Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I arrived home tonight after a verrrry long day of my new post-law food-filled life, to meatball leftovers for dinner and three parcels. Three. If there's one thing I love more than being taken out for dinner, gin, fresh flowers, and standing on tip-toes to hug people taller than me, it's receiving things in the mail. Handwritten letters from friends afar are obviously great, samples of food and products, also very awesome, invitations, usually excellent, but parcels of books? The best.
I saw on twitter that my fellow-Metro contributor, the extremely lovely Charlotte Ryan, was giving away the new Ripe cookbook on her Kiwi FM afternoon radio show. I texted in and promptly forgot about it. I love Ripe's original book, and now that my new office space is just around the corner, I'm bordering on an addiction to the actual cafe on Richmond Road. I've had my eye on this cake-and-salad-filled beauty since I saw it hit the shelves, and (no rigging possible because my name wasn't in the text) my number came up and the book was mine. I made the lemon polenta and chia seed loaf as minis a couple of weeks ago because they were featured in the latest Cuisine magazine, and they were great. I pretty much want to make everything, so stay tuned. Thanks Charlotte!
I feel like I've been whinging constantly about my blog-post drought lately. Heartbreak Pie began three years ago last week, and such humble, cold, and lonely beginnings they were. I had no idea that it would lead to a career change, a city change, and about a billion opportunities, including, but not limited too, cooking on TV, helping judge New Zealand's best streaky bacon, and multiple dinner dates. I used to blog about 2-3 times a week; any less and I'd feel weird and guilty. Lately though it's been very sporadic. I'm busy, but also I'm in a bit of a transition phase. I've got stuff to say but I don't know if this is the place to say it. I've also got some pretty exciting plans in the pipeline though, and never fear I shall keep you all posted.
So, this whinge I've been having lead to an email the other day. Moon over Martinborough is a really great blog and a very delicious olive oil, and the man behind it is Jared Gulian. I met Jared briefly last year after hearing him speak, and just days ago he sent me an email saying that he could possibly be the blog fodder I was looking for. I didn't want to tell him about the multiple blog posts in draft form that I'm struggling to publish, and said a delighted 'yes' when agreeing to review his about to be released book. 'Moon over Martinborough' the book arrived today and I picked it up while dealing to dinner. I laughed out loud on the first page, and then got goosebumps a few pages after that reading his description of that drive from Wellington to Wairarapa. Many memories of that trip over the hill came flooding, and I was instantly engaged with his writing. I've put the book down to procrastinate with this post and to finish off my latest Metro column, but I'll devour it in no time and blog a review soon. Inspiration strikes. Thanks Jared!
Speaking of my Metro column, the June issue of the mag hits shelves tomorrow. I did my doughnut-loving booty no favours by searching for Auckland's perfect croque monsieur, and boy oh boy did I find it. There was a joint winner actually; grab a copy to find out where. If you're overseas or stingy, you can wait as some of them go online at Metro Eats. The time I nearly drowned in Laksa is up there now, including a recipe. In the inspirational words of my big sister "get it get it get it".
The third bundle of joy awaiting my arrival home this evening (who needs a cat or a dog or a boyfriend when you have mail!) was a real surprise. It was two books - a 'light read' novel called 'The Food of Love' (!!!) and a cookbook by Skye Gyngell, someone whose fresh produce-based recipes I've seen in Delicious magazine a bit. My friend Anne in Wellington is clearing room on her book shelves by reading her books and passing them on. It was such a delight to receive a couple of personalised treasures, and such a nice surprise. Thanks Anne!
Skye's book features a recipe for clafoutis - my friend Penelope had me over for dinner recently and served simply duck fat potatoes and green salad for dinner, and cherry clafoutis for dessert. The clafoutis was so good, but there was so much, and my cheeks were basically seeping duck fat after dinner, so we didn't eat a lot of it. I was therefore sent home with a sizeable portion, and clafoutis leftovers cold from the fridge for breakfast is probably one of my food highlights of the year so far. Thanks Pen! She was cooking me dinner to say thanks for taking her as my plus-one to Milawa, Australia, with Brown Brother's wine back in March. It was an incredible trip (overlooking the King Valley eating prosecco scones and drinking bubbles for breakfast was a highlight) and I've got a decent blog post nearly ready to publish all about it, and about the beef cheeks I made which accompanied some of the wine I came back with. Soon, soon!
So with literally a pile of new books, and a glass of wine in bed as I finish my latest column, I feel really and truly grateful for my poor neglected blog, and everyone who I've met (and all those I haven't) who read it. Especially those who send me mail. You guys rule.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
When I started this blog I was a lawyer who wanted to be a chef. I'm no longer a lawyer and I don't think I ever really wanted to be a chef, even though I really do love cooking. Life is certainly different, and lately it's been looking a bit like this: throwing dinner parties, cafe outings involving kid-sized hot chocolates, setting up an office, sharing tiramisu, writing some columns, watching some Netball, spouting drivel on twitter, making macarons, not writing enough blog posts, feeling guilty about not writing enough blog posts, swanky lunches, catch up wines, meetings about meat, and inappropriately adding to my Gorman dress collection.
All that, plus admiring Auckland in Autumn, slow cooking beef cheeks, and parallel parking like a boss.
I'm addressing the blog post thing, honest.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I had a very delicious weekend in Wellington. It went a bit like this: Matterhorn, Havana, Tommy Million's, Prefab (couldn't get a table), Cafe Laffare (could get a table), Sweet Mother's Kitchen, Slow Boat Records, Six Barrel Soda Co, my friend's flat in Mt Vic, Beth's amazing 30th birthday party dinner in the Aro Valley Community Hall, Fringe Bar, Tommy Million's, the City Market, my favourite kitchen table in Newtown, my friend's flat in Mt Vic, Sweet Mother's Kitchen, and the Tasting Room. I ate and drank and danced and sang (some truly awful karaoke). I always come back from Wellington creatively inspired and excited about life (and usually hungover).
I have returned to a ridiculously full week, including deadlines and dinners, but with creative inspiration and lots of eating also came an overwhelming need to inject myself with vegetables. My intention was to ease back into exercise with a bikram-induced sweat-fest but my rubber arm was instead twisted into a spin class. High on endorphins I loaded up on vegetables and felt bloody good about it afterwards. I had enough for leftovers tonight, which I dealt to after I went for a run in the rain. And so instead of actually continuing with the tackling of my scribbly-scrawly task list I'm writing a blog post and sharing the recipe.
I'm saying 'take that Tuesday!' which I'm pretty sure just means that Wednesday is going to waste me. Oh well. Here's a chicken salad.
Pearl Barley and 4 Green Vegetables warm Chicken Salad
This is just some vegetables stirred through some pearl barley with chicken on top. You could omit the chicken, use different vegetables, or replace the pearl barley with couscous or risoni or brown rice if you wanted.
Rocket or Baby Spinach
Free range Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Smoked Paprika, Chilli powder, Salt, Pepper
To begin: halve your brussel sprouts and floret your broccoli. Place on an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over whatever spices take your fancy, and season. Roast at about 200C. They don't need long.
Season the chicken with the smoked paprika, chilli, salt and pepper, and also add to the oven. (You could chop the chicken up and just do in a frying pan too).
Cook the pearl barley on a stove top as you would brown rice.
Meanwhile, cook your green beans, having cut off the ends, in rapidly boiling water.
Finely slice half the red onion and place in a bowl and cover with fresh lime juice. Set aside.
Check the chicken, adjust temperature if necessary, remove the veges if they're done and crisp up the chicken a bit.
In a large bowl, assemble. Pearl barley, roasted greens, beans, rocket, onion slices, roughly chopped almonds. I squeezed over some fresh lime juice and a splash of balsamic. Mix up, and serve with the chicken (which I also squeezed with lime). You could also add feta if you had some. With the almonds adding great texture, along with the beans, and the onion giving a good tangy kick, this ends up being a very satisfying and easy dinner.
Enjoy, basking in Monday night health!
Sunday, April 14, 2013
It's no secret that I am a huge fan of brunch. For a while there, scrambled eggs really were my signature dish, and lolling about the lounge with something homemade, plunger coffee, music as you please, the newspaper, and whichever friends or flatmates were around, was far, far superior to paying heaps to sit in a cafe and stressfully wait for food to come, usually extremely hangry and most likely hungover. Sometimes though, it's just so great to just have someone else cook for you. Depending on your pantry ingredients, your state of mind, and whether you cooked dinner for 54 people the night before (more on that later) a brunch out is a great treat, and if catching up with a friend from out of town, even better.
Just about my hands down favourite brunch spot in Auckland is Cereal Killa on Dominion Road. The area is a bit of a barren wasteland as far as cafes go. Yes, there's the dumpling mecca further down, and the (I hear, am yet to visit) wonderful Meredith's across the road, but don't get me started on Mt Eden village and its insistence on staying firmly in the '90s. When will those ubiquitous white cups serving single shot flat whites banish from this city? Probably never.
Cereal Killa make perfectly executed eighthirty coffee (a double shot in a tulip cup, rejoice!) and juices (I highly recommend the beetroot filled booster) in handles. Something as simple as bacon and eggs is done very well (perfectly poached free range eggs, smoky, streaky bacon, chewy fresh sourdough, great relish on the side) and they've got homemade brioche on the counter.
This morning Mika and I ate ourselves silly during life downloads, with big breakfasts, multiple coffees, and necessary boosting juices. I branched out and had the far too big vege feast; amongst the spinach, roasted tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms, the haloumi was a highlight. The avocado was ripe, the rosti was delicious and I didn't even get half way through the excellent scrambled eggs.
Talking blogging and dating (or lack thereof) and travelling and families and law and writing and dinner parties, we whiled away our Sunday morning very happy indeed.
|Cereal Killa, 360H Dominion Road, Mt Eden|
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Yet again, it has been a while. March has passed in an absolute blur. A blur of food and travel and drinks and parties. Of visiting sisters and phone calls with friends and doughnuts and laksa and deadlines. I've resigned from my day job, which is just about the most exciting part of it all, but more about that later.
Currently I sit, pink lillies in sight, with my very first batch of hot cross buns ever happily on the bench, and with the Dark was the Night album on for a bit of nostalgia. I miss Wellington a bit tonight. Aro Valley, and my old flatties, and lolling around in my dalmation print flannel pj pants getting mocked and laughed at by the boys.
No time for dwelling on that though. I've got fun to tell you about.
As a quick recap, with more detailed recipes and reviews and write-ups to follow, I went to Dunedin for a 21st and ate delicious things at the Otago Farmers Market. I then came back for a hen's night before flying into Melbourne, and being whisked away by Brown Brothers up to Milawa, in north east Victoria. We ate and drank and ate some more and drank some more, which was pretty much amazing. I then had a couple of days in Melbourne, where I drank lots of coffee, caught up with my dear Melbourne-residing friend, ate kangaroo at the pub, went on a burger date, bought some spices, and then came home again. I then catered a kitchen tea for a family friend, bought a frock and some new heels, got my haircut and flew to Queenstown. It was then a drive over the Crown Range, an amazingly beautiful wedding of two very wonderful friends, partying with people on shoulders and a rip-roaring dancefloor, a next day lunch, and then doing it all over again. It was so much fun.
And now I'm home, and I'm tired, but with buns in the oven and blogs on the go, it's feeling all so comfortingly familiar. It's been amazing. Stay tuned.
And now I'm home, and I'm tired, but with buns in the oven and blogs on the go, it's feeling all so comfortingly familiar. It's been amazing. Stay tuned.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I ambitiously declared, at the end of a boozy January, that I might go sober for February. Give my liver a break and what not. "But what will you write about?" was my supportive Dad's response. Evidently, nothing! An extreme drought of blog posts wasn't intentional, and it turns out the sober stint didn't require willpower at all; I was unglamourously struck by a summer flu involving, but not limited to, a loud hacking cough (date me!) and for the majority of the month I've been health-wise miserable. However! Things are on the up and up. I've moved into a lovely new home for good, and although I was recently accused of burning the candle at both ends, I have been relaxing and resting and trying hard to get well. I've had plenty of eating to do amongst it all though. And so, some delicious things of late.
This consistently excellent establishment serves shared plates (something now emulated at lesser-places around town) and I love most things about it. The service, the delicious food, the complimentary flatbreads, right down to the beautiful Havana coffee. It's always a hit with out of towners (I took my sister's American colleague and his wife here before Christmas and they loved it), and for catch ups (with visitors from London especially lately!) Depot is my central city go-to.
I can't go past the skirt steak with habanero mustard - it's served with soft onions and a ranch-dressing-drenched iceberg wedge, and all together in a mouthful it tastes exactly like a fancy Big Mac, aka awesome. Yesterday I met my friend Hannah and her lovely English boyfriend there, and they loved it too. As well as mussels with chorizo, and the hapuka sliders, we reminisced about law school over the potato skins, which are served with truffle and parmesan. They were ridiculous. In a good way.
2. The Hamptons
I work in the city, and over a couple of weeks in January we watched in awe as a bar literally popped up right across from our building. I'm always bemoaning Auckland's lack of good bars, ones which don't try and become nightclubs and which serve craft beer on tap. Add sunshine and delicious food and you have The Hamptons. It's a beachy haven in the middle of suits and buildings, and although probably best avoided on a Friday after work (unless swarms of blue-checked-shirted lawyers are your thing), I had a beautiful lunch there last week. I had an inspiring food-filled yarn with Tom the chef after my workmate and I were treated to the crayfish roll, the very impressive green gazpacho, and the kingfish ceviche, before both devouring a delicious main meal as well (me the barbecue brisket, her the hapuka).
3. Stone fruit tart
I've had lots of family time lately, and my food-loving aunty Robyn was recently up in Auckland for a few days. I do miss jaunting up the Kapiti Coast for visits, so it was a treat to have her do brunch for us and a heap of my cousins with their ever-increasing broods of beautiful babies. A stone fruit tart for brunch-dessert (the best!) was a highlight, and one which I've since made three of.
The recipe, very loosely, involves making a food processor dough of 125g butter, 1 level cup plain flour, 1/2 level cup icing sugar. You process it, roll into a ball, and refrigerate for at least half an hour (and can go overnight). You knead it a bit, then roll it out, and sprinkle over a mixture of 2 tbsp ground almonds, a little flour, and a little white sugar. Then, a whole lot of stone fruit. Apricot halves or nectarine slices work well, as do peaches or plums. 'Rustically' fold up the edges, on a tray with baking paper, and bake for about 25 minutes at 180C fan bake. It such a good and easy dessert, or morning tea, and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.
4. Jimmy the Fish
The current issue of Metro has my latest column featuring a round up of calamari joints around Auckland (of which there are many). I ate a heap of calamari, but only ended up writing about a smidgen of them. One worth a mention here though is Jimmy the Fish in Ponsonby Central. He's a fish-monger who does little tubs of tentacles with herbs and mayo, and they're such a good little snack. The squid is cooked fresh and tastes bloody good, plus I hear excellent things about the beer battered tarakihi.
5. Pop up dining
My workmate cringes at the term 'pop-up' being thrown around, and it can mean a number of things. 'Temporary' maybe, or 'one-off' can work. Semantics aside, the pop up dining guys are a posse of serious chefs who hold events in closed cafes at night time. The having a five-course French one in Newmarket next week (come along! tickets here!) and they also do cheap-eats inspired by food trucks overseas at Doc bar every couple of weeks. Last night it was Korean style scallion pancakes with braised pork and beef and fresh kim chi. Through drippingly saucy fingers Sarah interviewed me for her cute new blog, about doing things in Auckland. Their blog features a write up of Eat Here Now's meat fest on Sunday which I'm very sorry I couldn't make it to. Pop up dining, it's totally a thing. Watch this space.
6. Mozzarella pizza
I'm still writing for Fishhead magazine in Wellington; look out for a holiday-inspired mozzarella salad recipe hitting shelves shortly. With the leftover ingredients from the salad photo shoot, including Mum's homegrown tomatoes and basil, my parents and I had a pizza feast one sunny evening last week. We used this recipe for the food-processor dough, and used a supermarket tomato base sauce, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and a sprinkle of bog-standard cheese, for a classic margherita. Unbeatable. (Hot tip! If you are without a food processor I got a cheap small one off trade me recently for $26. Treat yo self.)
7. Dessert for lunch at Kermadec
How is that one finds themselves at a dessert lunch in Auckland's viaduct with the head of a PR company, the editor of the National Business Review, and a high-up member of the NZ Food Writers Guild? I don't know, but that was my life the other day. Kermadec was showcasing us their desserts, and it is next-level dessert stuff: liquid nitrogen, texture mash ups, intense flavours, and beautiful execution. The strawberry frozen espuma had banana and Jaina white chocolate purée, shortbread,
strawberry fizzy rocks, and banana sorbet. It's beautiful to eat, and it looks like art. Dessert aficionados will be impressed.
I had a baking frenzy last weekend thanks to my lack of drinking and my friend buying a house. She warmed her lawn on Saturday with Pimms and friends, and I baked some cakes for the occasion. I was reminded of a) how much I love baking, and b) how good these three recipes are. The hummingbird cake is pictured (decorated with blueberries, coconut and fresh flowers), the plum and yoghurt cake, and orange and cardamon cakes, aren't (although I did go cake crazy on instagram).
9. Shao Lin Kung Fu
After the first week of summer-unwellness, I ambitiously thought I was getting better, only to then get much worse. In that brief period of optimism, I had a dinner date with my little sister and her best friend and we went to Shao Lin. After drinking some tea we gorged on delicious hand-pulled noodles, the cleaver beef ones being absolutely off the chain. I've never paid more than 10 bucks when sharing with a group there, and even though I had a coughing fit thanks to a rogue piece of chilli, it was worth it. More bargain amazingness on Dominion Road.
10. I scream you scream
We had some frozen strawberries in the freezer (hot tip: hull them pre freeze) and like magic one night, they were food-processored with a little balsamic, a little icing sugar, and some cream. Into the freezer they went thanks to my aunty, and in next to no time at all you have an intensely-flavoured, luscious dessert. I'm wondering if this freezer stash will be perfect for when the winter blues kick in, but I'll probably be perfectly happy with crumble and cobbler by then. In the meantime, serve with some slices of white-fleshed nectarine and enjoy this dreamy Summer while you can.