Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Check out my new food writing series

While it's been very quiet on the food blog recently there is a reason for this silence!    I've been busy providing content for the restaurant review site Menus.co.nz

Over the next 16 weeks I'll be providing reviews of the new series of Masterchef that's airing each Sunday.  Be sure to check out my reviews on the Monday and get a former contestants view of the current year's potential graduates.

There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes which can put a different spin on the show and as the series goes on I'll give the NZ public an insight to the pressures and the advantages that come from appearing on NZ's premier reality TV competition.

You can check out my review of the first two episodes here:

Episode 1: Cooks, start your ovens!

Episode 2: The Final 16!

I've also been busy providing quick and easy salad recipes.  If you're interesting in a quick and tasty meal be sure to check out these recipes:

Spiced Prawns with Mango and Avocado Salad 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Caramelised fennel, apple and bacon salad with a lemon honey vinaigrette

It’s getting hot out there now and as the heat goes up our desire for heavy, sit down meals goes out the window. Conscious of our beach bodies, or lack thereof, and with a desire to make the most of the sun we start to want dinners that are quick, easy, healthy and with no dishes!

As my high school economics teacher told me supply is intrinsically linked to demand, so in the coming weeks I’ll be giving you a series of simple salad recipes that make the most out of the wonderful array of fresh produce that is currently on offer.

Salads can be much more than just tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber in a bowl – and they don’t need to feel like the shackles of healthy living. Instead, they should be a celebration of strong flavours and fresh produce. Grab a couple of your favourite ingredients, mix together with some of the salad staples then lather on the perfect dressing and you’re sure to be enjoying salads with a smile.

We start things off this week with a fennel-based salad with wonderfully crispy bacon, the sweetness of apple and the crunchy bitterness of well roasted walnuts.

Serves 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
½ carrot, cut into thin batons
½ small red onion, sliced
3 rashers streaky bacon
½ cup roasted walnuts (roast in oven at 180 degrees for 5-10 minutes until golden)
½ apple
2 tsp brown sugar
Handful mesclun leaves, or other green leaves
Herbs from the garden (optional)
Lemon honey vinaigrette
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice

First make the dressing. Place the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and honey in a small bowl then whisk together. Add the olive oil slowly, whisking constantly. Season with a bit of salt and a good kick of pepper (use white if you have it but normal will do). You should have an emulsified concoction which is going to elevate this salad to heaven.

Cook the bacon in a frying pan, with a dash of oil on a medium-high heat until crispy, about 2 minutes either side. Place on paper towels and don’t eat all of it (I know what you’re like). Once cool, slice into little bits of crispy goodness.

Chuck the red onion, fennel and carrot into the bacon fat and sweat for a couple of minutes. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Season with S&P then add the brown sugar, apples, chopped bacon and roasted walnuts.

Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

To serve put a large handful of mesclun in a bowl, add your garden herbs if you have them. I used basil, lemon balm, and parsley. Put the whole leaves in with the mesclun. This means as you munch through the salad you get big bursts of herby flavour.

Add the dressing to taste and then mix in the other ingredients. Enjoy!