Monday, April 29, 2013

A Simple Homemade Burger

From top to bottom:

Split bakery bun top
With inner hollowed out, toasted
A smear of Dijon mustard
Iceberg lettuce
Baked portobello mushroom
Grilled zucchini lengths
Slices of tomato
Plum and tamarillo chutney
(Lovely with rosemary, below)
Melted cheddar cheese on
A 100% homemade beef pattie
(No egg or breadcrumbs necessary)
Seasoned with lots of salt and pepper,
Dijon mustard and chopped fresh rosemary,
Tomato sauce spread over a
Split bakery bun bottom
Inner removed, toasted
With a side of oven-baked kumara fries,
seasoned with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cooking on the Cuff

April has been a busy month.  Road trips, camping, canoeing, sightseeing, multiple deadlines at work and a friend's wedding have left little energy else for anything other than just enjoying those moments.  I've had less time than I'd like for writing but plenty for thinking.  Much time driving in the car, or sitting in a canoe, was spent in comfortable silence with my boyfriend as he thought about the things he saw from his seat, amongst other things, while I happily got lost in thought about food.  From devising what we were going to eat for our next meal to what I'd like to write about here.

The Whanganui River

Breakfast at Whangaparoa Bay, SH35 (The Pacific Coast Highway)

For example, I got to thinking: one of my favourite things about these weekends away was definitely cooking on the cuff. Without all the tools and ingredients available at home, and only the selected items that I'd deemed useful enough to bring along.  After previous camping trips, we had a list of things that we knew we would need: a good knife, pan, mandoline, tongs, can opener, oil, salt and black peppercorns (ground with two flat stones found somewhere in the South Island). Chickpea flour was also on the list this time.  Being off the grid for some of those weekends required forward-thinking when it came to what we would want to eat; and what we would want to eat would have to work with that set of tools and little refrigeration, if any.

After all that, the meals of greatest success were: 
  • Zucchini fritters; then,
  • Zucchini fritter, carrot and peanut butter sandwiches;
  • Beetroot, chickpea and feta salad (with Steak);
  • 2 Bean and Beef Nachos; and,
  • Spaghetti Carbonara  

Dinner at Sponge Bay, Gisborne

So simple and relatively quick, I was proud to prepare these meals even if there was no-one to share it with other than ourselves.  Cooking away from home need not be limited to instant-anythings.  (However if it's instant noodles, with an egg stirred through towards the end of cooking, I could be okay with that.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kedgeree: my kind of breakfast

I've never been into cereal or jams.  On a rare occasion, I'll crave sweet crepes topped with lemon juice and sugar, or cinnamon-crusted french toast served with fresh berries, maple syrup and a dusting of icing sugar.  Sometimes I'll even yearn for a glazed apricot danish, one complete with a smooth custard filling perfectly complementing the tartness of the fruit and light crispiness of the pastry.  For the other 362 days out of the year, however, I want savoury.

Photo from

While I enjoy the traditional, like an omelette with mushrooms, cheese and fresh herbs within or a full Irish breakfast with both black and white puddings, I most desire a non-western style breakfast.  Dishes like Huevos Rancheros (eggs served with refried beans on fresh corn tortillas and ample salsa atop, lime on the side); Nasi Lemak (Malaysia's national dish composed of steamed rice cooked in coconut milk, fried anchovies, slices of cucumber, roasted peanuts, sambal and a sliced boiled egg with the addition of rendang as a post-breakfast variation); or the simple Spanish 'pan con tomate' (toasted bread rubbed with garlic and tomato, drizzled in good olive oil and a pinch of sea salt): these are the types of morning meals that excite me most, the ones that make me pause and think, smiling, "this is so good!"

Another such breakfast is kedgeree.  A dish I've been wanting to make for awhile now, a visit to the brilliant Nikau Cafe on Friday for lunch gave me an extra push of inspiration.  Nikau has long been renowned for their kedgeree and I am sure at least half of their customers must order this at least every second visit.   They even sell their recipe as a lovely teatowel.  Like most things though, and especially food, there are many variations of the basic idea.