Thursday, January 31, 2008

In a pickle

Every year I make at least two batches of tomato relish. We go through it so quickly as we use it in so many things – my husband has it almost every afternoon with cheese and crackers, it is the perfect base for mouse traps, and well, we just love it!! The recipe I use is one that my Nana used and that my Mum also uses. It is pretty sweet, but you only need a little amount to give flavour. We finished our last jar last week, so seeing as it was a long weekend I thought it was a good time to make some.

I got the tomatoes from Takapuna markets on Sunday morning. Even though it is the end of January, the good tomatoes don’t really start coming for another couple of weeks. I did get some really good tomatoes at the market though. Somehow I managed to get way more tomatoes than I needed for my relish and I couldn’t just double the batch as I didn’t have enough onions or apples to make it. So I looked through some books with the idea of making tomato sauce.

Now, I know that Watties makes the best tomato sauce, but it is always useful to have some home made stuff on hand to add to mince or other savoury dishes etc. It is particularly nice added to chilli con carne. The recipe that appealed to me the most was from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. This is a great reference book with recipes under ingredient headings. I adapted the recipe a bit for the amount of tomatoes that I had and also changing some of the spice amounts. The end result was a lovely, smooth but spicy tomato sauce. The taste was so good that I wanted to (and did!) lick the spoon. There are not many relish or sauce recipes that you want to do that with as often the flavour can be quite vinagery for a few days. I think I will make it again this year, but with a larger amount of tomatoes.

To celebrate a new batch of tomato relish, we had some for lunch with cheese and this scone like bread I made, based on a recipe from Donna Hay magazine. It was pretty much a scone dough with chopped spinach and grated cheese added with chopped tomato on top. Quite nice.

Tomato Sauce (adapted from recipe from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander)

1 kg tomatoes
¼ tsp each ground cloves and ground all spice
pinch cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
120ml white wine vinegar
200g sugar

· Roughly chop tomatoes and put into pot or preserving pan with all other ingredients other than sugar
· Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes
· Add sugar, stir to dissolve and then simmer for another 40 minutes or until thickish
· Blend in food processor
Bottle in sterilised bottles – makes about 500ml

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Let the gardening begin!

The weekend just passed was a long one – Auckland Anniversary Day. Often we go away, but this year we stayed at home, enjoying the great weather and the fact that we live about 50m from the beach!!!! On Saturday morning though we felt like doing something a bit different, so we went across the bridge for a morning at the Britomart farmers market and then a little bit of shopping in Newmarket.

I have been to the Britomart farmers market a couple of times before. I was pleased to see that it has grown a little bit more. There are lots of great things to buy and taste – quite a bit of meat which is interesting and also two stalls with smoked fish. We were coveting some smoked salmon, but will have to go back another day as we were still planning on being out for a few hours and had no way of keeping it cold. However, we did purchase a delicious pain aux chocolat with almonds from a little French bakery stall (absolutely delicious!!! – the almonds made it very moist, the pastry was buttery and the chocolate slightly warm!!), some organic flat green beans (tied in a bundle with string which looked so cute), salami, a huge bag of basil and most exciting of all, some basil and flat leaf parsley plants and a bucket planted with mesculin salad!

While I am not a great gardener (in fact it is not really my thing at all!), before we moved houses in August last year, I always had a herb garden and the rest of our garden was filled with bay trees, citrus trees, apple trees, feijoa trees and my favourite of all – a fig tree!. Since we have moved I really have missed walking outside to pick fresh herbs or a lemon etc. Then, last year when I got Jamie Oliver’s new book in which he cooks from his garden, I felt so inspired to grow my own veggies. Also, I have heard Lynda Hallinan, editor of NZ Gardener, speaking on the radio about her challenge of being self-sustaining and she is so inspiring! She has published a magazine which takes you through month by month what you should be planting in the garden etc. I have decided to follow what she recommends as a guide to my own veggie garden.

Until we get the new house built and I can get my father-in-law to build me some raised beds, I am going to make do with some pots. I was going to start next week after we have been away for yet another long weekend, but the bucket full of salad leaves and herb plants at the farmers market really got me going. I am very excited and found myself spending a lot of the time over the weekend shifting the pots according to where the sun was – whether it be into more sun or more shade! So hopefully my fingers will start to have a slight tinge of green to them!! My P A gave me a Jamie Oliver diary for Christmas in which you can record month by month your gardening diary. My first entry was in the weekend!

