Tag Archives: New Zealand

IN PRAISE OF FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE NEW ZEALAND, WAIHEKE ISLAND and the NORTH

I do like New Zealand and every time I visit I praise and enjoy its extraordinary food culture. Not to mention the amazing scenery.

There is so much fresh and flavoursome produce in shops, farmers markets and roadside stalls – ‘gate to the plate’, so as to speak.

Kumera (Sweet Potato ) baked in local Waiheke honey and thyme.

Restaurants and eateries where the owners or chefs grow or source their produce locally are not scarce.

Fish too is local and staff in shops or in restaurants seem ready and eager to answer questions about their suppliers.

…that is if the produce is not already labelled or written about in the menu i.e. line caught tuna supplied by a trusted small fishery.

Menus highlight the production of New Zealand’s local and wide-ranging supply of produce and fine wines.

We have friends on Waiheke Island so Auckland and Waiheke are always a must on each visit.

On this occasion we  were able to view the amazing sculptures on Waiheke Island (Headland Sculpture on the Gulf). Above, artist=Paora Toi-Te Rangiuaia.

Below , artist=Robert Jahnke Kaokao

Who needs the Venice Biennale…they have their own!

Below , artist= Virginia King

On this trip we hired a campervan and travelled to the Bay of Islands. Ever since my first trip to NZ I have been impressed by the apparent and increasing awareness and appreciation of organics and of locally-produced produce.

Of course great and diverse produce is more apparent in places like Waiheke but as we travelled around we found satisfactory local produce in the 4Squre stores and in supermarkets….local sweetcorn or avocados were  5  for $5.00.

Below  New Zealand Spinach (also known as Warrigal Greens) growing on Waiheke in our friend’s garden.

We even bought local fresh produce from the local garage, opportunity shop or news agent in country locations.

On beaches around Opononi I found some samphire and some wild fennel near Rawene.

We bought some local fish, picked some blackberries and I used all those ingredients that night for a meal.

I picked some blackberries and we ate them with some fresh cream.

Pity the prickly pears weren’t ripe! We could have pretended to be in Sicily!

It is amazing how in limiting circumstances, how little one needs to make food flavourful and healthy.

I cooked the above fish (very simply…what else can you do in a campervan!

Fish sautéed in red wine

I pan fried in a light amount of extra virgin olive oil, fish turned once – it will only need about one minute on each side,  add salt, pepper, a few herbs. Remove fish and then add about 3 tablespoons of red wine and evaporate. Return the fish to the pan, add a few more herbs if necessary. If I had some butter I may have whisked a little into the sauce.

Below, simple lunch at the New Zealand Gallery… a bed of spinach leaves, cured meat, soya beans, raw beetroot, radishes, and a Japanese soy/sesame sauce. Light, fresh and simple.

 

 

FISH IN MINI CASSEROLES WITH SICILIAN FLAVOURS

Two of my friends live on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, located about 17.7 km from Auckland. They both have kayaks and when time and weather permits one or two of them go fishing and it seems that every time they do, they catch fish.

They catch mainly snapper off Oretangi Beach where they live, but if they go to some of the other bays they catch John Dory, Kingfish and Hapuka. The fish in the three photos were caught on two separate occasions and when I stayed with them we enjoyed eating fresh fish very much .

My friend boned one of the fish, a Kawhai, a New Zealand fish which needs to be bled. He smoked it using a simple smoker and manuka wood smoking chips.

We cooked some of the snapper in colourful, enamelled, cast-iron mini “casseroles” or “dutch ovens” using simple Sicilian flavours: tomatoes, capers, garlic, olives and some Sicilian common herbs.. They are brought to the table straight from the oven so do tell your guests to be ultra careful when they eat from them. Also protect your table with mats.

Of course the ingredients can go into one large casserole, covered and baked for 25-30 minutes.

