Friday, February 6, 2015

The Tardis simile

Hi all, 

Finally applying myself to writing blog post number 3. I've been searching for inspiration and direction, not only for blog writing but in life in general. The last few weeks have been overflowing with long discussions, soul searching and multiple attempts to get over the fear of making a wrong decision. Then somebody told me that there are no wrong decisions - you make the choice and deal with the consequences. Of course I already knew that this was how things worked in theory but putting that into practice proved difficult. 

In addition to the decision debacle, I had a visit to the doctor and some tests which are indicating the presence of gallstones. I haven't had much of an appetite for the past few weeks because of the pain and nausea but I'm starting to get over the worst of it now. I have had to be careful with my food choices though and have reduced my caffeine intake. 

Now, back to the present. I enjoyed a day off yesterday for Waitangi Day. I wanted to go to the local Kai (food) Festival yesterday but was afraid that it would be a predominantly Maori presence and that I might not be welcomed there. I later discovered that I would have most definitely been welcomed so I regret that I didn't go. Will have to wait until next year. 

The last few weeks have been fantastically warm and sunny with highs of 27 and 28 degrees celcius. This has meant lots of trips to the beach and lots of coffees near the water. I have been back to Jellyfish in Mapua again, this time just for coffee and I got the most wonderful surprise when my cappucino arrived at the table... 

I have also enjoyed brunch and the wonderful views at the Boat Shed Cafe. I really am quite spoiled and love having some really cool places pretty much on the doorstep. 

I had recently enjoyed a lentil dahl at a local vegetarian recipe here in Nelson called East Street. The restaurant itself is a little gem of a place but I might talk about that in a later blog. I was quite taken with the flavours and had never had that dish before so decided to give it a go at home. I worked from a Jamie Oliver recipe (  Rather than serve my dahl with poppadoms as I had at East Street, I decided to make some flat breads which were delicious. These easy flatbreads are very versatile and I have also made them with lamb meatballs and tzatziki. 

The recipe for these lovely flatbreads is below (2-4 people). 


200g self raising flour 
200g plain natural yoghurt
pinch of baking powder
handful chopped fresh corriander
salt and pepper to season 


1. Combine the flour, baking powder and yoghurt in a large bowl. 
2. Season with salt and pepper and add the corriander. 
3. Mix together until you get a soft dough. 
4. Make balls out of the dough about the size of a tennis ball and flatten between the palms of your         hands. I pull the edges a bit too to get almost an oval shape. 
5. Heat a griddle pan on the stove pop and, once hot, grill the breads on both sides until the dough is 
    cooked through. They will puff up a bit too. 

The temperatures have dropped back a little over the past week (20-22c) which has paved the way for some comfort food instead of the bbq meat and salads I have been enjoying of late.I made a ham, pea and lemon risotto on Thursday. The lemon reminded me that it was actually still summer whilst the warm, creamy risotto made me feel like I was snuggled up under a blanket. It's funny how just a mouthful of good food has the ability to transport you somewhere like that as though you have just stepped into a Tardis.  

Speaking of being transported places, I have just booked flights home for my brother's wedding in April and, not to take away from the wedding too much, a week in the Gold Coast on the way back to NZ. I will be in Australia for my 30th birthday which is very exciting and I hope to enjoy some of the food markets there and find some more blog inspiration. That's a bit of a way off yet though. 

The other recipe I want to share with you in this blog is a recipe that was tried and tested in our house this week - Banoffee blondies. This is based on a Rachel Allen recipe and I must say that I am not always convinced by Rachel's recipes. There are a few things I have tried that haven't worked out too well despite my endeavours to strictly follow the instructions.  This one has been testsed and works and, although there is a bit of work involved, they are really worth the love and attention. 

Ingredients: (makes 16 squares)

100g butter
225g white chocolate drops
170g soft brown sugar
1 beaten egg
2 very ripe bananas mashed
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt 

and for the almond praline:

100g caster sugar
100g whole almonds 


1. Make the almond praline by putting the caster sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan and scatter the 
    almonds over the top. Cook on a medium heat until you get a golden caramel. Don't stir the 
    mixture! Once the caramel has formed, tip the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking 
    paper/parchment and allow it to cool and set. Once, this has set, pulse in a food mixer until it looks 
    like coarse breadcrumbs. This may seem like a pointless exercise but it is worth it for the end 
    product - trust me! 

2. Preheat oven to 180c and grease and line a brownie pan or baking tray. 

3. Place the butter and white chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate has melted. 

4.  Add the butter mixture to a large bowl and add in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bananas beating as 
     you go.

5.  Stir in the almond praline, sift in the remaining ingredients and fold to combine. 

6.  Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and it has a 
     springy texture (just set). Allow to cool. 

7.   Once cool, you can cut into squares for serving. 

I got a voucher for an antipasto platter at the Playhouse Cafe so we are booked in for lunch tomorrow,  Will let you know how that one goes. 

In the meantime, I've just been informed that its fish tacos for dinner tonight so I'm headed to the grocers and supermarket to get some ingredients. 

Until next time (as Ellen would say) be good to one another. 

Much love. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thank you to everybody who has visited my page and read my blog over the past few days!

Lying at the top of New Zealand's South Island, Nelson is a beautiful little sun trap. I have enjoyed some glorious sunshine here these past few days and have tried to get out and about with walks by the river, bike rides and even a swim. It has been really great to switch off and relax for a few days. 

We had planned to go to Seifried Winery for lunch on Saturday but when we got there, we learned there was a wedding that afternoon so they could not seat us for lunch. Instead, I settled (although settled isn't a great word) for my favourite eatery "Jellyfish" in nearby Mapua where we enjoyed a beautiful lunch outside overlooking the Tasman Bay. I have been here before and love everything about it - the decor, the friendly staff, the wine list (love the Neudorf Chardonnay), the great value for money and the view is nothing to be sneezed at either, This visit I had a  delicious tapas platter of lamb meatballs, houmous, tzatziki, chorizo, blue cheese, grilled breads and spanish omelette. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a choice of cheese or a sample of more than one as I am not a fan of blue cheese. That said, it was a fairly mild blue so I was able to enjoy a taste. 

Sunday was somewhat lazy and passed primarily through household chores although I did get to walk up to the Centre of New Zealand (an uphill track just meters from our house) and then went for a swim at the local pool. I was tempted to go to Tahuna beach for a swim as the water is warm and beautifully clear but I am not confident enough to swim on my own - maybe that can be a goal for the year... 

Last night's dinner was a complete success. I have never cooked ribs on the bbq before so this caused some nerves. We invested in a large beastie of a bbq last year and love cooking on it year round. I have a staple recipe for homemade barbecue sauce which I love. It is pretty much foolproof and it's done to taste. The recipe will follow shortly. 

I decided to cook the pork ribs in the oven first for 2 hours at 200 c covered with foil and just a little olive oil. I checked on them after an hour and again after 1 hour 40 just to make sure they were looking ok. They were just coming apart when I took them out after 2 hours.  

With the bbq blazing, I glazed the ribs in sauce with a silicon brush and began to cook them. I turned them frequently and basted them over and over until they got a lovely dark colour.  The ribs were served with homemade coleslaw and beer battered onion rings. Recipes for all of these will follow. 

Image credit is - I wasn't quick enough to take a photo of ours! 


Brother bear's barbecue sauce (serves 2): 

You will need 
1/2 onion diced finely 
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp soft brown sugar 
8 tbsp of ketchup 
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce 
3 drops of tabasco sauce
1/3 of a fresh chilli, finely shopped
Drizzle of olive oil 
Salt and pepper to season 


1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan. 

2. Add the onion, chilli and garlic and fry until the onion softens. 

3. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. 

4. Add the worcestershire sauce, tabasco and ketchup and stir. If the mixture becomes too thick you 
    can thin it out with a little water.  

5. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer until the flavours come together and you are happy with 
    the taste. 

Easy healthy coleslaw (serves 4):

You will need
1 cup of thinly sliced red cabbage
1/2 cup of thinly sliced red onion
1 cup of grated carrot
100 ml of lime juice
Light mayonnaise (enough to make a creamy consistency)
Salt and pepper to season


1. Combine the onion, cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.

2. Add the mayo and lime juice until you get the consistency you like. Some people like it very creamy whilst others prefer it a bit more crunchy and dry.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

I sometimes add chilli to this too or sesame oil and sesame seeds for an Asian inspired slaw.

Beer Battered Onion Rings: 

You will need 
1 large white onion peeled and cut into rings 
1 cup of flour 
1 tsp of baking soda (or use self raising flour)
150 ml of beer (I used lager) 
1 egg beaten 
1 tsp of paprika 
Salt and pepper to season 
Canola oil for frying (about 300 ml)


1. Heat the oil in a wok or deep fat fryer if you have one. My wok works perfectly well. 

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and paprika into a bowl. 

3. Add the egg and then gradually pour in the beer a little at a time and whisk as you go. Do not over       whisk or you will lose the air bubbles that make the batter light and fluffy.

Note that you should get a nice thick batter which is a bit thicker than pancake batter. If it is too thin, add more flour and if it is too thick, add more beer. It needs to be quite thick so that it adheres to the onion. 

4. Dip the onion rings (3 or 4 at a time) into the batter and then into the fryer. I do them in batches to       make sure they get a nice golden colour and do not stick together. Once they are done, I put them       to one side in a bowl lined with kitchen paper and work on the next batch. 

Since I am not back at work officially until the 12th, I am hoping that this will be a productive week. I aim to keep up with the exercise (have had a cycle and a swim today), organise some recipes for the week ahead and to think of some exciting new lunch ideas. Any ideas are greatly welcomed! 

Hope you like the recipes. Let me know if you try any and if you get any photos before yours are eaten. You need to be quick! 

Until next time - happy eating and healthy living. 

Big hugs,


Thursday, January 1, 2015

On The Band Wagon

Happy New Year friends, readers and fellow bloggers! 

"Not another foodie blog", I hear you cry.  Yes, another foodie blog and, whilst I cannot promise that this one will be any different to anything else you have already encountered in Blog Land, I am hoping that you will read, enjoy, learn and share in all things gastronomique.

Apart from the fact that there are already many food blogs out there, I couldn't think of a good enough reason not to finally put my thoughts into written sentences. Even if nobody else reads them, I am hopeful that these blogs will be a source of foodie inspiration and a good way of organising my thoughts, my pantry and my life throughout 2015. 

Most of my early adult life in Dublin was spent enjoying the coffee culture of the big city and, after moving in with my other half, Ronan, appreciating the artisan markets and local produce in the fishing village of Howth, North County Dublin. You can imagine then the level of adjustment required for life in Blenheim, New Zealand from 2011 where McDonalds is one of the few options for dining out on a Monday night in a sleepy town. Life in Blenheim has, in all fairness, been good to us and has perhaps affirmed our passion for good produce, locally sourced ingredients and soul fulfilling food. I should mention here that Ronan (having worked in fine dining restaurants as a waiter since the age of 16) is very much the Head Chef in our household and has taught me many tips and tricks of the trade. 

April 2014 presented Ronan with a new scientific adventure in Nelson, New Zealand and I now commute 90 minutes each way between Nelson and Blenheim where I work. Nelson is a refreshing change from sleepy Blenheim with a huge artisan market every Saturday and lots of great places for coffee and good food which I enjoy with friends.

My foodie start to 2015 came by way of a simple delight from our local cafe bar - The River Kitchen. 

Located along the banks of the Maitai River just on the edge of town, this local eatery is a little foodie gem.  Our favourite coffee time treat are their scones - either sweet or savoury. 

With Ronan feeling ill with a gastro bug on New Years Day, I decided that I would go for a walk in the glorious sunshine and get a takeaway treat for morning tea. That treat came in the  shape of a perfectly formed and delightfully fluffy cheese scone. 

It is not until recently that I have embraced the idea of a savory treat for breakfast or morning tea. Scones have always been made for jam and cream (or cream and jam depending on where you are from!) and not cheese or bacon or both.  That said, I am certainly glad I have succumbed to the cheesy goodness. The River Kitchen scones in particular are probably my favourites but I am of course open to being persuaded otherwise. 

Now here's the part where I make my contribution to you for taking time out to read this. I thought I would share my own recipe for cheese scones which has been tried and tested. They are simple and time co-operative and are great for picnics, gatherings or lazy morning tv watching. 

Onawe Cheese Scones Recipe 

You will need:
225g of flour 
1 tbsp of baking soda 
60g of butter (plus extra for greasing) 
150ml of milk 
1 cup of grated cheese (I use the Onawe cheddar by Barrys Bay cheese company) 
1/2 tsp of paprika


1. Heat the oven to 220c. Lightly grease a baking sheet with some butter or use parchment paper. 

2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and paprika and carefully rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Stir in the cheese and then gradually add the milk to get a soft dough. Different flours will absorb liquid at different rates so it may be you need just a bit less milk or just a bit more to get a soft but not sticky dough. Try warming the milk before adding to get the raising agent working.

4. Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. If you overwork the dough, the scones will be heavy instead of light and fluffy. Pat out to a round about 2cm thick. Use a cutter to stamp out rounds and place on the baking sheet. If you flour the cutter it will stop the dough from sticking and will make the rounds easier to get out. Don't twist the cutter as this will seal the scones which means they won't rise. 

5. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Be careful to only brush the tops - if you brush the sides with milk the scones will seal and won't rise. 

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy! 

I have just taken some chicken breasts out of the freezer for tonight's dinner now that Ronan is feeling better, so the next task is to think about what to create tonight. First though, some yoga sequences in the sun. 

Hope you all have a good day/night depending on where you are reading from. Thanks for stopping by and let me know how you get on with your scone making. 

Big hugs,