With the basil that I bought from the market, I made a bulk lot of pesto. The ratio I use is to about 1 cup packed basil leaves, I add ¼ c pine nuts, 1 clove garlic, ¼ c grated parmesan, about ½ c olive oil and some salt. I’ve frozen it in glad bags in 3tbsp lots in the freezer.. Although I did use some yesterday to spread on toasted foccacia (actually left over bread from my first daring baker challenge that I had frozen - it was still good) which I then sprinkled with feta and topped with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper and a drizzle of good evo. Now, that is a real taste of summer!!!!

By the way, with dinner last night we had a salad using some of my baby salad leaves together with cucumber and avocado – it tasted so good!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - LMP!

My third Daring Baker challenge is lemon meringue pie. This is actually something that I made for the first time last year. I compared the Daring Baker recipe with the recipe I had followed last year and they were pretty close. I had every intention of making little individual tarts just so that I would be doing something different to what I had done before, but time counted against me yet again! One little confession - the challenge was meant to have been posted yesterday (the 28th) but it was anniversary holiday here - I figure as NZ almost leads the way time wise, it is still the 28th in many parts of the world!!

I decided to take the pie into work for my birthday morning tea shout. The crust came together beautifully and I actually baked it the night before I filled it. I knew that the capacity of my tart tin (which is quite shallow) wouldn’t take the entire 5 egg filling specified in the recipe so I made 3/5th of the filling. It wasn’t quite as sweet as the recipe I had made previously and I’m not sure I liked the addition of 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla as I think it ever so slightly detracted from the lemon taste.

Instead of free-forming the meringue, I piped it on. It actually looked quite good – although it was a little browner on top than I would have liked. I put it on a platter and started to carry it down stairs when I realised that it would likely slide straight off the platter onto the floor of my car, so I carefully lifted it into a cake container.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way to work and bought some thickened cream and fresh blueberries. I imagined plating a slice up beautifully for my challenge. BUT, unfortunately the lemon meringue pie was not destined to be all in one piece. It was still kind of warm when I put it in the container at home and when I went to lift it onto a plate at work, the bottom collapsed!!! I was gutted!!!!! Luckily I had taken one (not very good) photo before I left home, but it was heartbreaking that my beautiful pie had to be scooped out of the container onto people’s plates!!!!

The reviews were still good though! Everyone really enjoyed it. The pastry was crisp, the filling tart and the meringue light – even though it was kind of de-constructed the taste was good and I guess that is what counts!

View the rest of the daring bakers (probably not de-constructed!!!) LMPs here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hay Hay, It's Donna Day!

This is my first “Hay Hay It’s Donna Day” blog challenge, a challenge started by fellow Kiwi, Barbara. I have got all the Donna Hay cook books and magazines, and while it seems like I am a huge fan, it is the prettiness of her style rather than her recipes that I enjoy! I love the use of white and pale blue in the photography in her books and magazines – it is very clean and peaceful looking.

The HHIDD challenge involves the last month’s challenge winner choosing a recipe from a DH magazine or book and the challengers have to make, not necessarily the recipe, but a form of it. The topics are pretty generic – eg terrines or tarts. This month the challenge was pizza.

This wasn’t too much of a challenge for me as I often make pizza, making my own base. The challenge was thinking of an exciting topping. While I am strongly against pizza being a base for whatever is left in the fridge, that is kind of what my pizza turned out to be!

I made it on Sunday night after the champagne breakfast. There were some of the yummy sausages left from the bbq, so I thought I would use them. I made a tomato sauce using canned tomatoes, basil and some leftover red wine, spread that on the base, and sprinkled over sliced sausage and some grated parmesan. While that was cooking, I made a salad of sliced sundried tomatoes, basil leaves, chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta with plenty of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Once the pizza came out of the oven, I topped it with the salad. It was actually so yummy, and a combination that I would use again.

I think it’s a good idea to cook the pizza and then add something fresh to the pizza once it comes out of the oven. It really livens it up and makes it taste fresh and yummy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dining at the French Cafe

Last night we went to The French Café for my birthday dinner. The French Café is consistently voted the best restaurant in NZ and I can see why!! My husband and I both agreed it was the best dining experience we have ever had! The service was impeccable and the food was almost indescribable!!!! But I will do my best!

Instead of the degustation menu we decided to eat a la carte. For my entrée I chose the caramelised shallot, beetroot and fig tart with goats cheese which is one of their signature dishes. It was divine and just as I had hoped – the pastry was incredibly crisp and the goats cheese was so creamy and mellow, the perfect contrast to the sharpness of the balsamic in the vegetables. My husband had roast pork belly with scallops, cauliflower puree and apple salad. Pork and scallops are two of his favourite things and he said it was just perfect.

Before our main we were given a small palate cleanser of tomato and watermelon gazpacho with a goats cheese foam. Beautiful! My main was courgette flowers stuffed with beautiful creamy ricotta, and served with mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella with pesto. It was so yummy, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!!!!! It was quite rich, but I ate every mouthful!!!! My husband had blue nose and I cant even tell you what it was served with as I was so busy concentrating on my own!

We shared a beautifully ripened piece of French brie next. It was served with crispy lavosh and quince paste. Then for dessert we shared a tasting platter which had small tastes of 5 of the desserts from the menu. They were all beautiful and included Rhubarb and vanilla crème brulee, a pistachio meringue (just how I like meringues – very chewy in the middle) with summer berries, praline ice-cream, chocolate parfait with a sliver of brownie (the flavour of this was so intense – you could tell the quality of the chocolate was just superb) and then the piece de resistance!, a chocolate sable tart which was warm, so when you cut into it, the filling oozed out. It was soooooooo good!!!!!

We shared a bottle of beautiful Highfield chardonnay – one of my favourite wines!

I am definitely looking forward to the next special occasion when we can return to The French Café!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Morning Tea Shout

Today is my actual birthday (I know I have been blogging about this all week, but I LOVE my birthday!!). So, time for the morning tea shout. My staff members get their birthdays off and I would like to have mine off as well, but as my business partner is away on holiday, I have to come in! Still, I think that a long lunch break may be in order!!!!

Anyway, back to the point of this blog which is the food!! This year I did an even mix of sweet and savoury things for my shout. Pretty much everyone in my firm likes sausage rolls and even though I don’t like them, I decided to make some. I did make them a few years ago for another morning tea shout. This time I used a Bill Granger recipe for spiced pistachio sausage rolls. I used up the rest of the pistachios I had bought to make my wee raspberry and pistachio cakes.

The sausage rolls were a hit with my work colleagues – a bit different to the usual with the pistachios as well as Coriander and cumin flavours. A plate of sausage rolls doesn’t actually look all that appetising!!

Second savoury item was these walnut mini muffins which I stuffed with ham and pesto. Mini muffins are also a hit at morning teas. This recipe was a Laurie Black one from Taste magazine. The muffins were really easy to mix up and would be a quick thing to make if people were just popping round for drinks. They have got more of a scone texture than a muffin texture which I guess is from not having an eggs in them.

The first sweet part of the birthday shout was this white chocolate and pecan blondie slice. This recipe was in the second Donna Hay magazine about 6 years ago I think. It is something that I have always wanted to make but have never found the occasion or never had the ingredients in the cupboard! It is delicious!! A bit like eating a very moist cake with cheesecake on top. The recipe is below.

And the last item was actually for a blog challenge and I cant reveal it until next week when I will post about it! It was definitely a success and all will be revealed next week!

PECAN BLONDIE (from Donna Hay magazine)

185g butter, softened
1 ½ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 c plain flour
185g white chocolate, melted
½ tsp baking powder
250g cream cheese, softened
¼ c maple syrup
1 egg
1 tbsp flour
60g white chocolate, melted
1 c pecans

· Beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy; add eggs one at a time
· Stir in flour and baking powder and then melted chocolate
· Pour mixture into lined 22cm square tin
· Beat together cream cheese, maple syrup, egg, extra flour and extra chocolate
· Pour over base and then top with pecans
Bake at 180 deg c for about 50 –60 minutes

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Moorish cakes

When I saw these cakes on Jen’s I love Milk and Cookies blog last year, I printed the recipe off as they looked so delicious. I love pistachio nuts and I also love raspberries, so they seemed the perfect combination. They are a bit more of a special occasion cake though, so I made them for my birthday brunch on Sunday. The title of Moorish is a bit of a play on words as the cakes are moreish but also the Moroccan flavours of syrup cakes and pistachios also make them decidedly Moorish!

I made them in little cake moulds – next time I think I would make them in cupcake cases as they were a bit of a nightmare to get out of the tins! Mind you I was probably being my usual hasty self!!! The ones that did come out ok (which was actually most of them) look so cute.

I love syrup cakes and I love cakes made with almonds, as I love the moistness of texture that you get. Combining that yummy moistness with pistachios and raspberries is heavenly, as you get the waxy crunch of the pistachios and then the tartness of the raspberries.

Initially I thought that I wouldn’t make the syrup as the cakes seemed rich enough as it was (this was after I had nearly eaten all of the mixture that had stuck in the tins of the cakes I didn’t get out properly!), but I am so pleased that I did, as the syrup really made them!!! I didn’t put quite as much sugar in the syrup as the recipe stated and I also didn’t use as many pistachios in the syrup as the recipe said, but there were still more than enough pistachios to decorate the tops of my cakes.

These are the perfect cakes for a special occasion! I couldn't decide which photo of the cakes I liked best, so I have put them all in!

As an aside, last night for dinner we had fresh fish which I roasted in a hot oven after sprinkling with avocado oil, ras al hanout (a Moroccan spice mix) and sea salt. To go with it I made a salad adapted from one that was in an old cuisine magazine, of cucumber, roasted red peppers, chopped cos lettuce, toasted almonds and dates with a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil. It was so good!!! The dates and almonds really made it as they introduced some different textures and flavours. Very summery!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Birthday Brunch

A few years ago when my birthday fell on a Sunday, I had a champagne breakfast. I have now made this an annual affair and a very small group of friends (about 12) come round for a champagne breakfast on the Sunday closest to my birthday. That was yesterday (although my birthday isn’t until later this week).

Luckily the sun was still shining (we are getting the tip of a tropical storm today – first day it has rained in about 3 weeks I think!). This year I decided to go for more brunch type foods rather than real breakfast food. I also wanted to make things I could have ready as last year I felt like I spent most of my time in the kitchen scrambling eggs! This year instead of scrambling eggs, I roasted a big tray of vegetables (pumpkin, kumara, red onions, red peppers and green olives) and then I broke a dozen eggs into the tray. It was a great way to have eggs that you can prep ahead! To go with the egg dish, my husband cooked baby sausages from Jansens butchers in Browns Bay (they do great sausages!!!) on the bbq and we also had roasted tomatoes, avocado and bacon bruschetta, roast peaches and nectarines, maple and almond yoghurt and the Swedish walnut ring pictured above.

I had seen the Swedish walnut ring on Tartelette’s blog last week and thought it looked like something I would really like to make. I actually made the dough on Saturday night and proved it in the fridge overnight. I added a little more milk to the dough than what the recipe called for as it seemed to be a bit dry. On Sunday morning, I let the dough come back to room temperature and then rolled it out, scattered it with the nuts, sugar and cinnamon, rolled it up and baked it. When it was cold you drizzle over a simple glaze made with icing sugar and milk. It was a real success – one of the highlights of the food at the breakfast! And so easy! I will definitely make this again.

The roasted fruit were another hit! I just cut the fruit in half, sprinkled it with brown sugar and some orange juice and then roasted it for about 30 minutes at 200deg c. For the yoghurt, I toasted some sliced almonds, mixed them with maple syrup and some vanilla and then drizzled the mix over some plain yoghurt. So yummy!!!! When we were on holiday in the UK about 4 years ago, they had maple syrup flavoured yoghurt which I adored. We don’t have it in NZ, but this is a pretty good

A quick shot of the table!! :0)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cupcake hero does Coffee

I don’t actually like coffee, so thinking up an idea for a coffee inspired cupcake for the January cupcake hero challenge wasn’t all that easy. I had wanted to make a cupcake with a filling for the challenge, but two things counted against me:

1. I wouldn’t be able to eat the filling if it was coffee flavoured!
2. I really wanted to make them last night and I couldn’t be bothered going to the shop to get the bits I might need to make a filling (ie cream)

So, my cupcake is kind of boring – well, simple at least. It is an espresso flavoured cupcake that I added toasted hazelnuts to, then I made a an espresso syrup, drizzled the cakes with the syrup and then iced them with an espresso butter cream icing. I based the cake on a Julie le Clerc recipe from her Little Cafe Cakes book. I did taste the cakes, even though coffee isn’t my favourite flavour and they were really yummy. Quite a moist cake and the syrup made them even more so. The crunch of the hazelnuts gave a great textural difference. I almost topped the cakes with a hazelnut, but the hazelnut looked a bit insignificant compared to the size of the icing. I think the plain icing looks nice. Sometimes less is more!

One thing I love about the blog challenges is that it does get me out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t normally make coffee flavoured cupcakes, and it is a lot of fun creating new ideas!

Espresso Drizzle Cupcakes (cake recipe adapted from Julie Le Clerc’s Little Café cakes)

250g softened butter
1 ¼ c sugar
3 lg eggs
½ c espresso coffee
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp ground coffee beans
2 ¼ c flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ c hazelnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

· Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time.
· Beat in vanilla, coffee and ground coffee beans
· Fold in four, baking powder and hazelnuts
· Spoon into cupcake cases (makes about 16) and bake at 170c for about 20 minutes
· When cold drizzle with the following hot syrup


· Heat together ¾ c strong coffee, ½ tsp ground coffee beans, 1/3 c sugar until sugar is dissolved and then simmer until syrupy


· Cream 150g butter, then add 1/3 c milk and 1 tbsp ground coffee beans dissolved in boiling water
· Beat in enough icing sugar (about 5c) to get a good icing consistency

When cakes are cold, ice with the icing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

blueberry muffins

There hasn’t been much exciting baking going on this week. The weather is so beautiful, after work I am swimming, not baking!! I hope to do some more in the weekend. But, I did make these muffins last night for my husband’s lunch box. I freeze them and he takes one or two in his lunch each day.

I usually stick to a pretty plain bran style muffin with mashed banana and some dried fruit, but last night I sort of followed a Bill Granger recipe for berry muffins. I only had about a cup of frozen blueberries, so added some craisins to make them a little more full of fruit. They had buttermilk and yoghurt in them which helps make them tender. I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I added a few teaspoons of white vinegar to a cup of milk. This sours the milk to make it like buttermilk – lemon juice has the same effect. The muffins were nice for a change. They had some wholemeal flour in them – enough to fool my husband into thinking that they are healthy!!

Last night’s dinner was courgette and feta fritters. I used a recipe from Nigel Slater’s book “Kitchen Diaries”. The book is a great read - it actually reads as if it is his cooking diary for the year (a bit like a blog in a book – I hope that makes my blog a book in a blog if you know what I mean!!). I have challenged myself to make something each month from it from the corresponding Northern hemisphere month (ie use a July recipe in January, August recipe in February etc). These fritters from the July chapter had great flavour, but the only thing holding them together were a couple of eggs, so they kind of fell apart. I wouldn’t make that recipe again, even though the taste was great –especially with some of my home made tamarillo relish!!

With the fritters we had an avocado and cherry tomato salad with a balsamic dressing (1/4c good evo, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, juice of a lemon, 1 tsp each Dijon mustard and brown sugar and sea salt and pepper). Very tasty and summery!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the mission for chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are probably the most popular cookies as they are easy to make and always taste delicious. A few years ago I tasted the most delicious chocolate chip cookies at a café in Christchurch. The café was called Metro – I’m not sure that it is there anymore. The cookies were quite fat and had milk chocolate melts in them instead of chocolate chips. They were crispy on the outside but quite soft in the middle. I went on a mission to try and re-create them.

Initially I rang the café and asked if they would divulge the recipe, but they wouldn’t! So then I started making different recipes to see if I could get them as close to the metro ones as possible. In the end I think the closest I got was by substituting some ground almonds for some of the flour in my usual condensed milk recipe, substituting some of the castor sugar with icing sugar, using the larger chocolate melts and making the cookies quite fat and cooking them at a lower temperature for a longer time.

On my chocolate chip cookie travels, I came across a recipe in an old book of my Nana’s for santé biscuits. I tried this recipe making large sized biscuits and the milk chocolate melts. The cookies don’t use condensed milk, so are good for when you don’t have a tin of condensed milk in the cupboard. They have a slight caramel flavour due to the golden syrup. Before we went to Queenstown last week I made some of these biscuits to take down (together with the chocolate and hazelnut biscuits). As well as no condensed milk, I didn’t have any milk chocolate melts either, so I used normal chocolate chips. I made some big ones (pictured above) and some mini ones which were perfect for my friend’s two year old daughter to eat.

Tammy’s chocolate chip cookies

( I haven’t changed the imperial measurements, but 1oz is about 25g)

8 oz butter
8 oz sugar
2 tsp golden syrup
2 tsp milk
12 oz flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 pkt milk chocolate melts or 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

· Soften butter to almost melted and beat in sugar, golden syrup and milk
· Stir in dry ingredients and then chocolate
· Put large balls onto trays and flatten a little
Bake at 150c for 15-20 minutes for large cookies and about 12 minutes for little ones

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Last night for dinner I made meatballs and cous cous with eggplant in it, loosely based on a Natalia Schamroth recipe from Cuisine. The dish had a real Moroccan flavour to it and the lamb meatballs called for harissa. So I decided to make my own. I have only made harissa once before when I followed a Greg Malouf recipe. The one I made last night is from Neil Perry’s book “The food I love”. He actually has three different harissa recipes in the book. I went for the one that was the most mild. It also had roasted red peppers in it.

Harissa is a condiment used in middle eastern cuisines. It is almost like a hot chilli paste, but sometimes includes cumin and coriander seeds which give it an interesting texture. I used some little birds eye chillies that I had in the freezer (see photo below). It can be used as a kind of sauce (similar consistency to pesto) for dishes such as lamb and chicken, but it can also be used to flavour things like meatballs and cous cous.

The harissa will keep for ages in the fridge. The meatballs were really tasty and I served them with the cous cous which had roasted eggplant in it as well as lots of parsley and lemon juice, and natural yoghurt. I always buy Cyclops yoghurt, not just because the owner’s brother is a really good friend of ours, but because it is organic and I love the creamy texture and slightly sour taste. It is good for savoury and sweet dishes.

Harissa (from Neil Perry’s “The Food I Love”)

2 roasted red peppers
2 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground
½ tsp toasted coriander seeds, ground
2 cloves garlic
4 small hot chillies, or to taste
60 ml good olive oil (I only used 30ml)
sea salt to taste

Place everything in blender and blend to a smooth puree. Keep in the fridge

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy new year!!

Happy new year!!!!! I am just back from a fabulous three week holiday!! The weather has been superb and we had such a great time!! But no cooking!!!! So unfortunately my first post of the year isn’t that exciting – hopefully I will make up for it in the next few weeks!!!!

Last week we went to Queenstown to stay with some friends and I made these chocolate and hazelnut biscuits to take. They look pretty plain, but tasted quite nice. The biscuit is a pretty basic chocolate shortbread and was meant to have hazelnut meal in it. I had some ground macadamias in the cupboard so used those instead.

The biscuits are sandwiched together with a combination of nutella and melted chocolate. I dusted them with cocoa. They were perfect wee treats to have after dinner when we were in Queenstown.

As an aside, I got the new Maggie Beer cook book from my Grandma for a combined Christmas and birthday present (my birthday is next week). It is the most beautiful looking book – bound in gorgeous embroidered cloth. It’s divided into seasons – I really like books that do this as it does make you think more about what is fresh and good and the different times of the year.

Last night was the first dinner I cooked for a while. It wasn’t all that inspiring as we really just felt like something fresh after all the holiday eating – so we had a chicken stirfry with lime juice, fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce and lots of vegetables.

Looking forward to cooking lots of wee treats this year and telling you all about them!!