Author Archives for Tracey O'Brien

About Tracey O'Brien

Devoted foodie, food blogger and traveller. Let me share with you the food I love to cook and eat and the places I've travelled to.

A welcome to spring – and the ultimate spring/summer shoe collection

When I first started this blog I named it Food, Travel, Books, Life. I felt the title encapsulated what I most enjoy in life. But I also chose it because I wanted the freedom to write about all sorts of things.

I so enjoy reading the beauty and lifestyle blogs that I follow. They’re great fun and I’ve picked up so many tips. I always feel very privileged to be surrounded by such talented bloggers – I love this little world I’ve become a part of.

There are two things that I get incredibly excited about when the seasons change. The first is food. I’m loving the spring produce that’s available now and can’t wait until the markets are overflowing with blushing summer fruits. Coming in at a close second is the wardrobe switch. Time to put away the jumpers and boots and clean up those toes. I have a particular weakness for shoes. In fact I’ve already had my first pedicure of the season in a desperate attempt to will the warm weather to descend.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Smoked Paprika Chicken – a delicious nod to Spain

Apologies again to all my lovely followers for my absence the last few weeks. I’ve been working tirelessly on completing the edits for my new novel. I’ve self-published my previous two novels on Amazon (you can check them out here). This time around I’d like to pitch the book to an agent and I’m hoping to have it ready by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

But regardless of how busy I am there is always time to cook good food. Some standards can never be allowed to let slip.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that spring has arrived in New Zealand. Winter this year seemed interminable, not helped by the horrible cough I had for weeks on end. But you need to be a little wary of spring. Just when you think it’s time to whip out the spring/summer wardrobe, Mother Nature decides to remind you that it’s not summer. Not yet. And on those chilly spring evenings I still find myself seeking comfort from the evening meal.

Continue reading

Spicy Lamb and Butternut Salad

When I was a child salads were a simple affair. That’s not to say they weren’t delicious. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, a boiled egg, some nice cold cuts. But we are blessed in New Zealand with excellent produce and when everything is fresh and packed with flavour there is nothing wrong with simplicity.

Sometimes my mother would serve a deconstructed salad. Other times she would make a layered salad. But both were elevated by her excellent homemade dressing. Fast forward to today and my mother’s layered salad with homemade dressing is a recurring request at nearly every family gathering.

Being an adventurous cook I like to push the envelope a bit more when it comes to salads. Especially during the cooler months. Although we’ve now ticked over to September and spring is around the corner summer food feels far away. I’m still looking for comfort. And so I think a salad at this time of the year needs a warm or hot element to provide that comfort.

Continue reading

Battling through winter – and a return to my magnificent Italy

Let me start this post by apologising to all my lovely followers for being absent from our blogging world the last few weeks. I’ve been unwell, a nasty winter virus that seems to have lasted an age. Have you ever had a cough that you thought would never leave you??!

Fortunately we’re in our final week of winter in New Zealand. September heralds the beginning of spring. It may take a while for the temperatures to start rising but at least there are lighter mornings and evenings to enjoy in the meantime.

So how does one boost themselves after battling through winter and the horrible bugs that come with it? Well, my husband and I decided to sit down at the laptop and book a holiday. Always a sure way to lift my spirits.

Continue reading

A crash course in food photography – and a girls’ weekend in Wellington

It’s been some time since I’ve had a weekend away with a girlfriend. I was happily reminded recently just what a great time is to be had.

A few months ago I came across a short weekend course offered at Le Cordon Bleu on Food Photography. Immediately I was interested – until I read the equipment required.

Enter my friend Svea. As an enthusiastic amateur photographer I was certain she’d be able to assist. Sure enough, she had all the equipment on the list, was more than happy to loan me what I needed and even decided she’d like to come along.

And so a girls’ weekend in Wellington was organised. By the end of the day we had a place on the course, flights booked, and rooms at a fabulous hotel. What more could you ask for?

Continue reading

Fish with Coconut & Tamarind Sauce

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is not the post I’d planned for this week. On a recent visit to my local gourmet market I had a list in my head of what I needed to pick up for dinner that evening. But it all changed when I strolled past the fish counter.

And when I say stroll past, I invariably end up stopping to see what beauties are on offer. My local market has two fresh deliveries of seafood every day. It’s important when you’re buying fish or seafood to have a reliable provider who you know will have the freshest produce.

On this particular day the ocean had brought them blue cod. Although blue cod is endemic to New Zealand it is more commonly found in the waters of the South Island and so not always available in Auckland. Such a treat when it is. I couldn’t resist. My plan for dinner that night was changed in an instant.

Continue reading

Spiced Parsnip Soup – a celebration of the winter vegetable

I can’t resist starting this post by telling you how excited I am by my recipe this week. Just so excited! Can you tell? I made this soup on the weekend for Sunday lunch and it was such a triumph. I had been quietly confident when I embarked on the cook that it was going to be delicious but this parsnip soup exceeded my expectations. Don’t you love it when that happens?

I always enjoy making soups during the winter months and parsnip is a favourite. But I wanted to try something different by way of ramping up the flavour with some spices. I took care as I made it to get the flavours and level of spice just right. It was more than just right. So delicious I can only be profoundly grateful that a batch went into the freezer. It winks at me now every time I open the freezer as a small reminder that I have a treat in store.

Continue reading

Biscotti and Espresso – the perfect pairing

When it comes to savoury vs sweet, I generally tend towards savoury. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a sweet treat. But I would always prefer to go for something that isn’t overly sweet.

Those who have a fierce sweet tooth are happy with a full on sugar hit. But I prefer dishes and treats that hint at sweetness without making you feel as though you’ve just swallowed several spoonfuls of sugar. And for me texture is crucial.

One of my favourite desserts is panna cotta. I love the smooth silkiness of the set cream with the familiar scent and taste of vanilla running through it. Not too sweet, a gorgeous texture and it looks beautiful. But it has to be served with something that will contrast all that smooth silkiness. Biscotti is just the thing.

Continue reading

Are we all just muggles? The wonderful world of Harry Potter

I’m a little tardy with this post. That is to say last month – 26th June to be exact – marked twenty years since Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was first published. Yes, twenty years since Harry’s first adventure.

If you’re not a fan or you’ve never read the books (really??) then that may not mean much. But if you are a fan then this anniversary is something quite personal. Because it conjures memories of the first time you read the books. Of how incredible it was to be introduced to Harry’s world and all the wonderful, weird and sometimes dangerous characters that inhabit it.

Continue reading

Slow-cooked Chicken with Lemon and Honey – and a childhood memory

My mother remarked recently on how often she gets a mention in my posts. It’s a happy mention when I’m talking about food and my mother. That’s because writing about food often evokes the smells and tastes from my childhood. Memories of the food we ate as a child are powerful. And not necessarily always in a good way – a bad eating experience in our younger years can linger for decades.

But I like to think the scales tip towards good memories. And perhaps my fondest of them all is my mother’s roast chicken. It was my favourite meal as a child. And not something we had too often. In those days (oh dear!) chicken was not the cheapest of meats and roast chicken was a treat.

Does everyone grow up believing their mother cooks the best roast dinner in the world? It’s certainly how I felt as a child. As soon as the chicken came out of the oven I would lift myself into position on the bench and watch as Mum deftly handled and plated the fabulous bird. She would tell you that she was lucky to get any of it on the plate if I was in range. And her roast potatoes! It was such a beautiful thing.

Continue reading

1 2 8
%d bloggers like this: