Passing through the Farmers market the other day, wrapped up against the cold, it dawned on me that I haven’t covered pork yet and since its getting colder now is the time to have a look at pork belly. Animal fat is so often the enemy of the good diet and yet it transfers to body warmth better than any other fat so this time of year is the perfect time to bring out the belly!

Through out history pork was one of the few types of meat that was widely available and affordable. Indeed for many it was the only meat they ever had to eat. What’s better is that pork lends itself to many wonderful ways of preservation, just look at the array of cured and dried bits of pork that are now available to us from all over the world.

That said pork is getting a pretty poor reputation these days and frankly it shouldn’t. It is after all people who choose to treat pigs in the most appalling ways; sadly it’s also us that want cheap meat and can get blinded to the fact that cheap meat comes from cheap production.

Thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way, we are so lucky in the Bay of Plenty to have some fantastic piggeries that are organic and free range and we must really support them whenever we can. To put it simply it is so much better to use the cheap cut of an expensive animal than the expensive cut of a cheap one. By showing our support of good farming practices we encourage more farmers to do what they wish they could do, that being produce top quality product and get paid for their skills. For those that are interested I bought my piece of belly pork from Free Range Farms in Katikati.

So all that waffle brings me to the belly pork, in this case a wonderfully crispy and fragrant piece of perfection, which I hope you’ll try and enjoy as much as we do?

Chinese Crisp Roasted Pork

1 x 1kg piece fresh belly pork, boned but not skinned

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

3 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon five-spice powder


Score pork skin at 1cm intervals, using a very sharp knife and cutting right through the skin. Blanch meat in a large sauce pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then lift out, rinse under cold water and dry well with kitchen paper. Combine garlic and soy sauce and rub all over meat side of pork. Combine salt and five-spice powder and rub all over skin. Refrigerate uncovered, skin-side up, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 230°C and line a baking dish with foil. Position a rack in baking dish and settle pork on rack, skin-side up. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 200°C and bake for 40 minutes or until skin crackles and crisps.

Cool a little before cutting into slices and then into thick fingers. Serve hot with steamed rice and Asian greens or at room temperature as an entrée with a dish of hoi sin sauce for dipping, or use in a stir-fry.

I love the flavour of a good Gewürztraminer with pork and in this case the Chinese aromatics really work, try the Nelson vineyard

KAIMIRA ESTATE WINES and their Brightwater Gewürztraminer

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Well, I promised a recipe from the recent ‘One Pot Wonders’ cookschool at Mills Reef and here it is…a delicious combination of red cabbage, fruit and spices which provides a wonderful flavour match with duck, venison or beef.  It’s the sort of easy, comforting dish which is so great at this time of the year and, once cooked, any that is left can be frozen for another meal.

Spiced Red Cabbage

Serves 4-6

900g firm red cabbage

450g Granny Smith apples

225g onions

110g butter

2 cloves garlic

¼ teaspoon each of powdered nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, thyme and caraway seeds

275ml red wine

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

100g sultanas or raisins

Juice and grated rind of 2 oranges



Shred the cabbage finely and toss in the melted butter.  In a suitable casserole dish, layer the cabbage, apple, onion and orange rind.  Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper and sugar.  Pour over liquidised red wine, vinegar, orange juice and spices.  Cover and bake at 190˚C for 30 minutes.

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The season for standing on the edge of our children’s sports fields has definitely arrived, and with it the promise of winter around the corner. This gives me the chance to delve into the earliest history of food and cooking.

Once man had succeeded in making fireproof containers (saucepans), soup would probably have been the first beneficiary. Diet no longer had to consist of individual foods such as grains or seeds, leaves or berries, or a hunk of meat charred over flames. Now theses ingredients could be mixed and cooked in water to achieve different flavours and textures.

Over the centuries soup has become all things to all people, from simple food to feed a family cheaply to the elaborate, ambitious and expensive. Soup is one of the few foods that has a virtually unlimited repertoire. Flavours from anything that is edible can be cooked, mixed and mingled; and the end result can range from a clear consommé to a thick creamed soup. This wonderful variety of consistencies suits different eating times, both day and year, and different occasions, the delicate starter to the flask full on the boat.

Over recent years the idea of having a soup pot on the stove all winter has been somewhat replaced by tins in the pantry, and we seem to have forgotten just how quick and simple a soup can be to make. So here are a few simple rules to good soup making, the better the quality of the raw ingredients the tastier the end result will be and don’t boil the life and flavour out of it. Apart from that it’s up to you’re imagination.

When you read this I’ll be standing on the sideline watching Te Puna under 12’s, hopefully winning another game, with a flask of warming goodness in my pocket. I love this time of year!

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

This recipe was purloined from a good friend, Scottish chef Nick Nairn, when he still owned Braeval Old Mill in Aberfoyle. He is now seen every week on the Food Channel!

120g unsalted butter

300g thinly sliced onion

40g root ginger

1.5 kg peeled and grated carrot

2 tablespoons of clear honey

12 teaspoons lemon juice


chicken or vegetable stock or water

fresh coriander to garnish

1. Sweat the onion and ginger until soft

2. Add the carrot, lemon juice and honey and sweat for a few minutes.

3. Add water or stock to cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. Blend and sieve.

5. Garnish and serve

Hot and Sour Thai Chicken Broth

This recipe is based on a version of Tom Yum soup – a spicy, clear, refreshing broth found on the menu of most Thai restaurants. It can also be made with tiger prawns and is very low fat. This soup is also nice made with Japanese miso stock.

Serves 4

2 skinless chicken breasts (175g each)

1.2 litres chicken stock

10g bunch coriander leaves, stalks removed and set aside

2 small red bird’s eye chillies, halved and de-seeded

1 stalk lemon grass, roughly chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

2 medium ripe tomatoes

3 salad onions, trimmed and finely sliced (including green parts)

50g fresh, shelled peas (or frozen)

50g sugar snap peas, cut in half

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon tamarind puree

Juice of a large lime (about 2 tablespoons)


Put chicken stock into large saucepan and add coriander stalks, one of the halved chillies, lemon grass and ginger. Bring to boil, stir, then cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes to allow Thai flavours to infuse stock.

Skin tomatoes with hot water and cut into quarters, removing seeds, then cut quarters into three lengthways so you have thin slices. Cut chicken breasts in half widthways and slice into thin slivers. Strain stock, discarding flavourings, and return to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then stir in chicken slivers and half of salad onions. Stir and cover, leaving chicken to poach gently for 5 minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, finely slice remaining chilli (washing hands afterwards!)

Next, add peas, sugar snaps, sliced chilli, fish sauce, tamarind and lime juice to the soup, stir and gently simmer for 2-3 minutes or until peas are tender. Stir tomato in and divide coriander leaves among 4 deep bowls. Ladle hot soup on top, sprinkle with remaining salad onions and serve.

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For all those that came to the Home Show Today and over the next few days here are the recipes, Happy Cooking.

Easy Sweet or Savoury Brioches

Makes 12

3 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

½ cup lukewarm milk

2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted

2 eggs

180g butter, softened


¼ red onion, chopped finely

½ bunch coriander, chopped

½ red capsicum, chopped

75g cooked ham, chopped (optional)

Salt and pepper to season

150g cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Poppy seeds or sesame seeds


Place the yeast, sugar and milk in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture will start to foam, indicating that the yeast is active.

Process the yeast mixture, flour, extra sugar and egg in a food processor until combined. With the motor still running, add the butter a little at a time and process until a very soft and sticky dough forms. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Grease a 12 x ½ cup capacity muffin tray. Roll out dough on a floured board into a rectangle, about 1cm thick. Mix ingredients for filling together and spread across rectangle. Roll up into a long ‘sausage’ and cut across with a sharp knife into 12 even-sized ‘pin wheels’.

Place brioches into moulds and set aside for 20 minutes to rise again. Glaze with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from tins and serve warm or cold.

Carrot, Ginger and Honey Soup

This recipe was purloined from a good friend, Scottish chef Nick Nairn, when he still owned Braeval Old Mill in Aberfoyle. He is now seen every week on the Food Channel!

120g unsalted butter

300g thinly sliced onion

40g root ginger

1.5 kg peeled and grated carrot

2 tablespoons of clear honey

12 teaspoons lemon juice


chicken or vegetable stock or water

fresh coriander to garnish

1. Sweat the onion and ginger until soft

2. Add the carrot, lemon juice and honey and sweat for a few minutes.

3. Add water or stock to cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. Blend and sieve.

5. Garnish and serve

Gourmet Pizzas

For the tomato sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

1 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed

450g ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped

1 dessertspoon chopped fresh basil

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the base:

1 tsp active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

165ml warm water

250g plain flour

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil


Place yeast, sugar and water in a bowl. Set aside until bubbles form. Meanwhile, make up tomato sauce by heating olive oil in a saucepan, adding onion and garlic and cooking for 2-3 minutes to soften. Then add chopped tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes have reduced.

Add flour, salt and oil to yeast mixture. Mix to form a smooth dough and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and allow to stand in a warm place for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.

Knead and shape into one large or several small balls. Flatten with back of hand. Place on greased baking tray, add a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce, add toppings (see below) and bake at 180˚C for 20-25 minutes for a large pizza and 10-15 minutes for smaller pizzas.


  • Ham, red onion and mozzarella.
  • Olives and mozzarella.
  • Smoked mushrooms and mozzarella.
  • Pancetta and parmesan.
  • Red onion and goats’ cheese or feta.

Classic Lemon Tart with ‘Deinlein’ Lemon-cello Sorbet

Serves 8 – 10

1 Sweet Pastry case:

175g plain flour

40g icing sugar

75g softened unsalted butter

Pinch salt

1 egg yolk

1- 2 tbsp water or milk

Seeds of ½ vanilla pod and grated zest of ½ lemon

6 eggs

175g caster sugar

Zest of 6 unwaxed lemons

275ml lemon or orange juice

200ml cream


Place all pastry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until it forms a firm dough. Then turn out and knead lightly before placing in a polythene bag and leaving in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

Preheat oven to 200˚C and place a solid baking sheet inside. Roll out pastry as thinly as possible and carefully line a flan tin (23cm diameter). Prick the base with a fork (or use baking beans) and brush all over with beaten egg white. Bake on the hot baking sheet on the middle shelf for 20 minutes. Once cooled, the pastry case can be brushed with melted white chocolate to stop it going soggy from the filling.

Grate the zest of six lemons and squeeze enough juice to give 275ml. Now break the eggs into a bowl, add the sugar and whisk to combine, but don’t overdo it or the eggs will thicken. Next pour in the lemon juice and zest, followed by the cream and whisk lightly. Pour into the pastry case and bake at 180˚C for about 30 minutes or until the tart is just set and feels springy in the centre.


Serves 4

220 strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp dried yeast

100ml tepid water

2 tbsp olive oil


Mix dough ingredients to a dough and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. No need to prove; roll out and place a spoonful of filling in centre. Moisten edges and fold to make a three sided pyramid. Cut off excess dough and place fatayer on a greased baking tray.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 230˚C for 10-15 minutes.


v Lamb, feta and pine nuts.

v Spinach, raisins & pine nuts.

Pitta Bread

Makes 12 servings

500g high grade white flour

2 tablespoons easy blend yeast

25g softened butter

310ml water

1½ teaspoons salt


Make the dough and knead for 10 minutes. Leave to prove, then cut into 12 and roll each into a pitta shape. Bake on greased trays in a pre-heated oven at 220˚C for 8-10 minutes. When cooked, cover with a tea towel until cool to stop them getting crispy.

English Muffins

Makes 8

400g Hi-Tec white flour

1 tsp salt

25g butter

225ml milk

2 tsp dried yeast

1 egg

Butter or oil for frying


Sift flour and salt into large bowl and rub in butter. Warm milk gently in a saucepan to blood heat, then sprinkle dried yeast on top and leave for 10 – 15 minutes until frothy. Beat in the egg. Add yeast liquid to the flour to make a very soft dough. Beat by hand or with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, until smooth and shiny. Cover with a large, lightly oiled plastic bag and leave in a warm place for 1 – 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Knead again lightly and roll out onto a well floured surface to a thickness of about 1 cm. Cut into rounds and place on a floured baking sheet. Cover with plastic bag and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until light and puffy. Heat oil or butter on a hot plate or heavy bottom frypan. Cook muffins for about 4 minutes on each side until golden.

Soda Bread

Makes 10 servings

900g plain flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons salt

900ml buttermilk


Mix the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix to a soft dough with the buttermilk. Pat into a flattish round loaf and place on a greased baking tray. Mark the top into quarters with a knife. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180˚C for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Eat fairly quickly, while nice and warm.

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A quick trip to your nearest veggie store will show you that apples are very much in season at the moment. This means that they are not just great value but are also at their absolute best. So bearing in mind that it’s autumn and we’re starting to crave comfort foods, why not bake an apple pie with custard or – to be more upmarket – Apple Tarte Tatin with Crème Anglaise? To be honest they are practically the same thing.

Most cultures have their own recipe for apple pie. However the French version, Tarte Tatin, is recognised as one of the best and incidentally one of the easiest. Like many pieces of culinary genius, the Tarte Tatin was discovered quite by accident. During the late 1800’s Stephanie Tatin overcooked the apples for a traditional apple pie and, not wanting to waste them, she tried to save the dish by pressing a disc of pastry on top of the apples and popping it in the oven. She then turned it out on to a plate, creating a sort of upside down tart in the process (except that it is now the right way up, of course).

To her amazement the guests at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, raved about the new dish, with its topping of buttery, caramelised apples. The recipe soon became well known in the region. But to achieve greatness, it needed another slice of luck in the form of Louis Vaudable, the legendary owner of Maxims Restaurant in Paris, who was served a slice as he passed through the area. He loved it and immediately added it to his own menu in Paris and what’s more Tarte Tatin is still on Maxims menu today.

Food history is littered with examples of mistakes leading to discoveries of recipe greatness. Usually it’s the need to use everything or sometimes, like the Lamington, it’s just a lack of time to repair the mistake…but that’s a story for another day!

Apple Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Sauce

It’s really cool to bring this out of the oven and turn it over just as everyone finishes their main course. As you can tell from the timings, that means make it in advance but only cook it when you start eating the main course.

Serves 6

6 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and halved

120g butter

200g sugar

sprig of fresh thyme

250g puff pastry

Pinch flour

1. Evenly grease the base of the frying pan with the butter, cover with the sugar and then arrange the apples, rounded side down, on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the picked leaves of fresh thyme.

2. Lay the puff pastry over the apples and rest for at least 20 minutes.

3. Set the pan over a high heat and caramelise the appless, then cook in a preheated oven at 220˚C for 20 minutes.

4. When cooked, immediately turn over onto a plate and serve with mascarpone cream or vanilla sauce.

Vanilla Sauce

Serves 10

6 egg yolks

120g caster sugar

500ml cream

2 vanilla pods, split

1. Boil cream with vanilla in a saucepan.

2. Meanwhile boil a second pan half filled with water.

3. Mix eggs and sugar until pale and then add boiled cream very slowly.

4. Mix well and place over a pan of boiling water, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.

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