Archive for the ‘Condiments’ Category

I waste far too much time lately, sitting – little old cat on my knee – scrolling through all the pretties on Pinterest.
I even find some interesting recipes – including this one.
Sue has a huge, and hugely prolific lemon tree. I have been using her lemons to make fruit jellies for her. Gelatine is very good for you if you have diarrhoea – which is a side-effect of this chemo…

The juice is great, but I remembered a pin I found which suggested dehydrating then grinding the zest for use as a condiment.
It is really easy to do – produces a powder that looks for all the world like gold dust – and, with its gentle – almost caramelised lemon flavour – is just as good dusted over fish, as over a dessert.
I’ve also used it dusted over roast chicken.






Read Full Post »

I had a dinner-party disaster a few weeks ago… so bad that my confidence was VERY dented.

We had invited some friends and bought an expensive piece of pork to roast (these friends don’t ‘do’ roasts – they make a mess of your oven (!) When these people want a roast dinner, they phone the butcher and arrange to collect their roast (perfectly cooked) at whatever time suits them…)

Anyway, all was well until one couple turned up late… an hour late…

I will never cook a roast meal for visitors again. Experiments in Tajines and casseroles are ongoing… and I bought a new cook-book 🙂 – more on that another day…

But, I found this recipe for roast pork in our local newspaper recently. It’s by Ruth Pretty – who is one of NZ’s best caterers (I go to her cooking school each year for her “Christmas” class – it’s such a huge treat). In my experience, Ruth’s recipes never fail, and I love that she tells you how far ahead you can do each part. I’ve included her recipe for Apple Sauce – though I haven’t made it yet. The fennel rub for the pork is absolutely delicious. The roast was wonderful and the leftover meat the next day was very moreish… confidence somewhat restored… thank you Ruth.


Recipe by Ruth Pretty

8 cloves garlic
2 tsp rosemary leaves – finely chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
whizz all together and rub generously all over pork before you roast it.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days
Apple Shallot Sauce
2 apples – peeled, cored and cut into 12 wedges
145g onion – peeled and cut into wedges (or 16 shallots)
8 garlic cloves – peeled, halved
1 bottle sauvignon blanc
1 cup tart apple syrup (use maple syrup if you can’t get this)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 – 2 tbsp brown sugar
Put the apples, onions, garlic and wine into a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and lightly boil for 40 – 45 minutes until the liquid is syrupy and the vegetables are soft.
Add the balsamic vinegar
Remove from heat and add brown sugar to taste.
Cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Re-heat to serve

Read Full Post »

Because I’m the kind of cook who needs a recipe… and because that ‘instant’ mayonnaise is so good…


Roast 9 large cloves of garlic (toss garlic cloves in oil, wrap tightly in foil and roast at 180c for 20 minutes)
Add to blender when you’re making the basic mayonnaise
Caesar Mayonnaise
To the basic mayonnaise add – 1 tbsp capers, 1 tsp chopped anchovies, 2 cloves garlic, chopped parsley and grated parmesan
Tartare Sauce
1 large gherkin, 1 tbsp capers, dill
Chilli and Lime
2 tsp chilli sauce, 1/4 tsp minced garlic, lime juice and zest
Avocado Mayonnaise (thanks to Judith for this idea)
1/2 a large, or 1 small avocado blended in to basic mayonnaise
Lime and Coriander
1 tsp wholeseed mustard, 2 tsp runny hunny, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 bunch fresh coriander – chopped
Spiced Mayonnaise
toast 2 tsp of whatever spice – cool, then add to mayonnaise either whole, or ground
Fennel Mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds, lightly crushed; 1/2 tsp Pernod (optional); 2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
Truffle Mayonnaise
Add 3 tsp truffle oil to mayonnaise

Read Full Post »

I find a lot of recipes when I’m lurking on the interwebs – some good, some not so much.

But, this is a winner:


It works and is really good. I rarely buy mayonnaise, but I also rarely take the time to make it the traditional way – by dripping the oil in slowly, slowly.

Rick is back from Fiji tonight. While he has been away I have been eating very low carb ie mostly meat (steak, fish, chicken).

I have not been the smallest bit hungry, but I have been hugely, unbelievably, sound-asleep by 7:10 – tired. I thought I might need to eat some more fat, so I made the mayonnaise, added some curry powder and stirred it over my sliced, poached chicken-breast. It tastes really good and I hope it does the trick with the exhaustion 🙂

Anyway, I hope this recipe is as useful to you as it will be for me.


Read Full Post »


Depot is New Zealand’s restaurant of the year 2012. It’s in Auckland, in the shadow of the Skytower. You can’t book – you just have to turn up and trust your luck. We got there early one lunchtime. It was already a third full, but the charming staff seated us on the top level (of two), near the open kitchen…we passed the oyster-bar on the way to our seats…

The tables are rumpty old planks – smooth, but pock-marked (if you know what I mean?); knives and forks plonked into old mackerel tins; water glasses are made of pewter (an idea I am going to steal because pewter keeps cold water – cold – does anyone know where to buy pewter tumblers??); wine is served in thick glass tumblers – at home, I sometimes drink my wine from a regular drinking glass…

Depot’s menu is a series of plates meant to be shared… lots were gluten-free, others could be changed to suit – the waitress was friendly and knowledgeable… we were discussing what we would eat when a chap came to our table – said hello and asked if we needed any help with figuring out what to eat…

Al Brown…


Al Brown is a superstar of New Zealand food. He has a blog…  http://albrown.co.nz/

and there he was, talking to US!!!

We stammered something pretty daft, I think – I really don’t remember. It was one of those occasions when you think of all the clever things you should have said, while you’re awake in the middle of the night…

The meal was delicious. I can honestly say it was the best roast pork meal I have ever eaten – and I do a pretty darn fine roast pork dinner myself!

One of the sides was a ‘blackened kumara’ (sweet potato), which had delicate curls of pickled lemon sprinkled over it – it ‘lifted’ the sweetness of the kumara…

I was inspired – and came home to preserve lemons of my own…

Lemons cut long-ways into slices; salted.. lots of salt…. jam them into a small jar… top up with lemon juice… screw the top on and shake the jar to dissolve the salt (and to get the air-bubbles out). Put the jar in the fridge – shake it about every couple of days for about 3 weeks.

To use them, carefully fish out a lemon slice (you don’t want to touch the other slices if you can help it – because you might get something manky on them and they’ll go nasty on you) … and you only want the rind, so scrape the seeds and pulp out and discard. Finely slice the rind and away you float on deliciousness…

The only bad thing about preserved lemons is that the combination of salt and lemon juice gets into the scratches on your hands made by any random kittens who live with you… 🙂



Read Full Post »

I lied!

A little while ago I told you I’d bought a new cook-book… I lied – I bought two! 🙂

If you’ve ever bought a book from Amazon, you will know how they always say ‘People who bought the book you’ve just ordered, also ordered this…’  Well this is one of those…

And I’m glad I did.

I wanted to make that curry mayonnaise chicken salad thing for dinner again, but I found I’d run out of curry powder – so I used a recipe from this book to make my own 🙂

I dry-roasted some spices, ground them up in a coffee-grinder that goes nowhere near coffee, added some more pre-ground spices and ended up with this…

The entire process took about ten minutes, my kitchen smelled exotic and lovely and the curry powder itself is much nicer than the stuff you can buy.

And the salad was good too.

The book is full of all sorts of information about herbs and spices (duh!) – and there are some very interesting sounding recipes for spice blends too. I think it will prove a winner.

Read Full Post »

Plum Jelly

Nettie next-door gave us some plums from her tree. We don’t really eat fruit, but Rick loves to have fruit jelly with roast meat. It’s a ‘thing’ I had never heard of before I met him – it is not something anyone in my family ever did – so I have no clue if this is a Rick ‘thing’ – or if it is my family who are the odd ones out…

Jelly is really easy to make, now that I have my sugar thermometer – you just wait until the fruit juice/sugar mix has reached a certain temperature and you know it will set.

I don’t phaff around with jelly bags and straining the stewed fruit through muslin to get a clear juice (and so make a sparkling jelly). I want lots of jelly, so I squeeze the bejeebers out of the fruit and get as much juice out as possible, and you still get sparkle… I took it outside in the sun to photograph it for you… Percy helped…


Read Full Post »

I have been unable to sign into my blog for the last few days… WordPress tells me I do not exist…sigh…

So, I have been spending my time on Pinterest. I blame Michele, who blogged about it recently… I googled a tutorial and have been lost ever since!

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. I used to love cutting pretty images out of magazines, and pasting them into notebooks – along with quotes, excerpts from books that appealed to me… that sort of stuff.

Now I can do all that on Pinterest.

I think I need to get out more 🙂

I cooked salmon for dinner the other day – just baked it in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. We ate it with roasted asparagus, and I made this dressing …

2 tbsp capers – rinsed and chopped up a bit
1 small clove garlic – chopped
2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley – flat leafed
1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
zest and juice of a lime
Combine everything in a jar and shake it all about.
Pour it over the salmon.


Read Full Post »

I’ve never eaten truffles – of the dug-by-pigs variety… chocolate truffles? sure! … but pig-dug? – nope.

I’ve always wondered if they taste as wonderful as everyone says…


I bought this:

I was only a little bit hungry at dinner-time, Rick was out at a Christmas party – so there was only me to cook for… I cooked a piece of steak and sprinkled it with the Truffle Oil…

Was it good?


Yoshi is sitting on the arm of my chair, waiting for his chance to lick the plate...


Read Full Post »

Pickled Lemon Peel

This is a recipe Ruth taught us at the recent class. As a caterer, she goes through an awful lot of lemons – growing most of them on the land they have at Te Horo. But, to everything there is a season – and that goes for lemons too.

Ruth says, for large events, menus are sorted very early – sometimes months ahead. For a recent event, they calculated they needed a massive amount of lemon zest – at a time when there would be no lemons on their own trees, so they would be forced to buy lemons.

So instead – every time they used a lemon, the chefs  were asked to take the zest off and to put it into containers in the freezer. By the time the event came around they had kilos… KILOS… of lemon zest in the freezer. I can’t remember how many kilos Ruth said… around 37 I think…. I can’t even imagine 37 kilos of lemon zest. But I was really impressed at the planning involved in catering an event. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that – imagine the freezer space that would take…

So, that’s one idea for preserving lemon peel.

One of the side dishes we ate at the Christmas class was a salad of Quinoa with a whole lot of yummy additions – cranberries, pistachios, cinnamon… and this pickled lemon peel – finely chopped.

I love to eat  Middle-Eastern style food.  I have often preserved lemons in salt. You preserve the whole lemon, but only use the peel. This method is quite different, but really good.

Use a vegetable peeler to take the peel off 4 lemons – you don’t want any white pith. Put the peel into a small bowl and add 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup salt, 1 chopped red chilli (take the seeds out), and 3 fresh bay leaves (I used dried chilli and dried bayleaves.

Stir everything up, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Tip it all into a sieve and rinse it under the cold tap to take off all the salt.

Then tip it into a clean tea towel and dry it completely.

Pack it into a clean jar and cover everything with extra virgin olive oil.

The pickle will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.


The lemon added a lovely, fresh zing to the quinoa salad. It would be great with couscous (if you can eat that kind of thing), I imagine it would be just as good with rice too. I’m going to cook chicken for dinner tonight and I’ll chop some lemon pickle on top of that.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »