cheese & bacon tart with celeriac & cauliflower soup

Helloooo – God it feels good to be back into the swing of things, getting blog posts done, actually doing a bit of house tidying, and generally speaking not working every single minute of every day…well not quite any way! Today’s recipes are two I put together for Fairfax – a gentle, creamy celeriac and cauliflower soup and richly indulgent gruyere cheese and bacon tart. They are both bloody good, but that tart…I usually give a lot of food away so that it doesn’t go to waste, but I sliced the tart into wedges and froze it to make about seven dinners for myself! The pastry can seem like a bit of a nightmare while you are making it and wrangling it into the tin – but I promise you it’s worth it :)
Meanwhile not much else to report. Henry and Will are ticking along with daily life in Melbourne, and Hoob is counting down to his next semester break in Wellington. I am really getting to the tail-end of book production with the final read-through next week – then, files will be uploaded, plotters out, approved (I hope without too much issue) and onto printing. I can’t quite believe it’s almost done!
Any hoo – the wind is howling around outside but it’s time for me to haul arse out of bed and take the dogs for a walk (and me too). Don’t forget if you’re a regular visitor (or a new one – welcome!), you can always say hi here on the blog, or pop in over at my Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.

Celeriac and Cauliflower Soup 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
300 grams peeled, trimmed and chopped celeriac
(You may need a small sharp knife to peel the celeriac rather than a vegetable peeler)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
600 grams cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 litre good quality chicken stock
½ cup cream
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large pot. Add onion and celeriac, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes until just soft. Add chopped cauliflower and cook a further 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes. Add ¼ cup cream and whiz with a stick blender until smooth. Serve with a drizzle of remaining cream and a sprinkling of parsley. Makes 7 cups.
Bacon and Gruyere Tart
1 tablespoon olive oil
250 grams streaky bacon, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cream
110grams butter, chopped 
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2 egg yolks
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup whole milk
3 whole eggs
100 grams grated Gruyere
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and cook bacon for 3-4 minutes until getting a little crispy. Add onion, and cook together, stirring for a further 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Add 2 tablespoons cream and stir to dislodge any flavourful bits sticking to the pan. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
For the pastry, pulse the flour, butter and parmesan in a food processor until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add one egg yolk and 2-3 teaspoons water and pulse to combine. Tip out onto the bench and press together into a dough round. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180˚C . When the pastry has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured bench into a circle wide enough to line a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Press the pastry into the tin and line the base and sides with baking paper and fill with baking beans or raw rice. Cook for 12 minutes, remove baking paper and weights, and continue cooking for a further 12 minutes while you prepare the rest of the filling. 
Whisk remaining egg yolk with milk, eggs and remaining cream. Once pastry has cooked as decsribed above, sprinkle the base with half of the cheese, spread over onion and bacon mixture, top with parsley and remaining cheese and pour over whisked eggs and cream. Reduce oven temperature to 160˚C and cook a further 30-35 minutes until golden. Rest for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and serve with warmed celeriac soup or a small green salad. Serves 4-6

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Pulled lamb, rosemary & cheese pie

Wait, what, didn’t I just post a pie? Well yes…but this is a different one! I don’t know, I couldn’t help myself – it’s pie and rugby weather, what can I say? This one (or two actually) I put together for my lovely mates at Dish magazine, and is made from super tender, slow roasted lamb leg which is then shredded, folded in a little intense gravy then tucked in a pastry shell with some melty mozzarella for maximum indulgence. Basically – bung the lamb in the oven for 5 1/2 hours, shred it and plop it in pastry. There is a tiny bit more to it, but really not that much! I love this with a good tomato chutney on the side, served with a creamy mash and either peas or blanched beans. Comfort food extravaganza :)

Right then – crikey it’s been a busy time. I zoomed down to Welly to see Hoob last weekend and it was such a treat. He was bloody fabulous in Chicago, I am so very proud of him! The after-party was a bit of a hoot too, drinks, followed by more drinks and a bit of a boogie ’til 3am…haven’t done that for a while. Next morning brekky, basketball (Rich not me obvs), then I was back on the plane. It was just the ticket after being house-bound for so long, it was like a little holiday! I can’t wait ’til I get the chance to hang out with Henry like that again – I haven’t seen him for six months which is such poo. I’ll get there soon Pog – promise, I’m hanging out to see your new work, the incredible-looking apartment, lovely Will and your gorgeous self :)!

