Mushrooms in pastry (en croute)

Gooood morning, good morning, good morning (said in my head just like Stephen Fry). Right well apparently the weather is about to turn to crap all around the country again, so I thought a wee bit of mushroomy, cheesy pastry was in order. This is such a simple recipe that I put together for my lovely friends at Dish magazine, seriously easy – the only thing you need to watch out for is that the mushrooms are quite dry after cooking, the cheese on the base does a good job of preventing a soggy bottom, but there is a limit to it’s water-proofing abilities…and the end result is so bloody good :) 
And in other news, I have just finished an epic couple of days shooting a little project for Simon Gault – seriously, I know it might not sound very difficult, but shopping, prepping, cooking, styling and photographing recipes and not missing anything can be pretty stressful. But phew – job done (apart from the editing that is, but in my head that’s the easiest bit)! And now, hurrah, I’m so excited to start thinking about my trip to Melbourne to see Pog and Will – I haven’t seen Henry since the 8th of January which feels like a very, very long time. God I wish it was for longer than two days, but it’s an expensive business. Meanwhile I got the most hilarious message from Hoob yesterday who was fizzing with excitement sitting in a lecture on the philosophy of psychology – darling man. That’s about it really, apart from a very successful quiz night down at the pub the other night – just in case any of my ‘rubble-making’ teammates read this…you were awesome :)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 red onion, finely chopped
500grams portobello mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp Marsala or sherry
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
300 grams ready rolled butter puff pastry (I used Paneton)
1 cup grated gruyere or tasty cheese
1 egg, whisked
2 tsp sesame seeds
Heat the oil and butter together in a large, deep frying pan. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms and cook over a medium high heat for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Marsala, season with salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and most of the liquid as disappeared. Chill the filling for at least an hour. Lay out the pastry, cutting into two sheets – one 32cm x 26cm and the other 34cm x 28cm. Place the grated cheese in the centre of the smaller sheet of pastry, leaving a 2cm edge around the outside. Brush the exposed border with whisked egg. Top the cheese with chilled mushrooms, then place the bigger sheet of pastry on top and use your hands to press the pastry around them. Trim the edges and use your fingers or the tines of a fork to firmly press the seal together, then trim a little again. Brush the pastry with egg and cut five small slashes in the top to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chill on baking paper for 30 minutes while the oven heats to 190˚C. Put an oven tray in the oven to heat up for five minutes then slide pie in, on the baking paper. Cook for 25-30 minutes until golden and irresistible. Serves 4 with mash and beans or a simple rocket salad and tomato chutney or dijon mustard on the side.

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Fisher & Paykel dinner set winner!

CONGRATULATIONS REBECCA LANEY – with your ‘turbo boosted’ chilli choice, you are now the proud owner of the gorgeous 21 piece ceramic dinner set that has been hand crafted in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Fisher & Paykel Dishdrawer. If you could email me at fromthekitchen@icloud.com by Tuesday 18th July with your address and phone number, the good people at Fisher & Paykel will organise the delivery of your dinner set. Well done –  and have a great weekend :)

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Pumpkin & pancetta pasta bake

Goooood morning – right well I am back to having a very hectic few weeks coming up so thought I would get one quick blog post up before things turn to custard! This is such a bloody delicious, indulgent, cheesy flavour-packed pasta dish, it is perfect for a crappy winter’s night. The intense flavour comes from salty pancetta, grunty garlic and earthily sweet pumpkin and kumara, paired with a little nutmeg, a good hit of chilli and finished off with a crumbling of toasted walnuts and the distinctive fragrant flavour of fried sage. Seriously. It really is bloody good!
Meanwhile in other news – Hoob is still in Welly picking up extra shifts at work during the uni break, Henry is slogging away in Melbourne, dealing with the occasional uninvited mouse-guest and I have had a lovely quiet week in the manner of the calm before the storm. Next week I’ll be flat out doing a job for the famous Mr Simon Gault before heading off to Melbourne for two nights with Pog and Will – hurrah!!! Back here it’ll be down to business again for Fairfax, Cuisine and Dish and finishing off prep for the cookbook launch, which I am thrilled to say involves a wee bit of media coverage around about – keep an eye out, hahaha, but of course I’ll be letting you know when it all starts here anyway! First up was an article in Stuff last week, which you can read about here. (Can I please just point out I hate having my photo taken, and I am spectacularly crap at it – I always look like some kind of stiff, stunned possum…). Anyhoo – time to get up, it’s a gorgeous morning, I’m off for a walk (yoga tomorrow yippeeeee), and gotta get sh*t done! :)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
100g pancetta or streaky bacon, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
350g pumpkin or butternut chopped into 4cm pieces
1 red kumara (sweet potato) peeled and chopped into 4cm pieces
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 cup cream
2 bay leaves
Bechamel:
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup four
2 cups whole milk
sea salt &freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup gruyere or tasty cheese, grated
250g large pasta shells or tubes
250g buffalo mozzarella, drained
1/4 cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp chilli flakes to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large deep frying pan and cook the onion for 8 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook another 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally then add the garlic, pumpkin, kumara, sea salt and pepper and chilli flakes. Cook, covered for 5 minutes then remove the lid and add the cream and bay leaves, and cook a further 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are just soft. Remove bay leaves just before adding the remaining ingredients as detailed below.
You can make the Béchamel Sauce either on the stove top, or in the microwave. The method is very similar. On the stove top, heat the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until just melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Add  the milk in three lots, stirring continuously, until well incorporated. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Keep stirring while cooking over the heat until the sauce is thickened and smooth. If it misbehaves, just whisk it vigorously with a wire whisk until smooth – it should finish thick and silky. Add the cheese at the end of heating and stir well to combine. 
Cook the pasta for one minute less than the packet instructions advise, in plenty of salted, boiling water until only just al dente. Drain well. Add the drained pasta and 1/2 of the bechamel sauce to the vegetables and stir to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 25cm x 30cm baking dish. Spoon the rest of the sauce on top in blobs, break the mozzarella into chunks and also dot on top. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden. While it is cooking heat the olive oil to medium hot and fry the sage leaves for 20 seconds at a time, and drain well. Serve the pasta sprinkled with sage leaves, freshly ground black pepper, chilli flakes and sprinkled with toasted walnuts. Serves 6

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Rhubarb & Raspberry Clafoutis

L’il re-post from last year for Bastille day celebrations (la Fete Nationale), I know in the northern hemisphere it is the middle of summer – but for my southern mates I thought a warm pud might be appropriate! I’m aiming to shoot an easy, cheesy pasta recipe in the next few days – so check back in at the weekend for that, and in the meantime – have a good one! :) (Obviously I have always been a sucker for rhubarb and custard…!)

I’m writing this a bit later in the day for a change, coffee in hand, weak sunlight streaming in the window and, as hoped, Dougie is snoring gently and intermittently farting in his bed at my feet. (Dougie is Henry’s border terrier in case you weren’t sure!). He seems to be rocketing along with his recovery, eating well (free range chicken and rice…), taking his meds (kind of), sleeping lots but generally in a pretty perky state. The next step is to have his stitches removed next Wednesday and further blood tests to see if there is an underlying disease which caused his gallbladder issues. Meanwhile – it is all go in Melbourne with Pog finally starting his interior design course on Monday, and I am (fingers crossed) assuming not-much-news is good news from Rich. I started my day with a bloody lovely yoga session, so have no excuse not to now get my act together and have a good day, testing my next lot of recipes for Dish magazine.

This clafoutis recipe is one I put together for my fortnightly Dish web contribution, and I have to say it is damned delicious. I love tart rhubarb, and when combined with the sweet raspberries then topped with soft vanilla custard it really is a great dessert. The clafoutis is super easy to make, and quick too, if you roast your rhubarb in advance. The trick is not to serve it straight away as the custard needs time to set up a little – but then don’t serve it cold either, because by then the custard will have set into a slab! Just give it 5 minutes or so, then serve with a lovely big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

400g rhubarb, washed and trimmed into 4cm pieces

1/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
200g fresh raspberries
1 tbsp butter
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup flour
200ml whole milk
100ml cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Lay rhubarb in a single layer in the base of a large baking dish. Mix 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla, zest and juice and pour over rhubarb, tossing gently to coat. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 12 minutes, or until just soft. Remove from the oven, add raspberries, toss gently and leave to combine and cool.
Butter a 23cm round ovenproof dish (a deep oven-proof frying pan can be used). Whisk flour, remaining sugar, eggs, yolk, milk, cream and remaining vanilla until smooth. Blob rhubarb and raspberries into the prepared dish (reserve any rhubarb juices to drizzle over ice cream if you wish when serving) and pour over custard mix.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until just set in the middle. Remove from the oven, leave for 5-10 minutes to rest and set up, then dust with icing sugar and serve with vanilla bean ice cream. Serves 6

Mr Dougal Tuck – aka Dougie :)

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Rhubarb cheesecake custard crumble tart

This is outrageous – it is 8:27am and I am still in bed! As I scroll through my Facebook feed looking at everyone’s tropical/American/European adventures, I am ‘on holiday’ at home – complete with spa treatments (I have a bath and epsom salts), gourmet food (hello kitchen) fabulous nightlife (Netflix), culture (pile of books) and shopping (on-line). Hahahahaha – it’s not all bad to be honest…Anyhoo, as I have had a bit more time I have enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen, this tart is one of the recent results created for Dish magazine. Basically it’ a load of my favourite things together – a tart, with custard, kind of cheesecake-y, roast rhubarb and short-cakey crumble…bloody fabulous. You can serve it warm or cold, and although it’s great on it’s own, feel free to serve with vanilla bean ice cream or softly whipped cream. Also – it sounds complicated I know, but it is actually really easy, to be honest I don’t ever cook stuff that is super difficult, because – who can be bothered!!?
No other news to report really – I’m trying to lure Hoob up for a few more days in Auckland, unsuccessfully so far, but early days, while counting down to my trip Melbourne to see Pog and Will…eeee, so excited! Other than that, let’s see I trimmed the daisy bush and cleaned the bathrooms yesterday…so perhaps I should leave it there. Have a great week – and do check out the recipe below, you’ll see it is completely straight forward :)
Roast rhubarb:
700g rhubarb, washed and trimmed
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp caster sugar ( I use 3 but if you want sweeter go for 4)
Heat oven to 190˚C and put rhubarb in an even layer in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle with vanilla and sugar and cook 15 minutes. Give it a bit of a stir around and leave to cool in the juices.

Pastry:
110g cold butter, chopped
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 -2 tsp iced water
baking spray
Put the cold butter in a food processor and add flour and icing sugar. Pulse to combine then add the egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of iced water. Pulse until the mixture forms big clumpy breadcrumbs and starts coming together. Tip out onto a clean bench and press and squash together into a long sausage. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C (350˚F) and remove the pastry from the fridge. Let it sit for 5 minutes then roll out on a lightly floured surface until it is 5cm bigger than your 34cm x 12cm removable base tart tin. Spray the tin very lightly with baking spray and use a paper towel to wipe off any excess. Use a fish slice (I actually use a thin metal pizza paddle) to slip pastry off the bench and into the tin. Press firmly into the base and sides and prick the base lightly with the tines of a fork. Pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. Cut a piece of baking paper 5cm bigger than the tart tin, place in the tin and fill with either baking beans or rice. Bake for 12 minutes, remove baking paper and weights and bake a further 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Pour the filling into the base, reduce the oven temperature to 170˚C and bake 10 minutes until the filling is just setting. Layer the roast rhubarb on top then squash clumps of crumble on top. Return to the oven and cook a further 15 minutes. To encourage the crumble to colour up, keep the tart in the middle of the oven but turn the setting to grill and cook a further 3 minutes. Serve cold, warm or hot. It’s great just as it is, but if you fancy top with vanilla bean ice cream or softly whipped cream. Serves 8-10.
Filling:
115g sour cream
115g cream cheese, at room temperature, roughly chopped
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp custard powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Bung everything in a food processor and whiz until smooth.
Crumble:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds
50g butter, at room temperature, roughly chopped
1 tbsp custard powder
Give the food processor a quick rinse, and wipe out with a paper towel, then whiz crumble ingredients together until forming big clumpy breadcrumbs.

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Spicy Beef Curry

By crikey this has been one hell of a year so far – up until just recently I had had only 1 1/2 days off (including weekends) since the middle of January. I am so bloody excited to say that the cookbook, which has ruled my life for so long, is now finally on the presses and will soon be heading this way – wooooooooo hooooooo!!!!!!!! (If I ever decide to do another one – please remind me of this post!). Anyhoo, as an exciting end to that daily grind, I have just had my darling Hoob up from Welly for two short nights,  it was such a huge treat to see him and gave me a fantastic boost (felt like my old self for a minute there). Now the countdown is on to see Pog (and Will) in a few weeks with two nights in Melbourne. They may be approaching 22 and 20 years old and totally independent, but I still miss my lovely men/boys massively! Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, the temperatures have plummeted and I have been craving a few more warming, slow cooked winter meals. Today’s recipe is a spicy beef curry, slow cooked and fragrant, with a good bit of chilli grunt, but also a depth and complexity of flavour which means it’s not just ‘hot’. Don’t be put off by the ingredients list below – they are all readily available and not too much of a bother, and as for the curry itself – it takes just half an hour to prepare, then the slow cooking does all the work of breaking the meat down until it is meltingly tender, while the flavours round out and develop. Trust me – it’s worth it. If you’re planning on watching the rugby tonight, quick go and get the ingredients now – if you give it a good 4 hours it’s going to be bloody perfect by kick-off. (And frankly even better for Sunday night leftovers!)
In other news, I don’t know if you’ve caught up on my Instagram stories lately, but if so you might have seen a particularly fetching set of dinnerware loaded into the flash new Fisher & Paykel Dishdrawers in my kitchen. The ceramic dinner set has been hand crafted in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Fisher & Paykel Dishdrawer – and I am excited to have one of the 21 piece dinner sets to GIVE AWAY. All you need to do is answer in the comments box below – how do you like your curry mild, medium or turbo-boosted!? The winner will be announced here on the blog and on Facebook on Saturday 15th July, so make sure you check back in to see if you’ve got a dinner set coming your way!

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds (not pods)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp chilli powder (1 for medium/mild, 1 1/2 for hot and 2 for full grunt!)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 large thumb ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 kilos stewing steak (such as chuck, cross cut or blade), cut into 4cm pieces
425mls coconut cream
1 cup coriander leaves 
Thai fried shallots to garnish
Indian flatbreads and basmati rice to serve
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pot and cook the onion over a gentle/medium for 15 minutes until soft but not coloured. Put all of the spices, sugar, ginger, garlic and vinegar in a small food processor and whiz to combine. Add the cooked onion and whiz again to form a smooth-ish paste.
Heat the second lot of oil in the pot and cook beef over a medium high heat for two minutes. Add the spice paste and cook over a medium heat for another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, half cover with a lid, reduce the heat to very low and cook for 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid completely and cook a further 30 minutes. Serve the curry on basmati rice, garnished with coriander leaves and Thai fried shallots for a bit of crunch. Serves 6-8 as part of a curry buffet (!) or 4-6 with blanched green beans on the side. (If possible cook in the first half of the day and gently reheat for half an hour before serving, or even better the day before. It’s good whatever way, but extra time keeps rounding out those flavours and making the meat even more tender :) ).

A note on the heat – feel free to add even more chilli if it floats your boat (go wild!) but it’s best not to adjust too much until you have tasted the curry after three hours cooking, it needs that much time for the flavours to round out and do their thing :)

To enter the Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer 20th anniversary dinner set giveaway, just comment below, how do you like your curry – mild, medium or turbo-boosted!? Competition available in New Zealand only. The winner must contact me at fromthekitchen@icloud.com by Tuesday 18th July with address and phone contact details so that we can ensure delivery. Good luck :)

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Banana cake pudding with rum’n’raisin caramel sauce

Helloooo from my old blogging ground (bed), with a massive mug of tea. It is bloody freezing outside but shortly it’ll be time to brave the cold and head out for my walk – but first – banana cake pudding with caramel rum’n’raisin sauce. With my Fairfax recipes (as you can imagine) they are locked into a newspaper schedule months in advance, and this combo is one I had been particularly looking forward to sharing. They are both so easy to make, but served together with a generous scoop of ice cream or softly whipped cream, the result is indulgently fabulous. Make sure the cake is cooked through (by testing in the centre with a skewer) before resting for 5 minutes as it can look suspiciously ‘done’ when, not quite.
Right – on the news front – the book is at the printers (a miracle) and we are awaiting the proofs any day. Holy moly, I can’t quite believe it, it seems slightly surreal! Lock September 19th in your diary, the official New Zealand launch date, and I will keep you posted with where you can buy it well in advance (and obvs I will be sharing the cover and a few pages to whet your appetite well before then). Meanwhile it’s business as usual for Pog and Will, hard at work in Melbourne – I can’t wait to see them again, it has been way too long. Hoob is zooming up for two nights on Saturday which will be such a bloody treat (two nights, seems like just a tease)…I do miss my lovelies so much! And me? It’s no rest for the wicked having just finished off my next Cuisine and Fairfax shoots with still loads of work to catch up on and finishing off to do, but at least a slightly more manageable pace. But I have allowed myself the luxury of inviting a crew around to watch the rugby at the weekend, cooking without making notes/testing/photographing is a real treat! Hope all is well where you are, and I’ll see you here again soon….

Baked Banana-Cake Pudding:

100g soft butter plus 1 tablespoon
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 cups self raising flour
1 banana, sliced in half, lengthways
Lightly butter a 23cm round oven-proof dish with the 1 tablespoon of butter and preheat the oven to 180˚C. Beat the remaining butter with the brown sugar in a mixing bowl until soft and creamy. Add the eggs, bananas and rum and beat briefly to combine. Sift in the flour in two lots, folding to combine, then spoon into prepared dish. Place the halved banana, cut side up, on top of the cake batter. Bake for 40 minutes (or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the comes out clean), then leave to sit for 5 minutes before serving with Rum’n’raisin caramel sauce and lashings of vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8
Rum’n’Raisin Caramel Sauce
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup raisins
Whisk caster sugar and water together in a pot over a medium high heat. Brush any sugar that has stuck to the pot from the ides with a small brush. Cook, without stirring until the sugar has crystallized white, then turned a light golden amber color. Swirl the pan to ensure even cooking, then as soon as it is pale amber remove from the heat and whisk in the cream – it will froth up madly in a wild way, but just whisk hard then add the rum and butter and whisk again until incorporated. Add raisins and stir to combine. Once cooled pour into a container and store in the fridge. Before serving re-heat gently in a small pot or the microwave. Makes 1 cup

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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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