The winter blame game. With a beef, lentil and parsley pesto broth.

I am well aware that this is the second week in a row that I’ve written about illness. Generally I am not especially obsessed with the possibility of getting sick. Except that it’s now officially winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and as if a cosmic alarm went off, cue me coming down with a cold.

Actually, cue me and both of my children coming down with a cold. So not only do I feel like rubbish, I have to ignore my own ill health in favour of my children’s.

Anyway, this is not supposed to be a pity party. More an observation about illness, and the way people react to it. Particularly illness of the viral kind. Particularly my family.

Amongst certain members of my family, being sick comes with finger pointing and blame. They research, track and hunt down those responsible for their sickness. The seriousness of the crime of passing on a virus is reflected by the severity of the punishment. The ultimate scarlet letter – the virus is given the offender’s name.

It becomes “Jane’s Cold” or “Brian’s Stomach Bug” or “Hazel’s Strep Throat”.

Well after the original virus has gone, the offended party back to full health, the story of “Jane’s Cold” is retold again and again. With judgement attached.

“How could Jane have come to dinner/lunch/for a walk KNOWING that she was going to pass on HER cold?”

Because Jane is nothing if not an malicious, evil woman, who fully intended to share her disease with everyone she came into contact with.

Despite the fact that every visit to the supermarket puts you into contact with the germs from hundreds of hands that have touched their trolleys. Every trip to a shopping mall has you breathing the same air as thousands of others. Every trip on a plane, bus, ferry, in a taxi can leave you exposed. Your children come home from school crawling with God knows how many viruses, which you may or may not catch.

I’m quietly confident, that while Jane has a cold, there’s an even chance that you may not even have her exact cold. And even if you avoid Jane like the plague-carrying sickie she is, chances are you’ve just caught norovirus from the random who’s trolley you’ve just pinched in the supermarket carpark.

My advice? Wash your hands. Get a flu shot. Take vitamin C (although the science is a little sketchy here). Forget about avoiding people who might be sick and live your life. If you are unfortunate enough to get a cold, have some respect for others and keep it at home. Rest up. Drink tea. Get better. And thank God you’ve lived you life fully and that it isn’t Ebola.

And stay the hell away from Jane. That woman’s bad news.

BEEF AND PUY LENTIL BROTH, WITH PARSLEY PESTO

Last week I made lentils with Toulouse Sausage from L’Authentique, and had quite a few lentils left over. Cold weather and sore throats makes me want soothing, hearty, winter fare, and this beef broth ticks all those boxes, and was a great way to use up leftovers.

Make sure you use a casserole quality cut of beef here. Anything fancier will not have the flavour you need, and won’t respond as favourably to the slow cooking.

For the broth:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg gravy beef or other casserole quality beef, cut into chunks2017-06-03 08.38.20 v1.jpg
4 rashers bacon, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, 2 sprig thyme, a few bits of parsley, tied together to make a bouquet garni
1 cup red wine
1 litre beef stock
500ml water
1 cup puy lentils
1/2 savoy cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

For the parsley pesto:
1 cup walnuts
2 cups parsley leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based soup pot.
  2. Add the beef and brown in batches until deep brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Reheat the pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon, and cook until crisp and golden.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium/low and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are cooked.
  5. Add the bouquet garni, increase the heat to high and add the red wine. Allow to bubble up to cook off the alcohol.
  6. Return the beef to the pan and add the beef stock and water. Bring to the boil, reduce to simmer and cook, covered for 2 hours.
  7. Meanwhile, make the parsley pesto by putting parsley, walnuts, parmesan, garlic and salt in a food processor and process until reduced to a breadcrumb consistency. With the motor running add the lemon juice and olive oil and process until combined. It should be a liquid mix – add more oil if you feels it’s needed.
  8. Check the meat is very tender. If not, leave it for another 30 minutes or so.
  9. Add the lentils and savoy cabbage, stir and cook for another 30 minutes.
  10. Add red wine vinegar, return to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve drizzled with parsley pesto, alongside warmed crusty bread and lashings of butter.

 

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Video Recipe: Chocolate Mousse

Upfront, I have to say, this is not a traditional chocolate mousse. It does not have any eggs to thicken it. It also has no added sugar (other than the chocolate). It’s thickened with gelatine, which means it’s not vegetarian, but also means it doesn’t split and always sets. And it tastes as good as the real thing.

I’ve based this on a recipe by Jo Segar, but I’ve added a bit here and there. I worked out quickly that this recipe provides a fantastic base to add whatever extra flavours you like. In this video, the two I’ve suggested are orange or almond flavours. To both options I’ve added a healthy shot of booze, so perhaps leave that out if you’re looking to serve this to kids. Just saying.

I’ve gone for 50% cocoa solids in this version (kid friendly again), but if you like your chocolate stronger and more bitter, you could step this up.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
(Makes 6 generous serves)

10g powdered gelatine
2 tablespoons cold water
200 ml cream
250g dark chocolate (60% means not too bitter)
500 ml cream

  1. Soak gelatine in cold water until soft
  2. Bring 200ml cream just to the boil
  3. Remove from heat and stir in gelatine until dissolved
  4. Add chocolate, stir continuously over low heat until melted and combined
  5. Put aside until cool (not in fridge as mousse will set)
  6. Beat 500ml cream until thick. Fold into chocolate mixture until combined
  7. Pour into moulds and refrigerate until set

Variations:

  • Add zest and juice of an orange and 2 Tbsp orange liqueur
  • Add chopped hazelnuts and 2 Tbsp hazelnut liqueur

What I did in the weekend, by Katrina Horton

As part of Auckland Restaurant Month, Fisher & Paykel hosted a series of master classes called The Social Kitchen with some notable chefs, cooks and bar owners. I went to quite a few sessions over the course of the weekend, with my friend Margaret.

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We ate a lot, drank quite a bit, praised and criticised in equal measure, met some great people, and took a heap of photos for Instagram. In between all of that, I listened and took notes as much as I could. Here’s what I learned.

Paul Carmichael – Executive Chef, Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney

 

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Salt Cod Fish Cakes

What we ate: Fish Cakes (Salt Cod), Sweet Coconut Bread, Guinness Punch
What we drank: Mimosas (it was 10am!!) and Guinness Punch

 

What I learned: Sadly, if you ask a chef who’s accustomed to staying up late and waking up late to present a masterclass at 10am, he won’t bring his A game. No matter how good he is. But I did learn a couple of things:

  1. If you can’t source salt cod, cover fresh white fish with salt, leave for 24-48 hours, rinse off salt and use as you would salt cod.
  2. Combining what is essentially an eggnog (cooked cream and egg yolks) with condensed milk and Guinness, makes for a frankly delicious, surprisingly chocolatey cocktail

Kyle Street – Co-Owner Culprit (opening late September)

 

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Culprit Roast Beef

What we ate: Kokonda (marinated raw fish) with tomato jelly, Duck Leg and Roast Squash Tortellini in Duck Consomme, Culprit Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Fancy Bearnaise.
What we drank: Pinot Noir

 

What I learned: Too many things to mention, but key outtakes are:

  1. When marinating fish in lemon/lime juice, drain away the citrus before adding herbs. The juice will cook the herbs otherwise
  2. To clarify consomme, freeze the broth, then put the frozen mass into a sieve lined with a teatowel. As it defrosts, only the clear broth will drip through.
  3. When making hollandaise or bearnaise sauce, beat the egg yolks initially with some hot water. This will temper the yolks and prevent splitting.

Jason Van Dorsten – Executive Chef/Director, Cafe Hanoi, Xuxu Dumpling Bar and Saan

 

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Crispy Tofu with Steamed Shanghai

What we ate: Banh Xeo (crispy pancake with pork belly and shrimp), Asian Greens with garlic and chilli, Crispy Tofu with Steamed Shanghai, Cha Ca  (tumeric fried fish with rice noodles and dill)
What we drank: Chardonnay

 

What I learned: How to make some incredibly authentic, delicious Vietnamese food (see my take on pho here), but less generally:

  1. After you’ve cooked rice noodles, don’t refrigerate them. Once they go very cold they will become hard again.
  2. Well used woks are always black (although they started off silver). This is because they’ve been seasoned in a hot oven with a combination of oil, animal fat (pork, beef, duck), onion and herb cut offs. The high heat will open up the steel so it absorbs the flavour, and most importantly will make the wok non-stick

Brad Mackay – Chef, Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen

(Sadly I made the beginners’ mistake of not recording the owner’s name….)