For 4 people

INGREDIENTS
4 pieces of fish (1 serve per person)
4 peeled red tomatoes (or tinned)
1 tbs capers
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ cup of fresh herbs, use 1 or more: parsley, basil, oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 green olives or black olives, stoned

PROCESSES
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the fish lightly.
Add a little salt. Remove the fish and set aside.
Add the other ingredients and sauté, until the juice of the tomatoes is
reduced.
Spoon some of the tomato mixture into each mini-casserole. Place 1 piece of
fish in each and top with more tomato.
Either cover with a lid or if using a different type of ovenproof small baking dishes cover with metal foil and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your fish.

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COZZE (Mussels) GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS WITH TOMATO AND CANNELLINI BEANS

Mussells

A must when in New Zealand is to eat the green-lipped mussels. They are so much larger and meatier than the varieties of black mussels common in Australia and Europe.

I stayed with friends on Waiheke Island located in the Hauraki Gulf. It is about 17.7 km from Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand. I bought the mussels from the local fish shop and cooked them with extra virgin olive oil, white wine, parsley and quite a bit of garlic (Cozze in Brodetto).

The next time I cooked green lipped mussels was a few days later when I visited other friends in Queenstown in the South Island. I bought the mussels in another great fish shop in Dunedin and both towns are in the South Island of New Zealand. I cooked these with tomatoes and cannellini beans and these are the photos and the recipe. On this occasion I used tinned beans.

Black mussels can also be used in this recipe.

 There were 4 of us.

INGREDIENTS
mussels, 2.5 k
dry white wine ½  cup
parsley, ½  cup chopped
cannellini beans,  I used 2 x 400g tins, cooked and drained
tomato salsa: 800g of tinned red tomatoes, oregano (dried) or fresh basil leaves, salt, 1/4 cup of  extra virgin olive oil, garlic, 4 cloves chopped finely

Make salsa:
Place the tomato, basil or oregano, extra virgin olive oil and liquid from the mussels in a saucepan and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes until reduced to about 2 cups.
Clean and de-beard mussels.
Place mussels in a large, wide saucepan, add wine and parsley, cover and place over high heat to steam open.
Remove the open mussels from the cooking liquid as you go (I placed mine in a large serving bowl). Leave the unopened ones in the liquid until they all open.
Evaporate the cooking liquid until you only have about 1 cup of concentrated liquid. This will be salty and this is why no salt has been used elsewhere.
Add the cannellini to the salsa and heat.
Combine all of the ingredients together and serve.

Reduction of liquid

 

You can see that I like mussels quite a bit. For other mussel recipes see:

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BRACIOLI DI MAIALI O’ VINU (Sicilian for Pork Chops Cooked In Wine)

Unfortunately the camera did not capture the image I wanted to use – I needed a video camera to record the action. The piglets’ mother seemed very gentle-natured and was allowing the piglets to climb all over her. The piglets were frolicking, leaping into the air, chasing one another, tripping each other over. I had never imagined that piglets were as playful as puppies or a litter of kittens.

These photos were taken in the North Island of New Zealand, on the way to Napier. They were not the only pigs we saw in pastures, foraging freely with plenty of space. We returned to take a photo of other pigs close to Greytown but unfortunately it started to rain and the pigs retired to their ‘kennel’ to shelter from the rain and cold.

The photo below was taken in Mondello, close to Palermo in Sicily.

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Sadly, when my thoughts turned to food, I did think that the pigs would be supreme in taste and tenderness; as cute as these piglets are, I know that eventually they will have to face the butcher’s knife. Quality meat is achieved through keeping pigs in a stress free environment, able to graze their whole lives and free to roam. The care and quality of life that appears evident for these pigs points to a more humane end than what is apparent for the live cattle or sheep that are being  sent to brutal and cruel slaughters in some other countries.

Last time I ate these braciole (Italian spelling) I was in Ragusa at the country house of one of my relatives – these are the equivalent of Australian holiday or beach houses or weekenders. At that time I can remember us discussing “il suino nero dei Nebrodi,” the Sicilian Black Swine from Sicily’s Nebrodi Mountains in northeastern Sicily, which are very similar in appearance to wild boars: they are small and black and bristly. My partner and I had just returned from Monreale (near Palermo) where we ate some salame (photo) made from Nebrodi swine which still graze and forage in wooded areas. On that particular visit to Sicily I was very interested in Carlo Petrini and the Slow Food Movement and the Nebrobi pig is listed in the Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of heritage foods in danger of extinction.

The recipe for cooking the pork chops is easy, but when made with proper pig, the chops are very tasty.

INGREDIENTS
pork bracioli (chops) 6
fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon
red wine, 1 glass
water, 1 glass
rosemary or oregano, fresh, 6 small sprigs
lemon juice, 2 lemons
salt, and freshly ground pepper
PROCESSES
Make a small incision in each chop and insert either rosemary or fresh oregano.
Place chops in a fry pan in one layer with a little water and the salt.
Braise the chops (without a lid) and when the water has evaporated and they begin to colour, add the wine, fennel seeds and pepper.
Evaporate the wine, add lemon juice and serve.
If the meat is too lean, you may need to mix a little olive oil with the lemon juice (salmoriglio).

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SAFFRON RISOTTO WITH MUSSELS (Risu cu Zaffaranu e Cozzuli is the Sicilian, Riso con Zafferano e Cozze is the Italian)

Green lipped mussels kept fresh and alive under jets of sea water

I have just returned from a two week stay in the North Island of New Zealand where there seemed to be a public awareness about sustainable fish and sustainable fishing and farming practices. Seafood seemed plentiful and well priced and I found fish sellers that clearly state their support for sustainable fish species and how they only procure stocks from sustainable resources. There was even information on restaurant menus such as line caught snapper, or this fish was farmed in a sustainable way.

 

During my stay I ate many varieties of fish that I had not eaten before – I loved it all.

Green lipped mussels (such as the ones in the photo from The Fish Market in Auckland) were around $3.50 per kilo; I did not spot any on restaurant menus, but maybe this is because they mussels are so common. While I was in New Zealand I stayed in serviced apartments (not that I did much cooking), and on one occasion I bought some and steamed them lightly (just enough to open them) and enjoyed them with some lemon juice.

Green lipped mussel farming in New Zealand is sustainable; the government conducts research and careful monitoring into selective breeding, farming and harvesting methods.

A good way to eat mussels (any type) is with rice. Saffron is used in Sicilian cooking and in this recipe, the rice is simmered in fish stock – the more traditional and older way to cook risotto in Sicily.

INGREDIENTS 
rice, 2 cups of aborio or vialone
fish stock, 6-7 cups
saffron threads, ½-1 small teaspoon
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
garlic cloves, 2 chopped finely
mussels, 2 k,
wine, ½ cup, dry white
parsley, ½ cup chopped finely
PROCESSES
Clean the mussels by rubbing them against each other in cold water(or use a plastic scourer). Pull the beards sharply towards the pointy end of the shell.
Heat the oil in a large pan (which can be used to cook both the mussels and the rice), add the garlic and soften.
Add the mussels and the parsley, toss them around in the hot pan, add a splash of wine, cover and cook until they open (about 4-6 minutes). Do not discard any mussels that don’t open – they just need more cooking.
Remove the mussels from the saucepan. Take out half of the mussels from their shells – the mussels with their shells will be used for decoration on top of the rice.
Add about 5 cups of the fish stock and saffron to the same pan and when it reaches boiling point add the rice.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over moderate heat, stirring now and again to ensure that the rice does not stick and the stock has been absorbed.
Taste the rice and season with salt if necessary. Add more stock or wine if needed – the rice is done when it’s al dente – just tender, but resistance can still be felt when you bite into it. (The rice will continue to soften).
Stir into the rice the shelled mussels. Place the mussels with the shells on top of the hot rice or gently fold them through the top layer of the hot rice (Italians are never fussy about eating food which is not piping hot).
Leave to rest for a few minutes for the flavours to meld before serving (the rice will also continue to cook and soften slightly).
Sustainable fish display in Auckland Fish Market

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