Tag Archives: Food Blog

Italian Sausages with Tomato & Cannellini Stew

It seems appropriate that I’m currently snugly settled in a café 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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Sydney, Australia – two perfect days in this fabulous city . . .

So, what’s a girl to do when her husband announces that he has a training conference to attend in Sydney?

Well, this girl immediately says, “can I tag along?”

Which is how I found myself winging my way to Australia only a month after returning from Melbourne. Except this time the destination was Sydney. It’s a city I know well and one that holds many good memories. In my mid-twenties I made the break and left New Zealand to live abroad. Sydney seemed a good place to start. I knew I liked the city and it was close to home (just in case it all went wrong).

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Mascarpone Cream with Morello Cherries and Amaretti

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of quick and easy desserts. I’d guess that my sweet tooth is at about medium strength. That is to say I tend towards savoury in general. For instance, I’m more inclined to order a starter than a dessert when I eat out (unless it’s a long and lazy evening of eating and I can fit in three courses).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally indulge in something sweet and sinful. For all that healthy eating is an important part of our lives, there are times when eating has to be about pleasure only.

When it comes to choosing dessert for a dinner party I more often than not go for something quick and easy but that doesn’t necessarily appear so. When a pudding looks spectacular and tastes even better there’s no need for your guests to know it took twenty minutes for you to put it together. You can simply smile and accept the incoming praise gracefully while secretly thrilled that you were able to produce so much gorgeousness with such little effort.

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A weekend in Melbourne – day 3

And so we come to the last day of our weekend in Melbourne. If I’d thought the first two days were fantastic, day three only got better. Perhaps it helped that it was my birthday, which always makes the day feel a little special. But this was definitely a birthday like no other. One of the best ever, if not the best.

Brunch with friends seemed a great way to start the day. Our friends Karen and Craig recommended the café – Dr Morse Bar & Eatery in Abbotsford, which is only 2 kms east of Melbourne’s CBD. Easy to get to by train or a short taxi ride.

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A weekend in Melbourne – day 2

If you read my post from last week then you’ll know I’m completely in love with Melbourne. And that happened on day 1. Day 2 only strengthened my opinion of this fabulous city.

Considering the backbone of any holiday for me is the food it will come as no surprise that day 2 was kicked off with breakfast. We decided to go with a recommendation – thank you Karen! – and walked down to the river to have breakfast at The Arbory. Continue reading

Melbourne Calling!

I have always loved the Easter holiday. For me it has a wonderfully festive feel about it without the stress and craziness that comes with Christmas.

When I was a child we would often go camping for the long weekend. If Easter came in March the weather would often still be good. I have lovely memories of waking to the smell of my mother toasting hot cross buns. Dishing out the Easter eggs was my father’s job and he usually did this on Friday so we had them for the weekend.

This year Easter comes later in mid April. I’m more than happy with the late arrival as it coincides with my birthday. It’s been a while since my birthday fell over the Easter weekend. Seemed as good a reason as any to do something special.

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Basil Pesto – and the “king of herbs”

I don’t know how I’d cook without herbs. Whether they are being used as a star ingredient, a last minute scattering for freshness or simply as a garnish, these colourful and fragrant wonders of the culinary world have the ability to bring food to life.

If asked which was my favourite herb I’d be pushed to choose one above all others. But at the top of my list are: basil, Italian parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, tarragon.

I’ll leave it there otherwise I’ll add every herb to the list.

Basil is at the top of the list simply because for me it conjures memories of food I’ve eaten in Italy – scattered over tomatoes, tossed through hot pasta, stirred through a rich meat ragù or simply garnishing a crisp bruschetta.

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Chicken, avocado & watercress wrap – a cold chicken hero

For centuries cooks have been coming up with creative ways to use leftover meat. A couple of months ago I posted a recipe for pulled pork burritos using leftover pulled pork. A fantastic example of how the meat’s second outing need not be inferior to its first.

But perhaps my ultimate favourite in the leftover meat department is chicken. A fabulous meal is never far away when cold chicken awaits me in the fridge. Do I want to keep it cold and make a salad? Perhaps reheat it in a spicy sauce and put together a Mexican feast? Toss it through pasta with garlic and mushrooms?

And it’s not only the evening meal where cold chicken comes into its own. It makes a fantastic lunch or light meal. Earlier this week I made a tray-bake with chicken legs and tomatoes (which incidentally is one of my favourite meals and you can get the recipe here).

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