Author Archive

  1. E tu Chicken Biryani

    April 25, 2013 by

    I was lucky enough to be visiting Waiheke Island for a pot luck dinner, when this dish turned up. I had never eaten a Biryani that I had liked before – from Indian takeaway joints, always too stodgy, or overpowered. I didn’t realise it was supposed to be a fragrant, light and pleasing dish. Hence, I’ve labelled this recipe “E tu chicken biryani”, because it’s the first one to stand-up for me (e tu is stand up in Te Reo).

    I’ve since experienced other nice Biryani, though never from a takeaway – it seems they miss out on some form of love quotient when preparing food. Or perhaps I just need to visit more upmarket Indian restaurants

    This recipe seems much simpler (less ingredients and steps) than other recipes I’ve seen on the web, but I am very happy with the results. Next on the agenda is to try Mamta Gupta’s Lamb Biryani recipe. And without further ado…


    The Recipe

    The basic idea is to make two dishes (the chicken and the rice) separately, then combine them before serving. When preparing your shopping list, remember to account for all quantities of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks, there are two lists of ingredients – about the same amount go into each dish. I almost ran out of cinnamon making a double recipe which needs 6 sticks in total!

    Don’t let the list of ingredients scare you either, it really is a simple dish that packs so much flavour.


    Chicken Ingredients:

    • 1 kg chicken pieces (medium sized)  or 1 medium sized chicken (cut into pieces)
    • 2 onions, finely chopped
    • 1 can of (peeled and chopped) tomatoes (approx. 400g)
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 2 cloves (whole)
    • 2 cardamom pods (whole)
    • 3 bay leaves (optional)
    • 6 tbsp oil (for frying)
    • Fresh coriander

    Spices for Chicken

    • 2 tsp ginger (crushed)
    • 2 tsp garlic (crushed)
    • 2 tsp dry chili powder
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp ground tumeric
    • ½ tsp garam masala
    • 2 tsp salt

    Method (Chicken)

    1. In a wide saucepan, heat oil on high.
    2. Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and cloves and fry until they turn a dark brown.
    3. Add the bay leaves and onions, fry until light brown.
    4. Add the tomatoes, all the spices. Stir and cook on a medium heat until the juice/water from the tomatoes has mostly evaporated.
    5. Add the chicken pieces, stir and cover with a lid. Simmer on medium heat. Do not add any water. Stir occasionally. Allow 40 – 45 minutes for the chicken to cook through.


    Rice Ingredients:

    • 2 cups Basmati Rice
    • 3 ½ cups of water (if rice is not soaked), or 3 cups if soaked an hour before
    • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
    • 3 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2 cardamom pods (whole)
    • 2 cloves (whole)

    Method (Rice)

    1. Wash rice (until water is clean)
    2. In a pan, add the ghee, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods. Fry until dark brown.
    3. Add the rice and water, then mix in the salt and coconut.
    4. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium to simmer until water content is halved. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.


    To serve…

    Mix the chicken and rice dishes together in a tray. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with riata or plain yoghurt, as well as some crispy fried onions as a garnish that will make this dish really hum!

    Last time I cooked this dish, I de-boned all the chicken pieces before serving. It’s important to have the bones in during the cooking for added flavour, but found it nice and simple (and even) for feeding a large group of people.



  2. Banoffee Loaf, Oh Baby!

    April 4, 2012 by

    Kindly provided by from an archive (Thanks Kelly), this used to be published on one of their blogs (with an unknown author, please contact me) – it’s decidedly delicious, topped with a sprinkle of sugar and kaffir lime leaves which really sets it off.

    Makes: 2 large loaves


    • ½ tin Nestlé Highlander Caramel
    • 1 ¼ cups sugar
    • ½ cup butter, softened
    • 2 eggs
    • About 4-5 bananas
    • 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
    • 2 ½ cups regular flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • To garnish — 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded thinly; 2 tbsp brown sugar

    How to make:

    1. Preheat the oven to 220* fan-forced. Spray two large loaf tins with baking spray and line with cooking paper.
    2. Spoon 1/2 tin caramel into a small bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter, eggs, bananas, vanilla essence, flour, baking soda, salt, and caramel. Use electric beaters set on medium-low and mix until everything is combined, but don’t beat too long (batter will be thick and lumpy).
    4. Spoon mixture into lined pans. If desired, sprinkle tops of loaves with shredded kaffir lime leaves and 1 tbsp each brown sugar.
    5. Bake for 30 minutes, then check with a skewer. You may need to cover the tops of the loaves with foil to prevent further browning (they get very caramel-coloured very fast). Bake for a further 15-25 minutes if necessary, checking with skewer every 5-10 minutes to check for doneness. Loaves will be quite soft in the centre.
    6. When loaves are finished baking, remove from oven and immediately turn out onto a wire rack to prevent further cooking in tin.


  3. Unauthentic Chinese Marinated Chicken

    September 12, 2011 by

    This was probably one of the first Chinese style dishes we used to make as kids growing up in rural New Zealand. I’m not sure how authentic it would be, though it was pretty exotic at the time. Anyway, I’m sure they have Watties Tomato Sauce in China – heck, it’s probably made there.

    We normally have this as a party style finger food, but is also great as a meal with some home made egg fried rice and steamed bok-choy.


    • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
    • 2 tbsp Liquid Honey
    • 3 tbsp Tomato Sauce
    • 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
    • 3 tbsp Soy Sauce
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    1. Mix all together and marinate chicken wings or pieces at least 2 hours, or overnight.
    2. Bake in a hot oven (200°C) for approximately 25-30 minutes, basting frequently.

  4. Beef Stroganoff as decided by Dave

    January 12, 2010 by

    A short while ago, I realised I’d never cooked a Stroganoff before. I guess I’m not really that into mushrooms. (Isn’t that a recent romantic comedy or something?) I had a look at what the interweb masses seem to agree on for ingredients and gave the following a whurl as an experimental treat for my Mum. I have to say it was a pretty damned nice,  I even think she had two helpings.

    When cooking like this I also tend to taste the sauce as I’m making it and only using small approximate amounts for the mustard and tomato paste, then tasting and adding more if needed. I think the cut of meat is important too – I usually choose to use scotch fillet which always seems to give a very tender result.

    What you’ll need (although these values are approximations):

    • 500 – 700gms of thinly sliced beef (I used a thick cut Scotch Fillet and sliced it very thinly, but you could use Eye Fillet or Rump too)
    • 1 small Onion (sliced)
    • 1 clove of Garlic
    • a bunch of Mushrooms (sliced, about the same mass as the beef)
    • 1 tbsp Paprika (Smoked if you have it, but normal will do nicely – Use more to taste)
    • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
    • 1 tbsp of Tomato Paste
    • a knob of Butter
    • Oil for frying
    • about 2 shots of Brandy (no, not one for you, one for the recipe – they both go in)
    • a cup of beef stock (real stock if you can)
    • 2-3 tbsp of Sour Cream
    • Flour (for dusting)
    • Salt and Pepper

    How to do it:

    1. Heat a large frying pan, and fry onion in butter until softened a little, add mushrooms and garlic, and brown. Remove from pan.
    2. Season flour with salt, pepper (I prefer white pepper here) and a dash of paprika. Dust the thin beef strips in flour, and fry in batches over a medium high heat, adding a little oil as needed. The thin meat cooks quick, so be attentive and if you don’t crowd the pan, it’ll brown much easier. Remove to a warmed plate as the pieces of beef are browned.
    3. Deglaze the pan with brandy, add mustard, tomato paste, paprika and beef stock, stir until combined and simmering, then add the browned beef, onions and mushrooms back to the pan. Coat the meat with the sauce, and simmer gently for a few minutes. You may need to add more stock or hot water, if it doesn’t look saucy enough.
    4. Taste and adjust seasoning. You want just a hint of paprika to come through, so you might want add a little more to taste.
    5. Before serving, stir in the sour cream to make the colour a pale brown.
    6. Traditionally pasta was served with this yummy dish. I’d recommend cutting some nice thick ribbons from a fresh lasagne sheet of pasta (Parpadelle). We serve ours with boiled rice which I think is more commonly accepted 🙂


  5. Vivan’s Mulled Wine

    May 21, 2009 by

    Don’t be tempted to buy those cruddy premade ‘convenient’ sachets for making mulled wine – you’re ripping yourself off both in cost, flavour and fun 🙂 It’s a great wintery beverage, and depending on how much water you add, your non wine drinking friends might like it too. And the recipe is so simple, I really wonder why the even bother selling sachets.

