Tag Archives: Food Blog

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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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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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.

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Italian Sausages with Tomato & Cannellini Stew

It seems appropriate that I’m currently snugly settled in a cafĂ© with coffee and my laptop while the weather rages outside. Appropriate because my recipe today is another winter warmer.

Yesterday was the winter solstice in New Zealand and therefore the perfect time to share this recipe that I am extremely fond of. Not great timing for my fellow Northern Hemisphere bloggers (a heat wave has been sweeping Europe!) who won’t be putting winter warmers on their cooking agenda at the moment. But it’s great fun to store recipes away and then revisit them when the seasons change.

This dish has many things going for it – simple to make and packed with flavour being among them. And I’ve always loved a sausage. They are so comforting and versatile. But the key as with most things when it comes to food and cooking is quality. You really do need to start with a good quality sausage.

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Dinner for Two – Roasted Butternut Risotto with Prosciutto and Sage

It was only a few months ago that my fellow bloggers were posting winter warmer recipes while my own blog was alive with fresh berries and all things summer. Now the seasons have shifted and it’s been turned upside down – winter in the south and summer in the north. But there must be balance in all things.

I have no problem with the change in season. As much as I love summer I look forward to winter – for two reasons. One is boots – laugh if you will but there is something very special about the first outing of winter boots once the weather cools.

The second, of course, is winter food. By the time autumn creeps in I’ve had my fill of salads and sprightly summer food. Time for a bit of comfort – dishes cooked long and slow in the oven, hot puddings, hearty porridge for breakfast and, of course, those fabulous autumn and winter vegetables.

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Guacamole – and the incomparable avocado

If you asked me what could be used in place of avocado I’d have to reply . . . well, nothing really. Is there a substitute for avocado? It is so unique in texture and flavour that anything used in its place will come in a poor second.

As for taste, it’s difficult to describe how an avocado tastes except to say it’s neither sweet nor bitter. Some might say it has little flavour but often ingredients with subtle flavours are underrated. Think fresh mozzarella – a very subtle flavour compared to stronger cheeses but nevertheless utterly delicious. For me a big part of an avocado’s charm is its texture and how it feels in my mouth. Creamy and buttery but with a freshness that makes it so perfect for salads – and the famous guacamole.

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