03 Jul // lunch in the country

A couple of friends and I jaunted up the Kapiti Coast this morning and had lunch at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Te Horo. It was a crisp winters day and the lunch, which was washed down with a couple of glasses of rose, was delicious.

We started with fresh bread and warmed ricotta and olives. That was followed by chicken pot pies with a green salad, which was dressed simply with some olive oil infused with lemon, and it could only really be described as liquid gold. We ended, so full, with orange, cardamom and almond cakes - these little gluten-free beauties were light, moist and - slathered in cream cheese icing - just perfect. Thanks to Robyn for sharing her recipes!

Chicken Pot Pies

For these, Robyn cooked off in the pot some chicken thighs with garlic and onion. She seasoned it well, then added some chopped green olives and some tinned tomatoes. Spooned into some ramekins, she then simply cut out a round of flaky puff pastry and tucked it over the top. Bake until the pastry is golden.

Orange and Cardamom Almond Cakes

These are adapted from two recipes - one is Nigella Lawson's from How to Eat and the other from an old delicious magazine.

  • 2 oranges (or 4-5 mandarins, about 375-400g)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Put your oranges or mandarins (whole) in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one-two hours.

Remove fruit and discard liquid. Allow to cool. Quarter the oranges and remove core and seeds. Process until smooth. Add sugar and process to combine, then add the eggs and continue blending. Transfer to a bowl, add the almonds, baking powder and cardamom. Bake in greased muffin pans for 25-30 minutes at 170*C.

Alternatively, Nigella makes hers as a whole cake, and her method involves beating the eggs, adding the almonds, sugar and baking powder and then the fruit, and mixing well. She bakes hers for an hour in a springform pan, at 190*C, and covers the cake in tinfoil for the last 20 minutes to stop the top burning.

The icing is made by mixing 500g of sifted icing sugar with 125g cream cheese, the juice of two lemons and 25g of unsalted butter. You'll see that Robyn added some fresh passionfruit pulp, but you could use zest, or flaked almonds or whatever takes your fancy. They're a perfect baked treat for using winter citrus, and are really quite easy. They epitomise what I love about cooking - seasonal, simple and impressive. An ideal winter Sunday.