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Home Cured Pastrami

What we ate: ALL the meat – Smoked beef brisket, Home Cured Pastrami, St Louis Pork Ribs, Slow Smoked Pulled Lamb, Barbequed Beef Short Rib
What we drank: This was a beer/meat matching session, so a range of Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen’s own craft beers.

What I learned: This session was all about the American style barbeque and hot smoked meats, matched with some very diverse and quite delicious beer

  1. When cooking brisket, the thick, hard fat will not render down, so you’re best to cut it off prior to cooking.
  2. Watties Tomato Sauce makes a great base for a pork ribs glaze. The sugar content will make it caramelise, and you can then add other flavours – cider vinegar, celery seeds, molasses, etc.
  3. The large glass beer bottle are called “growlers” – if I find that funny does it make me immature?

Jordan Rondel – The Caker

What we ate: Cake (I know, shocking). To be specific, a Blackberry, Lime & Maple Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing
What we drank: Rose

What I learned: Probably the best bit of this session was finding out how easy it is to make cakes look amazing (with absolutely NO disrespect to Jordan – she’s a master). Disheveled glamour was how I would best describe my effort. Also:

  1.  Adding sugar late in the mixing process can still make for a successful cake. Especially when you’re using maple syrup, which does not combine easily with butter. Jordan beat the butter alone, added almonds, then eggs, and did not add sugar until after adding flour.
  2. When using frozen berries, mix them in while frozen. When they defrost all the juice leeches out.

 

Sausage wrapped in pastry. What’s not to love?

Sausage rolls are a New Zealand culinary icon. Kind of. Maybe a dodgy bakery icon, when you’re really hungry (or hung over) and that’s the only thing left in the pie warmer. Often a bit greasy, packed with fillers and non-descript meat, then smothered in red sauce.

I know. I’m really selling this concept.

Sausage rolls don’t have to be like that. If you don’t want to make them yourself, you could give I Love Pies sausage rolls a go. They come ready to cook from frozen, in three flavours, beef, lamb and rosemary, and feta and spinach. They’re made from quality meat, fresh herbs and no nasties. And they’re really good.

However, sausage rolls are ridiculously straightforward to make. Worst case scenario, you buy some of your favourite sausages, the best quality you can afford, take them out of their cases, wrap them in pastry and bake. This is a great option, as there are some wonderful sausages available these days, filler free, with all the herbs and spices you need, ready to go.

But if you’re really keen, you can make the mince filling to your own taste. This can be a bit of a challenge. It’s not like you’ll be trying raw mince meat to make sure the flavours are right, so you’ll have to wait until the rolls are cooked. Which can mean a lot of work for little return. Luckily for you, I’ve already been through this palava, so I can pass a couple of recipes on.

I’ve given you both options – the easy, and the not so much. Either way, they’re delicious, quick to make, and a country mile better than the dodgy bakery down the road.

HOME MADE SAUSAGE ROLLS

2016-08-18 18.10.02.jpgOption 1: Using pre-made sausages

8 pre-made quality sausages of your choice (I used L’Authentique Toulouse)
2 sheets of pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg beaten

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C
  2. Line a large baking tray with tin-foil
  3. Remove skins from the sausages (try and maintain their shape – it’s easier than reshaping)
  4. Cut each pastry sheet in half
  5. Lay two sausages end to end lengthwise across the pastry sheet
  6. Roll pastry around sausage meat and brush edge with beaten egg to seal
  7. Slice to the size you like (I cut mine into quarters), score the pastry diagonally with a knife, and brush the tops with beaten egg.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden

 

Option 2: Make your own sausage mince

There’s a couple of options here:

  1. Asian chicken sausage rolls
  2. Pork and fennel sausage rolls

The Asian chicken sausage rolls are inspired by Al Brown‘s Japanese Chicken Burger recipe, from his book Stoked. But I’ve messed with them somewhat for this purpose.

