Tag Archives: garlic

Perfectly Perfect Mushrooms

It took me 45 years to enjoy the taste of mushrooms. I remember clearly going out on an Autumn morning with Mum toting a bucket, out to the back paddocks of the farm searching for field mushrooms. She used to cook them in a roux and have the grey-brown creamy concoction on toast for her breakfast. I couldn’t stand the smell. So bad.  I remember sitting outside waiting for it to dissipate.

After many years attempting I’ve succeeded in falling in love with the taste of mushrooms. Cooking them quite differently to Mum and using plenty of garlic and seasoning is the key. The thing with garlic is that if you add it too soon and cook it too hot for too long it burns and tastes acrid – so  knowing when to add it is vital.


2 cups mushrooms sliced chunky. Field, button or brown mushrooms will do – the thick sturdy kind, not the papery feathery kind.

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil / avocado oil.

1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thinly.

Salt and pepper

*Optional Squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a drizzle of balsamic reduction


Place a heavy based frypan on a medium heat. Add oil and mushrooms and stir as they heat up. They will start to brown after two minutes, and will overcook really easily so take care at this stage. Stir while sizzling for a further minute until they start to shrink – only a little bit of shrinking, you want plump juicy mushrooms not shriveled ones. Add the garlic and stir quickly to combine for 10 seconds and then turn the heat off. Allow mushrooms to sit in the garlic for a further minute infusing their flavor then remove to a serving dish. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, squeeze lemon juice or drizzle balsamic and serve immediately.

Use as a side dish at breakfast with eggs / avocado / tomatoes, or rolled into a savory crepe with grated cheddar, serve with lunch or dinner, or sprinkle with crumbled feta and chopped parsley   as a light meal or use in a burrito or taco. Very versatile.

Bon appetit!


Caramelised Vegetable Lasagne

My bro in law Rik concocted a similar dish last time I stayed with them. I ate it for dinner and then again for breakfast, the texture and flavour…

was SO GOOD!!!

The sticky caramelised vegetables completely rocked. So last week I thought I’d give it a go. The result was better than expected,  both of the staunch meat eaters in our house went back for seconds.

It took me a couple of days to make this because of the cooling time (I didn’t start until late in the day) – so plan ahead if you can. It’s a show stopper of a shared meal and freezes well so if there’s any left stash a few servings in the freezer for easy meals during the week.



½ of a Pumpkin. Remove seeds, cut into pieces approx 2cm wide. Leave skin on.

5 Gold Kumara (aka Sweet Potato). Slice into rounds approx 2cm wide.

5 Red Onions. Slice into wide strips.

3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar.

Fresh or Dried Lasagne Sheets. I used Delmaine Fine Foods Fresh Lasagne. Enough to cover the bottom of the baking dish twice.

6 large leaves Silverbeet (aka Swiss Chard). Sliced roughly.

2 Cups grated Tasty Cheese (add in some Parmesan if you like)

1 Tin Crushed Tomatoes

1 Tsp Raw Sugar

Dash of Balsamic Vinegar.

2 Cloves Garlic chopped finely.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt and Pepper


Turn oven on to a medium – med/ low heat. In a large baking dish layer the pumpkin and kumara, toss with a little EVOO, season with salt and pepper and place in the mid oven for about 90 minutes – until vegetables are starting to turn golden around the edges and are very soft and sticky. Set aside to cool. When the pumpkin is cool you can easily remove the skin – much easier than peeling while raw! At the same time place the onion in a separate baking dish, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and season. Cover with lid or tin foil and bake for 40 minutes until onion is soft. Remove and cool.

Take a deep baking dish (mine was approx 40 x 25cm) and smear a little EVOO on the bottom. Line with one layer of lasagne sheet. Distribute half of the pumpkin kumara mix and top that with half of the onion. Layer the silver beet on top and season with s & p, before placing another layer of lasagne sheet. You may have to press this down firmly as the raw silverbeet is a bit bouncy – but will flatten out nicely while cooking. Repeat the first two vegetable layers and then sprinkle grated cheese liberally over the top. Cover and bake in a medium oven for 45 minutes.

While it’s cooking take a frypan and place in the crushed tomatoes, garlic, a dash of balsamic vinegar and s & p. Bring to the boil while stirring and gently simmer for five minutes. Allow to stand.

After 45 minutes remove lasagne from the even and carefully remove lid – it will be steaming hot underneath so please be very careful. With a sharp knife cut the lasagne into 12 pieces. Take a ladle or large spoon and while drawing the cut edges back with the knife (or similar) spoon the freshly made tomato sauce into the cuts so that sauce goes to the bottom of the pan, and around the sides of the dish until it’s all used up. Place lasagne back in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.









Flat Bread

Auckland’s North Shore locals are lucky to have a selection of cafes and restaurants offering good food and excellent coffee. One of my all time favourites Sausalito adjoins the cute Bridgeway Cinema on Northcote Point. Famous for cranking out tasty meals in extra-quick-time Sausalito has a wood-fire oven lit early in the morning which burns all day long in the heart of the restaurant.

This recipe is an adaptation from Peter, Sausalito’s head chef. The recipe is quick to prepare and will take one minute to cook in  a wood-fire oven. If you are using a conventional oven make sure it’s piping hot and if you have a pizza stone pop it in the middle of the oven and crank up the heat before placing the bread to cook on top of the hot stone.

Makes 4 medium sized breads.

2.5 C self raising flour
2 C natural unsweetened yoghurt
1 tsp salt

Extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbs approx
1 head of garlic chopped finely / crushed
1 small onion chopped finely
Parmesan – optional
Fresh herbs – I used thyme, you can also use rosemary, chives, oregano, marjoram.
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Turn oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
Mix bread ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork. When combined turn out on to a floured surface and knead for one minute, adding flour when the mixture gets too sticky.
Form into a ball and stand for 30 minutes. *You can stand for longer – this recipe can be prepared ahead in the morning if you have lunch or dinner guests – simply smear a little olive oil over the top of the dough, cover with cling film and store in a cool dry place.

To Cook
Divide dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Take a ball, place on a floured surface and with a rolling pin or your fingers flatten it until about ¼ cm thick. Smear olive oil all over the top of the dough and then sprinkle with your choice of topping. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in a hot oven (on baking parchment if using a conventional oven) / wood-fire oven until starting to turn gold and bubbling.
Remove from heat, cut and serve immediately.

NB** If you are GF you can make this with GF self raising flour – it doesn’t stretch as easily as flour with gluten in it so remember to be gentle when rolling it out or flattening with your fingers.

This makes an excellent pizza base ! Roll out dough and cover with your favourite pizza toppings then bake as above.

bread 1

bread raw

bread fire

Chilli Lime Jam

Our garden is a perpetual experiment and this year I decided to grow chillies.

John at Tumbleweeds Garden Centre advised me to wait until the end of October but Tabasco went into the ground at the end of September and it was lovingly tended every day and kept under a cloche (an upturned 4 litre plastic bottle) to stay cosy for the first month or so.

Eight weeks later it started looking lively upon which Serrano, Jalapeño, Asian Fire and Thai Hot were dug in to keep it company.

This recipe uses a mixture of Asian Fire, Jalapeño and Serrano. I didn’t weigh them but there were 55 chillies harvested. Tabasco and Thai Hot are still getting there.

Viewing cooking as an ongoing experiment also, I have adapted this recipe from Annabel Langbein’s Chilli Jam. The fish sauce was omitted to make it relevant for vegans and vegetarians, sugar was decreased by a fair bit because I didn’t have enough in the cupboard, the amount of chillies and the amount of lime upped, fresh ginger decreased (on advice from friend Sonya Blennerhassett) and there are couple of other added ingredients as well.

As I was in the process of prepping the chillies a pair of sales people knocked on the front door. One was a friendly Indian guy who said that his mother always puts a few grinds of cracked black pepper in her Chilli jam to add texture and depth of flavour.

That’s in there too.

It tastes fresh hot and sweet and the lime really shines through. The consistency is chunky and sticky like home made marmalade without the big bits of peel.

This recipe yielded 4 x 400g jars plus 2 x 250g jars of jam.

Divide it by the relevant amount of chillies you have on hand.


55 medium – long chillies – ripe red or green or a mix of both. Stalks removed and chopped roughly.
3 large heads of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped roughly.
3 x 5cm pieces of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
10 cups of raw sugar
2.5 cups water
2.5 cups rice vinegar
12 limes, zest and juice.
3 tsp sea salt
Few grinds of fresh black pepper.

You will need: hygienic gloves made of latex or silicon to wear while prepping chillies. This is a must.


Place clean glass jars and lids into the oven on low to heat up and sterilise.

Place chillies, garlic and ginger into the food processor and blitz until mixture looks like a thick paste with little bits of chopped chilli visible.

Place this mixture and all other ingredients into a large saucepan and turn on to a medium heat stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.

Bring to the boil and lower heat to a simmer, stirring regularly to avoid it sticking on the bottom.

Cook in this way until the mixture has reduced by at least a third. This took nearly an hour of simmering for me – it may not take as long for you. Be really attentive so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

When it looks nearly done test consistency by putting a small teaspoonful onto a saucer and waiting for it to cool, taste to check if it needs more salt.

When the desired consistency has been reached turn off heat. Use a pyrex or heat proof jug to dip into the jam and pour into heated jars. Screw the lids on and leave to cool. Makes a nice gift and will keep for ages.