Tag Archives: Food Blog

Italy is calling me . . .

For anyone following my blog you’ll know that I have a long held affection for Italy. It is my special place, the place where I always feel like the best version of myself.

Perhaps it’s because their whole approach to food and life resonates deeply with me. In Italy food is such an intrinsic part of their identity. It is how families come together; it is how they celebrate the bounty of the land and the sea; secrets are passed from generation to generation. They have a certain touch that I’ve not experienced anywhere else in the world.

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The Winter Salad – nutritious, comforting, delicious

The prospect of a salad for dinner is not always an exciting one in the middle of winter when you’re craving comfort food. But although salads are more a staple of the summer table, I don’t think they need disappear from the table during winter.

The trick, I’ve found, to enjoying salads in the colder months is to ensure there is at least one, perhaps two, hot elements. There is something about applying heat to a dish that instantly elevates it and gives it that comfort factor.

Last year I posted a recipe for homemade pesto. What I neglected to mention at the time was that it freezes well, to be used when fresh basil is not at its best. One of my favourite ways to use pesto is in a salad that is often on the menu in my house. I actually mentioned it in my post last year but didn’t give the recipe.

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The One Dish Tray-Bake – effortless cooking

I’ll start with a confession. I have posted this recipe before. But it was in the early days of my blog when my followers were few and I’m pretty sure most of you won’t have seen it. A great pity, I thought, because it’s a favourite and for good reason.

I cooked it the other night and as I removed the weighty dish from the oven, mouth watering, made the decision that it deserved a second outing.

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’m a fan of slow cooking. As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, if a dish can deliver deliciousness with little effort from myself I’m immediately on board.

The tray-bake is one such dish. Something that takes minutes to throw together and then cooks slowly in the oven without a need for any further intervention from the cook.

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Italian Vegetable Stew with Meatballs

Although I’ll confess to being no vegetarian I do have a great love for vegetables. More than any other food group they bestow the colour that brings dishes to life and provide so much of the nutrition that a healthy diet needs.

My husband is trying to go easy on the carbs at the moment so I’m challenged with finding alternatives for the classic carbohydrates that feature in my favourite dishes. Not an easy challenge as I wouldn’t normally say there was an alternative (or one I’d be happy with) for pasta with meatballs or rice with a curry or crusty bread smeared with unsalted butter to mop up juices. My approach to healthy eating is more along the lines of moderation rather than elimination. But I’m happy to help my husband in this brief experiment to see if he can shed a few kilos before we fly off to Italy in a few weeks for a much needed holiday.

Yes, Italy! And let me tell you there will be no eliminating carbs on this holiday. Just let me at that first bowl of pasta!

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Chorizo & Bean Stew – the hearty flavours of Spain

It seems a very long time since I’ve written a food post – probably because it has been a very long time! But as I cooked this fabulous dish and then sat down to write the recipe it felt like coming home. Food has the ability to do that – it soothes, it comforts, it brings people together and it makes the world feel like a safer place.

This is just the dish to achieve all of the above. It’s easy enough to double or triple the recipe if you want to feed a horde, it’s hearty and full of flavour and perfect to chase away the winter blues – although I’d be inclined to make this at any time of the year. Currently it’s mid-winter in New Zealand and bringing a touch of Spanish sunshine to my kitchen helps to brighten the cold and dark evenings.

You might think it strange that for the feature shot of this post I’ve used a photo of the raw ingredients. There is a reason. I like to make an effort when cooking this type of dish (or any type of dish) to source the very best of ingredients. I made a trip to my local gourmet market and picked up some beautiful tiger prawns and authentic Spanish chorizo (the real thing).

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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 transferred from pan to plate my husband and I greedily dive in.

It’s one of those curries that really needs to be eaten with a spoon – very pleasing. But that’s not the only pleasing thing about it. It’s 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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