Sauce vierge – perfect in its simplicity

You’ve all heard the term “less is more”. When it comes to food and cooking it’s a motto to live by. That’s not to say complex and creative dishes don’t have their place. But there are times when paring it back is essential and the key to being a good cook is knowing when to do this.

I’ve mentioned previously that when I travel to Italy the first thing I eat is a Caprese salad. Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil. That’s it. Of course you could try and be creative and add other things. But why would you? It’s perfect just as it is.

This week I’m sticking with the combination of tomatoes and basil (an outstanding combination of the food world) but move from Italian to French cuisine to bring you sauce vierge. This sauce is another example of less is more – keep it simple and let the quality of the ingredients and their flavour carry the dish.

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Natural Homemade Muesli – breaking the fast in style

When I was younger I never bothered much with breakfast. It always seemed more important to have that extra twenty minutes in bed or deal with a wardrobe crisis or whatever else cropped up to cause a delay in getting out the door.

Ironically it wasn’t until I made the decision to lose weight and eat healthier that I made breakfast a staple of my morning routine. When my husband and I returned from the United Kingdom fifteen years ago I was overweight and out of shape. I joined a gym, signed up with a personal trainer and by the following year I’d lost fifteen kilos. Considering I’m only five foot two inches tall you can imagine the massive difference this made.

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The wonder of walking at first light

As a child I didn’t live close to the ocean, although growing up in New Zealand I was never far from it. It’s easy to take things for granted about your own country, but I’m happy to say that the ocean and its proximity is not something I’ve ever taken for granted. I know how lucky I am.

After all, there are many people in the world who have never even seen the ocean. That’s a hard one for me to comprehend.

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Welsh Rarebit – toasted cheese with a delicious twist

When I come across the name of a dish that is unusual, especially if the name bears little resemblance to the dish itself, I simply have to discover its origin.

I talked last week about my lifelong obsession with cheese. It’s of no surprise then that toasted cheese is one of my special standbys. It’s what I turn to when I need something delicious and comforting but can’t be bothered to cook.

But if I’m making toasted cheese and are prepared to offer a tad more effort it becomes Welsh rarebit. What, you may ask, does a name like that have to do with toasted cheese? There are a few theories floating around and no apparent definitive answer as to how it came to be in its present form.

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Homemade tomato relish – and my cheese obsession

My love affair with cheese goes back to my childhood. As early as I can remember it was my favourite thing to eat. In fact, my mother knew that when it came to her daughter’s school lunches a sandwich was not a sandwich unless there was a cheese component.

But my mother understood completely. After all, it was from her I inherited my obsession with cheese. And it is as strong today as it was when I was a child. But I find this is an obsession I can live with quite easily.

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Thai Green Chicken Curry – treat your tastebuds

There is something about the exquisite flavours of Thai food that gets me every time I eat it. When I take that first mouthful and I can taste the heat, the sweet, the salty and the sour all working in perfect harmony my tastebuds ask why I don’t eat it more often.

Perhaps it’s because I adore curries – every type going – and so it’s a case of ‘so many curries, so little time’. But a Thai curry is my all-time favourite. It’s for this reason that I have spent some time experimenting and attempting to perfect the green curry paste I make at home.

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Strawberry Fool – a sweet treat for your Valentine

Valentine’s Day has an interesting history that dates back centuries. Many stories exist that are linked to this famous holiday, although it’s thought the firm attachment to romantic love began around the time of Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century. Chaucer wrote a poem to celebrate the engagement of England’s Richard II.

I suppose I have always thought of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of young and new love. When my husband and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day we were living in London at the time. He booked us on the Eurostar and whisked me off to Paris for the weekend.

Well . . . how do you top that?

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Berry Mascarpone Tart – reworking a classic

When I was studying at Le Cordon Bleu in London it was a few weeks in before we tackled pastry. Listening to the conversations during the lead up to “pastry day” was interesting. Some students were looking forward to it, particularly those who had an interest in pâtisserie. Others were dreading it.

I was somewhere in between. I’d always quite enjoyed making pastry. During the morning demonstration we were shown a shortcrust pastry, which Chef rolled into the most perfect circle I’d ever seen. He then made a Quiche Lorraine with it (one of my favourite things to eat – do I say that a lot?) He next made a sweet pastry, which was to be turned into a classic fruit tart.

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Lemon Posset – three ingredients, one perfect dessert

Cream – a wonderful ingredient that is used in so many dishes. Especially desserts. Many desserts involve nothing more than flavouring the cream or using it as the base of a custard. The Italians have their panna cotta and the French their crème brûlée. Both of which are divinely luscious.

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