ASIAN CHICKEN SAUSAGE ROLLS

500g chicken mince
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pickled ginger (pink) finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 x sheets ready rolled flakey pastry (each sheet makes two large rolls)
1 x egg, lightly beaten
Sesame seeds to garnish

  1. Mix together all ingredients, except pastry, egg and sesame seeds
  2. Place 1 quarter of the mixture along one edge of the pastry and roll
  3. Seal by brushing with egg, cut unused half of pastry off and repeat
  4. Cut each large roll into halves.
  5. Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  6. Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes

 

PORK & FENNEL SAUSAGE ROLLS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 x onion finely diced
500g free range pork mince
1 Tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
2 x tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Salt/pepper
2 x sheets ready rolled flakey pastry (each sheet makes two large rolls)
1 x egg, lightly beaten

  1. Heat oil and cook onion and rosemary until soft. Cool
  2. Mix together onion mixture, sausage, fennel seeds and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Roll into sausage shape and lay out onto pastry
  4. Roll into tube and seal with beaten egg (Each sheet of pastry should make two large rolls)
  5. Cut each roll into halves
  6. Brush top with beaten egg
  7. Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden

Japanesey salmon & noodles

I have been consistently obsessed with Japan for ever. I love the food, I love the culture, the skiing’s great, the pop culture’s crazy, but the food is brilliant. Actually, it’s mostly about the food.

I don’t have the self discipline to refine my cooking to the degree of we generally think of as Japanese food. My sashimi (although ridiculously fresh thanks to fishing/diving husband), is more hacked than I’d like. My plating is far from minimal.

I’m more drawn to Japanese street food. Noodles, fried chicken, ramen. And OH MY GOD TAKOYAKI BALLS!!!! The best thing ever, which I haven’t even come close to trying to replicate! (Deep fried octopus balls – amazing)

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But I digress. A challenge I have is I generally find salmon too rich. I know it’s insanely good for you, but the oiliness often leaves me feeling unsettled of stomach. So I’m constantly looking for ways to cook salmon that cuts through some of the richness. Japanese flavours are perfect for this.

In an attempt to keep the meal light, I’ve paired the salmon with a light Japanese style broth, soba noodles and steamed vegetables. This meal benefits from a bit of heat, but in the interests of being kid friendly, I make like the Japanese and sprinkle over shichimi togarashi (Japanese chilli spice mix) before eating. The coriander isn’t, strictly speaking, Japanese, but I like it, so it’s there.

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Noodles

SALMON & NOODLES IN JAPANESE STYLE BROTH
(Serves 4)

Broth
500ml fish stock
500ml water
1 sachet powdered dashi* stock (5g)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin*
1 thumb ginger, peeled and sliced
Green stalks of 2 spring onions, cut in half

  1. Put all ingredients into a medium sized sauce pan.
  2. Bring to the boil
  3. Simmer for 15 minutes, then cover until needed.

Salmon
4 salmon fillets, pinboned (approx 500g)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, finely grated
2 spring onions, white only, finely sliced

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Lay a large sheet of tinfoil onto a baking dish, large enough to hold salmon fillets side by side
  3. Place the salmon onto the tinfoil
  4. Mix together all other ingredients and pour over salmon
  5. Wrap salmon tightly in tinfoil, so it’s well sealed
  6. Bake for 10 minutes

To serve
200g soba noodles, cooked to manufacturer’s instructions
Steamed broccolini (I allowed 3 stalks per person)
100g oyster mushrooms, steamed
Handful coriander
Toasted sesame seeds
Sesame oil

  1. Divide the noodles among 4 large soup bowls
  2. Top with broth to cover
  3. Arrange broccolini, mushrooms, salmon and coriander neatly. Garnish with sesame seeds and a light drizzle of sesame oil and serve.

Shredding salad

I’ve named this salad “Shredding Salad” after a friend of mine requested the recipe, saying he was in shredding mode (definition: weight loss) post an indulgent tropical holiday. While I’m not entirely certain that this salad alone will give him the results he’s after (I wish!), I do know that this is a salad crammed with the best of the winter’s limited bounty. It’s just the thing to make you feel like you’re back on track after too much of the good (but not necessarily good for you) stuff.

This is really a combination raw energy salad with slaw. I chop, shred and grate whatever vegetables are looking good, toss through herbs and roasted seeds or nuts, and dress. I have focused largely on red vegetables, partly because I love the colour, partly because they have loads of antioxidants. Sadly I can’t take the credit for the dressing – this is a delicious dressing from Ripe Deli that I’ve modified slightly to suit my own taste.

This is wonderful on it’s own, but can be paired with any protein – grilled chicken, salmon or beef. It would also be great with some crumbled feta or cubes of crisp, pan fried haloumi mixed through. This is a generous salad, but will last well in the fridge (covered please!) for at least 3 days, longer if you keep the dressing separate.

SHREDDING SALAD

1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/2 beetroot, grated
2 stick celery, finely sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup coriander leaves

Dressing:
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp honey

  1. Combine all salad ingredients together in a large bowl
  2. Pour dressing ingredients either into a bowl and whisk together until emulsified, or into a jar and shake until combined
  3. Dress salad and season to taste

 

Notes:

  • You can change out the raisins for other dried fruit. Sultanas, cranberries or goji berries are also good.
  • Instead of seeds, try roasted almonds, hazel nuts or brazil nuts
  • If you don’t like coriander, change out for mint or parsley
  • Finely chopped broccoli or brussels sprouts, or grated celeriac would make a good addition to this salad also (especially once fennel is out of season).

Sticky datey goodness

Sticky date pudding just never fails to make people happy. Unless there’s something seriously wrong with them. When the nights are long and cold the combination of soft date pudding combined with warm caramel and cold cream (or icecream if you’re that way inclined) is hard to beat.

This recipe is one my friend Deborah kindly shared with me a number of years ago, since then it’s become a firm favourite. It’s quick to make, generally I have all the ingredients (other than cream) to hand, and baking in muffin tins makes for perfect sized portions. Enough to make you happy, not so much to be guilt inducing.

Any leftover date sponge can be frozen for up to 6 months, or will keep in an airtight container in the pantry for about 4 days.

2016-08-06 23.13.43.jpgDEBORAH’S STICKY DATE PUDDING

Date Puddings
200g pitted dates, chopped
1 cup cold water
1 tsp baking soda
60g butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self raising flour

Caramel Sauce
100g butter
1/2 cup cream
1 cup brown sugar tightly packed
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Place apricots, dates and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Set aside for fruit to soften and cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 170C grease and flour 12 muffin tins or 20cm springform tin.
  3. Cream butter, golden syrup, sugar and vanilla together then beat in eggs.
  4. Fold in sifted flour then stir in cooled fruit and liquid.
  5. Pour into prepared tins and bake 20 – 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
  6. For the caramel sauce, place all ingredients in saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until butter melts and sugar is dissolved. Boil 2 minutes until mixture is syrupy.
  7. Serve puddings warm, pour over caramel sauce and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have self raising flour (I never do) use the same quantity of plain flour, and add 1 tsp of baking powder for every cup of flour (in this instance 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
  • I prefer to eat these pudding with something a bit tart to cut through the sweetness of the caramel. I combine equal quantities of plain greek yoghurt with whipped cream.
  • Instead of greasing and flouring the muffin tins, I use paper cupcake cases. That way they never stick. Just remember to take the cases off before serving.

Winter braising: lamb & barley

When the nights are cold, comfort food is the thing. Slow cooked meat, some vegetables, some carbs, all cooked together with herbs and maybe some wine so all the flavours come together and the meat is meltingly tender.

A lamb and barley braise ticks all of these boxes. Everything is cooked together in one pot, so there’s no need for extra vegetables to supplement. Feel free to top this up with what ever winter vegetables you have to hand – potatoes, brussel sprouts, silverbeet, etc. A few chunks of kumara would work too and would add a sweetness that I don’t feature in my version.

I guess this is kind of like an Irish stew, except I’m not Irish and I’ve added wine (also not Irish) and removed the potatoes (very not Irish). I served this in a bowl, with a fork, to eat in front of the fire (or the telly, whichever you prefer).

LAMB & BARLEY BRAISE
(Serves 4 with leftovers)

750g lamb shoulder, cut into 5cm chunks
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 savoy cabbage, shredded
salt/pepper
Handful chopped parsley leaves

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole dish or large frying pan with a lid over a moderate heat
  2. Add lamb in batches and cook until deep brown. Remove from pan and set aside
  3. Reduce heat and add flour to soak up pan juices. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.
  4. Pour over red wine and bubble up, stirring to avoid lumps.
  5. Add stock, herbs (except parsley), vegetables (except cabbage) and barley. Return lamb and any juices to the pan.
  6. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.
  7. Add cabbage and cook for another 10 minutes. Add more stock or water if necessary.
  8. Season to taste and stir through parsley before serving.

Notes:

  • I’ve kept the lamb in quite large chunks as I wanted this to have some texture
  • The lamb is shoulder, which has more sinew, so requires long, slow cooking, but will thicken and enrich the sauce. I have also used leg, which is leaner, and doesn’t require quite as long a cook time. I would halve the cook time for leg meat.
  • The vegetables can be as chunky as you like. Generally I chop them to about a 2cm dice.
  • In this recipe I’ve recommended using beef stock as it is easily sourced. However, the last time I made this, I used lamb stick, made using a leftover bone from a roast. I’ve written a blog about how to make simple stocks here.

Wanaka/Queenstown Travel Diary: Eating off piste in Queenstown

The food in Queenstown can be very, very good. It can also be very, very bad.

The last time we visited (in 2014), we made the mistake of not asking for some advice on the best places to eat. At this point I wasn’t doing the kind of pre-trip research I would do now, so we ate some pretty bad food at some places that looked like they’d be nice, but weren’t. Luckily, my brother in law lives just out of Arrowtown, so he came to the rescue with some outstanding dinner options.

I guess this is the challenge with any town in any country that has tourism as a primary source of income. I could say the same thing about Venice, Crete or Fiji. Rich and I have a theory that you should always eat one block from the best view. Thankfully, in Queenstown, this doesn’t have to be the case (although when your view is all encompassing mountain ranges, they’re pretty hard to avoid).

These are some of the places we ate at while we were there. Things change pretty quickly though, so I can’t guarantee there won’t be better newcomers in the next few months.

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The queue at Fergburger

A notable omission on my part is Fergburger and their associated stores, Mrs Ferg and Fergbaker. Sadly the ever present queues outside Fergburger meant we were unable to eat here, but this is a Queenstown institution and really should not be missed. The word from insiders is that you’re best to place your order online beforehand to avoid what can be a sizable wait. We poked our heads into Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg (which sells house made gelato) and these are pretty impressive establishments. Everything was fresh and smelled amazing. Don’t make the same mistake I did, make the time to eat there at least once.

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Pork Ribs, Madam Woo

Madam Woo – Madam Woo is one of two local restaurants owned by celebrity chef Josh Emmett and restaurateur Fleur Caulton (the other is Rata – see below). This is their Malaysian Hawker food inspired offering, right in the middle of the Queenstown shopping area. They only take bookings for eight or more, so we made sure we arrived just after 6pm to get a table (they’re also open for lunch). The food is relaxed and designed to share, the room is energetic and brightly decorated. This time it was only me and the kids (Rich had gone back to work), so sadly we didn’t get to try as much of the menu as I would have liked. We had a mix of steamed dumplings and a hawker roll (pulled pork with herbs wrapped in roti) to start, then Char Sui BBQ pork spare ribs (to keep the 11 year old happy), honey and soy squid and Asian vegetables for a main. The desserts looked amazing, but sadly we were too full to try them. The kids loved it, and I noticed a number of other families in the room, so they welcome children.

Rata – This is Emmett and Caulton’s more grown up option. We had a fantastic dinner here, aided by the fact that my brother in law seemed to know everyone in the room, so we were spoiled rotten. Rata is a fine dining restaurant, focused on local produce. The menu is limited to four options for starters, five for main courses, but the options available are fantastic, so this really wasn’t a problem. The service is impeccable, the room beautiful, but I wouldn’t be bringing the kids here!

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Bespoke – This cafe, situated just below the gondola, won New Zealand cafe of the year in 2015. The owners also own Vudu cafe on the Wakatipu lakefront, which has been excellent through the years. I was blown away by Bespoke. It was crazily busy, but we managed to find a perch by the window and had a delicious breakfast. Their menu appears to be very health focused on first look, but a closer look reveals the eggy, bacony, breakfast standards we all love. I had black rice baked with coconut milk and served with caramelised bananas, Amelia had a beautiful, flower bedecked chai pudding. The coffee was delicious, they do some lovely smoothies, and there is an awe inspiring range of cakes, sandwiches and other sweet but healthy treats adorning the counter and cabinet.

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Beef brisket taco, Taco Medic

Taco Medic – This is the kind of little local find that I love. We we coming down from Coronet Peak and found Taco Medic’s food truck situated on the side of the road back to Queenstown. They’ve set up camp with a doughnut guy (which the kids had instead) and a guy selling beer. The tacos are fresh and delicious, with hand made corn tortillas. I had the pulled brisket, but there’s also pork, fish and a vegetarian taco. There’s even a breakfast taco, which I was told was amazing (maybe next time). This is really inexpensive, but delicious food. Perfect after a day’s skiing. They also have a location in central Queenstown.

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The amazing view, Ivy & Lola’s

Ivy & Lola’s – After being so rude about good food and views being mutually exclusive, I stumbled on Ivy & Lola’s whilst on a late afternoon hunt for mulled wine and hot chips. The brief was simple – I needed to be able see the water and the mountains while I drank my wine. This place ticked all the boxes. It’s tucked next to Mac’s Ale House on the lakefront, and to be honest it looks like the same establishment. The view of the mountains is sensational, the heaters were going and there were blankets for those of us placing scenery above warmth. Although I didn’t have dinner here, the menu was enticing, and if the wine and chips were anything to go by (I know, that’s a fragile premise to base a good review on!), the food is good. When we ventured inside to pay the bill, we found the dining room to be eclectic, with framed vintage cutlery, old radios and china teapots and cups adorning the walls. Really lovely.

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Milk and cookies, Cookie Bar style

The Cookie Bar – this part of my restaurant wrap up is for kids only. Cookie Time have opened a themed cookie bar, that serves milk and cookies, cookie dough icecream, s’mores and warm cookies, fresh from the oven. It’s a cute concept, which my kids loved. The milk is served in old fashioned glass milkbottles, which they’ll clean out and send home with you. The cookies are an insane sugar hit, so maybe don’t look too closely at the list of ingredients, but this is all about the children (and sub-25 year old tourists).

 

The Food Show: Things I liked

I spent a few days at The Food Show in Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds this year. One day where I roamed about with my mother, getting a feel for things, and another two days where I was part of the action, manning a stand with my friends from L’Authentique Charcuterie.

As always, the place was jumping, with thousands of people tasting and talking over four days. Stand holders ranged from New Zealand’s largest supermarket chain (who had taken possession of one complete wall of the stadium, as they are wont to do) through to the smallest artisan producers, showing love and care for their beautiful handmade products. It was the small guys who excited me most.

There were many things I liked at The Food Show, but these are the ones I liked the best. Special mention should also go to Good George Brewing, for their craft beer supply at the end of a long day (cool bottles too); Soul Organics Juices, for giving me a carroty energy boost just when I needed it; and Ripe Deli for their fresh salads, packed with veggie goodness after too much meat.

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L’Authentique saussies and pate

L’Authentique – how could I not write about these guys first? I learned a huge amount about their products over the two days I worked with them. Although I had always known that their range of sausages, pates and other charcuterie was authentically French and always delicious, I hadn’t appreciated the high quality and values built into everything they make. All their pates and parfaits are dairy free, while retaining the creaminess you’d associate with ridiculous amounts of butter (of which there is none). Their sausages are gluten free (no using bread as a filler for these bangers), and the high quality meat cuts they use (pork shoulder for many) means they don’t require the long cooking times of lesser products.  Even after a weekend of selling sausages and pate I was still happy to eat L’Authentique Traditional Toulouse sausages in rolls for dinner afterwards. Delicious indeed. Keep an eye out for their new pates; Cracked Pepper and Chicken and Sage, made with free range chicken livers and not much else.

 

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Huffman’s Crafty Sauce

Huffman’s Crafty Sauces– what could be more perfect for a good sausage than some good quality tomato ketchup? This is exactly what Huffman’s have created. I bought both their Spiced Bloody Mary Tomato Ketchup and their Thai Sweet Chilli Aromatic Sauce. The ketchup has a great hit of celery seeds and enough chilli to keep a heat freak like me interested. The sweet chilli is sweet, but very authentic, with a wonderful hit of kaffir lime leaves. The sugar content for both products is significantly lower than mass produced equivalents, and their products are 100% natural. No numbers here.

 

Hogarth Craft Chocolate – craft chocolate making is is becoming a bit of a thing at the moment, and after trying Hogarth’s amazing chocolate, I can see why. They bring cocoa beans in from all over the world: Madagascar, Venezuela, Peru and the Dominican Republic. They roast them locally (in Nelson), grind them, and mix with a bit of sugar and cocoa butter to create the most delicate and pure chocolate I think I’ve ever eaten.

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Hogarth’s range

I had expected that once I got to 75% cocoa solids (Hogarth’s chocolate is no less than 70%) I’d be making that face you make when chocolate is overly strong and bitter. But no, this chocolate seems to get just more creamy, rich and delicious the darker it gets. If you’re not a complete puritan, you can also opt for their Gianduia, which is made with Nelson grown hazelnuts. I should also add that their packaging and the wave design on each block is just beautiful.

Be Nourished – These guys make a wonderful range of sauerkraut and kimchi, all completely alive and active! I’m new to the fermented foods thing: I make my own kombucha and yoghurt, but really haven’t quite come to the party with fermented vegetables. These guys have made me pull on my party dress, do my hair and embrace the deliciousness that is fermented cabbage. The sauerkraut pairs extraordinarily well with sausages (clever Germany!), cutting through the richness of the pork and adding a lovely zest. While being extremely good for you of course. Once again, these products have no preservatives or artificial additives, so there’s nothing but the good stuff here. I’m converted.

For the Love of Tams – These people make a truly tasty Tamarillo Relish, which is unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Generally tamarillo relish/chutney can be a bit non-descript, a bit heavy on the vinegar and a bit light on the actual fruit that is supposed to be the star. For The Love of Tams Tamarillo Relish tastes like tamarillos. It’s is produced by the NZ Tamarillo Co-operative, who are a small group of specialist tamarillo growers, and the flavour of this product shows just how much they care. The relish has a tiny bit of colour added from the vinegars they use, and a small amount of preservative from the raisins. Otherwise, everything in this jar is just as it should be.

 

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House of Dumplings chicken and sauce

House of Dumplings – when I managed to sneak off for a break during a long day serving pate to unsuspecting passersby, I made a beeline for these guys. I tried three of their dumplings; Shanghai Pork and Cabbage, Crystal Prawn and a middle eastern lamb. I wanted to try authentic Chinese dumplings, but also something a bit different. All three were amazing, but the lamb stood out in its unusualness. When I spoke to Vicky Ha later in the day, she recommended the Chicken and Coriander, which is made to her mother’s recipe (I didn’t try them after being told they were the most popular, that’ll teach me to be contrary). So I’ve bought a pack of frozen chicken dumplings home for later, along with a bottle of Mum’s Sauce (soy, vinegar, garlic, ginger, yum!). They also do a mean chilli oil, packed with chillis and not for the faint of heart. I tried to convince Vicky to move to Auckland, but she wasn’t having it, so for now we’ll need to be content with buying the frozen from Farro, or visiting La Cigale at the weekends.

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Satya Masala spice grinder

Satya – these guys get my award for recognising a problem and fixing it. They’ve packaged up wonderful spice mixes, pre-toasted, in jars with built-in grinders. That way, you get all the flavour of freshly ground spices, but with far less effort than using a mortar and pestle. When I spoke to them about when to add the spices during the cooking process, I was told that they can be added throughout, to suit your own taste. As they’ve already been toasted, they don’t need cooking prior to adding other ingredients. I bought a Chai mix to create simple chai at home, but there is a huge range, including a Za’tar and Masala. The aroma when the spices are ground is marvellous.