In the immortal words of Scribe, congratulations, you've made it. It's Friday, and you deserve a drink. Welcome to a new regular feature on heartbreak pie, aptly called Friday Drinks. There was a time, when I was a young professional mid-twenty something, where I would very much look forward to getting home and pouring myself a beverage. I still do, even though my weeks are a lot more fluid these days, and it's not uncommon for me to work on the weekends, and ease up on myself during the week. Come Friday though, sometimes at the end of a long week, just one is enough to take the edge off, before curling up on the couch with takeaways watching the Graham Norton show. If that's the case, you might as well make it a beauty.
the bitter botanist g+t
Remember folks, a gin and tonic is a cocktail, which means your BBG+T needs a 45mL pour of gin, instead of a standard drink's 30mL.
3 large ice cubes
45mL The Botanist gin
150-200mL Quina Fina Bitter Lemon
1. Place ice in a stemless wine glass.
2. Add a thin slice of lemon, then the gin.
3. Add bitter lemon to half way. Gently stir and serve.
Last year my friend Josie was doing publicity for The Illusionists magic show. The show had a live band, and she ended up hanging out with them and showing them round Auckland. A couple of them loved food, and so she invited me along last year for a day trip to Waiheke, with these 5 musicians, who when they weren't playing on a magic show, played backup for rapper Nas at festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury.
We ate at the Oyster Inn, and on the ferry back I got chatting to Tom Terrell, a trumpet player, who told me for his final music recital for his music degree at UCLA, he got a community grant and cooked an 8 course meal, pairing a musical piece to each one. I'd recently quit my job to throw dinner parties so naturally we hit it off, and it was one of those conversations that stuck. We had to get in the kitchen together, so I said I'd come to LA.
1 part Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
5 parts sparkling white wine (prosecco works well)
In a variety of mismatched glassware, pour a small amount of creme de cassis, and top with bubbles.
Since ditching the comfort of a salary-paying office job, for a life of freelance writing and throwing events and cooking (I am for hire by the way) I have reached new levels of procrastination. I don't know what it is in my brain that means I can only do something I'm supposed to if there's an intense time pressure on me, but it is something I'm working on trying to change.
Working from home I've gotten pretty good at procrasticleaning - a spotless kitchen before starting a story undoubtedly makes for a better piece of writing. Today though I hit a new low (or was it a high?) in procrastinating: I procrastinated baking with baking.
I was supposed to have already prepared my recipe for tomorrow morning's TV appearance on Good Morning. It had been on my ever growing to-do list, but all of a sudden it was glaring at me from my diary. I've not been a guest cook on the show since they changed the format last year, but during 2011 in Wellington and then 2012 in Auckland, every few weeks I would take a morning off work to head to the studios and wreak havoc in the kitchen on live national TV.
I halved the recipe, which made four perfect scones. Seriously, best scones I've ever made.
2 cups flour (I used rye flour, which gave a very savoury flavour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper - optional (I used a generous pinch of smoked paprika)
2 cups grated tasty cheese (I used edam, with a little parmigianno regianno)
1 cup full-cream milk
Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper into a bowl.
Mix in the grated cheese.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk.
Mix lightly then turn out on a floured bench.
Shape into a rectangle about 3cm high. Cut into 8 and transfer on to a baking tray.
Bake at 220°C for 15-20 minutes until deep golden.
Serve slathered in butter with a cup of tea!
I nearly called this post 'Life is a roller coaster' but knew I'd never forgive myself if I immortalised Ronan Keating like that. It's true though, life has been a roller coaster lately, an emotional one and a financial one. And so it was I found myself last Tuesday standing at my kitchen bench staring into space, procrastinating probably, and without the energy to vacuum, contemplating why I couldn't just invite Vodafone over for dinner instead of paying my overdue bill, and whether my landlord might accept cookies this week instead of rent.
These cookies, I'd been wanting to make them for a while. It was weeks ago now we were at my delightful friend Gwen's house for dinner, which was followed by drinking tea and eating cookies on the couch. Gwen is one of the most inspiring domestic goddesses I know. Her home is her to a tee: vintage pots and pans, and recycled fabric covering the chairs, and there's always a cup of tea or a gin and something homemade on offer. Even if all you want is a glass of water you'll be offered ice with the option of crushed or cubed. These were the cookies gracing her tins this time around, and they were like a really great chocolate chip cookie, but with a healthier taste and a lot more texture. I was instantly smitten and made notes as Gwen read out the recipe.
Dark chocolate and raisin oat cookies
Thanks to my dear friend Gwen for this recipe.
