Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back to Basics: Pizza Dough

One of my favourite things to do with my family on a Saturday night is a big night in.  We make homemade pizzas, have a picnic on the floor and hopefully watch some sport. This weekend was an All black versus Wallabies test match. Which means matching all black jumpers (the ONLY time Nick allows us to wear matching anything...Sigh), trying to teach my son the haka and watching Nick pace backwards and forwards in front of the television, or if the game is really close, leaving the house with five minutes to go because he can't handle the pressure.

I have been making this Masterchef pizza dough recipe for years now. I try new ones every now and again but always come back to this one due to how easy it is, and the way it crisps up in the oven. 

We use ceramic pizza stones to cook them, which helps to distribute the heat evenly across the base. And use range of toppings depending on what is in the fridge and how we are feeling that day. Give this recipe a go, it is made alot easier if you have a mixer with a knead attachment. 

Masterchef Pizza Dough Recipe


400ml lukewarm water 
14g fresh yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast 
15g caster sugar 
700g "00" flour, plus extra for dusting 
30g table salt 
60ml extra virgin olive oil 
50ml milk


  1. Add a small amount of water to the yeast and sugar and mix together and wait till bubble start to form. 
  2. Place flour into a mixer with a knead attachment and make a well. 
  3. Add the rest of the water to the yeast mixture and pour into the mixer.
  4. Start mixing the dough and when it starts to come together add the oil and milk.
  5. Knead for about five minutes until it starts to look smooth and then turn out onto a floured surface. 
  6. Place into an oiled bowl cover with a tea towel and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. 
  7. Divide into 120g portions knead until smooth and place aside covered with a tea towel for a further 30 minutes. 
  8. Roll out your bases, we like a thin crust in our household. 
  9. Once rolled to shape, prick all over the base with a fork (this prevents the big air bubbles in the base) and then flip over and add your favourite toppings. 
  10. Tonight we had a tomato base with sopresso salami, boccocini, cheese, basil and chili flakes. 
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jamie Oliver Fish Pie

Here is the fish pie recipe that I mentioned last week that I cook regularly from the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food Cookbook. I love it because it is packed full of flavour without overpowering the fish and I don't have to make a white sauce to go with it!  Jamie advised that if you would like a creamier option to add 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche to the fish mixture. I didn't have any so added thickened cream instead.

By the way, I never know how to take a pretty picture of fish pie, the photos just do not do it justice!

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 kg potatoes
1 carrot
2 sticks celery
150 g good-quality Cheddar cheese
1 lemon
½ fresh red chilli
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
300 g salmon fillets, skin off and bones removed
300 g undyed smoked haddock fillets, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, skin off and bones removed (I couldn't get smoked fish so we went without)
125 g raw peeled king prawns
olive oil

Optional (and I didn't use either of these)
1 good handful spinach, chopped, optional
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered, optional

  1. Bring the oven to 200 degree celcuis and boil a large pot of salted water for your potatoes.
  2. Peel potatoes, chop, add to the water and cook for 12-15 minutes until soft.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, grate celery, carrot, lemon rind, chili and cheese, add finely chopped parsley into a large casserole dish.
  4. Chop up seafood into 1-2cm chunks and mix with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  5. Add thicken cream or crème fraiche and stir everything together in the casserole dish

  6. By this point your potatoes should be soft, drain from water and mash with some butter, milk, salt and pepper.
  7. Place on top of fish mixture and spread evenly.
  8. Put into the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are crispy and the fish mixture is cooked underneath.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Recipe Book Review: Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food

Walking into a cookbook section of the bookstore can be one of the most overwhelming experiences ever.  It's hard making a decision on a quick flick through the book, while the bookstore owner eyes you wearily, making sure you aren't secretly jotting down recipes to avoid paying hard cash.

I have a plethora of cookbooks in my kitchen.  I sit in my lounge on Sunday afternoon looking at them, asking them to bring me inspiration to the everyday boredom of weekday cooking. I must admit however that I have only really cooked from about 5 of the 30 or so cookbooks that I have.