Since then it’s been back to work, work, yoga, work with my darling nephew Rupert staying a couple of nights, and a few lovely friend catch-ups along the way. The book is on the cusp of being done – the second cover sample is under way (I bloody love it – let’s hope you do too), the foreword and index are being written and I can see the finish line…I can’t quite believe it! Meanwhile I’ve also just shot my next spread for Dish and am about to start working on the next issue of Cuisine. No rest for the wicked…I must be very wicked…right then, stuff to do, have a great weekend!

2 large sprigs rosemary plus 1 tbsp finely chopped

2kg leg of lamb, bone in
5 cloves garlic, peeled
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp flour
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cream
2 squares Edmonds ready rolled puff pastry
500 g Paneton butter puff rolled pastry
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
1 egg, whisked
1 teaspoon poppy (or sesame) seeds, optional
Preheat oven to 160˚C,  put rosemary sprigs in an oven dish and put lamb leg on top. Make five small slits in the lamb with the point of a sharp knife and poke garlic into holes. Pour wine and water into the base of the dish and season the lamb well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the whole dish with tinfoil and roast for 5 hours. Remove foil and cook a further 40 minutes uncovered. Shred meat from the bone with two forks, discarding fat. Add finely chopped rosemary to meat, season with sea salt and pepper and set aside. Remove rosemary and drain fat from the oven dish. Put on a gentle heat on the cook top, add flour and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the good bits stuck to the pan. Add boiling water and keep stirring (use a whisk if necessary) until gravy thickens, add cream and cook a few minutes more until thick and glossy. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool lamb and gravy in the fridge for half an hour, fold together and chill over night. Put baking paper on two oven trays. Cut a 22cm circle from each of the Edmonds pastry squares and place on the trays. Divide the lamb mixture between the two pastry circles, making sure you leave a 1.5cm of clear pastry around the edge, then brush this edge with egg. Pat the meat into a neat, flat circle and top each with half of the mozzarella. Cut the Paneton pastry into 2x 25cm circles (a little patching will be required on one, but it will be fine!). Place each circle on top of the meat and use your hands to smooth pastry firmly over meat then use your thumb or the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Trim neatly, brush with egg and score gently in a circular pattern from the centre out, make a small hole in the middle with the tip of a knife. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and refrigerate for half an hour while the oven heats to 180˚C. Place two oven trays in the oven to heat up for 5 minutes then slide the pies onto them. Cook for 45 minutes, (you may need to swap the pie levels while cooking to ensure even colour) then rest for 5 minutes. Serve with tomato chutney or mint jelly, mashed potatoes and peas. Serves 8 You can freeze the pies before cooking, then defrost overnight in the fridge and cook as normal – so you can make them, cook one and freeze one!

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Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup with Parsley, Rocket and Walnut Pesto Toasties

 Quick l’il re-post of this perfect winter soup, originally posted waaaay back in September 2015!

I am writing this as I watch the weather forecast on TV, and despite the fact that it is now officially spring in New Zealand, the weather forecast is predictably grim: 0˚ or 1˚C degree lows in many places over night (-2˚C in Christchurch!) and rain all over the country in the next few days. Soooo even though the shops are full of spring fashion – this is a good option for lunch or dinner over the coming weekend! This soup (which I put together for Fairfax) reminds me of my childhood – it’s very similar to one made by both my mum and paternal grandmother…minus the pesto :) The irony is that even though it sets me off into fits of nostaligia, it is also just the soup for budding hipsters, made as it is with a bone broth stock. Bone broth – hee hee – to me it’s just stock and reminds me how everything old can be new again, ideas go in cycles (whole foodies, of which I am kind of one – erm – check out the 70s, Mollie Katzen and Moosewood!), but I do love it that ideas that make sense stick around.

Apart from that I am also bursting with pride (next morning addendum) after having watched Rich appearing as the character Kash in last nights episode of the NZ comedy/drama Step Dave. It was his first time acting for TV (apart from a KFC ad), and I thought he made the transition from stage beautifully – go Hoobie! :)

1.5kg beef shin or osso bucco

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, 1 roughly chopped and 1 quartered and sliced
3 sticks celery and leaves, 1 roughly chopped and 2 finely sliced
2 bay leaves
a handful of parsley un-chopped
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 cup pearl barley
1 parsnip, grated
1 small kumara, peeled and diced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Put beef shin in a very large pot and cover with 3 litres of water. Add cider vinegar, onion, roughly chopped carrot, roughly chopped celery, bay leaves, parsley and peppercorns and season with salt. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered for four hours. Chill, remove fat from surface and strain stock. Reserve meat and return stock to a gentle boil. Add barley and simmer 30 minutes, then add remaining carrot, celery, parsnip and kumara and meat shredded from the bones and cook a further half hour before serving with a sprinkling of parsley and a dollop of winter pesto.
You can add whatever vegetables you like to this soup; zucchini, peas, cauliflower, broccoli and leeks all work well.
Winter Pesto (Parsley, Rocket and Walnut pesto)
1 cup packed parsley leaves
1 cup packed rocket leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup lightly toasted walnuts
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 small (or 1 large) cloves garlic
Whiz all ingredients together in a small food processor and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make toasties, butter bread on 1 side and place buttered side down in a hot fry pan. Spread bread with pesto and top with grated cheese. Top with bread ‘lids’ buttered side up. When golden on the bottom, flip to cook the other side.

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Chicken, leek & mushroom pie & mini spiced lamb & eggplant pies

Oh my God I can’t actually remember the last time I typed out a blog post sitting in bed with a cup of tea – it feels like an eternity ago! But here I am, second cup in hand, thinking you might like to give these recipes a whirl for the weekend. Who doesn’t love a good pie? These two variations are ones I put together for Fairfax so appearing in newspapers around the country today – the first is a traditional chicken, leek and mushroom pie, swathed in flaky, buttery pastry and the other a batch of mini spiced lamb and eggplant pies, studded with crunchy pine nuts. Both are perfect for eating while watching the rugby with a few mates so good timing with the Lions tour kicking off (pun much?) this weekend.
Crikey, where to start on latest news…it seems like a lot of time has passed but the majority of it has been spent finishing of the cookbook. It has been a massive mission (ahem, perhaps slightly more challenging than first anticipated), but it is almost, very nearly finished. I am so f*kng excited. Both to be finishing, ‘cos let’s face it, I haven’t had a day off since mid-January, but also, because, unusual for a semi-perfectionist such as myself, I absolutely love it. I will be able to share more details with you soon, but meanwhile I am eternally grateful to Henry and my gorgeous NZ designer for all of their hard work…they have made it beautiful. In addition to working on the book Pog has started a new job with uber-cool furniture store, Space, in Melbourne and been throwing gorgeous little dinner parties with Will – table set, fire crackling in the grate and record player spinning. Those two make it look easy, even when it’s not, I’m so proud of them! Meanwhile back in Welly Hoob has done an absolutely stellar job of juggling uni, work, basketball and acting in a local production of Chicago. I have been so impressed that he has managed it all so well, and seriously enjoyed reading the odd essay on American politics along the way. I am flying down to see the final night on Saturday and can’t wait to see my darling ‘baby’…eeeeee, I’m so excited!
Right then, must get up – try the pies if you have a minute – I promise they are both bloody easy to make and delicious. With the chicken pie, if you can’t be faffed with the base, just spoon the filling into a dish, top with the pastry lid and you have pot pie. If you must.

Chicken, leek and mushroom pie:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
12 small leeks, trimmed and sliced into 1c rounds
800grams chicken thighs, trimmed
250grams mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons plain flour
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard to taste
2 tablespoons cream
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
Cooking oil spray
1 ½ sheets (225 grams) ready rolled puff pastry (I used Edmonds for the base)
180grams ready rolled butter puff pastry (I used Paneton for the lid)
1 egg, whisked

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy based pot. Add onion and leek, season well with salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes. Trim the fat from the chicken thighs and cut each into about 4 pieces. Add to the onion with mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add the wine and flour, stir to combine and cook 1 minute then add the Dijon and cream and cook a further 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Cool. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.  Spray the base of a   24cm pie dish very lightly with cooking spray and brush to coat the sides. Line the base and sides of the dish with the ready rolled pastry and sprinkle over the Parmesan. Stir parsley through the chicken and put on top of the Parmesan. Cut a circle to match the top of the pie dish from the butter puff pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry in the tin with egg, and place the pastry lid on top. Squash the edges to seal, trim the excess pastry and use your thumb or the tines of a fork to make a pattern around the edge. Decorate if desired with cut outs from the excess pastry. Brush with egg and cut a few slits in the top with a sharp knife. Cook for 55-60 minutes until golden. Cool for 5 minutes before serving with mashed potatoes and green beans. Serves 4-6
Spiced lamb & eggplant pies:

2 tablespoons olive oil
850grams lean lamb mince
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 small eggplant, cut into 3cm pieces
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons plain flour
400g tin crushed tomatoes
¼ cup currants
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
½ cup pine nuts
7 sheets (1 kilo) ready rolled puff pastry (I used Edmonds)
1 egg, whisked
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large heavy based pot and cook lamb over a medium heat for 8 minutes. Break the meat up with the back of a fork as it browns. Once it is an even colour, remove the meat from the pot. It will have rendered some fat. You need about a tablespoon to cook the onions next, so if necessary add a little more olive oil, or if too much, drain some off. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute then add the onion, season well with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, garlic, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in flour, cook, stirring for a minute then add the tomatoes, currants and chilli flakes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Cool. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Cut each piece of pastry into four squares and brush the edges with whisked egg. Put about 2/3 cup of filling, rounded, into the centre of each square. Cut another four pieces of pastry and place on top of each. Use your hands to press down firmly around the filling and the base. Trim the edges and press with the tines of a fork. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut two little slits on the top of each pie.  Repeat with remaining filling and pastry. Line two oven trays with baking paper and bake pies for 25-30 minutes until golden. Serve with a good tomato chutney. Makes 14

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Congratulations to the Le Creuset winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered this competition – I got quite teary reading through your lovely comments! A huge congratulations to the following winners of the beautiful Le Creuset Stoneware Heritage Oval covered dishes. Please make sure you email me as soon as possible with your address and phone details at fromthekitchen@icloud.com :)
Lisa for your brave mum who has been so ill
katie87 for your pocket-rocket mum
Cassi Jutsum for your early-bird milking mum

Wishing you all a wonderful, happy Mother’s Day. See you again soon :)

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Mother’s Day pot roast chicken with fennel & apples – Le Crueset competition!

Woooooooo! Competition time for Mother’s Day – I am so excited to have three of these absolutely gorgeous Le Crueset Stoneware Heritage Oval covered dishes to give away. I have long been a fan (and collector) of the brand, and I can’t think of a more special gift for any mum…and it is too easy to enter. All you need to do is reply in the comments below, telling me what quality you love most about your mother – for me it is my mum’s unshakeable faith that things will always work out in the end! I’ll be choosing three lucky winners and announcing their names on the blog Wednesday 10th May at 5pm. (See below the recipe for further details).
I had so much fun playing around with the dish and decided that my perfect Mother’s Day lunch or dinner would be this pot-roasted chicken with fennels and apple. I stuffed it with lemon, garlic and fennel stalks, then nestled it on a bed of onion, fennel and pancetta. It is started covered to lock in all the lovely moisture, then finished with a good blast uncovered to get the rich, burnished skin. I would serve this with a mound of mash, some green beans, and a bowl of creme fraiche swirled with dijon mustard on the side. A few glasses of bubbly never go astray when it’s time to say thank you either…
Wishing you a great week, and happy time spent celebrating your mum next weekend – I so wish I had my lovely men/boys to celebrate with, but I’m lucky to be catching up with my mum instead! Thanks so much to the lovely team at Le Crueset for their support – and don’t forget to enter below!


2 tbsp olive oil

80g pancetta, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved and sliced
1.4kg chicken
3 cloves garlic, squashed
fennel stalks, roughly chopped
2 lemon quarters
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
330mls apple cider
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into 10 wedges
fennel fronds to garnish
Preheat the oven to 170˚C (340˚F). Put one tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and cook the pancetta over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until crispy then remove with a slotted spoon, add the onion and fennel, sea salt and pepper and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pancetta to the fennel and onion and stir to distribute, then pour into the base of the casserole dish.  Stuff the chicken cavity with garlic, lemon and fennel stalks and secure with a tooth pick. Put the chicken on the vegetables, and pour cider around the base. Rub the chicken with the remaining oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the lid, baste the chicken with some of the liquid, increase the heat to 180˚C (350˚F) and cook, uncovered for  20 minutes, add the apple wedges and cook (still uncovered) a further further 15-20 minutes until the chicken is golden and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a skewer. (If you fancy, you can always crank up the grill for the last few minutes to get that extra crispy skin…!) Rest for 5 minutes before serving with mash, blanched green beans and a bowl of creme fraiche swirled with dijon mustard. Serves 6.
COMPETITION DETAILS
(competition only available in New Zealand)
Win one of three stunning Le Crueset Stoneware Heritage Oval covered dishes. (36cm, colour – Dune).
All you need to do is comment below sharing what you love most about your mum. I will be drawing three winners at 5pm Wednesday 10th May (when the competition will close), and announcing them here and via Facebook. The winners must email me their delivery details and address by 9am Thursday 11th May (at fromthekitchen@icloud.com) then we will make every effort to get prizes sent out in time for the weekend!

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Cheesy stuffed giant pasta shells

Well hello there – you are definitely justified in thinking I have dropped off the face of the earth, but I’m still heeeeere! It has been a seriously long while, but I am so fkng excited to say I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the book. I can’t believe it – I have been helped and supported by so many amazing people, for a ‘solo’ endeavour it has been a massive team effort. Any way, I still have six weeks to go, so mustn’t get ahead of myself, I’m just starting to feel like this book might actually really happen.
Meanwhile – cheesy goodness squashed into pasta shells and baked in a tomato passata – not much more to say really, other than it is really bloody good. To prove that miracles do exist my ‘sausages-and-mash’ man Rich has become fully vegetarian over the last year – and this is one of the dishes that he requests when he is home, (and that I have sent frozen in containers to his flat!), I guess because it has that same feel-good, comfort factor. Dear old darling, he has taken on a mountain of commitments in Welly – what with study, work, basketball and acting in a local production – I am full of motherly concern! Across the Tasman Henry’s life has been given a full shake up – having had his course at Mercer Design School suddenly cancelled (grrrrrr) his employer has now gone into receivership (ffs) so he is now also without a job. So – the mother of all double-whammies. I am so proud to say he has barely faltered in his stride, and instead is looking at an exciting new enterprise while doing some final touches to the (almost finished) book. Thank God for the steady Will at his side!
Right then, because I am the world’s most pedantic perfectionist (yoga flow let-it-go stuff not withstanding), I am off to re-shoot two recipes for the book this morning. Dammit if I only ever do one, I may as well get it right….(or at least 90% anyway…ommmmm).


400grams ricotta

1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
24 conchiglioni shells (250g, big pasta shells available at specialty food shops, I use the ones that don’t need any pre-cooking)
400gram tin cherry tomatoes
400gram tin crushed and sieved tomatoes
½ cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Put ricotta, mozzarella, 2/3 cup Parmesan, and egg in a bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour cherry tomatoes and sieved tomatoes into a 23cm x 32cm baking dish. Stir in wine, garlic, sugar and chilli flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon ricotta mixture into shells and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove foil and cook a further 15 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve with a small green bitter salad. Serves 4

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Easter Slow Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic, and Vine Tomatoes


I feel a bit sheepish (l’il lamb joke) to be re-posting this again, but it is such a good Easter recipe it seems silly not to…hope everyone is enjoying a happy Easter :)


(last re-post a few years ago!)
I originally posted this slow-roasted leg of lamb recipe almost a year ago – I was so excited as it was the first of my pics that showed evidence of my having taken a photography course – and since then my photography has been progressing endlessly, as has my experience with post production. Despite the progress, this is still one of my favourite shots, and I thought the recipe would be a good one to share in case you are thinking of cooking lamb this Easter. Many years ago I used to be scared of cooking big hunks of meat, always worried about ending up with a tough result – this method of slow roasting will guarantee you meltingly tender meat that just falls off the bone. Actually my husband must say ‘falling off the bone’ at least 3 times every time he carves this lamb, so consistently that inevitably the boys are mouthing it with him and rolling their eyes – beautifully predictable from all of them! Any old hoo, this is probably it from me until after Easter. The weather is appalling – rain, gale force winds, power outages – so Waiheke is looking less likely (poo!), but instead I get to hunker down with my family, eat too much and watch movies…ah well, alright then! Have a wonderful Easter, be safe and I hope you get to hang out with people who make you feel happy too.



1 large whole leg of lamb, bone in, at least 2 kilos
8 sprigs rosemary
8 big garlic cloves, peeled  
juice of half a lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine, hot water or stock


24 medium small vine tomatoes, still attached
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)


At least half an hour before you start, take your lamb out of the fridge. Set the oven temperature to 160˚C (320˚F) and make sure you set the oven rack for the lamb low enough in the oven that you can fit a rack above it, not too close to the top of the oven, for your tomatoes to be added later.  Use  a small sharp knife to make 8 deep cuts in the top fat-side of the lamb. Poke a garlic clove into each of these holes. Rip off a few bits of rosemary and poke them in the same holes – it will look a bit messy, but no worries. Put the rest of the rosemary in a big roasting dish and lay the leg, fat side up, on top. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season really well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pop into the oven and forget about it for four and a half to five hours. When your lamb has about half an hour left, put the tomatoes in another oven dish, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pop in the oven for around 40 minutes. By the time you have made your (optional) gravy, they should be ready.

After four and a half hours (five if it is truly massive) take the lamb out of the oven, transfer it to a serving dish or board and cover with tin (aluminum) foil, shiny side down, and a tea towel on top, to keep it warm. While it is resting, remove the bits of rosemary that aren’t glued to the roasting dish, pour off most of the excess fat and put the roasting pan on the stove top over a low heat. Add the flour (less or more depending on how thick you like your gravy) and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour around the pan, digging up all the brown bits which carry all of the flavour. Once this forms a paste slowly add your liquid, stirring all the time, and cooking until a smooth, rich gravy is formed. Season well with sae salt and freshly ground black pepper. If the gravy misbehaves just whisk it into submission until it de-lumps…I promise it will work. Traditionally hot cooking water from the likes of drained minted peas is used for a gravy, so this is an option as is the red wine, for a richer, darker gravy. Once the gravy is made your tomatoes will be ready – and it’s time to carve! I  served this for Mother’s Day last year with crispy roasted potatoes crusted in polenta, and zucchini and beans with garlic, lemon and parsley, and another time recently with watercress and beetroot salad, roasted baby carrots and celeriac and potato mash….the options are endless :) Serves 8

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Zucchini & Pea Fritters with Feta Yoghurt Whip

Goooood morning – and I hope that if you are in New Zealand, you are hunkered down somewhere safe and dry as we await the arrival of the ‘biggest storm in 50 years’. Bloody hell – not good timing with people travelling around the country to visit loved ones for Easter…so today’s recipe is my version of sunshine on a cloudy day (thanks Temptations) – with pea and zucchini fritters given an extra kick with chilli, mint and zingy lemon and my favourite – the salty feta smear on the side. Feel free to amp things up with sides – poached eggs, bacon and avocado would all work well with the fresh ripe tomatoes. The recipe serves 2-3 but is really easy to double or triple to feed more. 
It’s going to be very much a head down bum up Easter round my place – I am on a mission to get as much work done as I can over the break – and while I will miss my babies (the 6 foot tall ones) desperately, I know that Henry will be like a Pog (pig) in mud in his lovely new flat with the darling Will, and that Hoob will be zooming up to Auckland before too long. Poor darling, his bloody incessant cough is back and worse than ever…I hate not having him here to uber-mother with hot baths, lemon honey drinks and scrambled eggs on a tray. It sucks. Meanwhile I will annoy the crap out of him with messages and be hoping that he feels better very soon.
Sending a big Happy Easter to everyone who pops in here on a regular basis – and if you get bored over the next few days, check back in and I’ll be sharing a selection (reminder) of some of my favourite recipes and recommendations to give a whirl while you’re stuck indoors :)
1 egg
2 zucchini, grated
¾ cup frozen peas
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon chilli flakes plus extra to garnish
¼ cup ricotta
3 tablespoons self-raising flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
100 grams feta
60 grams Greek-style natural yoghurt or soft cream cheese
1½ cups salad greens
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
¼ cup mint leaves
​sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the egg in a medium bowl and add the zucchini, peas, zest, chilli flakes and ricotta. Stir to combine, then add the flour and fold together. Season well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook third cupfuls of the mixture, in batches, for 2–3 minutes each side, until golden. While they’re cooking, whiz the feta and yoghurt in a small food processor to create a soft spread. Drain the fritters on paper towels and serve immediately on salad greens, topped with feta spread, tomatoes and mint. Serves 2-3

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Roast root vegetable salad with feta & semi-dried tomatoes & walnut, parsley & basil pesto

Holy moly did it rain last night (in Auckland) or what??? Happily I am still tucked up in bed with my cup of tea and heading to a slightly later yoga session today – that would be for day 36 in a row – wooooo – almost at my 40 day target! Actually I love the rain (the humidity I’m not so fond of), the feeling of hunkering down while the elements rage outside is just my cup of tea :) As is this salad (segue right there) – it has all of the lovely comfort factors that you need in an autumnal salad – sweet roasted beetroot, carrots, parsnip and kumara (sweet potato), paired with intense semi-dried tomatoes, salty feta, bitter greens and crunchy fresh walnuts. My favourite part though is the pesto made with walnuts and a basil/parsley combination…my new favourite. It is both hearty and healthy, and bloody delicious, so I reckon pretty bloody perfect for the moment!
Hm – what else for today? Rich returned from his trip to see Henry in Melbourne last night – it made me so incredibly happy to think of the two of them together, and by all accounts they had a lovely, jolly time – hurrah! The downside for Hoob is being plonked back in a flat with eight others and a uni assignment due – not exactly unusual, but not the most fun ever either. Meanwhile the countdown is on for Pog and Will to move into their new flat – I am so excited for them both, such a wonderful grown up adventure. Meanwhile I have been working on my latest Cuisine spread (shot yesterday), and wrangled with one bloody recipe with seven tests…not one to be included I feel! However I subbed it for another and the whole thing looked beautiful – so phew. Apart from that I am feeling so good at the moment, is it the yoga, the rain and change of seasons or just a state of mind – who cares, I am going to enjoy it! Back to the book for the rest of the week – see you again soon with a wee Easter recipe before the holiday break :)


Walnut, Parsley & basil pesto:

1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup walnuts
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a small food processor and whiz to combine. I like my dressing quite chunky but if you want to thin it for drizzling, add another few teaspoons each of olive oil and water.

Roast root vegetable salad with feta & semi-dried tomatoes
12 baby beetroot
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
12 baby carrots
3 small parsnips, cut to match carrot size
1 large kumara, chopped into  5cm pieces
1 tablespoon runny honey
6 cups mixed salad greens
200g soft feta, crumbled
½ cup semi-dried tomatoes, halved
½ cup lightly toasted walnuts
2 teaspoons walnut oil or extra virgin olive extra
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a baking dish with two pieces of tinfoil, using enough so that when you put in the beetroot you will be able to draw the sides up and make a foil parcel. Add baby beetroot and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper, draw up the sides and add ½ cup water. Seal the top by scrunching and bake the beetroot for 40-45 minutes until tender. Leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 180˚C and put carrots, parsnips and kumara in a baking dish. Drizzle with remaining oil and drizzle with honey. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for 25 minutes until tender then leave to cool. Use a small sharp knife to peel the skins off the beetroot. Layer the salad greens onto a serving plate and top with carrots, kumara, beetroot, crumbled feta, semi-dried tomatoes and toasted walnuts. Drop teaspoons of pesto onto the salad, serving the remainder on the side. If desired drizzle with a little walnut oil to serve. Serves 6

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Mini pesto, proscuitto, & kumara loaves with walnuts & semi-dried tomatoes

Good Friday morning – woah that just made me think about Easter coming soon – where is this year going?!? Today’s recipe is one I put together for the lovely Dish magazine, and it’s an ideal super-easy autumn weekend baking project. The mini loaves (or you can make them as muffins) are moist and flavour packed with herby pesto, Parmesan, sweet kumara (sweet potato) and semi-dried tomatoes and prosciutto, with the nubbly crunch of walnuts for texture. They freeze well but are best eaten warm with an afternoon cup of tea or dunked into hot soup – and in my head the perfect scenario is after a bracing wind-whipped walk along a beach by a stormy sea! But playing cards and listening to music or lying on the couch watching Netflix will also do…
Anyhoo – what else is happening? Henry has had a gorgeous romantic weekend with the darling William to celebrate a year of dating, and very soon they will be moving in together in a fabulous new (old historic) flat in Melbourne. I have asked Pog to take before and after pictures of the apartment as I can’t wait to see how he transforms those lovely old bones. Meanwhile Hoob is getting on with the business of uni life in Welly – I love the tiny glimpses into his days I get via random pics – helping a mate with a uni film project, sitting in a lecture theatre – or very impressive home-made pizzas cooking away in the oven. Thank God for the ease of communication via social media, I miss my lovelies enough as it is, I don’t know how I’d cope with a fortnightly postcard or phone call!!!
And me – yoga (day 31 in a row today, please no more uktkatsana/chair pose my legs are shaking at the thought), and book, Cuisine, Fairfax and Dish work fill my days. The one stellar outing I had recently was to see Adele in concert, singing her heart out in torrential rain in Auckland. She is so bloody amazing, so warm, vibrant and real with that unbelievable voice and music. It was fantastic. Oh I and how can I forget (it’s becoming a dreadful habit Aida!) I had a hilarious night out with a dear Sydney mate and her lovely husband – great food, (Amano – always brilliant), many glasses of wine and late-night rum cocktails with plenty of deep and meaningful talk (that’ll be the cocktails) and much laughter. Such a huge treat. And my darling nephew Rupert (how good is his name?) stayed for a week while my big sister celebrated her birthday and a long over-due change of work with her hubby James in Brisbane. I think that’s all my scrambled brain can remember at the moment, so that’s me over-and-out…the next recipe will be up on Wednesday. See you then :)

1/3 cup basil pesto

1 2/3 cups Greek natural yoghurt
2/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups grated kumara
100 grams roughly chopped prosciutto (or ham)
1/2 cup chopped, semi-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and grease 14 loaf mini loaf tray or 12 hole (1/2 cup size) large muffin tin. Put pesto, yoghurt, olive oil and eggs in a big bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add cheese, flour, kumara, proscuitto, tomatoes and walnuts and stir together – it will seem quite stiff at this point. Divide between prepared tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

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harbourvore

Hello lo (as my sister would say) and welcome to the weekend. No recipe today – no, wait – don’t go – I just wanted to quickly share some pics from an amazing day out yesterday and give you the heads up on some awesome places to eat…As you can see I was super lucky to get invited to join a team of like-minded foodies (and wine-ies and beer-ies and designers) on a culinary cruise on Auckland harbour – aptly named Harbourvore. We sailed out of the viaduct marina on Yonder Star ( a loverly 87 ft yacht) about 2pm and blissfully headed out to anchor just off Motutapu island. During the afternoon the clouds came and went, there was a lovely fresh breeze that kept us lively and the food and drinks just kept coming. We were presented with Te Kouma and Kaipara harbour oysters, trevally and kingfish sashimi, salt and dill cured gurnard, crispy flounder on perilla leaves and coromandel lobster sliders – and that was just for nibbles!

As the afternoon wore on we feasted on grilled whole Terakihi, Cloudy Bay cockles, grilled eggplant, baby corn and snake bean salad then finished off with Waiheke island Phutukawa honey & coconut milk creme brulee and Marou chocolate and blackberry pots de creme. Miraculously, I didn’t feel full to the gunnels (little boaty reference right there), as the food was so light and supremely fresh, and packed with flavour thanks to the use of grunty, vibrant herbs and minimal interference. We were lucky enough to have the delightful Lek (Wichian Trirattanavatin) from Saan restaurant on board, cooking, chatting and laughing and talking passionately about the origins of his recipes – all passed down from his chef parents and grandparents. His excitement about being able to cook with such amazing New Zealand produce was infectious, as was his pride in the Thai heritage of the dishes. I should also make mention here of the amazing beverages on board – luscious Pandan Punch cocktails, Hallertu beers, Poderi Crisci, Kumeu River Estate and Man O War wines. I was a total pig in mud but just managed to keep myself tidy, by crikey if ever there was a food and drinks line-up to make a girl throw caution to the wind, that was it. So today, still licking my lips, it’s back to yoga, work and reality…but damn it was good!

This series of Harbourvore cruises was hosted by the trimuvirate of Saan, Cafe Hanoi and Xuxu – three of my favourite Auckland restaurants, so essentially there was no way it could be anything other than magic. If you’re an Auckland local, keep an eye out for future events, based on yesterday I would highly recommend it! 

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