125g unsalted butter (I used coconut oil, which I weighed while it was solid, then melted)
75g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g flour (I used spelt flour because I have a cupboard full of weird flours. If using coconut oil, you might need to add a little more flour at the end to make a dough consistency)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
100g whittakers Dark Ghana, roughly chopped
100g raisins (in the spirit of Nigella's banana bread, I heated my raisins in a little whisky, heyo!)
75g almonds, roughly chopped (Gwen said any nuts, but especially almonds and walnuts are good)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (the TradeAid stuff is spicy and delicious)
1. Melt the butter (or coconut oil if you're using it) and honey together. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Add the egg to the honey mixture and mix well. Add to the dry ingredients, along with all remaining ingredients, and mix together well to form a chunky dough. Sprinkle over a little more oats or flour if your mixture is too wet (I had to when using coconut oil).
4. On a lined baking tray, spoon out tablespoons of dough and press lightly.
5. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until golden.
So, it's only taken me over a month to get this here, no surprises there? I've been slack, and I know it. I've been getting harrassed by everyone about the lack of activity here, and believe me, I feel a bit bad, but I've also been busy getting new food writing jobs, like being the new fortnightly food columnist for the Herald on Sunday!
4-hour lamb with anchovies, mustard and sage
1 lamb shoulder
10 anchovies in oil, drained and cut in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons mustard (I used dijon)
Large handful sage
cracked black pepper
zest of one lemon
1 cup stock (good quality beef stock is great)
1 cup white wine
Roll out the lamb and score it with a small sharp knife. Place in a roasting tray. Rub over a little olive oil, and the lemon zest and pepper. Rub in well.
Put anchovies, garlic, sage, mustard, and more pepper in a mortar and pestle. Mix well, adding olive oil slowly to help make a thick paste.
Rub all over the lamb and place in a 200C oven. After about 25 minutes, remove from the oven, and add 1 cup stock and 1 cup white wine. Cover with tinfoil and return to the oven, reducing the temperature to 150C.
Cook for about 3 hours, checking on it a couple of times in that time, and basting it with the liquid. Remove tinfoil for the last 20 minutes or so. Rest for 10 minutes before serving, the meat should fall apart in chunks.
Serve with gremolata (a mixture of olive oil, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest).
Personal taste is a funny thing. I have a friend who not only microwaves bacon, but was once eating those sickly sweet wafer biscuits, alongside a tub of marinated mussels, and dipped the biscuit in the mussel juice, declaring it a delicacy. Foul. Some people elect to mess up the near-perfect avocado on toast with all sorts of unnecessary things: with some foods I'm a purist, and with others I'm a total weirdo. One thing that polarises people, which I have always, ever since I was little, been a big fan of, is peanut butter and jam.
smoothie: the pb & j
In a blender, place:
- one banana
- 4 tbsp frozen berries (boysenberries are great)
- 1 cup almond milk
- a sprinkle of oat bran (for fillingness and fibre)
- a small squeeze of runny honey
- a few flecks of coconut oil
Blend up well and enjoy!
Heartbreak Pie turns four this week. Four years old. I know that I've really let myself go in the blogging department a bit, and that's a lot to do with turning food writing and cooking into a career, but it's also due to the fact that despite having once been a lawyer, and now a freelance writer, cook, nanny, and organiser of events, my time management can be abysmal.
But I still love and appreciate that this blog is where it all began. Well, this blog before it was beautifully redesigned. And I still love that you're all here reading. Hi! I have endless posts yet-to-be-written; photos I've taken, recipes I've created, trips I've been on, and 'HBP' is constantly on my never-ending to-do list. But tonight (now last night), in my cute little house in Auckland, while waiting for my sister to come over, with Great North's excellent new album playing, I threw together a salad for dinner, a very delicious salad with what I had in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and I thought: this is how it all began! Just throwing dinner together, taking a badly lit photo, and writing the recipe out amongst some carthartic rambling about my emotional state.
autumn salad with roast kumara, greens, bacon and walnuts
This was a throw-together salad, which is loose on quantities.
Take a couple of kumara and cut into small chunks. Place on a baking tray, drizzle over a little olive oil, freshly cracked salt and pepper, some chilli flakes, some smoked paprika, and a sprinkle of coarse polenta, for texture. Roast at about 200C while you prepare the rest of the salad (about 40 minutes).
Take a head of brocolli, and cut into florets, keeping some stalk on. Take some brussels sprouts, chop the ends off and discard any loose manky leaves. Quarter them longways.
Place the brocolli and the brussels sprouts on an oven tray and drizzle with oil. I've actually been experimenting with coconut oil lately, so I flecked some of that on these veges. A little salt and pepper and a few chilli flakes go here too. Chuck them in the oven, these take about 20 minutes. You might need to shift them to quite high up the oven and crank them on grill for the last 5 minutes to get them crisp.