So how do you know if a cookbook is "good" or not. Well it really depends on your taste, but this cookbook would have to be the one that I use most frequently in my house.  It's accessible for all cooks, especially beginners. The recipes aren't too complicated, the ingredients are easy to find. 

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food cookbook is based on the premise that food should be easy, approachable and fun. It's the kind of book you would give to your child when they move out of home. Claiming to teach you how to cook in just 24 hours, I believe it does just that.  Jamie encourages you to learn a recipe out of the book and teach it to 3 other people. Creating a world wide food community of handing down recipes.

It's filled with classics, no complicated techniques, in fact recipes that you should be able to get first time every time. Every recipe has an image, I am one of those people who will not cook a recipe if I cannot see the finished product, and you can usually purchase this book on special for around $20- $30 dollars if you know where to look.

With simple classics like spaghetti bolognaise and Jamie's curry sauce, something a little more special with the Parmesan Chicken Breasts. This book is the perfect starter for those that want to begin their recipe collection.

He also has many "buildable" or alternative recipes, where he takes a base and then makes small changes to show you variations.

My next post I will be an adaption of Jamie's Fish Pie from the Ministry of Food. So make sure you check it out.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Chicken Soup for the Soul

I'm going to put it out Mum is the best cook I know.  Hands down.  I bet she's better than yours! Now with that said and done I think we can all agree that Mums have the ability to do most things exceptionally well. Living at home growing up if I was told we were having sausages and mash I would groan.  The cheek! Now I relish the thought of Mums home cooked meals.  I welcome that simple delicious food.  Casseroles, chops, roasts and cakes....There is something that parents do.  Maybe its the years of practice or maybe its the love they put in (I'm going with the love).  Whatever it is they make good things great and I have no doubts that everyone reading this has some favorite family recipes.  My dream, and I do work on it, is to have that panache.  Make something out of nothing.  Make nothing into everything.  Make mouths water and to make the soul smile a little.

This recipe is a classic chicken soup that does that.  The beauty is in its simplicity and to be honest when I first made it I thought "what could I do to make this better".  Trust me though, if your going for that home cooked warm inside feeling then this is that soup.  Passed onto me by a great Mum it has the seal of goodness I've been talking about.  So give it a try before the summer months creep in.  And if you have any family favourites you think we might not know about let us know!  We love trying new things.

3 cloves garlic
1 onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 litre chicken stock
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 potato
1 kumara
1 carrot
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup orzo


Chop the onion and garlic and cut the carrot, potato and kumara into 2cm dice.

Gently fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Add the carrot, potato and kumara and fry for 10 minutes or so. 

Add the stock and pepper and bring to the boil. 

Add the whole chicken breasts to the pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.  Remove the chicken from the pot and leave to cool for a few minutes. 

Add the pasta to the pot and bring back to the boil. 

Shred the chicken breasts and add the back into the pot. Continue cooking until the pasta is done then add the spinach (this will cook in a couple of minutes)

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Apple Pie Show Stopper

Ive always loved a good home made apple crumble.  It was a family favorite growing up. Most recently though I've done a full conversion to the apple pie. Your taking a huge step into indulgent city (aka waist line killer) but its 100% worth it I think!  Ive made this pie twice now - both times on a ridiculously large scale.  Both times people walked away sinfully pleasured by the buttery caramely creamy goodness. But hey I think these are a few a rules that should always be lived by in life:
  1. you can never have to much dessert
  2. you can totally eat dessert for breakfast (so make that dessert BIG - its like an excuse...)
  3. you should never do things by halves
Here is the recipe which I urge you to try.  Youll make some fans for sure:

1 packet sweet short pastry (you can make your own but this whole process is quite long and I find packet pastry just as good) 

1kg granny smith apples
½ cup soft unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup soft light brown sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 pinch of salt
¼ cup water
cinnamon (to taste) 

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Happy Father's Day

Happy Fathers day to all those wonderful Dad's out there. And a special thought to those whose father's have passed and cannot share this day with them.

What did you do this Father's day? I spent the day with my wonderful husband and son at the beach having a picnic, and skyping our own Fathers in New Zealand.

Our family only does gifts for birthdays and Christmas. For the rest of the year, we do food, glorious food. So I asked he hubby what he wants for dinner and of course he chooses roast chicken with all the trimmings. For us all the trimmings entails Roast Chicken, bacon and herb stuffing, duck fat potatoes, steamed greens and honey carrots drizzled with homemade gravy.

Check out my recipe for our family Roast below and let me know what you think.  Roast recipes are such a personal favourite, nobody does it better than your own mother, or grandmother.  I am getting there slowly. Check out my recipe below.

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Herb stuffing

The key to the perfect chicken is buying the best quality chook that you can afford. Quality produce makes all the difference however this has never stopped me from buying a budget chook on quick sale and still making a fantastic roast.

Firstly prepare your Bacon and Herb Stuffing


1 brown onion, finely diced
4 shortcut rashers of bacon
75g butter
4 pieces of bread (stale is better but doesn't really matter)
1 tbsp mixed herbs

  1. Fry onion and butter on a medium heat, until butter melts and onions soften.
  2. Add bacon and fry for a further 2 minutes
  3. Put bread into a food processor and pulse until it reaches a thick breadcrumb consistency
  4. Combine the bread and mixed herbs with the ingredients in the fry pan and cook for a further 5 mins.
  5. Place aside to cool and then stuff into the chicken.
Then place your chicken into an 180 degree Celsius oven. It needs to cook approximately 25-30 minutes per 500 grams depending on your oven.  I usually check the chicken at the 20 minutes per 500 gram point.  Baste the chicken with the oils that release themselves during the cooking process, this ensures a crispy skin.

To test whether the chicken is cooked slice into the chicken between the breast and thigh, if the juices run clear it is ready.  Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Duck Fat Potatoes

Perfect crunchy roast potatoes are my husbands favourite thing in the world.  Cooking them in duck fat takes your average roast potato to a whole new level.  The key to perfect roast potatoes is the type of potato that you use.  Desiree is the perfect all rounder potato and what I choose to use when making roasties.

Also you will soon see that there are alot of steps and effort to be put into these potatoes.  The more love and attention you put in the better they will be.


Desiree potatoes (I usually use 6 large potatoes for two of us, once again it is my hubby's favourite food
1 tbsp of duck fat per 500g of potatoes
Sea Salt Flakes and pepper

  1. Be prepared duck fat potatoes take about an hour to cook in the oven.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into your desired potato size.
  3. Plus into a pot of cold water and bring to the boil.  Boil for a further five minutes.
  4. Take potatoes off the heat and drain.
  5. Add duck fat, sea salt, pepper and shake in the pot with the lid on.  Try and shake vigorously. The goal is for the potatoes to break up a bit, this is what makes them crunchy.
  6. Place into a separate dish and into the oven.  This helps the roasties to not become soggy.
  7. Check them and turn every 15 minutes depending on your oven, and shake around in the bottom of the dish so they are continuously coated in the duck fat.
  8. When you take your chicken out of the oven to rest, crank the oven up to 200 degrees and allow them to crisp up for 5-10 minutes, but keep an eye on them as there is a fine line between crunchy perfect and burnt bottoms.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lamb and Haloumi Salad

If you have been following our blog for a while you would noticed that I am a massive fan of lamb.  It is my favourite meat, and with Spring finally upon us, the markets will be full of beautiful cuts of this tender produce.

After a few months of winter warmers and the temperature finally beginning to rise again, the price of salad greens is dropping making it the perfect time to get out of the slow-cooking doldrums and freshen up with a salad.

This salad is super quick and a little something different, fresh, flavoursome and range of different textures to keep you excited.