    What you’ll need:
    A bottle of Red Wine (750mls)
    A zesty fruit like an Orange or a Lemon
    A bit of water
    2 Cinnamon quills/sticks
    3-4 Cloves
    3 heaped tbsp Sugar

    Gently does it:

    1. Set a pot on the stove on it’s gentlest temperature and add your wine (you can also gently heat it on the top of your fire/log burner).
    2. Add about a glass of water (of course, if you’re hardcore you may prefer not to add water, but it makes  a lighter drink and goes a little further too) – you can add more to taste, depending on the wine.
    3. Peel the Orange or Lemon (with a vegetable peeler) and add the zest only to the pot with the cloves, cinnamon quills and sugar. As a general rule, I use about 3 small palms full of sugar, which I guess is about 3 heaped tablespoons – I’ve used white sugar and organic raw sugar. Both work equally nice.
    4. Stir often to dissolve the sugar and infuse the wine with the spices. Don’t let it simmer or boil. The idea is to gently heat and infuse.
    5. Taste and adjust the sugar or water to taste.
    6. Drink straight away, or you can let it sit to keep warm on a very gentle fire, but its best drunk hot.
    7. Serving is easiest with a soup ladle and into short wine glasses, and see who gets the random clove at the end – there’s always one the get’s through.

    Wine choice:

    I prefer a Shiraz, Shiraz Cabernet or Cabernet Sauvignon for mulled wine and while it may hurt to spend $20 on a nicer bottle, of course it’s much nicer. Some people argue its a waste too, so each to their own. I prefer a Peter Lehmanns (mmm, Barossa Valley), but a Jacobs Creek is quite good too, and can be regularly found on special at the super market. Our last attempt used a Wyndym Estate which turned out great.

    That said, this is also a bloody good way to get rid of that cheap bottle someone left at a dinner party. Not only does it remove the label from eyesight (and you can deftly avoid questions about it when people ask, or simply vague out), it makes even banrock station and ruben hall almost drinkable – yey water!

    There you have it. An enjoyable drink to celebrate winter. Good on its own, or with dinner (or should I say, supper) with some nice homemade soup and bread in front of a warm fire. Try it a few times, play with the amount of ingredients to suit your tastes – the recipe is very basic so don’t be shy.


  6. Moroccan Lamb Stew

    August 10, 2008 by


    Olive Oil (for frying)
    1.5 Kg Lamb (Neck chops, or other stewing cut)
    1 Onion
    2 Cloves of Garlic (or more)
    Large chunk of Ginger
    400g Tomatoes (Tinned)
    Stock (preferably Real Stock – Lamb or Beef)
    ½ glass Red Wine
    1 tbsp ground Cumin (or more to taste)
    1 tbsp ground Coriander (or more to taste)
    2 Cinnamon Sticks
    2-3 Bay Leaves
    Fresh Chili (or ½ tsp chili powder to suit your taste)
    Fresh Coriander
    Handful of dried Prunes
    Handful of dried Apricots
    Salt and pepper

    Making it:

    • Brown the lamb in batches in a cast iron casserole dish. Remove lamb and set aside.
    • In the remaining fat, cook the onions for a bit. Then add the ground cumin, coriander and chili stir and cook briefly. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.
    • Arrange the lamb back in dish so it sits nicely on the bottom with the onions on top. Season with salt and pepper and add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, chopped garlic, tomatoes and stock (or water) so that the lamb is ‘almost’ covered (i.e. not drowning in liquid).
    • Cook in the oven on a low heat (140°C) for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can simmer it on the stove top for the same amount of time.
    • About half way through the cooking time, add the grated ginger.
    • Add the dried prunes and apricots about 15 minutes before serving.
    • Serve with the fresh coriander ripped on top, with cous cous or rice.


  7. Sticky Date Pudding and the Sea of Caramel, Oh Yeah!

    July 25, 2008 by

    Elize made this for us the first time – it’s hands down the best sticky date pudding I’ve had since I recently found an appreciation for dates.

    For the pudding you’ll need:
    1½ cups Dates, pitted and chopped
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    150 mls Boiling Water
    125 grams Butter
    ¾ cup Sugar
    2 Eggs
    1 heaped cup Self Raising Flour

    And for the sauce:
    3 cups Soft Brown Sugar
    75 grams Butter
    300 mls Cream
    1tsp Vanilla Essence

    Making the pudding:

    1. In a bowl, sprinkle dates with baking soda, pour water over, stir and then stand for 10 – 15 minutes
    2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
    3. Stir in flour, then date date mixture.
    4. Pour into a deep, well greased tin and bake at 190°C for 30 – 35 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
    5. Allow pudding to stand in the tin while you prepare the sauce.

    Preparing the sauce:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
    2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Pour a bit of the sauce (approx. 4 tablespoons) over the cooked pudding and return it to the oven to soak in and bubble.

    Serve a slice of the pudding with enough sauce to create the sea of caramel, and maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped (or fresh) cream. Oh Yeaaah.

    Enjoy. Try not to have seconds though 😉

  8. Robert Rodriguez’s Puerco Pibil

    June 20, 2008 by

    Dave, Banana leaves and Robert Rodriguez's Puerco PibilWhile I didn’t think too much of the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico“, I have the utmost respect for Robert Rodriguez’s 10 minute cooking school in the DVD extras for the movie. This dish is the one Johnny Depp’s assassin character (Agent Sands) is always eating in the movie and ends up ‘whacking’ the chef of some exceptionally good Puerco Pibil.

    Ever since seeing the snippet, I’ve wanted to cook this dish and recently at my 30th birthday I finally did, and with great result. Everyone seemed to love it, and it disappeared pretty bloody quick.

    We didn’t get a photo of the end result because it disappeared waaaaaaay to quick. So here’s me, the banana leaves from down the back of the yard, and my marinaded pork that I had ‘set aside’ earlier.

    In New Zealand, getting hold of the key ingredient (besides the pork) was a bit of a mission. I found the Annato seeds from Mexi Foods in Dunedun and orders a descent size bag for $10 (although I didn’t use the credit card form, because they don’t t say what company takes the payments – they possibly just email your credit card info to themselves, which isn’t too good, but that’s just my assumption).

    Then, once you’ve got those (and some banana leaves from my back yard) you’re good to go. Here is the 10 minute cooking school clip from youtube. Although, whoever uploaded this cut out the scene when Robert tells us to marinade the pork overnight.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    Sticky Tape
    Oh wait, that was the idea I wanted to send in to play school.

    Here’s what you’ll really need:

    For the Achiote Paste:

    5 tbsp annatto seeds
    2 tbsp cumin seeds
    1 tbsp black peppercorns
    8 pieces allspice
    ½ tsp cloves

    In a spice grinder/mill grind all the ingredients for the Achiote Paste into a fine powder.

    The the dish itself:

    2.6kg of pork shoulder or scotch cut into 5cm cubes (Americans say 5lbs pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes – those crazy yanks)
    banana leaves
    ½ cup fresh orange juice
    ½ cup white vinegar
    2 tbsp salt
    Juice of 5 lemons
    8 cloves garlic
    2 habanero peppers, chopped (habanero’s are pretty hard to find in New Zealand, just use 2-4 available chillies according to taste – although how you taste a chilli I’m unsure)
    1 shot (or so) of the finest quality tequila you can manage

    The method:

    1. In a blender, blend annatto paste (spices), garlic, orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, chillies, tequilia and salt until smooth and well mixed.
    2. In a large zip lock bag, add pork and the blended mixture and jiggle until evenly coated.
    3. Leave in the fridge overnight to marinade.
    4. Preheat oven to 175°C 160°C (325°F).
    5. Line a deep roasting dish with the banana leaves, dump the pork mixture into the disk and cover with another layer of banana leaves.
    6. Cover tightly with tin foil so the steam can’t escape and bake for 4 hours.
    7. When it finally comes out, it should all fall apart when you dig a fork into it.

    Serve on a bed of white rice, and some nice crunchy mild peppers, or try shredding the meat and eat it like a fajita in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato and sour cream.


    PS: I have loads of annato seeds left if someone close want to try the recipe out 🙂

  9. Dave’s Scotch Fillet of Beef on Bok Choy

    May 10, 2008 by

    This one is an awesome tasty dish for when you’re busy – and its really simple. The preparation is quick and most of the cooking can happen simultaneously. If you haven’t got a nice cast iron frying pan, you might as well go get some KFC now and save yourself some culinary heartache – no wait – oh never mind.

    What you’ll need for serving 2 (or even three for a light meal):

    2 Scotch Fillet Steaks
    2-3 heads of Bok Choy (The smaller Shanghai variety is the best)
    A handful of pinenuts, or a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, or crushed peanuts, or some chili cashews
    Seasalt, Pepper and preferably garlic flakes (or fresh garlic)
    A glug of oil (for cooking, I use grapeseed or olive oil)
    A drizzle of good quality olive oil


    • Preheat your frying pan (hopefully you have a nice thick bottom cast-iron frying pan or skillet, there is no guarantee your steak will be very nice if you use one of those horrible non-stick aluminum ones, yuk!) and prepare a large pot of salted water to boil the Bok Choy.
    • Season the steaks evenly on both sides with the salt, pepper and garlic flakes. Then thinly coat with oil and let sit until the pan is hot hot.
    • When the pan is hot hot, add the oiled steaks. You won’t need more oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or you’ll suck the life out of your heat and end up with something tough.
    • Cook quickly for a few minutes on each side according to your preference (but turn it only once!). We like ours medium-rare, so it stays nice and tender.
    • Pull the Bok Choy leaves apart and wash. Slice down the middle, so they become long bite-size-esque slivers, and add to the boiling water. Cook for about 2 minutes, then drain in a colander.
    • Remove the steaks and let rest on a warm plate until you’re ready to carve.
    • Thow the pinenuts or mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds into the still hot pan and wiggle around in the juices and oils left from the steak. Careful not to burn them. If you’re using crushed peanuts or chili cashews, they’re okay not heated.
    • Place a lump (there is no better word!) of Bok Choy, heaped, in the middle of each plate.
    • Slice the steaks into thin strips (hopefully the outside is nice and brown and the inside has a nice strip of red) and arrange over the top of the Bok Choy.
    • Sprinkle with the seeds or nuts, a smidge of freshly ground pepper and a little dribble of good quality olive oil and serve.

    The juices from the steak will mix into the Bok Choy as you eat it, and the seeds add a little bit of texture to the dish. It’s soooo good.

  10. Dave’s CousCous Salad with Feijoa, Lime and Coriander

    May 1, 2008 by

    This salad is a random invention where we had too many Feijoas and needed to make our cous-cous more interesting and tastalising.

    What we used:

    2 bags of “boil in the bag” cous cous
    4 feijoas (skinned and diced)
    ½ small red onion (sliced)
    1 lime (zest and juice)
    knob of butter
    bunch of fresh coriander
    good quality olive oil
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    1. Prepare couscous as per packet instructions (usually boil in the bag in lots of salted water for 1.5 minutes, then drain excess water).
    2. In a small frying pan, gently sweat the onion in a little butter or oil until soft. Try not to brown them.
    3. While the cous cous is still out, place in a bowl and season well (don’t be scared now, season it damnit!), a knob of butter and fork through until combined.
    4. Add onion, finely grated zest of the lime, and coriander and loosely combine.
    5. Add the fejoas – be careful not to squish them – and loosely combine.
    6. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
    7. Toss a few more coriander leaves on top as a garnish
    8. Mix lime juice and good quality olive oil (1:1 ratio) and drizzle over the salad to suit your tastes.

    Serve with marinated chicken thighs or wings from Sam’s Kitchen and mesculin side salad dressed with olive oil (and lime juice if you have some left over).