Take a few bits of free range streaky bacon. Or any bacon really. I opt for whatever is on special at Farro Fresh. The Harmony one I used was nice and smoky. Chop into 1-2cm chunks and carefully fry on medium-high heat to get a whole heap of crispy bits. I found using a wooden spoon and constantly scraping worked well.
Dry roast some walnuts in a small frying pan without any oil.
When the kumara is done, put it in a large bowl. Add the green veges. Add two tablespoons of basil pesto (I just happened to have some in the fridge). I sprinkled over some black sesame seeds too, because I'm currently addicted to them. Then the walnuts, and the bacon, and mix together gently but well, and serve!
Frantic is one word for my life lately. Chaos, fun, and an inability to keep on top of my email inbox are some others. This new career has seen a blurry line develop between work and life, and all of my time is occupied with writing and eating and cooking and planning events. Never knowing what opportunity will next pop up is extremely exciting, and I'm not missing working in a law office one bit.
Cloudy Bay clams with chorizo and garlic
For the clams:
1 medium chorizo, chopped into small cubes/chunks
½ a large fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Approx 1kg fresh Cloudy Bay clams, rinsed
2 tbsp Lewis Road Creamery butter
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup Brancott Estate special reserve sauvignon blanc (or another white wine)
4 tbsp flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Wedges of lemon to garnish
- Take a large frying pan (with a lid) and heat the oil on a medium heat.
- Add the chorizo, and gently fry until aromatic.
- Add the butter and the garlic, and mix together.
- Keep on medium heat so the garlic doesn’t burn. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the clams and the wine and increase the heat. Put the lid on the pan.
- Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the clams open.
- Serve the clams and some of the broth with the chorizo on the rice, and garnish liberally with the chopped parsley. These are also great with crusty bread on the side.
For the saffron rice:
½ cup brown basmati rice
1 cup boiling water
1 pinch saffron
½ a lemon
pinch of salt
Put all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then turn heat down to very low and cook for 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is fluffy.
I had to remind myself today that I am a food blogger. I get so overwhelmed sometimes in my new life of not being a lawyer (more about that here) but instead of freelance writing, and cooking, and event coordinating, and throwing dinner parties. Sometimes I feel like I have so much to say and do, I just end up doing none of it. Today I just had to tell myself to chill out (something I find myself doing daily) and to get back in there (well, in here).
The pep talk happened at my kitchen bench while I was making these cookies, having already baked a cake, and mowed the lawns, and weeded the garden, and done a food photography session, and made a dent in my inbox, all after a very inspiring breakfast meeting. Mondays in my new life are way better than Mondays in my old one, despite the ever-woeful state of my bank balance. I did have haloumi with every meal today though, so there’s that. Also the new Metro magazine has come out, and for that issue I undertook a search for Auckland’s best falafel. That was fun.
haloumi and mint flatbreads
Adapted from Tony Kitous & Dan Lepard's Comptoir Libanais. In the original recipe you make the dough yourself.
- 1 block haloumi
- 4 medium size thin pitas / flatbreads
- salt, olive oil for drizzling
- sprinkle of black sesame seeds
- fresh mint
- Turn oven to 190C.
- Lay pitas out on an oven tray.
- Thinly slice haloumi and place over flatbreads.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Grill or bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the edges crisp up and the haloumi melts.
- Roughly chop the fresh mint and scatter over the breads when they're hot out of the oven.
Along with a soda stream (the best thing that's ever happened to me), a fluro pink lipstick called Candy Yum Yum, a Christmas tumbler with a removable snowglobe (new favourite drinking vessel), a print of a swan by Evie Kemp, and a block of Lewis Road butter, I received a microplane for Christmas. I squealed when I opened it (the enthusiasm probably partly due to the champagne and croissants I'd consumed earlier for breakfast) as I'd wanted one for ages but was genuinely suprised to have one in my hand. Microplane graters are the best: their design is based on woodworking tools apparently, and I was devastated a few years ago when my flatmate, who owned one of every shape and size, moved out.
Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and bacon
4 rashers bacon (I used Freedom Farms, streaky or rindless eye) cut into bite sized pieces
1 punnet cherry tomatoes (curious croppers summer medley are my current favourite)
2 cloves garlic (the fresh NZ stuff available at the moment is amazing) finely sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
A splash of cream (about 100mL)
Spaghetti, cooked al dente
salt and pepper, parmesan, and chopped fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish
In a large frying pan on low-medium heat, place a glug of olive oil and the onion and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes.
Add the bacon and increase the heat. Cook until it goes crispy. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes until they blister (cut larger ones in half before cooking if you need).
Still on a high heat, add the cream and then the spaghetti. Mix it together, and cook until the cream has reduced and thickened and coated the pasta.
Garnish and enjoy!