Lamb and Haloumi Salad

Lamb Leg Steak (150g per person)
Baby Cos Lettuce
1 packet Haloumi
1/2 can Chickpeas
50g Cucumber Julienne
Red Onion
A handful of fresh mint (finely chopped)

3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius. Cut pumpkin into 1cm cubes, lightly toss in olive oil salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes. You want the pumpkin to be soft but still firm.
  2. Heat a fry pan to a high heat.  The lamb should be medium rare.  I cook these pieces for 2 mins on each side and the leave to rest for another 2-3minutes. The resting is very important so don't skip it.
  3. Slice the haloumi and fry on either side for about 1 minutes, it needs to be a lovely gold colour, then place aside.
  4. Allow your pumpkin to cool then toss with the rest of the salad ingredients.
  5. Mix the dressing ingredients together and then dress the salad and serve.
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Monday, August 4, 2014

VIDEO POST: Afghan biscuits

An old kiwi classic. Check out our latest video recipe.


200g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups of crushed cornflakes

2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp water, add more water if necessary


  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius
  2. Cream together butter and brown sugar until colour becomes lighter in colour and a fluffy texture
  3. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and fold together to combine
  4. Add cornflakes and mix together
  5. Roll dessert spoon amounts of mixture into balls, flatten with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes
  6. Allow the biscuits to cool and and then top with icing and a walnut.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spatchcock Chicken with Gnarley Couscous

Yes I know you’re jealous. I got picked as the first guest blogger on Bread and Sniff it and you didn’t. Don’t fret; my food CV is quite illustrious. For example, growing up my brothers and I would polish off 2 maybe 3 peanut butter sandwiches during after-school BYC before sitting down at 6pm to a full fledged man sized dinner with a loaf of bread at our feet to make our dinner into a sandwich. At university a standard meal in our 1st year flat would consist of mince, dolmio and tinned tomatoes in a pan with 6 guys hanging around for multiple mince sammies. And tonight, I drove home from work, picked up a 15 pack of BBQ chicken nibbles and polished them off whilst driving the 10 mins to get home. In a manual. Which I must say is not the safest way to drive, or eat. These high end food experiences have made a lasting impression on the luscious Bread and Sniff It ladies. I have known and loved these girls for years and am often in awe of their food creating (and consuming) abilities. Therefore, I am super stoked to have been invited to contribute to what is a beautifully substantial food blog. So big ups to them, and keep doing your thing. In the mean time all you aspiring foodies, get to the back of the line. Danny aka Swinnas aka Breadhead is in the house.

If nothing else, my stories of gluttony highlight that I have always loved being full. Thankfully these days I put a lot more time and effort into the process, rather than the result. Geographically speaking I am a kiwi living in the UK. Oxford to be precise. Food, cricket, tunes and the sea are the 4 staples to my diet with a casual dose of Harry Potter to round out the top 5. I have eaten my way around Asia, India and parts of Europe and am now in the process of doing the same in the UK although I am temporarily halted by an infatuation with scotch eggs. Am I a natural chef? No. But I love to cook, I love to eat and I can follow a recipe. After a good five years of getting involved in the kitchen, I now treat recipes like a 20/20 batting order. Chop it, change it and throw in anything you think will work. Unless you’re talking pastry or baking. In that case stop being a show off and follow the rules. Who do you think you are?!

This recipe originates from Nigel Slater, a legendary chef who is unfortunately as boring as bat shit. The spatchcock chicken is not a new idea but it is a lush way to cook a whole chicken quickly and evenly. The lemon and thyme ensures the meat is moist and will taste epic. Surprisingly though with a whole chicken on show, the couscous makes this meal. Letting it cook in the all the fat, oil, lemon juice and gnarly cooked bits that are left in your roasting tin is genius. Then basically add whatever you feel works. Rocket is right at the top of my list closely followed by feta, cucumber, tomato and red onion. A pretty handy batting order that.

1 x whole chicken (medium sized)

1 x lemon
1 x head of garlic
Olive oil 4 tbsp
Salt n Pep
Couscous 250gs
500mls Chicken stock
1/4 red onion
1/4 Cucumber
1 x Tomato

1)Preheat the oven to 200C. Lay the chook on the chopping board, get a heavy, sharp knife and cut through the backbone of the chicken, opening it out flat. Then place skin side up in an oven tray.

2)Mix together the lemon juice (keep the skins), olive oil, the leaves of 4 thyme sprigs and a dash of salt n pep and drizzle all over the chicken. Quarter the leftover lemon skins and tuck under the chicken along with the individual cloves of a head of garlic. Throw a couple more sprigs of thyme in and around the chicken, you can never have too much herbs after all.Place in the oven for 40-45mins.

3)In that time all you need to do is cut the tomato, cucumber and red onion into salad sized bits. So chill, have a drink and try not to spoil your appetite with peanut butter sandwiches.

4)Once the chicken is golden brown on top and the juices run clear transfer it along with the garlic to another tray slash plate and wrap in tin foil to rest.

5)Put 500ml good quality chicken stock into the roasting tray and heat. Scrape up all the charred goodness on the bottom of the tray. Once satisfied poor all the liquid into a bowl with the couscous and cover for 10mins. Don’t stress if you feel there may be too much liquid. It is. The couscous we are after is not the lovely fluffy kind. We want it moist and stodgy, exploding with lush chickeny goodness

6)After 10 mins, mix the rocket, feta, cucumber and tomato into the couscous and season if necessary. Serve up and don't you dare shy away from the roasted garlic cloves. Enjoy.

Note: Bread optional.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spicy Chickpea Patties, Hummus and Flatbreads

It’s fair to say that if I’m not participating in the act of eating I am contemplating my next meal.  My wise friend Daniel Swindells said to me after a comprehensive conversation about his meal plan for his shift at work: “structure is crucial”.  I don’t know if it’s normal or whether I associate myself with people who are also food fanatics, but it seems perfectly reasonable to map out your working day primarily around lunch and the snacks in between, doesn’t it?
It’s this passion for food which drives most of my days.  Even when bursting at the seams I find myself thinking forward “Hmmm what’s in the fridge...oooh this would be yum if I pick up some...”.  I just love it. 

With the winter months in full force though, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to bother going to the supermarket.  I thrive at the fruit and vegetable markets every weekend and generally I use this bounty as my staples for the week.  So on a lazy night I ponder what can be done with two lone cans of chickpeas – the only canned goods to be seen.  Ready Steady Cook pays off and what I came up with was nutritious, scrumptious, and made with a few solid cupboard staples.
2 can chickpeas drained – set ½ can aside
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic grated
½ cup natural yoghurt
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbspn cumin powder
½ tspn cayenne pepper
Handful fresh coriander/parsley chopped
1.    Pulse chickpeas in food processor until roughly chopped. Put into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Stir until well-combined
2.    Roll into patties (size of your choice) and place on a tray with  greaseproof paper into the fridge for around 20 minutes

Meanwhile while these are setting you can get onto your homemade Hummus and Flatbreads
Remaining ½ can of chickpeas
¼ cup oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Clove garlic grated
1.    Blend all ingredients together well.  Add more oil/lemon juice to get desired consistency.  I added ¼ block of feta because it was in the fridge which was an epic add-on.  Leave out of the fridge
250g self raising flour
1 tbspn salt
1 tbspn baking powder
250g natural yoghurt
1.    Using a blender (or by hand) combine all ingredients till you have a dough – don’t over do it in the blender, just combine
2.    Kneed for about a minute adding more flour if needed
3.    Divide into 6 equal pieces and roll out to a side plate size approx.  Using greaseproof paper to separate them to stop sticking
Once done here fry the patties in oil for 4-5 minutes on each side or till golden brown.
Alternately cook the flatbread on a DRY, high heat for a few minutes on each side or until they are lightly charring and puffing.
Im a huge platter fan and like eating with my fingers so serve this all up on a platter and ENJOY
Just a side note - once again the meat no meat debate arose between Mel and I so the next night I had all the same but added smoked salmon and avocado.  It was divine – it could definitely go down as a brunch option, add a poached egg = lush.  So if you have a ‘must-have-meat’ policy in your household I would highly recommend giving this add-on option a try.  So many nutty, fresh, spicy flavors you won’t regret it. 




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