Saturday, 5 July 2014

One Flourishing Feijoa Season

Flourishing and fleeting. Two words that describe the highly sort-after and short lived season of the Feijoa. You know the drill, as the autumn season approaches we are welcomed with small supermarket batches at sky high prices. But if we wait, our patience is rewarded with significant price drops or bucket–load deliveries from aunties, cousins, neighbours and friends. I'm sure all you feijoa lovers can agree, it's truly a fabulous time of year.

Birds/Bees eye view.

The ultimate feijoa connoisseur in my eyes was my Poppa Lionel. He was a great man, hardworking, humble and very resourceful. And boy did he know his feijoas. I can still picture him standing in his kitchen, peeling the skin off each individual green gem ever so carefully, with a very sharp knife, as to not waste a millimetre of that sweet, tarty goodness. Into the pot they would go, with a dash of water and brown sugar to be softened and stewed. He loved having a big dollop atop his creamy morning porridge or warmed weetbix, with an extra bowl for his grateful grand daughter.  Lionel the feijoa legend. It’s rather humbling to know that my feijoa passion is genetic.

Straight from the tree. 

In true R.T.M. fashion when there is food to be enjoyed – cake is not far from the equation. First off was a spin on a favourite recipe, using the base cake from the trusty Raspberry-Coconut Slice here. I combined fresh feijoas, roasted rhubarb, coconut, vanilla and white chocolate. A simple, moist and special cake, allowing each of the flavours to sing in harmony. I jazzed it up a little with a jug of coconut custard – using coconut milk as the base, heilala vanilla bean paste and sweetened with maple syrup. My role was to play the middle-man in this cake journey. Sent from one thoughtful Dunedin based lady to her Auckland friend! Secret squirrel cake deliveries are surely becoming a thing.

Feijoa. Rhubarb. Coconut. White Chocolate. Cake.

The next cake was crafted out of a combination of late-night boredom, leftover salted caramel and a feijoa frenzy in the fruit bowl. A fragrant cinnamon vanilla cake dotted with juicy scooped feijoa halves, drizzled with salted caramel and wrapped completely in a white chocolate and salted caramel buttercream.  I had some fun with the piping bag on this baby. And word on the street was sweet, sweet satisfaction.

A Salted Caramel Feijoa encasement.

As the months get cooler, incorporating the healthful benefits of fresh ginger becomes a priority and a pleasure. I love the spicy depth that ginger brings and how it is so versatile in both sweet and savoury dishes. I retreated to my trusty Ripe Deli bible to consult another stunning recipe – this Feijoa and Ginger Layer Cake. Using both fresh and ground ginger in the cake base it was filled with layers of ginger-stewed feijoas and a few walnuts for crunch. All brought together by a fresh ginger spiked cream cheese icing. Feijoa and Ginger are old souls and this cake provided the perfect recipe to welcome a special friend for her big city visit.

Gingery Feijoa Layers.

With all those feijoas on hand I was determined to incorporate some into a savoury dish or dinner of some sort. Success came in the way of a Grilled Salmon Fillet with a Feijoa Salsa. Combined with red onion, chopped radish, mint, lemon juice and a handful of baby spinach leaves. With two of my favourites on one plate this intriguing combination was destined for greatness and thoughtfully devoured. 

Salmon & Salsa.

With fruit bowls still overflowing these lean, mean and green feijoa-laden breakfast options were going down a treat. First, a blended 'one bowl wonder' featuring feijoas, frozen banana, spinach, celery, rocket, mint, vanilla, cinnamon, maca and coconut water topped with chia seeds and toasted hazelnuts. Phew. So refreshing, so filling and so packed full of goodness. The kind of breakfast that after consumption you feel just about as good as Lara Bingle looks. 

Lean, green & mean. 

Finally an invention test, wait for it…Green Oats! Pureed/blended spinach, water, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, honey to sweeten, oats and feijoa pulp - embraced together by boiling on the stove. Served with natural yoghurt and a few slices of fresh feijoas. Nutritious AND delicious. I empathise that the thought of ‘green porridge’ may sound horrifying to some people. But if you close your eyes I promise you won’t know any different.
The Green Goblin of Porridge.

So with just a trace of their existence remaining, we embrace their fleeting visit. And anticipate the fine Feijoa's return in 2015. X

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Culinary Creations in Collectif Magazine.

The collaboration of young people and their creative talents is a truly glorious and wonderful thing. Some of which I have had the privilege and pleasure of being a part of. Collectif Magazine is an illustrious example of the vision and passion of aspiring creatives - an intriguing combination of Art, Fashion and Culture. Onto it's seventh issue, it has gained a strong following. With a range of contributors sharing their work throughout the newsprint pages.

Feijoa. Chia. Ginger. Pudding.

After Katering for their Issue 6 launch party late last year, Sophie Peacocke, one of the Founders and Creative Director entrusted me enough to incorporate a few recipes in this years Winter Issue. After a few days of recipe development and taste-testing (poor me!) I settled on three toothsome options.

Sneak Peak. Pg 27.

Pumpkin Citrus Fritz. 

As the article reads - Two Things Sweet and One Thing Citrus. I opted to share the Autumn/Winter joy with recipes for...

  • Feijoa & Ginger Chia Seed Pudding
  • Homemade Bounty Bars
  • Pumpkin Miso & Zucchini Fritters w. Citrus Yoghurt Dressing
A Bounty awaits.

One sunny friday afternoon, Soph and I played around in the cute wee vintage kitchen at the back of Terrarium. Shooting and styling a few quirky snaps to bring the words and ingredients to life. With an exceptional array of antique cutlery and utensils to choose from and Soph's creative flair and talent behind the camera we captured the essence and simplicity of each dish. With a four page spread for Relish the memory, and a few too many bounty bars, I am humbled and honoured to have pitched in for this issue.

Behind the lens.

Collectif Magazine is a FREE publication that can be picked up from a range of outlets throughout NZ. Check out their Facebook page for a range of stockists, including Auckland based: Black Box Boutique, Magnation Ponsonby, Terrarium and Kokako Cafe Grey Lynn. Grab a copy of Issue No. 7, spread the word and head to Page 26 to feed your creative mind and soul.

Pick me.

And finally an end to the blog-post drought and an oath to contribute with regularity and persistence for what remains of 2014. I'll be back, very soon. x

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A City and Herb so Fresh it’s MINT: Part 2.

Back again with a few more Minty Melbourne Tales. Starting with a mint-laden meal shared with a few of my faves in the funky district of Fitzroy. A casual Greek-inspired restaurant that goes by the name: Jimmy Grants. This was the perfect midweek munch, with a menu featuring souvas or souvlakis, crunchy flavoursome salads, spit-roasted meat, tasty sides and plenty of persuasive options to have you finishing up on sweet street.

Jimmy G's Sweet Spread ft. Prawn Attiki & all that Fresh Mint! 

Run by the culinary genius George Calombaris – after watching him as Judge on Australian Masterchef and his recent guest appearance on NZ Masterchef – it’s not hard to see why this food tasted awesome. With his effervescent passion for food and the young vibrant team, they run a pretty 'hip' ship both in the real world and in cyber space. With just a touch of that Greek wit managing to shine through on every plate and Instagram pic. See for yourself here - @jimmygrants

Chips & Dips. The Best kind.

As expected we ordered a little bit of everything. From the ‘Bonegilla’ Souva filled with lamb + chicken + mustard aioli + chips + onion + parsley, to the ‘Homer’ stuffed with falafels + greek yoghurt + hellenic slaw through to the ‘Patris’ (my pick) packed with prawns + attiki honey + mayo + cucumber + coriander and that wee gem herself, mint. Each was a genuinely joyous combo wrapped in a soft, pillowy yet delightfully chewy pita bread. Simple and so god dam delicious. No fancy price tag here either, each souva costs less than $9 and all were devoured within minutes.

Glory Bowls ft. Iceberg Salad & Hellenic Slaw. 

Our accompaniments went by the name of Hellenic slaw - shredded cabbage with honey & balsamic dressing, then came the classic Iceberg Salad - dressed with oregano, lemon and olive oil. Finally one (or was it two?) plates of chips, spiked with garlic oil, feta & oregano. Each dish had me licking the bowl for every last fleck of greek-greatness. Jimmy Grants was a definite highlight on the trip, so unpretentious, so affordable and so very quintessential Melbourne. A must-visit if you find yourself across the ditch.

'Jimmy's Wheel' took us to the end of Sweet Street with a Giant Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jam Mallow puff. 

My final mint memoir was the last hurrah – in the form of a cocktail enjoyed with my mother at the Melbourne airport. Not one to normally hit the cocktails, the combination of Bacardi white rum, lime, sugar syrup, soda water and fresh mint seemed to twist my arm and this refreshing bevvy went down a treat. 

Ice Cold & Mint. 

Since Melbourne, Mint has been incorporated into as many meals and dishes as possible, at any time of the day. From sweet minty morning omelettes, to flavouring salad bowls, whizzed into smoothies and freshening up my water bottle. I may or may not have gone mad about mint.

Despite a lack in mint of the fresh kind, the next destination was a must-try and one I simply had to include. A place that truly did make my Melbourne trip MINT! Gelato Messina is the godfather of all gelato. If you know your gelato – you’ll know Messina and if not, you probably should. With a few stores throughout Australia it has quickly become something of an institution and it's not hard to see why. 

One freezer of five. Mint (the Choc version) included!

Classic flavours are made fresh daily, along with a handful of weekly specials the smooth spoonfuls of heaven were knocking on the door of my life highlights. You can only imagine my face when I saw the variety on offer.  The phrase ‘I die!’ somehow felt like understatement.

Decision made. One of the best of my life.

With flavours including: The Mighty GM – Peanut Butter Gelato w/ Choco Crust, Chocolate Custard, Banana Jam & Peanut Cream, to Pretty Shady – Passionfruit Sorbet w/ Coconut Lychee & Black Sesame Praline, to Pannacotta with Fig Jam & Amaretti Biscuits. Dribbling yet? Then there’s their signature flavour range featuring: Salted Caramel & White Chocolate, Apple Pie, Chocolate Sorbet, Bounty and Baklava. We were served by a gorgeous foreign girl, who sensed our excitement and more than happily provided us with ‘testers’ of her top ten flavours. After more 'OMG YUM' moments than a girl could count , I was faced with decision time. Which flavour would make the cup?

Take Two. Lunch is served ft. Tiramisu, Pistachio & Salted Coconut & Mango.

After several minutes of deliberation I opted for three (very generous) scoops of the following: Pear & White Balsamic, Poached Figs in Masala and the stunning Salted Coconut & Mango. All three were simply incredible, so good that three more giant scoops became lunch on my final day. This second time I went a touch more traditional with Tiramisu, Pistachio and  more of that Salted Coconut & Mango glory. Take my word on it – you don’t mess with Messina. x

Thursday, 6 March 2014

A City and Herb so Fresh it’s MINT: Part 1.

Two words. Mint + Melbourne. Both signature parts of the recent adventure that inspired, excited and tantalised tastebuds. A delightful mother-daughter trip across the ditch to taste the hub of cutting edge cuisine and enjoy the food-lovers playground that is, Melbourne City. With a simple herb making its presence known on various plates throughout the weekend, it was the excessive dose of fresh Mint that made our trip all the more memorable.

And so it began: DIY Rice Paper Rolls w. Peanut Sauce & Minty Corn Fritters. 

After being on the list for a few years now, I had prepared my senses to explore, smell, watch, touch, listen and ultimately taste what the Melbourne food scene had to offer. I acquired a range of research outlets to help me on my adventure – Google searching, instagram scrolling/stalking, emailing and gathering advice from local and respected food-loving personnel. Basically every meal was booked out well before I left the ground. 

As you can imagine there are far too many meals (ahem calories) to share in one post. So without further or do I give you just a few of my mint-related morsels and Melbourne moments.

Simplicity wins once again. 

Let’s start with ‘Fresh Mint Tea’, this tall luscious glass of boiling water and a wad of that cooling, fragrant herb. Found at the sparkling new Allpress Roastery in Collingwood, Melbourne. This local, flagship store is a welcome addition to the successful kiwi-born coffee empire. With a winning combination of sublime coffee, intriguing food, magically crafted architecture and a sunny courtyard to forget all life’s worries. I also know a certain creative creature that plays here, a truly talented artist both in and out of the kitchen.

A definite dining highlight was the Melbourne restaurant legend known as Chin Chin. This culinary machine focused on thoughtful and attentive service with glorious food from all over South East Asia. With a full, buzzing restaurant and lines out the door – (just to put your name on the waiting list!) our 5.30pm dinner date was replaced with an hour and a half wait, and a pleasant beverage at the nearby Rooftop Bar. Never one to stress about waiting for sort-after food, my world first problem was not how long til we eat, but more, ‘how the hell do I chose what to order!?!’ 

Spicy Corn & Coriander Fritters w. Chilli Jam, Iceberg wedges & Fresh Mint leaves! 
I can assure you, that despite the pun everything really was MINT. And true to its Asian flair many of the dishes starred this luscious fragrant herb. Spicy Corn & Coriander Fritters served with chilli jam and lettuce cups (I see you drooling) were assembled and devoured instantaneously. These little beauties were sensational, such a perfect balance of flavour, spice and texture. Crunchy iceberg shells, encased the crispy fried fritters, filled with sweet, juicy corn kernels, peppery coriander, a dollop of punchy chilli jam and finished with that single fragrant mint leaf.

Caramelised Pork + Crispy Barramundi + Green Apple Mint Salad. Done.

As Miss Piggy has mentioned before here, you’ll be hard pressed to see me by-pass a pork belly on any menu. However this dish was Mums choice, and boy was it a good one. Crispy Barramundi with Green Apple Salad & Caramelised Pork. Such an intriguing combination, that made so much sense. Encouraged by the waiter to share a bite of fish, salad and pork all together, was advice I did not need to be told twice. Words escape me. The pork drenched in caramel was next level amazing, cut through by the crunch and freshness of the apple mint salad. It was enriched even further by the golden, firm and flavoursome barramundi. Too good! All elements had their place, and with its companions - coriander and kaffir lime – for me the mint brought it together in perfect harmony. 

Despite a lack of mint, this final dish lacked nothing else: Spiced Coconut Curry with Fried Silken Tofu, Boiled Egg & Okra. Note the Roti to the right. Heavenly.

After perusing their cookbook, it was no surprise to hear that over 500 servings of this dish are sold every week at Chin Chin. And I felt pretty special to have demolished one of them. We returned inspired, gifting the cookbook to our own culinary goddess. Following an afternoon well-spent in the kitchen with my favourite cook, we produced a seriously good rendition of the Spicy corn fritters, along with Red Curry of Roast Duck with Lychees, Pork & Peanut with Cassava crackers, a bloody good attempt on the Yellow Curry of Roast Pumpkin with Grilled Tofu and finally our take on that winning Fish/Pork/Salad combo using Kingfish, a Chinese-style Pork belly and that zingy refreshing salad. Our extended food-loving family were left replete and seriously impressed. Not one to rave about her cooking even the lady of the house was blown away with our efforts. 

Our efforts ft. Kingfish & Chinese-style Pork Belly & plenty of toasted peanuts, coriander & fresh mint!

On the back of a busy summer this feasting excursion was my idea of the perfect holiday. Despite being over a month on each mouthful is still so vivid in my mind, and I haven't even got to the gelato yet! Plenty more to be shared…Part 2 coming soon. x