt and pepper is entirely personal.

The jam is ready once it has thickened.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SOMETHING TO WINE ABOUT - Slow braise of duck with pinot noir

We just catered for a stunning wedding in Wanaka over the weekend and I’m reminded how truly wonderful that part of New Zealand is. Otago gets me every time, I simply never tire of its incredible landscapes, bright yellows and oranges, lakes and poplars. And hey, let’s be completely honest here, I certainly never tire of its pinot noirs.

The wedding was held at Rippon Vineyard, the marquee positioned between vines and facing straight out to Mt Aspiring, the lake, Wanaka township and around to Treble Cone. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it. At dessert service not a guest was to be found in the marquee, all standing out the front jaws on the ground watching a spectacular sunset over the mountains. With a Rippon Pinot Noir in their hands...

See? Try as I might to talk about the scenery et al, I cannot help but return to the nectar of Otago – its pinot noir. New Zealand is becoming as well known for its pinots as Australia is for its shiraz. Increasingly at events our clients are happy to serve just one red and when once it was a blend, now it’s a pinot.

And thus, we cook with it. Pinot noir is a great wine to add depth to your cooking where appropriate particularly if you’re making a special effort to match the food. We use it in our reductions over rich Canterbury red meats or we make pinot syrup lightly lifted with cinnamon and orange zest for poaching rhubarb, delicious with a nutty crumble simply sprinkled over the top.

As always when cooking with wine, the better the quality; the better the final product. Obviously that also means it’s more drinkable and while I’m a repeat offender of the drinking while cooking, remember the less you drink; the better the final product.

Today I’m giving you a slow braise of duck with pinot noir. I make mine with an Otago drop in honour of all things glorious about that region. To keep it summery, serve it with a spinach salad, with fava beans, lardons and pearl onions tossed through. In winter, heap it on top of a great olive oil mash and sticky shallots reduced in a little of the braising juices. You will note the recipe uses 2 cups of wine for the duck which means and an extra 1 for the cook. Cook it & Love it.

Serves 6

6 duck legs
duck fat
2 onions
1 dessertspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
juice and zest of an orange
2 cups of pinot noir
2 tablespoons maple syrup
salt and pepper

In a sauté pan, brown duck in duck fat until golden. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Sauté onions in fat and remove with slotted spoon and spoon over duck. Combine remaining ingredients in a jug and pour over. Season with salt and pepper, cover and place in 180°C oven and slowly braise until tender for 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Carefully remove the duck from the sauce with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish. Skim fat from sauce and thicken the sauce with beurre manié and pour over duck and serve.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MAKE MINE A RASPBERRY - Frozen raspberry and nut crumb pudding

I simply adore this time of year and the berries that come with it – sometimes I’m surprised to end a summer intact instead of a mixed berry version of Violet Beauregarde being hauled off by the Ooompa Loompas after berry overload. I am a serious raspberry girl, plop me down in front of a movie with a punnet of raspberries and I am one happy camper. (The luxury of a house kind of happy camper, not in a tent).

We’re especially lucky here in Christchurch with some sensational berry farms. The great thing of course is the simplicity of dessert, a bowl of mixed berries and a good dousing of icing sugar is the sublime end to a shared dinner.

However my children lead me to believe that you can have too much of the simple berry dessert and encourage me to incorporate them in other ways. Summer pudding is an obvious one for starters and is a popular wedding dessert in this season at White Tie. We often make a Summer pud in a terrine then pour over a champagne jelly to set it. It looks beautiful when sliced and the champagne jelly just helps round off the intensity of the berries.

Eton Mess is still a fantastic dessert, we used some leftovers to make it as a quick treat at family dinner on Sunday night – berries, whipped cream and broken meringues mixed together and served in a glass. Or you could soften a tub (homemade if you prefer) of vanilla ice cream and stir through raspberries before freezing it through a little to make an easy semi freddo – add praline or nuts for another layer of texture.

But there is one supreme category winner in our house – a frozen raspberry dessert introduced to the family by my sister in law Adele Ryan. Dellie’s Raspberry and Nut Crumb pudding is so delicious it was our Christmas dinner dessert this year. The recipe also makes two, so you serve one and then have another stashed away in the freezer, utter brilliance.

It’s also wonderfully versatile, it makes two large pudding bowls or you can make little individual puddings, or a terrine tin. I’ve made individual puds using small cups lined with cling film, turned them out and covered them in Italian meringue and browned them with a blow torch for a great version of a Baked Alaska. Or you could even stir the crumb through the raspberry mixture half way through freezing for a softer spooned dessert.

Anyway, I’m sure Dellie won’t mind if I share this with you. Cook it & Love it.



150g plain flour

50g each walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds

75g brown sugar

100g melted butter

Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift flour into a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well to thoroughly combine and spread evenly over the base of a baking paper lined sponge roll tin. Bake 20 minutes, remove from oven and cool. Break into crumbs with fingers.


2 egg whites

2 tablespoons lemon juice

450g fresh raspberries (or frozen, thaw but don’t drain, use juice and all)

225g caster sugar

300ml cream

Combine egg whites, juice and most of the raspberries in mixer bowl. Begin whisking and gradually whisk in sugar. Beat at high speed for 10 minutes until mixture forms stiff peaks. Beat cream until stiff and fold into raspberry meringue with remaining raspberries. Beginning and ending with raspberry mixture, layer in a pudding bowl with the biscuit crumbs. Freeze.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A SHARED MEAL - Classic roast chicken, preserved lemon butter, smokey bacon coleslaw

I love food and love to talk about food so it would seem inevitable in this age of immediacy that I would end up with a blog. The idea behind this is simply to use a different platform for me (and you) to talk food. I'm not tech savvy and I don't confess to any great ability to write but I do know great food. I want to share with you my personal experiences, recipe finds, developments from our kitchen and hear about yours.

I am the Creative Director of White Tie Catering in Christchurch, New Zealand. I've spent much of my life cooking, from serving up a roast to my family of eight when I was a little girl to nourishing my own four girls with home cooked meals, working with some of New Zealand's great chefs and foodies and now for the past 10 years, running my own catering company with my husband.

As well as fulfilling my need to feed people, White Tie is my reason to experiment and develop. To stay contemporary and relevant for our clients, we are constantly introducing new dishes to our menus.

That's a little bit about my story and my life with food. But the decision to join this interweb thingee has given me cause to ruminate (not the chewing cud kind of ruminating however that's also oddly appropriate), I've been thinking about what I love most about food. What is it about eating that gets me so excited? Why is it that I can sit and talk about food, restaurants and ideas for hours while others simply glaze over at the mention of a cookbook? I need to nourish. Nourish the body and soul. It's the whole meal process that I love so much; deciding who to share it with and inviting them, deciding what to cook, preparing the ingredients, choosing wine, setting the table, bringing family and friends into my home and expressing my love and appreciation for them through a wonderful shared meal.

My daughters' friends while they were at school would love to eat at our home because we all sat around the table. I was floored to learn many of them didn't, it was such an important part of the fabric of family life in my childhood. Sharing the day around a shared meal, learning to communicate, debate, have opinions and tolerate others' opinions - all over a meal (without the television!).

It's not wrong that things have changed, that there are easy meal options and that families don't always have the time to sit around the table together. But I certainly believe it's important to find the time to fit that into your lives occasionally, the experience is wonderful to share and in my family, the culture continues.

So, to kick us off, I wanted to start by sharing a meal with you all. I've talked to my own family about what they love to share around the table and it seems Sunday comfort food is a favourite. None of my girls live at home anymore but you'd think otherwise given how often they're sitting at our table - now with their partners and in one case, babies.

Sunday's are special in our home because working in hospitality means Fridays and Saturdays are always busy. Sunday night is when we come together exhausted and in need of a little nourishment.

Let me share with you ‘classic roast chicken with preserved lemon butter and smokey bacon coleslaw’. A roast is such a great shared meal, served traditionally or jointed into large pieces for your guests. Our smokey bacon coleslaw is buttery, salty and sweet, just delicious under the moist lemony chicken. Cook it & love it.


Serves 6

1 whole chicken (size 18 – 20)

4 garlic cloves, lightly bashed with the knife

50 gms butter, softened butter

Rind of ¼ of a preserved lemon (or as lemony as you like), finely chopped

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 200°C fan bake. Clean and dry the chicken inside and out, removing any gizzards. Season the inside of the chicken and pop in garlic cloves.

Mix together the butter and the lemon rind. With the chicken legs towards you, gently slide your hand between the breast and skin to loosen. Spread the majority of the preserved lemon butter under the skin as evenly as possible. This will baste the chicken while it cooks. Truss the chicken with kitchen string and rub the remaining butter over the outside skin, season well.

Pour 1 cup of cold water into a roasting pan and place chicken on top. Put in oven for 30 minutes then reduce temperature to 180°C for a further hour or until juices run clear. Rest the chicken on a warmed plate for 15 - 20 minutes before carving. Slice the chicken or joint it, pour over pan juices and serve with smokey bacon coleslaw.


2 tablespoons olive oil

25g butter

4 rashers streaky smokey bacon, chopped finely

1 cabbage, preferably Savoy, very finely sliced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cups baby peas, frozen or fresh

Bunch of parsley, finely chopped

In a pan, fry the bacon in olive oil and butter and once the bacon is beautifully crispy, add the cabbage, onion and peas and season well. Toss until the cabbage just starts to wilt. Stir through parsley and serve.