Recipes

Berries with Mascarpone Cream – summer on a plate

I speak a lot about the joys of eating with the seasons. And with good reason. Food, produce in particular, is always at its most delicious when eaten at the right time of the year. I think it would be difficult to find a better example of this than summer berries.

If you dwell in the Northern Hemisphere, think June strawberries and you’ll know what December strawberries mean to us down here in the south.

We’ve been fortunate in Auckland to have enjoyed a surprisingly warm late spring and I was overjoyed to find such beautiful, blushing berries on offer at my local market. When it comes to the food world no other fruit heralds in summer quite like these beauties. The colours, the freshness, some sweet, some tart, but all utterly delicious.

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Panzanella – the classic Italian tomato and bread salad

If you’re a follower of my blog then you’ll know about my obsession with Italy and all things Italian. Particularly the food. The people of this very special place seem to have a magic touch when it comes to flavours and combinations. They can make the simplest dish taste like one of the most delicious things you’ve ever eaten.

Although the Caprese salad has a special place in my heart and is one of the first things I eat when I get to Italy, Panzanella is another classic Italian salad that proves you need not trade flavour and deliciousness for simplicity.

Now that we’re finally marching into summer here in New Zealand tomatoes will be gracing my fruit bowl (yes, they’re a fruit, not a vegetable) throughout the warmer months. And tomatoes are definitely the hero of this dish, along with the fabulous bread. Tomato and bread salad? Thank you, Italy!

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Tamarind Fish & Prawn Curry – the perfect balance of sweet, sour and heat

For some time I have been wanting to post this recipe. But whenever I cook it I can never hold out long enough to take photographs. This curry is a recurring favourite and as soon as it is decanted from pan to plate my husband and I greedily dive in.

It’s one of those curries that demands to be eaten with a spoon – an attribute that I find very pleasing in any curry. But its attributes certainly don’t end there. It is the most stunning colour, boasts a beautiful balance of sweet, sour and heat and tastes out of this world.

Need I say more?

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Linguine with Courgette and Bacon – celebrating the summer squash

I seem to be starting every post lately with an apology for my absence from the blogging world. It’s been a particularly crazy few weeks for me so many apologies go out to my lovely followers.

But I’m back and excited about the change of season going on in New Zealand. Spring is nearing its end and we have – hopefully! – a long, hot summer to look forward to.

I love the way food changes with the seasons, how each season has its own offering that gives us something special with which to celebrate that time of the year. Parsnips alone make the arrival of winter worthwhile. I can whip up a large batch of my Spiced Parsnip Soup and close the curtains on the weather.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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